Qatar prince ready to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in 10 smart cities

Has formed JV with Delhi businessman and held meeting with UP, AP CMs

By BS Reporter

The government may be inviting the Americans, Chinese and Japanese to invest in India, but just one person is ready to put in Rs 1 lakh crore over the next five years.

Enthused with the new government’s spirited approach towards new investment, a prince of Qatar, Hamad Bin Nasser A A Al-Thani, member of the ruling family, is looking at investing the sum in at least 10 smart cities.

The 51-year-old has already tied up with a 31-year-old Delhi-based businessman, Mitesh Sharma, for taking the investment forward through projects in real estate, sea ports and airports, besides smart cities. According to a person working for Hamad, the two recently registered a company, NRS Enterprise Pvt Ltd, in India through which the investment would be routed.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘smart cities’ project has caught the attention of the prince. The investment will be made over the next five years,” said the person.

The investment announcement came after the two partners met Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on November 20 and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Chandrababu Naidu, on November 22.

The focus of this huge investment is on 10 smart-city projects in a first phase, besides power, solar energy, infrastructure development, health care and education. They are aiming for the first project to take off by February-March 2015.

The Union government has decided to support the development of 100 in the country. According to the high power expert committee (HPEC) on investment estimates in urban infrastructure has assessed a per capita investment cost of Rs 43,386 for a 20-year period. Their estimates cover water supply, sewerage, sanitation and transportation.

Continue reading Qatar prince ready to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in 10 smart cities

The award-winning bridge connecting Iranians

Project dubbed as ‘the third symbol of Tehran’ earns international recognition for architect Leila Araghian.

Ted Regencia

As an architecture student, Leila Araghian, 31, recalls roaming the sycamore-lined boulevards of her hometown, Tehran, looking for the next adventure. Once, she and a friend were passing by a bridge along Zafar Street, when they spotted a brown leather sofa outside a building.

So they got an idea, and dragged the sofa onto a small bridge, one of many that dot the creeks running through Tehran. As they sat there watching the water flow beneath them, they thought how much better it would be, if people could actually hang out on bridges, rather than just cross over them.

That friend, Alireza Behzadi, would become Araghian’s collaborator in her most important project so far, the Pol-e-Tabiat, or Nature Bridge, which opened in late 2014, and is now being called “the third symbol of Tehran“. The pedestrian bridge has won three awards in Iran.

And on Tuesday, it picked its first international recognition, winning a 2015 A Popular Choice prize in highways and bridges category, from a New York-based architectural organisation, Architizer. A panel of international jurors also nominated it as one of the top five finalists in architecture and engineering category.

Araghian recalled that late afternoon stroll with Behzadi many years ago, as she explained the inspiration behind her project, which she designed when she was only 26.

“Usually, bridges are designed in a straight line. And that straight line will produce a one point perspective that will tell you to just go. But we want to keep people on the bridge,” she told Al Jazeera.

“The bridge is not just a structure to connect from one point to another, but also a place to stay and enjoy.”

Soaring 270m across Modarres Highway, Pol-e-Tabiat, which connects two parks in the northern district of Iran’s capital, reflects her aspirations about Iranian architecture, Araghian said.

Mohammad Mohammadzadeh, an architect, author and critic, told Al Jazeera that projects like Araghian’s “reveal a huge capacity in the emerging generation of architects, who have been willing to form a progressive trend in Iran”.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2015/04/award-winning-bridge-connecting-iranians-150414121934153.html

Chinese president to visit Pakistan, hammer out $46-billion deal

By REUTERS | MATEEN HAIDER

ISLAMABAD: Chinese President Xi Jinping will launch energy and infrastructure projects worth $46 billion on a visit to Pakistan next week as China cements links with its old ally and generates opportunities for firms hit by slack growth at home.

Also being finalised is a long-discussed plan to sell Pakistan eight Chinese submarines. The deal, worth between $4 billion and $5 billion, according to media reports, may be among those signed on the trip.

Know more: Pakistan to buy eight submarines from China.

Xi will visit next Monday and Tuesday, Pakistan’s foreign office said.

“China treats us as a friend, an ally, a partner and above all an equal – not how the Americans and others do,” said Mushahid Hussain Syed, chairman of the parliament’s defence committee.

Pakistan and China often boast of being “iron brothers” and two-way trade grew to $10 billion last year from $4 billion in 2007, Pakistani data shows.

