Books, not bullets – U.S. politicians have a choice to make: they can either invest in military and war or in education and hope.

Malala1

Malala Yousafazai walks to a meeting with a member of the U.S. Senate in Washington. Photo credit: Joshua Roberts/Malala Fund

By Allison Grossman, Senior Legislative Associate at RESULTS, an international grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to ending poverty.

Books, not bullets. That’s the message that 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate and global education activist Malala Yousafzai brought to lawmakers during her very first visit to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

“U.S. politicians have a choice to make: they can either invest in military and war or in education and hope. Without education it’s impossible to achieve the peace we all seek. Education for all is the only answer,” she said.

I was lucky to spend the day going door to door on Capitol Hill with Malala, her father Ziauddin, and Malala Fund president Meighan Stone. And I’m lucky do the same work year round with RESULTS and our network of passionate, committed volunteers across the country. Like Malala, they are using their voices to change the world.

Read more » Malala Fund Blog
See more » http://community.malala.org/malala-visits-capitol-hill-to-urge-us-support-for-global-education-1217072849.html

India succeeds in bringing Pakistan under UN body to monitor Pakistan’s compliance of sanction on Dawood, Lakhvi

pak-india-flagUN body to monitor Pakistan’s compliance of sanction on Dawood, Lakhvi

NEW DELHI: Financial Action Task Force (FATF) will closely be monitoring Pakistan’s enforcement of UN financial sanctions against terrorism, through its associate body, the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), after India successfully blocked China’s attempt at a recent FATF meet in Brisbane to save non-FATF member Pakistan from such scrutiny.

India also pressed for freezing of economic resources and properties of Hafiz Saeed, Dawood Ibrahim and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi under provisions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

According to the India Today, top Indian government sources said that despite China’s intervention stating that Pakistan was not a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and hence the issue could not be taken up at the forum, India managed to ensure that Islamabad is kept under scrutiny to comply with UNSC provisions under which it should freeze the terror trio’s economic resources.

The matter was taken up at the FATF conference in Brisbane held between June 21 and 26. FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 with the aim of combating money laundering and terror financing.

Read: Modi protests China’s veto on Indian motion for UN action against Pakistan

According to sources in the government, with the support of allies like the US, India managed to derail China’s bid which was backed by Australia to shield Pakistan on terror financing.

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Police continued spying on Labour activists after their election as MPs

UKEx-minister Peter Hain says whistleblower’s disclosure of spying operations during 1990s raises questions about parliamentary sovereignty

By  and 

Police conducted spying operations on a string of Labour politicians during the 1990s, covertly monitoring them even after they had been elected to the House of Commons, a whistleblower has revealed.

Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer, said he read secret files on 10 MPs during his 11 years working for the Metropolitan police’s special branch. They include Labour’s current deputy leader, Harriet Harman, the former cabinet minister Peter Hain and the former home secretary Jack Straw.

Francis said he personally collected information on three MPs – Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and the late Bernie Grant – while he was deployed undercover infiltrating anti-racist groups. He also named Ken Livingstone, the late Tony Benn, Joan Ruddock and Dennis Skinner as having been subjected to special branch intelligence-gathering. The files on all 10 were held by Scotland Yard.

The whistleblower said special branch files were often “very extensive” and typically described the subject’s political beliefs, personal background such as parents, school and finances, and demonstrations they attended. Some contained “some personal and private matters”, Francis added.

Hain called for the home secretary, Theresa May, to ensure that an existing judge-led public inquiry into undercover policing examines the extent of the surveillance of members of parliament.

Read more » The Guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/25/police-spied-on-labour-mps-whistleblower

Warming ties between China and Russia are giving a big boost to Chinese imports of Russian oil

Photo credits: .(Reuters / Aly Song)

Photo credits: .(Reuters / Aly Song)

Russia, OPEC Jostle to Meet China Oil Demand

Glut of Crude Fuels Rivalry Between the Major Producers

By BRIAN SPEGELE

BEIJING—Warming ties between China and Russia are giving a big boost to Chinese imports of Russian oil, to the chagrin of OPEC nations jockeying for a slice of China’s market.

Faced with falling prices and lower demand from the U.S., oil-exporting nations are increasingly putting their hopes in China’s still-robust demand for crude. But Saudi Arabia and other big producers like Venezuela have seen such sales drop as Moscow’s isolation from the West over Ukraine prompts it to turn to Beijing.

