Friday, March 31, 2017

Music Video - Jason Derulo - Swalla (feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign)

Video - Hillary Clinton Full Speech at Georgetown University 3.31.17

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Stephen Colbert - Mike Pence: Wine, Dine And Reset Gender Norms To '69

Video - The Daily Show - So Much News, So Little Time - Nepotism, Impeachment & the Freedom Caucus:

Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE.

Video Report - Xinjiang tackles extremism at the grassroots level

Video Report - Syrian war brings Russia and Iran closer together

Video Report - Putin meets with Iranian leader: Iran is a good neighbor and reliable partner of Russia

Video Report - Putin Tells Anecdote From His KGB Days: Luckily, I Didn't End up in GULAG!

Russia Sees No Military Solution To Afghanistan’s Problem

The Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy, has said that Afghanistan’s problem cannot be solved through military solutions. He said representatives of 12 regional countries will encourage the Afghan government and Taliban to hold face-to-face talks at an upcoming conference in Moscow.
“There are main points to discuss to work out a regional approach to the solution of the Afghan problem and to send a strong signal to the Taliban movement that there is no military solution for the Afghan problem,” the ambassador told TOLOnews on Friday. According to Mantytskiy, Taliban has not been invited to this upcoming meeting. “Regarding the invitation of the Taliban movement, no such type of invitation was given. It means that only representatives of the government will participate,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at an event this week that they would support an Afghan-owned peace process. “We also support and we are in favor of a reconciliation process, but it has to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. As long as it is an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, we support the initiative to find a peaceful solution to Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg said. Meanwhile, a number of Afghan analysts commented on the reasons behind Russia’s interest in Afghanistan. “Competition of powerful countries in Afghanistan has turned the country into a battlefield that causes Afghan people to be killed every day,” said Farhad Majidi, a member of Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament.
“As more countries get involved in the Afghanistan issue, it will get more complicated and it would not benefit Russia, but will increase instability in Afghanistan,” said Nasrullah Stanikzai, a lecturer at Kabul University. This comes after the Commander of the United States Central Command Gen. Josef Votel said at a session in the U.S Senate this week that Russia might provide support to the Taliban in order to be an influential party in Afghanistan.

State of the minorities in Pakistan - Top Ahmadi muslim Leader Gets Killed By Radicals; Prosecutor Wants Christians To Convert





By Manas Sen Gupta 


A senior advocate of the Ahmadi (Ahmadiyya) community was shot dead on Thursday morning in Nankana Sahib. On the other hand, a public prosecutor tried to blackmail Christians accused of lynching to death two Muslim men to convert to avoid conviction.

The leader of the Ahmadi community was Malik Saleem Latif, a relative of Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate Abdus Salam.


Latif was also a leader of the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiya. Pakistani media says that he was shot by terrorist from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) while on his way to the court along with his son, advocate Farhan.
In their statement, the LeJ said that Latif was targeted for “spreading Ahmadi beliefs”.

It should be noted that Ahmadis are officially not recognized as Muslims in Pakistan. The Ordinance XX of the Pakistan was created to discriminate and victimize the Ahmadis.


Ahmadi community members pointed out that thousands of hate-filled advertisements were published against the community in local and national dailies.

Meanwhile in Lahore, Christian rights activist Joseph Franci accused Deputy District Public Prosecutor (DDPP) Syed Anees Shah of trying to proselytize around 42 Christians.


The Christians are accused of lynching two men suspected of having a hand in the 2015 suicide blasts in predominantly Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad in Lahore.

“He told them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case,” Franci told the Pakistani media. Reports that the public prosecutor conceded that he offered them a choice.

The fact is that minorities in Pakistan are killed or forced to convert on a daily basis in Pakistan.


The influential fundamentalists in the country are able to carry out their nefarious agenda against the minorities with impunity as the state continues to look the other way.

It is because of this victimization that Dr Abdus Salam was forced to flee the country and live in United Kingdom. Sadly, a large section of Pakistan’s society stands in support of religious bigots.