Xi’s trip is expected to focus on a Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, a planned $46-billion network of roads, railways and energy projects linking Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with China’s far-western Xinjiang region.

It would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a bottleneck at risk of blockade in wartime.

If the submarine deal is signed, China may also offer Pakistan concessions on building a refuelling and mechanical station in Gwadar, a defence analyst said.

China’s own submarines could use the station to extend their range in the Indian Ocean.

“China is thinking in terms of a maritime silk road now, something to connect the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean,” said a Pakistani defence official, who declined to be identified.

For Pakistan, the corridor is a cheap way to develop its violence-plagued and poverty-stricken Balochistan province, home to Gwadar.

China has promised to invest about $34 billion in energy projects and nearly $12 billion in infrastructure.

Xi is also likely to raise fears that Muslim separatists from Xinjiang are linking up with Pakistani militants, and he could also push for closer efforts for a more stable Afghanistan.

Earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping will be visiting Pakistan from April 20 to April 21 on a two-day state visit.

“I can confirm that the Chinese president will be visiting Pakistan from April 20 to 21,” FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said during a weekly media briefing in Pakistan.

Continue reading Chinese president to visit Pakistan, hammer out $46-billion deal

Deaths in South Africa as mobs target foreigners

At least five killed in Durban since last week in violence that has left hundreds stranded, unable to return home.

Violence against immigrants in South Africa has killed at least five people since last week in one of the worst outbreak of violence against foreigners in years.

Hundreds of migrants mostly from other African countries had been forced out of their homes, authorities told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday.

Khadija Patel, a South African journalist, told Al Jazeera there have been previous instances of violence against foreigners.

“Hundreds of foreign nationals were displaced in Isipingo [20km south of Durban] late last month, when a group of South Africans attacked foreigners living and working in the area. The victims of that continue to reside in a makeshift camp at a sports ground in Isipingo,” Patel said.

Continue reading Deaths in South Africa as mobs target foreigners

Poloz reiterates bright outlook as Bank of Canada holds key rate

BY BARRIE MCKENNAThe Globe and Mail

OTTAWA — Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says there’s a brighter future ahead if people can look beyond an economy that’s teetering on the brink of outright contraction.

The central bank kept its key overnight lending rate unchanged Wednesday at 0.75 per cent, even as it released a new forecast showing Canada’s oil-dependent economy stalled and likely didn’t grow at all in the first three months of the year.

The no-growth forecast is a sharp downgrade from the 1.5-per-cent annual growth rate the bank predicted just three months ago, when Mr. Poloz rattled financial markets with a surprise quarter-percentage-point rate cut.

But Mr. Poloz insisted the economy would snap back in the second half of the year as the shock of the oil price collapse fades – optimism that suggests more interest rate relief likely won’t be needed.

“By the middle of the year we should be seeing only the good stuff,” Mr. Poloz told reporters in Ottawa.

The Canadian dollar rebounded, gaining 1.2 cents to 81.30 cents (U.S.), as investors bet that Mr. Poloz’s upbeat tone makes another rate cut this year less likely.

Some analysts aren’t convinced Mr. Poloz is right. He got the first quarter wrong and now he’s overoptimistic about what the rest of the year will bring, said Ben Homsy, a fixed-income analyst at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel in Vancouver.

“The impact from low oil prices on the Canadian economy is not a one-quarter event,” Mr. Homsy said. “We’ll see that reverberate through the second and third quarters.”

He pointed out that dismal factory sales, which fell for a second consecutive month in February, suggest the lower Canadian dollar isn’t yet helping non-energy exporters.

Read more » The Globe and Mail
See more » http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/bank-of-canada-cuts-outlook/article23965431/

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to be a game changer

Update on 12 April 2015

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha has said several mega projects, including the Gwadar Economic Free Zone, West Bay Expressway and Gwadar airport, would be inaugurated during the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan on 20-21 April.

Update on 11 March 2015

KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Karachi on Wednesday to inaugurate the first phase of the Karachi-Lahore (M-9) Motorway, which will cost Rs. 36 billion. M-9 will facilitate people commuting between Karachi and major cities including Sukkur, Badin, Ghotki, Rohri, Dadu, Pannu Aqil, Abro, Sadiqabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Zahir Pir, Jalalpur Peerwala, Abdul Hakim, Mamu Kanjan and Nankana Sahib.

