Friday, February 3, 2017

Court Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban, and Airlines Are Told to Allow Passengers


A federal judge in Seattle on Friday temporarily blocked President Trump’s week-old immigration order from being enforced nationwide, reopening America’s door to visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dealing the administration a humbling defeat.
The White House vowed late Friday to fight what it called an “outrageous” ruling, saying it would seek an emergency halt to the judge’s order as soon as possible and restore the president’s “lawful and appropriate order.”
“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” the White House said. A revised statement released later omitted the word “outrageous.”
Courts around the country have halted aspects of Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on travel from the seven countries, but the Seattle ruling was the most far-reaching to date. Airlines that had been stopping travelers from boarding planes to the United States were told by the government in a conference call Friday night to begin allowing them to fly, according to a person familiar with the call but who declined to be identified because it was a private discussion. The Trump administration, however, could again block the travelers if it were to win an emergency stay.
The federal government was “arguing that we have to protect the U.S. from individuals from these countries, and there’s no support for that,” said the judge, James Robart of Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, an appointee of President George W. Bush, in a decision delivered from the bench.
The judge’s ruling was temporary, putting Mr. Trump’s policy on hold at least until the government and opponents of the order had a chance to make full arguments, or until the administration won a stay.
“What we’re seeing here is the courts standing up to the unconstitutional ban that President Trump imposed,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the A.C.L.U. “There’s obviously more litigation to come, but this is truly good news for the many people both in this country and abroad who have been unfairly targeted on the basis of their religion by this ban.”
It is not unusual for district courts to issue nationwide injunctions blocking executive actions, and the federal government must obey such injunctions even when other district courts have declined to issue injunctions in similar cases.
Judge Robart temporarily barred the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order: its 90-day suspension of entry into the United States of people from the seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and its limits on accepting refugees, including “any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.”
The order had suspended admissions of any refugees for 120 days, and of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The goal, the president said, was to evaluate the process for vetting refugees and other immigrants in order to safeguard the country against terrorism.
The order said that when immigration from the seven countries resumed, persecuted religious minorities would be given preference, and in an interview the day of the signing, Mr. Trump said the United States would give Christians from those countries priority because they had suffered “more so than others.” Judge Robart made clear that his order applied nationwide, citing a similar nationwide injunction from a federal district court in Texas that had blocked President Barack Obama’s plan to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation and allow them to legally work in the United States.
Since Mr. Trump signed his order on Jan. 27, there has been widespread confusion over the policy and disagreement over how it was being carried out, flummoxing immigration lawyers, government officials and travelers. Shortly before the Seattle ruling, a different federal judge, Nathaniel M. Gorton in Boston, ruled in favor of the government by declining to extend a temporary halt to the order in that jurisdiction.
Judge Gorton, who was appointed to the bench by the first President George Bush, said that while the nation’s immigration history was a source of great pride and that the plaintiffs in that case — Iranian nationals who are academics — had compelling stories, “the public interest in safety and security in this ever more dangerous world is strong as well.” But that ruling was soon rendered moot, at least for now, by the Seattle ruling. The administration has been criticized for issuing its order without any warning to refugees and visa holders who were on their way to the United States. Some arrived at airports for flights and were turned away.
The president’s order allowed for exceptions in the “national interest,” but lawyers for some travelers had described getting one as a Kafkaesque exercise, with the State Department’s website warning that no emergency applications would be heard, and Customs and Border Protection agents at United States airports all but unreachable because their clients were not being allowed to board planes.
“It’s quite clear it was not all that thought out,” Judge Leonie Brinkema of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va., said in yet another court hearing held Friday. “As a result there has been chaos.”
Protests over the policy continued on Friday, including a large group that gathered in a parking lot of Kennedy International Airport in New York for the Friday Prayer.
One big question surrounded the number of people who were affected by the travel ban.
Besides barring refugees and other visa holders from the seven countries from entering the United States, the administration also revoked, at least temporarily, all visas from the seven countries, including those for people currently living in the United States. The revocations, which were not publicly announced but were revealed during court proceedings, meant that anyone who lost their visa would be unable to re-enter the United States if they left.
In the Virginia courtroom, spectators gasped when a lawyer for the government told Judge Brinkema, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, that more than 100,000 visas had been revoked as part of President Trump’s order. A State Department official later contradicted that number, saying that it mistakenly included diplomatic visas that were untouched by the ban as well as expired visas.
The true figure was “fewer than 60,000,” said William Cocks, a spokesman for the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “To put that number in context, we issued over 11 million immigrant and nonimmigrant visas in fiscal year 2015,” he said in a statement.
Because the court fights so far have centered on whether judges should impose and keep in place temporary restraining orders, the legal arguments in the last few days have centered on the government’s contention that there is “no potential irreparable harm” to justify keeping the extraordinary orders in place pending fuller briefing and arguments.
But Bob Ferguson, the Washington attorney general, who opposed the Trump administration in the Seattle case, said the decision Friday “shuts down the executive order nationwide and immediately.”
“I hope the federal government will understand what they did was unconstitutional and unlawful,” he said.

