Aamir Khan alarmed by growing intolerance in India

BY DAWN.COM

NEW DELHI: Indian Actor Aamir Khan on Monday said that he has been “alarmed and shaken” by the number of incidents related to extremism in India, Indian news agency PTI reported.

Addressing an audience at the Ramnath Goenka journalism awards, the actor known for his unique and outstanding on-screen work said that the growing insecurity in the country has alarmed him and he and wife Kiran Rao do not feel the country safe for their children.

“My wife Kiran Rao even suggested we should probably leave India,” Aamir told the audience.

Aamir Khan claimed that his sense of insecurity has increased in the past few months and laid stress upon the people in power to strongly condemn such incidents.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1221733

Man jailed for 13 years for Facebook ‘hate speech’

BY AFP | IMRAN GABOL

LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) has jailed a man for 13 years after he posted what it deemed sectarian hate speech on Facebook, officials said on Monday, with rights activists condemning the ruling as “extremely concerning”.

Saqlain, 32, who ran a small hotel in Chiniot district south of Islamabad, was also fined Rs250,000 rupees for “posting hateful material”, an official of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Hate speech: Former ASWJ Pindi president sentenced to jail for 6 months

“The accused has been convicted and fined Rs250,000 for his offense,” added SSP Attaur Rahman of CTD.

Abdul Majeed, a senior local counter-terrorism official, confirmed the incident.

“The convict was arrested on October 27 after locals complained about him and he was charged for spreading sectarian hatred under various clauses of the anti-terrorism act,” he told AFP.

Majeed said the accused was released on bail a day later, then arrested and imprisoned on November 21 after the court convicted him.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1221725/

 

Is the bubble bursting for India’s online start-ups?

BY AFP

MUMBAI: Hundreds of layoffs at several Indian start-ups have sparked fears the bubble is starting to burst for the country’s e-commerce companies, amid claims by analysts that many of them are overvalued.

Restaurant search website Zomato, food delivery app TinyOwl and property portal Housing.com are all letting staff go, and experts are warning of echoes of the dot-com boom which crashed spectacularly in 2000.

“The valuation bubble is bursting. The valuations had reached levels where they were ridiculous and could not be justified at any level,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of management consulting firm Technopak.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1221509/

Does ISIS really have nothing to do with Islam? Islamic apologetics carry serious risks.

By Shadi Hamid

Every time the Islamic State commits yet another attack or atrocity, Muslims, particularly Western Muslims, shudder. Attacks like the ones in Paris mean another round of demands that Muslims condemn the acts, as if we should presume guilt, or perhaps some indirect taint.

The impulse to separate Islam from the sins and crimes of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is understandable, and it often includes statements such as ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam” or that ISIS is merely “using Islam” as a pretext. The sentiment is usually well-intentioned. We live in an age of growing anti-Muslim bigotry, where mainstream politicians now feel licenseto say things that might have once been unimaginable.

To protect Islam – and, by extension, Muslims – from any association with extremists and extremism is a worthy cause.

But saying something for the right reasons doesn’t necessarily make it right. An overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose ISIS and its ideology. But that’s not quite the same as saying that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, when it very clearly has something to do with it.

If you actually look at ISIS’s approach to governance, it would be difficult – impossible, really – to conclude that it is just making things up as it goes along and then giving it an Islamic luster only after the fact.

Read more » The Washington Post
See more » https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/11/18/does-isis-really-have-nothing-to-do-with-islam-islamic-apologetics-carry-serious-risks/?postshare=7791448093596833&tid=ss_fb-bottom

Enough PhD’s, thank you

Pakistan now has legions of highly paid ignoramus cartoon professors.

BY PERVEZ HOODBHOY

When Freeman Dyson suggested we have lunch together at the Princeton University cafeteria on my next visit, I almost fell off my chair. To be invited by this legendary physicist, now 90-plus but sharp as ever, meant more than a banquet especially arranged for me by the Queen of England. Countless kings, queens, and generals have come and gone but only a tiny number of visionaries, Dyson included, actually make history.

Overwhelmed, I was about to blurt “thank you, Dr Dyson” but stopped in time. Else this would have violated an unstated protocol. We theoretical physicists address colleagues by their first name. And so I simply thanked him as Freeman. This avoided a still more serious error. Freeman Dyson does not have a PhD and has never sought or needed one.

