Sunday, February 26, 2017
The bill, also referred to as “hudud law,” seeks to amend the Malaysian constitution, thus allowing Sharia penalties in Kelantan, a predominantly Muslim northern state, where nightclubs are banned and there are separate public benches for men and women.
If passed, the bill would open the possibility to other states to enact hudud laws and promote two parallel criminal justice systems with different penalties under secular and Sharia laws, Malaysian media suggested.Whereas the secular criminal code includes no corporal punishments, under Sharia laws, the courts would be empowered to order stoning or amputations.
Arguments for and against the introduction of Sharia law have divided Malaysia for years. Most of the states already implement the Islamic legal system, but its reach is restricted by secular federal laws.
The bill’s submission to parliament provoked criticism from other political leaders, including those who represent Chinese and Indian minorities.
Earlier in the day, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a key party in the ruling government’s coalition, called the move "unconstitutional." Liow Tiong Lai, leader of the MCA, Mah Siew Keong, president of Malaysian People's Movement Party have threatened to quit their cabinet positions if the bill were to be passed and implemented, according to New Straits Times. Prime Minister Najib sought to play the situation down, saying the bill was "misunderstood."
"It's not hudud, but what we refer to as enhanced punishment," he was quoted as saying by Reuters during a news conference after meeting leaders of his ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party.
"It applies only to certain offences and this comes under the jurisdiction of the Syariah [the Malay spelling of Sharia] court and is only applicable to the Muslims. It has nothing to do with non-Muslims," he insisted.
The prime minister also added that the punishments would be limited and canings meted out under the law “would not injure or draw blood.”
Malaysia has seen sporadic political turmoil since last August, when a massive anti-government rally involving tens of thousands of people demanded that PM Najib resign.
The protesters accused Najib of corruption after documents were leaked in July showing that he had received some $700 million from entities linked to an indebted state fund. He later claimed the money was a donation from the Middle East. Najib sacked several senior government officials and the attorney general investigating the allegations against him.
Let’s be clear: The moral case against President Trump’s plan to uproot and expel millions of unauthorized immigrants is open-and-shut. But what about the economic cost? This is where deeply shameful collides with truly stupid.
The Migration Policy Institute reported in 2013 that the federal government spends more each year on immigration enforcement — through Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol — than on all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. The total has risen to more than $19 billion a year, and more than $306 billion in all since 1986, measured in 2016 dollars. This exceeds the sum of all spending for the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Secret Service; the Marshals Service; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
ICE and the Border Patrol already refer more cases for federal prosecution than the entire Justice Department, and the number of people they detain each year (more than 400,000) is greater than the number of inmates being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for all other federal crimes.
That is blank-check, steroidal enforcement — and Mr. Trump and the Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, want more.
The size of the Border Patrol more than doubled in the 1990s and doubled again after 9/11. Mr. Trump ran on a pledge to expand the patrol and triple the size of ICE; Mr. Kelly has obliged. His enforcement memos last week seek to increase the force by 10,000 ICE officers and 5,000 Border Patrol agents.
Or maybe more, if you consider the administration’s trial balloon, recently floated, to mobilize 100,000 National Guard troops and add them to the mix. Such an effort would surely exceed, in scale and futility, President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send the Army and that National Guard to the Southwest to fruitlessly chase Pancho Villa in 1916. How much will it all cost? Mr. Trump isn’t saying, if he has bothered to check.
Mr. Trump also talks about a 2,000-mile, double-thick, very high wall along the border from San Diego to Brownsville, Tex. There are already 700 miles of fencing on the border, plus watchtowers, sensors, floodlights and razor wire, and boots and all-terrain vehicles on the ground and drones in the air. In 2009 the Government Accountability Office estimated the cost of the existing fence at $2.8 million to $3.9 million per mile, but that was for the relatively easy stretches.
Estimates of the full price of Mr. Trump’s great wall vary. He said it would cost $8 billion, then changed that to $10 billion to $12 billion. “Fat chance,” the MIT Technology Review said last October, finding Mr. Trump guilty of “bad math” and placing the real figure at $27 billion to $40 billion for 1,000 miles.
But wait — didn’t Mr. Trump also say the cost to America would actually be zero, since he would force Mexico to pay for the wall, even though Mexico says it won’t? He did. But then he said Mexico would reimburse us for the wall, which is to say … who knows? Mr. Kelly’s memos include a plan to catalog United States aid to Mexico, suggesting that he is looking for money to raid for a Trump wall fund, and that this so-called wall remains firmly in the realm of delusion.
