Tag Archives: American

Peter Zeihan says Alberta would be better off as 51st U.S. state

American author of The Accidental Superpower argues provinc  should join America

By CBC News

Western separatism is an old theme in Alberta, but Peter Zeihan is bringing it back into the spotlight.

Zeihan’s new book is mostly about the United States and its place in the world, but he’s dedicated an entire chapter to Alberta.

It’s there that he lays out the economic case for why Wild Rose Country should bid farewell to Confederation [Canada] and join the United States. 

“Alberta as a U.S. state would not simply be rich — the richest in the Union, in fact — but would have a vibrantly well-financed and diverse economy that would put its former (and a lot of its new-found) countrymen to shame,” writes the American author in The Accidental Superpower.

”Alberta as a U.S. state would not simply be rich — the richest in the Union, in fact — but would have a vibrantly well-financed and diverse economy.’ – Peter Zeihan, The Accidental Superpower

He argues that demographics are another reason why Alberta should jump ship.”Alberta produces more energy than the rest of Canada put together, their primary export market is the United States and a merger would eliminate everything from tax liabilities to foreign currency fluctuations,” said Zeihan.

Zeihan says the province is a lot younger than the rest of Canada and as a wave of baby boomers starts to retire, the rest of the country will become increasingly dependent on Alberta.

“As the price of that retiree bulge rises, and it’s already pushing the Canadian budget to the limit, there is really only one place that Canadians can tax to fund their retiree system that they have promised their citizens. And that is Alberta,” said Zeihan.

Zeihan says if Alberta ever did choose to go out on its own, he suspects Canada’s second richest province — Saskatchewan — would follow.

Courtesy: CBC
Read more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/peter-zeihan-says-alberta-would-be-better-off-as-51st-u-s-state-1.2998453

The biggest threats to American workers

By 

A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.

That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-biggest-threat-to-american-workers-162716201.html#more-id

Half of America in Poverty

Overwhelming Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty

And it’s much worse for black families.

The Charles Koch Foundation recently released a  commercial that ranked a near-poverty-level $34,000 family among the Top 1% of poor people in the world. Bud Konheim, CEO and co-founder of fashion company Nicole Miller,  concurred: “The guy that’s making, oh my God, he’s making $35,000 a year, why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name. China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy.”

Comments like these are condescending and self-righteous. They display an ignorance of the needs of lower-income and middle-income families in America. The costs of food and housing and education and health care and transportation and child care and taxes have been well-defined by organizations such as the  Economic Policy Institute, which calculated that a U.S. family of three would require an average of about $48,000 a year to meet basic needs; and by the  Working Poor Families Project, which estimates the income required for basic needs for a family of four at about $45,000. The  median household income is $51,000.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/economy/overwhelming-evidence-half-america-or-near-poverty

26 top American corporations paid no federal income tax from ’08 to ’12 – report

Twenty-six of the most powerful American corporations – such as Boeing, General Electric, and Verizon – paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report detailing how Fortune 500 companies exploit tax breaks and loopholes.

Read more » http://rt.com/usa/low-corporate-tax-rates-275/

India hits back, row with U.S. hots up

By Sandeep Dikshit

Withdraws some privileges in retaliation for arrest of Indian deputy consul

India on Tuesday set in motion an array of retaliatory steps against U.S. diplomats based across the country for the manner of arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, signalling the escalation of an unprecedented bilateral row.

The government asked all U.S. consular officers to turn in their identity cards and the entire American diplomatic corps their airport passes while senior Congress leaders snubbed a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation for the second straight day by refusing to meet it.

The government also ordered the Delhi Police to remove concrete barricades on public land and roads that have existed for years around the U.S. embassy, sought salary details and bank accounts of all Indian staff employed at the missions and stopped all import clearances for the U.S. embassy, especially for liquor.

Read more » The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-hits-back-row-with-us-hots-up/article5469325.ece

80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

Read more » Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/poverty-unemployment-rates_n_3666594.html

The Twilight of American Empire?

By John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus

As people near retirement age, they enter the twilight years. Sometimes, they rebel against retirement. They want to keep working. They‘re not interested in shuffling out of their office never to return. And if they’re in fact the owner of the workplace, conflicts often ensue. Those who have power rarely want to give up that power.

The United States is relatively young as a country. It is even younger as the “leader of the free world.” But for at least three decades, reports have circulated that the American empire has entered its twilight years, perhaps even its dotage.