Industrial parks and special economic zones are part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) memoranda of understanding recently agreed between the leaders of the two countries.

The key pre-requisite for the establishment of these zones are resolution of the energy crisis and building of a competitive infrastructure in Pakistan.

Energy and infrastructure

The first phase of the economic corridor is focused on $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects. China’s state-owned banks will finance Chinese companies to fund, build and operate $45.6 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years, according to Reuters.

Continue reading China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to be a game changer

Putin lifts ban on delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran

The Russian president has repealed the ban prohibiting the delivery of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran, according to the Kremlin’s press service. The ban was introduced by former President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

“[The presidential] decree lifts the ban on transit through Russian territory, including airlift, and the export from the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also the transfer to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the territory of the Russian Federation, both by sea and by air, of air defense missile systems S-300,” says the information note accompanying the document, RIA Novosti reported.

The decree enters into force upon the president’s signature.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/249229-russia-s300-delivery-iran/

UAE Minister Threatens Pakistan: Twitter reactions

By Malik Omaid

Late night yesterday, UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash responded on the Pakistan parliament’s resolution to stay neutral in the Yemen crisis. The minister was literally throwing tantrums on Twitter on this decision and threatened Pakistan for its consequences. Pakistani twitterati responded to his tweets and gave their views. Some are selected for our readers.

Read more » PakTeaHouse
See more » http://pakteahouse.net/2015/04/11/uae-minister-threatens-pakistan-twitter-reactions/

New book takes aim at Israel, angers pro-Israel community

BY:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accuses Israel of being an occupying force in her new memoir Hard Choices and claims that the Jewish state denies “dignity and self determination” to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Clinton recalls being surprised by what she termed “life under occupation for the Palestinians,” according to the book.

Pro-Israel officials and insiders on Capitol Hill have called Clinton’s comments tone deaf and said that her claim that Israel is an occupying force reveals a bias against the Jewish state.

“When we left the city and visited Jericho, in the West Bank, I got my first glimpse of life under occupation for Palestinians, who were denied the dignity and self-determination that Americans take for granted,” Clinton writes.

Clinton’s comments demonstrate that she supports the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure and marginalize Israel, which current Secretary of State John Kerry recently accused of becoming an “apartheid state,” said one senior GOP Senate aide, who worked with Clinton when she was at the State Department.

Continue reading New book takes aim at Israel, angers pro-Israel community

Piketty Says EU Politics Risks Driving Greece Out of Euro

 and 

Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose 2013 book on wealth inequality became an international bestseller, said he sees a risk of politicians in the European Union forcing Greece out of the euro area.
“The attitude of a number of people in Brussels and Berlin looks like: push Greece out,” Piketty said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Paris.
Greece, Europe’s most-indebted state, is negotiating with euro-area countries and the International Monetary Fund on the terms of its 240 billion-euro ($259 billion) rescue. The standoff, which has left Greece dependent upon European Central BANK LOANS, risks leading to a default within weeks and its potential exit from the euro area.

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-08/piketty-says-eu-politics-risks-driving-greece-out-of-euro

War on Language

By NAZIHA SYED ALI

WHILE visiting Balochistan, one becomes aware of just how removed that province is from mainstream Pakistan. And it’s not only the obvious things — such as the dire lack of development, the air of oppression or the stories of enforced disappearances and dumped bodies. There’s also the more subtle issue of language.

According to Article 28 in the chapter on fundamental rights, the Constitution says: “… any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture shall have the right to PRESERVE and promote the same and subject to law, establish institutions for that purpose”. Most of the national conversation on this is centred on the fact that many private schools, at least in urban areas, do not teach the relevant provincial language in contravention of provincial laws to the effect.

In Turbat some weeks ago, I learnt that the situation is quite the opposite in Balochistan. This is the only province where government schools do not teach either Balochi or Brahui, the two most widely spoken native languages outside the Pakhtun-majority areas in the north of the province. Balochi is only taught in a few private schools here.

Public schools in Balochistan teach neither Balochi nor Brahui.

One of the most devastating weapons of repression EMPLOYED by a state is the suppression of a native language.History is replete with examples of forcible assimilation of a people in this manner.

To exclude the teaching of a native language while imposing on its speakers the language of the dominant polity is exactly what it sounds like — an act of cultural warfare. Language is an inherent part of a people’s identity, the repository of their history and culture, a record of epic battles fought and of heroic exploits for its generations to emulate.

