Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hillary Clinton on the conservative media: ‘It appears they don’t know I’m not president’

Hillary Clinton was nowhere near Washington the day charges against President Trump's former campaign chairman were announced and news broke that a former Trump campaign volunteer had pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about meeting with Russian officials.
She was in Chicago where she promoted her book (“I have a great chapter about Russia”), thought about her Halloween costume (“I think I will maybe come as the president”) and quipped about conservative media outlets’ preoccupation with a vanquished presidential candidate while big news surrounded the one who won.
“All the networks except Fox are reporting what’s really going on.... It appears they don't know I’m not president,” tweeted NBC News politics reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, quoting Clinton, who held an event at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on Monday night.
Conservative media outlets seem to have largely followed White House talking points in reporting the news dump of the past few days: There’s no collusion. The charges against Paul Manafort predate his involvement in the Trump campaign. George Papadopoulos was a lowly campaign volunteer. And the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee’s funding of research that resulted in the now-infamous dossier — not to mention the Uranium One deal with a Russian company that was approved during the Obama administration while Clinton was secretary of state — are the clearest evidence of collusion with Russia.
For the Clinton camp, it seems there's a fixation on an administration that does not exist.
“If you watch Fox News these days, they're treating Hillary Clinton as if she won the election,” said former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. He called the media outlet a White House “propaganda arm” that focuses on Clinton while downplaying the recent criminal allegations arising from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible Russian influence in the presidential election. “Fox News is certainly buying that alternative narrative and they’re trying to peddle it, but Bob Mueller is not going to fall for that.”
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The media outlet also had aired segments that included references to the nonexistent “Clinton administration” and “President Clinton.”
“The speculation is so insane right now. What we should be focusing on are the continued lies of the Clinton administration, the continued fallacies that they perpetuate,” former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” on Saturday, as news of an indictment loomed over Washington.
And here’s Sean Hannity, one of the leading purveyors of White House talking points, in his Monday night monologue, which focused on Clinton, the uranium deal and the dossier:
“What did Hil — what did President Clinton, uh or, President Clinton wannabe, President Obama and key members of the Obama administration, what did they know about the Uranium One scandal?”
The Clinton coverage continued to dominate in the conservative media world Monday morning, even as news broke that Manafort and his former business associate, Rick Gates, were told to surrender to the FBI. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on “Fox & Friends,” saying the focus should be on Clinton.
“People should be looking into any coordination . . . between the Clinton campaign, the DNC, the Russian dossier,” Conway said, adding that she and others in the administration would love to not talk about Clinton, “but she just won’t go away.”
“Fox & Friends” echoed Conway a bit later that morning with the headline, “PROBE SHOWS DEM TIES TO URANIUM DEAL, DOSSIER,” as other national media outlets focused their coverage on Manafort.
News of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee’s role in funding research that led to the dossier, first reported by The Washington Post last week, has become a major weapon for the White House and conservative media, which sought to focus allegations of collusion on Clinton, her campaign and the Democrats.
“There is clear evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding to smear the president and influence the election,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during the White House briefing Monday.
Also being used as a club against Clinton and the Democrats is the Uranium One deal, which is now the subject of a congressional probe.
Fallon, the former Clinton campaign spokesman, dismissed the new investigation as an effort by congressional Republicans to try to “dig up scandals” on someone who is never going to seek elected office again.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that Clinton was “paid a fortune” when she was secretary of state in exchange for a deal with a Russian state-owned nuclear energy company to control over 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply. But multiple fact checks have shown that there is no evidence that Clinton was personally involved in the deal, which was approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, none of which involved Clinton.

As the Fact Checker’s Glenn Kessler wrote: “Any suggestion that Russian money was directed to influence Clinton’s decisions would be explosive. But the fatal flaw in this allegation is Hillary Clinton, by all accounts, did not participate in any discussions regarding the Uranium One sale which — as we noted — does not actually result in the removal of uranium in the United States.”
Cable news headlines remained just as disparate in the Monday evening broadcasts:
Fox News, promoting a Hannity special: “NEW DETAILS IN DEMOCRAT SCANDALS”
Breitbart’s lead story was about Tony Podesta, a prominent Democratic lobbyist and brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief.
“THE PLOT THICKENS,” reads a headline on Breitbart's homepage Monday evening. “TONY PODESTA RESIGNS FROM PODESTA GROUP AS MUELLER PROBE HEATS UP.”
Podesta, brother of John Podesta, had not been charged with a crime or named in court filings, though his firm was indirectly referenced in the charges against Manafort and Gates.
On Tuesday morning, an alert splashed across the Fox News website read: “No Russia collusion, but are more Mueller charges coming? Should Hillary worry?”