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Is Pakistani film experiencing a revival?

Phil Hoad 

The fortunes of Pakistani film have been tied up with its neighbour's film industry, Bollywood, but can it go it alone?

Cinema can be a know-it-all. Take Kashmir: at the end of Salman Khan's 2015 smash Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the megastar singlehandedly solves this international flashpoint. Having returned the cute waif to her family in Pakistan, his battered wanderer staggers back across the border to India, uniting both countries in mutually assured Salman adulation.

In reality: not so simple. Last September, good-looking pilgrims were nowhere to be seen as India conducted retaliatory strikes on the Pakistan-administered side. And the blowback hit the big screen: the Indian producers' association refused to hire Pakistani crew, and Pakistani cinema chains banned Bollywood films.

Fortunately, the ban was lifted on December 19. With an estimated 60 percent of Pakistani box office coming from Bollywood, the sudden drop in attendance was also sapping locally made films - threatening to derail the promising recent revival of the Pakistani industry.
The industry, based in Lahore and sometimes called Lollywood, had been slowly strangled during the military dictatorship of the 1980s, partially because of new censorship laws. It had once turned out 80 films a year, but in 2003 not a single Urdu-language film was released.

But last year's showing of around 25 films confirmed that the industry was back - at least until politics intervened. The comedy Actor in Law - with Fahad Mustafa playing that self-referential Bollywood staple, the wannabe showbiz star - headed the list of six 2016 productions to break into Pakistan's all-time top 20.

If you needed any more proof that the fortunes of Pakistani film are deeply tied up with its neighbour, it was the lifting of a previous Bollywood ban - in place for 40 years since the 1965 Indo-Pakistani war - that first rekindled the local industry in 2006.

Bollywood fodder was widely available on the black market anyway; why not use them to make up the numbers of the 200-or-so releases a year needed to sustain Pakistani cinemas?

The following year, the release of the Bollywood-influenced Khuda Kaye Liye - about two singers in the months following 9/11 - signalled a discreet revival. It made $1.1m in its home country (it's still the No 10 highest grossing domestic film), and became the first Pakistani release in India in four decades.

The Lahore industry is definitely the thriftstore operation next to Bollywood. High-end Indian productions, such as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, now touch the 90-crore mark (approximately $13m); 2013's Waar, one of the most lavish and expensive Pakistani films yet, cost 17 Pakistani crore ($1.6m).

Partly, that's because the country's cinema infrastructure - approaching 100 screens nationwide, but still winnowed down from 1,500 cinemas half a century ago - is much smaller (and therefore film-making financially more risky).

But local filmmakers show ambition within these constraints: Waar is a smartly dialogued "war on terror" thriller whose glossy shot-making wouldn't seem out of place next to episodes of CSI. 3 Bahadur, Pakistan's first CGI animation (which became a franchise with a second instalment in December), looked a little rudimentary, but had flashes of innovative technique, too.