Continue reading War on Language

Top UK business leaders back Tony Blair’s warning over possible EU exit

Business for New Europe says vote to quit could force some companies based in Britain to leave UK and delay investment due to uncertainty

By 

A business group backed by the bosses of some of Britain’s biggest companies has thrown its weight behind Tony Blair’s warning about the effects of a referendumon the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Business for New Europe (BNE) said a vote to quit the EU could force some companies that use Britain as a European base to leave the UK. The group warned that businesses will hold back on investment in Britain because of the uncertainty created by the prospect of the referendum.

Business leaders on BNE’s advisory council include Sir Michael Rake, the chairman of BT, Chris Gibson-Smith, the chairman of the London Stock Exchange, and Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland. BNE is non-partisan and campaigns for Britain to stay in a less bureaucratic EU.

Blair said in a speech on Tuesday that the prospect of Britain leaving the EU would cast a “pall of unpredictability” over the economy, threatening jobs and investment. He warned that a vote to quit the EU would cause the worst instability and anxiety for business since the second world war.

David Cameron has promised to call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU by 2017 if the Conservatives form a government after next month’s election. He has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership before the referendum.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/07/british-business-leaders-back-tony-blair-warning-over-possible-eu-exit

US okays attack helicopters, hellfire missiles for Pakistan under $1 billion sale

WASHINGTON The US State Department has okayed Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of around one billion dollars deal.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday. The helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia, the defence agency noted. This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

Islamabad had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters, 32 T-700 GE 401C Engines (30 installed and 2 spares), 1000 AGM-114 R Hellfire II Missiles in containers, 36 H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, 17 AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, 30 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Communication Systems, 19 H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 32 Helmet Mounted Display/Optimised Top Owl, 17 APX-117A Identification Friend or Foe, 17 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 17 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 15 Joint Mission Planning Systems, and 17 M197 20mm Gun Systems.

Also included are system integration and testing, software development and integration, aircraft ferry, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $952 million. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron in Fort Worth, Texas; General Electric in Lynn, Massachusetts; The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama; and Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meanwhile, in a reference Islamabad’s close ties with major powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the US defence companies are engaged in a three-way tussle with Russia and China to sell weapons to Pakistan, complicated by the need to avoid upsetting neighbor India and its even larger arms’ import market.

News courtesy: Daily Times
Read more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/07-Apr-2015/us-okays-attack-helicopters-hellfire-missiles-for-pakistan-under-1-billion-sale

Paul Martin blasts Conservative economic plan ahead of budget

By Evan Solomon, CBC News

Dismissing the Conservative economic plan as “an absolute disgrace” and “nonsensical,” former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin has leapt into the debate over Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s newly announced April 21 budget.

In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Martin told host Evan Solomon Canada is facing a “very serious” economic situation and he accused the government of doing nothing about it.

“[The government] is not doing the right things now and we have not been doing the right things for the last decade,” Martin said.

Taking a cue from Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who suddenly cut Canada’s key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 per cent and said recently the first quarter results in Canada will be “atrocious,” Martin called on Joe Oliver to kick start a fiscal stimulus program.

“Fiscal policy and monetary policy have to work hand in hand, they cannot contradict each other,” Martin said. “If the governor of the central bank is talking about the need for monetary stimulus, he also understands there has to be changes made in the [fiscal policy] and those changes have to be investments.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/paul-martin-blasts-conservative-economic-plan-ahead-of-budget-1.3020162

Greek PM Tsipras to meet with Putin in Moscow.

Russia, Greece to discuss EU sanctions, economy in Moscow

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras plan to discuss economic ties and the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow when they meet for talks next week, a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday.

Russia wants the EU to lift the sanctions imposed over Moscow’s role in the turmoil in Ukraine and hopes to get support from some EU member states, notably Hungary and Greece.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to talk about any possibility of Moscow providing financial help to the cash-strapped Greece before the talks.

“Relations between Moscow and the European Union will be discussed in the light of Brussels’s policy of sanctions and Athens’ quite cold attitude to this policy,” Peskov said.

Greece’s new left-wing government has said it will not seek aid from Moscow but has so far failed to reach a deal with its EU/IMF creditors to unlock fresh funds.

