As Yemenis Starve, Saudi Arabia is Accused of War Crimes in the Country

saudiBy Samuel Oakford

As a unilateral 5-day humanitarian pause declared by the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen appeared to crumble, the aid group Oxfam said Tuesday that half of Yemen’s population — almost 13 million people — is struggling to obtain food, and that some 6.5 million people are “on the brink of starvation.”

Oxfam said that since the start of conflict between the coalition and Houthi rebels in March, an average of 25,000 additional Yemenis went hungry every day. The worst hit area is Saada governorate, a Houthi stronghold which has been bombarded relentlessly by coalition jets. Fifty percent of the people in Saada face “critical” levels of hunger, the group reported.

Even prior to the outbreak of violence, Yemen was the poorest country in the Arab world, and imported the vast majority of its food, predominantly by sea. Last year, the UN’s World Food Program estimated that 10.6 million Yemenis were already food insecure.

Since airstrikes began on March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has installed a de-facto blockade of the country, leading to sparse supplies of basic necessities such as fuel, cooking gas and food like wheat and rice. While the UN and partner organizations are running desperately low on funds in Yemen, Oxfam said even with proper financing, the obstruction of commercial routes by the coalition would prevent locals from accessing the food and fuel they need to survive.

“These numbers are extremely alarming,” Tariq Riebl, head of programs for Oxfam in Yemen, told VICE News. “People may just make a direct link to the conflict, but the actual reason for a lot of the food insecurity is the economic blockade.”

“They are primarily suffering because imports are not coming in and markets are not functioning.”

Read more » Vice News
See more » https://news.vice.com/article/as-yemenis-starve-saudi-arabia-is-accused-of-war-crimes-in-the-country

Taliban leader Mullah Omar ‘dead’

Mullah Omar

Mullah Omar: Taliban leader ‘died in Pakistan in 2013′

Mullah Omar: Taliban leader ‘died in Pakistan in 2013′

Taliban leader Mullah Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s security services says.

Abdul Hassib Seddiqi told the BBC’s Afghan Service that Mullah Omar had died of health problems at a hospital in Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s government says information on his death is “credible”.

The latest reports of Mullah Omar’s death are being taken more seriously than previous such reports. The Taliban is expected to issue a statement soon.

Sources at the Taliban’s two main councils in Quetta and Peshawar in Pakistan told the BBC they were in intensive talks to agree on a replacement for Mullah Omar.

A statement from the office of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani said that it believed, “based on credible information”, that Mullah Omar died in April 2013 in Pakistan.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33703097

Pakistan terrorist leader killed in police shootout

IshaqMalik Ishaq, head of al-Qaida-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, dies with 13 others in operation some suspect may have been staged by authorities

By  in Islamabad

Leaders of Pakistan’s most infamous sectarian terrorist group, including its founder Malik Ishaq, were killed in a gun battle with police on Wednesday that many suspect may have been deliberately staged.

Ishaq and 13 other militants from the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) – including two of his sons and a top official – died after gunmen attempted to free them from custody in a pre-dawn operation, police claimed.

The al-Qaida-linked group, which Ishaq co-founded in 1996, is notorious for its attacks against Shias, as well other minority groups including Christians and Ahmedis.

Rai Muhammad Tahir, the head of Punjab’s counter-terrorism department, said Ishaq had offered to take police to an arms dump after he was arrested on Saturday.

“A special team was organised to visit the area with Malik Ishaq, his two sons and colleague Ghulam Rasool to recover explosives from a house situated in Shah Wali area of Muzaffargarh,” Tahir said.

“The moment the special team arrived at the place, some 20 militants attacked and tried to free Malik Ishaq and others. In a direct exchange of heavy fire, Malik Ishaq, his two sons and colleague Ghulam Rasool were killed along with 11 others,” he said.

The haul of weapons recovered from the house included 40kg of explosives, suicide bomb vests and guns, Tahir said.

The account raised immediate suspicions among some observers that the battle may have been an “encounter” – the name Pakistanis give to contrived killings of troublesome terror suspects whom the courts have been unable to convict.

Tahir was unable to explain why police had required so many senior LeJ leaders to attend to the identification of the weapons cache. Asad Munir, a retired officer of the inter-services intelligence directorate (ISI), Pakistan’s top spy agency, said “an encounter cannot be ruled out”.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/29/pakistan-terrorist-leader-maliq-ishaq-killed-police-shootout

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) slams killing of disappearance victim in Sindh

Raja Dahir Bhanbhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed by deep secret state-operating agencies of Pakistan

Raja Dahir Bhanbhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed by deep secret state-operating agencies of Pakistan

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over the killing of a victim of enforced disappearance in Sindh, stating that the murder represented growing intolerance of all manners of disagreement in the country.

