LJ planning to target Shia leaders, police

LJ planning to target Shia leaders, police

By Asad Kharal

LAHORE: Intelligence agencies have warned that the banned terror organisation, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), has reorganised itself and formed two new subgroups – Jhangvi Fidai Force (JFF) and Sunni Fidai Force (SFF) – to target Shia leaders and police officials across the country, sources told Daily Times.

The revelation was made in a report titled “Information Report-104” issued by the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of the Interior Ministry and forwarded to the Punjab Home Department, Punjab Police, Punjab Rangers and other law enforcement agencies.

The report says the terrorists had adopted new methods of attack, as was evident from the attacks on April 16, 2010.

On the said day, unidentified men shot dead Arshad Zaidi, a well-known member of the Shia community in Quetta. Once the news of the killing drew hundreds of people, including political and Shia leaders, journalists and police to the Civil Hospital, a suicide bomber exploded himself up in the hospital’s courtyard, killing another 12 people, including two senior police officials, a reporter, and injured 40 others. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack. The report said such incidents clearly indicated that sectarian sentiments were on the rise and the LJ was spearheading the violent campaign. These indicators showed that LJ had reorganised itself in collaboration with anti-state elements, the report said. The report recommended that close vigilance be maintained across the country and all suspicious people be dealt with strictly. “It is also recommended that members of union of journalists, press clubs, private TV channels, local religious and political leadership and police stay away from crime scenes, keeping in mind the present security scenario. Increasing incidents of firing at police personnel in Lahore also appeared to speak of changing tactics of the terrorists, the report said, adding that such incidents could be efforts to divert the attention of law enforcement agencies to bring explosives into the provincial capital.

Taliban 101

The Taliban come to Hamid Mir’s aid

This is a press release from the Taliban Media Centre commenting on the fake audio tape issued by some secret agency of Pakistan. We are actively condumn the reliability of this tape since there was no conversatin like that in between us and Mr Hamid Mir. Althoug we have talked with many different persons of media. It is very often and there is no doubt that they are not involved with us. This is seems to be a conspiracy to destroy the reputation of Mujahideen and the brave people of this country who want to bring truth in front while revealing the dark faces of this nation.

Suppose, this audion tape can be accepted as a true one than it is also demanded that the video tapes of Shery Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Salman Taseer should also be treated as the same degree. Since sexy pictures of Salman Taseer’s daughter and sons are on media so can any one tell the nation how a loose characterd person can be a governor of a province. What action should government agencies took? Why they are delaying?

Unfortunately the secret agenceis of Pakistan are directly opposing the nations benefits and try to sabotash the well repudiated personalities and institutions for the greater interst of their own.

(Unedited version )

Zardari used his “discretionary powers” to pardon Malik

Zardari used his “discretionary powers” to pardon Malik

Interior Minister Rehman Malik – APP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday pardoned a key cabinet minister sentenced over corruption to block his possible arrest, threatening to plunge his rule into fresh controversy.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, one of the closest allies of Pakistan’s head of state and a key member of his ruling party, was sentenced in absentia to three years in jail by an anti-corruption court in January 2004.

Malik, who was abroad at the time of the conviction, appealed against the verdict but a court in the eastern city of Lahore on Monday rejected his plea and cancelled his bail.

The president quickly intervened and within hours invoked his power to protect Malik from a possible detention.

The president used his “discretionary powers” to pardon Malik, Zardari’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said early Tuesday.

Referring to the hasty decision, Babar said the pardon was granted under article 45 of the constitution on the advice of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who formally took over constitutional powers from Zardari last month.

“Mr Rehman Malik has all along maintained that he has been victimised due to political reasons in his absence from the country,” Babar said.

Under pressure to hold elections and end eight years of military rule, military ruler Pervez Musharraf passed a so-called National Reconciliation Ordinance in 2007, allowing political opponents to return home.

“Zardari’s move to protect Malik will raise new controversy,” retired supreme court judge Tariq Mahmood told AFP.

“The president enjoys the authority to grant clemency but the question is can he pardon a crime and whether Malik can retain his seat in parliament.”

Pak Govt. Claims 768 of the “Disappeared” In Foreign Jails

Missing persons

SC summons three secretaries on Thursday

By Sohail Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the foreign, interior and finance secretaries to submit by Thursday a report on measures so far taken for the repatriation of Pakistani nationals languishing in various foreign countries’ jails.

The three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, gave these directions while hearing the petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Pakistan People’s Party’s former senator Farhatullah Babar.

The missing people are allegedly said to have been taken by intelligence agencies for interrogation over alleged links to militant groups in the country. Their relatives claimed they were picked up by intelligence agencies but never brought before any court.

During the course of proceedings, the apex court asked the additional attorney general (AAG) as to what necessary plan had been chalked out for the repatriation of Pakistani nationals from foreign countries.

AAG KK Agha presented a Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ report on Pakistanis detained in foreign jails. According to the report, there are at least 143 Pakistanis detained in Afghanistan, 425 in Malaysia and over 200 in Thailand.

The AAG, however, told the court that there were some financial issues among other difficulties in repatriating these Pakistanis. The court expressed satisfaction with the details and data, submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; however, it observed that no serious measures were taken, so far, for the repatriation of Pakistani nationals, languishing in foreign jails.

The court issued notices to the federal secretaries of the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and finance to appear before it on Thursday and submit reports on the steps they had taken, so far, for bringing back the Pakistani nationals. The court also directed the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances to also take up pending cases of missing persons, besides, taking into consideration new cases.

The additional attorney general told the apex court that the commission held its meeting recently in Islamabad and took into confidence all the stakeholders while dealing with the cases. He further informed the court that the commission also recorded statements of the relatives of missing persons on oath, besides taking up the cases of people who went missing during the Lal Masjid operation.

He further informed the court that the commission would hold its next meeting in Karachi soon. Amna Masood Janjua, the Chairperson, Defence of Human Rights, and spouse of missing Masood Janjua, and Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry advocate also appeared before the court in the case. They expressed satisfaction with the smooth course of work of the commission and expressed the hope that soon it would be able to resolve the issue of missing persons. The court adjourned the hearing till Thursday.

Watching Idly, While They Cannabalize the Global Economy

Unhinged: When Concrete Reality No Longer Matters to the Market (and What to Do About It)

Written by Zeus Yiamouyiannis
Something profound has happened, obscured by all the concerns about economic details and speculation about whether we are in a “deep recession” or a “depression,” a “nascent recovery” or a “W shaped” downturn. We no longer have a global economic system that is tethered to concrete reality. Parasitic, amoral, slight-of-hand value-shuffling (what I would call the “unreal economy”) has effectively trumped the “real economy,” the production and exchange of meaningful goods and services.

Worse, we’ve let it happen with our acquiescence, our hope that we can just ride this one out, and our denial of what we sense intuitively to be true—pervasive fraud in the conduct of global financial business and massive counterfeiting in the establishment of value.

We’ve allowed big banks and affiliated institutions to simply concoct fake wealth out of thin air, and we have legitimized and rewarded these concoctions with a massive transfer of real wealth to a very small but powerful oligarchy through unregulated private bets backed by public taxpayer money, stratospheric fees siphoned from transactions, predatory lending, and private equity cannibalization of once-productive firms.

A global economy mediated by an acceptance of a standardized, reality-based rule of law and value between nations has given way to the shrouded anarchy of transnational banks as overriding powers driven by their own brand of anti-public “interest.”

What constitutes value has migrated from actual value, based in something you earn and related to something you can actually concretely use, to “references to value,” some number merely assigned to some financial instrument attached to some good or service somewhere several degrees removed from its source. (Think “mortgage backed securities” where the actual deeds to properties are no longer even in the picture after extensive “packaging” and repackaging.)

This is all a fancy way of playing the age old game, externalize liabilities, internalize gains, but on an unprecedented and potentially cataclysmic scale. Just as with political coverage that largely deals with the “horse race,” personalities, gaffes, and likeability of candidates over actual policy, financial coverage has concerned itself with a relentless boosterism, tea leaf reading, and a host of other trivialities while the structural rot goes unreported.

Abstractions like the “velocity of money,” along with whitewashing indicators like trading volume are used to gauge the health of an economy without sorting out whether such indicators are attached to some productive, underlying activity or asset. This all serves to create a convenient smoke screen for moneyed interests, and progressively makes the “new normal” one that thrusts citizens deeper into debt servitude.

Post Mortem and Review

A post mortem is in order. The elements of this worldwide con game are remarkably simple, not complex at all. Apparently you only need a few things to make a mockery of the entire global economic system, and big banks garnered these few important things through “regulatory capture”:

1) Unregulated, unenforced rules (particularly for derivatives)
2) license to “mark to model” (assign your own values to your assets)
3) ability to peg present value to irrational expected future returns (based on unlimited, exponential growth)
4) infinite leverage (no effective requirements for reserve capital in unregulated “shadow” markets)
5) massive size, so that the bank is “too big to fail”
6) non-transparency and non-accountability.

This combined with the moral, social, personal, and cultural approval of maximizing profit at any cost, incentivizes massive fraud and counterfeiting. How could this be otherwise, given the premises?

So here we have a system where you can 1) make up your own rules, 2) establish any value for any asset you choose, 3) inflate that value a hundred fold based on ostensible future value and returns, 4) leverage that inflated value another thousand or a million fold simply on your say-so, enough to buy up multi-billion dollar firms if you choose, 5) lean on taxpayer bailouts when you get into trouble, and 6) do this without any disclosure or accountability, all based upon a self-interested formula you concoct to enrich yourself. This is less sin or malfeasance than just plain lunacy. Yet, this is what we have and what we have allowed to gain the upper hand.

Literally, following the same formula with a little “solid reputation” sprinkled on, I can value my cat’s litter box at a million dollars, trade on its ostensible increased future value to skim myself a tidy sum in profit and transaction fees, leverage my “marked to model” value of that litter box, a million fold to buy up Chrysler. I can then loot Chrysler, stripping it of its real wealth and infrastructure, gut jobs, etc. for short term boosts to profits, and then walk away a billionaire.

I can give any reason or no reason at all for what I’m doing. I don’t have to tell anyone a thing, and no one is going to come after me. If they do “come after me” it will be to lard me with hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to keep the national or global economy from collapsing.

Talk about throwing good money after bad. The most I can lose is my litter box and now that everyone has a stake in the con, they have every incentive to cover it up and make me whole, both to protect against their anxiety and their feelings they’ve been conned, and to maintain a functioning dysfunctional system.

The Historical Proof

Let me stress again: This is not mere “moral hazard;” this is sheer lunacy of the highest order. Moral hazard assumes a rational framework where the “good” (productivity, efficiency, etc.) is rewarded. We have currently already established and incentivized as “rational” an irrational framework where outright, willful lying, theft, fraud, and counterfeiting are rewarded. The more parasitic and more inefficient I am in this framework, the more I make. The more I trade an asset back and forth, the more fees I get.

Even if those fees eclipse the entire value of the asset in question, I am “rationally” compelled to continue trading as long as someone else is paying. If I can inflate the value of my asset at will and pay Moody’s or Standard and Poor’s to give me a AAA rating who’s going to know?

It is sobering to contemplate that the market for unregulated derivatives alone, has exceeded the global GDP at a total volume exceeding 600 trillion dollars and possibly more than a quadrillion dollars (1,000,000,000,000,000 or a million billion dollars).

Exhibit 1: The Private Equity Tax Loophole Scam:

Joshua Kosman, author of The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis  does a pretty good run-down on this scam on NPR’s November 16, 2009 “Fresh Air” .

According to the transcript, private equity firms (the new name for “leveraged buyout firms”) like the notorious Carlyle Group have purchased companies in a variety of industries and are now set to default on about a trillion dollars of their debts, close to the amount of default for the entire sub-prime mortgage market. Taking advantage of cheap money and lax lending, private equity firms will likely bankrupt about half of the 3,100 companies they bought, which currently employ one in ten American workers. Kosman estimates about 1.9 million jobs would be lost as a result.