Three books and biographies have been written on this PhD-less scientific genius. But, were he to apply to a Pakistani university, at best he might become an assistant professor. I thought of this while suffering through some lectures last week at an international physics conference in Islamabad.

Sadly, the presentations by most Pakistani PhD’s were uninteresting, others were wrong. One was even laughably wrong. Probably the worst was by a professor who was not just a ‘doctor’ but a ‘professor doctor’. This terrible pomposity, borrowed from some German tradition, is now routinely augmented with ‘distinguished professor’, ‘national professor’ and what-not. Like cartoon generals who have won no wars but have medals stuck to oversized chests, Pakistan now has legions of highly paid ignoramus cartoon professors.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1221057

 

98th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution celebrated in Pakistan

Pakistan has 10,159 trillion cubic feet of shale gas deposits: USAID

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has massive deposits of 10,159 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas and 2.3 trillion barrels of oil – estimates that are several times higher than figures given by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), reveals a study conducted with the help of US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/994883/hydrocarbon-presence-pakistan-has-10159-tcf-of-shale-gas-deposits-usaid/

Shame of inequality

By FAISAL BARI

JAVED’S mother insisted that we, the owners/managers of a motorcycle repair shop, hire her son as an apprentice even if it was with no pay. We refused as Javed was only eight years old. His mother’s logic was simple. “I cannot feed him at home, he cannot go to school as I cannot afford it, and we need any money that Javed can make. Even if you do not pay him for an initial period, he will get lunch here and will also learn a skill. That is enough.”

We made some arrangements for Javed. But there are millions of Javeds in Pakistan. Even though, and there is evidence for this, absolute poverty has gone down in the country, inequality has, by all estimates, increased significantly. This does not mean there are no poor people in Pakistan. There are still plenty of them. But the percentage of people living a life of absolute deprivation is lower than before.

The story is one about poverty and the extremes of inequality this society appears to be willing to live with.

Yet, not only has inequality increased manifold, it seems the progress we had been making on reducing infant mortality, maternal mortality, malnutrition in children and morbidity has slowed down significantly and, in some cases, disappeared. This is quite a paradox: poverty is down but why are child and mother health indicators not improving? Is it a case of time lags? Or is there something more to it?

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1220930

Why do Muslims Blow Stuff Up?

Indian secular commentator Harbir Singh Nain has a nice piece in the Nation (a Lahore newspaper that has shifted from jingoistic Islamism to hosting the most “free-thinking” blog posts of any major Pakistani paper; there is probably a story in there somewhere). The entire piece is here, but a few excerpts give you the flavor:

Again I hear talk everywhere that Islamist terrorism is a reaction to Western imperialism.  It’s supposedly got nothing to do with radical Islamists.  I have to wonder if why Korea and Vietnam didn’t start pumping terrorists into the world as an aftermath of the horrendous wars there, why oil producers in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa didn’t start pumping terrorists into the world in reaction to western meddling there.

The cause is Saudi Arabia, which has used its oil revenues to drive fundamentalist radicalization of Muslim societies all over the world, infesting them with mosques and seminaries that disseminate Saudi scripted fundamentalist, hateful perspectives. Every major Muslim terrorist organization in the world is connected to a web in the center of which sits Saudi Arabia..

The West is not without fault. But it is dishonest to assert that the Islamist terrorism is merely a backlash to Western foreign policy.  The other party at the table is radical, oil fed fundamentalist Islamism.

In the West, after every instance of slaughter by a crazed Islamist, liberals run to call for tolerance towards ordinary Muslims innocent of the crime. It is the West that welcomes immigrants from Muslim countries and guarantees their freedom to practice their faith and to live their lives without persecution. It is the West that makes peace with its former enemies at the first opportunity. See the relations of Germany, Japan, Italy, Vietnam, and South Korea with the US. The West welcomes immigrants en mass from enemies, both former (Russians flooded into the US after the collapse of the Soviet Union) and present (so many Iranian students in the US). It is the West that takes in Muslim refugees escaping from slaughter by Muslims as has been seen by the flow of Syrians into Europe.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have not opened their own borders to the faithful fleeing the slaughter.  There is no call in the Middle East for understanding and tolerance towards the West and non-Muslims. There is no voice allowed to call for moderation of Islamist hatemongering, to curtail the raging hatred that constantly spews out against the West…

These are actually fairly common sentiments among liberal Muslims and Hindus (and presumably, many others). I don’t have time for a full post, but a few comments came to mind:

South Americans, as colonial settler nations with a history of conquering Native Americans and owning more slaves than the United States, are not exactly in line for the honor of being oppressed subjects of the West. (though good branding and anti-Yankee propaganda has pretty much cleared their elites of their colonial/slave-owning past, especially amongst distant observers).