By Tuesday afternoon, Breitbart’s lead story was a rehash of Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who urged the Justice Department to contain intelligence leaks.
On the Daily Caller’s homepage, the main story was also about Podesta: “We Asked This Dem Senator About The Podesta Group. He Immediately Tried to Deflect.” Below that was a story about White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly’s interview with Ingraham. She asked if there should be another special prosecutor to investigate the Uranium One deal, to which Kelly said, “Yeah, I guess so.”
The New York Post, meanwhile, has completely dropped any news story about the Mueller investigation or the indictment from its homepage.

Video Report - #NYPD: Person in custody after incident in lower Manhattan

Eight people killed after terrorist shooter driving Home Depot truck rips through Lower Manhattan bike lane

At least eight people were killed Tuesday afternoon when a speeding Home Depot truck plowed down riders on a Lower Manhattan bike path in a terrorist attack, sources said.
Eyewitnesses told police the driver yelled “Allahu Akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great!” — after running down helpless riders from behind, their mangled bodies left scattered behind his runaway rental truck. The Middle Eastern man was arrested after police shot him in the rear end following a Tribeca crash between the truck and a school bus. Sources said he was waving an air pistol and a BB gun when cops reached the scene. The truck jumped the curb near Houston St. at 3:04 p.m. and began bearing down on the unsuspecting bicyclists, sources told the Daily News. Video showed crumpled two-wheelers and four bodies left in the vehicle’s deadly wake. “I heard a truck, a car, something going down the bike path,” said eyewitness Eugene Duff, 44, who was waiting at a red light to walk across West St. “It was wrong.”
The off-duty chef watched in disbelief as the driver of the speeding truck ran down a pair of CitiBike riders about 50 feet apart, catching both from behind on the busy bike path alongside the Hudson River. There were visible tire tracks on the bodies of the two victims as the truck continued to carve a path of carnage through the neighborhood, he said.
“I thought it was terrorism,” he said of the Tribeca attack. “That’s the first thing that crossed my mind.” The arrest followed a crash involving the rented truck on West St. a few blocks north of the World Trade Center. Several eyewitnesses initially thought it was some sort of Halloween prank. One person on the bus was critically injured and rushed to Bellevue Hospital. Authorities said five others on the bus were injured, with 15 injuries in all. A horde of police vehicles and first responders descended on the scene as eyewitnesses reported hearing as many as 15 gunshots after the crash.
A police officer was apparently shot and suffered a minor injury. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, according to sources. “I thought it was a Halloween (prank) or something,” said witness Tawhid Kabir, 20, of Queens. “I saw the gun running in a circle and I realized it was serious.” NYPD snipers took positions on the roof of the nearby City Vineyard restaurant as cops flooded the neighborhood. “We thought the guns were fake and it was a Halloween prank,” said Stuyvesant High School student Laith Bahlouli, 14. “There was a car crash, and then he started to shoot.”
Classmate Alif Rahman, 14, said they heard “four to six gunshots” and then spied two bodies covered with blankets by the NYPD. A child was seen sitting on the lap of an adult wearing a neck brace after the incident. “We all heard the gunfire,” said witness Michael Corbin, who works at nearby District Council 37. “I heard distinctly five shots in quick succession.”
The truck was apparently rented from a Home Depot in Jersey City, N.J., making it likely the driver came through the Holland Tunnel. Home Depot, in a statement, said they were cooperating fully with the mass killing investigation. Witnesses reported seeing a gunman firing from inside the Home Depot tuck, and video showed a badly damaged truck from the home improvement store sitting on a median. “He shot about 15 times toward the pier and down West St.” one witness told the Daily News. The smell of gunpowder hung in the air as police shut down the West Side Highway mid-afternoon on Halloween. Mayor de Blasio was briefed on the situation and confirmed there was no active threat. President Trump was also brought up to speed on the rampage.
Witness Frank Brito, 45, told The News he saw two trucks crash into each other and then a heavyset man get out of one in a blue tracksuit and chase someone, firing five or six times.

Video Report - New York witness: Bodies had tire tracks on them

Video Report - 6 killed in suspected terrorism attack in NYC

Video - #Pakistan - #PPP - Interview : ''Bilawal Bhutto Zardari''

Video Report - Aitzaz Ahsan Media Talk 31 October 2017 @MediaCellPPP

Pakistan - Imran was the only politician who did not offer condolence on BB’s death: Bilawal