In a statement issued on Monday, HRCP condemned the killing of Raja Dahir Bhambhro, who had reportedly been picked up by uniformed security forces personnel from his native village in Khairpur on June 4. The Commission said: “More than 20 persons had witnessed the incident. Raja Dahir was believed to have been picked up because of his affiliation with a nationalist party. On July 5, a mutilated dead body was found near Super Highway, in district Jamshoro. On July 25, police identified the deceased as Raja Dahir after fingerprint verification. The Sindh High Court had been hearing a petition against Raja Dahir’s disappearance. In fact, the case had been fixed for hearing on the very day when his dead body was identified. The hearing was scheduled for August 6.

“The killing highlights the tendency by the security forces and police personnel to transgress the law. There can be no bigger crime than the agents of the state, who are under an obligation to protect people’s lives, take away citizens’ lives.

“Unfortunately, the Sindh High Court could not ensure Raja Dahir’s safe recovery, however, it must make sure that those who abducted and killed him are duly identified, and brought to justice.

“Besides punishing the culprits in this case, those at the helm of affairs must get over their inability to address the root cause of intolerance. A stubborn refusal to tackle the foundational rot amounts to acquiescence to citizens being mowed down.”

News courtesy: Pakistan Today
Read more » http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/07/27/national/hrcp-slams-killing-of-disappearance-victim-in-sindh/

China shares fall more than 8% on growth concerns

TXSShares in mainland China have recorded their biggest one-day fall for more than eight years following a sell-off towards the end of the trading day.

The Shanghai Composite closed down 8.5% at 3,725.56 after more weak economic data raised concerns about the health of the world’s second largest economy.

Profit at China’s industrial firms dropped 0.3% in June from a year ago.

That followed data on Friday indicating that factory activity in July saw its worse performance for 15 months.

Bernard Aw, market strategist at trading firm IG, said the surprisingly weak manufacturing data “added to worries that there could be further weakness in the Chinese economy, after the patch of recent economic data showed signs of stability”.

The Shanghai market’s fall was the biggest one-day loss since February 2007.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33671459

Sindh follows Balochistan in enforced ‘Missing Persons’, ‘killed and dumped bodies’- Raja Dahir Bhambhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed by deep secret state-operating agencies of Pakistan

Raja Dahir Bhanbhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed by deep secret state-operating agencies of Pakistan

Raja Dahir Bhanbhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed by deep secret state-operating agencies of Pakistan

Desk News – Sindhi news channels are reporting killing of a forced disappeared detainee Raja Dahir Bhanbhro, a political worker of a Sindhi nationalist party allegedly killed  by some deep state-operating agencies as he was taken into custody few months back and a campaign was going on in the media for releasing him. Killing and dumping of political workers is highly condemnable. The state has miserably failed to contain terrorists as they are freely operating without any control and the arrested terrorists are being tried in the courts, where as the nationalists in Sindh and Balochistan are lifted, tortured and dumped to terrorise their comrades. Such people are not produced in the courts and kept for months, sometime years in the custody illegally. Raja Dahar has been killed without being given a trial. What we phrase as extra judicial murder. Is there Constitution working in this country? Is there Rule of Law? Have we learnt any lesson from history? Is there any Human Rights group to cry? Have all gone deaf and mute? Abduction and killing of political activist is absolutely an act of state crime. Do courts exist in Pakistan? Is this democracy?

There is a dire need to send message to the operators of these deep dark agencies to respect the humanity and stop torture, kill and dump of the political workers. This state torture is unacceptable in a civilized society. 

Courtesy: via Social media (Facebook)

More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.com/urdu/pakistan/2015/07/150726_raja_dahar_death_confirmed_zh

Sindhi nationalist activist and intellectual Atta Muhammad Bhanbhro’s son Raja Dahir’s body recovered

“Abduct me, and Kill me, I love my land Sindh too.” says Raja Dahir’s daughter.

Body of Sindhi intellectual Atta Muhammad Bhanbhro’s son recovered

By Ali Murad Chandio

HYDERABAD: The body of Sindhi intellectual Atta Muhammad Bhanbhro’s son recovered few days ago from the Noriabad area district Jamshoro, which identified as Raja Dahir, on Sunday.

