China plans huge solar power station in space

By PTI 

BEIJING: China plans to build a huge solar power station 36,000km above the ground in an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve energy crisis, much on the lines of an idea first floated in 1941 by fiction writer Isaac Asimov, state media reported on Monday.

If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station, and be the largest-ever space project.

The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth, staterun Xinhua news agency reported.

In 1941, American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov had published a short story “Reason”, in which a space station transmits energy collected from the sun using microwave beams.

Wang Xiji, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an International Academy of Astronautics member, says Asimov’s fiction has a scientific basis.

After devoting over 50 years to space technology research, Wang, 93, is an advocate for the station: “An economically viable space power station would be really huge, with the total area of the so lar panels reaching 5 to 6 sq km.”

That would be equivalent to 12 of Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world.”Maybe people on Earth could see at night, like a star,” says Wang.

Wang says the electricity generated from the ground-based solar plants fluctuates with night and day and weather, but a space generator collects energy 99% of the time.Space-based solar panels can generate ten times as much electricity as ground-based panels per unit area, says Duan Baoyan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.”If we have space solar power technology”, hopefully we could solve the energy crisis on Earth,” Duan said. Wang says whoever obtains the technology first “could occupy the future energy market.” However, many hurdles lie ahead: A commercially viable space power station would weigh 10,000 tons. But few rockets can carry a payload of over 100 tons to low Earth orbit. “We need a cheap heavy-lift launchvehicle,” says Wang, who designed China’s first carrier rocket more than 40 years ago. “We also need to make very thin and light solar panels.”

Continue reading China plans huge solar power station in space

Indus re-enters India after two centuries

Indus re-enters India after two centuries, feeds Little Rann, Nal Sarovar

By D. P. Bhattacharya

The Indus or Sindhu, a major river flowing through Pakistan around which the great Indus Valley Civilisation flourished, may have shifted course after an earthquake in 1819, but recent satellite images show the river has re-entered India feeding a lake near Ahmedabad known as Nal Sarovar.

The discovery has been made by Rohan Thakkar, a postgraduate student of climate change working on the water bodies of Gujarat.

The development will hugely benefit the water-starved Kutch region as well as the Bhal region adjoining Ahmedabad district.

Speaking to Mail Today, Rohan said he spoke to his father about it after detecting that water from a river in Pakistan was flowing into the Rann of Kutch. Further examination of the satellite images showed the water was flowing from the Indus.

Rohan’s father Dr P. S. Thakkar, who is a satellite archaeologist with the Indian Space Research Organisation, said the river started flowing into India last year when the Indus river basin was heavily flooded. “Heavy rains had left the river basin along with the Mancher, Hemal and Kalri lakes inundated and people breached several canal heads,” Thakkar said.

Continue reading Indus re-enters India after two centuries

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

Who killed Forty-two citizens in Hashimpura, Meerut.

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

Canadians increasingly cynical about state of democracy: Hepburn

Voters 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.

Continue reading Canadians increasingly cynical about state of democracy: Hepburn

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.

Continue reading Tahira Mazhar Ali’s death a profound loss to many

Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

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”.

Continue reading Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

NASA 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/

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

By 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?
Continue reading Rewriting the Pakistani script

Toronto becomes first renminbi (Yuan) trading hub in North America

Direct 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

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

By 

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
S
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

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

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’.

Continue reading Lahore Resolution and the status of constituent units

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

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

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

By 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

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

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

Marches for ‘Bread, Work, Homes and Dignity’ Converge on Madrid – End w/Police Repression

BY

Madrid, March 21, 2015. Coinciding with the first anniversary of the massive March for Dignity last March 22, 10’s of thousands of people have returned this Saturday the streets of Madrid to demand ‘bread, work, shelter and dignity‘.

The protest was organized by over 300 social groups and 9 Dignity Marches converged on Plaza Colon in Madrid from virtually every corner of Spain shortly after noon today.

