Amazon testing delivery drones in Canada

Amazon delivery drone

Amazon delivery drone

Amazon tests delivery drones at secret Canada site after US frustration

Exclusive: Guardian gains access to unnamed British Columbia site where tech giant’s roboticists and engineers, stymied by American regulation, are now developing their unmanned domestic delivery service

By  in British Columbia

Amazon is testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, followingrepeated warnings by the e-commerce giant that it would go outside the US to bypass what it sees as the US federal government’s lethargic approach to the new technology.

The largest internet retailer in the world is keeping the location of its new test site closely guarded. What can be revealed is that the company’s formidable team of roboticists, software engineers, aeronautics experts and pioneers in remote sensing – including a former Nasa astronaut and the designer of the wingtip of the Boeing 787 – are now operating in British Columbia.

The end goal is to utilise what Amazon sees as a slice of virgin airspace – above 200ft, where most buildings end, and below 500ft, where general aviation begins. Into that aerial slice the company plans to pour highly autonomous drones of less than 55lbs, flying through corridors 10 miles or longer at 50mph and carrying payloads of up to 5lbs that account for 86% of all the company’s packages.

Amazon has acquired a plot of open land lined by oak trees and firs, where it is conducting frequent experimental flights with the full blessing of the Canadian government. As if to underline the significance of the move, the test site is barely 2,000ft from the US border, which was clearly visible from where the Guardian stood on a recent visit.

The Guardian was invited to visit Amazon’s previously undisclosed Canadian drone test site, where it has been conducting outdoor flights for the past few months. For the duration of the visit, three plain-clothed security guards kept watch from the surrounding hills.

Amazon’s drone visionaries are taking the permissive culture on the Canadian side of the border and using it to fine-tune the essential features of what they hope will become a successful delivery-by-drone system. The Guardian witnessed tests of a hybrid drone that can take off and land vertically as well as fly horizontally.

Read more » the Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/30/amazon-tests-drones-secret-site-canada-us-faa

Army for Rent: Pakistan has long tradition of dealing out its military – be it to Saudis or Americans

Pak Army deployment in North Waziristan started.

Islamabad has thus far sent mixed signals on whether it will join Saudi strikes on Yemen. Don’t be surprised even if it does.

By 

The liberal section of the civil society in Pakistan is aghast at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s intent to send a contingent of the country’s armed forces to Yemen in support of Saudi operation to fight the Houthis. The obvious concern is that participating in such a battle will not serve Pakistan’s interests and instead deepen the sectarian divide in the country that has already cost thousands of lives.

Although the spokesperson for the Foreign Office, which is far more abreast of the country’s permanent military-led establishment, has issued a statement that a decision had not been taken in this regard, there is news of Pakistan Navy and Air Force already operating in Yemen. Whether there has been a secret decision or no decision, it has compounded the confusion in the country, particularly among those who believe the deadly attack on a school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, had taught Pakistan a lesson in staying away from Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi version of Islam. It is a fact that since the attack, Saudi Arabia had come under some criticism, something which had never happened before. A while ago, there were print articles and discussions on electronic media criticising the Saudi royalty for coming to Pakistan to kill houbara bustards.

While the criticism was new, did it really indicate a shift in Pakistan’s policy towards Riyadh? Where finally is the centre of policymaking regarding Saudi Arabia – the prime minister’s office or the army’s General Headquarters?

Sharif has attracted a lot of attention with his expression of support for the Saudi operation in Yemen. Many of his critics believe he is but too happy to commit Islamabad to Saudi Arabia’s security goals since he is indebted to the Saudis for bailing him out and keeping him through the worst of times after his unceremonious sacking in October 1999. Some people in Saudi Arabia I spoke to a year ago even suggested that Saudi intelligence had played a role in the 2013 elections, which brought Sharif back to power.

That may be, but the Yemen decision has traces of permanency, of being anchored in Pakistan’s security establishment more than the prime minister’s office. It seems odd that army chief Raheel Sharif, who is otherwise hands-on on security issues and all critical policies, suddenly opted to toe the political government’s line on this matter and volunteered to become subservient to the will of the elected prime minister. Given this, it is not surprising that there is limited criticism of the military as well. A photograph circulated on social media has Pakistan Army soldiers marching and a caption that says: “Army-for-Rent – special concession for Arabs particularly Saudi Arabia. Those unsure of the army’s capabilities must seek guidance from Americans regarding war in Afghanistan.”