By squeezing out workers, cutting research and development, private equity firms sell to each other at a massive short-term profit that devastates long-term viability. With the mattress industry, private equity firms bought Sealy, Simmons, and Serta. They then proceeded to essentially fix prices between themselves raising prices while lowering quality and durability. This worked short term, until competitors like Tempur-pedic gained market share and left the overpriced junk offered by their hollowed-out leveraged companies on the shelves. Market share and profitability for Serta dropped below pre-takeover levels.

The same formula is used with hospitals and other industries. Take a productive company with some reputation and loyalty, trash it, counting on lag time for people to depart, and make off with loot when it crashes.

Incredibly, going back to our theme of the market being “unhinged” from concrete reality, these private equity firms purchase companies with debt. Literally they put their fractional “money” down, and get the firm they are buying to take on the remainder of the debt! Ostensibly, since interest is tax-deductible, the reasoning goes, tax savings for the company accepting the debt will outweigh the disadvantages of paying down the interest and taking on the risks.

Of course, unsurprisingly, reality intercedes in a different direction. The scam is exposed. The equity firm walks away, and the company goes bankrupt. Many jobs are lost, and the whole country pays.

Exhibit 2: Fabricated Supply and Demand Scam: The Speculative Run-Up in Oil

Remember in the mid-2000’s when the media kept falling over itself to explain why gas prices were unhinged from oil supply and unrelated to any impinging world and seasonal events. Back then it was all explained away by mumbo-jumbo about the price of refining, and how certain refineries were off line. By 2007, the U.S. had begun a serious inquiry, with some settlements won for price fixing by retailers (the “bad apple strategy” that always leaves the big boys untouched), and, soon after, the prices settled down.

Now we have news of a new unexplained buoyancy in gas prices. This time commentators aren’t even bothering to pretend it has any rational connection with present supply and demand. Oil supplies are abundant, demand is down due to unemployed people staying home, and the summer driving season has yet to arrive. Instead prices are being “expectation driven” by speculators betting future upticks in the world economy, particularly China’s, will increase demand for oil.

The bitter irony of all this future possible value being more important than the present actual value is that this speculation could actually drive prices beyond the reach of people with less money now due to the poor economy and squash the very recovery that would give rise to legitimately higher prices in the future.

Again, a certain kind of twisted, counterproductive logic is allowed to run the market without correction from present, concrete conditions.

Exhibit 3: The Double Whammy Scam: Profiting from Designed Failure and Placing Bets Backed by Counterfeit Value

A recent government suit alleges that Goldman Sachs colluded with a billionaire short seller, John Paulson, to defraud investors and “construct a package of mortgage linked derivatives designed to blow up” so Paulson could make a fortune.

Continuing from AP reporter, Bernard Condon’s, article in the Washington Post, (Does Goldman Case Tarnish Cassandras of the Crash? April 21, 2010):

So-called short sellers, like Paulson, profit when stocks, mortgages or other assets they bet against lose value. In other words, the game of guessing which way prices would go was allegedly rigged in this case. That sounds bad enough. But some Wall Street veterans say the real tarnish on our erstwhile housing heroes is the package itself – regardless of whether it was designed to fail. By just linking to mortgages but not actually containing any, the Paulson package and others marketed by banks upped bets on housing to more than even the mortgages in existence, making the overall losses much bigger now that boom has turned to bust.

“Normally short sellers add rationality to a runaway marketplace,” says Charles Smith, who oversees $1 billion at Fort Pitt Capital Group. “But in this case they were adding rocket fuel to the fire.” The fuel here is devilishly difficult to understand. Called synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), these packages contained a series of wagers on whether thousands of homeowners would continue to pay their loans.

The key thing to grasp about them, and the part that explains how they magnified housing losses, is that they don’t actually own any mortgages and so aren’t limited by the number of such loans. Instead, these investments merely make “reference” to real mortgages to determine which side of the wager wins. (my emphases)

Did you catch that? This language confirms the divorce of concrete reality and the market: 1) “Linking to” mortgages but not containing any, 2) not actually owning any mortgages but being able to bet on them, 3) making “reference” to real mortgages to determine which side of the wager wins, 4) wagering bets not “limited” by material assets. The last point could theoretically involve an infinite number of bets and infinite returns on those bets.

This is well analyzed except for one point: The core of this dealing is deceptively simple, even if the instruments themselves are deliberately complex. Industry bettors simply concoct counterfeit value by leveraging their own abstract, self-assigned-value assets between themselves in a ping-pong ascending scale beyond the value of the underlying concrete assets.

The bet has both replaced and exceeded the thing it refers to. There is no “there” there. Real money is siphoned in fees from the “marks,” the pension funds who are told they are investing in highly rated, stable instruments, and then the U.S. taxpayer is asked to take up trillions of dollars of real debt in order to cover a counterfeit, undisclosed bidding/betting war.

Should I be able to make a “reference” to the Bank of England, or food, or oil, simply collect billions of real money if I bet right, and lose my never-there-to-begin-with counterfeit wealth if I don’t?

Who is the “house” in this casino in which someone can wage a series of bets on assets that actually exceed the value of the assets themselves? It’s always going to be the American taxpayer, the public, bailing out an unregulated, morally and financially reprehensible private market. Usually when someone says, “You really hate America,” it’s a disgruntled conservative with a chip on his shoulder.

Well, these profiteers actually make huge sums of money by destroying America, robbing it blind, and then sticking the American citizen with the check for any downside bets. Now let’s see why very little is currently being done to correct this.

One Nasty Hangover: Cultural Capture, Complicity, Rage, and Wondering When the Perps Will Walk

As with any successful “mark” in a con, the initial reaction by the abused is shame and efforts to pretend a scam did not happen. With the American people there is also more than a trace of complicity. People got high on visions of unlimited wealth and got a taste of their skyrocketing wealth, fictional and bubble-driven as it might have been. Some even used their houses as ATM’s.

This stems from a creeping and cleverly warped version of the American Dream, that we all could get wealthy without working if we were lucky or clever enough. In the orgy to get in on a “good thing,” people didn’t ask the serious question about whether this collusion was a morally, socially, and spiritually bad way to live your life, not to mention an abominable way to treat others and future generations.

Turns out the “good thing” is bad for everyone involved, even the crooks. People will begin to wake up to this as more jobs get lost and the fig leaves of fanfare-driven recovery fade into an uncomfortable reality—the United States and the world has been ripped off trillions of dollars, more than can be paid back even on the backs of overworking two-income families.

Rage is beginning to replace shame as the promises of recovery keeping meeting the stubborn reality of high unemployment, frozen lending, plunging commercial and residential real estate, skyrocketing college tuition, and expensive oil. People are beginning to wonder, “Where are the prosecutions; where is the accountability?” Why are citizens being counseled to liquidate their retirements to pay for their upside-down mortgages while corporations walk away from billion dollar real estate busts? Why is public money being used to bail out banks that engaged in purely private, unregulated betting?

Part of the answer is revealed in the case of Bradley Birkenfeld. Birkenfeld was an inside-the-inner-circle employee of the UBS, a Swiss Bank and one of the largest banks in the world. Swiss banks pride themselves on their “discretion” and privacy, a policy that allowed them to hide stolen Nazi wealth for decades.

So it’s clear that we are only talking financial and not moral “discretion.” In fact, Swiss banks continue to be a haven for tax cheats, international arms dealers, and anyone looking to park their ill-gotten gains outside the prying eyes of international law. After counseling clients including American politicians how to divert their money into UBS to avoid taxes, and even acting as a “concierge” to buy expensive objects for clients, Birkenfeld finally blew the whistle on the operation.

In interviews on CBS’s 60 minutes and Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, Birkenfeld and his lawyer outlined the depth the corruption. From the April 15th, 2010 Democracy Now interview with Stephen Kohn, Birkenfeld’s lawyer:

Nineteen thousand American millionaires and billionaires had these offshore accounts. You had to be very wealthy to set one of these up. The government created an amnesty program, so if you voluntarily turned yourself in, you escaped any prosecution and even public exposure. No one would even know who you were. On the other hand, to Mr. Birkenfeld, who didn’t even have an account, Mr. Birkenfeld, who turned it in, he was sentenced to prison and was not offered immunity. So that’s the dichotomy.

Dichotomy indeed. There existed in UBS tens of billions of dollars of hidden, tax-dodges for the American clients alone, and all those clients got was a slap on the wrist and more “discretion” around their identities from U.S. law enforcement? UBS itself was merely fined 780 million dollars and forced to give over its names, a drop in the bucket for their almost 2 trillion dollar holdings. For all those wanting a progressive resurgence of the level playing field and the rule of law, there is little evidence of accountability to nourish one’s desire for justice. Hopes for real top-down prosecution are fading, but is there another tack the public can take?

Conclusion: A Possible Silver Lining

How can a world-wide economy unhinged from concrete reality perhaps result in positive changes (after, no doubt, a lot of pain)? The answer is fairly brief. Part of the problem involves mooring our own notions of the good life to our material subsistence and/or success. The notion that living luxuriously equals the epitome of the good life, has stunted our development and kept us infantilized, even with the many technological, artistic, social, and cultural advances we have made.

We still spend a vast majority of our time grinding out a living in so-so jobs that do not challenge us intellectually or creatively and that displace quality energy and time we could be spending with family, friends, community, and world.

We can make things, even necessities, cheaper than we ever have, yet we are spending more time working. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, productivity skyrocketed in the U.S., but real wages remained flat or declined. Now we see why. We have become debts serfs to financializers and market manipulators, who don’t even bother having a material stake in the game.

We can see two things from this if we are prepared to mature:

1)  good life, and even the economy itself, do not have to be primarily tied to material existence, and 2) We can do most if not all the things for ourselves that “experts” are being paid to do. We can decide to rent or share housing and watch each other’s kids. We can decide to drastically reduce our consumption, thus saving the environment and de-polluting our daily life. We can move our money to community banks, directly invest into microfinance, or lend to each other through “circle lending,” cutting out the big banks and brokerages.

We can help each other fortify and maintain our health through community programs and “medical tourism”, cutting out health insurance and medical industry parasites. We can set up or join intellectually and socially edifying cultural groups. In short we can exercise civil disobedience, refuse to be stooges, create our own spaces, and and recommit to spend time and energy where our true heart lies, free from the delusional temptations of a corporate-driven reason for life that has shown itself to be both conclusively abusive and unfulfilling.

In the end, they need us, and we don’t need them. This is the only “this life” we are going to have. It’s a lot more adventurous and enhancing to be a cultural creative then a debt slave. So, what are we waiting for?

copyright 2010 Zeus Yiamouyiannis.

Source: Of Two Minds

Short-Term Window for Obama’s Dangerous Restructuring of America

Is Obama Following Europe Down the Economic Rabbit Hole

Written by Christopher C. Horner
The most troubling aspect of the West’s current policy turmoil is not the European meltdown led by Greece and Spain. It is instead President Barack Obama’s unflinching insistence on rushing America headlong into the very mandates, and resulting debt levels, that precipitated that meltdown.

Obama is scripting a repeat of Europe’s disaster, here, by cramming down on the American people the same policy fetishes our Left has obsessed about for decades, and which Europe used to bring this down upon itself: statist management of health care and energy.

Consider the demands of even the European Union, whose billions to bail out Greece’s broken system appear to be only the precursor to the American taxpayer throwing ever more at Greece through the International Monetary Fund. The EU is leaning on Greece to, of all things, reintroduce private market forces into its state-run health care system. It turns out the state cannot afford state-run health care for the very reasons cited to expose Obama’s cost projections as ideological fantasy – the risible vow that offering more people more health care choices while further removing them from the true price of the services would “bend the cost curve downward.”

We also saw the eye-opening development late last month in Spain, flirting with the prospect of following Greece down the rabbit hole of statist bankruptcy. Desperate to avoid the ongoing public unrest which is aimed at intimidating political leaders away from abating Greece’s system of wealth transfers, Spain also seems to be preparing the public for massive reduction in expensive make-work projects.

In an internal report leaked to the media Spain’s socialist government acknowledged long-denied criticisms of its massive intervention to create a “green economy.” This amounts to official recognition that the schemes, specifically touted on eight separate occasions by Obama as his model for “green jobs” and “clean energy” mandates, are unsustainable and threaten the state with bankruptcy. In the face of this evidence, Obama has not stepped back one bit from racing into place his agenda. The imperative, it seems, is that whole “fundamental transformation” thing he vaguely if ominously promised.