The U.S. government itself cautioned us to scale back our expectations in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter called on Americans to cut back on consumerism and adjust to an age of diminishing expectations. Then, after the Reagan rebound, we were warned by Yale professor Paul Kennedy of imperial overstretch in the late 1980s. The Clinton years saved us from bankruptcy and the George W. Bush administration again reasserted American power in the world.

But now, the United States has again sunk into economic malaise and the wars of the last decade have left the country badly bruised. Historian Alfred McCoy believes the U.S. empire won‘t make it until 2025. Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung pulls the horizon a little closer to 2025. It’s also possible that the empire already ended and somebody forgot to make the announcement. In 2011, Standard and Poor‘s removed the United States from its list of risk-free borrowers, putting us below Canada and Australia. That could very well have been the death knell.

Predicting the end of American empire is complicated by the fact that the United States is not a traditional empire. It does not try to maintain territorial control over distant lands (though many residents of Hawai’i and Guam might disagree). It doesn‘t practice a straightforward policy of pillaging overseas possessions for their material wealth. It practices a form of consensual give-and-take with its allies in Europe and Asia.

But the American Goliath does straddle the globe militarily, with hundreds and hundreds of military bases and Special Forces operating in 71 countries. The United States remains number one in the dubious categories of overall military spending and overall military exports.

Economically, the United States attempts to use the size of its economy to negotiate favorable deals with smaller countries (think: NAFTA) and often defines its national security priorities by their proximity to valuable natural resources (think: oil). It wields disproportionate influence in international economic organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Culturally, Hollywood and the music industry and the television studios all set the standard for cool around the world. English is the world language, and the dollar (for now) is the world currency.

This is, in other words, an empire of consent. Other governments ask for our military bases (though often over the objections of their citizens). Other governments want to trade with the United States. No one makes people watch Avatar or Titanic, the top-grossing movies worldwide. No one forces consumers at gunpoint to eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. It‘s true that Washington does what it can to tilt the playing field – through export subsidies, diplomatic arm-twisting, and the occasional show of force. And it can be a very lonely world for those countries, like North Korea, that consistently defy the United States. But this still remains a much more complex set of relationships than Pax Romana or Pax Brittanica.

However one defines U.S. power, though, a fundamental shift is clearly taking place in the world. China is slated to surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy as early as 2016. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, many people already believe that China has done so. Indeed, if measured by purchasing power, China nosed past the United States a couple years ago.

It‘s not just China. The other celebrated members of the BRICS – Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa – are more quietly building up their economic and geopolitical power. Then there’s MIST – Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey – another group of rising powers. The proliferation of other groupings – the Next 11, CIVETS – all testifies to the transformation of world power.

Meanwhile, the United States is behaving like a country desperately trying to maintain its edge. It has proclaimed a “Pacific pivot” even though it doesn‘t have the resources to execute any significant shift from the Middle East to Asia. It has attempted to maintain unsustainable levels of military spending at a time of serious budget constraints. It has tried to maintain a surveillance state in the face of considerable challenges from both individuals and organizations. Detroit has gone bankrupt; bridges have collapsed in Washington state and Arizona; thousands in New York and New Jersey are still homeless after last year’s Hurricane Sandy; gun violence annually claims tens of thousands of lives.

And on the issues where the world truly needs leadership – global warming, global poverty, global militarism – the United States is either out to lunch or very much part of the problem.

An aging chief executive who resists calls for retirement will often whip out their trump card: apr?s moi, le deluge! In other words, if the top person goes, whatever their vices might be, the organization will collapse because no one else can provide effective leadership.

John Feffer is co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) at the Institute for Policy Studies. His articles and books can be found at http://www.johnfeffer.com. His latest book is Crusade 2.0 (City Lights, 2012).

The views presented in this column are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Hankyoreh.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

Courtesy: the hankyoreh
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/597923.html

American city Detroit files bankruptcy

Detroit files for bankruptcy protection

City losing residents as tax base shrinks

By The Associated Press

Once the very symbol of American industrial might, Detroit became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy Thursday, its finances ravaged and its neighbourhoods hollowed out by a long, slow decline in population and auto manufacturing.

The filing, which had been feared for months, put the city on an uncertain course that could mean laying off municipal employees, selling off assets, raising fees and scaling back basic services such as trash collection and snow plowing, which have already been slashed.