Read more » The Wall Street Journal
See more » http://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-opec-jostle-to-meet-china-oil-demand-1421987738

Convent principals among 3 Filipino missionaries ‘expelled’ by government of Pakistan.

BY MALIK ASAD

SLAMABAD: Following attempts to shut down an international non-governmental organisation (INGO), the federal government has ordered three Filipino missionary workers, including the principals of the Islamabad Convent Schools, to leave the country within two weeks.

On June 11, the government ordered the closure of INGO Save The Children, but the order was suspended the following day.

On Wednesday, the administration of the Islamabad Convent Schools in sectors F-8 and H-8 were handed letters intimating the cancellation of visas for three Philippine missionary workers.

The three are Ms Miraflor Aclan Bahan, principal of the F-8 branch, Delia Coyoca Rubio, the principal of the H-8 branch, and Elizabeth Umail Siguenza, the finance officer at the H-8 branch.

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First Silk Road rail cargo enters Iran is part of an ambitious Chinese plan

China3First Silk Road rail cargo enters Iran

The first cargo carried on the Silk Road railway has entered Iran from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, local officials said. 

The cargo, including 45 freight wagons, crossed the Incha-Burun border with Turkmenistan into Iran, local officials in the Golestan province said.

It followed the signing of a document for cooperation between Iranian and Kazakh railway officials, head of the Northeast Railway 2 Mohammad Reza Qorbani said.

In their joint session, the mode of cooperation between Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and other countries for transit and rail transportation was discussed.

“At the session, existing infrastructures and potentials of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways and neighboring countries, Iran’s development plans and active transit corridors passing through Iran were discussed,” Qorbani said.

They also decided to work on developing the Incha-Burun-Bandar Abbas line as the new Silk Road route, he said.

The railway linking Iran to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan at a length of 926 kilometers was inaugurated last year.

Iran and Central Asian nations have stepped up work on establishing an integrated freight railway network to link Asia to the Persian Gulf, Europe and Africa.

It is part of an ambitious Chinese plan to revive the Silk Road which would require building of a network of roads, railways, ports and airports.

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Saudi Arabia, Russia sign nuclear power cooperation deal

saudiBY KHOBAR, SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia and Russia have signed an agreement to cooperate on nuclear energy development, a Saudi government body in charge of such projects said.

The government body, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, announced the cooperation deal on its website on Thursday but gave no further details.

Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV, citing unnamed sources, said the kingdom planned to build 16 nuclear reactors in which Russia would play a significant role in operating them.

Read more » Reuters
See more » http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/06/19/uk-saudi-russia-nuclear-idUKKBN0OZ10R20150619

Army chief arrives in Russia for crucial talks: ISPR

By Kamran Yousuf

ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Moscow on a three-day official visit to Russia against the backdrop of realignments taking place in the region.

The chief military spokesperson, who is also accompanying the army chief, said General Raheel was given an “elegant guard of honour” at a ceremony held at Kremlin on Monday.

“Wreath laying at tomb of unknown soldier. Heart warming to see Russian band play Pakistan anthem perfectly,” Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/904003/army-chief-arrives-in-russia-for-crucial-talks-ispr/

‘No deal’ with Greece as talks in Brussels fail

The latest round of talks between Greek and EU officials in Brussels has failed to reach an agreement.

A European Commission spokesman said while that progress was made on Sunday, “significant gaps” remained.

Europe wants Greece to make spending cuts worth €2bn (£1.44bn), to secure a deal that will unlock bailout funds.

Greek deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis said that Athens was still ready to negotiate with its lenders.

He said Greek government proposals submitted on Sunday had fully covered the fiscal deficit as demanded.

However, Mr Dragasakis added that the EU and IMF still wanted Greece to cut pensions – something Athens has said it would never accept.

The cash-strapped nation is trying to agree a funding deal with the European Union and IMF before the end of June to avoid a default.

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss Greece when they meet on Thursday. The gathering is regarded as Greece’s last chance to strike a deal.

The Commission spokesman said: “President [Jean-Claude] Juncker remains convinced that with stronger reform efforts on the Greek side and political will on all sides, a solution can still be found before the end of the month.”

‘Losing patience’

The talks come as Germany ramps up pressure on Greece. Vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that European nations were losing patience with Greece.

