Gilgit Baltistan court sentences MQM chief Altaf Hussain to 81 years in prison

AltafGILGIT: An anti-terrorism court in Gilgit Baltistan has sentenced Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain to a total of 81 years, including two life sentences, in prison over his controversial speeches.

Reading out the verdict in court today, judge Raja Shahbaz Khan further penalised Altaf with Rs 2.4 million fine and ordered authorities to seize all of his property.

Read more » Geo Tv
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Putin and Saudi defense minister meet in Russia, agree on common goals in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin, 3rd right, and Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, 4th left, at their meeting in Sochi, October 11, 2015. © Aleksey Nikolskyi / RIA Novosti

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s defense minister have agreed that Moscow and Riyadh should pursue common goals in Syria, including national reconciliation and combating terrorists, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said.

Putin met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman for talks on the sidelines of a Formula 1 race in Sochi on Sunday. The meeting was also attended by the foreign ministers of both states.

“The sides confirmed that Saudi Arabia and Russia have similar goals concerning Syria,” said Russian FM Sergey Lavrov following the talks. “First of all, they are to prevent a terrorist caliphate from getting the upper hand in Syria.”

Read more » RT
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Pakistan most dangerous country for the world: ex-CIA official

A photo of Pakistan army. PHOTO: AFP

A former CIA official has said Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country for the world as it is ripe with threats of terrorism, a failing economy and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal.

“While Pakistan is not the most dangerous country in the world, it is probably the most dangerous country for the world, and as such, a serious case for close and continued US engagement with Pakistan can be made,” Kevin Hulbert, a former top intelligence officer who retired in June 2014 , wrote in an op-ed in The Cipher Brief.

Read: Pakistan likely to secure civil nuclear deal with US: report

“As a country ripe with the triple threat of terrorism, a failing economy, and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, Pakistan has the potential to create more nightmare scenarios for US policymakers than any other country,” Hulbert said.

Hulbert previously served multiple overseas tours as CIA chief of station and deputy chief of station.

The CIA official went on to say, “Like it or not, Pakistan is similar to a bank or company considered too big to let fail because of the ripple effect it might cause across the entire economy.”

Read more » The Express Tribune
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Syria conflict: Russia intensifies air strikes

Russia is increasing the number of air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, its defence ministry has said.

It said on Saturday morning that it had hit 55 Islamic State (IS) group targets in Syria in the last 24 hours.

Later, US defence officials said progress had been made during talks with their Russian counterparts on avoiding accidents over Syria.

Read more » BBC
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Canada’s public service has been rendered ‘virtually impotent,’ former budget watchdog says

Former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page. – Pat McGrath / Ottawa Citizen

By Jason Fekete, Postmedia News

Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says the federal public service is “virtually impotent” and needs an “overhaul,” but adds the government’s official road map for the future of the bureaucracy will only exacerbate the “subpar leadership” that currently exists.

Page delivers a scathing critique of the federal public service in his new book, Unaccountable: Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill. In it, he also says the future of the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer is at risk because the current PBO isn’t qualified and the office lacks independence.

Shame on all of us for sticking our collective heads in the sand

The former (and first) budget watchdog, serving from 2008 to 2013, Page writes that renewal is desperately needed in the public service and that it must come from a new generation of public servants.

“The public service in Canada needs an overhaul. Normal isn’t good enough,” he says in the 209-page account. “Just as our politicians must be held accountable for their roles in leading the country, so must our public servants be held accountable as well.”

Federal bureaucrats have struggled to keep true to the values of public service, such as serving the public interest and striving to ensure that transparency in government is upheld, he argues. Public servants were not prepared for a Conservative government that emphasized ideology over evidence-based decision-making, he says.

Read more » National Post
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Stephen Hawking Says We Should Really Be Scared Of Capitalism, Not Robots

Photo credits:(Morris Mac Matzen / Courtesy Reuters)

Photo credits:(Morris Mac Matzen / Courtesy Reuters)


According to world famous physicist Stephen Hawking, the rising use of automated machines may mean the end of human rights – not just jobs. But he’s not talking about robots with artificial intelligence taking over the world, he’s talking about the current capitalist political system and its major players.

On Reddit, Hawkings said that the economic gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow as more jobs are automated by machines, and the owners of said machines hoard them to create more wealth for themselves.

Someone asked:

Have you thought about the possibility of technological unemployment, where we develop automated processes that ultimately cause large unemployment by performing jobs faster and/or cheaper than people can perform them?

In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated? Do you think people will always either find work or manufacture more work to be done?

Hawkings replied:

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

The insatiable thirst for capitalist accumulation bestowed upon humans by years of lies and terrible economic policy has affected technology in such a way that one of its major goals has become to replace human jobs.

If we do not take this warning seriously, we may face unfathomable corporate domination. If we let the same people who buy and sell our political system and resources maintain control of automated technology, then we’ll be heading towards a very harsh reality.

Courtesy: U.S. Uncut
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—- – –  – – –
More details » Huffington Post

Canada’s National Unemployment Rate Rises To 7.1% In September

jobOntario’s Unemployment Rate Little Changed At 6,9%. Unemployment Rate In Peterborough CMA Jumps To 8.0%. Employment was little changed for the fourth consecutive month in September (+12,000 or +0.1%). The unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 7.1% as more people participated in the labour market. Part-time employment rose by 74,000 in September, which was largely offset by a decline of 62,000 in full time.

Read more » Northumberland
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It’s Time for the United States to Start Worrying About a Saudi Collapse


As if there weren’t already enough problems to worry about in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia might be headed for trouble. From plummeting oil prices to foreign-policy missteps to growing tensions with Iran, a confluence of recent events is mounting to pose some serious challenges for the Saudi regime. If not properly managed, these events could eventually coalesce into a perfect storm that significantly increases the risk of instability within the kingdom, with untold consequences for global oil markets and security in the Middle East.

Here are some of the percolating problems that could throw the country off kilter.

Read more » Foreign Policy
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Driverless buses on the way

Could driverless buses replace some of our rural bus services? Photo: Alamy

Claire Perry reveals one major company has already held talks about introducing computer-controlled buses in UK

By , Transport Correspondent

Driverless buses could soon be unveiled in Britain with one major operator already in discussions about introducing the first automated services, the Government has revealed.

Claire Perry, the Transport Minister, said that operating buses without drivers could help companies provide “better and more frequent” services, particularly in rural areas.

She also revealed that work is already under way to identify any problematic “regulatory issues” which could prevent the vehicles being rolled out on roads across Britain.

Speaking at the Driverless Vehicles Conference at Thatcham on Wednesday, Mrs Perry said she could “see a future where driverless buses provide better and more frequent services”.

“A major component of rural transport is the cost of the driver – and so a truly driverless bus could transform rural public transport in the future,” she said.

“I understand that one of the country’s major bus companies is already interested in driverless buses.

Read more » The Telegraph
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Pakistani poet’s message to India – Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle

by :kamayani

As basks under the glory of unchecked hate-crimes, it is time to remember the lines of Pakistani female poet Fahmida Riaz, who warned about such scenario long ago. The video of Fahmida Riaz herself reciting this poem can be seen below:

तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले

तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले
अब तक कहां छुपे थे भाई?
वह मूरखता, वह घामड़पन
जिसमें हमने सदी गंवाई
आखिर पहुंची द्वार तुम्हारे
अरे बधाई, बहुत बधाई

भूत धरम का नाच रहा है
कायम हिन्दू राज करोगे?
सारे उल्टे काज करोगे?
अपना चमन नाराज करोगे?
तुम भी बैठे करोगे सोचा,
पूरी है वैसी तैयारी,

कौन है हिन्दू कौन नहीं है
तुम भी करोगे फतवे जारी
वहां भी मुश्किल होगा जीना
दांतो आ जाएगा पसीना
जैसे-तैसे कटा करेगी

वहां भी सबकी सांस घुटेगी
माथे पर सिंदूर की रेखा
कुछ भी नहीं पड़ोस से सीखा!
क्या हमने दुर्दशा बनायी
कुछ भी तुमको नज़र न आयी?

