Thursday, December 8, 2016

Britney Spears - Get Naked

Britney Spears - Slumber Party ft. Tinashe

Almost 8,500 Citizens Leave Militant-Held Areas of Aleppo Thanks to Russian Help

About 8,500 people, including 2,900 children, were able to leave militant-controlled areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo in the past 24 hours with the help of Russian servicemen, the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said.
 A total of 8,461 city residents have left the besieged city, the Russian Defense Ministry said. "In the past 24 hours alone, from areas in Aleppo that are still under the control of militants, with the assistance of the Russian center of reconciliation, 8,461 city residents left, including 2,934 children," the center said in a Friday statement released by the ministry. According to the statement, over a dozen militants who had been operating in Aleppo received amnesty after laying down arms. "Fourteen militants, laying down arms, walked out to the western part of the city towards Syrian troops. In accordance with the decision of the Syrian president all of them were granted amnesty," the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said. 

Russian servicemen have also demined about 6 hectares (almost 15 acres) of residential blocks in eastern Aleppo, the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said. © REUTERS/ SANA Militants Destroying Northern Syrian Towns in Revenge for Aleppo Losses - Source "The clearance of explosives has been fully completed in residential areas over a total area of six hectares. The central water pumping station has been demined and rebuilt, two power substations have been demined, as well as schools and two mosques," the center said in a Friday statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry. 

Over recent months, Aleppo has become a major battleground in Syria, which has been in the state of civil war since 2011. Syrian government forces have been fighting against multiple opposition and terrorist groups, including the Islamic State and Jabhat Fatah al Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, or Nusra Front. Thousands of civilians are believed to be trapped in the Syrian city of Aleppo without access to food, water, electricity or medical assistance as Syrian government troops and rebel forces continue to fight for its control. Russia has been providing consistent humanitarian aid to Syrians who have been gravely affected by the civil war in the country.

Read more:

Putin: Moscow will never accept attitude of intl bodies towards deaths of Russian medics in Syria

Commenting on the recent shelling of a Russian mobile hospital in Aleppo, Syria that killed two Russian medics, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “will never accept” the absence of reaction from international organizations to the deaths.

“It is obvious to everybody that our medics came [to Syria] to resolve humanitarian issues only. They came there not to take part in the military action, but to help people, civilian population in particular,”Putin stressed.
Yet according to Russia’s president, Moscow “has seen no assessment of what happened from any international organization.” 
According to Putin, the absence of international reaction “triggers some thoughts about how objective the coverage of some our partners is on what is happening [in Syria].”
Putin added that he is talking about big international structures “that have put our medics who have been killed on one shelf with those who hit their hospital, and did it deliberately, as they knew where it was.”
He stressed that such an attitude is “inadmissible” and “we [Russia] will never accept it.” Militants shelled a Russian mobile hospital in western Aleppo earlier this week, killing two paramedics. A chief pediatrician was also severely injured in the attack.
Following the attack, RT reached out to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for comment. In response, the organization said that “all sides to the conflict in Syria are failing in their duties to respect and protect healthcare workers, patients, and hospitals.”
Upon hearing about ICRC’s response, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov reacted with outrage, saying these “cynical comments are not worthy of the high status of the International Committee of the Red Cross” and show “indifference to the murder of Russian doctors in Aleppo.”

CHINA -The Long March Documentary

Video Report - 'Who won? Putin, Iranians & Assad' Western diplomacy not happy at Syrian army advance in Aleppo

Video Report - Syrian Army suspends active military operation in Aleppo – Russian FM

Barack Obama Says He ‘Absolutely’ Faced Racism In Office

Hayley Miller

“Attitudes about my presidency among whites in northern states are very different from whites in southern states,” the president said Wednesday.
President Barack Obama opened up about racism he faced throughout his presidency in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Wednesday.
“Are there folks whose primary concern about me has been that I seem foreign ― the other? Are those who champion the birther movement feeding off of bias?” Obama asked rhetorically. “Absolutely.”
Along with interviewing Obama, Zakaria narrated segments of the CNN special. He pointed out that the president “doesn’t see racism in mainstream opposition to him, but he does see it on the fringes.”
”I think there’s a reason attitudes about my presidency among whites in northern states are very different from whites in southern states,” Obama told Zakaria.
Race has been a constant theme throughout the first African-American president’s two terms, from addressing the all-too-common fatal shootings of black youths by police to enduring unsubstantiated claims about his citizenship from the birther movement, which President-elect Donald Trump has largely led.
David Axelrod, former senior advisor to Obama, also appeared on the show and addressed the racial undercurrent plaguing his presidency.
“It’s indisputable that there was a ferocity to the opposition and a lack of respect to him that was a function of race,” he said. CNN aired its primetime special “The Legacy of Barack Obama” Wednesday night. The two-hour program also touched on the overall question of how Trump’s administration could dismantle Obama’s legacy.