Pakistan: Convert or Die? Choose you this day

Convert or Die, which would you choose? A Pakistani prosecutor reportedly presented at least 42 Christians with this question. He allegedly denied it, but talks of a video proving so forced him to admit the truth. 
RT reports that at least 42 Christians accused of murder in Pakistan were reportedly told they’d be acquitted if they embraced Islam. The accused face the charges after the lynching of two men following twin suicide blasts at churches during Sunday mass.
Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah initially denied telling the accused he could guarantee their acquittal if they converted. However, he later admitted he did, when told by Pakistan’s Express Tribune that the accused had a video recording of what he said.
“He asks them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case,” rights activist Jospeh Franci, who is involved in the legal proceedings, told the Tribune. Franci claims all of the accused remained silent following the offer, except one who appeared to say he would rather be hanged than embrace Islam.
The trial of the accused is taking place in an anti-terrorism court in Youhanabad, Lahore following the lynching of two men on March 15, 2015. The men were suspected of being involved in the planning of two suicide blasts at churches in Youhanabad on the same day, which left at least 14 people dead. Counsel for the accused, Naseeb Anjum Advocate, told the Tribune that the prosecution’s offer was not new, saying it was offered around six months ago.
“The government should get rid of such elements that bring [a] bad name to the state by such acts,” he said, claiming the prosecution was “blackmailing” the accused.
- See more at: http://www.trunews.com/article/pakistan-convert-or-die-choose-you-this-day#sthash.6TrFuJvc.dpuf

Russian inroads in Waziristan

In an unprecedented development, Pakistan Army on Thursday took a Russian military delegation headed by Deputy Chief of General Staff Colonel General Israkov Sergi Yuryevich to North Waziristan Agency to give them firsthand account of the country's anti-terror gains. This was the first time any Russian military delegation was taken to the region once considered a hotbed of local and foreign militant outfits. The development suggests ever increasing ties between the two countries, who remained bitter cold-war rivals for years. An Inter-Services Public Relations handout said the delegation was briefed about Pakistan Army's efforts to clear FATA from terrorists of all hue and colour. The visiting Russian military officers were also briefed about border management on the Pak-Afghan border and socio economic development projects in the area.
"The delegation acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army's achievements in the fight against terrorism and efforts to bring stability in the region," added the statement.
Cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and Pakistan has grown in recent times. In September 2016, a contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for the first ever joint Pak-Russia exercises. Around 200 military personnel of both countries participated in the drills. The special operations drills codenamed 'Druzhbha-2016' - a Russian word meaning 'friendship' - saw Russian troops and Pakistani special forces working in close cooperation. Building upon the cooperation, Russian Navy's largest anti-submarine warfare ship Severmorsk arrived in Pakistan for participation in the Aman 2017 international naval exercises in February 2017.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/31-Mar-17/russian-inroads-in-waziristan

Pakistan - Raheel Sharif and the Islamic military alliance: Controversial or clear?



The appointment of former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif as the leader of a 39-country Saudi military alliance has sparked debate over how the move will impact Pakistan's foreign policy, and whether it was fully sanctioned by parliament.
Reports of the appointment and Gen (r) Raheel's subsequent reticence regarding the development have given political rivals and pundits an opportunity to weigh in the transparency and importance of such a move.
PTI questions appointment
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Shireen Mazari responded to reports of the appointment by tweeting, "This [joining the alliance] will add to sectarian polarisation within Pakistan as well as greater regional instability. Parliament's approval should have been sought."
PTI's Ali Muhammad Khan shared a similar view.
"I want to hear it from the horse's mouth," Khan said on Geo's Capital Talk, adding that it is 'strange' that Raheel Sharif has remained silent on the topic since it first came to light.
"It is time that we know what this alliance is and on what basis was it formed," Khan said.
The PTI has said that it would raise the matter of the former army chief's appointment in parliament.
Janjua welcomes decision
Ex-military man and current National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua believes the appointment of retired Gen Sharif as the head of the military alliance would be a 'welcome step' for the Muslim world.
"He [Raheel Sharif] will become a reason for the unity of Muslim Ummah," he said.
"Gen Raheel Sharif will use his experiences and knowledge to remove internal misunderstandings among Muslim countries," Janjua added, saying that the former army chief's appointment would even benefit "anti-alliance countries, including Iran".
ANP smells a conspiracy
Awami National Party Vice President Bushra Gohar called for the Terms of Agreement for the appointment to be made public. "Why was parliament kept in [the] dark?" she asked. "Was it part of recent political wheelings and dealings?"