While there are a fair amount of sub-Bollywood masala meanderings around, such as last year's inexplicably popular comedy Wrong Number, what's distinctive about the Pakistani industry is that it more readily incorporates Hollywood mores, too. 3 Bahadur, about three children who acquire extraordinary powers to fight off a demonic thug with a flaming forearm, is American superhero wish-fulfillment relocated to dusty Pakistani plazas. Dukhtar, a fantastic independent 2014 film about arranged marriage, looked on paper like staid "world cinema" but turned out to have the propulsive dynamism of a thriller.

Waar is very much built on those sleek American lines, too, but fascinating things happened at the crossroads of its influences. Amid all the dawn raids and black-ops tough talk, it halts for a quite demented celebratory tango between its two villains; a piece of uplifting camp expressionism that's pure Bollywood.
So the Pakistani industry is situated in its own place. Which could be advantageous as it develops - it often sticks to shorter and presumably more exportable runtimes, for one thing. It's clear, though, that it can't do without Bollywood for the time being. Not only to fill cinema seats, but in terms of India as an on-screen topic of discussion, too.
Last year's romantic thriller Bachaana squashed Kashmir into the backseat of a cab by making an unlikely couple of Indian holidaymakers and a Pakistani cabdriver. A little contrived, perhaps, but more progressive than Waar - which for all its visual sophistication and scriptcraft still made India the terrorist bogeymen in the most regressive way. 

It'll be interesting to see if the long-delayed Yalghaar, due this year, can move beyond cheap nationalism. Budgeted at 72 Pakistani crore ($6.8m), the action thriller will easily be the biggest local production yet. Directed by Waar producer Hassan Rana and supposedly focusing on the lives of anti-terrorism personnel and armed fighters alike, it has already attracting some jingoistic cheerleading.

One of its stars says Yalghaar is a tribute to "the young, passionate officers and soldiers whose patriotism is throbbing with every heartbeat for their country". But attracting the kind of global interest the film wants might mean championing a less parochial perspective.

Hopefully, this wannabe gamechanger will bring the spirit of enlightened action, just as December's lifting of the Bollywood ban opens up the next chapter in the Lollywood story.
Phil Hoad was formerly The Guardian's global box office analyst and Dazed & Confused's film editor. He has written on cinema for The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The Times, The Face and The Big Issue.

Pakistan's Ahmadi Muslims Under Attack: Federal Minister Ishaq Dar promotes anti-Ahmadi sentiments at militant conference

Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says there would be no change in the prevailing blasphemy law of the country because Pakistan came into being in the name of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

Dar was addressing an anti-Ahmadiyya “Khatam-e-Nabuwat Conference” at Golra Sharif shrine in Punjab, where he praised the annual programme held at the Shrine saying it was being organized since their forefathers' time "to falsify claims of a liar about prophethood," a bigoted reference to the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Minister Dar, while insinuating Ahmadis 'were disloyal, betrayed the country, and had vanished,' strongly vowed saying "we will sacrifice our lives but make no compromise on the respect and dignity of the Prophet Muhammad."

Dar claimed that Pakistan was a blessing gifted by Allah to the Muslims, and, as such, there was a need to make the country a fort of Islam and the real objective of Pakistan becoming a nuclear power was for the defence of Muslim Ummah (world).

Militantly-inclined clerics from across the country and abroad, including India, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates were hosted by the shrine, it was reported.

Dar's association with the militant groups and promotion of anti-Ahmadiyya sentiment can easily land him in troubles when traveling to the United States, one Ahmadi Muslim observed.

Anis Ahmad, a resident of Southern California, says certain clauses in the recently issued Executive Order by the President of the United States ban travelers from entering the U.S. "who engage in acts of bigotry and hatred (including ... the persecution of those who practice other religions) ..."

Ahmad was referring to the last sentence in the last paragraph of Section 1 of the Executive Order.

"Whenever Dar is fixing to travel to the U.S., the State Department should be informed and reminded of the Executive Order by the President," Ahmed added.

While Pakistan is not on the list of countries with total migrant travel blockade, several sections of the Executive Order can apply to individuals traveling to the United States.

