Friday, December 9, 2016

Lady Gaga - Million Reasons

Donald Trump’s policies may push Southeast Asian countries closer to China

By Hu Weijia 

Will US President-elect Donald Trump's gripes about globalization turn out to be an opportunity for China to strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam? Let's wait and see.

On Thursday, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc "warned of the risk of returning protectionism as Southeast Asian nations brace for potentially tighter trade controls in the US," Bloomberg reported. With Trump's vow to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it is understandable that Vietnam - a country that would be one of the largest beneficiaries of the free trade agreement - expresses its concerns about the negative impact of a failed TPP on Vietnam's export-oriented economy. 

In the past few years, the US has imposed anti-dumping duties on goods imported from the Southeast Asian country such as warm-water shrimp. Now Vietnam's economy is likely to suffer a blow if the US, an important export destination, abandons the TPP and sets up new trade barriers.

This is the same situation other Southeast Asian countries face in their pursuit of globalization. As limited domestic markets can't always generate enough demand to sustain growth, Southeast Asian countries may move closer to China amid fears of returning protectionism from the US. Realistically, some nations, the Philippines included, have already started.

China's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which ran aground in July over the South China Sea issue, have been put back on track. It is not difficult to imagine that the China-ASEAN strategic partnership will pick up steam as China continues to boost its investment and economic presence in the region. Some people may hope the South China Sea issue can exert a wide-ranging influence on East Asia and hinder China's rise, but those people are going to be deeply disappointed by the result.

The two sides will inevitably face new challenges as they move closer to each other. China and most Southeast Asian countries have an export-oriented economy with a motivation to explore overseas consumer markets, which may lead to competition among countries. However, through its supply-side structural reforms China is working to turn itself into a consumption-oriented economy and become an export market for Southeast Asian countries.

How China will fill the potential void if Trump surrenders the US' role as a global free trade leader is unknown but what is certain is that China will work with Southeast Asian countries to cope with trade protectionism.

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President Obama Orders 'Full Review' of Any Hacking Related to 2016 Election

President Obama has ordered a "full review" of what the intelligence community has called Russian hacking activity related to the 2016 election and expects to receive the report before he leaves office, a senior White House official said today.
“The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process," Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C., today.
“We may be in -- crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what, what this means, what has happened and to impart those lessons learned and that’s what we’re going to go about doing," she added.
The White House said the review, which the president requested earlier this week, will date back to 2008.
"The president asked to go back with what we know now to make sure that we're using every tool possible as a means of due diligence," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. He said the review will "look at malicious cyberactivity timed to our presidential election cycle, so it will be broader than just looking at this past election."
Just weeks before the Nov. 8 election, U.S. intelligence agencies accused the Russian government of hacking intended to influence U.S. political institutions and elections.
"These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process," the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement at the time.
While the the intelligence community pinned the hacking this year on Russia, the review will examine potential hacks by all foreign actors, the White House said.
In 2008, both Obama's and John McCain's presidential campaigns were reportedly the subject of hacking by the Chinese.
The president hopes to make as much of the report public as possible, but it will need to be reviewed for sensitive or classified information, Schultz said.
In his interview with Time magazine for Person of the Year, Trump contended he still doesn't believe Russia was responsible for any election-related hacking.
"I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered," Trump said.
Asked whether he thought the intelligence community's conclusion about the hacks was politically driven, he said, "I think so."
The White House has said the president will consider a "proportional" response to the hacks, likely one that won't be announced ahead of time.