Joining him now in this recklessness is the Democrat-controlled Senate, having finally found what it sees as bipartisan political cover for imposing the destructive economic feng shui of organizing society.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is lead sponsor of the legislative vehicle to be introduced this week, previously styled as various things, but now as an energy bill. Though it includes a cap-and-trade scheme and carbon dioxide restrictions, Kerry recently acknowledged that the measure “is not an environment bill.” This may sound odd, although it is self-evident to many since no one dares claim a temperature reduction would result that, even accepting all of their assumptions, would be detectable from background noise. The issue isn’t the issue. It must therefore be something else. I suggest it is simply a Power Grab one that threatens to bankrupt America.

In fact, “cap-and-trade” – the “cap” tips you off to the energy rationing – was never about climate. Co-author Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) admitted that when he topped Kerry’s candor late last week with the breathtaking assertion that “It’s not a global warming bill to me. Because global warming as a reason to pass legislation doesn’t exist anymore.”

Both senators also assert that the bill isn’t really “cap-and-trade” for the simple reason that they aren’t going to use that term to describe its cap-and-trade system. Obama poisoned that well with his admission that “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket.”

Now they both admit that their global warming system isn’t about global warming, and Graham winks that this is because the rationale has fallen flat among the public. There’s some reason for this enormous intervention. We just aren’t supposed to learn what it is.

So, now, we’re told it’s about jobs. Except that, also at the end of last week, a Congressional Budget Officereport came out and acknowledged about “cap-and-trade” what others have pointed out for years and Europe has experienced: “In particular, job losses in the industries that shrink would lower employment more than job gains in other industries would increase employment, thereby raising the overall unemployment rate.”

That may be why the House-passed cap-and-trade bill included two years of unemployment assistance for workers who lose their jobs as a result of this “jobs bill.” So the cap-and-trade bill long offered in the name of the environment and specifically somehow gently ministering to the climate isn’t not about cap-and-trade, it’s not about climate, it’s not about the environment. And it’s also not about jobs, as even CBO admits.

Every rationale trotted out for why you must accept this statism has fallen by the wayside, leaving those who seek to dictate your lifestyle through imposing artificial physical and price scarcity on energy to scramble for any excuse they think you’ll buy.

This is not change. It is an aggressive escalation of all that is wrong with Washington. Naturally, “big business” will be on the dais at Wednesday’s press conference unveiling the scheme to grant the scheme economic gravitas. This actually only affirms the worst about the bill. Leaked details about Kerry-Graham-Lieberman indicate that it, like the House bill, includes billions in the increased energy costs directed to industry in return for political cover.

And somehow you are the only ones not “at the table.” But you are also the only ones standing between today’s Greece and Spain being tomorrow’s America.

By. Christopher C. Horner

Source: Energy Tribune

China and Russia Only Competitors In Global Reactor Construction?

NUCLEAR GAMES EAST AND THE WEST

Serbia could serve as a proxy to China went nuclear in financing the construction of Belene in Bulgaria, bringing the Beijing loan to finance the atomic “Skadar on Bojana”
By J. Putnikovic

Instead of the Russians, Serbia will build a nuclear power plant with the Chinese. Will not it be the end of the village of Mladen in Backa or in Kostolac or uu Further, in neighboring Croatia, as well as some unofficially announced, but also the neighboring country of Bulgaria, in Belene.

Serbia will be in a financial partnership with China will be one of the investors in the construction of Belene nuclear plant in Bulgaria. Professor Peter Škundrić and management of the Serbian Electricity these days in China to negotiate on this remote Asian country in addition to loans for several projects in Kostolac approved a loan to Serbia for the Bulgarian nuclear.

Although the past autumn, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin, stirred the public saying that Russia is seriously considering building nuclear power plants in Serbia and that “the first conversations about it, at the highest level already done,” the Belgrade authorities have decided to accept the offer of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Borka Borisova and participate in the construction of Belene NO.

After a statement from the Serbian government Konuzin denied any negotiations with the Russians and the argument stated that a moratorium on building nuclear valid until 2015. year, and that the construction of nuclear plants is not provided for the state energy strategy in Serbia. Bulgarian Prime Minister releases offer Serbia needs to resolve these issues because, Belene is not in Serbia.

Two weeks ago, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic on offer Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borissov responded that the decision will be made following expert analysis.Explaining that Serbia is in effect a moratorium on building nuclear, but that this does not apply to countries in the region Cvetkovic was then told to study the documentation and there is still no decision in which the percentage of Serbia was the financier of the project.
Sofia – Belgrade – Beijing

Last week, this time in Sofia, the atomic-powered partnership to re-Listed by Bulgarian Prime Minister, discovering the Serbian people that the government of Serbia is ready to up to five percent of the value of participating in the construction of Belene nuclear power plant on the Danube. Calculation shows that this is an investment of at least $ 100 million.

“Foreign investors want a complete analysis of the project and why now Bulgaria has the right to choose a consultant who will write a report and show the benefit of building the nuclear plant, for that money,” Borisov told Tanjug said, explaining that he wants this project to be ” Balkan, European, clear, and that if they find investors, “can be made very quickly.”

Peter went to Beijing Škundrić, Minister of Energy and Mines of the Government of Serbia potvrođuje these announcements from Bulgaria. Škundrić call the company from China to participate in the construction of Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, which will transfer to reporters from the Asian countries, Serbian forces to build shared with Bulgaria.

As an echo of the news in Belgrade is, unofficially, I can hear the announcement that China, together with Serbia in the future the consortium for the construction of Belene NOT be owner of five for 15 and maybe even more percent. Details of the arrangement are still undefined.
Russians undesirable by the dictates of Brussels

Construction of Belene nuclear project, in the same named town on the Danube in northern Bulgaria started in 1986. year. Due to financial problems stopped in 1991.and November 2006. in the tender for the main contractor wins Russian company Atomstrojeksport. The signing of the contract in Sofia was attended by Vladimir Putin, then Russian president. Then it was said that the investor will be electricity Bulgaria (NEK). At the end of 2008 NEK is a co-investor chose the German company RWE, with whom he agreed to get a 49% ownership in the name of investment in Belene NO.

It is foreseen that NO Belene has two reactors of the 440 megawatts. Construction, according to estimates, the cost of 3.997 billion euros. It is planned that the first new nuclear reactor to be completed by 2013, and the second by 2014. year.

But it turned out that funding is still not solved. The works were suspended. RWE, one of the key players in the project withdrew last year. Then come back to the scene to Russia in February this year offered a loan of two billion euros for the start of construction. Condition Russians to return funds as a strategic investor. But Bulgarians match that the Russians may be involved in the construction of Belene, but not as a strategic investor. This answer was written by the dictates of Jeffrey van Orden, a former European Parliament rapporteur for Bulgaria, which stated that a strategic partner in building nuklerake must be from the European Union.

Russian opposition to Brussels to join the atomic electric power sector of Bulgaria is not surprising because the project would Atomstrojeksport strengthened position in the world market of building nuclear power plants. Russians, or, and not hide. Hlukhiv Alexander, vice president Atomstrojeksporta in 2006. it was said openly. Then Atomstrojeskport already had fifty years of experience in nuclear construction in 11 countries worldwide. They were, according to the nook, “the only company that also built the five energy facilities overseas, two in China, two in India and one in Iran.” On your list then add the Belene nuclear power plant. The West is that, obviously, is not liked. Among other things, because Atomstrojeksport part of the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

“Bulgaria does not want Russia to finance the construction of Belene NE, but seeks a way to project finance participation of European investors,” said Christ at the end of April, May, Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism in the government of Bulgaria at a roundtable in Sofia dedicated to the Bulgarian dilemmas regarding security of supply of energy which was attended by politicians and diplomats.

Russia’s representative at the time said that Russia has offered Bulgaria a loan of 2 billion euros for the Belene project NE while it enters a new strategic partner, while Russia would like credit insurance payment could get a share of ownership, which could be transferred to the new strategic partners. However, Christ is denied, claiming that it is not negotiated on the granting of ownership stake in the Belene NOT for the Russian loan. The event involved the American ambassador in Bulgaria, warned that the decision on the development of the energy sector will be far reaching for Bulgaria and other countries in the region, reports the Bulgarian daily “newspapers”.
Serbia as a “Trojan horse”

NE Belne would be the second Bulgarian nukleraka. Its construction is becoming especially topical when the accession of Bulgaria in the European Union (the European Commission’s proposal) from bezbedodnosnih reason closed four power reactors of 440 megawatts by the NE Kozloduy. These are, otherwise, the older Russian production reactors. The Kozloduy in the function of other fifth and sixth reactor newer tanks, from 1,000 MW installed capacity.

Bulgaria has to compensate for these “lost” the capacity to produce electricity. The Chinese, who, unlike many western countries, faced with excess cash, started in investing across the globe. In the case of them, like Russians in Bulgaria as investors do not want Chinese Serbia could be used as intermediaries. For instance in Serbia with EPS would create a company that invested heavily in NE Belene. The money would be a Chinese, at least officially, the Bulgarian nuclear co-investor in Serbia.

According to the Bulgarian prime minister can be assumed that Brussels would not have anything against such arrangements. Now remains only on the Belgrade authorities to an istrguju in the circumvention of the West to East.

Russia woos Ukraine on security bloc

Russia woos Ukraine on security bloc

Russian Pesident Dmitry Medvedev: Russia’s Black Sea fleet will not attack neighbours

Russia woos Ukraine on security bloc

Today at 15:18 | Reuters

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Ukraine on Tuesday that the doors to a Russia-led security bloc were always open and pledged that the Russian navy based in a Ukrainian port would never attack its neighbours.

The Kremlin leader sought to draw Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbour closer to Moscow’s vision of European security on the last day of a visit in which the two sides have agreed to renew long-term cooperation after five years of cold relations.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who has tilted policy towards Moscow since succeeding the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, has aroused the wrath of his political opponents by agreeing to extend the Russian navy’s stay in Ukraine’s Crimea until 2042 in return for cheaper gas.

In a bid to shore up Yanukovich at home, Medvedev defended the fleet’s presence in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol as a guarantee of stability in the region and he pledged it would never be deployed against Russia’s neighbours.

“Will Russia use its Black Sea fleet to attack neighbouring states? No, it will not,” he told a gathering of university students in Kiev.

He made no mention of the deployment of the fleet’s flagship, the rocket cruiser Moskva, to blockade the Georgian port of Poti in 2008 during Russia’s brief summer war with Georgia.

Yanukovich has endeared himself to Moscow by pushing possible membership of NATO — pursued by his predecessor — off the agenda, but during Medvedev’s two-day visit, he stressed Ukraine’s neutral status as a “non-bloc state”.

Medvedev, however, told him that if Ukraine’s circumstances ever changed the doors of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) remained open.

“If in the future you would consider it proper to join the CSTO, we would be happy to invite you and accept you,” Medvedev said in Kiev. “The CSTO is not the Warsaw Pact… we do not need confrontation with NATO or other military blocs.”

The CSTO includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

MILITARY EXERCISES

Members have conducted military exercises and in recent years some of them agreed to set up a peacekeeping force and a rapid reaction force.

Medvedev, in comments clearly directed at U.S. and NATO ship movements in the Black Sea, said Russia was always uneasy “when foreign ships which have no links with the Black Sea basin demonstrate something or other”.

The Ukrainian parliament was due later on Wednesday to debate a proposal by Yanukovich to authorise a series of naval exercises, involving the United States and other NATO allies, in the Black Sea in summer.

Last year, the Ukrainian parliament defied then-president Yushchenko and refused to allow the U.S.-led multinational Sea Breeze military exercise to take place.

But pro-Yanukovich deputies, who have a majority in the parliament, said they expected Sea Breeze and other exercises to be given the go-ahead this year.

Toxic Legacy of Former Soviet Union

Poisonous breath of the past. The Soviet Union died, leaving a legacy of a time bomb

Tila Rasul-zade

During the Soviet empire in order to increase the production of raw cotton in cotton growing areas ofTajikistan centrally supplied a huge quantity of pesticides. Selhozaviatsiya these chemicals are sprayed on cotton plantations, as well as over vast areas planted with other crops. Struggling with pests and locusts, no one thought about the consequences of this struggle, and in particular about the excessive use of chemicals of fertile land.