Pakistan - Global alliance against terror

Even after the start of 2017, various states in the world have failed to rid their masses of the scourge of terrorism. World leaders are looking for ways and means to secure their borders from the imminent threat of militants. There is a need to take up this issue at a broader level.

In this regard, former President of Pakistan Asif Zardari has proposed that an international alliance
should be established to defeat terrorists. During a meeting with Senator Rehman Malik in London, Zardari lauded the army’s role in breaking the networks of terrorists in Pakistan and called for stringent measures for eliminating militancy. He has declared terrorism as an international issue.
There is no doubt that terrorism could only be defeated with unity and cooperation of the international community. No one can negate this fact that the horizon of terrorist attacks is widening day by day. Terrorists are following a common agenda and they are acting without any discrimination of borders. In the face of increasing backlash of terrorist attacks, now it the responsibility of all victim states that they should get united against the growing threat of terrorism. There is no respite from terror as the incidents of violence are recurring again and again in the Middle East and neighbouring states.
So far, the frequent terror and bomb attacks have claimed numerous lives all over the world. Tranquillity, people’s welfare, economic growth and the universal environment are being severely affected by this malaise of militancy, while politically unstable regions and war zones are the strategic targets of militant organisations. The main origins of terrorism are believed to be Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and some African states. In search of power, terrorists use religion as a shield to win sympathisers and propagate their own interpreted Islam. Undoubtedly, the army operations are going on at different parts of the world, however, there is a need to consolidate long-term gains of these operations. The time has come now for the countries that are the victims of this threat to stand united and take stern action against the menace of terrorism.
Moreover, recurrent terror acts have reminded the world that no place is safe and terrorists can hit anytime and anywhere to spread their nefarious agenda. It is a very difficult situation as it is almost impossible to guard every place. In order to stop terrorists, a sensible approach as well as unity at the international level is required. All countries need to get united against the militancy. There is a need to form an international alliance against all those terror mongers and extremist organisations like the IS that pose a threat to world peace.