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari fired shots at PTI chief Imran Khan in an interview to a private television channel, claiming that the former cricketer was the only politician who had not offered his condolences after his mother Benazir Bhutto had died. 
In his first ever interview to any Pakistani news channel, Bilawal Bhutto said that PTI chief Imran Khan had introduced the politics of bad language in Pakistan which he was trying to end.
“I’m trying to bring back the politics of decency in the country and to engage the youth in it,” he said.
Bilawal slammed Imran Khan, stating in the interview that a lot of time and money had been invested in making the cricketer-turned-politician a leader of national stature.
“Edhi sahab’s interview is on record in which he said that Imran and Hamid Gul had threatened to kidnap him,” he said.
Regarding the PTI chief, Bilawal said that Imran had penned an opinion piece for a British newspaper one day after the Karsaz attack, blaming his mother Benazir Bhutto for the people that had been killed.
“When my mother was assassinated, even the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami came to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh to offer his condolences,” he said. “However, he remains the only politician who did not do so.”
The Bhutto scion on challenges being faced by Sindh government
In response to a question, Bilawal admitted that there were challenges that the party was facing and that its messages were not being delivered with as much precision as other political parties.
“However, this is not the first time that PPP has been counted out,” he said. “As you remember, we had only 17 seats in the 1997 elections but then in 2002 we emerged with the highest vote count in the country,” he added.
Regarding development projects in Sindh, Bilawal conceded that the province was beset with problems and challenges but he said that the Sindh government was tackling those issues.
“The media perception that the best governance is being followed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then Punjab is wrong,” he said. “In Sindh, the government does take steps to address challenges,” he added.
He spoke of how there were hospitals in Sindh that were offering free treatment to the poor and said that the media should do a little to provide credit to the PPP where it deserved.
“Criticising us is your right as journalists but please where it is due, give us a little credit as well,” he said.
Bilawal’s views on the possibility of a technocratic setup
The Bhutto scion rejected any possibility that PPP was in favour of a technocratic setup in the country and said that he was quite sure elections would be held according to schedule in Pakistan.
“If there were to be a technocratic setup, PPP and I will be the first to stand up against it,” he said.
Bilawal said that it was not possible for him to support any technocratic setup since he was chairman of PPP, a party that had always opposed dictatorship and stood for democracy in the country.
“How is possible for the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the son of Benazir Bhutto to support a technocratic setup?” he asked.


Bilawal Bhutto’s interview full of commitment, passion, confidence and vision

General Secretary PPP ladies Wing Sindh Mahreen Bhutto has said that the lips of the opponents are sealed after yesterday’s interview of young PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto. She has further said that those who always criticized Bilawal due to his age, have now witnessed his commitment, passion, confidence and vision of the young PPP chairman .Bilawal Bhutto’s love for his country is unmatched. The blood of martyrs running in his body is reflected through his words.

Pakistan - Sherry slams government over alarming external debt

Vice President PPPP, Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the government over Pakistan’s mounting external debt. “This alarming rise in our external debt shows the downward trajectory of the government’s lacklustre economic vision,” said the Senator in her statement.
The country’s external debt has swollen to a whopping $83 billion.
Rehman said, “The gross public debt now stands at Rs. 21.4 trillion or 67.2% of GDP. The figure was Rs. 14.7 trillion during the last year of the PPP government. External debt servicing has also gone up from 13% in 2013 to 16% in 2017 which is taking up 30% of the country’s crucial export receipts and there are no signs of any policy response. I cannot comprehend how this is not alarming to anyone in the Finance Ministry”.
“This disturbing development could lead Pakistan into a dangerous rabbit hole of debt since our capacity to repay has significantly weakened and we will soon need external financing. This crisis did not happen overnight, it has been going on for four years and the government still refuses to take note of the gravity of the situation,” continued the Senator.
Pakistan lost $2 billion of its foreign exchange reserve in the first quarter of FY18.
According to Rehman, “Pakistan’s economic figures all point toward the fact that the government’s economic policies have failed. Our exports took the brunt of poor policies which has led to the vulnerability of our balance of payments. From overvaluing the rupee which weakened the global competitiveness of our exports, to the liquidity issues that forced exporters to take out loans from banks, we are now witnessing its damaging repercussions”.
“The government’s Rs 180 billion export package alone is not sufficient to balance our trade unless the government does a complete overhaul of its ruinous economic policies,” explained the Vice-President PPPP.
“This government is yet to make any progress for crucial structural reforms despite warnings from the IMF and World Bank. During the campaign season, PML-N promised groundbreaking changes in the economy. We did not expect that setting up Pakistan towards the path of a bailout is what they meant by that,” concluded Rehman.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Malala dazzles all at LLF London