All-weather partnership

The army has a long history of serving Saudi Arabia and even tailoring its internal politics to suit the whims of the Saudis. Reportedly, some of the officers in the army contingents sent by Pakistan in the early 1960s under General Ayub Khan were returned as they were Ahmedis and the Saudis did not consider them Muslims. This was much before Islamabad’s own decision to declare Ahmedis non-Muslims in the 1970s.

Over the years, while the Kingdom has depended on security assistance from Pakistan, several myths about the ties have taken hold. The Pakistanis like to believe that their armed forces played a key role in quelling the armed rebellion inside the Kaaba in 1979, but it was the French who played a greater part. Another common myth is that bilateral relations strengthened under a more religiously conservative army chief, General Ziaul Haq. But it is in fact the security ties that have been the most stable component of the relation despite the ill-treatment of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.
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Warships Move In Key Strait As Airstrikes Widen In Yemen

chinAt least 24 civilians were killed in Friday’s strikes, bringing the toll from two days to 45 civilians, the Houthi-run Interior Ministry said. The Houthis’ TV station showed footage from a market in Saada it said was struck by missiles, with images of charred bodies and wrecked vehicles.

By

SANAA, Yemen — As airstrikes in Yemen intensified on their second day Friday, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were considering an intervention on the ground, aimed at giving the president a secure foothold to return to the country, while backing Sunni tribesmen to fight against Shiite rebels and their allies, military officials said.

A likely entry point for troops from the Saudi-led Arab coalition was the southern port of Aden, the Yemeni and Egyptian military officials told The Associated Press. But that could be a tough prospect: The city is already a battleground, and on Friday forces loyal to the rebels’ top ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, were advancing toward it.

The officials’ comments to the AP draw broad outlines for the likely strategy for the ambitious campaign launched Thursday, led by Saudi Arabia with a major role by its ally Egypt. The aim, they said, was to carve out enough room for President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee the country from Aden, to return. Longer-term, the campaign aims to wear down the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and Saleh’s forces, enough to reach a power-sharing accord. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.

“The credibility and legitimacy of President Hadi erode with every day he spends outside the country,” said one Yemeni military official. Hadi fled by boat from Aden on Wednesday, making his way to Saudi Arabia, and on Friday arrived in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for an Arab summit due to start the following day.

The forces of Saleh appear to be a key concern. Saleh ruled Yemen with an autocratic hand for nearly 40 years until he was forced out and replaced by Hadi in 2012 following an Arab Spring uprising. But he remained in Yemen and kept the loyalty of many military commanders. One Yemeni official Friday estimated that 70 percent of the army is loyal to Saleh, including many of the best armed and trained units based around the country.

Those pro-Saleh troops have been fighting alongside the Iranian-allied Houthis, enabling them to take over the capital Sanaa and much of the country over the past months — at least 10 of Yemen’s 21 provinces.

Saudi Arabia and fellow Sunni-led allies in the Gulf and the Middle East view the Houthi takeover as an attempt by Iran to establish a proxy on the kingdom’s southern border. Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement, though it says it provides diplomatic and humanitarian support. Washington says the U.S. is providing refueling tankers and surveillance flights for the Saudi operations, and there are several U.S. troops working in the operations center, but the U.S is not taking direct military action.

A second day of intense airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies hammered Sanaa and five other provinces, hitting bases of units loyal to Saleh. They struck in Saleh’s stronghold of Samhan, outside Sanaa, where Saleh is believed to have fled, and the Houthis’ main stronghold, the mountainous northern region of Saada, where the group’s leader Abdul-Malik Houthi is located.

At least 24 civilians were killed in Friday’s strikes, bringing the toll from two days to 45 civilians, the Houthi-run Interior Ministry said. The Houthis’ TV station showed footage from a market in Saada it said was struck by missiles, with images of charred bodies and wrecked vehicles.

Yemeni security officials said around 80 fighters from Houthi or Saleh forces have been killed in the strikes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. By Friday afternoon, more than 40 percent of Yemen’s air defenses were destroyed, according to Yemeni Brig. Gen. Saleh al-Subaihi, a pro-Hadi officer.

The figures of civilian and combatant casualties could not be independently confirmed.

Also Friday, Saudi and Egyptian warships deployed to Bab al-Mandab, the strategic strait off Yemen at the entrance of the Red Sea, Egyptian military officials said. The strait gives the only access to Egypt’s Suez Canal from the Arabian Sea and is a vital passage for shipping between Europe and Asia.

On his party website, Saleh proposed a cease-fire by the coalition, Hadi’s forces and the Houthis — without mentioning his own — and a return to U.N.-sponsored negotiations.