In Tajikistan, most pesticides have not been made ever. Import chemicals here began in the late twenties of the last century, when the collective-farm development, and peaked at 60-80 years of XX century.

In 1990, operating in Tajikistan 372 warehouse, which stored chemicals. Warehouses were subordinated to the Republican state enterprise “Tadzhikselhozhimiya. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, these stores, one after another turned into Landfill station pesticides. Chemicals were quite a lot, but in the coming years of chaos and anarchy, they are not used, and expired toxic substances were disposed of. Thus, in a small Tajikistan, there are three landfill disposal of pesticides, which, in total, are buried more than 16 thousand tons of toxic substances.

Kanibadam: From the hearth of infection to the center stone’s throw

In the south-eastern part of the city Kanibadam, seven kilometers from the city center and three kilometers from the highway Kanibadam-Isfara is ground on which the buried pesticides. It functioned from 1973 to 1990.

Здесь ничего не растет. Фото автора
Here, nothing grows. Photo by

As explained by the chief doctor of the Center of State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance Kanibadam Mamur Mansurov, non-compliance with the rules of dumping toxic chemicals and their disposal and reclamation, as well as from non-compliance with sanitary standards, the decision Hukumat (Administration) northern province of 26.06.1990, the № 29 for the activities of this company have been suspended.

While the ground had acted, it had been buried more than 4000 tons of pesticides, 1000 tons of biological agents and 500 thousand pieces of packages (tar) of various chemicals. Overdue pesticides collected from all over the Sughd and districts of republican subordination, as well as from the border areas of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan , were buried here in accordance with instructions for disposal and remediation of toxic chemicals. The total area of the polygon is 0,8 hectares.

- From the very start of the cemetery are not respected technology burial – Mamur Mansurov said. – According to the rules, they must be placed in special containers and burned in special furnaces. However, agricultural chemicals just thrown into the usual pit and covered over one layer of the earth. Neglect of duty and showed the then leaders of the individual. They have not ruled on compliance with the instructions on the disposal of toxic chemicals.

When the landfill was acting around him was wire fence and stood in the entrance gate, near where the guard was on duty. Currently derelict ground. Natural disasters, severe torrential rains, mudslides and winds destroyed the upper part of the landfill. Increased risk of getting toxic chemicals in the environment. Landfill is located in a place where underground water are at depths ranging from 2718 to 3400 meters, but the land around infected through surface water flows.

In the range of potent chemicals buried the first category of risk: calcium arsenate (4732 kg), anabasine sulfate (4393 kg) – the substance of the third degree of the danger of DDT (3260 kg) geksohloran (5955 kg) butifos (5828 kg) – the substance of the Fourth risk (magnesium chloride, 5010 kg) and other toxic substances.

Free access of unauthorized persons on the ground, the opportunity to get packages from landfills extends the possibilities of the zone of infection of humans and animals. Abandoned containers sold in the markets area, they can get the citizens of other regions and areas of the republic, as well as those who come from Kyrgyzstan.

- At the end of last year were carried out laboratory tests for the presence of DDT as a training ground and at distances up to 2000 meters, – says a leading specialist of the Department of Environment Sughd Yahehon Temirov. – When MPC (maximum permissible concentration) 0.1 mg / kg, was found exceeding the norm by 5-8 times, sometimes the concentration of DDT reached 0.8 mg / kg. Traces of pesticides were found in selesbrose.

Around the polygon can not dig a trench, and torrential rains can penetrate deep into the soil. In order to reduce the devastating impact of the pesticides landfill on the environment in the Project PEHPA by the Ministry of Environment of Italy had pledged 200 thousand dollars. By the Italians wanted to join NATO representatives. However, already passed three years, but the promised funds never arrived.

According Yahehona Temirova, all at Kanibadam pesticides must be reburied in sarkafage, close the neutral ground, then concreted and then monitor the status of water bodies and soils of the region.

Vakhsh burial: the excavated pit, dying livestock

Mastering Vahshkoy valley started in the late twenties of the twentieth century. Steppes covered with reeds, the peasants turned into fertile land. This corner of the land could be turned into a paradise: good climatic conditions, abundance of water create favorable conditions for the cultivation of various tropical crops, such as for the development of horticulture. But the center was needed particularly cotton staple varieties. The center is not interested in what then would happen to these lands.

Вахшский могильник
Vakhsh repository

Of particular concern for human health and the environment is Vakhsh burial of pesticides, which is located in the south. It is located 17 kilometers from the center of the area and is the 6 hectares of land. Operated a cemetery since 1973, it dumped more than 7000 tons of pesticides, of which about 3000 tons of dangerous poison for humans – DDT (Doust).

The condition of this cemetery is of particular concern. This burial ground until early 1992 was guarded, and its area was fenced, patrolled around the clock protection. Now from the house guards, fence and concrete columns traces remain. This large and dangerous territory is wide open for people and animals.

- When we arrived at the territory of the cemetery, – says head of the NGO “Hamkori Bahri taraqqiet” (Cooperation for Development), candidate of agricultural sciences Kurbonali Partoev – it was 9:00 am. It was cool. But two kilometers from the burial ground, we felt very unpleasant toxic smell, which are dispersed by wind. Almost all the 45 graves, each measuring three to twenty-five meters, were excavated. Part of the poison was removed population that uses poisons to kill pests, rodents and disease vectors. As a result, formation of gullies, which in early spring, winter and autumn are going to rain and melted snow water. They become the source of infection and death of cows, goats, sheep and other animals belonging to the population of nearby villages.

According to the accounts of the pensioner, resident of the district Vakhsh Berdiev Nazir, who for over twenty years, a security guard of the cemetery, the burial of disrepair for many years know not only the leadership of a district or region, but also the leaders of parent organizations. After all, they do not just come and investigate the situation on the ground …

Tajikabad and street stores of chemical fertilizers

It is reported that during the Soviet era in Tajikabad district Rasht Valley were buried 5 tons of chemicals, three tons of which was DDT. However, while for unknown reasons this range prefer not to mention.

- I first heard about the existence of the landfill – said political scientist Huriniso Gaffarzoda. – But she knew about the tailings Faizabad, where from all over the Soviet Union were brought for burial of radioactive substances. Apparently, the existence of Tajikabad landfill has not received wide publicity.

After acquiring independence in Tajikistan Institution Selhozhimiya “was abolished, and all the warehouses belonging to the organization, as well as warehouse state and collective farms, where pesticides were stored, have been privatized. Many of them are destroyed. Some warehouses are located near homes and outbuildings. There are warehouses, which are close to water sources, crops and fruit plantations.

Often the premises of warehouses used to contain livestock, as well as for feed storage or various construction materials. Known facts, when in former warehouses, people who live or stored there products. Often warehouses dismantled for building materials, which are then used by households for outbuildings. Most of the buildings destroyed to varying degrees – no doors, windows, defective roof, partially destroyed wall. Many warehouses have no fences, security and open: there are free to go and people and pets.

In some warehouses still stand barrels of obsolete pesticides, as well as scattered pesticides – what, no longer understand. Sometimes, these substances are, mixing with the ground. On the adjacent dumps territories also have placers unknown pesticides and their mixtures with mineral fertilizers and soil.

At the current stock no documentation, taking into account receipts and expenditures of pesticides.

According to information available at the hands of the population today is about 40 thousand units of container from the pesticides, of which more than 80 percent – plastic containers. The country is the rapid accumulation of plastic packaging, because of the inertia of the decomposition of plastics can not be dumped at landfills, cemeteries, and destroy it by a simple combustion can not, because it will give a huge release into the air of harmful products of combustion. Tara continues to be used in the economic needs of the population, in particular, for the storage of food, water and so on.

Так валяются пустые бочки из-под ядохимикатов на бывших складах
So lying empty drums of toxic chemicals in the former warehouses

Prior to 1990, operating in Tajikistan 140 aircraft platforms for agricultural purposes. Next to the platform built storehouses for pesticides, dug a pit for a water tank installed for the preparation of working solutions and loading mechanisms. Currently, no aviaploschadka not functioning. As a result of inspections carried out by the competent authorities in 2005, it became clear that the 37 former aviaploschadok partially preserved 13 aviaploschadok surfaced. If necessary, you can use for its intended purpose. Almost all the time aviaploschadki now used for sowing of crops, including vegetables under, they graze livestock.

Import of pesticides continues

Serious concern illegal imports of pesticides, including banned for use in agriculture, from neighboring states. For example, in 2005-2007, according to unofficial data, from the Republic of Uzbekistan only in Sughd region were brought over 30 tons of DTT. Customs officers detained a group of individuals who tried to bring into the territory of Tajikistan’s 7.5 tons of DDT for the purpose of further implementation of the population. Where were taken after the confiscated pesticides, who and where buried chemicals, failed to learn.

Things are moving?

According Abdusalima Dzhurayev, head of the Centre to implement the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Tajikistan, is currently plagued by repackaging residues of banned and obsolete pesticides, including possessing the properties of POPs and their further destruction. These activities must conduct a detailed inventory of storage locations (warehouses) and burial sites (landfills, landfills).

- Within the framework of the Stockholm Convention on POPs in 2009, with support from the World Bank carried out the inventory of a number of warehouses located in the Khatlon region, – said Abdusalom Juraev. – Khatlon region, located in the Vakhsh Valley, is chosen as a priority object of study because it is a region of intensive land use with high potential for the use of pesticides. To this end, during April-November the company Tauv “,” Vittevin + Bos “in cooperation with the Committee of Environment of the Government of Tajikistan, the Centre for the Stockholm Convention and the Public Organization” Hamkori Bahri taraqqiet conducted a survey of 15 warehouses that store pesticides, and Vakhsh polygon-burial. At Vakhsh landfill-burial on the analysis of samples were taken from soil and water, to determine whether samples of pesticides, related to POPs. Expert Company Tauv “in October 2009 held a training seminar, which were able to improve their skills 12 professionals involved in the inventory of obsolete and banned pesticides.

As a result of work performed on 19-20 December 2009 in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) held a final workshop with participation of representatives of international organizations and stakeholders in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The conference was attended by scientists from Germany, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Russia and other countries. They discussed the possibility of elimination of POPs in the Khatlon region during the first phase of the new World Bank project, and subsequently – in other areas of Tajikistan and in all Central Asian republics.

The head of the Environmental Protection Khatlon region, to neutralize poisons Vakhsh landfill World Bank provided more than one million dollars. This project will allow to get rid of the burial ground, which was inherited from Soviet times. But to completely destroy toxic chemicals remaining in the republic since Soviet times, will require more than one year.

According to a senior specialist of the Office of the State Control and Environmental Protection Sughd, Ph.D., Askar Abduvalieva, issues relating to chemical waste accumulated over the years, and to solve them for a day or two is impossible. Projects reclamation and disposal landfills require enormous money that country is not in the budget. This means that currently you can only rely on the help of the developed world.

How it affected the existence of burial grounds with pesticides on human health, yet no one can say. Many experts with whom the correspondent of “Fergany.Ru” managed to speak, believe that these tombs are located at a considerable distance from residential neighborhoods.

However, according to scientist Kurbonali Partoeva, persistent organic pollutants are highly toxic chemicals that are not destroyed in the soil for a long time, sometimes for several years and even decades. The water and winds can carry these connections throughout the world. Once in the environment in the same region, POPs can move to regions far removed from the place of the initial infection.

- From the original site of POPs can be rotated as follows: Source – Air Environment – Water – Soil – Plant – Dairy cattle – dairy products – a man – breastmilk nursing mother – a newborn baby, “explains the scientist. – In this chain the newborn is a major consumer of these dangerous toxins, because at each stage of the food chain is an increase in the concentration of poison.

Specialists in solidarity and we are sure of one thing: every minute, day, week, month by month and year increases the risk of adverse effects of landfills, landfills and dumps liquid chemicals on the environment. Delayed. Any bomb, even in slow motion when something explodes. Or perhaps a catastrophe has already occurred – but its devastating effects have not yet made themselves felt clearly.