Korea was not colonized by the US. South Korea was saved from Stalinist North Korean invasion by the US and its allies. They are not exactly grateful (more anti-American than the Vietnamese, for complicated reasons) but still they are hardly expected to be in the “lets bomb America now” section.

Vietnamese holds pride of place in Desi Leftist minds as victims of America (with some justification), but the Vietnamese themselves include (and always included) significant pro-American factions, and since the Americans left, their priorities are very different from the kind of unrelenting anti-Americanism that Desis sometimes feel they should have… Details complicated, I know.

But here is the point I really wanted to make:
I heard (more than 10 years ago) from an Islamist historian (PhD U Chicago) that the correct way of looking at lack of Hindu or African Pagan blowback is to regard them as weaker civilizations, unable/unwilling to contend for world-beater status (Hindutvadis are trying, with limited success, to alter this perception btw). His point was that Islamists sending terrorists and throwing bombs maybe wrong (in his opinion, it was wrong) because it may be tactically harmful to their cause or it may be morally unsound (he was not in favor of indiscriminate slaughter), but on the general point of fighting against the West, he thought the crucial difference is that the Islamic world represents real civiliazational competition; challengers who think they can and SHOULD fight in the big leagues…while Hindus and Africans are just waiting to be converted to more successful ideologies and are “not even invited to the party”.
In short, that Muslims are different, but not in the way you think: they are not different in being more bloodthirsty (he believed, as a historian, that ALL great powers and dominant civilizations have been blood thirsty) but in thinking of themselves as a potential world power, not just “subalterns”. 

I think he was wrong (i.e. the world is not best described by the kind of clash of civilizations he subscribed to, and the Muslim world is in no position to challenge as some sort of outsider civilization, distinct from what Naipaul famously dubbed “our universal civilization”).

But one should not think that sophisticated Islamists themselves have no such ambition.

Finally, the oil-kingdom and wahabiism are indeed proximate causes of the Jihadi upsurge, but they succeeded not just because they paid people (the US has paid billions for “counter-jihadist” propaganda, with little noticeable impact) but because their ideology could be presented as the logical culmination of classical Islamic themes. Which is why educated (therefore more susceptible to “logic” and rational argument) believing Muslims in Pakistan so frequently gravitate to Maudoodi-like figures, even if their own families were Barelvi/Sufi/grave-worshipping/Indian-inflected “moderate Muslims” just one generation ago.

I hope to write more later to expand on this point.

Courtesy: Brown Pundits
See more » http://brownpundits.blogspot.ca/2015/11/why-do-muslims-blow-stuff-up.html

Fight like a girl: How the Punjab police is breaking stereotypes with its new recruits

Sub-Inspector Shahida is one of the many young women who have recently joined the Rawalpindi Police Force after clearing the Punjab Public Service Commission exam. She is conscientious, educated, and confident — exactly the image that Pakistan, whose population balance tips towards the young, needs to have.

In our dominant patriarchal culture, the induction of such a large number of young women did come to me as a bit of a surprise. So much so, I was wondering if the government had privatised the police department!

This interesting exchange with Shahida took place by chance a couple of days ago, when I was visiting my friend, a superintendent of Police in Rawalpindi. Upon entering the Rawalpindi Police Headquarters, I saw a couple of young uniform-clad women, looking very professional.

I asked her if she ever felt threatened, or if she carried a weapon. “I am the weapon,” she said.

The colour of their uniform was the same as that of their male colleagues, but something else captured my attention. They were all wearing pantaloons.

This was definitely not something I expected policewomen in Punjab to wear. They usually dress in the traditional Shalwar Kameez.

Also read: Badge of honour: KP’s female cops break new ground

I was very curious to know how these policewomen were different from the rest. When I asked my friend about it, he said these newly-recruited ladies had to undergo a rigorous police training, including an Elite Commando course.