The main reason for the protest was once again unemployment, affordable housing, social rights and democratic freedoms, rejection of austerity cuts, corruption and privatization of once public services. Also banners against the free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP, for its acronym in English) were seen.

Read more » http://revolution-news.com/marches-for-bread-work-homes-and-dignity-converge-on-madrid-end-wpolice-repression/

Tesla updates software to roll out driverless cars in three months

Seeing a Tesla is about to get a lot more wild, as the company is preparing to install its self-driving software in the Model S fleet. The autopilot feature will only work on highways… as the technology may not yet be legal in the US.

Tesla will roll out an auto-steering software update for the Model S in the next three or four months, and owners won’t even have to go into a Tesla store for the upgrade, founder Elon Musk said at a Thursday press conference.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/usa/242733-tesla-models-autopilot-software-update/

It’s On: Asia’s New Space Race

While NASA and the European Space Agency gets most of the world’s attention, China, Japan and India are racing for the heavens.

The general public in the West largely views the exploration of space as dominated by the United States and perhaps Russia. Sometimes, as in the case of the Rosettamission, they may give thought to Europe’s capabilities. Few people think of India when it comes to missions to Mars, but popular joy erupted across India in September 2014 after its Mangalyaan scientific spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around the red planet. One Indian reader responded to the story on a major online news outlet by posting: “It is [a] moment of pride as India becomes [the] 1stAsian nation to reach Mars.” And understood to all Indian readers was the point that China had—after a series of Asian firsts in space—finally been surpassed.Since China’s first human spaceflight in 2003 and its threatening anti-satellite test in 2007, Asia has seen a surge in space activity, with budgets increasing rapidly across the region. While few officials admit to the term, a “space race” is emerging in Asia.

The surge of Asian countries joining the ranks of major space powers mirrors the rise of Asian economies and their militaries more generally since the end of the Cold War. But following the political drivers of these trends leads most often to regional rivalries, not a desire to compete with the United States or Russia. Being first in Asia to do anything in space brings prestige, lends credibility to governments in power, and helps stimulate Asia’s young population to study science and technology, which has other benefits for their national economies.

The responses to China’s rise have included the sudden development of military space programs by two countries that previously shunned such activities—Japan and India—and dynamic new activities in countries ranging from Australia to Singapore to Vietnam. On the Korean Peninsula, both North and South have orbited satellites in the past three years and both have pledged to develop much larger rockets. Many of these countries realize that they can’t “win” Asia’s space race, but they also know that they cannot afford to lose.

China’s rapid expansion in space activity has also raised serious concerns within U.S. military circles and in NASA. But these developments pose an existential threat to China’s neighbors, some of whom see Beijing’s space program as yet another threatening dimension to their deep-seated historical, economic, and geo-political rivalries for status and influence within the Asian pecking order. Even more, space achievements affect the self-perceptions of their national populations, challenging their governments to do more.

How this competition will play out and whether it can be managed, or channeled into more positive directions, will have a major impact on the future of international relations in space. The U.S. government has thus far responded with a two-track strategy, seeking a bilateral space security dialogue with Beijing, while quietly expanding space partnerships with U.S. friends and allies in the region, adding a space dimension to the U.S. “pivot” to Asia.

Read more » The Daily Beast
See more » http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/17/why-china-will-win-the-next-space-race.html

China’s Double-Digit Defense Growth

What It Means for a Peaceful Rise

By Richard A. Bitzinger

China has done it again. In early March, it released its defense budget for 2015, and as in almost every year for over almost two decades, it increased its military expenditure by double-digit percentages. This year, the Chinese defense budget will rise by 10.1 percent, to roughly $145 billion. And it seems likely that the trend will continue, much to the concern of Washington and regional capitals.

Already, China is the second-biggest military spender in the world, having surpassed the United Kingdom in 2008. China’s new budget for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is more than three times those of other big spenders such as France, Japan, and the United Kingdom, and nearly four times that of its rising Asian rival, India. It is also the only country besides the United States to have a triple-digit defense budget (in billions of U.S. dollars).