Putin and Tsipras will meet in Moscow on Apr.8. It will be Tsipras’ first visit to the Russian capital after his leftist Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election in January.

Tsipras visited Moscow in May, 2014, and attended a conference on ties between Russiaand Greece, as well as being received by senior Russian state officials. Five other members of the Greek delegation now also hold senior government roles in Athens. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin)

News courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/03/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-greece-idUSKBN0MU0NF20150403

Iranian guards killed on Pakistan border

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan
Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan, Iranian media say.

They were shot dead after the attackers crossed into Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province, according to reports.

The gunmen then fled back across the border, Iranian official said. The identity of the attackers is not known.

Sistan Baluchistan has seen frequent clashes in recent years between Iranian security forces and drug smugglers and Sunni rebel groups.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32200996

India to Become First Country to Use Weaponized Drones for Crowd Control

Police in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, India, will use drones armed with pepper spray to disperse unruly mobs.

“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kilogram weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble,” Senior Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told the Press Trust of India, adding that the drones also will assist in tracking criminals.

The small, unmanned aircraft are already used to capture images in sensitive parts of the city.

The police deployed unarmed drones for aerial surveillance last summer during riots that caused the deaths of three people and at least 12 injuries.

While Lucknow Police would be the first in the country to own drones – they previously rented the aircraft – India is not the first to consider using drones for crowd dispersal or suppression.

In 2014, drone maker Desert Wolf sent its Skunk Riot Control Copter to Turkey and South Africa to potentially be used to quell dissent.

According to Desert Wolf, the drone is equipped with four paintball barrels that each can fire up to 20 paintballs per second and 80 pepper balls per second that are capable of “stopping any crowd in its tracks.”

The drone can hold up to 4,000 balls at a time and has a high-pressure carbon fiber air system that “allows for real stopping power,” according to Desert Wolf.

American law enforcement agencies also have previously shown interest in acquiring drones capable of delivering firepower.

In 2012, a Texas sheriff’s department used a US Department of Homeland Security grant to buy a $300,000 Vanguard Shadowhawk drone. It was deployed for surveillance purposes, but the department’s chief expressed interest in using the drone’s weapons platform, which included rubber bullets, Taser and tear gas.

Two years earlier, Vanguard told an Ohio police lieutenant that it was indeed capable of mounting a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its Shadowhawk.

News courtesy: Sputink
Read more: http://sputniknews.com/news/20150407/1020552653.html#ixzz3Wct6MOzR

British superbug outbreak ‘could kill 80,000’

Exclusive: A Government report warns that tens of thousands could die because of new strains of bacteria and viruses resistant to drugs

By

Up to 80,000 people in Britain could die in a single outbreak of an infection due to a new generation of superbugs, according to an official Government forecast.

In total, some 200,000 people could be infected if a strain of disease resistant to antibiotics took hold, according to official forecasts which reveal the potential casualty toll for the first time.

Within 20 years, outbreaks of common flu could become “serious” for patients as drugs become useless and routine surgery could be curtailed due to the risk of infection, it is warned.

Scientists are increasingly concerned about the impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which makes routine antibiotics or antivirals drugs ineffective against diseases that have formerly been brought under control.

It would mean that the huge gains made since the discovery of penicillin in curbing conditions such as pneumonia and tuberculosis and rendering surgery and childbirth safe could be lost.

David Cameron has warned that such a scenario would see the world “cast back into the dark ages of medicine”.

The new figures are given in the National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies, a document compiled by the Cabinet Office that assesses the challenges posed by terrorism, disease, natural disasters and industrial strife.

For the first time, it contains an assessment of the dangers posed by AMR, which it describes as a “particularly serious” issue for the UK.

The document says: “Without effective antibiotics, even minor surgery and routine operations could become high-risk procedures, leading to increased duration of illness and ultimately premature mortality. Much of modern medicine, for example organ transplantation, bowel surgery and some cancer treatments may become unsafe due to the risk of infection. In addition, influenza pandemics would become more serious without effective treatments.”

It adds: “The number of infections complicated by AMR are expected to increase markedly over the next 20 years. If a widespread outbreak were to occur, we could expect around 200,000 people to be affected by a bacterial blood infection that could not be treated effectively with existing drugs, and around 80,000 of these might die.

“High numbers of deaths could also be expected from other forms of antimicrobial resistant infection.”

Already, there are no longer any effective drugs against one strain of E.coli, a bacterial infection that can prove lethal.