Which won’t stop the flow of money out of Washington. One example: The Homeland Security inspector general reported in 2014 that the Border Patrol had spent $360 million over eight years on drones but found “little or no evidence” that the drones made the border more secure.
Although facts are of little interest to this White House, all this budget-busting border mania is essentially for nothing. Illegal immigration from Mexico has trailed off in the last decade. And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, the net flow across the border is now less than zero. Wait, there’s more. All the people Mr. Kelly rounds up will have to be detained and deported at taxpayer expense. Congress requires the Homeland Security Department to maintain about 34,000 immigration detention beds, at an estimated annual cost of $2 billion, or $5.5 million a day. Adding thousands more cells and beds will surely send that bill — like the profits of the private-prison contractors who have been cashing in on all this misery — through the roof.
Now let’s examine the cost to the economy.
If you do back-of-the-envelope calculations, you’re gonna need a big envelope. The American Action Forum last year estimated that expelling all unauthorized immigrants, and keeping them out, would cost $400 billion to $600 billion, and reduce the gross domestic product by $1 trillion.
Mr. Trump describes immigrants as rapist-murderer-terrorists, but what they really are is a pillar of the American economy, producing a net benefit of about $50 billion since 1990. Farms and restaurants, hotels, manufacturers, retail businesses — all sectors of the economy benefit directly or indirectly from immigrant labor.
As for taxes, unauthorized immigrants pay them, and if they work off the books, they pay into the system without taking out. They don’t collect Social Security and don’t qualify for food stamps or other benefit programs. They pay sales and property taxes, and since they are generally younger and healthier than the native-born population, they strengthen the safety net. The Social Security Administration estimates that unauthorized immigrations pay about $13 billion a year into Social Security and get only about $1 billion back.
It’s ridiculous to have to explain this to the president, but: If you take a population of 11 million people out of the country, or force them deeper underground, the economy will not be healthier. If you have to find foster parents for millions of abandoned American children of deported immigrants, society will not be stronger. Shrink our immigrant-rich economic sectors, send all that entrepreneurial energy to Canada and Mexico — America will not be better off.
Pull immigrants and refugees out of the declining Rust and Bible Belt cities and towns that they have been repopulating and revitalizing. Bleed the immigrant populations of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Who benefits? Not America.
While we wait for Mr. Kelly to achieve his boss’s bleak vision, we will have created a population of increasingly vulnerable, exploited noncitizens and Dreamer youths whose educations hit a dead end after high school. All that intellectual and economic potential, the prospect of rising incomes and tax payments, will have been squandered.
But squandering is the whole point. The “deportation force” may or may not hit its 11 million target, the wall may or may not stretch from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, but terror and intimidation have already spread through immigrant communities. And this is what the nativists who have been schooling the president want.
The larger costs to the economy, and the dire human toll, do not concern them.
The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports the former Democratic presidential candidate was announced Wednesday as the keynote speaker for the Society of Irish Women's annual St. Patrick's Day dinner.
Clinton's late father grew up in Scranton and she spent summers at the family's summer cottage on nearby Lake Winola.
Her last appearance in Scranton was Aug. 15, during her campaign against Donald Trump.
The speech is one of several Clinton is scheduled to deliver in the coming months, including a commencement address May 26 at her alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
By Jamelle Bouie
Two Indian nationals were shot by a man yelling racial epithets. The president said nothing. That’s all we need to know about who matters in Trump’s America.
On Wednesday night at a bar in Olathe, Kansas, 51-year-old Adam Purinton pulled out a gun and opened fire on two local engineers from India as well as two patrons who tried to intervene in the situation. One of the Indian men, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla, died of his wounds while at a hospital. The other, Alok Madasani, also 32, was injured. One of the bystanders, 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who is white, was seriously wounded. According to witnesses, Purinton had been kicked out of the bar after causing a disruption. He later re-entered carrying a weapon. Hurling racial slurs at the two engineers, he began firing. “Get out of my country,” he reportedly said.
If accurate, witnesses and victims have described a hate crime: an attack meant to intimidate an entire community, as much as to harm a particular individual. Given the larger atmosphere of fear and hostility toward immigrants and people perceived as “foreigners,” this shooting has received wide attention from national outlets. But there’s one prominent observer who hasn’t weighed in on the incident: the president of the United States. Donald Trump is quick to comment on everything from leaks in his administration to cable news—and he’s never refrained from condemning terrorist attacks.