According to the reports, the three days ago a body of man found at Noriabad area, which buried by police not to identified, after the identification of his family it identified.

The family of Raja Dahir identified on his finger marks. According to the police the body of victim recovered on 5 July 2015.

Raja Dahir was joint secretary of Jiye Sindh Muttahida Mahaz.  He was missing from Thari Mirwah, district Khairpur area on Jun 4 2015.

On other side Jiey sindh Muttahida Mhaz (JSMM) identified that this body of Raja Dahar.

Courtesy: Online Indus News
Read more » http://www.onlineindus.com/body-of-sindhi-intellectual-atta-muhammad-bhanbhros-son-recovered/

More details » BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.com/urdu/pakistan/2015/07/150726_raja_dahar_death_confirmed_zh

Indian Army should leave Kashmir: Noam Chomsky

American philosopher, scholar, linguist & a leading public intellectual, Professor Noam Chomsky. — Photo by AFP/File

American philosopher, scholar, linguist & a leading public intellectual, Professor Noam Chomsky. — Photo by AFP/File

By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net

Boston (USA): American philosopher, linguist & a leading public intellectual, Professor Noam Chomsky has said that the Indian Army should leave Kashmir as there have been ‘horrible atrocities’ in the Valley.

“Kashmir has had an awful story, especially since late 80’s after that fake election. There have been horrible atrocities. Therefore, the Indian Army should leave Kashmir,” Professor Chomsky told Mehboob Makhdoomi, a Kashmiri Author who recently got into Harvard University, in an exclusive interaction in his office at the Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology (MIT) here.

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Pakistan to overtake Britain as world’s fifth largest nuclear power

HatafBY DAVID WILLIAMS

Experts think Pakistan could have 110 nuclear weapons

Pakistan is on the verge of overtaking Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power at a time when the country faces an unprecedented threat from extremists.
American intelligence agencies believe that Pakistan now has more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons, an increase of nearly 40 per cent in two years.
It means that one of the countries considered the most unstable in the region is ahead of both Britain and, significantly arch-rival India, to own the fifth largest nuclear arsenal behind the United States, Russia, France and China.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1359231/Pakistan-overtake-Britain-worlds-fifth-largest-nuclear-power.html#ixzz3goST4AzK
See more » http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1359231/Pakistan-overtake-Britain-worlds-fifth-largest-nuclear-power.html

MQM chief Altaf Hussain dissolves MQM

AltafKARACHI: Unsettled over consecutive shocks, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain announced to dissolve the party instantaneously, SAMAA reported on Thursday.

Addressing the party’s Coordination Committee, Altaf Hussain expressed deep regret over the prevalent situation and deplored the extrajudicial killings of the party workers.

Following the announcement regarding the abolishment of the party, Altaf Hussain cut off the address and hanged up. –SAMAA

News courtesy: SAMAA TV
Read more » http://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/23-Jul-2015/altaf-hussain-dissolves-mqm

Canadian dollar drops to lowest level since 2004

Watch out - It is only a matter of time before the next recession strikes. The rich world is not ready

‘The downside could be enormous from here. There is no reason why it can’t fall much farther’

By Pete Evans

The Canadian dollar dropped to levels not seen since 2004 on Wednesday.

The loonie closed at 76.70 cents against the U.S. dollar, according to the Bank of Canada, down 0.53 cents. That’s lower than the 76.85 cents the loonie closed at on March 9, 2009, more than six years ago. The loonie hasn’t been this low since September 2004, almost 11 years ago, when it touched the 75 cent level.

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-dollar-drops-to-lowest-level-since-2004-1.3163316

Pakistan – Karachi Stocks market again at the highest level

KSEPost-Eid bonus: Karachi stocks cross all-time record high 36,000 points

BY REUTERS

KARACHI: The Karachi Stock Exchange on Wednesday closed at an all-time high with its 100 index closing above 36,000 points for the first time as the market reopened after the long festival weekend of Eidul Fitr and investors took fresh positions in chemical stocks in anticipation of better earnings.

The benchmark 100-share index of the KSE ended up 0.47 per cent, or 169.02 points, at an all-time high close of 36,056.68.

Traded volume rose 3 per cent to 621 million shares, while traded value increased by 17 per cent to 16.5 billion rupees.

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The Quest for Political Identity in Jammu Kashmir

Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Nayyar N Khan is a US based political analyst, peace activist and a freelance journalist. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

By Nayyar N Khan

Prior to the emergence of modern state, during the monarchy the subjects of monarchs had little say in their relationship with the state. Over time, the concept of citizenship and identity developed, with the principle that citizens were not just residents of a given territory, but were members of a political community with a particular identification and recognition. Civil, political, and social rights became associated with citizenship, differing by country in the balance among these and in their scope.