Tila Rasul-zade

Mayapuri Scrap Yard Still Radioactive

Mayapuri scrap market still in danger, says Greenpeace

Bindu Shajan Perappadan and Priscilla Jebaraj

NEW DELHI: The Mayapuri scrap market here is still a danger zone, with some hotspots registering radioactivity that is up to 5,000 times higher than normal, according to Greenpeace radiation experts.

The scrap market has been the centre of a radioactive scare over the last two months since a local dealer bought and dismantled radioactive equipment, originally from the Delhi University, resulting in the death of one person and hospitalisation of seven others.

Greenpeace is now questioning official assurances that the market has been freed of contamination.

On Friday, two radiation experts from the international NGO used monitoring devices to comb an area of about 400 metres by 200 metres around Shop No.32, where the original source of Cobalt-60 was found.

“We found six hotspots, each only about 10 centimetres wide, with dangerously high concentrations of radioactivity. At two places, the radiation dose level is 5,000 times higher than natural background levels,” said Jan Vande Putte, a Belgian Greenpeace radiation expert.

Mr. Putte explained that a worker squatting at the hotspot for two hours would receive as much radiation as the annual permissible limit according to the Indian law. Such levels would not cause acute sickness or immediate death, but if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, it could lead to cancer years later, he added.

While other areas near the shop show radioactivity only about 200 times higher than normal, this would still mean that workers and residents could cross permissible radiation limits within a week.

The Greenpeace team marked the hotspots with tape and white concrete and warned workers, besides informing the local police authorities and officials of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. “The AERB did not negate what we found,” said Karuna Raina, nuclear campaigner with Greenpeace India. The “AERB has assured us that they will come and decontaminate.”

This is an urgent, but easy task, says Mr. Putte. “It is only a matter of scanning the area and removing a few kg of soil to deal with the hotspots and end the immediate risk to workers. But if you wait and let the radioactivity spread, the situation becomes far more complicated,” he warned.

In a Spanish incident in 1998, particles from a radioactive source dispersed over the sea to three other countries before it was checked.

McChrystal Wants Time To “Shape” Leaders

[The slowing of the "surge" into Kandahar (it sounds rather sexual, doesn't it?) is not a sign of changed minds in Washington, it is the visible slowing of the conventional war into the "full spectrum" Special Forces war.  This new "asymmetric" warfare is primarily fought on the battlefield of the mind.  When you grasp the concept put forth by the "warrior" class you see that war is no longer just about lines on maps, it is about converting entire populations to our way of thinking--rearranging the lines within the minds of targeted populations.  The General was being completely honest in his comments about "shaping leaders."  The new battle plan is focused upon identifying leaders and potential leaders, then targeting them for careful grooming.  Some of them will serve our cause openly, others will act as foils, villains leading anti-American groups.  Leader-driven warfare is both "search and destroy," as well as a rescue operation.

Uncle Sam wants you, Kandahar.  But he would much rather do it the "easy way."]

Fresh Kandahar offensive may be delayed until fall

Afghanistan News.Net
Tuesday 18th May, 2010 (ANI)

A fresh offensive against a regrouping Taliban in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar could be delayed until the fall, American commanders and policy makers have revealed.

With the Taliban taking the Afghanistan war to the streets and launching a campaign to assassinate key public officials, key military operations have been delayed to improve local governance and end the sense of dread that prevails on to Kandahar’s dusty streets, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports.

NATO officials had last year indicated major progress against the Taliban, but now, at the urging of Afghan leaders, U.S. officials have stopped describing the plan as a military operation.

Instead, they’ve dubbed it “Cooperation for Kandahar,” a moniker meant to focus attention on efforts to build up local governance while reducing fears of street battles.

US commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal said: “It’s important that we engage the population so that we shape the leaders, the natural leaders, the elders, political and economic leaders so that their participation helps shape how we go forward.”

American and Afghan officials, however, so far have made little headway in building a foundation for a respected local government capable of winning the confidence of the nearly a million Afghans who live in and around Kandahar.

The largest impediment remains President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a controversial kingpin and reputed drug smuggler who reportedly has been paid by the CIA.

He reportedly wields virtually unchecked power over the region as the chairman of the provincial council as well as through local militias, security firms awarded lucrative contracts by the U.S.-led international force and an alliance with a small band of powerful tribal leaders.

Karzai denies any wrongdoing, and U.S. officials say they’ve been unable to uncover incriminating information on him.

Many U.S. defense officials and analysts are concerned that continuing to work with Ahmed Wali Karzai could jeopardize the public support that General McChrystal concedes is vital to his plan’s success. (ANI)

No word on Turkish activists in Afghan plane crash

No word on Turkish activists in Afghan plane crash

Rescuers stepped up the search for a plane carrying 44 people, including one Turkish writer and an aid activist, which crashed in Afghanistan.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010 12:34

Rescuers on Tuesday stepped up the search for a plane carrying 44 people, including one Turkish writer and an aid activist, which crashed in the mountains of northern Afghanistan.

The plane, operated by Pamir Airways, a private Afghan airline, was traveling from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan to Kabul when it crashed Monday. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane when it was about 55 miles (85 kilometers) north of Kabul, prompting rescue workers to rush to the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the capital to the north.
bahattin2.20100518123517.jpg
Bahattin Yildiz, a World Bulletin writer, went to Afghanistan for a humanitarian project to help orphans. Got involved personally with the problems in Afghanistan for years, Yildiz were reported to go to Afghanistan from Germany that he lived temporarily.

The Foundation For Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) said Monday IHH Asia Representative Faruk Aktas and an IHH volunteer Bahattin Yildiz were in the Afghan passenger jet that crashed on Monday. And also a Turk named Mustafa Cebil is said to be among the passengers.

In a statement issued Monday, the IHH said that Aktas and Yildiz were in the region to open a children’s home.

Yildiz was born in Sivas in 1956 and married with five children. Aktas was born in Igdir in 1974. He was married with one child.

“Search resumes”

Over 24 hours after the plane lost radio contact over the treacherous Hindu Kush mountains, the prospect of finding survivors appeared difficult as anguished relatives massed at the foot of the mountain-pass near Salang.
ihh-afghan-plane.20100518123533.jpg
Aerial searches by the Afghan government and the international coalition, hampered by dense fog and darkness Monday night, resumed at dawn.

“Right now, we are looking to identify the location of the crash,” President Hamid Karzai said at a news conference.

“In some areas, the bad weather — snow, rain and fog — will not let us do the search. We’re very hopeful that we will able to find the victims of the crash soon and hand the bodies over to their families.”

Small bands of civilians fanned out on foot up the rocky mountain trails in a desperate search for clues as pilots flew in and out of billowy clouds in hopes of spotting signs of the wreckage.

Afghan aviation, transportation and other government officials who traveled to the Salang Pass said rugged terrain made the search for the plane difficult and nearly impossible to do on foot.

According to its website, Pamir Airways was founded in May 1995 and is the oldest private airline in Afghanistan.

Agencies

American Soldiers Finally Awakening To Contradiction of Fighting CIA-Sponsored Terror

Ahmed Wali Karzai’s CIA Connection Undermines COIN

by: Richard Allen Smith

Wed Oct 28, 2009 at 12:20:27 PM EDT

Yesterday, I focused on the electoral  and legitimacy ramifications of the revelation that Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President and Presidential candidate Hamid Karzai, is reportedly on the payroll of the CIA in addition to having his pockets filled by the Afghan opium trade. CNAS’s Andrew Exum discusses what it means, if true, for the COIN effort at Abu Muqawama:

if this is true, and if the CIA is empowering Ahmed Wali Karzai at the same time in which NATO/ISAF is saying abusive local power-brokers are a threat to mission success, then this is yet another example of NATO/ISAF carrying out one campaign in Afghanistan while the CIA carries out another — with both campaigns operating at cross purposes to one another. I should say here that I am in no position to confirm or deny this report. I can, however, say that numerous military officials in southern Afghanistan with whom I have spoken identify AWK and his activities as the biggest problem they face — bigger than the lack of government services or even the Taliban. And so if AWK is “the agency’s guy”, that leads to a huge point of friction between NATO/ISAF and the CIA.

Additionally, Spencer Ackerman notes the implications of the money cycle at the Washington Independent:

CIA money funds a politically connected drug dealer. Opium funds the Taliban. We are in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. How much CIA money has indirectly funded the Taliban?

BLUF: This is a clusterfuck.  If this is true, all of our COIN efforts thus far have been done wrong. Exum states, in more eloquent language than I did yesterday “you can be darn sure that if we think that AWK is the CIA’s guy, the Afghans most certainly believe that to be the case.” That’s no way to win the trust of a population you are trying to protect.

We are paying a symbol of the illegitimate national government which hinders our need for a legitimate partner. We are partnering with a symbol of government corruption which undermines any trust we might receive from the population. We are funding the insurgency we are attempting to counter. This is the definition of wheel spinning.

And is this just the tip of the iceberg? Is it really plausible that this is the only place in Afghanistan where we are doing this, where CIA activity is undermining counterinsurgency efforts? If the CIA is willing to do it in one area, I don’t really think the agency would have qualms about doing it in any other place in the country.  This raises the legitimate fear that in any AO in the conflict, we are fighting against ourselves, with American military personnel dying as a result.

If COIN, on any scale, is really our answer for Afghanistan we need to figure out (at the very least) who the good guys and the bad guys are so that we aren’t aiding both.  That seems like a ridiculous statement, and it is.  But the reports about AWK’s partnership with the CIA renders a ridiculous question legitimate, which is more than we can presently say for the ridiculous Karzai government.

Turkmenistan considers possibility of opening of UN Central Asian Office on ecological aspects

Turkmenistan considers possibility of opening of UN Central Asian Office on ecological aspects

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, May 17 / TrendH. Hasanov /

Opening of the UN Central Asian Office on protection of environment or climate change in Turkmenistan is possible, the country’s Foreign Ministry said.

“Activity of this Office will allow the region’s (Central Asia) countries actively participate in the strategic organization and planning of regional and international policies on protection of environment, to become a full member of the activities undertaken by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme”, said in the report.

The main goal is mobilizing, seeking financial, technical and consultative resources to implement global and regional priorities that are adapted to the conditions of the region and solving issues stipulated by conventions and other international agreements on environmental protection, Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry said.

Since 2007 Turkmenistan regularly carries out various activities for the countries of the Central Asian region on climate change. As a result of these measures also were taken the recommendation to establish a regional office of the UN Environment Programme or the UN Regional Centre for Climate Change in Ashgabat.

“The Central Asian countries will have greater opportunity to solve together with the international community priority environmental issues related to climate change, biodiversity, combating desertification and land degradation. The Central Asian region will gain additional opportunities to receive investment of the international community to solve these and other global environmental problems.”

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at trend@trend.az

UN BRIDGE Political Education Program for Turkmenistan

UN introduces Turkmen CEC with int'l experience

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat,   Trend

A special training for staff of the Central Election Commission and district election commissions was organized within the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Turkmenistan, a statement said.

The workshop includes a method of BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) and is based on the experience of Australia, South Africa, Thailand, Poland and other countries.

The information cites the opinion of UNDP Deputy Permanent Representative in Turkmenistan Narine Sahakyan that support in the elections is a key focus of UNDP’s cooperation with the Turkmen government. It is in harmony with the efforts of Turkmenistan to strengthen the capacity of members of electoral commissions. It is a part of the ongoing legal reforms in Turkmenistan.

An interactive method of learning allows participants to quickly assimilate the learning material on the basic principles of elections and develop teaching methods. Education combines presentations and training sessions, games and discussions.

UN implements the project “Strengthening of the electoral system and processes in Turkmenistan” to enhance skills and knowledge of members of Turkmen electoral commissions in the sphere of electoral processes.

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Azerbaijan to support NATO operations in civil emergency planning

Azerbaijani official: Country ready to support NATO operations in civil emergency planning (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan, Baku, May 18 / Trend M.Aliyev /

Given the constant risk of natural and manmade disasters, the NATO member-countries and partners should work together to strengthen mechanisms of the international assistance, Azerbaijani Emergency Situations Minister Kamaladdin Heydarov said at the plenary meeting of the NATO Senior Civil Emergency Planning in Baku today.

“Hence, Azerbaijan is ready to provide additional assistance to NATO in emergency planning,” Heydarov said.” Mutual success will be the result of our cooperation.”