Muna Habib
In conversation with novelist Kamila Shamsie, Malala described her love for Pakistan, and how she continues to miss her country. UN messenger of peace, activist and youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, made a surprise appearance at the Lahore Literary Festival in London.
Ensconced in creative genius and cultural wisdom, the 2nd annual Lahore Literary festival (LLF) came to London celebrating Pakistan’s history, culture and visionary talent.
Speaking to a packed auditorium, Malala Yousafzai dazzled the audience with her wish to provide greater access to education to girls globally. “I realised my voice can help other girls, I think about all those 130 million girls around the world, who don’t have an education and I realise education is the only way for them to move forward,” she said.
In conversation with novelist Kamila Shamsie, Malala described her love for Pakistan, and how she continues to miss her country. She challenged her critics, saying, “People often say what have I done in Pakistan?” She explained that she “respected the opinions of the partners we work with in Pakistan”, and was unable, “to mention exactly who we are working with because of security issues”, she said.
Malala’s appearance, comes as she embarks on her studies at Oxford of philosophy, politics and economics and continues her global work with the Malala Fund. The LLF was also an opportunity for Malala to launch her new illustrated children’s book Malala’s Magic Pencil.

British Library Chief Executive Baroness Tesa Blackstone, made opening remarks highlighting, “The shared history between Britain and Pakistan, reflected in the British Library’s South Asian collection – the richest outside the region,” she proudly said. The British Library is home to a large collection of South Asian artefacts including Indian miniature paintings, East India office records and private papers. LLF Director Razi Ahmed welcomed the delegates to the event and spoke of the importance of the event, how the image of Pakistan has not always been favourable in the media and that its important cultural heritage has largely been ignored.
His opinion was reiterated by Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, “LLF has done Pakistan a great service, by showcasing Pakistan in a way that British people are unaware of,” she said. “The LLF exhibited a cultural renaissance where we see a proliferation of creative voices, arts and literature,” she explained passionately. She emphasised the importance of the event. “Pakistan is usually seen by the west through a single lens, and that’s just terrorism.” She welcomed the LLF exposure to Pakistan’s liberalism.
In years past, Pakistan’s literature has received international recognition through highly revered English language novelists. The day created a safe space for exploring ideas, books, opened different cultures and other perspectives. The cheerful atmosphere chimed with themes of an intelligently programmed festival. Free to all attendees, the enthusiastic festivalgoers included writers, academics, diplomats, students, and bibliophiles.
Session “Never forget,” discussed India – Pakistan’s 1947 Partition, the author, Kamila Shamsie, highlighted differing opinions of successive Pakistani generations as they learned how independence and liberation was achieved. “It is a story of unbelievable violence and suffering,” she said. She explained the history surrounding the 1971 East and West Pakistan partition after the minority inflicted suffering on the majority was traumatic.
“The problem is we never speak about the horrors of our history, hence we can never address how the two nations came to be,” said British–Bangladeshi writer Tahmima Anam. She described the challenges in expressing honesty. “How do you tell a story that these nations were born on the back of horror?” author Shamsie, stressed. “These events are not in Pakistan’s history books. We never speak about it. The world of fake news? We’ve been living it all along,” she said.

Author Mirza Waheed, argued it was impossible to move on as the events still impact young people today.
Malala’s appearance at the festival comes as she embarks on her studies in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and continues her global work with the Malala Fund. The LLF was also an opportunity for Malala to launch her new illustrated children’s book Malala’s Magic Pencil
In a session of pre-Partition Lahore, Professor Tahir Kamran of Government College, Lahore and Professor Ian Talbot of the University of Southampton, explored Lahore’s fabric and cultural history during the Raj and its ability to reach out beyond the Punjab. Ian Talbot described how Lahore was a bustling, thriving city. “A great education centre and business commerce that attracted people for its cultural life, who then remained and contributed economically,” said professor Talbot. “Lahore was the centre of education for the whole of north India, not just Pakistan.”

‘In The Maze,’ a colourful session of food as a leitmotif and culture, culinary legend, Madhur Jaffrey, explained the shared cultural history that spanned thousands of years between India and Pakistan. And despite their separation, they continue to share a love affair with the same recipes and dishes. “It is just the nomenclature that is different,” she said. Although, she stressed India was further developed with its vegetable palate, “There is a tendency for Pakistanis to eat more meat,” she said.
The promotion of a strong female voice was a resounding theme at the festival. Firstly, Malala’s address then later the session: Urdu Language’s Uncivil Women. Predominantly spoken in Urdu, the panel discussed eminent Pakistani writer Ismat Chughtai, known for her fierce feminist ideology. Script writer Zehra Nigah described what a tragedy it would be if teaching students about her work is removed from Pakistan’s curriculum as has been threatened.
Speaking after the session novelist, Shamsie said, “People get scared of a woman with a voice, hence they try to shut it down.”
Author Aamer Hussain highlighted the importance for Pakistan to demonstrate its rich, history, culture and genre to the Pakistani Diaspora. He said, “They are limited to a number of contemporary Pakistani writers,” consequentially “they are not fully aware of what goes on behind the scenes, the history or the culture,” he said. In surmising the day, he said. “The event demonstrated, the richness of Pakistani literature and how alive and vital it is.”