Video - Behind the Scenes: The Affordable Care Act

Bilawal’s quest for a social democratic agenda

We had an intense discussion with Bilawal Bhutto at the end of the PPP’s provincial and national bodies’ meetings, attended by over 20,000 enthusiastic activists, in Lahore. What will be his social democratic agenda – since he claims to be a social democrat? (Or is that just populist rhetoric?)
The questions that were raised were: what is the PPP’s ideology or mission that differentiates it from other right-wing parties? What kind of social democratic agenda? What changes is he going to bring in the class structure of his party, which is led by the landed aristocracy? How far will he distance himself from the post-BB baggage? What are the changes he is going to bring in Sindh to improve its mal-governance? And will he be remote-controlled by his father or will he take his own independent course and build his own team?
In his first informal encounter with the journalists, Bilawal came out as an intelligent, well-educated, respectful and confident young leader obsessed with liberal-democratic and progressive ideals. He vowed to rebuild the PPP just not as a centre-left party but as a “left social-democratic party”. He seems to be quite clear on the nature of the state and religious extremism. He is also quite vocal on human and civil rights, women and minorities’ rights in particular, and is inclined towards secularism.
However, he came under severe criticism about his ultra-nationalist and anti-India chauvinist tirade during the election campaign in the AJK elections. Though he defended his position vociferously, the very next day he spoke about how his foreign policy will be based on the “strength of peace”. For a change he has brought forward a younger and progressive lot. His greatest challenge is how to transform the predominantly feudal character of his party and get rid of some of the ill-reputed central leaders.
Although Bilawal takes credit for bringing a young chief minister in Sindh, that alone doesn’t ensure good governance and a social democratic agenda. Despite his dynamism and independence, it is yet to be seen how far he will be able to become a leader in his own right. And that will depend upon how far he will be able to attract the public support that his party has lost. However, he has succeeded in reviving enthusiasm and hope among PPP jiyalas.
Surprisingly, on social media I found quite visible support for him, even though many rightly questioned his social democratic credentials and his independence from the influence of his aunt and father. It seems to me that he will combine BB’s liberal legacy with his father’s expertise in the art of politics. He may have announced his candidature for the pivotal post of prime minister in the next elections, but he has a long way to go – even though Asif Ali Zardari may be preparing for coalition-making in the event of a divided vote.
Some social media commentators have been asking me what the ‘left’ answers are to the issues that we are facing. Here are some of the points for an alternative social democratic agenda that may facilitate real progressive change in state and society.
Given the left-vacuum and predominance of an extremist religious and militarist paradigm, it is time to come up with a progressive worldview to defend the rights and freedoms of the people and extricate our country from its current predicaments.
The primary objective is to change the status quo. A social democratic platform has to be consistently democratic, secular, federalist, pluralist, inclusive and without hierarchical structures. It must be based on scientific knowledge and research-based analysis of our socio-economic formation and offer a concrete programme for the betterment of the poor and the middle classes. It should solely rely on the mobilisation and support of the people with a purpose to empower all of them, not just a few – as has been practised by the PPP in the past. 
