Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Video Report - 'Doping epidemic' is worldwide, but all eyes are on Russia

Video - #UK lawyers: Remove #Saudi from UN Human Rights Council

Video - Laying foundation for peace: Various factions of Syrian society gather in Sochi

Video - Hillary Clinton Issues a Non-Apology for Shielding a Harasser: The Daily Show

Video - Late Show with Stephen Colbert - After Trump's State Of The Union

Video - Daily Show with Trevor Noah - Trump's State of the Union: Not a Night for Facts: The Daily Show

Michelle Obama Dishes To Ellen About Melania Trump’s Inauguration Gift

By Ron Dicker
Mystery solved.
Former first lady Michelle Obama revealed to Ellen DeGeneres what was inside the Tiffany box she received from Melania Trump on Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. Obama’s perplexed expression and inability to find a place to put the box generated some laughs, and the contents apparently remained unknown until now. “It was a lovely frame,” Obama told DeGeneres in a preview clip of her sit-down with the talk show host to air Thursday.
Let’s rewind to Inauguration Day in January 2017 for a moment. Melania Trump presented the Tiffany & Co. box to Obama at the White House before the ceremony. Watch the awkwardness ensue.

And remember that look? 
“Well, there’s all this protocol,” Obama said to DeGeneres in the footage posted by People. “I mean, this is like a state visit, so they tell you that you’re going to do this, they’re going to stand here. Never before do you get this gift, so I’m sort of like, OK.” 
Obama acknowledged that she was a bit flummoxed by the presentation. “What am I supposed to do with this gift? And everyone cleared out and no one would come and take the box.”
Barack Obama stepped in to smooth out the awkwardness.
“And then my husband saved the day,” she said. “See, he grabbed the box and took it back inside. But everybody cleared out. No staff, no one. I was like what do you do with the box?”

US - Trey Gowdy Won’t Seek Re-Election To Congress

By Mollie Reilly

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this year.
“Instead I will be returning to the justice system,” Gowdy, who previously worked as an attorney and prosecutor, said in a statement. “Whatever skills I may have are better utilized in a courtroom than in Congress, and I enjoy our justice system more than our political system.”

There is a time to come and a time to go. This is the right time, for me, to leave politics and return to the justice system. Full statement here →
Gowdy was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has served as the chair of the House Oversight Committee since June, and chaired the House Benghazi Committee from 2014 to 2016, investigating the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya that left a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead. During that probe, Gowdy faced criticism for focusing the investigation on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was running for president at the time. 
Gowdy is one of several high-profile Republican House members to announce their retirement ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. According to Cook Political Report, there are currently 32 open Republican seats in the House and 13 open Democratic seats.
On Monday, 12-term Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said he wouldn’t run again, setting up a battle to take over his chairmanship of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Other significant GOP retirements include Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (Va.), Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (Calif.).
On the Senate side, Tennessee’s Bob Corker, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Utah’s Orrin Hatch have said they will step down after this term. 


Video Report - Joe Kennedy criticizes Trump in Democratic response

Video Report - "TRUMP LIED!!!" Bernie Sanders' BRILLIANT Takedown of Trump's State of the Union Speech

ګل مکۍ: د ملالې یوسفزۍ پر ژوند د بالیووډ فلم


The federal government has issued a special permit to Saudi Arabian Prince Fahd bin Sultan Abdul Aziz Al Saud, governor of Tabuk, to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard during the hunting season 2017-18.
Sources said Prince Fahd had caught the media attention a couple of years back when he, according to the wildlife department report, had hunted over 2,100 houbara bustards during his three-week long safari.
A resident of colder central Asian region, the houbara avoiding the harsh weather conditions back home migrates southwards every year to spend its winters in a relatively warmer environment here.
Owing to its dwindling population globally the migratory bird is protected under various international conservation conventions and its hunting is banned under national as well as local wildlife laws.
The federal government, however, issues special permits to kings, rulers, crown princes, princes and other members of ruling families of various Arab states of the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, to hunt the bird.
The sources said that by issuing the special houbara hunting permits, the government was risking to lose the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status given to it by the European Union under which its exports were given preference and an easy access to the highly lucrative European markets.
They said that the countries given the GSP Plus status had to observe numerous international agreements dealing with nature conservation, wildlife protection, human rights, labour rights, etc, and the EU carried out periodical checks to monitor and ensure that the countries given the GSP Plus status were following these conventions.
The sources said that losing the GSP Plus status in the present situation, particularly when the United States had suspended the monetary assistance, could prove to be financially lethal.
The sources said that the special permit No: DCP (P&I) – 19 / 6 / 2017 – 18 (Allocation/KSA – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) had been issued by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol and had been sent to the Islamabad based embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so that it could be sent to the Tabuk (Saudi Arabia) based hunter.
The permit says that “the ministry of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan presents its compliments to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad and has the honour to state that the Government of Pakistan has conveyed its recommendation to the authorities in the province concerned for allocation of following areas to Royal Highness Prince Fahd bin Sultan Abdul Aziz Al- Saud, Governor of Tabuk, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hunting of houbara bustards for the season 2017-18.
“The areas allocated for the season 2017-18 are District Awaran and Noshki (less Noshki city) and District Chagai excluding area in the Northwest corner of Balochistan located in District Chagai (Nok Kindi).
“The respective provincial government has also been requested to issue necessary permit in this regard. Code of Conduct for hunting season 2017-18 is also attached.
“The ministry of foreign affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the esteemed Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the assurances of its highest consideration,” adds the Pakistan foreign ministry’s letter.
The sources said that earlier, the entire Chagai district used to be allocated to Prince Fahd, but when the news regarding his poaching over 2,100 houbara bustard was highlighted by the media, Ruler of Dubai (UAE) Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum approached Pakistan government for allocation of the Chagai district area.
The Pakistan government carved out a piece in the Northwest corner of Balochistan located in Chagai district (Nok Kundi) and allocated it to the Dubai ruler, while rest of the district remained with Saudi Arabian Prince Fahd.