But all sides appeared to be moving to confrontation in the south. “We are used to long wars,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam said. “The situation in the south is much better than before … There is full readiness.”

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels advance despite Saudi-led air strikes

Yemen’s Houthi rebels advance despite Saudi-led air strikes. Diplomats and UN staff flee Yemen as Houthis target Aden ~ Reuters‎

Yemen’s Houthi rebels advance despite Saudi-led air strikes. Diplomats and UN staff flee Yemen as Houthis target Aden
~ Reuters‎

Gains threaten last refuge of president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and could undermine air campaign to support him

By Reuters

Yemen’s Houthi rebels made broad gains in the country’s south and east on Friday despite a second day of Saudi-led air strikes meant to check the Iranian-backed militia’s efforts to overthrow the president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

Shia Muslim Houthi fighters and allied army units gained their first foothold on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast by seizing the port of Shaqra 100km (60 miles) east of Aden, residents told Reuters.

The advances threaten Hadi’s last refuge in Yemen and potentially undermine the air campaign to support him.

The losses came as the spokesman for the Saudi-led operation, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, told a press conference in Riyadh that defending the Aden government was the campaign’s “main objective”.

“I want to confirm that the operation itself has as its main objective to protect the government in Aden,” Asseri said.

“The operation will continue as long as there is a need for it to continue,” he said.

At a previous briefing, he said a ground campaign was not planned but did not rule out the possibility. “At these current stages, there is no planning for operations by ground forces but, if the situation necessitates it, the Saudi ground forces are ready and the forces of friendly states are ready and any form of aggression will be answered,” he said.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/27/yemens-houthi-rebels-advance-despite-saudi-led-air-strikes?CMP=share_btn_fb

U.S. Rescues Saudi Pilots from Crashed Fighter Jet

Yemenis use slingshot to down Saudi F-15 fighter jet.

Yemenis use slingshot to down Saudi F-15 fighter jet.

Two airmen rescued from Gulf of Aden after F-15 went down

By JULIAN E. BARNES

WASHINGTON—The U.S. rescued two Saudi Arabian airmen from the Gulf of Aden after their two-seater F-15 fighter jet crashed Thursday, a U.S. defense official said Friday.

The jet appears to have been taking part in operations over Yemen, however, the defense official wouldn’t say why the airmen ejected from the F-15 or why the plane went down over international waters.

Saudi Arabia requested assistance on Thursday afternoon Washington time from the U.S. after the airmen ejected from their plane, the official said.

An HH-60 helicopter flying from Djibouti, where the U.S. maintains a major regional base, recovered the two Saudi airmen at approximately 5:20 p.m. ET on Thursday. The recovery operation took about two hours from the time of notification to the rescue of the airmen, the defense official said.

The rescue operation, the official said, was coordinated by the USS Sterett, a destroyer operating in the region. The USS New York was also involved in the rescue, the official said.

The defense official said the two airmen were ambulatory after they recovered, but referred further questions to the Saudi government.

The request for assistance, the official said, was handled on the tactical level, not requiring contacts at high levels between the two governments. Military planners in the region took the call for emergency assistance and contacted the USS Sterett, which began the hunt for the pilots and called in the HH-60 from Djibouti

“It’s a great example of the logistical assistance we are providing,” said the U.S. official. The rescued airmen were initially taken back to the U.S. base in Djibouti, officials said.

Read more » THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
See more » http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-rescues-saudi-pilots-from-crashed-fighter-jet-1427502224

Pakistan has decided to support Saudi Arabia in Yemen conflict – “Any threat to Saudi’s territorial integrity would evoke strong response from Pakistan”

News courtesy: ARY News TV
Read more » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2015/03/150326_saudi_pak_yemen_operation_hk

More details:» Pakistan agrees to participate in military operations in Yemen – BBC urdu report
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2015/03/150326_saudi_demand_yemen_intervention_sr

Senior Yemeni official says Saudi military intervention in his country will mean the end of Saudi family’s rule over Arabia

Yemeni, senior Houthi official Muhammad Al-Bakhiti.

Yemeni, senior Houthi official Muhammad Al-Bakhiti.

From Yemen, senior Houthi official Muhammad Al-Bakhiti says, Saudi Arabia’s Military intervention in the country will end the rule of the Saudi Family. [It will also end the Sultanate of Nejad’s occupation of Hejaz that began in 1925.]
In this March 23 interview, Al-Bakhiti said: “If Saudi Arabia intervenes militarily, this will lead to the end of the rule of the Saud clan in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques.” The interview aired on Mayadeen TV.