There are many challenges: ideological and security threats from religious extremism, sectarianism and terrorism. Unsustainable aggressive national security agendas couched in an isolationist foreign policy and hostility with neighbours – perpetuating an enemy syndrome. A neoliberal economic model and an exclusionary elitist development model at the cost of the pauperisation of the masses and the peripheral regions. Another threat is authoritarian, centralised nation-building – in the name of Islam – while suppressing and excluding constituent federating units/nationalities, and their cultures, languages and identities. We see hurdles in the way of devolving powers to the grassroots level and peoples’ empowerment through direct participation.
Democracy is fragile and remains vulnerable to inverse civil-military relations, an undemocratic culture, intolerance, intervention of the state in matters of faith and the persecution of minorities. The current political economy of resource generation (taxes and other revenues) and allocation of resources favours the privileged while ignoring peoples’ needs. Development of human resources, provision of much-needed physical infrastructure in all regions, protection of the environment, conservation of resources and population planning are being neglected. Unbridled profit making and rent-seeking override need-based, participatory and sustainable growth.
We also face the challenge of bringing an end to the worst kind of exploitation of the rural and urban poor, peasants and the working and professional classes at the hands of parasitic rent-seeking capitalism and feudalism. There is suppression of the fine arts, performing arts, indigenous cultures and languages, distortion of humanities and syllabi as well as the degeneration of the education system, in both public and private spheres and particularly in madressahs. There is prevalence of patriarchal, tribal and feudal traditions, especially honour codes that cause countless miseries to women.
Instead of perpetuating conflict in the interest of a warrior state, good neighbourly relations and economic connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia are needed. And there is a need to end the suppression of trade union activities and professional associations.
Now, we come to some of the salient features of a minimum social-democratic platform. First, change the nature and character of the state by separating religion from the state. Transform Pakistan from a national-security state into a social welfare state by establishing the sovereignty of the people through participatory democracy. Deepen and consolidate provincial autonomy and devolution of power to the grassroots level through municipal socialism and village cooperatives.
Introduce a participatory, inclusive and sustainable mode of growth that includes the working class and the middle strata into the accumulation process and gives prioritises peoples’ needs rather than the dominant elites. Such growth would have to reverse the political economy of resource generation and allocation of resources: tax the rich, save from non-development expenditures and the reallocation of resources to address hunger, malnourishment, illiteracy, discrimination, marginalisation etc.
Uphold equal rights and equal protection of all citizens regardless of their religion, gender, ethnicity, caste and colour. Introduce radical agrarian reforms to bring an end to archaic feudal structures. Promote cooperatives and ensure public-private partnership in the manufacturing and services sectors. Preserve and conserve our natural resources and the environment by improving water resources, expanding renewable energy, and focusing on human resource development and evenly spread physical infrastructures.
Promote peace, amity and mutually beneficial cooperation, and strengthen connectivity with our neighbours and across the regions – South Asia and Central Asia in particular. Adopt a foreign policy based on ‘friendship with all and enmity with none’. Ensure nuclear stability while opposing war, subliminal warfare, proxy wars, cross-border terrorism and the arms race. Benefit from the information, scientific and technological revolution and promote a knowledge economy. This is the minimum agenda a social democratic party must adopt, or it will again be sham populism. Let’s see what Bilawal says.