Govt in two minds

Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch in an appearance on DawnNews show Doosra Rukh said he believed the former army chief would "become controversial" if he led the Saudi military alliance.
"I feel it might lessen the respect he has earned," Baloch said, adding that the appointment as head of the alliance will not have the same chances of success as in the Pakistan Army as it will be a "hop scotch alliance and we do not know what the system will be".
However, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif remained diplomatic, and said the government is ready to issue him a No Objection Certificate (NoC). The Foreign Office, too, believes Sharif's appointment will not compromise Pakistan's long-standing policy of neutrality in Middle Eastern affairs.
"Personal resolutions dominate, parliamentary resolution made a joke."
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Spokesman Musaddiq Malik on a programme on Aaj TV Faisla Aap Ka also claimed the decision on the alliance was made in line with parliament's decision regarding the matter earlier.
PML-N's Talal Chaudhary earlier stated that no decision would be taken without the parliament's consent.
"It will be up to the parliament to provide the former chief of army staff a no-objection certificate (NOC) on the matter," said Chaudhary.
"As for the the Parliamentary Resolution of 2015, it stated that Pakistan would play a neutral role in the Yemen conflict to ensure an early resolution, the government will stick to that stance and the alliance will be a force to fight against the militant Islamic State organisation and other terror outfits," Chaudhary elaborated.

FOREIGN OFFICE OF PAKISTAN WAS UNAWARE OF SAUDI CONTACT WITH RAHEEL SHARIF


Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria has said yesterday that the Foreign Office was unaware that the Saudi government had gotten in touch with the former army chief Raheel Sharif, now a retired military general.

However, Zakaria said during weekly briefing that now Pakistan has joined the Saudi-led Military Alliance and this development has taken place after an agreement on ‘Terms of Reference.’
On the other hand, Musaddik Malik, spokesman to Prime Minister, said in a news channel talk show that the ToRs (terms of references) were not yet finalized between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
http://www.shiitenews.org/index.php/pakistan/item/27881-foreign-office-of-pakistan-was-unaware-of-saudi-contact-with-raheel-sharif
http://www.shiitenews.org/index.php/pakistan/item/27881-foreign-office-of-pakistan-was-unaware-of-saudi-contact-with-raheel-sharif

Bilawal Bhutto condemns Parachinar blast



Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned terrorist blast in Parachinar in which 24 innocent lives were lost outside an Imambargah today.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that PPP was leading anti-terrorism narrative in the country and every incident of terrorism brings more tears to every Pakistani.
PPP Chairman expressed sympathy and solidarity with the families of blast victim  and urged for provision of best possible medical treatment to those injured.

https://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/

#ParachinarBlast: Shia Genocide Continues by Banned Deobandi outfits allied with PMLN Government



The connivance of State organs with Deobandi hate mongers:

Shia Muslims in Pakistan are facing continual genocidal violence by banned Deobandi terrorist groups. These banned Deobandi groups like ASWJ/LEJ allied both with ISIS with the Nawaz Sharif government of Pakistan. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar meets regularly with with Deobandi hate leaders and initiators of Shia Genocide like Ahmed Ludhianvi. Saudi financed Deobandi Madrassas in Pakistan and India has issued Fatwas (religious orders) that incite murderous violence againts Shia Muslims as. The nexus of Deobandi Madrassas is backed by the Wahhabi Saudi State. The Nawaz Sharif Government in Pakistan is a Saudi proxy Government.
Chaudhry Nisar Meets with banned Deobandi outfit’s leader and hate mongerer Ludhanvi

Appalling role of the media by Obfuscation:

Pakistan’s media like DAWN describes this genocidal attack on Shia Muslims as “sectarian violence” – a typical obfuscation that hides the identity of the victims (Shias) and perpetrators (Deobandis) and conflates both of them in the same category.
Whenever you see terms like “Islamist” “sectarian violence” “proxy war” to describe this genocide, you should know that the fix is on and the narrator is another dishonest bigot.

ntellectual dishonesty by Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch and Vali Nasr of Saudi funded think tanks:

In December 2015, Shia Muslims were attacked yet again by ISIS-affiliated Deobandi terrorists in Parachinar. Just as they were attacked today and have been since the 1980s when CIA-backed General Zia ul Haq let loose his “Mujahideen” on Pakistan.
In the 2015 attack, please reexamine the tweet of HRW’s Ken Roth – better known as a despicable Al Qaeda cheerleader against Syria. Also see the pathetic attempts to justify #ShiaGenocide

MANY INJURED DUE TO FC COPS FIRING ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS IN PARACHINAR


Scores of peaceful Shia Muslim protesters were injured due to straight firing by the trigger-happy personnel of FC, a paramilitary force in Parachinar while they were protesting against the explosion perpetrated by takfiri terrorists in Parachinar today.