Elite training? I was puzzled. This training is considered to be the toughest in police, not just for women, but also for men. It has the same reputation as that of the SSG trainings conducted by the army. “How did they do all this?” I inquired, on which my friend suggested that I should meet them to find out for myself.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1220522/

 

BRICS university to offer free education to students from member states

Thousands of students from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will be able to study for free at the upcoming BRICS Network University, Russian Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said.

“All the countries are keen for this university to attract as many students as possible, and contribute to the enhancement of academic exchange,” Livanov told reporters on Wednesday, following a meeting of the BRICS education ministers. “I believe that there are thousands of students from each country. All the programs at the university will be free. They will be paid for by the BRICS member countries.”

Livanov said Russia was ready to house the university, if a joint decision was taken. “From the Russian side, the Ural Federal University will coordinate the work for the BRICS Network University, therefore, if Russia is selected to house a head office, it will be in Yekaterinburg,” the minister said.

He said that the university would provide new opportunities for the exchange of students and teachers, and for the conducting of joint scientific research.

Read more » RBTH
See more » http://rbth.com/politics_and_society/2015/11/18/brics-network-university-ready-to-teach-students-from-brics-states-for-free_542001

Hyderabad: Sindh United Party’s leader Dr. Anwar Laghari shot dead in election office

HYDERABAD (Local TV) – Armed gunmen on Wednesday night opened indiscriminate fire at people preparing voter ballots in election office of Sindh United Party. The armed suspects shot dead party’s leader Dr. Anwar Laghari and wounded its Qasimabad candidate Abdul-Sami and his brother Waqar alias Sunny. The incident took place in ward 7 of Al-Mustafa Town in Qasimabad area of Hyderabad. The injured were immediately shifted to Civil hospital for treatment while Laghari’s body will be handed over to the family after a post-mortem.

Read more » The Frontier Post
See more » http://www.thefrontierpost.com/article/353677//

Jeremy Corbyn calls for economic sanctions against banks and countries funding Isis

The Labour leader has previously said the UK should be asking questions about Saudi Arabia’s involvement

By Jon Stone

The UK should be more proactive about imposing sanctions on banks and countries suspected of funding or supporting the militant group Isis, the leader of the Labour party has said.

Jeremy Corbyn told David Cameron to push for an economic crackdown with the rest of the European Union, claiming the terror group was being provided with “vital infrastructure”.

“Surely a crucial way to help defeat Isil is to cut off its funding, its supply of arms, and its trade,” he said at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Read more » INDEPENDENT
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-calls-for-sanctions-against-banks-and-countries-funding-isis-a6739081.html

Mani Shankar Aiyar embarrasses India in Pakistan; says remove Modi government to solve issues

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Former Union minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar today stoked a fresh controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume.

The Congress leader’s comments evoked sharp response from BJP and RJD, with the saffron outfit saying Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi should react to this and let the countr ..
Read more » The Economic Times
See more » http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/mani-shankar-aiyar-embarrasses-india-in-pakistan-says-remove-modi-government-to-solve-issues/articleshow/49814980.cms?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ETFBMain

via Facebook

Pakistan’s Army Chief Is in Washington — Embarrassing His Prime Minister

By 

Why is General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief, visiting Washington right now? Wasn’t his Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, in the nation’s capital less than a month ago? I know you are confident about your guess: The Americans must have invited him to come and discuss the unfinished war on terror. Oops! You got it wrong.According to the Voice of America, the United States government has not invited Pakistan’s powerful army chief. To borrow a phrase from the Hindustan Times, Raheel has invited himself to the U.S. The invitation does not matter much but this trip once again highlights the army’s brazenly tight grip on the country’s democratic government, specifically its foreign policy. A smug Raheel is in Washington with a straightforward message to D.C.’s policymakers: Forget about what was discussed between President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif last month. Let’s talk again. I decide my country’s foreign policy, not the prime minister.

Before his arrival to Washington, Raheel’s army, on November 10th, had solely taken credit for the “improved security situation” but rebuked the democratic administration that the “progress” it had made in the fight against terrorism could not be “sustained without matching betterment in governance and administration.”

Although the army has historically been in full control of Pakistan’s external relations, Raheel, since becoming the army chief, has staged sort of a foreign policy coup. Prime Minister Sharif, a victim of a military coup in 1999, has been so cautious in avoiding another military takeover that he has even not appointed a foreign minister two years after becoming the prime minister for a third term. On the foreign policy front, the army is explicitly intimidating the prime minister. He cannot take bold decisions or fulfill the promises he makes during meetings with foreign heads of government. The army chief has entered into an undeclared competition with the prime minister over foreign trips.