“Only one feasible path offers a way out,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a letter approving the move.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/07/18/detroit-bankruptcy.html

Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html

Snowden leaks may embarrass Canberra

By Philip Dorling

American intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden may expose top secret Australian intelligence gathering operations and embarrass Australia’s relations with neighbouring Asian countries, Australian intelligence officials fear.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/snowden-leaks-may-embarrass-canberra-20130625-2ov4l.html#ixzz2XEZC9jUQ

Zero IQ Thirty

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Recent Hollywood blockbuster, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, was quite an experience. Though sharp in its production and direction and largely accurate in depicting the events that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, it went ballistic bad in depicting everyday life on the streets of Pakistan.

With millions of dollars at their disposal, I wonder why the makers of this film couldn’t hire even a most basic advisor to inform them that

1: Pakistanis speak Urdu, English and other regional languages and NOT Arabic; 2: Pakistani men do not go around wearing 17th and 18th century headgear in markets;

3: The only Urdu heard in the film is from a group of wild-eyed men protesting against an American diplomat, calling him ‘chor.’ Chor in Urdu means robber. And the protest rally was against US drone strikes. How did that make the diplomat a chor?

4: And how on earth was a green Mercedes packed with armed men parked only a few feet away from the US embassy in Islamabad? Haven’t the producers ever heard of an area called the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad? Even a squirrel these days has to run around for a permit to enter and climb trees in that particular area.

I can go on. The following is what I have learned …

Read more » Pakistan according to Hollywood

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/31/zero-iq-thirty/

Proud of Sindhi Veterans of U.S.

By: Hanif Sangi

American Sindhis have proudly served all branches of U.S Armed Forces and have been very successful in all fields. Sindhis have proven to perform exceedingly well at front lines, we are proud of our vets.

Veterans Day is on 11/11. please take few minutes out of your busy schedule to THANK a veteran or a service member for their service to country, we all owe them a debt of gratitude. These past and present heroes have protected us 24×7. Let’s honor them for the sacrifices they have made. It is no easy choice to leave the family behind and go to war, but our men and women in uniform have done everything to protect us regardless of our race, color, religious preference and language.

We want to take this opportunity to THANK all our fellow Sindhi Americans who have served, still serving or willing to serve our adopted country. I share the pride of being able to count myself among few Sindhis who made the right choice of serving our country in uniform.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, November 11th, 2012

Ayaz Latif Palijo expresses his heartfelt sympathy and solidarity with storm victims of United States

Ayaz Latif Palijo, the president of Awami Tahreek party expresses his heartfelt sympathy and solidarity with storm victims of United States. Wish Sandy should now recede, we cannot help them but they (Americans) were always the first to come to our (Sindh’s) rescue in any natural calamity.

Source – Gul Agha’s facebook wall

Former Pakistani ambassador: Pakistan behaves ‘like Syria while wanting to be treated like Israel’

By Jamie Weinstein, Senior Editor

Recently removed Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani urged the American government to take a tougher line on his home country in a remarkably candid speech Wednesday afternoon.

“Pakistan ends up behaving like Syria while wanting to be treated like Israel,” Haqqani told several dozens journalists, think tankers, opinion makers and government officials at a luncheon in Washington held by the Center for the National Interest.

“And the behavior change is not going to come unless and until there is behavior change on your part. So you should stop the meddling. … You have to stop going in and seeing all our politicians and thinking they are all your friends and trying to influence. Make Pakistanis realize that America has an interest in Pakistan, but you know what, America respects Pakistani opinion. Show respect for Pakistani public opinion. And if Pakistanis don’t want to be your friends, you don’t want to be their friends, thank you very much.”

Haqqani, who recently returned to the United States to become director of the Center of International Relations at Boston University, was removed as Pakistani ambassador late last year after facing charges that he sought U.S. help to prevent a military coup in Pakistan in the wake of the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Haqqani, who returned to Pakistan to face the charges against him at some personal risk, maintains the charges are baseless.

But Haqqani’s essential argument at the luncheon was that America and Pakistan should no longer put up the pretense that they are allies. Haqqani said that it is unrealistic to believe that “endless discussions and chats and what I call the class of narratives will somehow, some day produce a change of thinking either in Washington” or Islamabad.