Read more » Memri
See more » http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4845.htm

Egypt, Pakistan join military campaign against Houthis

Pakistan army in Suadi Arab.

Pakistan army in Saudi Arab.

By Staff Writer, Al Arabiya News

Pakistan and Egypt announced their participation in the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against with air and naval forces, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Al Arabiya said Egypt, Pakistan and Sudan have also expressed their readiness to contribute ground troops in the campaign.

Four Egyptian warships entered the Suez Canal on Thursday en route to the Gulf of Aden, Reuters news agency reported citing canal officials said.

The officials said the ships will take part in operations “to secure” the strategic waters that control southern access to the Suez Canal.

The UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan have also deployed fighter jets to join the Saudi air force in the ongoing air campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Al Arabiya News Chanel reported.

The UAE has deployed 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwait 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 warplanes, according to the news channel.

News courtesy: Al Arabiya
Read more » http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2015/03/26/Pakistan-Egypt-join-military-campaign-against-Houthis.html

India – Who killed Forty-two citizens in Hashimpura, Meerut.

Photo credits: BBC

Photo credits: BBC

India: Communal riots occurred in May 1987 in Meerut, U.P. the Provincial Armed Constabulary ( P.A.C.) rounded up 42 Muslim youth in Hashimpur, took them on trucks to a remote place, shot them in cold blood, and dumped their bodies in water canals.
16 P.A.C. constables were charge sheeted, but recording of evidence began only in July 2006, that is, more than 19 years after the incident. On 21.3.2015 all the accused, except those who had already died, were acquitted. ~

Read more » BBC report
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/multimedia/2015/03/150324_meerut_zzk

See More » Sohail Haleem’s report at BBC 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/regional/2015/03/150321_india_hashimpur_massacre_case_zz

More details » Salman Ravi report at BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/regional/2015/03/150325_hashipura_victim_accounts_mb

Canada – Student protests create tension in Montreal schools

flagCaConfrontation occurs at Concordia University after protesters barge into classroom

By CBC News

Things are heating up in university classrooms after thousands of students boycotted classes this week to protest against the provincial government.

At Concordia University, some students on strike erupted into two classrooms, yelling at some students to leave.

In a video captured by Alex Bailey, a photographer for the school newspaper The Link, some students are seen yelling “Get the f–k outta here” to one of the students who barged into the classroom.

CBC has blurred the faces of those appearing in the video.

Concordia University had cancelled classes that day — but only those belonging to faculties where students voted to strike.

In one instance, the protesters barged into a classroom where some students belonged to a faculty that voted to boycott class.

At least two students in the classroom told CBC Montreal that the classroom contained a few students who belonged to faculties that were on strike that day.

They said the altercation made the mood very tense, and the professor ultimately cancelled the class.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/student-protests-create-tension-in-montreal-schools-1.3008179

Canadians increasingly cynical about state of democracy: Hepburn

canadaVoters are losing trust in the way Canada’s democracy works.

By:

EDMONTON—In findings that should disturb every politician across the country, a series of new national surveys suggest record numbers of Canadians are fed up with the state of our democracy.

Worse for elected leaders, more and more Canadians believe that politicians, regardless of their party affiliation, don’t listen to them, don’t care about the issues that really concern them and aren’t willing to act to preserve and improve our democratic institutions and traditions.

Indeed, the surveys indicate Canadians are more cynical now than at any time in recent history about politicians and how our democracy is working.

“There is an eroding confidence in government, in our political institutions,” pollster Keith Neuman of the Environics Institute said at a conference in Edmonton last week sponsored by the Montreal-based Trudeau Foundation.

The conference — entitled “The Common Good: Who Decides?” — attracted 350 participants, including politicians, government bureaucrats, academics and public policy experts.

Neuman told the delegates that growing numbers of Canadians are disillusioned with elected officials and have now turned to supporting grassroots citizen actions, such as the last fall’s Occupy Movement, the B.C. referendum on the HST and this summer’s Quebec student protests, as a way to make their voices heard.

On the eve of the conference, the Trudeau Foundation released a survey by the Environics Institute that indicated Canadians are placing less confidence in the ability of politicians to solve the country’s problems and balance competing interests when there are big differences on key issues.

Importantly, almost as many people (39 per cent) said they place greater faith in citizens taking grassroots actions through protests and other means as the best way to get action as those who said they still have confidence in politicians (45 per cent) to settle issues with competing interests.

Another survey released two weeks earlier by the Environics Institute found “clear evidence” of a decline in approval of political institutions since a similar poll in 2006.