OPINION | Bilawal Bhutto's Davos Speech Was a Coming Of Age Moment

Bilawal is definitely a new star on Pakistan’s political horizon that Bhutto supporters and PPP voters had been anxiously waiting for. Each and every line of his speech got full endorsement from a roaring crowd in the Golden Anniversary public meeting in Islamabad and plaudits in Davos.

It is a rare event in history when the future of a nation is tied to that an unborn child. I can say this without fear of contradiction that we have one such individual in Pakistan — Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — earmarked by nature to play a larger than life role.

Unfortunately, not many have thought of the fact that this child was destined to be the leader of the nation much before he was born.

I would like to emphasise the role stars play in determining the future course of a nation or individual’s life. People who are associated with Pakistan politics would recall certain turn of events preceding the general elections in November 1988. One can co-relate it to the Geneva Accord on the Soviet withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan—a major decision taken by Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo in consultation with PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and other senior leaders.

Ominous was the blowing up of the huge Ohjiri Arms Depot at Faizabad, appointment of General Aslam Beg as Vice Chief of Army Staff by Junejo without consulting President Zia-ul-Haq. This forced Zia to dismiss the PM, one had chosen himself, that led to “rebellion” by generals resulting in the mysterious crash of C-130 on August 17, 1988.

General Zia was so confident of his grip on power, hold on the army and ISI that he did not understand that time and tide wait for none and, as Roman philosopher Cicero said, certain signs precede ominous events.

Instead of calling it a day, Zia preferred to buy extension by sacrificing black goats every week. I remember the group interview he gave us two months before his fall from the sky, reiterating boisterously that he would not give up his army uniform and would ‘die with his boots on’. How prophetic!

Benazir’s tumultuous return to Pakistan in April 1986 and the global environment opening floodgates of democratic change assured the inevitability of elections, especially after Prime Minister Junejo’s dismissal. Zia was scared of Bhutto and the landslide electoral victory waiting for her. He designed the polls to be held at such a time when she was pregnant. And as the incredible story goes, Zia assigned ISI, MI and IB to find out when she was due for delivery so that she could not carry out a vigorous election campaign.

Much to the machinations and planning by ISI apparatus, Bilawal was born earlier and Zia’s plans didn’t materialise. When I look back, I am amused how poorly our intelligence agencies performed. Whether Bilawal would like to share this story with a wild smile on his face or not, I fondly remember how our “dearest Bibi” used to narrate instances of intelligence failure, about her pregnancy and her being a graduate. 

Many of his narrow-minded critics continue to be uncharitable in assessment of the enormous potential Bilawal has lately shown following his very pragmatic and objectively loaded sense of direction in December last year at the time of the 50th foundation anniversary of the party.

As he rightly said recently in his Davos speech and an interview, Pakistan needs a progressive voice to eliminate politics of hate and mudslinging by major political parties. “PPP has always been a progressive party. That’s the way forward. That’s the kind of politician I want to be,” he said. 

Bilawal also said that his mother’s mission to serve the people motivated him to choose politics. “My mother was assassinated for opposing extremists. I did not choose a life in politics. It chose me,” he added.

Bilawal also put to shame senior politicians and their lack of understanding of the art of diplomacy when he dilated about the relationship between India and Pakistan. He assured that a one-way approach would not solve issues and that reservations of both the countries should be discussed in order to break the impasse through pragmatism and statesmanship.

“India and the rest of the world think that they can just dictate Pakistan and that’s not how a partnership works or is built. We need to have a discussion over reservations of both countries with each other,” he said.