Different simulations of the appropriate relationship between a state and its citizens are exemplified in different systems, which legitimize these models based on their preferred political ideology. All regimes have formal institutions that reflect their ideological claims. But central to these identifications, besides having differing ideologies is the element of political identification, because modern day nation states in global north have kept religion as a private and personal matter and have set forth a “political doctrine” where citizens are equal before the law without prejudice to the their spiritual beliefs. Social scientists have established several different methodologies to understand how identities are formed and why they become politically prominent. Whether identity groups are politically important, and whether people act politically based on group membership, depends on a variety of factors, such as whether a group has a pre-existing sense of itself: it must be an existing reality with both historic ties and a forward-looking agenda. It must have some felt grievance, and it seems to need political identity to be recognized as a distinct unit. When it comes to conflict in Himalayas where the State of Jammu Kashmir comprised of different regions, with inhabitants of different ethnicity languages and religions; the factor of political identity seems more prominent and dominant in the decades long strife in the region. Historically the ethnic, religious and linguistic groups living in the State of Jammu Kashmir have a shared history of living together in peace and harmony over the centuries. This “Peace and harmony” was, however, shattered by the religiously charged atmosphere of 1947, when both India and Pakistan attained their independence under the umbrella of Two Nations Theory. Although India rejected the concept of Two Nations Theory and vowed for the secular and political identification but over the years religious identity has been a dominant insignia across the Radcliffe Line.

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Databank of over 1,000 historical sites handed over to Sindh government

BY HANEEN RAFI

KARACHI: More than 1,000 historical sites in Sindh have been painstakingly documented and made part of an electronic database, which was handed over to the Sindh government at a ceremony on Tuesday.

Ancient Indus  Civilization.

Ancient Indus (Sindh) Civilization.

The Heritage Foundation of Pakistan and the RWTH Aachen University of Germany have worked together for over three years to create this databank that focuses on establishing an authentic inventory of cultural sites in the province.

Detailed information of the 1,162 notified heritage sites of Sindh is part of a vast periphery of work that has been carried out in the province by local and international organisations. For architect Yasmin Lari, one of the project directors, “This database is about saving Sindh’s tangible heritage through management and safeguarding mechanisms.”

Though Sindh is one of the oldest civilisations, enjoying a legacy of Sufism and mysticism, folklore and oral histories, the cultural sites within it are in a state of neglect and are wearing out much faster than anticipated. This loss is not just of a tangible heritage, but also of an intangible one, which Ms Lari stresses should be halted.

Cultural sites in Badin, Dadu, Hyderabad, Ghotki, Jacobabad and Jamshoro are included in the databank. However, the most marked ones are the Moenjodaro and Makli sites, which are part of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s world heritage list.

Dr Michael Jansen, the project director representing Aachen University, said: “The most important question is how to integrate the value of the jewels of Sindh into a strategic programme for further economic and social development.”

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Girl made false rape claim

wallScared girl made false rape claim

A teenage girl falsely claimed she had been gang-raped because she was scared to tell her mother she spent the night with a colleague, a court has heard.

Victoria Eaves, 19, of Winton, Greater Manchester, told police she had been blindfolded and attacked by four men.

Officers wasted up to 200 hours on the investigation before finding CCTV evidence disproving her account.

Eaves admitted attempting to pervert the course of justice and was given a 12-month community order.

The teenager, from Bromsgrove Avenue, was also fined £192 costs at the hearing at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

Judge Adrian Lyon said Eaves had told “childish lies” to get herself out of trouble – but said he believed she was unlikely to offend again.

The fake rape was reported to police by the girl’s mother in the early hours of 28 July 2005, the court heard.

Eaves claimed she had been walking to a bus stop when she was blindfolded, bundled into a Subaru car and driven to an unknown address.

John Marsh QC, prosecuting, said: “She said she had been bundled into the house and effectively gang-raped before being blindfolded again and pushed out into the street.”

Eaves gave police a full description of the vehicle, the street and her attackers.

‘Lying culture’

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Pakistan has abolished English as an official language after almost seven decades of independence from Britain.

Pakistan replaces English with Urdu as official la»nguage

urdu3

By Javed Rana, Press TV, Islamabad

Pakistan has abolished English as an official language after almost seven decades of independence from Britain. Over 150 years ago, Britain officially replaced English with Persian and Urdu in the Indian sub continent which was divided into two separate states. Our correspondent Javed Rana has more from Islamabad.