PPP and Pakistani politics

M Ahmad Hassan

The new zest with which the PPP is pushing itself forward can only achieve real change if it builds its party machinery with the aim of providing a replacement to the current system of patronage politics. And the new party manifesto will be an indication.
Pakistan’s current political landscape is dominated by mainstream political parties that subscribe to the same centre-right neoliberal policy of reinforcing the status quo. This might not to be a particularly bad thing, except that the status quo in Pakistan has left a majority of the country’s population in crippling poverty. And to add to their misery, there is, in practice, next to no protective umbrella provided to the vulnerable public by the state. There is nothing novel about this as right from the start, the transformation of Pakistan’s state structures has taken place in a manner that has strengthened existing power structures of the landed elite and the bourgeoise. The system that protects the interests of these groups has been firmly entrenched, while powerful groups have been created and recreated within it.
The sense of deprivation and alienation resulting from this exploitative system was what fuelled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s success in the electoral arena. Couched in a simple yet brilliant phrase “roti, kapra, makan” (food, clothe, shelter), the election slogan of Bhutto’s campaign galvanised the people across Pakistan, cutting across socioeconomic classes from peasants to labourers, into organising into a political force. Bhutto educated people about their rights and laid bare the exploitation that was previously passed off as national duty for the development of the country. In a country in which no mainstream party represented the disadvantaged majority, Bhutto at least talked about them.
These are the bases on which the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was founded on. It was a voice for the oppressed and a rejuvenation of the Pakistani Left. The PPP was there to fill the void left in the wake of a concerted drive of the state, informed by Cold War imperatives, to push out the Pakistani Left from the political sphere. However, somewhere along the line, the PPP lost that vision, and got reduced to another party of the largely centre-right political spectrum. The same elites were seen occupying political office that the PPP was initially set out to oppose.
The matter is further muddied by the networks of patronage politics that dominate the electoral landscape of Pakistani politics. The firm position of the landed elite in Pakistan’s electoral arena stems from the social capital that it gains by owning the primary means of employment in the country side: land. Since there is always an excess of labourers, the peasants who work on these lands feel indebted to their landlord. Moreover, even though this system is fundamentally exploitative, the peasants still get a limited degree of access to the state from it, in the absence of which their already unenviable lives would be far more miserable. This phenomenon can be viewed in everyday political parlance as the term ‘electable’ is frequently used to refer to these members of the landed elite because their ability to garner votes irrespective of the party they represent. The implicit assumption of those who advocate the co-option of these ‘electables’ is that ideology is second to the power of these individuals, and they are the ones who should be approached by anyone aspiring for political office.
However, for real change to take place, it is this system of patronage politics that has to be challenged, not co-opted. And one place from where that challenge is coming from is the religious right, even the terrifying militant manifestations of it. By playing on the religious sentiments of the people and by misappropriating religious scripture, these groups spread their message of hate and in turn give the people a palliative for their abject poverty. The result of the provincial by-election in Jhang has shown how some of these militant outfits continue to thrive despite the national consensus to act against them. In addition to showing the clear failure of the National Action Plan in eliminating the militant infrastructure in Punjab, that win also shows how if the challenge to the system of patronage politics does not come from progressive parties, then militant networks will fill that void.
This is the site where the PPP has to focus in order to breath new life into itself and reclaim its old status of a party of change. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) tried to mould itself in the same way, but it has failed so far. In an ironic manner, the Jhang election saw the PPP candidate collecting more votes than the PTI candidate, which is, perhaps, a symbolic overture to a new era of a strengthened PPP wresting space back from the PTI. However, that depends on how PPP, under the leadership of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is able to steer itself away from stagnation and towards electoral dominance.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has shown that he has the potential to effect that change. He has been more outspoken against religious extremism and intolerance than any other political leader at present. Taking forward the Bhutto tradition of speaking without fear, Bilawal has broken the silence of the plight of minorities in the country and charted on a course of reclaiming the very basis on which Pakistan was founded: protection against religious majoritarianism. Bilawal has promised a new progressive party manifesto for the 2018 elections, and the success of that manifesto depends on whether the PPP is able to offer a fresh alternative to the rest of the centre-right political parties. The new zest with which the PPP is pushing itself forward can only achieve real change if it builds its party machinery with the aim of providing a replacement to the current system of patronage politics. And the new party manifesto will be an indication of whether the party is moving towards achieving that change.

Pakistan -Statesmanship: A lesson from History

By Senator Sehar Kamran
“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” –James Freeman Clarke

Haphazard mistakes, to which we seem prone, are further complicating our already complex international relationships. The most recent debacles include the embarrassment of our entirely unprepared Advisor to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia Conference, embarrassment at jumping the gun in a race for ‘credit’ by overstating Russian interest in the CPEC followed by its categoric denial by Russia, as well as the release of the entire transcript of the new US President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call - a humungous, childish diplomatic faux pas if there ever was one.