Bilawal is not the continuation of the politics of status quo like PML-N and PTI leadership. Whenever there is a grim situation, or an occasion that demands a forthright stand against retrogressive force, he has not hesitated in taking the bull by the horn. He has the dare of his mother and her dauntless determination too, to face the extremists and to take tough decisions when challenges are onerous. 

Tall, handsome, educated with the magical touch of his late mother and the flair of his grandfather, the emergence of Bilawal is indeed the most important political development in Pakistan and will have far reaching impact.

His heart warming speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos has made the nation proud.

Bilawal is definitely a new star on Pakistan’s political horizon that Bhutto supporters and PPP voters had been anxiously waiting for. Each and every line of his speech got full endorsement from a roaring crowd in the Golden Anniversary public meeting in Islamabad and plaudits in Davos. His popularity is a reminder of the old glory days of PPP when Zulfikar Butto and Benazir would regale crowds with their oratory.

Notwithstanding the fact that times have changed and there are growing security constraints, Bilawal will have to shed that status quo tag and must expand his attempt to connect with the voters. Like his grandfather and mother, he should venture into populist activities such as organising and participating in sporting activities or breaking bread with the common man. His preference should be to be seen with younger elements rather than be surrounded and discard the political ruins.

The author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.

2 killed, several injured as earthquake jolts Pakistan

An intense earthquake was felt across Pakistan and the region on Wednesday. Tremors were felt in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Lasbela, Sargodha, Gujranwala along with several other cities and towns in the country.
According to the US Geological Survey, the 6.1 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter south of Jarm in Afghanistan had an estimated depth of 191.2km.
National Seismic Monitoring Centre Director, Zahid Rafi told Geo News that Pakistan experienced two earthquakes on Wednesday. “The first earthquake of 4.9 magnitude struck Balochistan’s Bela town at 10am,” Rafi said, adding that “the second earthquake’s tremors were felt in Pakistan at 12:07pm.”
Meanwhile, Met Dept DG Ghulam Rasool said the Balochistan earthquake struck at a depth of 29km. Rasool added that the Afghanistan earthquake measured at 6.2.
A minor girl was killed and nine others injured in Bela a town located in Lasbela, Balochistan when the roof of a house collapsed, said police and hospital officials. These causalities were likely caused by the earthquake which struck Balochistan around 10am.
According to reports at least ten people were injured in Khyber Pakhtuhwa in earthquake related incidents.
Panicked residents of affected cities and towns rushed out of their homes and offices when the tremors struck.
In the federal capital, state buildings including the Supreme Court and Parliament were also evacuated.
Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar who was hearing a case at the time of the earthquake, remarked that people should remain calm as the tremors would subside.
In neighbouring Afghanistan, frightened residents ran out of homes and shops following the tremor in Kabul. Tremors were also felt in India.
The epicentre was near Afghanistan’s Jarm, which was hit by a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake in October 2015 that triggered landslides and flattened buildings, killing more than 380 people across the region. The bulk of the recorded casualties were in Pakistan, where 248 people were killed, including 202 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and more than 1,600 injured.
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
People, some confused and others scared, took to social media to report their experiences.

Magnitude-6.1 quake rattles Afghanistan and Pakistan

A strong magnitude 6.1 earthquake rattled Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday, including the capital cities of both countries, killing a young girl and injuring 15 others, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake’s center was in northeast Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Jarm in the Hindu Kush region. It had a depth of 191.2 kilometers (119 miles).
TV footage showed people in Islamabad fleeing offices and schools in panic.
Rana Hamid Ali, who works at a private company, said when the quake hit he started running toward the stairs instead of using the office elevator to get out of the building.
“We were doing routine work in our office when a strong earthquake suddenly rattled our building and we came down through the stairs, there was no time to wait for the elevator,” he said.
Another resident, Azeem Chaudhry, said his home’s walls swayed when the quake struck.
At least one girl was killed and eight others injured when roofs collapsed on mud-brick homes in the village of Lasbela in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, said local government official Izat Nazir Baluch. He said authorities were still trying to assess the damage in the province.
Four schoolchildren were also injured when students stampeded out of their school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, but none was listed in serious condition, according to police and government officials.
The quake was felt in the Afghan capital Kabul, where an official said at least three people were injured when a wall collapsed in a village in northeastern Badakhshan province near the border with Pakistan.
Gul Mohammad Bedar, provincial deputy governor, said the temblor also caused cracks in the walls of a number of other houses there.
Bedar said officials were trying to collect more details from the remote villages in Jarm. Authorities faced problems getting details in the remote district where the Taliban have a strong presence.
Mohammad Mustafa, acting district governor in Jarm, said they had no communications with about 52 villages, which making it difficult to get details about quake-related damage.
The earthquake also was felt in the Indian capital New Delhi and the Indian Kashmir region. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage to buildings there.
A magnitude-7.6 quake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.