News courtesy: Press Tv
Read more » http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/07/12/420005/Pakistan-replace-English-Urdu-official-language

Yes, Men Get Raped Too, And Mostly Suffer In Silence.

boy” Nah! How Can Men Get Raped? That’s So Funny! ”

He looked at the marks on his neck. They were almost purplish now, they pained less but they still made him shudder. Bites on his neck, nails dug in his back, impressions of fingers on his wrists. His penis hurt, it was an ugly red color, and his testicles were horrifyingly bluish black. They were physical evidence of what had happened to him. It was true, he admitted to himself. I was raped by a girl.

He remembered every little detail of what had happened, up until it got blurry and painful. He was at a party with his friends. There was a lot of drinking going on and he had had a beer or two when his friends insisted. He found her sitting next to him, sober but with a drink in her hand. She was flirting with him, touching his arms, occasionally roving her hands over his thighs. It made him uncomfortable, but she was pretty and it was the first time a girl had touched him. He didn’t know what to do. She pulled him into an isolated room and locked the door. Everything suddenly changed then. He was inebriated but he knew he didn’t want it. But she forced herself on him. She pushed him and held his arms down as she climbed on top of him. He resisted, but what she said made him stop, ‘I’ll blame it all on you’. As he lay there with pain and fear on his face, she satisfied herself with an evil smile. She left him there afterwards, telling him he should be happy that now he was a stud.

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Anti-austerity demonstrations in Athens turned violent

Violent clashes broke out at an Athens rally protesting austerity measures imposed by Greece’s European creditors.

Police estimate that 12,500 people were demonstrating in Syntagma Square outside Greek parliament, as lawmakers debated a new austerity bill that includes pension reform and tax increases.

Some in the crowd hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police, who responded with tear gas and pepper spray, temporarily turning the scene into fiery chaos.

Read more » Quartz
See more » http://qz.com/455115/anti-austerity-demonstrations-in-athens-turned-violent/

Pakistan, India border guards abandon customary Eid greeting

India-Pakistan relations.

India-Pakistan relations.

Pakistan and India border guards will not exchange customary greetings and sweets on the occasion of Eidul Fitr, said a report published on Hindustan Times.

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General MF Farooqui confirmed that “there will be no Eid greetings exchanged with Pakistani Rangers on Saturday”, the day Pakistan celebrated the first day of Eidul Fitr.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1195238/

Iraq violence: Car bomb kills scores in mainly Shia town

Iraq SyriaA car bomb has killed 120 people and injured at least 130 at a busy market in an Iraqi town, officials have said.

The attack happened in the predominantly Shia town of Khan Bani Saad, north of the capital Baghdad.

Children were among those dead in the explosion, which came as people celebrated the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Islamic State (IS) group, which control swathes of the country, has said it was behind the attack.

A statement from the group said one of its members drove three tonnes of explosives into a crowd.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33577817

The end of capitalism has begun

capitalism1Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian

By 

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

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Iran offers 3,000MW of electricity to Pakistan at low rate

wapdaQUETTA: Iranian top official at the Quetta consulate has announced that his government would supply 3,000 megawatts of electricity at a low price to end power crisis in Balochistan.

“We can increase the power supply anytime if requested by the Pakistan government,” Consul General Islamic Republic of Iran at Quetta Consulate Seyed Hassan Yahyavi told reporters on Thursday.

He said Iran is willing to help Pakistan to end persisting power crisis in the country by supplying sufficient electricity at a cheaper price.

“Iran has already increased the power supply to Gwadar from 70MW to 200MW and this process is nearly completed which will put an end to the power problem in the port city,” pointed out the Iranian diplomat.

Iranian and Pakistan electricity companies, he said, are working together. “The country is providing electricity to districts which share the border with Iran.”

Yahyavi said he met Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch and discussed issues of mutual interest, adding that the border trade and economic activities would be improved in the coming months.

He said the issue of border security was also thoroughly discussed with the chief minister. “We agreed to jointly fight to end the menace of terrorism from the bordering areas.”

Courtesy: The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/913950/iran-offers-3000mw-of-electricity-at-low-rate/

Vyapam: India’s deadly medical school exam scandal

Vyapam: India's deadly medical school exam scandal

Vyapam: India’s deadly medical school exam scandal

A medical school admission examinations scandal in India has turned into a veritable whodunit with thousands of arrests, mysterious deaths and the suspected involvement of top politicians and bureaucrats. Soutik Biswas travelled to Madhya Pradesh to investigate.