Germany wanted to keep Greece in the eurozone, but writing in Bild he warned that “not only is time running out, but so too is patience across Europe”.

Mr Sigmar is also economy minister and head of junior coalition partners the Social Democrats.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33125801

China’s Xinjiang launches cargo train service to Moscow

URUMQI, June 10 (Xinhua) — Railway authorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region on Wednesday launched a cargo train service linking its regional capital of Urumqi with Moscow.

The one more cargo train service westward can help boost the development of the northwestern autonomous region, a “core area” of the Silk Road economic belt, said Liu Jianxin, vice governor of Xinjiang, at the launch ceremony.

Since March 2014, Xinjiang has opened cargo train service to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey and also Chelyabinsk of Russia.

The first train, loaded with 1,300 tonnes of PVC, left Urumqi at 6:15 p.m. and is scheduled to reach Moscow more than 4,000 km away in about ten days. It will return with wood pulp from Russia.

Wang Hongxin, chairman of Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co., Ltd., said the cargo service can help drive the company’s annual sales of PVC by 10 percent.

By the second half of the year, more than three cargo trains will run between Xinjiang and the destinations in Russia and also central and western Asia per week.

The trains can then transport 50 billion yuan (8.1 billion U.S. dollars) of cargo a year, Liu said.

Editor: yan

News courtesy: Xinhuanet
Read more » http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-06/10/c_134315616.htm

Sikh referendum 2020: Demand for Independence of Punjab Echoes in San Francisco

San Francisco (RPRN) 06/08/15 —  Thousands of North American Sikhs converged in downtown San Francisco to commemorate the 31st year of Indian Army’s invasion of Golden Temple in which thousands of Sikh pilgrims were massacred.

A highly visible stage at the San Francisco City Hall carried the larger than life portrait of slain Sikh separatist leader Sant Bhindranwle, while the speakers paid homage to the perennial chief of Damdami Taksal who headed the movement for independent Sikh country, “Khalistan”.

The “Sovereignty Rally” attended by more ten thousand Sikhs, was organized by the management committees of Gurudwaras across California.

Bringing the city of San Francisco to a halt, admirers and followers of Bhindranwale marched through the streets chanting slogans demanding referendum in the Indian occupied State of Punjab. Wearing T-shirts with pictures of slain separatist leader, Sikh youths were carrying placards for “Referendum 2020”.

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) an international human rights group is advocating for holding of referendum in the year 2020 to create separate Sikh country.

Pointing to the growing popularity of campaign for Sikh Referendum, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun legal advisor to SFJ stated that Sant Bhindranwale represented the community’s aspirations for independence and was not a terrorist as portrayed by the Indian government.

“History is a witness that in more than 300 years Sikh community was never an aggressor and only laid lives defending its right to peaceful existence”, added attorney Pannun.

What lies at the bottom of the controversy between the disgruntled Sikhs and Indian Government is the Explanation II to Article 25 of the constitution of India which labels Sikhs as Hindus. Offended by the constitutional assault on independent status of Sikhism, Bhindranwale initially lead the movement for abolition of Article 25 which ultimately culminated in demanding cession of Punjab, the historical homeland of Sikhs, from India.

News courtesy: RushPrNews
Read more » http://rushprnews.com/2015/06/08/demand-for-independence-of-punjab-echoes-in-san-francisco

ISIS terrorists ambush and behead 10 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as the bloody rivalry between the terror groups intensifies

ISIS jihadis intercepted and killed Taliban fighters as they fled a firefight
Taliban were trying to escape government troops at the time of the ambush
The attack took place in a remote area in eastern Nangarhar province
ISIS fighters killed at least 10 of the Taliban fighters in brutal beheadings

By JOHN HALL FOR MAILONLINE

Extremists fighting for the Islamic State’s fledgling outpost in Afghanistan have brutally beheaded at least 10 Taliban members, as the bloody rivalry between the two Islamic terror groups intensifies.

The attack took place in a remote area in the eastern province of Nangarhar after ISIS jihadis intercepted at least a dozen Taliban fighters who were fleeing a gun battle with government troops.

The rival terror groups declared war on one another in April after the Afghan Taliban branded ISIS’ self-declared caliphate illegitimate and refused to declare allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

ISIS responded by launching recruitment drives deep into Taliban territory, allowing them to expand rapidly – even reportedly replacing the Taliban as the dominant controlling force in one district.