Earlier this month, for example, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, a young man attacked a group of soldiers: Wielding a machete, he ran at them shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar.” Police shot and subdued the suspect, who was taken into custody with serious injuries. The attempted attack placed terrorism back in the headlines of French politics, renewing fears and concerns around security and immigration. Here in the United States, President Donald Trump used the incident to justify his exclusionary policies toward Muslim immigrants and refugees. “A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down,” said Trump on Twitter. “France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” This was of a piece with statements Trump made in the wake of incidents in Nice, France, Berlin, and other attacks overseas claimed by militant Islamist groups.
There was no such statement about the two men in Kansas. No condemnation of the racial violence that grievously wounded an American and claimed the life of a law-abiding legal resident. But then, Trump is rarely interested in those incidents. Just two days after the attempted attack in France, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette shot and killed six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City. Described by activists as a “white nationalist,” Bissonnette was known locally as a right-wing, anti-immigrant troll inspired by extreme right-wing figures like Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen. Where Trump was vocal in the face of the incident in Paris, he was silent following the murders in Quebec. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the attack “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the president is taking steps to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety and security,” which reads as a defense of the administration’s travel ban. This was an odd choice of words, as Bissonnette was a native-born white Canadian, not a refugee or Muslim immigrant. It’s tempting to read the president’s silence on either Quebec City or Kansas as simple insensitivity. But that judgment is challenged by our ability to imagine the scenarios under which Trump would make a statement. If the situation in Kansas were reversed, if two Indian immigrants attacked a group of white patrons to intimidate the larger community, there’s little question that Trump would respond with anger and condemnation. Had a young Muslim man killed worshippers at a Catholic church, it’s a near-certainty that the president would have called for even harsher measures toward refugees. We know this because of Trump’s own actions; in the campaign, his call for an anti-Muslim crackdown came in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting despite the fact that the assailant was a native-born American.
Trump’s selective outrage is more than just a double standard. Like his early blitz of executive orders, it’s an important symbolic gesture. Proclaiming new draconian measures to protect police officers is explicitly siding with “Blue Lives Matter” against protesters and reformers. Likewise, elevating one kind of attack as worthy of condemnation and ignoring another is to implicitly say that one kind of assailant is more dangerous than another—and for that matter, the life of one kind of victim is more valuable than another. For Trump, “radical Islamic terrorism”—which in practice just means Islam—is the principal threat to the United States. And so any attack on a Western target (Trump is also seemingly indifferent to terrorist violence against Muslim targets) from anyone who fits that description, or who can be linked to refugees or immigration, becomes a cause for focus and attention from the White House.
The opposite is true for anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant hate crimes, or acts of terror planned or committed by white supremacists. Despite the real toll they take on communities, those attacks are of little interest to the administration. Indeed, in another largely symbolic move announced at the beginning of this month, Trump said he would revamp and rename a program designed to counter all violent extremism so that it focused on “radical Islamic extremism.” It will no longer target white supremacist groups and other racist extremists. Again, it’s a symbol and a signal: Islam is the threat, not racism or weaponized hate toward nonwhites and immigrants.
Donald Trump has not done much as president, but he has done this: He’s sent a clear signal to the country about who is worthy of empathy and concern—and protection—and who is not; about who deserves your outrage and indignation, and who doesn’t. Trump’s double standard is just another of the many ways he has told the American public that the lives and safety of immigrants and Muslims just don’t matter all that much.
Thanks Republicans - Mission accomplished - The Kansas killing has apparently brought out two different faces of America
The Kansas shooting incident killing one Telugu engineer and injuring another, both from Hyderabad, has sent ripples across the Indian community in the United States. While racist hate attacks are not new in that country, some from the Indian diaspora believe that accession of Donald Trump to the presidency has boosted the confidence of racist elements in society which might cause occurrence of such incidents.
It is well known that David Duke, former head of Ku Klux Klan and French far right Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen are some of President Trump’s admirers, many of them point out. Priya V, a Minnesota state resident says, “Donald Trump’s hasty comments and decisions are definitely provoking Americans to turn against immigrants. I am now living in Minneapolis. The city’s downtown has a lot of night clubs including gay clubs. I fear that these clubs might become a target anytime just like it happened in Orlando. I am avoiding such crowded places these days.”