PPP believes in democracy: Bilawal

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that the PPP believes in democracy and calls for finding out solutions to national issues in a democratic way.

While talking to a local TV channel, he said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was involved in hatching a conspiracy against democracy.
He said that the PPP had always paid attention to the economy, adding that Pakistan should focus on trade ties with Afghanistan. “If India is investing in Afghanistan, then the country should also do the same,” he added.
He stressed the need to eradicate corruption from the country and warned his party members of stern action if they were found involved in corruption.

PPP will not accept technocrat govt, says Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Monday his party will not accept a technocrat government in the country.
In an interview, the PPP chairman stressed on the need for measures against corruption. "Those speaking out against corruption do not wish a resolution to this issue."
He said the former prime minister has been involved in conspiracies against democracy, however, he added: "PPP will not accept a technocrat government."
"PPP always paid attention to the economy and the party will perform well in the next [general] elections," Bilawal said.
He also said there should be no difference in accountability, adding that if anyone within his party was found involved in irregularities, they would not support that person.
The PPP chairman went on to say that Imran Khan is "playing a dangerous game."
"People's Party never did hate politics; it is not in the national interest," he said, adding, "We will not tolerate any undemocratic way."
Speaking about Afghanistan's situation, Bilawal said if India is investing there, then Pakistan should also do the same.
He criticised the PML-N government for not appointing a foreign minister for four years.

‘People are the source of power’ is the founding principle of Peoples Party: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that his party will not tolerate any technocrat or national government setup.
While talking to a news channel he didn’t think the technocrat or national government was going to happen. He further said that the PML-N was misleading the nation and they were overplaying and  trying to provoke it.
He further alleged that Nawaz Sharif took certain controversial steps in his tenure which have harmed the essence of democracy.The PPP Chairman further maintained that PPP could not support unconstitutional steps. PPP had always been pro-people. PPP’s founding principle was that people were the source of power,”
PPP chairman has further said that the issue is that people are either with democracy or with corruption and being the grandson of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto he will be siding with the democracy.
PPP chairman rejected the perception that the PTI has captured the votes of youngsters and claimed the PPP got more vote from youth than PTI.
Commenting on the corruption charges against PPP lawmakers he said that the method of selective accountability will not work. “Our party members were picked in a polarised manner and the motives were politically motivated,” he alleged.

Pakistan - Imran Niazi is a clown of Politics

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Ajiz Dhamra has warned PTI leader Imran Niazi not to become a jester of former dictator General Musharraf and should keep in mind that the killers of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will be apprehended and convicted by the court of law.
Strongly reacting to Imran Niazi’s speech at Mandi Bahauddin,Senator Ajiz Dhamra said that Imran Niazi has been further exposed by speaking in support of General Musharraf’s nonsense. People are aware that PTI is the political wing of Taliban and Imran Niazi is an agent of Taliban. If Imran Niazi gets a chance he would sell Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa to Taliban. The ideology which killed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Imran Niazi is a foot soldier of that ideology.
Senator Dhamra said that Imran Niazi has promoted intolerance and violence in politics and society. Imran Niazi embezzled the donation money meant for hospital and lives a lavish life with that money. How a person without known source of income can build Bani Gala Palace on 400 acres of land, Senator Dhamra asked.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

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#Bin_Salman_Visited_Israel - Israeli official confirms: Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman visited Tel Aviv last month

An Israeli official told AFP on Friday that Saudi Crown Prince Emir Mohammed bin Salman secretly visited Tel Aviv in September.
The official, who requested that his identity remains anonymous, refused to reveal the nature of bin Salman’s meetings in Tel Aviv, the people he met, as well as the results of his discussions with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli official’s statement confirmed the accuracy of what the official Hebrew radio broadcast earlier, when it revealed that “an emir from the Saudi royal court visited the country secretly on 7 September and discussed with senior Israeli officials the idea of pushing forward regional peace.”
During that time, journalist Ariel Kahana, who works for the nationalist and right-wing weekly Makor Rishon, tweeted: “Bin Salman visited Israel with an official delegation and met with officials.”
A few days later, the famous Saudi blogger Mujtahidd wrote: “The journalist Noga Tarnopolsky, a specialist in Israeli affairs who possesses international credibility, has confirmed Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Israel.”
Immediately after, the hashtag #Bin_Salman_Visited_Israel topped the most circulated Twitter hashtags in a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar.



