Sunday, December 10, 2017
West should boast about its 'decisive victories’ in Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya, not Syria – Zakharova
On Saturday, the US-led Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) dismissed the Russian defense ministry announcement earlier this week, which proclaimed the liberation of Syria from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), with only “some spots of resistance” remaining across the war-torn country. Brushing aside Russia’s achievements in Syria, a CJTF-OIR representative told Sputnik that terrorists continue to operate in the Deir ez-Zor province.
The US-led coalition, not the Russian Federation or Syrian Regime, is the only force that has made meaningful progress against [Daesh/ISIS],” the spokesman told the news agency. Just before that announcement, French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, also refused to acknowledge Moscow’s role in defeating IS, instead, accusing Russia of “appropriating” the US-led coalition victory.
“I sometimes find it a little surprising that Russia appropriates the victory against Daesh,” Le Drian told the BFMTV channel, adding, that the demise of IS came “thanks to the actions of the coalition.”
Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump praised himself and Secretary of Defense James Mattis for their achievements in bringing IS to its knees. “He’s knocked the hell out of them,” Trump boasted during a cabinet meeting. “Of course, I made it possible by what I let you do, right?” Trump lightheartedly asked Mattis.
“The defeat of IS in Syria is first of all result of actions by the Syrian leadership and governmental forces,” the ministry said. “With the support of the Russian Air Force, the Syrian armed forces liberated from IS terrorists hundreds of settlements and returned under control of the legitimate leadership practically the entire territory of the country.”
Russia began providing military support to Syria following an official request from Damascus in 2015 to prevent the terrorists from completely overrunning the country. Russia’s help allowed the Syrian Arab Army to turn the tide and liberate large swathes of the country previously occupied by the jihadists. Smashing the blockade of Deir ez-Zor, the terrorists last stronghold in eastern Syria, represented a turning point in this year’s campaign against the terrorists, ultimately leading to their demise.
The US coalition, meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry stated, was only able to accomplish a so-called ‘liberation’ of Raqqa, with that ‘victory’ coming through a complete destruction of the city. The coalition also impeded Syrian government forces, conducting direct air strikes on their positions in Deir ez-Zor, the ministry said.
“In three years of its presence in Syria, the coalition only recently achieved its first ‘result’ in the fight against Daesh by destroying Raqqa along with civilians,” the ministry said. “That is why, if there is any positive role of the international coalition in defeating Daesh in Syria, it is only that it did not manage to destroy other Syrian cities with its carpet bombing, like it did with Raqqa.”
By Lucinda Franks
When I started out in journalism in the 1970s, attitudes toward sexual harassment among the token women sprinkled about in newsrooms were nearly antithetical to those we’ve heard from the women who have come forth in recent weeks with a flood of anguished revelations.
My first job was at the London bureau of a prominent international wire service. When I walked in the newsroom, the all-male staff gaped at me as if I were an oasis in a desert. They were soon disappointed. I responded with such aloofness, they called me the Ice Princess. I felt lonely, in need of a friend. I suppose this is why I responded when one reporter began to engage me in conversation. My hopes rose — until I felt the hand slowly sneaking up my thigh. I dispatched him with an elbow in the torso. And the guy who grabbed my butt the next day got a swift back kick into the kneecap and a couple of four-letter words.
My generation of women came of age amid the exhilaration of second-wave feminism: We saw ourselves as strong, fierce self-defenders. Inappropriate sexual advances, we told ourselves, were simply an opportunity to prove our superiority over the weaker sex. Few of us believed we sustained any serious damage, and most of us thought that with enough grit, we could defy the odds and find our way.
One night after work, a group of reporters invited me to the local Irish pub. In the space of an hour, we downed several big glasses of Guinness, with Paddy Whiskey chasers. I was terrified, but I knew how crucial this test was. I would absolutely deny them the pleasure of seeing me fall off my stool. I kept up with them drink for drink and didn’t pass out until I put the key to my apartment inside the door. But I collapsed with a warm feeling, giddy at the thought of their respect. It’s not that I wanted to be one of the guys — I just wanted to be a good journalist, with perhaps a place in the bigger club that ran the world.