She further said, “While such attacks have occurred earlier also, the present political atmosphere in the country is one which fortifies the confidence of people whose views are anti-immigrant.” Unlike the Milpitas homicide incident in which an Indian student from Telangana was killed, the racial hate attack of Kansas, killing a Hyderabadi engineer and injuring another, garnered lot of buzz on social media.
Social media messages were directed at United States President Donald Trump for spreading xenophobia. Tweet by one Naveen from the US on the Kansas incident went, “Absolutely despicable! This is what happens when you normalize racism and hatred by calling it *political incorrectness*.” Social media users also attacked Indians, NRIs and Hindu nationalist groups in India and the US who supported Donald Trump’s presidency.
By Frud Bezhan
Standing in a battered tent flanked by mud and human waste, Sahibuddin Khan and his family of five are among the thousands of returning Afghan refugees seeking food and shelter in crowded, ramshackle camps that have sprung up on the outskirts of Kabul.
An unprecedented number of Afghans are flooding back into their war-torn homeland, many of them forcibly evicted from neighboring Pakistan and Iran but also from Europe. The new wave of returnees joins the more than 1 million people already displaced by war inside the country, exacerbating an already urgent humanitarian crisis.
The returnees are coming back to a country where extreme poverty is rife, security is shaky, and where the Taliban has gained more territory than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The Afghan government, which had already been struggling to maintain basic living standards for its people, is failing to cope with the massive influx.
"We are in our own country, but not even dogs live like this," says Khan, who recently returned with his family from Pakistan. They live in a camp teeming with more than 450 returnee families, many of them left to fend for themselves, fighting against the elements and on a constant quest for food. The camp has no running water, no electricity, and disease is rampant.
For Khan, the dire conditions took their toll last month when two of his six children, ages 2 and 4, succumbed to illness and died. "When there was heavy snow recently, I lost my own children," says Khan, who has lived in the camp, located on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, for the past two months. "We live in a tent and there's no firewood or food."
Last year, Khan and his family were living in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, close to the Afghan border, a place he had called home for nearly two decades.
Khan, who ran his own grocery shop in Quetta, says his family lived in relative security and comfort. But he says their lives were upended after Pakistani authorities – as part of an anti-Afghan backlash -- shut down his shop and raided their home, located in a predominately Afghan neighborhood of the city. After months of threats and police abuse, the Khan family finally packed up their household possessions and returned to their homeland.
Now the Khans find themselves destitute in their own country.
Hounded Out Of Pakistan
Many Afghans returning to their homeland cannot go back to their former homes due to insecurity or land-grabbing, leaving them reliant on the government for housing or land.
"We never thought it would be like this," Khan says. "We expected help to restart our lives."
For years, Islamabad had urged Afghan refugees to return home, with little political will behind the request. But that was before the massacre of more than 150 people, the vast majority of them students, at a Peshawar school in December 2014. Many returning refugees said they were made scapegoats for the attack, which was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Last year, the Pakistani government ordered all Afghan migrants and refugees to leave the country. Authorities began raiding their homes and shops. Returnees like Khan claim they were routinely harassed by police, arbitrarily arrested, or had their leases canceled.
In the second half of 2016, Pakistan evicted nearly 365,000 of the country's 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees, as well as just over 200,000 of the estimated 1 million undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan, according to the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW). At its peak in the 1980s, Pakistan sheltered an estimated 5 million Afghan refugees as Afghan guerrilla fighters battled invading Soviet troops.
"Any forced return of a registered refugee, whether it is directly done or indirectly done, is a breach of international law," says Gerry Simpson, a senior researcher and advocate in HRW's Refugee Rights Program. "It's clear that Pakistan breached international law in forcing back those registered refugees against their will."
In a strongly worded report released on February 13, HRW called the eviction of Afghan refugees from Pakistan the "world's largest unlawful mass forced return of refugees in recent times."
Islamabad claims that the refugees who have left have done so voluntarily, and it has extended its deadline for all refugees to return to the end of 2017. Human rights groups say the deadline should be extended to 2019, at least.
Kabul's 'Reckless' Promises
Throughout the squalid Kabul camp where the Khans live, there is mounting anger and frustration over the lack of official help.
The Afghan government, heavily reliant on foreign aid, has promised refugees their own parcels of land but is struggling to deliver on that pledge. HRW's Simpson says not one refugee who returned to Afghanistan in 2016 has so far received any land.