Details of the mass beheadings were revealed by India.com, who said it came as Taliban fighters fled a remote outpost following a fierce firefight with Afghan security forces nearby.

The report suggested that as many as 12 Taliban fighters may have been beheaded by ISIS, although the official figure remains at 10.

Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, is a key target for ISIS as it looks to expand the territory under its control on its mission to build a worldwide caliphate.

Over the past year members of the Pakistani Taliban have displayed for more support for ISIS than their Afghan counterparts have done, with a number of prominent Pakistani jihadi groups going as far as declaring allegiance to ISIS leader al-Baghdadi while insisting they remain part of the Taliban.

The divide between the Afghan and Pakistani branches of the Taliban stems from the former’s desire to keep all non-Afghan influence out of the country, which the latter’s priority is to create a global caliphate, or Islamic state, under which harsh Sharia law would be enforced.

See more » DailyMail
More » http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3114979/ISIS-terrorists-ambush-behead-10-Taliban-fighters-Afghanistan-bloody-rivalry-terror-groups-intensifies.html
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3114979/ISIS-terrorists-ambush-behead-10-Taliban-fighters-Afghanistan-bloody-rivalry-terror-groups-intensifies.html#ixzz3cyr7X9nz
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Taliban to the rescue: Iran reportedly arms Afghan militants against US, ISIS

Tehran is reportedly betting on the Taliban’s rise and is providing the militant movement with arms and training to secure leverage over it. Iran wants influence to counter the US and have fighters ready for a possible offensive by Islamic State.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Iran has been providing the Taliban not only with money, but also hosted training camps in its territory since at least the fall of 2013. The US newspaper cites Western and Afghan officials and also a Taliban commander, who, the report says, was recruited by Iranian intelligence and is currently on Iran’s payroll.

“Iran is betting on the re-emergence of the Taliban,” a Western diplomat told WSJ. “They are uncertain about where Afghanistan is heading right now, so they are hedging their bets.”

Iran’s support of the Taliban is an alliance of convenience, according to the report. Iran is a Shiite country while the Taliban is Sunni, a difference that is difficult to bridge. In 2001, Tehran didn’t object to the ousting of the Taliban from power by a US-led invasion.

However, things have evolved, and with Taliban influence in Afghanistan growing, having a hand in it is becoming a useful asset. In 2013, the Iranians officially invited a Taliban delegation to an Islam conference.

WSJ interviewed Abdullah, a Taliban commander, who said he was an Afghan illegal immigrant in Iran, who was recruited by Iranian intelligence. He currently receives $580-a-month salary as well as necessary supplies from his sponsors, he said. Among the weapons he can order are 82mm mortars, light machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, he added.

Abdullah and Afghan official said Iran operates four training camps for the Taliban in the Iranian cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Zahedan and in the province of Kerman.

The report points to Tayeb Agha, the head of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, as the main connection between the movement and Iran.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/266812-iran-arms-taliban-isis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Indonesian volcano about to erupt near site that once caused “nuclear winter”

Eruption near supervolcano? Mount Sinabung could rain down hell

An Indonesian volcano near an ancient volcano that once nearly destroyed humankind is getting ready to erupt. At the moment, it’s throwing smoke high into the sky.

Sinabung volcano in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, is only 35 kilometers from the Toba volcano whose super-eruption, according to scientists, put mankind on the brink of extinction almost 70,000 years ago by causing a “nuclear winter,” which could have lasted several years

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/266341-sinabung-volcano-eruption-indonesia/

Turkey’s Ruling Party Loses Parliamentary Majority

ISTANBUL — Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that dealt a blow to his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and increase his power.

The election results represented a significant setback to Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post. After more than a decade as prime minister, Mr. Erdogan has pushed for more control of the judiciary and cracked down on any form of criticism, including prosecutions of those who insult him on social media, but his efforts appeared to have run aground on Sunday.

The election was also a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping antigovernment protests two years ago.

Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., still won by far the most seats in Parliament, but not a majority, according to preliminary results released Sunday night. The outcome suggested contentious days of jockeying ahead as the party moves to form a coalition government. Already, analysts were raising the possibility Sunday of new elections if a government cannot be formed swiftly. Many Turks were happy to see Mr. Erdogan’s powers curtailed, even though the prospect of a coalition government evokes dark memories of political instability and economic malaise during the 1990s.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/world/europe/turkey-election-recep-tayyip-erdogan-kurds-hdp.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

The fake pictures of the Rohingya crisis

The plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar was thrust into the spotlight last month after thousands of migrants were left stranded at sea – but not all the images being shared online are what they seem to be.