He said this cooperation will enable the Azerbaijani people to contribute to international aid at the right time and right place.

Baku hosts the plenary meeting of the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee within the NATO Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. The Azerbaijani Emergency Situations Ministry is the organizer of the event.

Civil emergency planning system has been completely reorganized in Azerbaijan over the years, Heydarov said.

Heydarov said this cooperation is a very important step that will allow to hold joint exercises on civil emergency planning. “These exercises strengthen the practical skills and create the conditions for the exchange of experiences,” he added.

Representatives of the NATO member-countries and partners and the organization’s relevant structures, as well as NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Maurits Jochems, attend the event.

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at trend@trend.az

The Great Gas War–(Trans.)

SOUTH STREAM: PROGRESS AND RISKSTatyana Stanovaya 

11-12 May, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a visit to Turkey, during which it was signed 17 agreements worth up to $ 25 billion in Russia and finally agreed on the possibility of constructing a nuclear power plant at a cost to attract up to $ 20 billion as a counter move Turkey did abolition of visa regime with Russia. However, Moscow did not yet agree on the main reason why so actively stepped up cooperation in all possible directions: signing an agreement on the construction of South Stream gas pipeline. Recently, a set of “systemic” problems around the project grows, and competition with Nabucco increases. All this ultimately can undermine a significant element of Russian foreign policy in Europe – a bet on the development of energy projects.

The situation around the “South Stream” looks very contradictory. On the one hand, there are a lot of success. Signed an agreement on a pipeline transit countries (the last time this year – with Austria), managed to convince to support the project to Turkey, brought a new partner in the person of the French EdF, which, according to preliminary data, can get 20% of the project. However, with such a successful promotion and accumulate noticeable problems that can be very unpleasant for Moscow, the dynamics in the future. The degree of uncertainty also increases.

First, rather contradictory situation around South Stream was to look after an unexpected breakthrough in relations between Russia and Ukraine. By signing the agreement with Kiev on the supply of gas and preferential extension of the Black Sea Fleet, Moscow came very close to the discussion of another fundamental issue – control the gas transportation system of Ukraine. Recall that the Nord Stream and South Stream “appeared as a consequence of the first gas war between Russia and Ukraine. The Kremlin tried to reduce its dependence on transit countries, whose political leadership abruptly changed its direction of foreign policy after the “Orange Revolution”.

At a time when relations at the political level normalized, and an alternative “bypass” options. Russia offers to Kiev to join Gazprom and Naftogaz, which in reality will mean absorption first by the second. Viktor Yanukovych, in response to the proposed public space to distribute shares in the combined company’s future on a parity basis, which is not only unacceptable to Moscow, but did not correspond to the real scale of Gazprom and Naftogaz (according to experts, in the case of absorption of the Ukrainian side could get only about 6% of the shares of the new company). It is clear that Yanukovych can not accept the Russian proposal because it could undermine his position within the country, giving the opposition an opportunity to talk about the “betrayal” of national interests. Therefore, Dmitry Medvedev said that it was a merger of Gazprom and Naftogaz are not talking, although possible association of some of their assets or create joint ventures. In turn, Ukraine proposes to revert to the old idea of an international consortium where control would be divided on a parity basis between Russia, Ukraine and the EU. This option is suited to Moscow (or rather very actively lobbied) in the last years of Leonid Kuchma. However, after the “revolution”, he fell out of the current agenda, although attempts to use the leverage of the gas war is not excluded as a result of the exchange of gas in the tube. Now the chief of staff of Russian President Naryshkin argues that, if negotiations to reunify the two gas holdings, will not succeed, it will not be an obstacle to a project, in particular, to create a gas consortium.

Whichever option was not selected (although the scenario of absorption continues to look fabulous), there is a mechanism to modernize the Ukrainian gas transport system and ensure that any control over it, and thus reduce the political risks of transit. In this case, the dependence on “the political climate in Ukraine is also reduced and the need for bypass pipelines decreases.

Of course, Gazprom argues that Moscow will be able to distribute the gas for both pipelines, especially as growth rates of consumption in Europe give rise to similar predictions: the demand to grow by 2030 at least 50%. But today, few experts is taken to predict the dynamics of the situation on the gas market.

Secondly, the state of the gas market. Today, supply exceeds demand, “Gazprom” reduces production, giving a significant market share to competitors. For the first time the U.S. came out on top by mining in the world, ahead of Russia. In Russia, three years delayed the development of the Shtokman field, sharpened the contradictions between the main shareholders of the project. According to media reports, the gas monopoly discussed the option of freezing of other investment projects, leaves its imprint financial crisis. Hence arises the problem of prices for Russian gas. Recently, the new head of the largest energy concern E. ON Johannes Theissen said that “deliveries of Russian gas through pipelines – the backbone of our gas business and will remain so for an unimaginably long time. However, all parties concerned should supply gas to the market for proportionate prices. ” Prices on the European spot market continue to remain relatively low compared with prices fixed in the long-term contracts from Gazprom.

Considerable confusion in the gas market has brought “slate revolution. Sharply increased interest in energy giants to the reserves of shale gas in Europe. Despite the fact that there remains very high degree of politicization (search for alternative ways to provide gas and the desire to reduce energy dependence on Russia), intelligence, and the first investments are taking place on the fact. Last week in Poland, paid a visit to the U.S. State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy issues Richard Morningstar. According to “Oil of Russia”, he stated that “shale gas will also improve the energy independence of the region, depending on what would result from the current exploration projects. The question is not in independence from Russia. The question, first of all, the ability to provide this very energy security. ” The most attractive stocks in the territory of Eastern Europe, with countries which Russia has problematic relations. Ministry of Environment of Poland has recognized that the decision to invite foreign companies to the exploration of shale gas was primarily political. Active discussion of the prospects for mining began in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, experts agree that while talking about the economic prospects of shale gas in Europe is too early: a commercial perspective is unclear, environmental problems are too acute.

By producing “shale gas” are often interested and Russian partners to develop the shelf. Last November, the Norwegian company Statoil has agreed to pay $ 3.4 billion for a share of 32,5% in the shale deposits Marcellus, one of the largest in the U.S.. Total – partner of Gazprom in Shtokman (mine is being developed with an eye on the U.S. market and Canada), also invests in the production of shale gas in the U.S.. Chairman of the Board of OAO Gazprom, Alexei Miller in November last year, said that talk about “oil shale revolution” – an information box stuffing. However, in this April, the Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev said that the increase in production in the world of shale gas is a problem for Russia and Gazprom in particular.

Third, the growing uncertainty about the resource base for the South Stream. Moscow planned to consolidate its market dominance in Central Asia, where it could supply natural gas through the Caspian Sea pipeline. However, the main obstacle here is the deterioration of relations with Turkmenistan. Russia minimize gas supplies from this country, and the prospects are unclear. This year, Turkmen exports will be split between Russia, Iran and China in approximately equal proportions. However, Russia’s gas cost more than most. Moscow can not agree on gas pipeline “East-West”, which would connect East oil fields of Turkmenistan (including the giant South Yoloten) with Caspian gas pipeline. Moscow hopes to sign an agreement a year ago, but relations soured after the accident at the pipeline CAC-4: Ashgabat accused Gazprom, because of lawful acts which allegedly has been a sharp drop in pressure in the tube and the explosion.

As a result, Turkmenistan has announced an international tender for construction of the pipeline. According to Reuters, the part of Russia is an application Itera, Gazprom’s participation in doubt. Total received 28 nominations. Among them, according to Reuters, – from companies in China, Ukraine and Western countries. Depending on who wins, it will be possible to judge, in whose favor leaning leadership of Turkmenistan. “East-West” is intended “primarily to additional sales in Russia on the Caspian gas pipeline, told Reuters the representative of the Turkmen government.

Intensified albeit still very modest, but attempts to diversify the routes of gas supplies from Azerbaijan. This year, Gazprom has promised to double purchases of gas in Azerbaijan up to 2 billion cubic meters and continue to buy all the free gas country. However, Baku continues to seek ways to supply gas to Europe bypassing Russia. , Wrote Kommersant, in addition to the promise of gas Nabucco, an opportunity to supply the European market liquefied natural gas (LNG). Last week, Minister of Industry and Energy Minister Natik Aliyev, Minister of Economy, Trade and business of Romania Adrian Vidianu and Georgian Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri signed a protocol on the establishment in Bucharest of a joint venture AGRI. Shares in it will be distributed proportionately – to 33,33% in SOCAR (Azerbaijan), Georgian International Oil and Gas Corporation (GIOC) and Romgaz (Romania). As explained to Kommersant source in GIOC, the joint venture must be processed and transported 7.2 billion cubic meters of gas per year (in 2009 Russia supplied to Europe about 140 billion cubic meters of gas). The project involves the delivery of natural gas from Azerbaijan via a pipeline to Georgia, where the Black Sea will be built liquefaction plant. More LNG by tanker to Romania, where it is planned to build a regasification plant.

Fourth, difficulties persist with direct partners of Russia in “South Stream”. Thus, following the visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Turkey could not yet agree on the signing of an agreement on the pipeline, although able to achieve serious progress in other areas: Russia, without a tender to build nuclear power plants for $ 25 billion, but the main concession to Moscow was the abandonment of the project Burgas- Alexandroupolis oil pipeline in favor of the Samsun-Ceyhan pipeline (in fact, now Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko did not rule out unification of the two projects at the management level). Russia long struggled against the draft Samsun-Ceyhan oil pipeline that would ship oil to bypass Russian territory. A year ago, with the condition of entering the Russian companies, the position has been revised in order to convince Turkey to support the “South Stream”. According to Kommersant, including documents that both sides planned to sign, and it was a so-called road map with the terms of laying the Russian-Italian South Stream gas pipeline in the exclusive economic zone of Turkey in the Black Sea. However, this never happened. According to the newspaper “Time News”, Turkey has not achieved from the RF single new assignment – reducing the price or permission to re-export of Russian gas. Signed a step toward Russia – the abolition of the visa regime – though symbolic in itself, but the real meaning for the Russians no longer bear: he’s already wearing formal.

All of these factors and trends, of course, are not critical. However, we can say that all this is making a growing element of uncertainty, which in turn will put pressure on trouble spots advance of Russian gas in Europe. But now you can with a high degree of certainty say that in promoting its interests, Moscow is increasingly faced with issues of commercial and economic nature, whereas the degree of politicization and conflicts around Russia’s actions is reduced.

Tatiana becomes – the head of analytical department of the Center for Political Technologies

17.05.2010

The insecure women of Balochistan

Women become the first and the safest targets of many fanatical religious movements. Be it a revolution on the name of religion or a movement to “purify” a society from “evils”, the leaders of such so-called reformist initiatives first of all enforce all their “wonderful ideas” on women. They begin with dictating women how to dress, how to behave and how to spend their individual lives. Ironically, all these decisions are made (for women) by the men.

Two classic examples of inhuman curbs on the rights of women were seen in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule and the rise of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Khabir Pashtunkhawa province. The conservative Taliban discouraged women’s socialization by forcing them to observe strict Islamic hijjab. They were barred from attending schools and colleges. In the same manner, hundreds of girls’ schools were destroyed in Swat by the supporters of Taliban.

The same thereat now knocks at our doors. Welcome to Quetta! A girl’s high school with a total enrollment of 1500 female students in Quetta’s Killi Shiekhan locality has finally decided to shut down. This painful decision had to be taken by the school administration after cogitating over threats issued by an underground organization Tahreek-e-Taliban Balochistan. The brave female principal of the school stood bravely against the threat deciding never to let the closure of the school. She was equally backed by the parents of the girls who said they would not stop sending their daughters in spite of all kinds of threats issued to the school. This is an impressive display of bravery and commitment by the school administration and girls’ parents towards education. It is not the people of Balochistan who are opposed to women’s education. It is a handful of people who want to take this whole society hostage.

Why did the Killi Shiekhan School decide to shut down one month after the issuance of threats? Disappointingly, this decision had to be taken as the last available option after the provincial government’s pointblank refusal to provide protection to the threatened school.