This level of spending is all the more remarkable given where China started. In 1997, Chinese military expenditures totaled only about $10 billion, roughly on par with Taiwan and significantly less than that of Japan and South Korea. Beginning that year, however, China’s defense budget began to rise. There were two economic factors that made this growth possible. First, the country’s economy soared; in 1997, defense spending made up less than two percent of GDP, which remains roughly the same share today, at least according to Beijing. Second, low inflation rates over the past two decades have meant that real growth in defense spending has nearly matched nominal growth; even the most conservative estimate of actual growth rates (accounting for inflation) reveal a five-fold real increase in military expenditures since 1997.

What is particularly striking about the growth in defense spending over the last two decades is that it has almost always outpaced GDP growth. Between 1998 and 2007, China’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 12.5 percent, while its defense spending increased at an average of 15.9 percent per annum. Given that the economy is likely to grow by only seven percent in 2015, and its defense spending is growing at double digits, the disconnect between economic performance and defense spending is becoming more pronounced.

Read more » FOREIGN AFFAIRS
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Time for Pakistan to give up the ‘jihadi’ option forever: Hussain Haqqani

NEW DELHI: Former Pakistani envoy to United States, Hussain Haqqani, said Pakistan was not doing enough to show the world the seriousness of its efforts to curb and eradicate terrorist setups breeding on its soil.

“It is time for Pakistan to give up the jihadi option forever, only when we do that, we will have credibility in the international community,” Haqqani said.

Haqqani told ANI that terror attacks in India perpetrated by agents from across the border were a deliberate hindrance to peace talks.

“Terrorists have always wished to interrupt talks between India and Pakistan through terror attacks. But India and Pakistan must understand that there is no other way than a peaceful bilateral dialogue. No terrorist is a friend of Kashmir, India or Pakistan,” he said.

Calling upon the Pakistani government to up the ante against terror if it wanted to show the world that it was serious against militancy he said that ”Pakistan’s government continues to say that it is trying to eliminate terror and efforts have been started, but they are not enough. Pakistan needs to make it clear to the world and to India that no jihadi group will have safe haven in Pakistan anymore.”

Haqqani observed that Pakistan itself had suffered in the hands of terror breeding on its soil and said that it was high time that authorities accepted this.

“The acceptance and tolerance towards jihadi groups over the past has harmed Pakistan more than any other country in region,” he felt.

The former Pakistan envoy to the US condemned Friday’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and said efforts were required from Pakistan to build confidence and move towards healthier, meaningful dialogue between the two countries. “Kathua attack should not only be condemned, but Pakistan must extend cooperation in finding out which groups based. Only then can the confidence be built which will enable India and Pakistan to move forward in a comprehensive dialogue,” added Haqqani.

He termed Pakistan’s steps towards Tehreek-e-Taliban as a positive step but an inadequate one.

Unless Pakistan acts against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JeM and all militant groups, wherever they might be operating Pakistan, will continue to be suspected by international community of harbouring terrorists,” he said.

Pakistan High Commissioner in India, Abdul Basit’s decision to engage with Hurriyat Conference leaders from Kashmir was criticised by Haqqani, terming it as an ‘ill-advised’ move which would not be looked on positively by India.

Continue reading Time for Pakistan to give up the ‘jihadi’ option forever: Hussain Haqqani

The twin gifts of the sophisticates

By Ayaz Amir

The Urdu-speaking population which migrated from India at the time of Partition came in two categories: 1) the upper-crust or the elite class which settled in such places as Clifton, Bath Island, PECHS and later Defence; and 2) the somewhat less well-off which settled in Nazimabad, Liaquatabad and later Korangi, etc.

Regardless of class differences, this migrant population as a whole was literate, cultured and gifted – in many ways more sophisticated than the Punjabi farmer, the Sindhi Hari, the Pathan labourer or the Baloch camel driver.