The Rohingyas are a distinct Muslim ethnic group mainly living in Myanmar, also known as Burma. They are not recognised as citizens of Myanmar and face persecution in the majority Buddhist country, where many live in crowded camps. Powerful and seemingly genuine pictures and videos emerged of what Rohingyas must endure in Myanmar after thousands of migrants were left adrift with low supplies of food and water last month. But BBC Trending found some of the images being shared online don’t show Rohingyas at all – but instead come from other disasters and news events.

Many of these images are graphic and disturbing. One of the photos, for instance, that shows up in search results shows Buddhist monks standing among piles of body parts. On Facebook and Twitter, the photograph has been cited as an example of Buddhist violence against Rohingyas. But the picture is not from Burma at all – it was actually taken in the aftermath of an earthquake in China in April 2010.

Another picture shows a man on fire running across the road. One group that shared the photo on Facebook suggesting the man suffered horrific abuse – that he was chopped up and burnt alive. But the real story is much different. In fact, the photo is of Jamphel Yeshi, a Tibetan activist who set himself on fire in Delhi in 2012 to protest against the Chinese president’s visit to India.

There are many disturbing pictures of children circulating as well. One shows a boy tied to a wooden pole, with the marks of beatings visible across his back. While online posts call him a Rohingya boy, he’s actually a seven-year-old Thai child who was beaten up by a relative for stealing sweets earlier this year.

Then there’s this photo which has been widely shared, particularly in India and Pakistan, showing a motorcycle riding across the hands of school students who are lying on the ground with outstretched arms. The incident was actually a stunt by a martial arts trainer in south India:

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-32979147

China warns India about taking up Vietnam’s offer for oil exploration in disputed South China Sea

india chinaBy 

BEIJING: China on Tuesday warned India against meddling in its dispute with Vietnam over islands in the South China Sea. It also opposed the latest move by the Vietnamese government inviting India to carry out oil exploration in South China Sea.

“With regard to the Vietnamese prime minister’s call for India to support the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea, I want to point out that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue and consultations by countries directly involved on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law,” Hong Lei, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.

He was reacting to an offer by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asking India to launch exploration in two oil fields for exploration in the South China Sea.

News courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA
Read more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/China-warns-India-about-taking-up-Vietnams-offer-for-oil-exploration-in-disputed-South-China-Sea/articleshow/44960780.cms

Saudi Arabia, Israel Have Been Holding Secret Talks Since Last Year Over How To Deal With Iran

By @angeloyoung_

Saudi Arabia and Israel appear to be ascribing to the ancient proverb that says “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The two countries have held five secret meetings since the beginning of 2014 to address their regional foe, Iran, it was revealed on Thursday at a Council of Foreign Relations event in Washington.

“Our standing today on this stage does not mean we have resolved all the differences that our countries have shared over the years,” said Dore Gold, who will soon become Israel’s next foreign ministry director general, according to Bloomberg. “But our hope is we will be able to address them fully in the years ahead.”

Read more » INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES
See more » http://www.ibtimes.com/saudi-arabia-israel-have-been-holding-secret-talks-last-year-over-how-deal-iran-1953634

Isis militant takes selfie, shows US where command centre is

PafBy TheJournal.ieCatherine Healy

US intelligence forces were able to identity the location of the Islamic State’s Syrian headquarters after a member of the group posted an online selfie.

Florida-based specialists were able to pinpoint the militant’s exact location and carry out an air strike less than 24 hours after the photo was spotted, according to an Air Force Times report quoting remarks made by US Air Force General Hawk Carlisle at a military event.

Read more » Yahoo News
See more » https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/isis-militant-takes-selfie-shows-us-where-command-105536898.html

20 Army personnel killed in militant attack in Manipur, India

NEW DELHI: At least 20 Army personnel were killed and 12 injured in a militant attack in Manipur’s Chandel district on Thursday, TV reports said.

The 6 Dogra convoy came under attack while it was coming from Motul towards Imphal. The incident took place at 8.45am. The injured soldiers have been airlifted to Nagaland.