भाड़ में जाये शिक्षा-विक्षा,
अब जाहिलपन के गुन गाना,
आगे गड्ढा है यह मत देखो
वापस लाओ गया जमाना

हम जिन पर रोया करते थे
तुम ने भी वह बात अब की है
बहुत मलाल है हमको, लेकिन
हा हा हा हा हो हो ही ही
कल दुख से सोचा करती थी

सोच के बहुत हँसी आज आयी
तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले
हम दो कौम नहीं थे भाई
मश्क करो तुम, आ जाएगा
उल्टे पांवों चलते जाना,
दूजा ध्यान न मन में आए

बस पीछे ही नज़र जमाना
एक जाप-सा करते जाओ,
बारम्बार यह ही दोहराओ
कितना वीर महान था भारत!
कैसा आलीशान था भारत!

फिर तुम लोग पहुंच जाओगे
बस परलोक पहुंच जाओगे!
हम तो हैं पहले से वहां पर,
तुम भी समय निकालते रहना,
अब जिस नरक में जाओ, वहां से
चिट्ठी-विट्ठी डालते रहना!

English translation by Shabana Mir:

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Gulf Arabs ‘stepping up’ arms supplies to Syrian rebels

Russia brands all rebels opposing the Assad government as terrorists

Saudi Arabia is responding to the recent Russian air strikes on Syrian rebels by stepping up its supplies of lethal weaponry to three different rebel groups, a Saudi government official has told the BBC.

The well-placed official, who asked not to be named, said supplies of modern, high-powered weaponry including guided anti-tank weapons would be increased to the Arab- and western-backed rebel groups fighting the forces of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.

He said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organisations. Instead, he said the weapons would go to three rebel alliances – Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern Front.

The official added that Qatar and Turkey have been instrumental in maintaining Saudi support for Sunni rebels fighting both Assad’s forces and, at times, the extremists of IS. Russia brands as terrorists all rebels opposing its ally, President Assad, including those trained by the US.

The Saudi official did not rule out supplying surface-to-air missiles to the rebels, a move resisted by many in the West for fear that they would fall into the hands of IS and end up being used to shoot down warplanes of the US-led Coalition or even civilian airliners.

Read more » BBC
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India woman’s arm ‘cut off by employer’ in Saudi Arabia

saudiIndia’s foreign ministry has complained to the Saudi Arabian authorities following an alleged “brutal” attack on a 58-year-old Indian woman in Riyadh.

Kasturi Munirathinam’s right arm was chopped off, allegedly by her employer, when she tried to escape from their house last week, reports say.

Ms Munirathinam was working as a domestic help. She is recovering in hospital.

Her family has alleged that she was being tortured by her Saudi employers.

Read more » BBC
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Israeli-Palestinian violence spreads

Friday has been the deadliest day between Israel and the Palestinians for some time

Fresh violence between Palestinians and Israelis has seen six Palestinians shot dead in Gaza, reports say, and a fresh spate of stabbings.

Israel said its troops fired over the Gaza border after coming under attack.

Earlier, police said there had been the first apparent revenge stabbing attack by an Israeli on Arabs.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have recently soared amid a rash of attacks and confrontations between Palestinians and troops.

Read more » BBC
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Big rise in German attacks on migrant homes in 2015

The German government says there have been almost 500 attacks on homes intended for asylum seekers this year – three times more than in 2014.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called such violence “shameful”. Two-thirds of the attacks were carried out by locals who had no previous criminal record, he said.

Read more » BBC
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Dalit Woman Stripped Naked And Force Fed With Urine In Madhya Pradesh

The shocking incident allegedly took place at village Mudwara under Nowgong police station of Chattarpur district on 24th August. A 45-year old Dalit woman had been granted a “patta”of a piece of government land a few months ago. The piece earlier belonged to Vijay Yadav. He was angered and started harassing her.
The victim alleged that on 24th August, Yadav had let his cattle in her field to damage the crops. When she went to his home to complain, Yadav’s wife Vimla beat her with lathis. After some time, Yadav joined them, stripped the victim and also forced her to drink his urine. Moreover, she was threatened that worse treatment would be meted out to her if she dared to register a complaint with the police.

Read more » The Logical Indian
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Yellow Pages to cut 300 jobs in corporate ‘realignment’


Yellow Pages Ltd. is cutting 300 jobs by November in a corporate “realignment” designed to make the company leaner and free up dollars to invest in its digital ventures as it continues to move away from print directories.