The United Nations (UN)’s aid chief says the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which has been under a Saudi-led war for two and a half years, is “shocking.”
Wrapping up a five-day visit to Yemen, Mark Lowcock, the UN’s head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, said in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Saturday that the war had to end through a political process.
“I came to Yemen to better understand the deteriorating humanitarian crisis, including the fastest-growing cholera epidemic the world has ever seen, the world’s largest food insecurity and conditions of widespread population displacement,” Lowcock said. “It’s been shocking to see the terrible impact of this man-made conflict.”
“The UN calls on all parties... to uphold the highest standards of international humanitarian law and respect human rights with respect to everyone, including detainees and journalists,” he added.
Leading a number of its allies, Saudi Arabia started the war on Yemen in March 2015 to restore a former Riyadh-allied government.
More than 12,000 people have died since the military aggression began. The invasion has also rendered much of Yemen’s health infrastructure destroyed, making it especially vulnerable to a cholera epidemic that struck the country in April. The disease has so far claimed 2,000 lives.
The Saudi-led coalition has also imposed an all-out blockade over Yemen, despite its dire need for humanitarian assistance.
The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Woman tells of harrowing life as lesbian Muslim in Pakistan - Beatings, death threats and rejection

By Natasha Salmon
Zayna says she was beaten and threatened but refused to deny her sexuality and who she truly was.
A woman has bravely revealed what it is like to be a Muslim lesbian after moving from Pakistan to the UK.
Zayna, not her real name, who is 40, said she has been beaten, humiliated and threatened because of her sexuality.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, she refused to deny her true identity despite physical and mental abuse as people believed she had misinterpreted the messages of the Quran. She said that while studying for her PhD she was kicked out of university because fellow students feared she was ‘dangerous’.
Also at an Islamic School when her colleagues found out about her sexuality she was told to leave or face police action.
The graduate said she insists she is still a Muslim and both her sexuality and religion are both equally important to her.
Zayna now lives in Longsight, Manchester, and spoke out in support of other LGBT Muslims.
She said: “I was born a Muslim and I want to die a Muslim. But if someone wants to kill me then why? Just because I’m a lesbian?
“I am a strong brave person but so many people like me don’t have that courage. I realised I need to come out and tell everyone about my story.”
Zayna grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and was the only child of conservative Muslim parents.
She described herself as a tomboy and realised she was gay as a young teenager on her 13th birthday.

She said it was “very hard” and she was told “you are not Muslim if you are a lesbian”.
But Zayna believes the Quran’s messages about homosexuality have been misinterpreted by some Muslims.
The first abuse she received was when her father found out she had been spending time with another girl as a teenager, he assumed the pair had been with men and beat her. 
She said: "My father came upstairs and wanted to kill me and beat me like anything.
"He told me how to behave. That was the first time I felt unsafe in my own home.
“I still have that horrible pain in my lower back and can’t walk properly.”
Zayna’s father died when she was in her early 20s and she spent years nursing her mother, who eventually died of lung cancer.
During her time as a teacher at an Islamic school, Zayna started a relationship with another teacher but the two were discovered by colleagues.
They were told to leave or else they would be reported to the police as prostitutes. At the time she was also a PhD chemistry student and when people at the university found out she was told to leave. 
Homosexuality is frowned upon in Pakistan and the country’s law prescribes criminal penalties for same-sex sexual acts including a fine or imprisonment.
Zayna started a management masters degree in the UK and began to embrace the UK's gay culture and joined LGBT International and a Birmingham-based LGBT group, Finding A Voice.
She has since had several relationship with women and has "peace of mind" that she is no longer in danger. 

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India stuck in cycle of poverty and unemployment

By Wang Jiamei 

India ranked 100th out of 119 developing countries on the global hunger index (GHI), behind North Korea, Bangladesh and Iraq but ahead of Pakistan, according to a recent report issued by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The country was ranked 97th in last year's report.

This underlines India's high level of inequality rather than insufficient grain production. The persisting hunger problem also shows that even though the government has to spend a lot to feed its people, it is still not enough. This also prevents the country from allocating more fiscal resources toward infrastructure and other areas needed to develop the economy.

The worsening hunger problem is of course worrying and embarrassing for India, which has been the world's fastest-growing economy over the past three years, especially given that the country is totally capable of producing sufficient food to feed its population. Since 2015, India has overtaken Thailand to become the world's largest rice exporter, with its annual rice exports exceeding 10 million tons, according to media reports. 