There was no television back then, only newspapers…concentrated in two large centres, Lahore and Karachi. Lahore newspapers were Punjabi dominated; Karachi newspapers, which soon outnumbered any other, were dominated, as to a large extent they still are, by Urdu speakers.

The Punjabi feudal class, very much a part of the ruling elite, was mainly interested in preserving its privileges and its landholdings. As an expression of its conservative if not reactionary political outlook, it was also in favour of joining up with the western camp as cold war warriors. Even if India had not been a security concern, the Punjabi feudal was socially and historically programmed to look towards Washington and London, not Moscow.

This was an ingrained reaction, part of the Punjabi feudal’s psyche. But insofar as the new state started developing a conscious thinking, a set of beliefs and convictions, this process was heavily influenced by the Urdu-speaking elite. Steeped in the ‘tehzeeb’ of Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal and Hyderabad Deccan, Urdu speakers had articulation and eloquence at their command. They also had a certain moral standing in that they could claim to be the progenitors or the vanguard of the Pakistan movement.

Allama Iqbal indeed delivered his Allahabad address, in which the germ of the Pakistan idea can be detected, but the Pakistan movement, the idea of a separate state, really developed in the Urdu-speaking heartland of north, middle and south India.

The holocaust of Partition took place in Punjab, the Muslim setting upon the Sikh and the Hindu, and the Hindu and Sikh setting upon the Muslim. The East Punjabi migrant came with the clothes on his back. But the Urdu-speaking elite of Delhi, Lucknow and the Deccan…they were men of ideas. They brought their distinctive thinking, their good ideas and their prejudices, with them. And it was only natural that these ideas and prejudices would become part of the thinking of the new state.

So from this elite we got the obsession with India, the overriding concern with security, the sense of a land under siege, threatened by conspiracies and enemies. Surrounded on three sides by India and on the fourth by the sea, East Pakistan had greater reason to feel threatened. But here it was the other way round. West Pakistan, or at least its elites, felt threatened by India. The Bengali intelligentsia was more concerned by the economic and political domination of West Pakistan. Both parts of Pakistan thus had their burdens but of a different kind.

So the one gift, from the Urdu-speaking elite, was that distinct brand of thinking later to be known as the ideology of Pakistan. The second gift, but much later, was from the non-elite Urdu-speaking class: the MQM. It is a matter of opinion which is the tougher nut to crack, the ideology of Pakistan or the MQM. As things stand, there is no escaping the one or the other.

Other nations may be in the business of creating wealth and improving the living conditions of their people. In Pakistan we are still stuck with arguments about the meaning of Pakistan – 67 years after the country’s founding.

Equally vexed is the status of the MQM. Successive governments, successive military commands, have tried to tame it, or at least defang it…its fangs known to be pretty sharp. The effort has failed although for the first time we may be getting the sense that it is getting somewhere.

Continue reading The twin gifts of the sophisticates

TED 2015: Bill Gates warns on future disease epidemic

The world needs to prepare for the next major health crisis, Bill Gates has told delegates at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference.

While Ebola seems to be being kept under control currently, next time “we may not be so lucky” the Microsoft co-founder warned.

He said that there were plenty of technology tools that could be used to contain the spread of a virus.

And, he added, governments should learn from how nations prepare for war.

“Nato plays war games to check that people are well-trained and prepared. Now we need germ games,” he said.

He also called for a reserve “medical corps” similar to the reserve armies that civilians can join.

Technology can play a big role in helping prevent the spread of a virus, he told the Ted audience.

The proliferation of mobile phones mean that citizens can easily report where disease breaks out and satellite mapping can quickly collate where the problem areas are.

Meanwhile advances in biology have drastically cut the time it takes to develop vaccines for new viruses

During the Ebola crisis, technology firms such as IBM contributed tracking systems that allowed the authorities to create detailed maps of outbreaks based on text messages from citizens.

Continue reading TED 2015: Bill Gates warns on future disease epidemic