The AmericasBarometer, which examined public opinion relating to democracy in Canada and 25 other countries in North and South America, indicated trust in Parliament and our politicians is at abysmally low levels.

Only 17 per cent of Canadians trust Parliament and only 10 per cent trust political parties.

A third poll, which is to be released on Dec. 3 by Samara, a non-profit group devoted to promoting citizen engagement, is expected to reinforce the view that the level of Canadians’ satisfaction with our democracy and in particular with our elected politicians is in free fall.

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Tahira Mazhar Ali’s death a profound loss to many

By XARI JALIL

LAHORE: Veteran leader of the left movement, Tahira Mazhar Ali, passed away on Monday. Though she had been unwell for some time, her death has been met with a profound sense of loss by those who knew her.

Born in Lahore in a prominent family, Tahira’s father was Sir Sikander Hayat Khan, the prime minister of united Punjab from 1937 to 1942, while her maternal grandfather was Nawab Muzaffar Ali Khan, a prominent landlord of Punjab. She studied at Queen Mary School in Lahore and later married Mazhar Ali Khan at the age of 16. Marrying a student leader may have been a turning point in her life and her political life began after marriage.

Being born in an affluent family did not deter her from struggling for the rights of the marginalised. She carried on her activism for labour and women’s rights for over 60 years.

It was Tahira who for the first time in Pakistan observed the International Women’s Day publicly, where it was openly demanded that women be given their equal status and their rights be established. When it came to fighting for human rights, Tahira was unbending and her marked resistance made her a threat to the establishment.

In 1950, the Democratic Women’s Association (DWA) was formed and led by Tahira. It is considered the country’s first women’s rights organisation that ran with the support of the Communist Party, something that Tahira was proud of, often comparing it to internationally run organisations today. Other members of the DWA included Hajra Masood, Khadija Omar, Amatul Rehman and Alys Faiz. Its work was based in the grassroots in small neighbourhoods and involved mobilisation of women and workers.

It is because of her work in this regard that Tahira is seen as one of the greatest women of the subcontinent. Those who knew her well recall her active role in protests and rallies.

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Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

The teaching of Chinese would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years.

The teaching of Chinese (Mandarien) would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years.

KARACHI: The Sindh education department on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese education department of Sichuan province of China for their cooperation in teaching the Chinese language in schools of Sindh.

The ceremony was held in the committee room of the Sindh Assembly and the MoU was signed by Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechucho and Liu Dong, vice director general of the education department of China. Sindh Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Consul General of China Ma Yaou and other officials also attended the ceremony.

According to the MoU, the teaching of Chinese would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years. Students learning the language will get extra marks, scholarships and foreign visit opportunities for education and skills training in China for those students who would pass Chinese as a subject till matriculation and higher classes.

Take a look: Sindh to teach Chinese language in schools from 2013

Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said that making the teaching of Chinese compulsory was aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in Pakistan as “we have over the years maintained long-lasting culture and economic relations in China”.

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NASA is Developing an Electric Powered Plane

e-planeNASA to test insane 18-motor electric plane concept

By

NASA is quietly working on an ambitious plan to help a “significant portion” of the aircraft industry transition to electric propulsion within the next decade. It’s a noble—and challenging—endeavor that has the potential to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Now, the Agency has begun testing an electric plane concept that uses Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech). It could transform aviation, but on the face of it, it’s really rather peculiar.

Read more: http://inhabitat.com/nasa-to-test-insane-18-motor-electric-plane-concept/

TD Bank trims outlook for Canadian economy

flagCaTD Bank trims first-quarter outlook for Canadian economy

By The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Growth in the Canadian economy will be slower than expected in the first quarter as low oil prices take their toll, but it will pick up in the second half of the year, TD Bank predicts.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the first quarter on Tuesday to an annual pace of 0.5 per cent compared with TD’s January estimate of 1.0 per cent growth for the first quarter.

The forecast falls well short of the 1.5 per cent pace that the Bank of Canada has predicted for the first quarter.

Read more » CTV News
See more » http://www.ctvnews.ca/business/td-bank-trims-first-quarter-outlook-for-canadian-economy-1.2294473

How China used more cement in 3 years than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century

chinaBy Ana Swanson

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century.

It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively.