تم جیو ہزاروں سال….! بی بی آصفہ بھٹو

 -تحریر محمد وقاص شوکت علی

تین فروری 1993کو پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے بانی قائد عوام شہید ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کی پنکی اور ملک پاکستان کی پہلی خاتون وزیراعظم محترمہ بینظیر بھٹو شہید اور سابق صدر پاکستان آصف علی زرداری کے گھر پیدا ہونے والی دوسری رحمت آصفہ بھٹو زرداری کی آج 24 ویں سالگرہ ہے، وہ پاکستان کی سب سے بڑی اورجمہوری پارٹی پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے سیاسی گھرانے کا حصہ بنی۔آصفہ نام ان کے والد آصف علی زرداری نے رکھااور وہ تین بہن بھائیوں میں سب سے چھوٹی ہیں ،سب سے پہلے چیئرمین پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی بلاول بھٹو زرداری،دوسرے نمبر پر بختاور بھٹو زرداری پھر آصفہ بھٹو زرداری کا نمبر آتا ہے۔ شروع دن سے آج تک وہ اپنے والد کے سب سے قریب رہی ہے ،آصف علی زرداری کے جیل کے دنوں میں اور عدالتوں میں پیشی کے وقت بھی آصف علی زرداری کے گود میں ہمیشہ آصفہ بی بی دکھائی دیتی رہی۔ یہی وجہ ہے کہ آج بھی آصفہ بھٹو زرداری اپنے بابا کی سب سے چہیتی اور لاڈلی بیٹی ہے۔
آصفہ بھٹو زرداری نوجوانی سے ہی باصلاحیت اور قابل تھی، انہوں نے آکسفورڈبروکس یونیورسٹی سے بیچلرپولیٹیکل اور سوشل لوجی میں کیا،پھر انہوں نے گوبل ہیلتھ اینڈ یونیورسٹی کالج لندن سے ماسٹر ڈگری حاصل کی۔ اپنے طالبعلمی کے دور سے ہی انہوں نے مختلف سیاسی، سماجی سرگرمیوں میں حصہ لینا شروع کر دیا تھا، انہوں نے جانوروں کے حقوق سے متعلق سرگرمیوں میں حصہ لیا اورپاکستان کو پولیو سے نجات دلانے کے لئے سب سے کم عمر پولیو سے محفوظ پاکستان کی سفیر منتخب ہوئی۔
آصفہ بھٹو زرداری ایک سیاسی گھرانے سے تعلق رکھنے کے ساتھ ملک میں درپیش جمہوری دشمنوں کے بے تحاشہ ظلم ستم کی ستائی ہوئی تھی، انہوں نے اپنے بچپن سے ہی سیاسی مخالفین کی جانب سے ان کی والدہ محترمہ بینظیر بھٹو شہید اور سابق صدر آصف علی زرداری کے خلاف کئے جانے والے جھوٹے ہتھکنڈوں نے ان کے بچپن کو رول کر رکھ دیا۔ وہ نوعمری کے دور میں عدالتوں اور جیل کی کال کوٹریوں اور احتجاجوں میں اپنی والدہ کے ہمراہ شریک رہی۔ پے در پے کی روکاوٹوں اور سیاسی انتقامی کے باعث ان کا بچپن کب جوانی میں مبتلا ہوا وقت نے سمجھنے ہی نہیں دیا۔
پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی پاکستان کی واحد جمہوری پارٹی ہے جس نے جمہوریت کی آن بان کے لئے اپنا پورا گھر تباہ کر دیا مگر کبھی عوام کے حقوق کے لئے منہ نہیں پھیرا،ہمیشہ عوام کی فلاح وبہبود اور ملک کی ترقی کے لئے بیشمار راستہ ہموار کئے۔جس میں ایٹمی پاور پلانٹ کی بنیاد،زرعی اصلاحات، قانونی اصلاحات،معاشی اصلاحات،1973کا آئین پاکستان دیا،قائداعظم یونیورسٹی ،علامہ اقبال اوپن یونیورسٹی کا قیام،اسلامی سربراہ کانفرنس کا انعقاد ،عالمی سیرت کانفرنس کا انعقاد،اسلامی دنیا کے تمام ممالک کو متحد کرنے کی کوشش،دنیا کے غریب ممالک کو متحد کرنے کیلئے تیسری دنیا کا تصور،93 ہزار جنگی قیدیوں کی رہائی،شملہ معاہدہ،لیبر پالیسی ،نیشنل بک فاؤنڈیشن،چین کے تعاون سے ٹیکسلا ہیوی کمپلیکس کا قیام عمل میں آیا،پاکستان اسٹیل کی تعمیر شروع ہوئی،پورٹ قاسم کی تعمیر شروع ہوئی،کامراہ میں بیراج ری بلڈ فیکٹری کا قیام،سینڈک کے منصوبے پر کام شروع ہوا،کراچی شپ یارڈ کی توسیع اور جہاز سازی کی ابتدا ہوئی،کھاد کے مختلف کارخانوں کی تعمیر شروع ہوئی، تربیلا ڈیم کی توسیع اور تکمیل ہوئی،چشمہ بیراج کی تعمیر ہوئی،شاہراہ قراقرم کی تعمیر چین کے تعاون سے مکمل ہوئی،کراچی پہلی اراضی مواصلاتی اسٹیشن مکمل ہوئی،بلوچستان کے شہر کوئٹہ میں 150کلو واٹ کا میڈیم ویوٹرانس میٹر کی تنصیب ،لاہور میں ڈرائی پورٹ کا قیام، پورے ملک میں تیل اور گیس ی دریافت کے لئے بڑے پیمانے پر کام شروع ہوا اور بڑے ذخائر دریافت ہوئے،پورے ملک میں عام سڑکوں سے کھیتوں سے منڈی تک کا سڑکوں کا جال، پلوں کی تعمیر،پاکستان نیشنل سینٹر کی تعمیر،اسلامی سربراہی کانفرنس کا عمل اور لاہور میں 160 فٹ اونچا میناربنایا گیا،کراچی میں عباسی شہید اسپتال، لیاری جنرل اسپتال اور پشاور میں محمد حیات محمد شیرپاؤ اسپتال کی تعمیرکروائے،ایک سو 21ارب کا پیکیج ڈیولپمنٹ،فاسٹ یونیورسٹی قیام،ملیر ڈیولپمنٹ اور لیاری ڈویلپمنٹ کا قیام،تھرکول کامنصوبہ،18 ترمیم،صوبوں کو اختیار منتقل،پاک ایران گیس پائپ لائن، پڑوسی ممالک سے معاشی اور بہتر تعلقات، کچی آبادیوں کو مالکانہ حقوق،جدید اسپتال،تعلیم درس گاہیں،روزگار کے مواقع،ملکی شناخت کارڈ کا اجرا ، سی پیک معاہدی، پاک ایران گیس پائپ لائن معاہدہ، 18ترمیم سمیت ایسے بے تحاشہ کام ہے جو ملک پاکستان کی ترقی اور عوام کی بہبود کا سہراپاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے سر ہی جاتا ہے۔
آصفہ بھٹو زرداری بھی سیاسی گھرانے پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی سے تعلق رکھنے کے ساتھ ساتھ ہر پلیٹ فارم پر پاکستان کی نمائندگی کرتی نظر آتی ہے وہ انٹر نیشنل ہیومن رائٹس فارم ہو یا انٹرنیشنل ہیلتھ پروگرام ہو، وہ پاکستان اور عوام بلخصوص آنے والی نسل کے لئے ہمیشہ فکر مند رہتی ہے ،جب ملک میں پولیو کا سیلاب آیا پولیو کے سیلاب کی خطرے کی گھنٹی بجی تو اس کے خلاف عالم جہاد وارث بھٹو بینظیر بھٹو نے اسی آصفہ بھٹو زرداری کو سب سے پہلے پولیو ویکسین کے قطرے پلائے اور جب یہ بچی ماں کی آغوش سے نکل کر جوانی میں داخل ہوئی تو اقوام عالم نے اسی بچی آصفہ بھٹو زرداری کو پولیو کے خلاف جنگ میں اپنا سفیر تعینات کیا۔ انہوں نے 2007 میں پاکستان میں پولیو مہم کی ذمہ داری نبھاتے ہوئے ملک میں 70فیصد پولیو ویکسینیشن کاکام اپنی زیر نگرانی مکمل کروایا اور آج تک اس مشن کی طرف گامزن ہوتے ہوئے پاکستان کو پولیو فری ملک بنانے کی خواہش میں مصروف عمل ہے۔
2010 میں پاکستان میں آنا والے سب سے بڑے سیلاب میں متاثرین کی مدد اور ان کی بحالی کے لئے دن رات آصفہ بھٹو زرداری سمیت اس وقت کے صدر آصف علی زرداری،چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری سیلاب زد گان کے ساتھ رہے اور ان کی بحالی اور غذائی اجناس کی کمی کو جلد از جلد مکمل کر کے ان کے نقصان کو پورا کر کے ان کو باعزت جینے کا حق فراہم کیا۔ آصفہ بھٹو زرداری کا طرز سیاست اپنی ماں شہید محترمہ بینظیر بھٹو کی عکاسی کرتا ہے وہ ملک پاکستان کی خواتین اور بلخصوص بچوں کی نگداشت کیلئے ہمیشہ فکر مند رہتی ہے۔ اس سلسلے میں وہ سندھ کے اسپتالوں کا دورہ ہو یا شہر میں صفائی ستھرائی کاکام ہو یا تعلیم اور صحت کی سرگرمیاں ہوں ہمیشہ بڑھ چڑھ کر حصہ لیتی ہیں۔