I soon found myself in Northern Ireland, in the middle of a ferocious attack on Catholics by club-wielding Protestants. I sustained a superficial scalp wound and, excitedly bloody, I found a pay phone. I began dictating a first-person story when the London bureau chief came on the line. He was an irascible eccentric known for flinging Remington typewriters at offending reporters, and he wasn’t happy to hear from me. “Damn you, get your tail back here. Women aren’t allowed in war zones!” he shouted. At the time, he was too apoplectic to see that a good story would be over by the time he found a man to replace me, but he gradually, grudgingly let me stay.
Once I returned, I saw him darkly flipping through my copy. I ducked. “Franks,” he finally pronounced with congratulatory gravity, “I don’t think of you as a woman anymore. You write like a man.”
I still can’t help thinking of this as the ultimate compliment. I was already brainwashed.
When the sluice opened a few months ago and men across all industries began to take sudden and precipitous falls, at first, I was slightly skeptical. I was puzzled by the stories some women told about freezing up, unable to repel a boss or sometimes even a co-worker. A few maintained that when they did resist, they felt guilty and fearful, and wrote emails the next day apologizing and asking for another chance. I felt bad for them, and yet my honest reaction was confusion: What feminist, I wondered, would be so desperate as to trade her self-respect for a job?
As the stories about what these women experienced became more perverted and even downright weird, I wondered whether male hubris had finally gone berserk. Had the sexualization of American popular culture in the 1990s and 2000s taken the restraints off the male id, freeing men to pursue their most absurd fantasies — holding professional interviews at their homes, parading around naked under open bathrobes in front of job applicants? Had feminism, with its promotion of sexual freedom, combined with these cultural changes, paradoxically poured gas on the fires of these workplace assaults? Or had this stomach-turning type of aggression simply evaded the rumor mill but been happening all along?
As I thought about this, more of my own memories came back. Had our pioneering generation deceived ourselves?
Of course, back then we were fully aware of the quid pro quo of the casting couch, where men in power could use that power to make or break a young woman’s career. We warned our sisters, but we spoke in whispers, never aloud. Maybe we were more afraid than we admitted.
Even if most of us may not have suffered serious sexual harassment, how many of us sustained more hidden damage inflicted by insecure men — especially if we had the audacity to be successful?
Two years after I joined the news service, I won the Pulitzer Prize. I suffered for it mightily. That I was the first woman to win for national reporting — I had been brought to New York to do a five-part series on the violent antiwar Weatherman group — made it only worse. I could see it in their bowed heads: We’ve been striving for years to win that coveted prize and a 24-year-old walks away with it! The entire bureau of men refused to speak to me that day and the days after.
I was haunted by the creeping conviction that I didn’t deserve the prize — I should give it back. For at least the next 10 years, I was too ashamed to tell people I’d won.
Subtler moments of discrimination in my younger days have been coming back over the past few weeks: the stories killed before I’d even finished them; the time I came back to work after visiting my ailing mother and a man my age, hired for much higher wages, had been awarded my promised transfer to Paris.
When you get older, gender discrimination gets easier, somewhat predictable and sometimes even funny. But it doesn’t stop — even if you’ve published four books and had a long journalism career. When my last book came out, I was interviewed by a certain talk show host, before he was stripped of his job because of gross sexual misconduct charges. I had hardly opened my mouth before he fell asleep. During the rest of the interview, he kept nodding off while the camera judiciously avoided him. When I left the studio, he had popped awake for his new guests. I saw him waving his hands enthusiastically while speaking with two high-powered male journalists.
I herald this latest female generation for their courage in revealing their humiliations for the chance to change society. We, the earliest female newswomen, were tough, ambitious, even cocky about our talent, but over the years, our self-confidence was often irreparably harmed. Our generation might have been smart, but there was much we just didn’t get. Grateful to win a place in the hierarchy of power, we didn’t understand the ways that gender degradation still shaped our work lives. A few years ago, I met a fellow who had won a Pulitzer for foreign reporting the year before. When he finally discovered what we had in common, he said in a scolding voice: “You’re the shyest Pulitzer winner I’ve ever met. Do you understand you won the highest award in journalism? When I got it, I shouted it to the skies.”