The successful launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega-initiative is oft cited as the silver lining of this particular cloud. It most certainly is a historical achievement in the midst of innumerable geo-political and strategic challenges, as the ‘game changing’ Chinese investment of over $50 billion is the biggest by any country in Pakistan in recent times. CPEC certainly looks set to re-establish Pakistan’s economic potential within the global arena, and has generated many positive headlines for a country that has suffered greatly from the fallout of the global War on Terror, by emphasizing the geostrategic importance of these new trade routes in lieu of the far too familiar reports on violent extremism. The CPEC and One Belt One Road Project have been like a much needed reboot for a stressed economy.
Unlike common perceptions however, the CPEC project has come to fruition as a result of years of visionary policies, hard work and preparation, and is not a victory of any one government. Long before the formal launch of the project, intensive effort was put into laying the groundwork for it by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The CPEC is a victory of the will of the Pakistani people, as was perceived by an actual ‘statesman’, who planned and prepared, as ‘for the next generation’, and belonged to the aptly named PPP.
While detractors may disagree, the PPP has undeniably been the only party in the country’s history with a truly long-term, democratic vision, and leadership that has strengthened and stabilised the country time and time again, irrespective of who gets credit for it at the end of the day. Its leadership has always had one priority only – to serve the nation by placing it on the path to progression and prosperity. The formulation of long-term policies that were continued even after the end of PPP tenure, simply because they were too important to be rolled back, is a basic hallmark of visionary statesmanship, and represents how statesmen conduct themselves when in power.
The importance of such visionary leadership is often underestimated, nor is the concept too often understood properly. There is a unique set of characteristics which sets statesmen apart: principles, vision, a moral compass, and an innate ability to unite differing factions. The founding father of PPP, the late, great Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had a clear vision, and a plan to achieve it. A vision that would lead to Pakistan becoming a frontrunner and leader in the international arena, and a plan that played a vital role in the ‘reorientation’ of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the 1960s, defining then and today, the contours of Pakistan foreign policy. Similarly, it is an undisputed fact that had he not set the foundation and groundwork for the country’s nuclear programme in the 1970’s, Pakistan would not have had the capacity to conduct nuclear tests in response to India to establish nuclear deterrence in the region in 1998.
PPP’s contribution in setting and enhancing the tone of Pakistan’s relations with international partners, particularly China, over several decades is immense. In Bhutto’s Pakistan, relations with China attained unprecedented geo-strategic and geopolitical importance. This anchoring of Pakistan’s foreign policy was also noted by the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who praised Bhutto in his book ‘Years of Upheaval: The Second Volume of His Classic Memoirs’, as a ‘a man of extraordinary abilities, capable of drawing close to any country that served Pakistan’s national interests.’ Shaheed Z.A. Bhutto was far from being the last of the PPP’s leaders with great vision. In the aftermath of his martyrdom, the mantle was picked up by his daughter, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The Shaheed Benazir, who not only became the new Chairperson of the party but also Pakistan’s only, and twice elected female Prime Minister, continued her father’s legacy of consolidating Pakistan’s ‘special ties’ with China, by conducting her first official trip in 1989 to Beijing. It was the farsightedness of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto that laid the foundation stone of the Fish Harbor Project during her visit to Gwadar on December 14th, 1989, and five years later, resulted in the initiation of a project to develop Gwadar port as ‘an alternative seaport’ (1994), with the help of China.
The life of Bhutto’s daughter was also tragically cut short, but her vision was carried forward and executed once again under Party Co-Chairman and Former President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who truly opened up new pathways for Pakistan into the region. Under his leadership, many new precedents were set in the domain of foreign policy that were in line with the vision of both father and daughter. His tenure brought clarity to Pakistan’s relations with many important countries and all key regional players. The record speaks for itself; Pakistan’s relations with major powers and immediate neighbours remained amicable, clearly defined and non-confrontational, be it China, the United States, Russia, or our immediate neighbours: India, Afghanistan, and Iran.
The former President visited China alone nine times during his tenure, and helped generate consensus on significant bilateral issues, moving the contract for Gwadar from Singapore to China, because of which the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed the CPEC initiative during his visit to Pakistan in 2013. He was also the first to categorically state that politics would not be allowed on the Chinese investment.
PPP also set a precedent for bringing powers like Russia closer, a feat which previously would have been considered impossible. With the thaw in relations with Russia came Moscow’s nod of approval for the first time for Pakistan’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization - another landmark achievement. Relaxation of tensions with both Afghanistan and India, and the signing of the ‘Afghan Transit Trade Agreement’ are further examples of what visionary national policy formulation looks like.
The incumbent government ought to take a leaf from its predecessor’s book, particularly in such complex times, and focus on similar visionary projects instead of the shortsighted/money-pit ‘pet projects’ it currently appears to be focused on. We are all Pakistanis first, and such we seek from the state leadership that is visionary, patient and mature. As Shaheed Z.A Bhutto famously said “You cannot defend the soil unless you know the smell of that soil.” The antics of self-congratulatory regimes will do much harm long-term if not checked, and it is in the interest of all to pay heed to the lessons of history, before any irreversible damage is incurred. Pakistan needs clear direction – and an actual Foreign Minister to begin with. Now more than ever, we need true statesmanship, to lead the country into the future that it deserves.

Bilawal Bhutto shocked at air crash near Havailian

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the crash of Islamabad-bound plane near Havailian and loss of precious human lives on board the ill-fated flight. PPP Chairman was shocked to hear the air crash in which47 passengers, including Junaid Jamshed, Deputy Commissioner Chitral, pilots, cabin crew, three foreigners and others lost their lives. “Our thoughts and prayers go for the victims of crash and their families,” stated Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stressing upon PIA and other domestic airlines to improve their aviation operations and precautionary measures to avert such shocking accidents in the future.


Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

The big money behind Trump's tech deal is from Saudi Arabia


Donald Trump has taken credit for a Japanese tech conglomerate's plan to invest $50 billion in America.

True, Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder and CEO of SoftBank (SFTBF), pledged Tuesday to invest the huge sum in U.S. startups. But that's only part of the story.
In reality, a big chunk of the cash is likely to come from the Saudi government.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Son said the source of the investment would be a $100 billion fund SoftBank launched in October with Saudi Arabia.
That fund, Softbank Vision, is part of Saudi Arabia's plan to become less dependent on oil.
SoftBank declined to comment, and Saudi officials were not available.
Still, the basic structure of SoftBank Vision is clear. SoftBank's head of strategic finance Rajeev Misra will run the London-based fund, but the Japanese company will have a minority stake.
Saudi Arabia has the biggest stake
SoftBank has pledged $25 billion over the next five years. Saudi Arabia is planning to contribute $45 billion over the same period from its Public Investment Fund.
The PIF was established in 1971. Its main purpose is to manage the Saudi government's investments in companies at home and abroad. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been leading PIF since March 2015, has revised its investment strategy to support the diversification away from oil.
SoftBank Vision's other backers have yet to be identified. Speaking in India last week, Son said he was talking to investors about the remaining $30 billion. He said the fund was already oversubscribed.
Saudi Arabia has made a few big tech bets in recent months. In June, it bought a stake in Uberfor $3.5 billion -- the company's biggest commitment from a single investor -- and last month poured $500 million into, a startup based in Riyadh that wants to be the Amazon(AMZNTech30) of the Middle East.
Relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been strained recently by a new law allowing U.S. victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the Kingdom.
Earlier this year, Saudi officials expressed concern that their assets in America could be seized as a result. But that fear appears now to have passed. The governor of the Saudi central banksaid last month that Saudi investments would continue to enjoy sovereign immunity.

Reciprocity key to dealing with Trump’s US

After meeting with US President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday, Japan's SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son announced a $50 billion investment in the US, aiming to create 50,000 jobs. Trump then tweeted that Son "would never do this" if Trump hadn't won the election.

Immediately some Japanese netizens said this is the result of Trump extorting Japan. Not long before, South Korea said it would have to accept taking a greater share of costs for hosting US forces if Trump demands it. Foxconn, belonging to Taiwan tycoon Terry Gou, will join SoftBank in investing $7 billion in the US, creating another 50,000 jobs. 

The president-elect has already prompted the US' Asian allies to actively express their willingness to pay "protection money" before he is sworn in. The investment of SoftBank and Foxconn is widely considered to be a creative way of Japanese and Taiwan authorities to play up to Washington. 

But some think the investment deal is a show by SoftBank in alliance with Trump. The company has already invested in the US on venture capital, robotics and online finance, which will only decrease US jobs, not the other way around. 

Trump tries to translate his image of not playing by the rules into a worldwide presumption that he may play tough, in an attempt to blow away his targeted countries and regions. His tactics seem to have worked out on Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

Trump obviously considers China a cash cow. There have been voices in the West that want China to do more since the US deemed that China took a free ride on US efforts to maintain world order. 

However, it was reported Wednesday that Trump is to appoint Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, an old friend of China, as the next US ambassador to Beijing, which suggests there may be another dimension to Trump's desire to maintain communications and friendliness with China. This has made his China policy in the making more complicated. 

China has made more efforts to contribute more to world peace and increasing expenditure in this regard as it is necessary with China's continuous development. 

But does China need to make deals with Trump that only benefit the US for making peace with him? Apparently not. The negotiations between China and the US must be carried out on an equal footing with mutual benefits, and won't come to any agreement under Trump's coercion.  

What if someone tries to leverage China in negotiations in an unacceptable way and tries to create an arrogant atmosphere? 

In this case, the best China can do is to return an eye for an eye.

China won't pay into Trump's protection racket. It should use the money to build more strategic nuclear arms and accelerate the deployment of the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile. China's military spending in 2017 should be augmented significantly. 