“It is not our responsibility to provide security to these schools,” was the brazen reply Balochistan’s education minister, Tahir Mehmood, had to offer to Karachi-based Express Tribune when asked what his ministry was doing to guard  the girls’ educational institutions, “our job is to impart education and improve its quality.” So else, if not the education minister, is responsible for guarding the girls’ schools in Balochistan? Anybody there? So far, we have people who take responsibility for providing education, quality education but on one is ready to provide security to the public schools. Could a so-called people’s government fall morally so low? No, indeed.

What seems to have scared the administrator and the students of the girl’s school is the reference in the threatening letters about the presence of “female Taliban spies” in the ranks of the students who keep informing their male colleagues about the girls bearing a “morally loose” character. The senders of the mail have demanded that the students and teachers enrolled at the school should observer proper Islamic code of dressing and stop promoting ‘obscenity”. In case of noncompliance, they would be targeted and killed.

No one knows what the Balochistan government is thinking right now in response to this threat. On thing is clear: It is doing nothing in this regard at the moment. The government has not responded encouragingly to the ugly episode of attacking five girls in two different incidents of acid-throwing in Dalbandin and Kalat respectively. Even female ministers and advisors in the provincial government have not proactively responded to the newly developed situation. The government in Quetta seems to be devoid of willingness to move forward to guard the girls’ schools and colleges. Attack on girls with acid and now threats to the girls’ schools cannot be a mere coincident. These two types of anti-women developments are surely a part of a well-thought plan to radicalize the society in Balochistan. Elements in both these crimes seem to be connected with each other.

It is totally absurd to threaten school students to refrain from promoting “obscenity”. What is the possible level of obscenity children at school level can promote? It is all madness when schools shut down on the charges of promoting immorality in a society where a little girl fails to do her home works throughout the evening if her brother forgets or declines to buy her a pencil (which shows her total dependence on her brothers and male members of the family). Obscenity is cannot surely be the biggest challenge of a society where teenage girls still fully depend on their parents and elder brothers to buy them a mobile card or a pencil sharpener.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the provincial government to boldly thwart the threats to girls’ schools. All the girls’ schools shut in the wake of recent threats should immediately be reopened. The government should provide complete security to all educational institutions and take the threat to females’ education as the harbinger of a larger integrated threat to Balochistan.

Iraq signs major oil field deal with China, Turkey firms

Iraq signs major oil field deal with China, Turkey firms

AFP/Baghdad

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani (right) speaks with CNOOC director Yang Hua as TPAO director Mehmet Uysal listens on following the signing of the oil deal in Baghdad yesterday. CNOOC and TPAO agreed to be paid $2.30 per barrel of oil extracted from the three Maysan fields, worth around a tenth of what was initially requested. CNOOC and Sinochem, another Chinese energy firm, had asked for $21.4 per barrel when the field was auctioned to foreign firms last June

Iraq signed a deal with Chinese energy giant CNOOC and Turkey’s TPAO yesterday to develop a major southern oilfield complex, its 11th deal with foreign energy firms as Baghdad aims to boost crude output.
Among the three fields in the Maysan complex, along Iraq’s border with Iran, is one partially claimed by Tehran, whose forces took over an oil well in the Fakka field in December for several days but withdrew after bilateral talks.
“Today is a very important day in the history of Iraqi oil production, with the development of very important fields in Maysan province,” Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said at the contract signing in Baghdad.
“After several contacts with CNOOC and TPAO, a price for exploitation has been agreed.”
The fields were first put up for auction in June last year but no agreement was reached.
CNOOC and TPAO agreed to be paid $2.30 per barrel of oil extracted from the three Maysan fields, which has proven reserves of 2.6bn barrels of oil, Shahristani said on Monday.
Under the deal, output is projected to be ramped up to 450,000 bpd, compared to current production of around 100,000 bpd.
The Chinese firm will have an 85% stake in the joint venture, while TPAO holds the remaining 15%. The Iraqi government will have a 25% stake in the overall project.
The agreed deal was worth around a tenth of what was initially requested—CNOOC and Sinochem, another Chinese energy firm, had asked for $21.4 per barrel when the field was auctioned to foreign firms last June.
Sinochem has since pulled out of the deal.
Last year, Iraq held two auctions of its oil fields for development, the first time foreign energy firms have had the opportunity to plant a foot firmly in the country since its energy sector was nationalised in 1972.
The Maysan deal means Chinese companies now have stakes in four major oil projects in Iraq.
As with the CNOOC-TPAO deal, companies which sign contracts with Iraq will receive a fixed fee per barrel, not a share of profits, and the fee will only be paid once an agreed production threshold is reached.
The 11 deals signed by Iraq so far will, if fully realised, ramp up its oil output five-fold to 12mn bpd, putting it on a par with the world’s top producer Saudi Arabia.
At 115bn barrels, Iraq has the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves, behind only Saudi Arabia and Iran.
However, there has been little exploration or development of fields in the past three decades because of wars and a UN embargo imposed on Iraq in 1990 following now executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.
Oil sales account for 85% of Iraqi government revenues.

Uncle Sam–Drug Lord

Uncle Sam: drug lord

By Bob ConferNiagara Gazette

NIAGARA FALLS — Many people were shocked last week when it was announced that U.S. Army personnel have enrolled in substance abuse counseling for the use of opiates at record rates. This family of drugs, which includes morphine and heroin, has caused the number of counseled personnel to rise from 89 in 2004 to 529 in 2009.

According to the U.S. Army, the rise in counseling may be attributable to painkillers related to previous deployments or maybe even increased admission of abuse. Both claims are implausible, especially the latter, as it’s foolish to believe that in five years soldiers have become nearly 500 percent more likely to report an addiction to just one type of drug.

The truth of the matter is the Army spin doctors won’t tell us that use/abuse is up because of where the soldiers are and what they are being directed to do.

The spike in counseling coincides with the threefold increase in the number of personnel deployed to Afghanistan. It just so happens that Afghanistan is the world’s Garden of Eden for opium. In 2007, more than 93 percent of all cultivated opiates originated in Afghanistan. A quarter of all farmland in the Helmand province alone is dedicated to opium poppies and the trade — controlled by the Taliban — supports 1.4 million households in Afghanistan.

By Afghan standards the financial yield per acre is impressive: An opium farmer can earn $500 to $1,500 per acre and that’s after he has paid back his seed loan to the Taliban and paid the Taliban a 10 percent cut of his profits. If he were to grow wheat (which requires more work and more water unlike the drought-resistant poppy) his earnings would be about $320 per acre.

In their occupation of Afghanistan, our forces have taken a hands-off approach to the opium farms. Whereas they would destroy them in the Western Hemisphere, they leave them alone in the East. The catch-phrase in the military is that they “tolerate” opium production. They say they do so because it’s the main livelihood for a majority of the Afghan farmers and were they to take away their cash crop and force them to take down their standard of living a few notches, the Afghans would rebel and turn on all attempts to free (read “Westernize”) their society. Things are so out of whack that our soldiers have even been directed to guard numerous poppy fields with their lives. They are, in essence, fighting to keep heroin flowing to the United States or, as the statistics show, into their veins. These are things that our young soldiers definitely didn’t sign-up to do. To many of them, the guarding of the plants is morally and/or logically reprehensible. But, they must do as they are told.

This protection of the poppies proves that if anyone needs counseling it’s Uncle Sam, as he seems to be suffering not from drug problems but rather from schizophrenia. On one hand, while abroad, our government enables and empowers the growth and distribution of opiates from the world’s No. 1 source. And then back home, it turns on its own people and incarcerates recreational drug users in droves, people who use the very drugs that were grown before our soldier’s eyes.

What could account for this hypocrisy — this dedicated effort to play both sides of the fence in regard to the drug trade? It’s definitely not national security. Are overseas terror regimes so dangerous to Americans that we’re better off by sacrificing our citizens through a drug war that arrests 1.9 million of them per year? No. It’s probably money driving this whole thing.

It’s blatantly obvious someone is profiting from this two-sided affair, and it’s not the American taxpayers who are funding the wars on terror and drugs. It’s the opium farmers and traders in Afghanistan who export $64 billion of the substance every year. It’s our own government (and the industrial complex and contractors that feed it) which spends an average of $34.9 billion per year on the Afghan occupation. It’s our federal and state governments who combined blow $50 billion annually on the drug war.

You can’t help but look at this mess through the eyes of a conspiracy theorist because it just doesn’t add up. By doing what it’s doing in the Middle East and in Middle America, the federal government is both drug lord and drug buster, fashioning a self-perpetuating war on drugs.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at bobconfer@juno.com.

Russian Motorized Mountain Brigade Trains With Indian Troops In Himalayas

India, Russia to hold joint military drill

Press Trust of India

India and Russia will hold a joint military drill nicknamed Indra-2010 with the involvement of more than 150 Russian servicemen from the motorised mountain infantry brigade.

A Russian army delegation is currently in India to finalise the arrangements.

“The INDRA-2010 war games will be held on the Indian soil in autumn, in which 150 Russian servicemen from the motorised mountain infantry brigade will take part,” Land Forces spokesman Col Oleg Yushkov here said.

India and Russia have been holding joint war games for several years now with the involvement of all the three services of their armed forces.

In 2007 and 2008, the paratroopers from the two nations had carried out joint anti-terror war games in Agra and Russia’s Pskov region bordering on NATO-member Estonia.

Russia, which has raised independent motorised (mountain) brigade in the wake of militancy and its frontiers rolling back to North Caucasus following the Soviet collapse, is keen to learn from India’s experience of mountain warfare and training expertise.

40 injured in Baloch-Pashtun student clashes in Balochistan

40 injured in Baloch-Pashtun student clashes in Balochistan

* University of Balochistan suspends academic activities for 3 days
* Agriculture College Quetta, University of Engineering and Technology Khuzdar closed down for indefinite period
Staff Report

QUETTA: More than 40 students were injured in clashes between two ethnic groups of students in four different educational institutions of Balochistan on Monday.
Initially, a clash erupted at the Agriculture College Quetta between activists of the Baloch Students Organisation and the Pashtun Students Organisation over a petty issue, in which 17 students were injured as they used sticks and knuckle dusters against each other, police said.
Police and law enforcement agencies rushed to the college and evacuated it, bringing the situation under control.
Another fight broke out between activists of the same organisations at the University of Balochistan (UoB), which injured four students, as news of the clash at the Agriculture College reached them.
The injured students were taken to the Sandman Hospital Quetta and Bolan Medical Hospital.
Frontier Corps (FC) and police personnel rushed to the university and had to resort to shelling to disperse the students. Police have arrested eight students for disrupting peace, the sources added.
Also, a clash erupted between students of the Lasbela University of Marine Sciences and Balochistan University of Engineering and Technology Khuzdar, in which 25 students were injured.
Police and security personnel have been deployed in all major educational institutions to maintain peace.
Three days: The UoB administration has announced the suspension of academic activities in the university for three days, while hostels have been closed down for an indefinite period following the clashes. Balochistan Agricultural College and University of Engineering and Technology Khuzdar have been closed down for an indefinite period.

New Iran Deal the Same as the Old Deal?

[This “solution” is just so much hot air.  Israel will never accept anything that does not hobble the Iranian state.  Zionist Obama is certain to oppose this agreement.]

It’s "Gollllllll!" for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions

SUBMITTED BY ROBERT NAIMAN


If I were in Washington this morning, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the the "football" match, shouting "Gollllllll!"

Because with the news this morning that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey, in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a U.S.-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the President of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran towards a future military conflict.

Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country’s disputed nuclear program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.

The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran – at least temporarily – of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.

If the deal is "nearly identical" to the plan that the U.S. has been pressing, then we should all be celebrating, right?

Not the right-wing German government, apparently.

The key question is whether the agreement fulfills the demands that the U.N. and the International Atomic Energy Agency has made of Tehran, German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said.

Steegmans noted that the point remains whether Iran suspends enrichment of nuclear material at home, raising a possible sticking point since the agreement reaffirmed Tehran’s right to enrichment activities for peaceful purposes.

But the demand that Iran suspend the enrichment of nuclear material was never part of the fuel swap deal, and indeed the whole point of the fuel swap deal was to deescalate tensions around Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium without recourse to the politically unachievable demand that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium. Everyone involved in the diplomacy knows that "suspension of enrichment" crosses a red line for the Iranians, so saying that the deal is no good because it doesn’t require Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium is like saying the deal is no good because it doesn’t require Iranian leaders to eat pork on Iranian TV at noon during Ramadan.