An Army spokesman said that the militants first fired rocket-propelled grenades at the four-vehicle convoy which was on its way to Imphal from Chandel. The ambush took place when the convoy reached between Paralong and Charong villages.

Most of the bodies were charred.

Read more » The Times of India
See more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/20-Army-personnel-killed-in-militant-attack-in-Manipur/articleshow/47539776.cms

Ghani’s Leaked Letter to Nawaz Exposes Af-Pak Strains

By Rana Banerji

President Ashraf Ghani’s May 29 missive to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deliberately leaked to international media, warned that Afghan patience was wearing thin.

This, even as the Afghan Taliban spring offensive intensified and Pakistan was seemingly unable to exert adequate pressure on them to hold off.

The ultimatum to otherwise reverse Afghanistan’s diplomatic outreach to Pakistan within three weeks is a sequel to the furore which broke out in sections of Afghan civil society.

Read more » TheQuint
See more » http://www.thequint.com/2015/jun/02/ghanis-leaked-letter-to-nawaz-exposes-pak-afghan-strains

Driverless truck corridor from Mexico to Manitoba proposed – Corridor would follow Route 83 from Mexico through U.S., up to Manitoba, Canada

By Clare Clancy

Trucks hauling cargo from Canada through the United States to Mexico and back navigate border crossings without the need for passports, visas or even a driver to steer them.

It’s an idea that’s not too far-fetched, says a group that met in North Dakota last week.

Marlo Anderson with the Central North American Trade Corridor Association says members are working to turn the idea into reality.

The plan is for an autonomous vehicle corridor along Route 83, which runs north-south through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The road then continues into Manitoba.

A study into the feasibility of the project is being planned and Anderson says the group wants to travel to communities along the corridor to gain support.

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/driverless-truck-corridor-from-mexico-to-manitoba-proposed-1.3086215

Lahore, Muslims set Christian colony ablaze: new charges of blasphemy

by Jibran Khan

A young drug addict with mental health problems is accused of burning newspapers containing sacred verses. Islamic leaders called for his death; faced with the refusal of the police, hundreds attacked the Christian community. Unknown the fate of the accused.

Read more » Asia News
See more » http://www.asianews.it/index.php?art=34330&l=en

Toe-to-Toe with Putin: Canada Is Keeping an Eye on Expanding Russian Military In the Arctic

by Ben Makuch

Today, in the morning hours of Moscow time, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave orders for snap military exercises in the Russian Far North. The sudden “combat readiness” maneuvers of the Northern Fleet are just the latest military flexing in the Arctic by Putin since the Ukraine crisis began in 2013.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is quoted in Sputnik News, the English wing of the state media apparatus, explaining that the exercises are designed to test Russia’s ability to defend its Arctic regions.

“New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the Armed Forces and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging [of forces] in the North,” said Shoigu.

Back in January, Putin announced major spending plans for Russian military infrastructure in the Arctic as well as expanding the very Northern Fleet currently testing its mettle.

Canada, a major Arctic player and key opponent to Russia in the quest for expanded borders in the Far North looked at that military expansionism with concern.

“Canada is aware of Russia’s announced military infrastructure developments in its North,” said a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs at the time, “[W]e remain vigilant in our surveillance of the Arctic.”

Along with Canada, Russia and other Arctic nations are making competing United Nations bids over potentially lucrative Arctic lands, staking a claim on a region with reportedly 90 billion barrels worth of oil sitting untapped beneath the frozen crust.

“Our objective has been to obtain the most expansive continental shelf for Canada. We are working to ensure that Canada secures international recognition of the full extent of our continental shelf, including the North Pole,” said the Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

At the same time, the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) is detecting an uptick in Russian long range bombers approaching the the US and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ)—something that hasn’t happened as regularly since the end of the Cold War.

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Russia Just Closed NATO’s Land Corridor to Afghanistan

By RI Staff

“The graveyard of empires” just got a little bit more graveyardy: Medvedev has‬ canceled the decree that allows ‪NATO‬ forces to use Russian territory as a transit corridor to Afghanistan. The decision comes just as it was revealed that the U.S. plans on extending its already over-extended “stay” in Afghanistan

Read more » Russia Insider
See more » http://russia-insider.com/en/russia-just-closed-natos-land-corridor-afghanistan/ri7078

Islamic State burned a woman alive for not engaging in an ‘extreme’ sex act, U.N. official says

By Ishaan Tharoor

Amid all the Islamic State’s  atrocities — its massacres of civilians, its beheading of hostages, its pillaging of antiquities — the systematic violence the jihadists have carried out against countless enslaved women and girls never fails to shock. For months now, we’ve heard appalling testimony from women who escaped the Islamic State’s clutches, many of whom endured rape and other hideous acts of violence.