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Russia - Lavrov Explains the Main Aim of Syrian Constitution Drafted by Russia

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault by phone Friday that the the draft Syrian constitution proposed by Russia was "an invitation to a conversation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Last week, a draft Syrian constitution, prepared by Russian experts, was presented to the Syrian opposition during the settlement talks in the capital of Kazakhstan. H
ead of the Russian delegation Alexander Lavrentyev underlined that Russia is not interfering in the consideration of the constitution but is presenting the draft to the opposition simply in order to accelerate the process.
Later, Sputnik obtained the full text of the Syrian constitution drafted by Russia.
"Lavrov commented on the Syrian constitution draft prepared by the Russian side, stressing that it is 'an invitation to a conversation,' an attempt to find common ground in the approaches of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the opposition in order to create conditions for Syrians themselves to determine the fate of their country in accordance with the UN Security Council's Resolution 2254," the statement said.

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U.S. _ House rolls back Obama gun background check rule

The Republican-led House voted Thursday to repeal an Obama-era regulation that required the Social Security Administration to disclose to the national gun background check system information about people with mental illness.
The regulation instituted in the final days of the Obama administration required the SSA to share information about those who are considered incapable of managing their own disability benefits due mental illness.
The rule sought to limit the ability of those with mental illness to purchase guns but drew criticism for casting too wide a net and not providing the opportunity for due process. Opponents of the rule, including the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the broad range of reasons that could be used to designate someone for the SSA database include conditions that should not stop a gun purchase.
    The vote was 235-180.
    "The Social Security Administration not only overstepped its mission with this regulation, it discriminated against certain Americans with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits. The agency should be focused on serving all of its beneficiaries, not picking and choosing whose Second Amendment rights to deny," said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee.
    Democrats complained that repealing the rule, which was adopted in the waning days of the Obama administration, would lead to more gun violence.
    "The American people and the families that are being hurt day after day by gun violence -- they deserve some due process too," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.
    Republicans are using the Congressional Review Act to roll back all manner of regulations put in place by Obama before he left office.
    The Senate is expected to pass the National Rifle Association-backed measure soon and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

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    Howard Stern: Trump wants to be loved, presidency will be 'detrimental' to his mental health

    By Andrew Kaczynski

    Howard Stern said on his program Wednesday that Trump will hate being president and the role will be detrimental to his mental health.

    Stern and Trump are long-time friends, with Trump making numerous appearances on Stern's radio show over the years.
    "I personally wish that he had never run, I told him that, because I actually think this is something that is gonna be detrimental to his mental health too, because, he wants to be liked, he wants to be loved," Stern said. "He wants people to cheer for him."
    "I don't think it's going to be a healthy experience. And by the way, he's now on this anti-Hollywood kick. He loves Hollywood. First of all, he loves the press. He lives for it. He loves people in Hollywood. He only wants hobnob with them. All of this hatred and stuff directed towards him. It's not good for him. It's not good. There's a reason every president who leaves the office has grey hair."
    Trump frequently appeared on Stern's radio program over the past two decades, engaging in the kind of crude talk about women and celebrities typical of the shock-jock's show. During the campaign, CNN's KFile surfaced demeaning comments Trump made about women on the show.
    Stern said he considers Trump a friend, but is opposed to his politics.
    "I like Donald very much personally. I was shocked when he decided to run for president, and even more shocked that sort of, people took it seriously," Stern said.
    "I remember saying to him when he announced his presidency, I remember being quite amazed, because I remember him being for Hillary Clinton," Stern added.
    "And I remember him being very--I mean he was pro-abortion. So the new Donald Trump kind of surprised me."
    Stern said he doesn't believe Trump has had a change of heart on issues like abortion, but is instead playing to his base.
    The radio host said he also believed Trump ran for president solely to get a larger contract from NBC for "The Apprentice."
    "I think it started out as like a kinda cool, fun thing to do in order to get a couple more bucks out of NBC for The Apprentice, I actually do believe that," Stern said.
    "He just wanted a couple more bucks out of NBC, and that is why Donald is calling for voter fraud investigations. He's pissed he won. He still wants Hillary Clinton to win. He's so f—ing pissed, he's hoping that he can find some voter fraud and hand it over to Hillary."