Read more » The Washington Post
See more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/24/how-china-used-more-cement-in-3-years-than-the-u-s-did-in-the-entire-20th-century/

Rewriting the Pakistani script

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

A few words about the parade…why must the accompanying commentary be so hysterical? I put on the TV at about a few minutes to eleven but the commentary, male and female, was just too much, going on and on without a moment’s rest, much too loud and indeed deadlier than any of the weaponry marching past. If the military can’t be made to learn the uses of brevity what hope for the rest of the nation? Thanks to the commentary, two minutes of the parade was all I could stand. There was also the charismatic visage of the president. On this subject what more is there to say?
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Toronto becomes first renminbi (Yuan) trading hub in North America

moneycountDirect exchange hub could smooth way for businessess doing deals in China

By Pete Evans, CBC News

After stock markets closed on Monday, Toronto became the first trading hub in North America for China’s currency, known as the renminbi or yuan.

Chinese government dignitaries, Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver and his Ontario compatriot Charles Sousa attended a ceremony in Toronto Monday evening to formally announce the first conversion from yuan to Canadian dollars.

The announcement makes Toronto the first such trading hub in the Americas that has permission to be a clearinghouse for Chinese renminbi (which means “people’s money” in Chinese). There are currently only a handful of such hubs outside China, including Paris, London, Moscow, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney, Australia.

In practical terms, such hubs make it easier to do business with China because without one, Chinese money has to first be converted into a currency like the U.S. dollar before being again converted into loonies to make investments here, or even pay for supplies.

“What the hub does is it provides the potential to get a good price,” says David Watt, the chief economist of HSBC. “It sets up a way for Canadian businesses to call their local banker and say “we’ve got a deal to import Chinese material and we’d like to pay for it in RMB not U.S. dollars.”

The hub eventually will allow people on both sides to take out that middle man and convert renminbi directly into Canadian dollars and vice versa. “It should give Canadian businesses the confidence to increase trade.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/toronto-becomes-first-renminbi-trading-hub-in-north-america-1.3005726

Electric car buyers get $5K rebate under new B.C. government incentive

e-carProvincial government is introducing new rebate program for clean energy vehicles

People who buy a clean energy vehicle — including some electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — after April 1, 2015 will be eligible for a rebate of up to $6,000, the B.C. government announced Monday.

The incentive program will provide B.C. residents with up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price for new battery electric, fuel-cell electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, said a release from the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia.

The announcement expands on a rebate program that expired last year, and comes one week after Scrap-It, a non-profit society, offered British Columbians a $3,250 rebate to trade in old vehicles for electric cars.

“With transportation representing 37 per cent of total provincial greenhouse gas emissions, clean energy vehicles are essential to reducing emissions and maintaining healthy air quality,” B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a government release.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/electric-car-buyers-get-5k-rebate-under-new-b-c-government-incentive-1.3005979

Pakistan holds first Republic Day parade in seven years

Come on Malala, and see the new Pakistan. This is not the one, you were left.

Come on Malala, and see the new Pakistan. This is not the one, you had left.

By DAWN.COM

ISLAMABAD: The highly-anticipated joint military parade by the armed forces of Pakistan took place today in Islamabad after a gap of seven years, to commemorate the historic Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 – a day which marks the the birth of a separate state for Muslims. Personnel from all three services, Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force, are participating in the parade.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1171371/pakistan-holds-first-republic-day-parade-in-seven-years

If We Don’t Overturn Citizens United, the Congress Will Become Paid Employees of the Billionaire Class

Sen. Bernie SandersBy 

I recently introduced an amendment at the Senate Budget Committee. It was pretty simple. It asked my Senate colleagues to begin the process of overturning the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, and to bring transparency and disclosure to the political process. The link to that debate on the amendment is here.

Here’s what I asked my Senate colleagues to consider:

Are we comfortable with an American political system which is being dominated by a handful of billionaires?

Are we a nation that prides ourselves on one-person, one-vote, or do we tell ordinary Americans you’ve got one vote but the Koch brothers can spend hundreds of millions of dollars?

Do we want a political system in which a handful of billionaires can buy members of the United States Congress?

Who are those members of Congress elected with the help of billionaires going to be representing? Do you think they’re going to be representing the middle class and working families?

The answers seem clear to me. Unless the campaign financing system is reformed, the U.S. Congress will become paid employees of the people who pay for their campaigns — the billionaire class. Needless to say, not everyone on the Committee agreed.

It was an interesting and informative debate. Not one Republican supported the amendment and it lost by a 12-10 vote. I intend to offer it again this week on the floor of the Senate.