The company announced the layoffs, which represent about 10 per cent of its work force, on Thursday, and said they will “principally affect management positions that have been integrated within other functions or that are no longer aligned with the company’s digital operations.”

Read more » The Globe and Mail
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Robert Reich on Why Capitalism Needs Saving

Robert Reich’s new book, “Saving Capitalism,” is in stores now. Steve Russell/Toronto Star

“The real issue is whether capitalism is organized for the benefit of the society as a whole or for the benefit of a small group,” says Reich


Economic inequality is shaping up to be one of the central debates of the 2016 election: Those on the left – most notably Bernie Sanders – decry the increasing wealth and power of those at the very top of the economy, while others are left behind. Those on the right respond that this upswing in inequality, however regrettable it might be, is the natural result of free markets.
Few have looked at this issue as closely as political economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. In his new book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, he tackles this obsession with free markets. He argues that there is no such thing as a free market, and that the basic rules of capitalism – laws surrounding property, monopoly, contract, bankruptcy and enforcement – are really driving inequality.

See more » Rolling Stone
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The U.S. cannot afford to forget Afghanistan and Pakistan

File photo: Photo credits - Social media

File photo: Photo credits – Social media

Opinion writer

Last weekend’s deadly attack on an international hospital in Afghanistan was a reminder of the terrible war that grinds on there, with Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire.

Doctors Without Borders, a globally respected group, has charged that the deaths of 22 patients and staff members at its hospital in Kunduz was a “war crime.” The United States has promised to investigate what Gen. John Campbell, the NATO commander in Kabul, says was a mistake.

The hospital bombing comes as the United States is quietly exploring some diplomatic options that could reduce the violence in Afghanistan — and perhaps even curb the danger of a nuclear Pakistan next door. As with most diplomacy in South Asia, these prospects are “iffy,” at best. But they open a window on what’s happening in a part of the world that, except for disasters such as the Kunduz incident, gets little attention these days.

The United States recognized more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and its sometime sponsors in Pakistan. State Department officials have been conducting secret peace talks, on and off, since 2011. That effort hasn’t borne fruit yet, as the Taliban’s recent offensive in Kunduz shows.

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Canada now dominates World Bank corruption list, thanks to SNC-Lavalin

By Armina LigayaMore from Armina Ligaya | @arminaligaya

Canada’s corporate image isn’t looking so squeaky-clean in the World Bank’s books — all thanks to SNC-Lavalin.

Out of the more than 250 companies year to date on the World Bank’s running list of firms blacklistedfrom bidding on its global projects under its fraud and corruption policy, 117 are from Canada — with SNC-Lavalin and its affiliates representing 115 of those entries, the World Bank said.

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— – – – –

More »» World Bank Listing of Ineligible Firms & Individuals » Fraud and Corruption


Body-worn cameras’ for Delhi Police

Delhi – Post the incident of a constable hitting a woman with a brick, the Delhi Traffic police have decided to order ‘body-worn camera’ and ‘vehicle-mounted camera’ to record every action when a vehicle is flagged down.

The traffic police, who was captured on camera beating the woman on Monday after they got into an argument about her jumping a red light, has been arrested and sacked.

“Traffic police is planning to implant body cameras on the uniforms of its personnel. The cameras would record the audio and video of the entire conversation when a vehicle is flagged down,” Muktesh Chander, Special Commissioner (Traffic), said.

The idea is to monitor complaints of unprofessional behaviour of both offenders and officials.

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China to build four submarines in Karachi, Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: China will build in Karachi four of eight submarines that it is selling to Pakistan.

Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain told at the inauguration of the Defence Export Promotion Organisation (DEPO) Display Centre in the federal capital that the deal for acquisition of submarines from China had been finalised and four of them would be built here.

He further said that construction of the submarines would simultaneously begin in Pakistan and China.

China, he said, would transfer the technology to Pakistan for submarine construction.

Read more » DAWN
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Pakistan – Supreme Court maintains Mumtaz Qadri’s death penalty, says he is a terrorist

Supreme Court of Pakistan

Supreme Court of Pakistan

SC maintains Mumtaz Qadri’s death penalty, says he is a terrorist


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday maintained the conviction of Mumtaz Qadri — the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer — by an Anti Terrorism Court.