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    With Love From Australia - How to deal with a narcissist like Donald Trump

    Jacqueline Maley  

    Every world leader who has to deal with Donald Trump, which is to say every world leader including Malcolm Turnbull, should be stacking their bedside tables with literature on pathological narcissism – it will provide a better playbook for the 45th presidency than libraries full of political analysis or history.
    The United States' new national sport is the psychoanalysis of its president, and it's a game that's catching on globally.
    Increasingly, psychiatrists and psychologists are discarding the so-called "Goldwater rule" – which says it is unethical to give a professional opinion about a public figure they haven't personally examined – and calling it as they see it.
    Some say Donald Trump exhibits the traits of narcissistic personality disorder, which include grandiosity, a lack of empathy, exploitative interpersonal relationships, a sense of entitlement and an excessive need for admiration.
    Others go further and say he is a "malignant narcissist", which is when narcissism overlaps with psychopathy.
    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was widely criticised this week for not speaking out against Donald Trump's visa ban, but actually his response was pragmatic, protective and straight out of the pop psychology literature on how to respond to a narcissist.
    Turnbull, whether knowingly or not, was employing what is known as the "grey rock technique", an invention of the self-help industry that teaches that the best way to deal with a narcissist is to make yourself bland and uninteresting to him.
    "Grey rock" is a familiar trope on scores of websites dedicated to (mostly women) trying to flee toxic relationships with narcissistic men.
    The sisterhood swears by it, and so does Turnbull, it seems.
    Narcissists need two sorts of people: those who provide what the psychiatrists call "narcissistic supply" – people who reflect glory upon them, feed their grandiosity and pump up their self-image; and enemies to beat down and bully, because what could be more pleasing to the self-esteem than mastery over a weak and humiliated opponent?
    Narcissists are famously sensitive to shame and humiliation. They also do something psychologists call "splitting" – when a person they previously idealised crosses them with a perceived slight, the narcissist reacts with outsize fury, and suddenly becomes an evil enemy.
    Turnbull knows he needs to avoid this at all costs. Publicly shaming Trump by criticising his immigration ban, or by leaking the details of their now-infamous phone conversation, as Trump did, could have catastrophic results for the US-Australia alliance.
    Under the principles of "grey rock", the smart strategy is to become a nobody in the eyes of the narcissist. You do nothing and say nothing to incite him, and so he moves on to engage with one of the two categories of people who are of use to him.
    Turnbull must have been privately infuriated to learn of the leaking Washington Post of his phone call with Trump. It was without a doubt leaked to engender an emotional reaction and gain an advantage over Turnbull, to intimidate him or put him on notice that if the refugee deal went through, he would be doing him a huge favour. Narcissists are fuelled by the reactions to the emotional chaos they create.
    In response, Turnbull pulled a classic grey rock. He was unemotional and bland, telling reporters he would not speak about the private conversation. Later he clarified only that it had not ended in a hang up, as had been reported. Earlier in the week he told journalists it was "not my job" to comment on US domestic affairs, such as the president's abominable Muslim ban.
    But the problem with the "grey rock" technique is that in some cases a relationship with the narcissist is necessary.
    Turnbull can't choose not to engage with Trump, nor can he choose never to differ with him. No relationship works like that, and certainly not one where aligned, but markedly different national interests are at stake.
    While it is absolutely in Australia's national interest to adopt "grey rock" as often as possible in dealing with Trump, it will come at a political cost to Turnbull.
    The Prime Minister will increasingly see himself placed in a position where he has to endure the private humiliation of being treated contemptuously by the leader of a country that owes Australia a great deal of loyalty. But if he isn't seen to stand up to Trump, he will also endure the public humiliation of being criticised for weakness and perceived lackeyism to the vulgar American.
    If, in private, Turnbull puts aside his own pride for the national interest, he will get little public credit for it.
    John Howard's reputation in the electorate was damaged greatly by perceptions he was too obedient to the war cries of President George W. Bush.
    Imagine how much more pronounced that will be if Turnbull is seen to pander to a president as horrifying to Australians as Short Fingers? 
    Dubya was regarded by his critics as merely a fool. Trump is something much more malignant.
    Personality disorders are famously immutable and resistant to treatment – the people who have them don't change.
    Turnbull's best strategy would be to adopt grey rock where possible, and trust in the certainty that Trump will mostly have much bigger targets than us.
    But it would be a mistake to think we are among the special few who can train a snake not to bite us.

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