The main difference between the deal Iran has just agreed to and the U.N.-drafted version, APreports, is that if Iran does not receive the fuel rods for its medical research reactor within a year, Turkey will be required to "quickly and unconditionally" return the uranium to Iran. Iran had feared that under the initial U.N. deal, if a swap fell through, its uranium stock could be seized permanently. If the West is operating in good faith, then this difference between the agreements shouldn’t matter.

Furthermore,

Iran dropped an earlier demand for the fuel exchange to happen in stages and is now willing to ship abroad its nuclear material in a single batch. It also dropped an insistence that the exchange happen inside Iran as well as a request to receive the fuel rods right away.

"There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure," Turkey’s Foreign Minister said.

That should be true on the merits, but it’s a safe bet that the "anti-peace, pro-Israel" lobby in Washington isn’t going to see it that way.

How will the Obama Administration see it?

On Friday, Secretary of State Clinton predicted that Lula’s mediation effort would fail.

Now the Obama Administration has to choose. Does it really want a deal? Can it take "yes" for an answer?

Iran Inks LEU Deal With Turkey under Brazil’s Guarantees; Israel Infuriated

Iran Inks LEU Deal With Turkey under Brazil’s Guarantees; Israel Infuriated

Batoul Wehbe

Readers Number : 589

17/05/2010 Tehran yesterday did not live a normal day. The pace of nuclear negotiations have accelerated after the arrival of the Turkish premier who have been a pioneer in trying to defuse tensions in the region over many issues but this time it was the Iranian nuclear program on his agenda along with Iran and Brazil presidents.

Iran inked a nuclear fuel swap deal Monday under which 1,200 kilos of low enriched uranium will be shipped to Turkey under Brazilian guarantees, potentially ending a standoff with western powers gearing for new sanctions against Tehran and the “last shot” was successfully fired. The agreement, under which Iran will in turn receive nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor, was signed in the Iranian capital between the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey and Brazil.

The signing came after three-way talks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ahmadinejad hoped world powers would enter talks with Tehran after the agreement was made, the state IRNA news agency reported. “I hope the 5+1 (UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany) enter talks with honesty, respect and fairness and heed the great work started in Tehran,” he said.

Under the agreement “Turkey will be the place to keep Iran’s 3.5 percent (low enriched) uranium,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters. “One thousand two hundred kilos (of LEU) will be exchanged.” He added that Iran will officially notify the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the agreement “within a week.” “The IAEA should inform the Vienna group (United States, France and Russia) of this proposal,” he said of world powers which have wanted Iran since last October to accept a UN-backed deal to ship its enriched uranium abroad.

“If the Vienna group accepts the agreement (made on Monday), there will be an exchange of 1,200 kilos of Iran’s 3.5 percent enriched uranium with 120 kilos of 20 percent enriched fuel,” Mehmanparast said. “The uranium stockpile in Turkey will be under Iran’s and the IAEA’s supervision,” he said. “We hope the other party accepts this proposal.” If world powers agree “Iran will ship its low enriched uranium during a period of one month to Turkey,” the spokesman said.

Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi urged world powers to sign on to the agreement, insisting “Iran has shown its good will by accepting the Brazilian and Turkish proposal. “From now on the ball is in the West’s court and the Vienna group (the United States, France and Russia) should give a suitable response to Iran’s offer of cooperation,” Salehi told the official IRNA news agency.

Brazil’s president, in Iran for a summit of non-aligned countries, held talks on the nuclear issue with Iran’s leadership Sunday. Washington has called the Brazilian’s visit the “last shot” to avoid sanctions. At Iran’s invitation, Turkey’s Prime Minister arrived at around midnight Sunday to join Lula.

Israel, which along with many Western powers have been struggling to sanction Iran under guise that it’s generating a nuclear bomb, immediately accused Tehran of “manipulating” Turkey and Brazil over the deal. “The Iranians have manipulated Turkey and Brazil in appearing to accept the enrichment of part of their uranium on Turkish soil,” a senior Israeli official in Tel Aviv told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The Iranians have already pulled off such a trick in the past — by pretending to accept such a procedure to lower tensions and reduce the risk of harsher international sanctions, then refusing to follow through,” he said. The official said the Iranian initiative was likely to “complicate issues” for world powers looking to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. “It is going to be much more difficult for the United States or the Europeans to reject this arrangement because it’s no longer just about Iran, which is a much easier situation to manage,” he said.

But Turkey sees “no need” for further UN sanctions against Iran after this deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu told reporters. “This agreement should be regarded positively and there is no need for sanctions now that we (Turkey and Brazil) have made guarantees and the low enriched uranium will remain in Turkey,” he said.

There was no immediate reaction from the IAEA, which had in its proposal suggested Iran send its uranium stockpile to Russia to be further enriched and then on to France to make nuclear fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. Iran had so far stalled on the deal, insisting it wants to keep the LEU on its own soil for a simultaneous swap with reactor fuel. Brazil and Turkey, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, have been leading efforts to end the standoff over the UN-backed deal.

In response, the office of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that the fuel swap deal signed by Iran on Monday “does not answer all of the concerns”.”If this reported agreement delivers… of course we welcome such a move,” a spokesman for Ashton told AFP. “This is a move in the right direction but it does not answer all of the concerns raised over Iran’s nuclear programme,” he added.

France said that the deal does not resolve the underlying dispute between Iran and the West. French Foreign Minister Bernard said that the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog must be the first body to respond to Iran’s agreement. Kouchner cautiously welcomed Iran’s agreement to send lightly enriched uranium to Turkey, but added that he had not seen the text of the accord. “It’s not up to us to respond, it’s up to the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Kouchner told AFP and Radio France Internationale.

“Some important progress has been made over the past two days on the UN resolution,” at the Security Council, Kouchner added. “I am happy that there has been this accord” between Iran, Brazil and Turkey, he said before praising “our Turkish and Brazilian friends who showed tenacity” in their talks with Tehran.

For its part, the German government said that nothing could replace a deal between Iran and the IAEA. “It of course remains important that Iran and the IAEA reach an accord,” said deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans. “That cannot be replaced by an accord with other countries.”

American arrogance

American arrogance

By Javed Hussain
Nine years on into the occupation of Afghanistan, Americans have finally understood that it will be far more difficult to withdraw than it was to go in. — Photo by AFP

On March 8, 1965, when the US Marines landed on the beaches of Da Nang in South Vietnam, history was poised to repeat itself as the Americans were poised to repeat the mistakes made by the French in 1946 when they returned to colonise Indo-China.

The marines had come with the belief that the ‘racially inferior gooks’ would not stand up to America’s military forces and that they would be home in time for Christmas. The American arrogance had percolated through their military’s rank and file. They soon discovered that their belief was entirely misplaced.

The Vietnamese fighters not only stood up to them, but also turned them into psychopaths. Ten years later, when they could take it no more, the Americans withdrew in panic defeated, disgraced and traumatised. During the war they dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs of all kinds against 2.06 million tons dropped in the Second World War, and sprayed 75 million litres of defoliants including Dioxin over the fields, forests and villages of Vietnam, causing seven million casualties including three million dead, for the loss of 58,000 American servicemen. Their arrogance was buried in the jungles of South Vietnam, until it was resurrected 26 years later.

History is now repeating itself in Afghanistan because the Americans repeated the mistake made by the Soviets. They are being made to pay for their folly of overestimating themselves and underestimating the skill and fortitude of the Afghan guerillas. Nine years on they have learned that it is far more difficult to withdraw than it was to go in. As a consequence, they have put in place a new strategy which seeks to create an environment that would allow them to commence the process of withdrawing the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) from Afghanistan in July 2011.

To create this environment they would apply such force on the Taliban as would compel them to sue for peace, while at the same time enticing the Taliban rank and file into desertion; then negotiate from a position of strength, transfer security responsibilities to the Afghan army, and commence the withdrawal process. If the strategy succeeds President Obama would be hailed as the victor in Afghanistan and his party would not only sweep the November elections to the Congress, but also the presidential elections in 2012. But if it fails, their arrogance would once again be buried, this time in the valley of death that south Afghanistan is for invaders.

Why was the need felt for a new strategy? In a war against insurgency unless the mission is accomplished within a year, the war tends to drag on for years on end. In the event, the soldiers who are basically groomed for conventional war lose their combat effectiveness, having to fight an invisible enemy who is here, there and everywhere, yet nowhere. The guerillas have no such compulsion as time is always on their side. Therefore, they do everything to prolong the war in order to not only cultivate more recruits, build their inventory of weapons, ammunition and explosives, put in place an effective intelligence network, but also to play with the minds of the soldiers, for once the mind is defeated, the war is won. Therefore, it follows that if a half-hearted effort is applied against insurgency, it is bound to fail.

The first mistake made by the Americans was to defy history. But having chosen to do so they should have assigned the resources needed to accomplish the mission. Thus, their main effort should have been in Afghanistan, not Iraq. Their second mistake was to initiate the air-bombing campaign without securing the crossing sites on their side of the Durand Line to prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives from escaping to the tribal areas of Pakistan — they thought that the Taliban would give battle in which they would be wiped out. But the Taliban were wiser. Even today, despite the deployment of substantial Pakistani effort along the Durand Line, a complementary effort by the Isaf is missing on their side of the Line. Their third mistake was not to end the Taliban domination of the mountains in which they have their safe havens.

Yet instead of taking corrective action they persisted with the mismatch between the mission assigned and resources given. Consequently they suffered operational setbacks and blamed Pakistan for them. The additional US forces sanctioned are still not enough to accomplish the mission. However the least that can be done is to employ the available forces judiciously — one, for blocking at least those crossing sites which are used by the Haqqani group to make forays into Afghanistan from North Waziristan, and two, for ending the domination of the mountains by the Taliban.

But they are fixated on Kandahar and North Waziristan. They want the Pakistan Army to take control of North Waziristan before the start of the Isaf operation against Kandahar planned for August 2010, even if that involves uncovering the eastern front which they mistakenly believe India would not exploit. The Pakistan Army formations presently engaged in holding the captured areas in Swat and Fata cannot be pulled out for an operation against North Waziristan, for doing so would create a weakness in these areas which the TTP would be quick to exploit. Therefore a new force would have to be assembled by denuding the eastern front even more, a situation that should not be acceptable to the high command. Instead, apart from their ongoing commitments in Fata, they should plan on eliminating the religious militant groups who are capable of orchestrating strikes beyond the borders of Pakistan.

Hillary Clinton’s outburst is reminiscent of the arrogant ‘stone age’ call after 9/11. On reflection she just might have discovered that Pakistan has lost more soldiers than the combined losses suffered by foreign forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and five times more civilians than those lost in the 9/11 strikes, which eminently reflect on Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror.

What ‘serious consequences’ is she threatening with? Choking the country economically, drone attacks across the country, invasion of Fata, seizure of nuclear storage sites by special operations forces or an air blitz against these sites and allied facilities, perhaps even carrying out the ‘stone age’ threat?

Instead of living in mortal fear, the Americans should shed the paranoia that has gripped them and the arrogance that characterises their conduct with weaker states, and show some grace, serenity of mind and understanding and receptiveness to Pakistan’s concerns and constraints. Their uncalled for outbursts against a ‘partner’ would only serve to alienate the Pakistani people even more.

The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army.

LHC upholds conviction against Rehman Malik

LHC upholds conviction against Rehman Malik

Interior Minister Rehman Malik. — Reuters photo

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday dismissed the appeal filed by Interior Minister Rehman Malik against his conviction in two corruption references by an accountability court.

The accountability court had sentenced Rehman Malik to a three-year-long prison term in each of the two NAB references. The prison sentences were declared after the minister failed to appear in court.

Malik’s counsel on Monday said no notice was sent to the minister to appear before the court. Therefore, a verdict given in his absence would be illegal, the counsel further argued, requesting the Lahore High Court to halt the punishment orders against him.

Malik had filed a plea with the Lahore High Court regarding the sentences, following which the LHC had suspended the rulings against him and had granted him bail. However, now the verdict against Malik in the two NAB references stands restored and legal experts say he may be arrested at any time.