The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) March 9 verdict which had rejected Qadri’s application against his death sentence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) but accepted his application to void the Anti Terrorism Act’s (ATA) Section 7,was overturned by the court.

Read more » DAWN
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India may order 4 more French Scorpene Submarines for its Navy

France may get further orders to supply conventional submarines, in order to meet the Indian Navy’s critical requirement of underwater capability.

NEW DELHI: France may get further orders to supply conventional submarines, in order to meet the Indian Navy’s critical requirement of underwater capability. According to sources in South Block, the French firm DCNS, which is already building six Scorpene submarines in partnership with Mumbai-based Mazagaon Dock Limited, is likely to get a follow-on order for more such submarines. The Indian Navy has been struggling to maintain its depleting submarine fleet, especially after a spate of accidents last year.

India’s submarine strength is now officially down to 15, which includes nine Kilo class (EKMs), four German-designed HDWs (SSKs) and one Akula class nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) on lease from Russia (since 2012) and the INS Arihant, the country’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, which is undergoing various levels of sea trials.

Read more » Defence News
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Syria and The New World Disorder

The New World Disorder


On October 20, 2011, the day that Libyan rebel fighters found Colonel Muammar Qaddafi hiding in a desert culvert, hauled him out, and killed him, President Barack Obama called a press conference in the Rose Garden, and announced that we had “achieved our objectives.” (Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, put it more archly, telling a reporter, “We came, we saw, he died.”) The previous spring, when the United States had decided to join in the NATO air strikes against Libya, the White House said that regime change was not the objective, and that persuaded Russia not to veto a Security Council mandate authorizing action to protect Libyans from their ruler “by all necessary measures.” Russia was furious about NATO’s mission creep, but Obama said, “Faced with the potential of mass atrocities, and a call from the Libyan people, the United States and our friends and allies stopped Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.” Now, he said, America’s part was done and the Libyans were free to establish full democracy. The President added, “This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world. We’ve taken out Al Qaeda leaders, and we’ve put them on the path to defeat. We’re winding down the war in Iraq, and have begun a transition in Afghanistan.”

Four years later, Libya is a battle-worn wasteland, a bitter outcome;

Read more » The New Yorker
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Who is next in line? Afghanistan wants Russia’s help too

taliban_gunmenby TV Zvezda

Translated by Kristina Rus

Kabul needs Russian help in the fight against terrorist group “Islamic state”. This was announced by the first Vice-President of Afghanistan General Abdul Rashid Dostum following the meeting with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov.

“Dostum said that ISIS is trying to make its foothold in Afghanistan. To prevent this threat Kabul needs Russian support, as in Syria. We are confident that the Russian leadership will make a positive decision in this matter,” — wrote Kadyrov on his social network page.

He also said that economic, trade and cultural cooperation was discussed at the meeting.

On September 30th, Russian air force at the request of the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad began an air operation with the application of point strikes on ISIS positions.

Read more: Fort Russ
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Syrian rebel groups call for unity, attacks on Russia

A group of 41 Syrian rebel factions have called for their forces to unite against the Assad regime and its backers, Iran and Russia. Meanwhile, the Syria Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi clerics have issued calls for jihad.

The group of 41 rebel factions, including the powerful Islamist groups Ahrar al-Sham, Islam Army and the Levant Front said Russia and Iran were occupying forces and should be attacked.

“All Syrian armed revolutionary factions must realize we are in a war to push an aggressor, a war that makes unifying ranks and word a duty on all brothers,” the factions said a statement. “Any occupation force to our beloved country is a legitimate target.”

The statement of unity from an otherwise fractured Syrian opposition comes as Russia continues to bomb what it says are targets belonging to “Islamic State” group and al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, al-Nusra. On Monday, the Russian defense ministry said its planes hit nine “Islamic State” targets in the past twenty-four hours.

Russian airstrikes have also reportedly hit Ahrar al-Sham and other groups dubbed by Moscow and Syria as terrorist organizations.