The trigger-happy cops within the security forces have always brought a bad name to the law enforcement agencies and armed forces due to their unjustifiable, illegal and immoral attack on peaceful civilians. Due to their firing on the celebrations of birth anniversary of Imam Hussain (3rd of Shaaban) last year, two Shia Muslims were martyred.
People of Pakistan have demanded of the Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff to rein in the rogue elements within the security agencies and punish those killed innocent civilians last year and injured peaceful protestors today.

http://www.shiitenews.org/index.php/pakistan/item/27880-many-injured-due-to-fc-cops-firing-on-peaceful-protesters-in-parachinar

Suicide Bomber Kills 24 Near Mosque in Northwestern Pakistan




A car bomb exploded Friday near a Shiite Muslim mosque in the town of Parachinar in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 24 people and wounding over 100, officials said.
The bomb was detonated near the mosque, which also is not far from the Noor Market, said Mushtaq Ghani, a spokesman for the provincial government. TV footage showed victims being taken away in ambulances and private cars.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Pakistani Taliban militants, claimed responsibility. Spokesman Asad Mansoor said in a statement that it was carried out by one of the group's members, Abul Durda, and targeted minority Shiites, considered heretics by the militants.
The blast also damaged vehicles and nearby shops, according to government administrator Zahid Hussain, who also said Shiites were the intended target.
Kamran Ali, hospitalized with a head injury, said he was sitting in his shop when the blast took place.
"My shop partially collapsed and I was unable to move for the next 30 minutes or so, and then residents brought me to hospital," he said. The area was littered with broken glass and spattered blood, he added.
Parachinar is a key town in the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan and has been wracked by sectarian violence. The area once was a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban and Sunni militant groups. Although the army says it has cleared Kurram of militants, violence has continued.
Mansoor and Lashker-e-Jhangvi, another banned Sunni militant group, have claimed responsibility for previous attacks.
Two doctors at the government-run hospital said 22 bodies and more than 70 wounded were brought to the facility. The doctors spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Other wounded initially taken to private facilities also were brought to the government hospital.
Sabir Hussain, a hospital official, said the Pakistan army took 40 of the most critically wounded by helicopters to hospitals in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where two people died.

Angered by the attack, some residents were seen chanting slogans against the government. Security forces fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd, according to officials.
Later, mourners returned to the streets carrying the dead in caskets and staged a sit-in near the office of the area administrator. They chanted slogans calling for better security for residents who have been repeated victims of such attacks.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and vowed to eliminate terrorism.
"The network of terrorists has already been broken and it is our national duty to continue this war until the complete annihilation of the scourge of terrorism from our soil," Sharif said in a statement.
The bombing came hours after state-run media said President Mamnoon Hussain had signed a bill removing the last hurdle for reviving military courts to bring terrorism suspects to trial.
Pakistan's Senate and National Assembly have already passed a constitutional amendment to extend the practice, which has been in place for two years. A previous 2015 amendment established the military courts but expired in January.
The move to use military courts followed the December 2014 Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that killed 154 people — mostly schoolchildren.
Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty at that time. Since then, it has executed over 400 people, although most were linked to routine murders.
Meanwhile, the army said it killed a "high-value" Pakistani Taliban leader, Mehmood-ul-Hassan, along with an associate in a raid in the South Waziristan tribal region. In a statement, it said troops also seized a cache of weapons from the hideouts of slain militants, who for years operated from the region to orchestrate attacks.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

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Saudi Air Raid Leaves 10 Civilians Dead in Yemen's Sa’ada