But it is the uneven distribution of wealth that has left millions of people too poor to get enough food. According to a study released by UK-based charity Oxfam in January, India's richest 1 percent hold a 58 percent share of the country's total wealth. There are quite a number of reasons behind India's high level of wealth inequality, such as the problematic land policy and the limited coverage of the social welfare system. But the most important factor is the country's lack of industrialization, which results in severe under-employment and unemployment, especially in rural areas.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, India's agriculture, industry and services contributed 17.9 percent, 24.2 percent and 57.9 percent of its GDP in 2014, but employed 47 percent, 22 percent and 31 percent of the labor force, respectively. While India's heavy reliance on the services sector may seem similar to the economic structure of some Western countries, it is hard to ignore the country's lack of industrialization. Half of the Indian working population are employed in the agriculture sector, and the country's modest industrial sector can't generate more jobs. Without enough employment opportunities, the poor obviously don't have enough money to buy food. Against such a backdrop, the Indian government rolled out the "Make in India" program, which aims to create 100 million new jobs by 2022 and to allow the manufacturing sector to play a bigger role in domestic job creation. 

As the GHI ranks countries based on four key indicators - undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting - the IFPRI report indicated that more than a fifth of Indian children aged below five weighed too little for their height and over a third were too short for their age. It goes without saying that malnourishment in school-age children could have a negative impact on their education, and a less-educated working population certainly doesn't bode well for a country's future development.

With the IFPRI report and the worsening hunger index ranking, some have blamed the government for not doing enough to feed the people. "$18 billion for a bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad but not enough money for Indians' basic food to keep them from being hungry," one netizen wrote. 

Regardless of whether the Mumbai to Ahmedabad train could boost the economy along the route, the comment to a certain extent adds to the pressure on the Indian government to open its wallet wider for the social welfare system. And the government also faces pressure from the fiscal deficit. According to media reports, India's fiscal deficit from April-August hit 96.1 percent of the budget estimate for the fiscal year ending in March 2018. 

In light of this, if the hunger problem continues in the country, the government will face greater pressure to strengthen social protection by increasing expenditure in this area, thus restricting the financial resources available for economic development and infrastructure. With industrial manufacturing hindered by poor infrastructure, it will be hard to accomplish the "Make in India" program, not to mention more job creation for the poor.

The 21st Century finally has begun: the "New Era" for China and the world

By Evandro Menezes de Carvalho

President Xi Jinping's report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China echoed worldwide. In announcing the emergence of a "New Era" because of the "great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Xi is making history in the 21st century. The West watched his speech with a mixture of awe and admiration.
For Xi, this New Era means, first of all, that, “The Chinese nation, with an entirely new posture, now stands tall and firm in the East.” The era of humiliation to which the Chinese were subjected to in the 19th century as a result of innumerable foreign invasions and the Opium Wars, and the era of internal strife for the consolidation of Chinese territory and people's sovereignty in the 20th century, are now history. China of the 21st century, as a result of the successful process of reform and opening up led by the Communist Party, is preparing itself to stand high on the podium of the world economy. China “has stood up, grown rich, and become strong; and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation,” Xi said, recalling the inspiration that motivates his government to carry out his mandate of realizing the Chinese Dream from day one. In this New Era, Xi further sees China “moving closer to center stage and making greater contributions to mankind.” In this statement, there is the expression of China's confidence in its future and, at the same time, the affirmation of its commitment to the future of humanity. And in this sense, Xi’s speech was received worldwide with admiration.
The government is aware that this New Era depends on the realization of the two centennial goals, the first one being the construction of a "moderately prosperous society" in 2020, and the second one is to build a "great modern socialist country" by the middle of the 21st century. Faced with the uncertainties of the international scenario and the challenges of the domestic economy, the targets are audacious. However, the political will of the CPC leaders to see these goals realized seems to be even greater than the obstacles they will face. And there is enough reason to believe in it. China's GDP is currently 11.2 trillion dollars and the country contributes more than 30 percent to the global economic growth. The prognosis is that China will become the world’s largest economy by 2025.
For all this, the international press has surrendered to the evidence that, at the present, the most influential man in the world is not the US president, but the president of China. Of course, Donald Trump's erratic, narcissistic, and isolationist style contributes to that perception if we compare him with the discreet and trustworthy style of Xi Jinping, reinforced by China’s efforts to support multilateralism based on "mutual benefits." From the Western perspective, the signs are totally changed. As the US pulls back from the world, China continues to open up. This fact, by itself, can be considered evidence that we are, in fact, entering a "new era."
But President Xi's statement of greatest global impact was that one through which he introduced socialism with Chinese characteristics as "a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization." And he went even further by offering "Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach to solving the problem facing mankind." China shows itself to the world as an alternative model to be followed, thanks to its model of governance and the cultural and historical heritage it possesses, but with a fundamental difference in leadership style compared to that one exercised by the Western powers: “It offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence." Thus, China commits itself to respecting the choices of each State, that is, it promises not to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries.
It is worth remembering that in the 1990s it was believed that the model of Western democracies would spread throughout the world as the only model worthy of being followed with the end of the Cold War. But the subsequent facts have shown that it was not the end of history, but that the end of the Western narrative. Larry Diamond, in an article written for Foreign Affairs under the title "Democracy in Decline," admitted that "democracy itself seems to have lost its appeal. Many emerging democracies have failed to meet their citizens’ hopes for freedom, security, and economic growth, just as the world’s established democracies, including the United States, have grown increasingly dysfunctional." The fact is Western democracies are suffering a legitimacy deficit, aggravated by the economic crisis of 2008 that had US as its epicenter. Since then, we have witnessed an increase in poverty, violence, religious and racial intolerance, and xenophobia in Western democracies.
The main question is to know which one of the models - whether Western democracy or socialism with Chinese characteristics - is capable of providing citizens with the economic and social well-being they wish. Earlier this year, Oxfam (Oxford Committee for the Fight Against Hunger) published a report which shows that only eight people have wealth equivalent to that of the world's poorest half of the population. It means that eight people accumulate wealth equal to 3.6 billion people. Six of those world's wealthiest individuals come from the United States, one from Spain and the other from Mexico. In Brazil, where I live, six Brazilians concentrate wealth equivalent to half of the Brazilian population. The social abysm between the super-rich and the poorest threatens not only the social stability of the country, which is marked by inequality, but also world peace itself. The democracies that embraced capitalism without State have failed. This is the fact. It’s enough to ask the opinion of those 3.6 billion people about this topic. Only the wealthy Westerners will not agree. It is the concentration of income and the posture of the Western wealthy people that are driving democracies to decline. This is the central problem.
President Xi Jinping is aware of the risks to China with the increase of social inequality. This is the reason why he states that "the principal contradiction facing Chinese society ... is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life." Socialism with Chinese characteristics will be tested in this aspect. Unlike the “American dream,” which is driven by excessive individualism, the Chinese dream is guided first and foremost by the collective interest. The main critique made by capitalists against socialism is that this model does not stimulate innovation and creativity. And capitalists use it as an example why the Soviet model failed. But current capitalism is finance-based and no longer based on production. Moreover, the idea of meritocracy, a key concept to the capitalists, is an illusion in the face of the hereditary transmission of wealth and gains often obtained by illicit means. Fighting corruption is an important part of the Chinese model and it will avoid this type of dysfunctional system.
If Chinese socialism recognizes and rewards citizens in favor of others rather than for individual success at the cost of others, then we will have definitely begun a New Era. Green, ethical, collaborative, and shared development may be important values of this new era and they are concepts compatible with Chinese socialism. This project of society is worthy of engagement. After all, the world cannot exist only for the benefit of eight people.