The call came late in the afternoon when he was taking some foreign journalists to meet victims of clinical trials near the central city of Indore.

It was 13 July 2013, six days after the local police had caught half a dozen students from a city hotel who they suspected were plotting to rig medical school exams.

Dr Anand Rai, a medical officer himself, has the reputation of being a feisty – if sometimes, reckless – whistle-blower, so he was helping the police with intelligence about how medical school exams were being rigged in Madhya Pradesh.

“There was a man on the line threatening to kill me. He said don’t do this job any more,” says Dr Rai, 38. The man rang off.

Two minutes later, the man called again. “Don’t you give this number to the police. You will pay for it, if you do,” he said, before hanging up.

Highest bidder

Dr Rai promptly handed over the number to the police, who tracked the call to Mumbai. A local police team went to Mumbai and arrested the caller.

The man, an assistant professor in a private medical college, turned out to be the mastermind of what has now turned out to be one of India’s biggest scandals, involving the rigging of mainly medical school admissions. He told investigators that Vyapam officials were complicit in the scandal. Vyapam is the Hindi acronym for anoffice that conducts more than 50 examinations for government jobs and medical school admissions in Madhya Pradesh.

How examinations were rigged:

  • Candidates hire impersonators – medical students from neighbouring states – who write their exam. Impersonators even appear for physical education tests.
  • Candidates pay ‘scorers’ – again medical students themselves – who sit close to them during the examination and help them cheat.
  • Question papers are leaked and sold to candidates.
  • Answer sheets are rigged and higher marks given to the candidate.
  • Unfinished answer sheets are filled up later by teachers involved in the scam.

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Vyapam scam: Media demand ‘fair probe’ in Madhya Pradesh deaths

Media in India have urged the government in the central state of Madhya Pradesh to hold a fair probe into the alleged irregularities in government jobs and admissions in educational institutions.

The government ordered an investigation into the allegations in 2013 when details emerged that “undeserving” candidates were repeatedly given admissions in medical and engineering colleges, and also in jobs.

Millions of students work hard every year to clear an exam that ensures them a place in good colleges run by state governments and also private organisations.

But media reports say that some find other means, like paying bribes or cheating, to get a place after they fail to clear the intensely competitive exam.

Opposition parties have blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not holding a fair probe into the scam which, they say, has been going on since 2007.

The BJP, however, said it was confident the authorities were investigating the allegations in a fair manner.

The scam – widely known as Vyapam – has been making headlines since 2013, but the death of an investigative reporter in the state on Saturday has brought the media’s spotlight back on the case.

Newspapers and TV channels are giving wall-to-wall coverage to Akshay Singh’s death.

He was visiting the state to investigate the scam for a national news channel.

The India Today group, Singh’s employers, has demanded a probe.

“The circumstances of the untimely death of TV Today journalist Akshay Singh merits a full, fair and independent inquiry,” the group said in a statement.

‘Mystery deaths’

Officials in the state say that at least 30 people linked with the scam have died since the start of the investigation in 2013.

However, the main opposition Congress party says more than 150 people have died.

Several mystery deaths have prompted media outlets to ask for a fair investigation.

The Deccan Herald says the scam is “an indication that the state’s institutions have degenerated and are rotten beyond belief”.

“The sheer ruthlessness that underlies the mystery deaths is probably even beyond what a seasoned crime writer can visualise. And, the most shocking part is that the Madhya Pradesh government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan does not seem to be accountable to anyone,” it says in an editorial.

The paper urges the Central Bureau of Investigation, India’s federal investigative agency, to step in to “enable a fair investigation which needs to be monitored by the Supreme Court”.

It adds that the scam “makes a complete mockery of the principle of fairness, honesty and justice – without which institutions cannot survive”.

Hindi newspaper Jansatta finds it “astonishing” that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has refused to acknowledge these deaths as “suspicious”.

It appear that witnesses are being killed “to shield some big names”, the paper adds.

Dainik Jagaran, another Hindi daily, urges the federal government to set up strict rules and monitoring systems in states to avoid such scams.