Eight children and two women have lost their lives in a fresh Saudi aerial attack on Yemen’s northwestern Sa’ada province.
Four people were also injured in Wednesday’s airstrike that hit a residential area in Sa’ada, Yemen's Arabic-language al-Masirah television network said, Press TV reported on Thursday. Additionally on Wednesday, Saudi warplanes bombarded the Yemeni districts of Dhubab, Harad and Munabbih, situated in the provinces of Ta'izz, Hajjah and Sa’ada, respectively.
The Wednesday airstrikes were carried out a day after similar raids on Nihm neighborhood of Sana'a province killed all members of a family. In retaliation for the deadly Saudi airstrikes, 20 Saudi mercenaries were slain in mortar attacks conducted by the Yemeni army and Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement in the north of Midi Desert in Hajjah. Yemeni army snipers further shot dead five Saudi officers in an unspecified location.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a brutal military campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The kingdom has also imposed an aerial and naval blockade on its impoverished southern neighbor. The Saudi aggression, which allegedly seeks to restore Yemen's ex-government to power, has killed over 12,000 Yemenis, according to the latest tallies.
Separately on Wednesday, a drone strike claimed the lives of four people in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, a security official said. Two missiles hit a vehicle on the outskirts of Abyan’s Mudiyah neighborhood, killing all four occupants, who were suspected to be members of the al-Qaeda militant group, the official added.
Earlier this month The Wall Street Journal reported that US President Donald Trump had given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new powers to launch drone attacks against suspected terrorist targets. The authority was limited to the Pentagon under the former US administration.
Under the new measure, however, the CIA would require no permission from the Pentagon or even the White House before conducting a drone strike. Reports say Washington has conducted dozens of strikes against what are claimed to be al-Qaeda targets in Yemen since March 2, when it stepped up its campaign in the Arabian Peninsula country.
The conflict-ridden state has been under regular US drone attacks, with Washington claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda elements while local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.
https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2017/03/30/1366948/saudi-air-raid-leaves-10-civilians-dead-in-yemen-s-sa-ada

West still bowing to Saudi Arabia











BY FARZANA HASSAN
A petition recently circulated in the UK demanded a halt to UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the release of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi and an investigation into possible Saudi war crimes in Yemen.
While many Western nations line up to sign business contracts with Saudi Arabia, they turn a blind eye to its medieval laws and policies.
The recent ban on electronics larger than a cell phone from the cabins of direct flights coming into the U.S. from 10 countries included Saudi Arabia.
But U.S. President Donald Trump’s second attempt to temporarily ban visitors from six countries judged to be incubators of terrorism didn’t, even though most of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia.
The oil-rich kingdom remains a Western ally despite its human rights violations and the religious fundamentalism and parochialism still featured in its textbooks, and which it still exports to Middle Eastern and South Asian nations.
Saudi Arabia’s excesses could fill a book, ranging from abusing the rights of women, to its mistreatment of foreign workers, to persecution of anyone espousing a non-traditional view of Islam, or daring to have a different sexual orientation from the one sanctioned by the state, under its draconian religious laws.
Yet Western nations continue to reward the oil kingdom.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved an arms contract with Saudi Arabia, arguing it was a legacy of the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
As for the UK, Saudi Arabia remains its largest market for arms sales, under the specious argument it has the same right to self-defence as any country.
As the UK petition notes, such cooperation leaves no doubt of implicit Western support for a Saudi regime that does not meet basic, universal standards of human rights.
Badawi is a Saudi writer and blogger,who was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 on a charge of “insulting Islam”.
According to Peter Tatchell, a human rights lawyer who is one of the authors of the UK petition, “The Saudi regime ought to be treated as a global pariah. Its courts sentenced Raif Badawi to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for the crime of expressing the wrong opinions ... But there is no sign that this sadistic cruelty is disturbing the close and decades-long friendship between London and Riyadh.”
Other human rights abuses are even worse.
According to another petitioner, Claire Brand, “For two years, UK-made bombs have been falling on Yemen. The consequences have been devastating, with thousands being killed and whole communities being ... destroyed. The UK government's response has been ... to sell even more weapons. If (Prime Minister) Theresa May and her colleagues want to do what’s right for the Yemeni people, then they must end their complicity in this destruction.”
There are other alleged human rights abuses that the petition does not address.
For example, two Pakistani transgender women were recently murdered in Saudi Arabia -- a charge the kingdom denies in the face of strong evidence to the contrary -- according to Pakistani news reports.
In any event all alleged Saudi crimes will almost certainly go unpunished.
Women generally remain largely marginalized in the oil kingdom.
Saudi authorities have not relented in their position on Badawi despite Western demands and requests by human rights agencies.
It is past time Western leaders had the backbone to stop kowtowing to Saudi Arabia.

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Trump Administration Signals It Won't Seek Assad’s Ouster



On Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Washington no longer will pursue an agenda of removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, marking a tectonic shift in US foreign policy.