And the skies clearly listened.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) on Tuesday pledged to revert to socialist ideology and strive for egalitarian democracy – the goals set by its founding fathers 50 years ago.
The party’s young chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, delineated the broader contours of the future politics of the party in an apolitical speech at a successful show of power at a golden jubilee event in the federal capital.
A crowd of more than 20,000 people filled Islamabad’s Parade Ground, also known as Democracy Park. Political analysts believe that the PPP’s show of power, which came after a long time, was thanks to its younger lot which has taken up the challenge of reviving the party in Punjab.
Instead of taking on his political opponents in an articulated speech, Bilawal, who became the party head after the assignation of his mother Benazir Bhutto in 2007, focused on the successes his party had achieved and the sacrifices it rendered during the past 50 years.
“We will make Pakistan [a] socialist country and continue with reforms initiated by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and later by Benazir Bhutto,” Bilawal vowed, delineating his policy for the future.
He said his reforms meant for the empowerment of women, provision of education and health facilities and giving jobs to the youngsters. The party will strive to consolidate the reforms it introduced during its last term in office under the leadership of his father, Asif Zardari.
He specifically mentioned the autonomy granted to provinces in the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms and its prosed merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Agaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) reforms packages.
Some of these reforms packages were unveiled but could not be implanted by the time the PPP’s five-year term in office ended in 2013. Other objectives include reforms judicial system and police, the establishment of the writ of state and rule of law and end to sectarianism and terrorism, he said.
However, the PPP chairman did not elaborate how these objectives would be achieved. It is expected the party would inculcate these broad parameters in its election manifesto, for which a committee of senior party leaders is already been established. Before Bhutto Zardari’s speech, former president Asif Zardari targeted the top leadership of the rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). He said he saved former prime minister Nawaz Sharif twice in the last five years but would not save him this time.
In 2013, Zardari said, his party accepted “PML-N’s fake mandate”. Calling PTI chairman Imran Khan a “fake” Khan, he said the second time he saved Sharif was when Khan staged a sit-in against the government in 2014.
“We will not save them this time,” Zardari, the Co-Chairman of the PPP, told the crowd. In remarks which indicated the PPP would try to dislodge the government before completing its term, he said his party would try the PML-N did not remain in power. Zardari blasted the policies of the PML-N government. He accused the government of artificially keeping the dollar rate low. According to him, the realistic rate of the dollar should have been Rs147. “They (PML-N government) want to pass [rupee devaluation] on to the interim government,” he said.
Turning to Imran Khan, Zardari said the PTI chief was naive because he did not know how to run the country when the national kitty was empty. Referring to former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, he said dictatorship has no future.
Zardari expressed a desire for improving relations with Pakistan’s western neighbour Afghanistan, but vowed that his party would never compromise on the Kashmir dispute.
A delegation of the International Department of the Communist Party (IDCPC ) of China called on Chairman ppp Bilawa Bhutto Zardari in Zardari house Islamabad Sunday evening. The delegation led by H E Wang Yajun Assistant Minister, included Mr Zhang Xuyi Deputy Director General, Mr Libin Director Policy Research Office, Mr Hu Xiaodong Deputy Director,. Ambassador Yao Jing, Mr Mei Jing and officials from Chinese Embassy were also present in meeting. Those from the ppp who were present includedalso Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Faisal Karim Kundi. Matters of mutual interest, the CPEC and party to party relations came under discussion. The Chinese Communist party delegation also invited ppp delegation to visit China. Chairman ppp later also hosted dinner for the Chinese delegation.
A delegation of the Communist Party of China called on the Chairman #PPP @BBhuttoZardari in Islamabad.— PPP Voice (@VoiceOfPPP) December 10, 2017
The delegation led by Mr. Wang Yajun, Assistant Minister of International Department of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (IDCPC) pic.twitter.com/W4NtmshMjI