We need to get better prepared militarily regarding the Taiwan question to ensure that those who advocate Taiwan's independence will be punished, and take precautions in case of US provocations in the South China Sea.

If Branstad is appointed US ambassador, China should give a positive response. China needs to always prepare for the worst and stay open to the good.

Saudi Arabia 'puppeteering' in the Middle East

Boris Johnson has accused Saudia Arabia of abusing Islam and acting as a puppeteer in the Middle East, to further its own political aims.
In what was perhaps a moment of personal frankness, the foreign secretary broke the Foreign Office's typical convention not to criticise the UK's allies in public.
Johnson also criticised the Gulf State's actions, as well as those of Iran's, in how they manipulated the Sunni-Shi'ite divide, creating a "tragedy" in the Middle East.
He made the comments at the Mediterranean Dialoguesin Rome, an event which discusses policy issues, on Thursday 1 December.
Responding to the statement that religion was being used as a political tool made by Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Secretary General of the Arab League, Johnson said: "You've put your finger on the whole problem. There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion, and different strains of the same religion, to further their own political objectives.
"That is one of the biggest political problems in the whole region. And the tragedy for me – and that's why you have all these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.
"There are not enough big characters, big people, men or women, who are willing to reach out beyond their Sunni or Shia or whatever group to the other side and bring people together and develop a national story again. That's what's lacking and that's the tragedy."
He added: "That's why you've got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in, and puppeteering and playing proxy wars."
Johnson's criticism of Saudi Arabia comes as Theresa May returned from a two-day visit to the Gulf, where she revered the Saudi royal family for their leadership and the value of the 100-year-old alliance with the UK.
Foreign Office officials have often soft-peddled on Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses, opting instead for gentle reform, due to the sensitivity toward the country's leaders and the value of arms deals with Britain.
The Royal Navy has also established a major naval base in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
Johnson, who is not unfamiliar with making political gaffes, will have to face up to his comments as he is due to visit the Gulf this weekend.
In his criticism, Johnson also referred to Cyprus as an example of how leaders in the Middle East could tackle the issue of sectarianism.
He said: "I've just come from Cyprus where I have seen one example of how this can happen.
"It's not there yet. It is still very difficult. But you have two leaders, from the Greek community and the Turkish community, who are trying and they are taking risks, each is taking risks with its own community, to try to bring that island together.
"I see that in Cyprus and I have to tell you I don't see it anywhere else in the region."
He added: "It's a tragedy to watch it. We need to have some way of encouraging visionary leadership in that area.
"People who can tell a story that brings people together from different factions and different religious groups into one nation. That's what is missing."

US Border Patrol uses desert as ‘weapon’ to kill thousands of migrants, report says