Zainab Bangura, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, recently conducted a tour of refugee camps in the shadow of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, war-ravaged countries where the Islamic State commands swaths of territory. She heard a host of horror stories from victims and their families and recounted them in an interview earlier this week withthe Middle East Eye, an independent regional news site.

“They are institutionalizing sexual violence,” Bangura said of the Islamic State. “The brutalization of women and girls is central to their ideology.”

Bangura detailed the processes by which “pretty virgins” captured by the jihadists were bought and sold at auctions. Here’s a chilling excerpt:

After attacking a village, [the Islamic State] splits women from men and executes boys and men aged 14 and over. The women and mothers are separated; girls are stripped naked, tested for virginity and examined for breast size and prettiness. The youngest, and those considered the prettiest virgins fetch higher prices and are sent to Raqqa, the IS stronghold.

There is a hierarchy: sheikhs get first choice, then emirs, then fighters. They often take three or four girls each and keep them for a month or so, until they grow tired of a girl, when she goes back to market. At slave auctions, buyers haggle fiercely, driving down prices by disparaging girls as flat-chested or unattractive.

We heard about one girl who was traded 22 times, and another, who had escaped, told us that the sheikh who had captured her wrote his name on the back of her hand to show that she was his “property.”

Estimates vary, but there are believed to be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 women enslaved by the Islamic State. Many are Yazidis, a persecuted minority sect that the extremist Islamic State considers to be apostate “devil-worshippers,” in part because of the Yazidis’ ancient connection to the region’s pre-Islamic past. The jihadists’ treatment of Yazidi women, in particular, has been marked out by its contempt and savagery.

Here’s Bangura again:

They commit rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and other acts of extreme brutality. We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act. We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.

Hundreds of Yazidi women and girls have escaped their captors, either by running away, or being ransomed and rescued by their families. Bangura has urged international assistance in providing proper medical and “psychosocial” support to the escaped women, who have experienced terrible trauma.

News courtesy » The Washington Post
Read more » http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/05/22/islamic-state-burned-a-woman-alive-for-not-engaging-in-an-extreme-sex-act-u-n-official-says/?tid=sm_fb

Russian President Putin will visit Pakistan soon

BY IFTIKHAR MASHWANI

ISLAMABAD: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Pakistan soon to boost bilateral relations between Pakistan and Russia.This was disclosed by Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Sunday in Islamabad.
He said the date is not finalized for Putin visit, but Pakistan already invited Russian President and he accepted the our invitation. Pakistan and Russia have great potentials to boost their relations in all Fields including social,economic and defense and strategic sectors. Pakistan and Russia are important countries of the region and both countries can play pivotal role in the stability in the region.

In the present circumstances, Russia become a most important country for Pakistan. Now Russia is no longer ignored by Pakistani policymakers. Ties are warming up between Islamabad and Moscow in the past few years as geo-strategic ties have been changing the world over.

When the relationship was set to emerge, Pakistan and Russia have been repairing their fences hard hit by the hard Cold War realities. China in the Pakistan-Russia framework is a guarantor and an honest broker. These relations have been fast emerging against the backdrop of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where Pakistan stands as an observer but trying to seek full-membership of the organization, hopefully this year when the organizations will meet in Russia.Russia already ready to support Pakistani membership in the SCO. Beijing guides Moscow toward Islamabad.Russia,China and Pakistan will becomes strong regional allies for all level.

Read more » World Tribune Pakistan
See more » http://worldtribunepakistan.com/2015/03/08/russian-president-putin-will-visit-pakistan-soon/

The Pakistani man accused of making millions from fake degrees paid 26 cents in tax last year

The only son of a lawyer, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh grew up in a religious, middle-class Pakistani household with one ambition: He wanted to become the richest man in the world.

“Even richer than Bill Gates,” Shaikh told his employees in a speech last year.

Read more » Quartz
See more » http://qz.com/406701/the-pakistani-man-accused-of-making-millions-from-fake-degrees-paid-26-cents-in-tax-last-year/

Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions

By

Axact makes tens of millions of dollars annually by offering diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools. Fake accreditation bodies and testimonials lend the schools an air of credibility. But when customers call, they are talking to Axact sales clerks in Karachi.