Read more » The Huffington Post
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ee more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/sanders-to-senate-if-we-dont-overturn-citizens-united-the-congress-will-become-paid-employees-of-the-billionaire-class_b_6918468.html

Lahore Resolution and the status of constituent units

Pak3A distinct negation of the letter and spirit of the 1940 Resolution occurred when, in 1949, the Objectives Resolution was passed, which usurped the sovereignty of the constituent units in the name of God

By Abdul Khalique Junejo, Karachi

Today, March 23, is the most sacred day of Pakistan’s calendar. It owes this position to the 1940 Lahore Resolution, revered as the Pakistan Resolution, and the day is celebrated as Pakistan Day. It follows that the 1940 Resolution should be the guiding force for our state structure, and all subsequent resolutions, agreements, contracts and covenants should be subordinate to it. Owing to its importance, the framing, formulation and subsequent interpretations and explanations of this document attract heated debate. So should it, being the founding charter of the emergent state. As Mr Jinnah, while writing to Gandhi, said, “The word Pakistan has now become synonymous with the Lahore Resolution.” However, the question of the status and role of the constituent units has found very little attention in this discourse despite the fact that decentralisation and autonomy were the basic points of the Muslim League constitutional package before partition. The most important part of the Resolution says, “The areas in which Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”

Historical facts demonstrate that since its creation the state of Pakistan has traversed a direction opposite to the one envisaged by the Lahore Resolution. On the very day Mr Jinnah made that historic speech in the constituent assembly, i.e. August 11, 1947, the Balochistan (read Kalat) Assembly, alleging its sovereignty, declared Balochistan an independent state, but after seven months Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan. Similarly, against the unanimous resolution of the Sindh Assembly, its capital Karachi, which Sindh happily agreed should be Pakistan’s capital, was arbitrarily snatched from the province. A distinct negation of the letter and spirit of the 1940 Resolution occurred when, in 1949, the Objectives Resolution was passed, which usurped the sovereignty of the constituent units in the name of God. The Objectives Resolution says: “Sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan, through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him, is a sacred trust.” In reality this was a ploy on the part of our politicians to seize state power, and proved to be a ready recipe for dictators (including Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf) who used it to claim that, ‘since sovereignty lies with God and since He has chosen me so I have a divine right to rule over you’. General Zia used it for Islamisation, while General Pervez Mushraf used it for ‘de-Islamisation’.

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Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Photo credits:(Morris Mac Matzen / Courtesy Reuters)

Photo credits:(Morris Mac Matzen / Courtesy Reuters)

by Martin Ford 

What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? We might imagine—and hope—that today’s industrial revolution will unfold like the last: even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new innovations of a new era. In Rise of the Robots, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries—education and health care—that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.

Rise of the Robots presents one idea, the basic income model, with clarity & force.

In Rise of the Robots, Ford details what machine intelligence and robotics can accomplish, and implores employers, scholars, and policy makers alike to face the implications. The past solutions to technological disruption, especially more training and education, aren’t going to work, and we must decide, now, whether the future will see broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity. Rise of the Robots is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what accelerating technology means for their own economic prospects—not to mention those of their children—as well as for society

Read more » Amazon
See more » http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Robots-Technology-Threat-Jobless/dp/0465059996

WordPress temporarily blocked in Pakistan

WordPress.com is temporarily cloked in Pakistan. STOCK IMAGE

WordPress.com is temporarily cloked in Pakistan. STOCK IMAGE

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has temporarily blocked WordPress.com in Pakistan.

According to reports, PTA has asked all Internet Service Providers in Pakistan to block the site. WordPress.com, a blog hosting platform that hosts millions of blogs, is currently inaccessible on all major ISPs in the country.

It is still unclear why the site has been blocked.

ProPakistani.pk, quoting an unnamed source at PTA, has claimed that WordPress.com is blocked due to issues related to national security. It further said that the content which has caused the blockade of the site cannot be revealed due to sensitivity of the issue.

A recent study released by Freedom House in December last year noted that increasing attempts by the government to curb access to content online while seeking introduction of laws that limit civil liberties online, has landed Pakistan among the 10 worst countries for net freedom.

News courtesy: The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/857401/wordpress-temporarily-blocked-in-pakistan/

Solar Power Comes of Age – How Harnessing the Sun Got Cheap and Practical

Solar energyBy Dickon Pinner and Matt Rogers

Solar power has been declared a winner before, only to flounder. It’s easy to remain skeptical today, given that solar power accounts for less than one percent of the global energy supply. But it is also expanding faster than any other power source, with an average growth rate of 50 percent a year for the past six years. Annual installations of photovoltaic panels increased from a capacity of less than 0.3 gigawatts in 2000 to 45 gigawatts in 2014—enough to power more than 7.4 million American homes. This time really is different: solar power is ready to compete on its own terms.