Rory Carroll

A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border on 17 November 2016 near Felicity, California.
Arizona advocacy group says agents chase border crossers from Mexico into hostile terrain in a strategy that leaves many injured, dead or lost A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border last month near Felicity, California. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images
The US Border Patrol agency has engineered the death and disappearance of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants by using the desert wilderness as a “weapon”, according to an advocacy group. Agents chase and scatter border crossers across hostile terrain in a strategy that leaves many people injured, dead or lost, turning the US’s south-western frontier into a “vast graveyard of the missing”, the Arizona-based group No More Deathssaid on Wednesday.
Death in the sands: the horror of the US-Mexico border.
“The known disappearance of thousands of people in the remote wilderness of the US–Mexico border zone marks one of the great historical crimes of our day,” the group said in a blistering report, the first of three reports documenting alleged abuses by Border Patrol. In addition to deadly apprehension methods it accused the federal agency, which deploys about 18,000 agents on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico, of sabotaging humanitarian aid efforts and discriminating against undocumented people in emergency responses. No More Deaths, a ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, worked with volunteers from another group, La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, on the 34-page report. It drew on a survey of 58 border crossers and 544 cases from the Missing Migrant Crisis Line. Tens of thousands have gone missing since the 1990s, including 1,200 last year, it said. “If found, the disappeared turn up in detention centers, in morgues or skeletonized on the desert floor; many human remains are never identified. Thousands more are never located. With each passing day, another father, sister, aunt, brother, partner or child goes missing while attempting to cross the Southwest border.”
Border Patrol’s parent organisation, US Customs and Border Protection, issued a statement defending its record. “CBP values human life, and we collaborate closely with foreign government officials, law enforcement partners, and community organizations to educate potential migrants about the true dangers of crossing the border illegally.” It said the Tucson sector Border Patrol deploys 36 rescue beacons and more than 230 agents trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), plus 54 Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents. The agency blamed deaths on smugglers. “Smugglers lie, telling their ‘customers’ their passage will be safe, but in reality, the terrain is treacherous and the conditions are extreme. Many are led to their deaths by smugglers more concerned about making money than they are about the lives of others.”
Donald Trump has promised to wall off the southern border to stop undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs entering the US, raising expectations of an expanded border force and intensified interception efforts after he becomes president next month. The National Border Patrol Council, a union which represents agents, has endorsed Trump’s candidacy and advised his transition team. It says about half of border crossers slip through, a “frightening” security gap which leaves the US vulnerable to drug cartels and terrorists. Border manpower and hardware has increased exponentially since 9/11, transforming what was a chain link fence into a zone bristling with cameras, sensors, drones and rapid response teams. No More Deaths depicts the border as a gauntlet which often condemns would-be crossers to grim and uncertain fates. It said the policy was rooted in a 1994 Clinton-era Border Patrol strategy called “Prevention Through Deterrence” which sealed off urban entry points and funneled people to wilderness routes risking injury, dehydration, heat stroke, exhaustion and hypothermia. The Border Patrol estimates at least 6,000 have died since the 1990s. Other estimates are significantly higher. With many bodies never found, precision is impossible.
The report accused agents of hounding people to injury and death, and brutalising those they captured: “Mass death and disappearance are the inevitable outcomes of a border enforcement plan that uses the wilderness as a weapon.” Of the 58 border crossers who were interviewed, 47 said they had been chased within the past five years, some several times. “We run as if we were blind, as if we had a cloth over our eyes,” said one. The report cited the case of a 29-year-old Salvadorean who went missing on 27 August 2015 after fleeing a patrol in south Texas. He told his family in a text message he thought his foot was broken. His whereabouts and fate remain unknown. Pursuit increases the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, exhaustion, injury and drowning, the report said. And more than 40% of chases, according to the survey, resulted in someone becoming lost. A mother told the Missing Migrant Crisis Line in August 2015 that she received a text from her son saying he was lost in Arizona’s Ajo region. “He said ‘migración’ had made his group scatter, and that he was alone, having lost sight of his group when everyone ran.” His fate remains unknown. Of the 67 chases, 12 resulted in injury from excessive force during apprehension, according to the survey. The report cited cases of people being punched, kneed, hit with vehicles, intimidated and bitten by dogs. Border Patrol agents have killed 48 people since 2010, half of them during pursuit, it said.
The next two reports will detail allegations that agents have vandalised humanitarian supplies – Samaritans and other groups leave food and water on trails – and discriminate against undocumented people in emergency response. Minutemen-like militias claim Border Patrol efforts are an Obama administration sham and that the frontier is open, a de facto welcome mat for “criminals” and “aliens”. “Everybody knows where the checkpoints are. It’s window dressing,” said Harry Hughes, who said he had just returned from the field, monitoring cartel scouts. He doubted Trump would change much. “Congress writes the checks.” Robert Crooks, another Arizona Minuteman, was more bullish and said Trump was already having an impact. “A lot of the illegals have already started self-deporting because they know a change is coming.” Would-be crossers at immigrant shelters in Nogales, just inside Mexico, called the border a formidable barrier with treacherous terrain and ubiquitous cameras, sensors, drones and patrols, real or perceived.
Passage through Mexico: the global migration to the US
To cross they must pay several thousand dollars in fees and “taxes” to criminals, or haul drugs. Being spotted by Border Patrol can mean forfeiting a fortune or going to jail for drug smuggling. Either way, a strong incentive to flee. The risk of getting lost in the wilderness are set against the certain grimness of being shackled and herded back into Mexico, broke, desperate and, in the case of those in Nogales, cold. Some deportees sleep in a cemetery, huddling under blankets, branches and cardboard to survive sub-zero temperatures. “My mother prays for me,” said Betancourt, a Honduran. Deported last March after a decade in the US, he had spent two months and several hundred dollars traversing 2,500 miles from Honduras up to Nogales. Now the US was a two-minute walk away. From some tombstones you could see the 18ft steel border fence.
Betancourt declined to reveal his full name, or how he intended to cross. But if spotted by Border Patrol he had a plan: “Run.”