Read more » DW
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Canada’s auto industry could lose 20,000 jobs because of ‘disastrous’ TPP trade deal, union says

flagCaBy Kristine OwramMore from Kristine Owram | @KristineOwram

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could have major ramifications for Canada’s already struggling auto industry, resulting in cheaper vehicles for consumers, but a more competitive landscape for Canadian manufacturers.

Learn more »

After announcing 2,900 job cuts, Air France bosses fled a violent crowd of employees

Xavier Broseta, the airline’s human resources director, being helped over a fence by security and police officers.(AFP via Getty/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Air France executives were run out of their own meeting today (Oct. 5), by employees protesting at the airline’s headquarters at Charles de Gaulle airport, just outside Paris. The meeting had been called to discuss nearly 3,000 job cuts—the airline’s first outright firings since the early 1990s.

To reach profitability goals, Air France plans to fire hundreds of flight attendants, cockpit crew, and ground staff; it will also reduce the number of aircraft it flies and shut down some routes. Such measures did not come today as a surprise—the news emerged several days ago, after negotiations to reduce costs by asking pilots to work longer hours for less pay failed. Air France ground staff had planned a two-hour strike at Charles de Gaulle today.

Who’s fired? We’ll set your pants on fire! — Escape complete.(AP/Jacques Brinon)

The strike became a siege on the room where airline managers were delivering a briefing on the cost-cutting measures. (Perhaps such action should have been expected, however, considering the recent history of angry employees “bossnapping” in France.) The resulting scene ended with Xavier Broseta, Air France’s human resources director, half-naked and jumping a fence to escape the mob. Video and photos below.

Read more » Quartz
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Indian Air Force (IAF) capable of cross-border strikes: Raha

by Dailyexcelsior

NEW DELHI, Oct 3: Sending a strong signal across the border, Indian Air Force chief Arup Raha today said his force was fully capable of carrying out cross border surgical operation against terrorists’ camps, should the political leadership decide to do so.
Addressing an annual press conference ahead of the Air Force Day, the Air Chief said the decision to undertake such actions shall have to be taken by the political leadership.
To a question whether the IAF is capable of carrying out surgical operations on the terror camps operating in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), similar to one the Indian Army undertook inside Myanmar to demolish Naga insurgents’ camps, Air Chief Marshal Raha answered in positive.
“You want to ask about our capability. Yes, we have the capability but the intent would be of the Government,” he said.
The IAF chief hint at swift operations follows comments by Army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag, who had talked about “swift and short” wars in future, which attracted a sharp reaction from his Pakistani counterpart Gen Rahil Sharif.
The Air Chief Marshal talked about capability building time and again during his hour-long news conference. Asked about the two-front war scenario, involving both Pakistan and China, he avoided a direct response, saying that the nation’s preparedness was not against anyone but the focus is to create a deterrent capability. (UNI)

Courtesy: Daily Excelsior
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The ‘moderates’ have disappeared — there are no good guys and bad guys in the Syrian war

An image from the Russian Defense Ministry website show an airstrike in in Syria


The Russian air force in Syria has flown straight into the West’s fantasy air space. The Russians, we are now informed, are bombing the “moderates” in Syria – “moderates” whom even the Americans admitted two months ago, no longer existed.

It’s rather like the ISIS (the self-styled Islamic State) fighters who left Europe to fight for the “Caliphate”. Remember them? Scarcely two months ago, our political leaders – and leader writers – were warning us all of the enormous danger posed by “home-grown” Islamists who were leaving Britain and other European countries and America to fight for the monsters of ISIS.

Then the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees began trekking up the Balkans towards Europe after risking death in the Mediterranean – and we were all told by the same political leaders to be fearful that ISIS killers were among them.

It’s amazing how European Muslim fighters fly to Turkey to join Isis, and a few weeks later, they’re drowning in leaky boats or tramping back again and taking trains from Hungary to Germany. But if this nonsense was true, where did they get the time for all the terrorist training they need in order to attack us when they get back to Europe?

It is possible, of course, that this was mere story-telling. By contrast, the chorus of horror that has accompanied Russia’s cruel air strikes this past week has gone beyond sanity.