The momentum behind solar power is a result of innovations in regulation, industry, technology, and financing. In a number of markets, it no longer needs public subsidies to compete on price with conventional power sources, such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. The International Energy Agency, which has historically taken a conservative approach to evaluating solar power’s prospects, has projected that by 2050, in the best-case scenario, solar energy could be the single biggest source of power, generating as much as 27 percent of electricity worldwide.

If that happens, the consequences will be profound. Electricity will reach places that have never known what it means to get light or heat on demand. The price of electricity could fall, and utilities will have to figure out how to adapt. But the environmental gains, in terms of lower emissions of particulates, sulphur, and greenhouse gases, would be profound.

Read more » Foreign Affairs
See more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143066/dickon-pinner-and-matt-rogers/solar-power-comes-of-age

MQM Is a Mafia. They are Militant and Have Kiilled Hundreds of People. Former MQM member tells BBC

Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) member Naim Ahmed has said that MQM is involved in killing of hundreds of people. He was givinginterview to UK’s BBC Two programme ‘Newsnight.

Naim Ahmed said: “you know I cannot count but hundreds of people. They (MQM) are not peaceful party. They are militants group and they are like bunch of mafias”. When he was asked did you ever commit act of violence Naim replied: “no, it was not my job, If I like the violence why I leave the party (MQM). It’s ideal party for violence”.

“I left the party because of violence, because of militancy” said Naeed. He said that those who were killing people always said that they are directly getting order from London”.

News courtesy: Siasat.pk » BBC » DailyMotion » AwamiPolitics » ZemTv
Read more » http://www.awamipolitics.com/former-mqm-member-naim-ahmed-accuses-mqm-of-killing-people-13869.html
More » http://www.siasat.pk/forum/showthread.php?332281-MQM-Is-a-Bunch-of-Mafias-They-are-Millitant-and-Have-Killed-Hundreds-of-People-Former-MQM-MP-tells-BBC
More details » http://www.zemtv.com/2015/03/22/mqm-is-the-idol-party-for-violence-former-mqm-party-member-in/

China Deploys Army to Oppress Tibetan Festival

army3In an alarming show of force, hundreds of Chinese army troops were deployed into Tibet. Images emerging on-line from todays ‘Great Prayer Festival’ are few due to intensive censorship, yet show hundreds of troops, some combat ready and heavily armed surrounding the Buddhist Monastery in Kubum, Tibet.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/china-deploys-army-oppress-tibetan-festival/

Massive Dublin Protest with One Clear Message: Irish Water ‘We Wont Pay’

Protest in Dublin, Ireland.

Protest in Dublin, Ireland.

BY

Once again tens of thousands of people marched in Dublin.  Saturday is the latest protest against the Irish government’s attempt at imposing a second charge for water. Today is the latest affirmation of overwhelming public opposition to this austerity measure to privatize the nations water, put in place by Ireland’s coalition government.

As if the message from the people of Ireland to their government wasn’t clear in September when thousands marched on Dublin after months of small yet effective community actions to disrupt the instillation of water meters. It should have been clear in October when thousands more marched on Dublin or at least clear that the resolve of the Irish wasn’t going to change. By the time thousands marched in November and again in December maybe the Irish government thought that waiting it out over the winter and making some early morning arrests on protest organizers might slow this whole movement down.

While we don’t know what is clear to the Irish Government, one thing is very clear to us, the people of Ireland are not going to pay twice for water or have their water privatized. The chants and banners are very clear ‘We Cant Pay – We Wont Pay’.

Today’s action in Dublin has made it clear to the rest of the world once again, that Irish Water will not be privatized.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/massive-dublin-protest-with-one-clear-message-irish-water-we-wont-pay/

Muslims responsible for bringing bad name to their community: Maulana Mehmood Madani

BIJNOR (UP): Muslims themselves are responsible for bringing a bad name to the community and creating the “Islam’s image of terror”, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madani today said and called for spreading education in the community to change this.

“If Muslims for coming 20 years decide their agenda for education and pledge to educate their children even if they have to go without a meal, then those who hate Muslims will be forced to change their opinion,” he said.
Addressing a function in Kirtanpur here, he said that a section of people from the community have spoiled its image.

“We are not following the right path. It is not the enemies but a section from within the community which is responsible for creating this image of terror,” the secretary said.

Read more » The Times of India
See more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Muslims-responsible-for-bringing-bad-name-to-their-community-Maulana-Mehmood-Madani/articleshow/46645501.cms