The comments mark a major admission of defeat of that particular aspect of US foreign policy. 
"Our priority," Haley said, "is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," Haley said on Thursday. "Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria." 
The question of whether Assad will retain power has had leaders scratching their heads all over the globe. Since January, a shaky ceasefire has been in effect, brokered by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. 
Moscow and Ankara specifically have emerged as guarantors of the ceasefire, but essentially every other country, including the US under the Obama administration, wanted to see Assad removed from power. The question leaders have had to grapple with – whether Assad could, should or would stay in power – now seems to have gained some clarity.
While the US struggles to maintain its will on the international landscape, the removal of Washington’s support for anti-Assad voices is a major blow to interests that wanted to see Assad replaced. 
In response to a question on whether a political settlement in Syria would include the resignation of Assad, Haley replied in an article published March 30, “This is one of the situations where the US and Russia can definitely talk and say, ‘OK, how can we get to a better solution here?’ but the issue of Assad is going to be there.”
Earlier in March, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Assad isn’t “an acceptable leader to all of the Syrian people.” Ousting Assad was one of the Obama administration’s top objectives in the Middle East.
While visiting Ankara, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also said that the US would retreat from its previous stance. 
The “longer term” status of Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people,” Tillerson said during a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.

Putin blasts opposition politicians for using protests as ‘campaign spin’





Russia’s president has it is wrong for political figures to use anti-corruption campaigns for political advantage rather than actually try to do something about it, while noting that his administration and allies have always been staunchly anti-corruption. “We persistently stand for fighting corruption,” President Vladimir Putin told reporters on Wednesday at the International Arctic Forum in Russia’s northwestern city of Arkhangelsk. “The problem has become lesser in recent times, public opinion polls testify to that,” he noted.
“But I think that it is not right when certain political forces attempt to use this tool for their own promotion, including electoral campaigns, instead of trying to improve the situation in the country,” Putin said.
“This tool was used in the Arab Spring events and we know very well what the results of those events were. The same tool was used as an excuse for the coup d’état in Ukraine that has driven that country into chaos,” Putin added. He also told reporters that, in his opinion, those who violate the law must be held responsible within the limits set by it. As for recent calls from Western politicians to release the demonstrators detained during Sunday’s unsanctioned protests, Putin said he considers such rhetoric extremely politicized and also an attempt to influence Russia’s internal political situation.
On Sunday, March 26, thousands of people took to the streets across Russia to protest corruption. The rallies were organized by opposition politician Aleksey Navalny, who wants the authorities to react to his latest report, in which he accuses PM Dmitry Medvedev of ‘illegally’ using the assets of several charity funds. Russia’s authorities have dismissed those allegations as Navalny’s own political propaganda.
The largest unsanctioned rally took place in Moscow. According to police reports, about 500 participants, including Navalny himself, were detained for violating public order and the law on rallies. Dozens of those detained have been sentenced to short terms of administrative arrest. Navalny was sentenced to 15 days in custody for resisting arrest and fined 20,000 rubles (about $355) for deliberately ignoring the law on public marches and rallies.

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Pakistan - Dr Ishtaq A Malik guilty of corruption worth Rs 1.8 billion by US courts -PM NAWAZ's Unsuitable Appointments




The Prime Minister’s office has given the go-ahead on the appointment of Dr Ishtaq A Malik as head of the Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA) – a man that has been already found guilty of corruption worth Rs 1.8 billion by US courts. According to reports, Federal Minister for Health Saira Afzal Tarar and Principal Secretary to PM Fawad Ahmed Fawad were both directly involved in this appointment, which means that the questions must start from them.
HOTA is an institution that can save lives, or lose them, depending on who works for it. Someone who has been involved in mega-corruption scandals is obviously not suited to take the wheel. A person found guilty of making fake medical claims, makes it reasonable to assume that he might use his authority to grant organs to those that are lower on the list, or even deny them to those that need it most.
This appointment can only mean one of two things. Either the PM’s office is not aware that the person appointed is corrupt – which means there aren’t any proper screenings before appointments – or someone within was aware and made the appointment regardless.
To remedy this, the government must first cancel the appointment and choose someone more suited to the task. The bureaucratic set-up is already riddled with corruption, and doesn’t need another individual convicted of this in its ranks. The idea is to improve accountability and decrease corruption, instead of making things worse. A transparent inquiry must also be carried out – one that is impartial and actually manages to identify the person responsible for this appointment, instead of petering out mid-investigation due to a lack of results.
Maybe the government thinks that this institution is not as important as the others, and does not merit enough screening for those appointed; or it assumes that appointing a personal favourite might slip under the radar because HOTA’s work is not as prolific as those of many other governmental departments. This is not the case. Reversing this decision is paramount.