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Ahead of possible Mueller indictments, Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton


In the next day or two, according to CNN, the first arrests could be made in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government.
We don’t yet know who could be charged or what they would be charged with. But it’s a potentially monumental advancement of the probe that has consumed so much of President Trump’s first year in office.
How is Trump, who has dismissed the investigation as “fake news” as often as he can, responding? He spent Sunday morning tweeting about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
Trump is playing up two counter-scandals that have become favorites in the conservative media: an Obama-era uranium deal involving Russia, and the revelation that Clinton associates paid for a salacious dossier of opposition research on Trump during the 2016 campaign.
As Vox’s Andrew Prokop previously put it:
The political reason Trump is embracing both of these stories is clear enough: He’s trying to cast Russia-related dirt on both Democrats and the FBI (which he views as part of a “deep state” unfairly persecuting him), to try to discredit the investigation as a whole, and to change the subject from the question of whether any of his associates colluded with the Russian government during the campaign.
The important thing to remember is: Regardless of their veracity, neither of these other issues has any bearing on whether the Trump campaign improperly coordinated with the Russian government to sway the 2016 presidential campaign.
The attacks on Clintonworld for reportedly funding opposition research on Trump during a presidential campaign are a particular stretch. Funding opposition research is not the same as colluding with a foreign government, and the dossier in question is far from the only source of allegations about Trump and Russia.
Here is how Vox’s Zack Beauchamp broke it down:
The notion that the Clinton campaign paying Steele is the same as Trump (allegedly) colluding with Russia is laughable.
The former involves paying an experienced private investigator — remember, Steele is a retired British agent — to conduct research. The latter involves working with a hostile foreign government to influence the outcome of a US election, and potentially aiding and abetting a crime (the hack and theft of Clinton campaign and DNC emails) in the process.
Most importantly, attacks on the provenance of the Steele dossier would only matter if it were the only real source of allegations about Trump and Russia. It’s not.
So ahead of potentially the most significant development in the Trump-Russia probe, Trump is relying on an old standby — Hillary Clinton — to try to change the subject.
For good measure, the president also has an alternative theory about what’s going on here:

All of this "Russia" talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!