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

By Adam EntousEllen Nakashima and Greg Miller

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The CIA presentation to senators about Russia’s intentions fell short of a formal U.S. assessment produced by all 17 intelligence agencies. A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered. For example, intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks, a second senior U.S. official said. Those actors, according to the official, were “one step” removed from the Russian government, rather than government employees. Moscow has in the past used middlemen to participate in sensitive intelligence operations so it has plausible deniability. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has said in a television interview that the “Russian government is not the source.” The White House and CIA officials declined to comment. On Friday, the White House said President Obama had ordered a “full review” of Russian hacking during the election campaign, as pressure from Congress has grown for greater public understanding of exactly what Moscow did to influence the electoral process. “We may have crossed into a new threshold, and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Obama’s counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Obama wants the report before he leaves office Jan. 20, Monaco said. The review will be led by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, officials said. During her remarks, Monaco didn’t address the latest CIA assessment, which hasn’t been previously disclosed. Seven Democratic senators last week asked Obama to declassify details about the intrusions and why officials believe that the Kremlin was behind the operation. Officials said Friday that the senators specifically were asking the White House to release portions of the CIA’s presentation. This week, top Democratic lawmakers in the House also sent a letter to Obama, asking for briefings on Russian interference in the election. U.S. intelligence agencies have been cautious for months in characterizing Russia’s motivations, reflecting the United States’ long-standing struggle to collect reliable intelligence on President Vladi­mir Putin and those closest to him. In previous assessments, the CIA and other intelligence agencies told the White House and congressional leaders that they believed Moscow’s aim was to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system. The assessments stopped short of saying the goal was to help elect Trump. On Oct. 7, the intelligence community officially accused Moscow of seeking to interfere in the election through the hacking of “political organizations.” Though the statement never specified which party, it was clear that officials were referring to cyber-intrusions into the computers of the DNC and other Democratic groups and individuals. Some key Republican lawmakers have continued to question the quality of evidence supporting Russian involvement. “I’ll be the first one to come out and point at Russia if there’s clear evidence, but there is no clear evidence — even now,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Trump transition team. “There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it.” [U.S. investigating potential covert Russian plan to disrupt elections] Though Russia has long conducted cyberspying on U.S. agencies, companies and organizations, this presidential campaign marks the first time Moscow has attempted through cyber-means to interfere in, if not actively influence, the outcome of an election, the officials said. The reluctance of the Obama White House to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions before Election Day upset Democrats on the Hill as well as members of the Clinton campaign. Within the administration, top officials from different agencies sparred over whether and how to respond. White House officials were concerned that covert retaliatory measures might risk an escalation in which Russia, with sophisticated cyber-capabilities, might have less to lose than the United States, with its vast and vulnerable digital infrastructure.
The White House’s reluctance to take that risk left Washington weighing more-limited measures, including the “naming and shaming” approach of publicly blaming Moscow. By mid-September, White House officials had decided it was time to take that step, but they worried that doing so unilaterally and without bipartisan congressional backing just weeks before the election would make Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence for political purposes. Instead, officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.
Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.
Specifically, the White House wanted congressional leaders to sign off on a bipartisan statement urging state and local officials to take federal help in protecting their voting-registration and balloting machines from Russian cyber-intrusions. Though U.S. intelligence agencies were skeptical that hackers would be able to manipulate the election results in a systematic way, the White House feared that Russia would attempt to do so, sowing doubt about the fundamental mechanisms of democracy and potentially forcing a more dangerous confrontation between Washington and Moscow.
[Putin denies that Russia hacked the DNC but says it was for the public good]
In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals. And they made a case for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described as “the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our election process.”

The Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided, with at least two GOP lawmakers reluctant to accede to the White House requests.
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
Some of the Republicans in the briefing also seemed opposed to the idea of going public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election, a move that they argued would only rattle public confidence and play into Moscow’s hands.
McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment. After the election, Trump chose McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, as his nominee for transportation secretary.
Some Clinton supporters saw the White House’s reluctance to act without bipartisan support as further evidence of an excessive caution in facing adversaries.
“The lack of an administration response on the Russian hacking cannot be attributed to Congress,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who was at the September meeting. “The administration has all the tools it needs to respond. They have the ability to impose sanctions. They have the ability to take clandestine means. The administration has decided not to utilize them in a way that would deter the Russians, and I think that’s a problem.”

Afshan Zebi - Dhola Sanu Pyar De

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Pakistan - Census has been overdue for two decades

Census is overdue, asserts Federal Minister for Human Rights Kamran Micheal. He said that last census was conducted also by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his last tenure as the Premier back in 1998. He said that census must be conducted well before every time elections are piloted.

Prior to the 1998 Census, a census was done back in 1981 under a martial law, which was deemed controversial too. Despite the fact that census was due in 2008, the exercise was avoided even though preparations were undertaken in 2008 and in 2010.
Kamran Michael told local newspaper that the commitment of PM Minister Nawaz directed the concerned authorities to conduct a census as soon as possible. He said that for this purpose, finances were allocated and all the required material was arranged nonetheless, the “exercise was delayed due to the non-availability of armed forces, which were already busy with Operation Zarb-e-Azb.”
“Now, as the federal government has assured the court to hold the census in March, I am confident that again the credit for census would go to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who always takes big challenges and plays the role of a statesman.”
“As I have already explained that while Operation Zarb-e-Azb has achieved significant gains and 80 percent of its objectives have already been achieved, we are quite confident that required troops would be available for the census. We plan to conduct it in phases and hope to secure the process with minimum personnel.”
“Since the prime minister has showed his commitment to this national objective, nobody should be cynical as jumping the gun never helps. We should understand that the armed forces have played a key role in achieving the targets set under the Operation Zarb-e-Azb and since the army wanted to consolidate its gains, we should appreciate their efforts for long-term peace in the country.”