Seen from the Internet, it is a vast education empire: hundreds of universities and high schools, with elegant names and smiling professors at sun-dappled American campuses.

Their websites, glossy and assured, offer online degrees in dozens of disciplines, like nursing and civil engineering. There are glowing endorsements on the CNN iReport website, enthusiastic video testimonials, and State Department authentication certificates bearing the signature of Secretary of State John Kerry.

“We host one of the most renowned faculty in the world,” boasts a woman introduced in one promotional video as the head of a law school. “Come be a part of Newford University to soar the sky of excellence.”

Yet on closer examination, this picture shimmers like a mirage. The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation.

In fact, very little in this virtual academic realm, appearing to span at least 370 websites, is real — except for the tens of millions of dollars in estimated revenue it gleans each year from many thousands of people around the world, all paid to a secretive Pakistani software company.

That company, Axact, operates from the port city of Karachi, where it employs over 2,000 people and calls itself Pakistan’s largest software exporter, with Silicon Valley-style employee perks like a swimming pool and yacht.

Axact does sell some software applications. But according to former insiders, company records and a detailed analysis of its websites, Axact’s main business has been to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale.

As interest in online education is booming, the company is aggressively positioning its school and portal websites to appear prominently in online searches, luring in potential international customers.

At Axact’s headquarters, former employees say, telephone sales agents work in shifts around the clock. Sometimes they cater to customers who clearly understand that they are buying a shady instant degree for money. But often the agents manipulate those seeking a real education, pushing them to enroll for coursework that never materializes, or assuring them that their life experiences are enough to earn them a diploma.

To boost profits, the sales agents often follow up with elaborate ruses, including impersonating American government officials, to persuade customers to buy expensive certifications or authentication documents.

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Energy secretary Amber Rudd plans to ‘unleash solar revolution’

Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary, says more households should have solar panels on their roofs

By , Energy Editor

Millions more homes should have solar panels on their roofs, the new energy secretary has suggested, vowing to “unleash a new solar revolution” across Britain.

Ms Rudd indicated she would back the continued expansion of household solar panels, which are heavily subsidised by consumers through levies on energy bills.

“I want to unleash a new solar revolution – we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase,” she told her local newspaper, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer.

Read more » The Telegraph
Learn more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/solarpower/11606820/Energy-secretary-Amber-Rudd-plans-to-unleash-solar-revolution.html?utm_content=buffer41fce&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Senior IDF source: If Lebanon war scenario becomes reality, artillery will cross border

If conflict were to break out, artillery units will have to accompany maneuvering forces over the border rather than provide supporting fire, as they did last summer.

The IDF held a series of intensive drills around the country in the past week, part of a directive issued by recently appointed Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who placed war training back at the top of the military’s priorities.

One of the exercises took place in the Jordan Valley, where the Artillery Corps 282 Support Unit spent five days training for war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although the unit of conscripts holds this type of drill annually, this year was different due to the scope and variety of live fire employed, according to a senior Artillery Corps officer who spoke to The Jerusalem Post.

“What is special in our unit is its fusion of a variety of surface- based firepower,” he said. The unit can deploy cannons to strike ground targets, precision- guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, and the Spike [Tamuz] electro-optical fireand- forget missile.

It can also employ a radar battalion that can look far beyond the immediate battle zone, to locate enemies, provide early warning of incoming fire, and pass on target coordinates for return fire in seconds.

All of this activity simulated a full-scale war in southern Lebanon, the source said. Until last week, “my battalions were in Judea and Samaria, doing daily security missions. On Saturday night, they switched to a livefire drill,” he said. Usually, a full-scale drill of this kind comes at the end of a gradually escalating exercise, involving more and more military units. This time around, the source said, the Artillery Corps flipped things around, and started with the biggest drill.

“Together with the Armored Corps’ 7 Brigade, we held two-division exercises. We want to create the most realistic simulation, so this had to involve live fire,” he said. The unit moved from Ma’aleh Efraim to Beit She’an, activating the full range of its fire power – the first time this has happened in a drill, the source said.

Read more » The Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Senior-IDF-source-If-Lebanon-war-scenario-becomes-reality-soldiers-will-cross-border-402491