According to Zahid Hussain, a senior Pakistani journalist, the army chief “has perhaps travelled to more world capitals over the last two years than even the prime minister, reinforcing the perception that not only does the military call the shots on security matters it is also actively directing the country’s foreign policy

Read more » Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malik-siraj-akbar/pakistans-army-chief-is-i_b_8580138.html

Kashmir has never been part of India: Arundhati Roy

we give below a very relevant piece of news in connection with Arundhati Roy and her stand on Kashmir. Our organization was always of the opinion that Kashmir has been forcibly acquired by India and the people’s revolt there is justifiable. We have been writing articles and booklets for the last two decades elaborating the history of the Kashmiri people. The situation has come to such a state that immediate step has to be taken to free the people of Kashmir. [ref to appeal in www.srai.org dated 19 September, 2010] .About a hundred thousand people have been killed by army and hundreds are still missing in this small valley with a population of about 70 lakhs. If we take the stock from the year 1953, more than 2 lakh inhabitants of the Kashmir valley have been killed or are simply erased by the Indian army. Is this a free country? Can we still call Kashmir a part of our Nation?

We are with Arundhati Roy and demand justice for the common people of Kashmir.

Prabir Ghosh, General Secretary
Science & Rationalist Association of India

 

Read more: The FreeThinkers
See more » http://www.srai.org/kashmir-has-never-been-part-of-india-arundhati-roy/

THE PARIS ATTACKS AND A “PIECEMEAL THIRD WORLD WAR”

By Sattar Rind, Sindh

Excerpt –

But before declaring war one must think of ways this can be achieved. To these forces, UN or Western countries or either Russia and US, why not cut the ISIS supply line and let them die in the desert and then send well equipped forces to finalise and capture?  Every State or their patrons know them, even they could count them without observing the written list.

Who does not know these things? Who doesn’t know who is giving them weapons? Who doesn’t know who is protecting them? Who doesn’t know in which factories they are being manufactured?

Read more » Tuck Magazine
See more » http://tuckmagazine.com/2015/11/17/the-paris-attacks-and-a-piecemeal-third-world-war/

About – Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

Putin: Those guilty of terrorist attack on board A321 will be found and punished

 

We will find them in any point of the globe and they will be punished,” the president stresses

MOSCOW, November 17./TASS/ Russian President Vladimir Putin said that those guilty of the terrorist act on board the Russian A321 airliner in Egypt would be found and punished.

“It is not for the first time that Russia is facing barbarous terrorist crimes, largely without apparent causes, external or domestic, as it was the case with the blast at a railway station in Volgograd at the end of 2013. We have not forgotten anything and anyone,” Putin said at a session he chaired late on Monday.

“The murder of our nationals in Sinai is among the bloodiest crimes as to the number of casualties,” he said. “We will not be wiping tears away from our souls and our hearts. This will stay with us forever,” Putin continued.

“But this will not prevent us from finding and punishing the criminals,” Putin pledged.

“We must be doing this without limitations period, and know each of them by name. We will be searching them everywhere, no matter where they hide. We will find them in any point of the globe and they will be punished,” the president stressed.

Read more » TASS
See more » http://tass.ru/en/politics/837089

Anonymous ‘declares war’ on Islamic State

Anonymous is promising its “biggest operation ever” against Islamic State militants (IS).

The hacking group’s “declared war” against the extremists after the attacks in Paris on Friday.

In a YouTube video, a spokesman wearing the group’s signature mask said they’d use their knowledge to “unite humanity”.

Speaking French he warned IS members to “expect us”, saying “Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down”.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/34836400/anonymous-declares-war-on-islamic-state

I am Paris. We are Paris. Peace march for Paris victims in Karachi

Peace march for Paris victims in Karachi

KARACHI: Activists of rights groups and civil society gathered at the Teen Talwar traffic intersection in Clifton on Sunday and marched on the French consulate to express solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks.

The rally called ‘peace march’ was organised by the Sindh Secular Forum and other civil society organisations in the city.

The participants were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans condemning the attacks.

They chanted “I am Paris” and condemned the attacks said to have been planned and executed by the so-called Islamic State.