Twitter anger

Several Twitter users, including senior journalists, have also expressed their anger over these deaths.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-33405722

With China, for China – As China arrives, Pakistan cleans house

pak-chinaBy Wajahat S. Khan

The Sino-Pak axis has matured. The decades old ‘Cheen-Pak Bhai Bhai’ narrative is fast moving beyond pan-Karakoram fraternal rhetoric complemented by scenically exotic highways, shared rocket designs and muted nuclear deals to morph into optically sound, fundamentally critical, even mutually loud and proud policy, infrastructure and defense initiatives on the ground. China – and not just its submarines – is coming to Pakistan, and Pakistan is getting ready to receive the People’s Republic. The ‘Bhai’ in Beijing, as the mood in Islamabad indicates, is now a BFF – Best Friend Forever – even a Friend With Benefits.

The comprehensive Chinese assistance package – hinged on the 3000 kilometer-long China-Pak Economic Corridor, an aggressive energy build-up and military modernization – is the largest planned foreign investment program for any country, ever, touching almost crossing over $100 billion in the next decade and a half, and is being seen as the next, and perhaps the last, big thing that war-weary Pakistan must grab on to, at any cost.

The Peking Promise

The plan is simple: The deep-sea port of Gwadar is going to drive Chinese imports, largely oil and gas, into western China, which is relatively underdeveloped versus the rest of the PRC and prone to militancy. The levies, infrastructure and traffic will tone up the CPEC network to create jobs, roads and even entire towns along the way from Pakistani Balochistan, through all of the Islamic Republic’s other provinces, to Chinese Kashgar in Xinjiang. Add the potential of Chinese naval presence in Gwadar that will let it over see Hormuz and neighboring ports and the reality of Pakistan’s newly formed and purpose-built 34th Infantry Division to protect Chinese assets and personnel, and there is a single-minded confidence that the corridor must be secured and will be secured. After all, the Pakistanis have given their word to Beijing.

“China is Pakistan’s only strategic friend…not even the Saudis get to have that privilege any longer” said a senior intelligence officer last month when China’s deputy intelligence chief, Dong Haizhou was promised “no hurdles for CPEC” by army chief General Raheel Sharif during a visit to GHQ, according to the military spokesperson’s office.

So, fuelled by the blank political cheque presented to the civilian and military security apparatus by popular support after the terrible Peshawar Army Public School massacre last December – which has granted the military, police and federal investigators unprecedented constitutional powers to clean house – whoever gets in the way of a CPEC-oriented Pakistan must move aside, or be pushed out. The purge is here, and the reasoning is to satisfy China.

Housekeeping

But this isn’t just the regular arrests and assassinations purge, the type that Pakistanis are used to. It’s more of a wide-ranging political rethink, a housekeeping exercise that runs from the south to the north, just like the corridor it is meant to pave. In Karachi and Sindh, the drive against ‘corrupt’ political parties like former president Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party has begun, which has forced him to take some respite and exit the country; also, that’s where the ‘violent’ wings of Karachi’s all-powerful Muttahida Qaumi Movement are being clipped, with some help from the BBC (which claims that India’s Research and Analysis Wing funded and trained the party’s militants) and British authorities (who are investigating the MQM’s leadership in London for murder and money laundering). Karachi, too violent and complicated to tackle alone, needed a pincer move to control it, and the Pakistanis have managed to find a partner here in the UK.

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How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

prison for profitSen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

By Michael Cohen

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO andCorrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.

Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)

The Justice Policy Institute identified the private-prison industry’s three-pronged approach to increase profits through political influence: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships and networks. On its website, CCA states that the company doesn’t lobby on policies that affect “the basis for or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.” Still, several reports have documented instances when private-prison companies have indirectly supported policies that put more Americans and immigrants behind bars – such as California’s three-strikes rule and Arizona’s highly controversial anti-illegal immigration law – by donating to politicians who support them, attending meetings with officials who back them, and lobbying for funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Showing just how important these policies are to the private prison industry, both GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America have warned shareholders that changes in these policies would hurt their bottom lines.

In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.

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The Good Doctor

Dr Adib Rizvi says he and his team still has "a long way to go" to improve healthcare in Pakistan

Dr Adib Rizvi says he and his team still has “a long way to go” to improve healthcare in Pakistan

How one doctor’s inspirational leadership has made free, top-class public healthcare a reality in Pakistan.

The public healthcare system in Pakistan, as in many developing countries, struggles with a lack of resources. The result is that specialist medical treatment, such as organ transplant, is out of reach for many of the poorest and the most in need.

And yet here at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), one man’s passion means that today, more than a million patients a year receive top-class medical treatment, at no cost.

Kidney disease is a huge health issue in Pakistan compounded by poor diets and sanitation.

In 1972, Dr Adib Rizvi set up a small urology unit in Karachi, the capital of the southern Sindh province, to deal with the issue.