The legacy of census in Pakistan

By Ayesha Jawad
What is taking Pakistan so long to conduct the national census? Certainly, the massive task of tallying people is a difficult one but an essential requirement of a country. Without a census, planning on the government’s part is no more than guesswork. However, a delay in conducting census on part of the Pakistan government provoked the Supreme Court to take the matter under its suo moto jurisdiction, declaring the significance and urgency attached to the matter. As the head of the family requires information about their family, likewise, the government should be aware of its citizens. The national census is a programme of absolute importance and should be carried out with an interval of ten years as one of the most essential and important planning tools of a country. The census organisation established in 1950 in Pakistan, has conducted four national censuses so far, with delays. The last one was carried out in 1998 after a delay of seven years. A census is due in Pakistan since 2008.
A government uses the data of census in planning growth and delivering services. For instance, a national government distributing economic support to local governments can use census data to direct aid to parts of the country with the highest poverty rates. While looking at the importance of conducting the census, avoiding this exercise on part of Pakistan is now creating resentment and suspicion amongst the various institutions of the government. The recent suo moto by the Supreme Court of Pakistan about governmental delay in conducting the census has stirred debate on the importance of the task.
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) in 2014 decided that the census shall be carried out by March 2016, which definitely was not seen on the agenda of the government this year. It was further decided that the government will receive an estimated Rs14.5 billion, which have been requested to hold the census. Clearly, the CCI has failed in its agenda and plan. Another perspective given by intellectuals is to rely on data recorded by NADRA. Relying on NADRA, as per various advisers, demonstrates the ignorance of people; how would you record people who see no necessity of ID cards? NADRA only holds the data of people who require identity cards, passports or other of identity documents.
This flexible attitude of government towards one of the most important issues clearly shows that government treats census as a short-term political need. Furthermore, the accuracy of other surveys also cannot be taken as a substitute of the national census. It is the chief responsibility of the government to report on the state of the nation. Without census data, the government cannot advise the citizens on the state of the economy and society. Having obsolete data from the 1998 census, the Pakistani government cannot plan about the delimitation of electoral constituencies, seat shares in parliament, targeted subsidies, local bodies polls, and all other policy matters that rest on population data. The government has to consult CCI for the census in March 2017, which again seems a dream. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has directed PBC to come with an unambiguous date to conduct the census. Most likely the census would be done in phases, considering the manpower and resources available. The government has to work on reliable methodology for conducting these surveys. The question that how many times other institutions of the state will have to jump in to manage the mismanagement/bad governance on part of the government often arises. Failure to conduct a census for the past 18 years is another saga of bad governance on part of the democratically chosen governments.
While looking at the importance of conducting the census, avoiding this exercise on part of Pakistan is now creating resentment and suspicion amongst the various institutions of the government.


PPP considers human rights as inalienable and uncompromisable in any kind of situation or condition.
KARACHI, December 9: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has pledged that his Party will continue to stand up as a strong voice for upholding human rights and stiff resistance against violations anywhere.
In his message on International Human Rights Day being observed under the United Nations umbrella, the PPP Chairman said that PPP considers human rights as inalienable and uncompromisable in any kind of situation or condition. “Imprisonments, solitary confinements, lashes and even the gallows could not deter the PPP leadership and workers to go on back-foot in its struggle for basic human rights, democracy and equal opportunities for all,” he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari pointed out that there was no political prisoner during previous PPP government but Nawaz Sharif rule has worsened the human rights violations, especially against weak segments like women and minorities are being committed with impunity. “PPP is taking up these violations of by Nawaz government and his Interior Minister in the Parliament and will government but Nawaz Sharif rule has worsened the human rights violations, especially against weak segments like women and minorities are being committed with impunity. “PPP is taking up these violations of by Nawaz government and his Interior Minister in the Parliament and will held them accountable before the elected Houses of the people of Pakistan,” stated.
He said that PPP will protect the basic human rights of all the citizens without any discrimination and won’t tolerate any violation whether by government or individuals. In fact, all the legislation meant for safeguarding human rights in the country had either been initiated, sponsored or overwhelmingly supported by PPP and we are proud of that, he added.
PPP Chairman condemned the cruel atrocities against the people of Held Kashmir by Indian occupation forces and urged the United Nations to grill India for indulging in such horrible violations of fundamental human rights in the occupied valley despite being a signatory to the Universal Human Rights Declaration.

Bilawal Bhutto :Panama Leaks case a litmus test for the country

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Panama case was a litmus test for our country and stressed that a nation-wide pledge was required on the International Anti-Corruption Day being observed today to eliminate corruption through democratic accountability. 

“Like all other ills faced by our society, corruption was also promoted and patronized by dictatorial regimes. Prevalence of sacred cow syndrome and use of accountability tools just for political victimization remains the biggest hurdle against all anti-corruption initiatives,” he said.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that involvement of our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the world’s biggest Panama Leaks corruption scandal and dilly-dallying by PML-N in passing the PPP’s Bill for Panama case investigations must wake up the entire nation.
PPP Chairman appreciated the efforts of Sindh government in tackling corruption through activating its Anti-Corruption Department aggressively while similar arms in other provinces still seemed to be in deep slumber.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said his four demands will also go a long way to introduce democratic accountability of all the institutions to curb corruption of every kind with no escape-route to sacred cows also.