"The process of distributing land to people has started in some provinces, but it takes time because it has to go through a legal process," says Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, an adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations. He acknowledges the massive refugee crisis but says the government in Kabul is doing the best it can with the meager resources at its disposal.
HRW's Simpson says the Afghan government's "false promises" are "absolutely reckless," noting that Kabul's overly generous pledges of compensation helped to convince some refugees to return, only to find themselves homeless and displaced. "This is in line with a long-term challenge and failure to provide land to displaced Afghans," he says. "The reasons are corruption, inefficiency, and lack of funds."
The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says it gives out $400 in cash to registered returnees, while the International Organization for Migration says it targets its aid -- about $300 in cash per family, plus food or essential items, as needed -- to undocumented refugees, depending on their levels of vulnerability. In truth, however, many returnees fall through the cracks and receive little help.
One of them is 14-year-old Sameh, who left Pakistan with his family of seven almost three months ago and now lives in the same camp as the Khans.
"We have so many problems," he says. "We have no firewood or food. There's so much mud everywhere, and I have no shoes or clothes."
In Pakistan, a country where journalists are often the targets of threats and deadly attacks and have little protection from authorities, many reporters are left to fend for themselves.
Now, Pakistani journalists are banding together and establishing so-called "safety hubs" where reporters can formally document cases of intimidation and physical abuse. The hubs, located in press clubs in all four provincial capitals, will then take up the cases with authorities.
The initiative is part of an effort to highlight attacks on the media in a bid to spur authorities to protect Pakistan's estimated 18,000 journalists, many of whom face threats and violence from militant groups, criminal gangs, and even the country's own military and intelligence agencies.
Gohar Ali, the head of the safety hub project in the volatile northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining lawless tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, says they have reported more than a dozen cases of threats since the project was rolled out in January.
'Fear More Trouble'
A large banner is plastered on the Peshawar Press Club, a two-story brick building opposite the railway station in the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The sign urges journalists facing threats and violence to come forward.
But Ali says many journalists are still afraid to report threats and violence, fearing a backlash from militants, criminals, and intelligence agents in the region.
"The major problem is that many journalists do not mention the threat because they fear more trouble," Ali said. "This is especially the case with journalists from the tribal areas who are facing many threats."
Ali says there have been many cases where journalists have shared their concerns, but have refrained from formally documenting their complaints.
Dilawar Wazir, a BBC reporter in Peshawar, moved with his family from the Waziristan region in the tribal areas due to persistent threats.
The region, many parts of which are off-limits to reporters, is a hotbed for militant groups and the scene of sporadic military operations.
"The majority of journalists have moved with their families from Waziristan because of threats and fear," says Wazir. "The homes of many journalists have been attacked in the past. They were physically attacked or their family members were threatened."
Apart from recording cases, the safety hubs also offer legal advice for journalists facing prosecution for their reporting and even provide financial assistance to the families of reporters who have been killed in the line of duty.
The project is managed by International Media Support, a development organization that works with local media in conflict areas.
The project comes a year after journalists formed a group called Editors For Safety, vowing to report on and highlight attacks on the press in an attempt to spur the authorities and their own employers into action.
Culture Of Impunity
Pakistan has long been among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with 102 reporters and media workers having lost their lives since 2005, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The organization adds that, since 2010, 73 journalists and media workers in Pakistan have been killed: almost one journalist killed every month.
Most of those killed were local journalists reporting on war, politics, corruption, and human rights.
In a 2016 report on Pakistan, which ranks 147th out of 179 countries on Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, the IFJ said that an "atmosphere of lawlessness" in the country, aided by "widespread impunity," has "not only contributed to more attacks on journalists but also forced the journalists to self-censor."
"In many of the cases, there were reports suspecting Pakistan's intelligence services' involvement but the government has failed to investigate these cases and punish the murderers. With only three verdicts and one case in the court in more than 100 killings since 2005, impunity in Pakistan is at its worst."
In August, DawnNews cameraman Mahmood Khan and Aaj TV cameraman Shehzad Ahmed died at Quetta Civil Hospital when a bomb killed at least 70 people -- many of them lawyers -- among a crowd that was grieving the assassination of the head of Balochistan's Bar Association.
There have been dozens of high-profile cases of journalists targeted in Pakistan in the past decade, including U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, who was slain after his abduction in the port city of Karachi in 2002; Salem Shahzad, who was found dead in the capital Islamabad in 2011 after reporting on the infiltration of militant groups in the army; and Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan's most prominent reporters, who survived an attack on his life in Karachi in 2014.