Read more » DAWN
See more »  http://www.dawn.com/news/1219962/

NAP progress not only reason of tension between institutions

ISLAMABAD: A lack of progress on the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism in the wake of the Army Public School massacre was just one of many reasons behind the civil-military tensions that boiled over last week.

In background conversations with Dawn, military officials and civilian leaders offered their own interpretations for the reasons behind a public spat between the government and the army.

Also read: Military’s complaint

Sources say that there have been a number of recent developments that have strained the ever-sensitive balance of power between the two institutions.

After the corps commanders’ meeting on Nov 10, the military leadership expressed its dissatisfaction with the government’s performance on NAP. This prompted an uncharacteristic response from the PM Office the following day, which emphasised that effective implementation of NAP was the shared responsibility of all national institutions working within the ambit of the constitution.

A senior government functionary close to the PML-N leadership told Dawn that the prime minister had never been very comfortable with the army chief’s trips to international capitals. He was particularly unhappy, the functionary said, with Gen Raheel Sharif’s visits to Saudi Arabia in the first week of November, and now the US.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1220034

 The Saudis Are Stumbling. They May Take the Middle East with Them.

America’s leading Sunni ally is proving how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptitude can trump even bottomless wealth

By Conn Hallinan

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful.

Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush.

It wasn’t a modest foreign policy, but it was a discreet one.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

Read more » The Nation
See more » http://www.thenation.com/article/the-saudis-are-stumbling-they-may-take-the-middle-east-with-them/

Chinese firm takes control of Gwadar Port free-trade zone in Pakistan

Gulf gateway key to plans to ship oil overland to inland provinces

By Summer Zhen

A Chinese firm officially took control of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port free-trade zone on Wednesday, further cementing its role in the Gwader area, a gateway to oil-exporting Gulf countries, and analysts see the deal as a chance for China to change the oil import game.

Under the agreement, state-backed Chinese Overseas Ports will manage the free-trade zone on a 43-year lease. The formal handover signals the Chinese side’s control of all the port’s business affairs.

Gwadar port is a deep sea port that sits next to the Strait of Hormuz, the key oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf and it lies only 120km from the Iranian border.

As part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor scheme, China plans to make Gwadar a transportation hub by building a 3,000km railway linking Xinjiang, in western China, with Gwadar.

Read more » South China Morning Post
See more » http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/1877882/chinese-firm-takes-control-gwadar-port-free-trade-zone-pakistan

France announces Raqqa air strikes on ISIS – CNN

French jets bomb Syria in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa

By Tim Lister and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

(CNN) French fighter jets bombed a series of ISIS sites in Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday in what officials described as a major bombardment.

The targets included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.

ISIS claims Raqqa as the capital of its so-called caliphate. The airstrikes come two days after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which France’s President described as “an act of war.”

Twelve aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, were involved in Sunday’s airstrikes, Soria said.

Read more » CNN
See more » http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/15/middleeast/france-announces-raqqa-airstrikes-on-isis/index.html

Bernie Sanders Is Really Not Impressed With Hillary Clinton’s Plan For Wall Street

This is the moment when things got heated.

By Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was not impressed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s plan to regulate Wall Street.

“I’ve laid out a very aggressive plan to rein in Wall Street, not just the big banks; that’s a part of the problem and I am going right at them, I’ve got a tough plan,” Clinton said, going on to explain how the government needed to regulate the “shadow banking industry” such as hedge funds, insurance companies and investment banks.

Read more » The Huffington Post
See more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-wall-street_5647f6cee4b08cda34892850?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013&section=politics

No, you are not in Europe, you are very much in Karachi

Burnes Road re-envisioned by architecture students

BY SHAZIA HASAN

KARACHI: Pretty stone buildings with stained glass windows and wooden jharokhas overlooking clean open pathways with roadside restaurants and fruit, sweets and snack kiosks. No traffic, no pollution, just a nice open space to walk or if you feel like it, sit down and relax on benches or enjoy the delicacies on the offer.

No, you are not in Europe, you are very much in Karachi; in fact, this is Burnes Road! This is how fourth year architecture students at the Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture (IVSAA) changed the food street at Burnes Road, well, at least as a part of their class project, if not in reality.

The presentation given by the students here on Friday saw them working in four groups — research, transportation, facade and streetscape. The aim of the project was to redesign the Burnes Road food street that is 1km long and 72ft in width as a pleasant, vibrant and pedestrian-friendly public space while looking into aspects of environmental improvement there and without losing its flavours.

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