Inspired by the National Health Service of the UK, his goal from the beginning was to offer this treatment absolutely free to everybody. Many patients also come from Afghanistan to seek treatment.

SIUT has grown from just eight beds to over 650 beds at nine separate centres across Pakistan and today is the largest health organisation in the country.

Join The Cure presenter Dr Javid Abdelmoneim in Karachi as he meets the doctor who has spent the last 40 years providing free healthcare to those who need it most.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/thecure/2015/07/good-doctor-150714080512150.html

Politicians in Jammu Kashmir and Role of Leadership

Nayyar

Writer is a US based political analyst, human rights and peace activist of Kashmiri origin. His area of expertise is International Peace and Conflict Resolution.

By Nayyar N Khan

Political world is experiencing massive geopolitical changes. At the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Russian city of Ufa has become the point of convergence for all the initiatives and projects of the Silk World Order of trade and integration that China and Russia are spearheading. Ufa, which is the capital of Russia’s Bashkortostan, has simultaneously hosted an extraordinary summit for both the BRICS—which has increasingly become an alternative forum to that of the G7—and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) respectively from July 8 to 9 and from July 9 to 10, 2015. Meanwhile, economic crisis of Greece in Europe are deepening with every passing day. The question of how to save Greece, debated for more than five years among European Union, has taken the EU’s future at the recurring nightmare. After the country’s citizens voted in a referendum to reject the terms of a new bailout by international creditors, Greece risks having to leave the 19-nation Eurozone and forsaking the shared euro currency, a move that could decide the political future of Europe as a whole with particular line of actions in Greece. Although Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government agreed to meet most of the terms demanded by its creditors, and it requested a three-year bailout of 53.5 billion euros, or $59 billion, as a starting point for talks about possible debt relief. But things at Brussels are not as simple as considered by many across the globe.  Alexis Tsipras’s stunning victory during the elections in Greece was an alarming sign for the policymakers at the heart of European capital regarding the future of capitalism and European Union.

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Greece Financial Crisis Hits Poorest and Hungriest the Hardest

Photo credits: View Point Online

Photo credits: View Point Online

By

ATHENS — Behind the lace curtains of a soup kitchen run by a parish in the humble Athens neighborhood of Kerameikos, the needy and hungry sit down to a plate of sliced cucumbers, three hunks of bread, a shallow china bowl of chickpea soup and often a piece of meat. Sometimes there is even ice cream, a special treat.

People prize the refectory, run by a priest, for its homeyness, and they travel long distances to fill their empty stomachs at least once a day.

But on Thursday, the priest, Father Ignatios Moschos was worried that he would no longer have enough food to go around if the country’s economic paralysis continues, as it seems likely to do even if Greece and its creditors manage to work out a last-minute deal this weekend to avert a Greek exit from the euro.

“It will be hard, dark, painful,” the priest said, nibbling from a bowl of pistachios as a long line of people waited for their turn to eat at the communal tables. “We will have trouble receiving food.”

Poverty in Greece has been deepening since the financial crisis began more than five years ago. Now, aid groups and local governments say they are beginning to feel the effects of nearly two weeks of bank closings, as Greecestruggles to keep its financial system from failing and to break out of years of economic hardship.

And any deal with creditors this weekend will bring further cuts in government spending. It will also bring higher taxes and, as a consequence, more short-term pressure on the economy.

As Athens takes on the aura of Soviet Russia, with lines of people outside banks waiting to receive their daily cash allowance, some aid groups are seeing their supply channels narrow. By some accounts, lines for food, clothing and medicine have grown fivefold in parts of the capital in the last two weeks alone.

The European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, has said he shares Greeks’ concerns. President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission said this past week that the European Union was making plans for humanitarian aid to Greece to cushion the blow if a third bailout was not worked out by Sunday and Greece was forced out of the euro system.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/world/europe/greece-debt-crisis-athens-poverty-inequality.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

The Canadian economy lost 6,400 jobs in June

jobCanada sheds 6,400 jobs in June
Jobless rate holds steady at 6.8% as results beat economists’ expectations

By Pete Evans, CBC News

The Canadian economy lost 6,400 jobs in June as gains in full-time work were offset by losses of part-time jobs, Statistics Canada says.

The jobless rate stayed steady at 6.8 per cent, the same level it has been at since February. the data agency reported Friday.

It was a better showing than what a consensus of economists were expecting, which was a loss of about 10,000 positions.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canada-sheds-6-400-jobs-in-june-1.3146182