Analysts have also looked at the potential casualties from an increasing drug resistance in Klebsiella pneumonia, a form of bacterial pneumonia, and Staphylococcus aureus, a skin infection, as well as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11517558/British-superbug-outbreak-could-kill-80000.html

Greece looks to China and Russia for help but cannot get around its euro zone partners

Running out of room

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, the Greek prime minister, and his radical Syriza party are beginning to feel the heat. Two months of bluster by Greece’s first left-wing government have failed to produce the results it wanted. Those include an injection of fresh cash from the country’s current €172 billion ($185 billion) bail-out programme, and a new deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would allow Athens, not its creditors, to decide on future economic reforms.

Greece’s eurozone partners are still waiting for Athens to come up with details, promised two weeks ago, on the country’s deteriorating public finances. Mr Tsipras has promised Greek voters that Syriza has banned the hated “troika” of bail-out monitors (from the European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank) from Athens. To protect that political narrative, a team of mid-level officials from the three institutions sits ensconced in a four-star Athens hotel, gathering information by exchanging e-mails with their finance ministry counterparts. The ministry itself is strictly off-limits. “This system works quite well,” claims Dimitris Mardas, the budget minister. The visitors disagree, complaining about delays and inaccurate replies that could be avoided if they were allowed to meet Greek colleagues face-to-face.

Continue reading Greece looks to China and Russia for help but cannot get around its euro zone partners

The Persian Paradox: Iran Is Much More Modern Than You Think

by Erich Follath

People in the West tend to have a monolithic view of Iran. But there’s a lot more to the country than the mullah-led theocracy, and it often gets ignored. And national pride is alive and well.

Read more » Spiegel International
See more » http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/caught-between-history-and-modernity-the-persian-paradox-a-1027050.html

Pakistan – ‘I fear for my life’: Man ‘detained’ by wife set free by court

By IMRAN GABOL

LAHORE: A sessions court on Saturday got a man kept in illegal detention by his wife recovered and set him at liberty, allowing him to go with his brother.

The detainee, Syed Ali Raza, told Additional District and Sessions Judge Naveed Iqbal that his captor Mahwish alias Mahi “is my wife”.

“I do not want to live with her anymore. She kept me locked in a room of the house where she herself or her servants would often give me a sound thrashing. She neither allows any member of my family to see me nor permits me to make a call to them. I fear for my life,” Raza submitted before the judge.

Syed Wasim Abbas had, in a habeas corpus petition, alleged that his younger brother was illegally detained by his employer, Mahi, who was not allowing Raza to leave his ‘workplace’ and subjecting him to torture while threatening him with dire consequences.

When a court bailiff raided Mahi’s house to recover the detainee, the woman present there revealed that she was his (Ali Raza’s) wife and not the employer.

In a statement recorded before the bailiff, Mahi said she and Raza contracted marriage seven months ago. The woman also revealed that she was four-month pregnant and wanted to live with her husband.

However, Raza begged the bailiff to take him to the court as he faced life threat from his wife who “often takes me to the police station where officials thrash me at her behest”.

Before the court, Raza admitted to have married Mahi but requested that he be ‘set at liberty’ and allowed to go with his petitioner-brother.

The judge, Naveed Iqbal, allowed Raza to go with his family and disposed of the petition.

The judge observed that the man could file a separate case if he wanted action against his wife.

Courtesy: Dawn, April 5th, 2015
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1174046/

How the 1 Percent Always Wins: “We Live in a Faux Democracy, Which Is Why Everyone’s So Cynical and Nobody Votes”

The rich get richer, the middle class gets hollowed out. We all stay quiet. Steve Fraser explains why we allow it.

147 dead students in Kenya and our deafening silence

By ZOYA ANWER

Watching the 8am news is a part of my daily routine now — it helps kickstart my mind as I set out to work, it provides ‘food for thought’ for that part of me that isn’t still numb from working in a newsroom.

Yesterday, as I sipped my morning tea, I was thinking about the Pakistanis in Yemen cheering as the fleet arrived on time, their cheers drowning out the pleas of their ‘fellowmen’ caught in a war forced upon them but, well, at least ‘my people’ were safe and sound.

Little did I know this deep nationalist sentiment would ricochet as the good news was followed by the report of 147 students killed in the Garissa University College campus in Kenya.