Let’s start with a reality check. The Russian military are killers who go for the jugular. They slaughtered the innocent of Chechnya to crush the Islamist uprising there, and they will cut down the innocent of Syria as they try to crush a new army of Islamists and save the ruthless regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian army, some of whose members are war criminals, have struggled ferociously to preserve the state – and used barrel bombs to do it. They have also fought to the death.

“American officials” – those creatures beloved of The New York Times – claim that the Syrian army does not fight Isis. If true, who on earth killed the 56,000 Syrian soldiers – the statistic an official secret, but nonetheless true – who have so far died in the Syrian war? The preposterous Free Syrian Army (FSA)?

This rubbish has reached its crescendo in the on-again off-again saga of the Syrian “moderates”. These men were originally military defectors to the FSA, which America and European countries regarded as a possible pro-Western force to be used against the Syrian government army. But the FSA fell to pieces, corrupted, and the “moderates” defected all over again, this time to the Islamist Nusrah Front or to Isis, selling their American-supplied weapons to the highest bidder or merely retiring quietly – and wisely – to the countryside where they maintained a few scattered checkpoints.

Washington admitted their disappearance, bemoaned their fate, concluded thatnew “moderates” were required, persuaded the CIA to arm and train 70 fighters, and this summer packed them off across the Turkish border to fight – whereupon all but 10 were captured by Nusrah and at least two of them were executed by their captors. Just two weeks ago, I heard in person one of the most senior ex-US officers in Iraq – David Petraeus’s former No. 2 in Baghdad – announce that the “moderates” had collapsed long ago. Now you see them – now you don’t.

But within hours of Russia’s air assaults last weekend, Washington, The New York Times, CNN, the poor old BBC and just about every newspaper in the Western world resurrected these ghosts and told us that the Ruskies werebombing the brave “moderates” fighting Bashar’s army in Syria – the very “moderates” who, according to the same storyline from the very same sources a few weeks earlier, no longer existed. Our finest commentators and experts –always a dodgy phrase – joined in the same chorus line.

So now a few harsh factoids. The Syrian army are drawing up the operational target lists for the Russian air force. But Vladimir Putin has his own enemies in Syria.

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General (retd) Zaheerul Islam: The shadow warrior

By Herald

There were rumours in the air. During the 126-day-long dharna by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PMLN), there were murmurs of a coup d’état. Other than General Shuja Pasha, the former intelligence officer who is known to be a close friend and supporter of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the other name that was repeatedly brought up was that of Zaheerul Islam, the then director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Allegedly, the two were conspiring to create a rift between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. In the past, the premier had acted against generals whom he had differences with. It was expected that he would again act in a similar manner, under the presumption that the dharna had the general’s backing. But the events did not play out as expected. Not exactly.

It was Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif who first stated that the two were behind the political unrest that prevailed last year. Specifically, the minister said, Islam had a “personal grievance” with the ruling party for siding with a particular media house. Asif was subsequently sidelined and snubbed at a dinner with army generals and quickly made to learn a central lesson.

Not everyone took from his experience. In an interview with the BBC in August 2015, Senator Mushahidullah Khan claimed that an audio tape obtained by the Intelligence Bureau was played during a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif last year, in which Islam could be heard giving instructions to raid the prime minister’s office. According to the senator, when questioned by General Raheel Sharif, Islam confirmed that the voice was his own.

Khan later clarified that he himself had not heard the tape. Never mind the fact that he kept referring to the ex-ISI Chief as Zahirul Islam Abbasi – the major general who had plotted to overthrow the Benazir Bhutto government in 1995, and who died six years ago – the damage had been done.

Appointed on the recommendation of then President Asif Ali Zardari in March 2012, Islam became the 18th director general of the ISI. He has remained mostly out of the spotlight and yet, he manages to cast a shadow over many major events in the last few years. The most significant of them was when a private television channel ran photographs of Islam alongside allegations by journalist Hamid Mir’s brother stating that firing on the prime-time anchorperson was the handiwork of the intelligence agencies.

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Indian filmmaker takes a fancy to Harappa’s gypsy girl

Shumita Didi Sandhu is making a documentary inspired by the marriage of a gypsy girl she befriended in Pakistan


Shumita Didi Sandhu, an independent filmmaker from India, was visiting Harappa when she met a Pakhiwasi girl, Riffat, near the archaeological site and developed a personal relationship with her.

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