I gasped as I saw the number for it instantly took me back to December 16. It felt like déjà vu.

Was it? It had to be. The last time I checked the figure it was around 20.

As the day progressed, I failed to understand the absolute lack of an outcry. This here was the deadliest attack in Kenya after almost a decade. And yet, all eyes fixed on Lausanne, where world powers and Iran were meeting to agree on a framework for a nuclear deal?

Did the students running for their lives in their nightwear just before the break of dawn not matter? To anyone?

I remember how the Peshawar attack shook all of us to our very core.

We rushed to our corners to shed tears silently before bracing for the task of carefully cropping pictures and choosing words. This was Peshawar too, for the militants of Al-Shebab used the same tactics: they attacked students, mostly non-Muslims, to what they called teaching the Kenyan government a lesson for its military intervention in Sudan.

The very name Al-Shebab is ironic because Shebab means prime youth. So cruel were these ‘defenders of the youth’ that they promised the students their lives on the condition that they step out of their dorm rooms and form rows. Once the students obeyed, they were all shot at in the back of the headone by one.

“If you want to survive, come out!” the militants yelled. “If you want to die, stay inside!”

The students’ affiliation with Islam, or the lack of it was also a deciding factor.

Continue reading 147 dead students in Kenya and our deafening silence

After Iraqi forces take Tikrit, a wave of looting and lynching

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) – On April 1, the city of Tikrit was liberated from the extremist group Islamic State. The Shi’ite-led central government and allied militias, after a month-long battle, had expelled the barbarous Sunni radicals.

Then, some of the liberators took revenge.

Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents. 

The incident is now under investigation, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant,

Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi’ite paramilitary fighters – the government’s partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

Local officials said the mayhem continues. Two security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that dozens of homes had been torched in the city. They added that they had witnessed the looting of stores by Shi’ite militiamen.

Later Friday, Ahmed al-Kraim, head of the Salahuddin Provincial Council, told Reuters that mobs had burned down “hundreds of houses” and looted shops over the past two days. Government security forces, he said, were afraid to confront the mobs. Kraim said he left the city late Friday afternoon because the situation was spinning out of control.

“Our city was burnt in front of our eyes. We can’t control what is going on,” Kraim said.

Continue reading After Iraqi forces take Tikrit, a wave of looting and lynching

Pakistan – Punjab Launching First Responder Dolphin Force

Punjab Police is launching a first responder service by name of Dolphin Force (DF). DF will be equipped with modern gear including high speed bikes, mini-buses with field support, body mounter cameras, GPS locators and special radios. Each unit will be strategically stationed at different locations of the city and their movements will be monitored and controlled through satellite systems. This will enable them to reach at any location within a short period of time through help of central command and control center.

The new force will be trained by Turkish experts and the project is expected to cost around 900M.

Read more » PKPolitics
See more » http://pkpolitics.com/2015/04/02/punjab-launching-first-responder-dolphin-force/

A horrific attack in Kenya – Al-Shabaab attack kills 147 in Kenya

Kenya is reeling after gunmen from Islamist militant group al-Shabaab stormed a university in north-eastern part of the country, killing at least 147 staff and students and injuring 79 others. The four attackers have been killed. In the wake of this terrible attack, Kenya should protect vulnerable Muslim communities from potential revenge attacks.

Read more » HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
See more » https://www.hrw.org/the-day-in-human-rights

A New Language for Pakistan’s Deaf

By 

KARACHI, Pakistan — With one national language, Urdu, four provincial tongues (Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashto and Balochi), and nearly 300 regional dialects, Pakistan’s linguistic diversity is like a beautiful carpet, interwoven with threads ancient and young. The regional languages developed over thousands of years, while Urdu came from northwestern India in the 12th century. Then, in 1947, English was made an official language as a legacy of British rule in India.

Now a small group of educators of the deaf intends to add one more language — this one not spoken. It is called Pakistan Sign Language, and its creators just may succeed in spreading its use across the country.

Schools for the deaf have existed in Pakistan since the 1980s; one of the largest in Karachi is the Absa School and College for the Deaf, where initial research was conducted to develop Pakistan Sign Language, or P.S.L., as it is known here. A Pakistan Association of the Deaf, with chapters in many cities and towns, was formed in 1987, when deaf people in Pakistan were not just misunderstood; often they were shunned or ostracized by people who considered them mentally handicapped and unsuited for normal life.