The U.S. isn’t going to be convinced to treat India as an enemy for Pakistan’s sake and Pakistan won’t be convinced to give up its nuclear weapons or end its support for jihadi groups it sees as strategically beneficial for “regional influence” because America wants it to, he said.

Continue reading Former Pakistani ambassador: Pakistan behaves ‘like Syria while wanting to be treated like Israel’

“Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

Chris Selley: Don’t worry people, there is no Muslim Tide

Canadian journalist Doug Saunders’ new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Knopf), promises and delivers an impartial examination of the notion that Muslim immigration urgently threatens Western civilization. Balanced as it is, though, it reads mostly as a thorough, fact-dense and convincing debunking of that notion. For those inclined to be reassured, it does so very efficiently.

Continue reading “Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Popular anti-Muslim myths busted in new book

By Haroon Siddiqui

It started “in the far reaches of the Internet and the mutterings of the political right, then in increasingly mainstream and mass-market venues” and has since entered “the central corridors of European and American politics.”

So writes Doug Saunders in The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Alfred Knopf Canada), to be released next week. He is the European bureau chief of the Globe and Mail, and author of the much-acclaimed Arrival City (about the sprawling slums of Mumbai, Rio, London, Paris, Chongqing, Los Angeles, etc. — the first stop in the mass migration of millions from rural to urban areas).

Saunders was living in the U.S. during the Sept. 11 attacks and in London during the July 7, 2005, subway bombing. He has reported extensively on the war on terror and on Islamophobia in Europe.

Continue reading What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Support SAPAC efforts against the Plight of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan

(Washington, DC:) [Press release] The Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) has taken serious notice of the current conspiracies against Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan. The situation has worsen further, thousands of Sindhi Hindus are migrating from Pakistan to India.

The lives of Sindhi Hindus are in danger, worship places are being converted into toilets and garages and properties are not safe. Continuous harassment, bonded labour, kidnapping, ransom, enforced conversions, enforced migration has become a routine activity in Sindhi society.

The continuous growth of illegal Muslim fanatic people from different parts of Pakistan and other countries can be traced in Sindh.

The Muslim fundamentalism is growing and society is in chaos and mayhem. The state of Pakistan has failed to protect Sindhi Hindus. The small minority of Sindhi Muslims is also involved in atrocious acts against Sindhi Hindus. There are many leaders and parties who are just giving statements and making committees although the issue is bigger than mere statements and committees. It needs actions.

This issue must be taken to International Criminal Court. The United Nations must take immediate action for the Protection of Indigenous Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan.

The Sindhi Hindus are indigenous people of Sindh. They are peaceful, law-abiding, and original Sindhis of Sindh.

SAPAC has always raised the awareness in US Congress about atrocities faced by Sindhi Hindus. SAPAC is organizing two-day advocacy campaign on September 11 and 12 at Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. We encourage you to support SAPAC in these efforts against the plight of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan.

SAPAC applauds Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman for his efforts

Washington, D.C: [press release] The Sindhi American Political Action Committee applauds the efforts of Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman for Sindh and Sindhis. The Hearing at Capitol Hill on ” The State Department’s center for strategies counter terrorism communications: Mission, operations and Impact” on August 2nd, 2012.

“The US must reach out to Sindh, where the Sindhi language is spoken by more people than Urdu,” Sherman said in his remarks at the hearing of the terrorism, non-proliferation, and trade subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman Brad Sherman’s continuous efforts and support for Sindhis and Sindh are unforgettable. He is the founder and Co-Chairman of Congressional Sindh Caucus. He initiated the efforts for VOA program in Sindhi language.

He will be keynote speaker and special guest at SAPAC’s upcoming 3rd Annual Celebration on September 12th, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Hell and al-Qaida descend on Syria

By: Tarek Fatah

Who would have thought a Canadian mother of two would leave her children behind and join the international jihad unfolding in Syria?

Meet Thwaiba Kanafani. She left the comforts of her apartment in downtown Toronto, soon to appear in a YouTube video dressed in camouflaged battle gear, holding an automatic assault rifle, to declare: “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland” as the men surrounding her chanted “Allah O Akbar.”

Kanafani is not alone. A Dutch journalist who was kidnapped by rebels inside Syria, along with his British colleague, reports some of his abductors had “Birmingham accents,” while others were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present.

Reports of non-Syrian jihadis have been confirmed by correspondents of both the Guardian and the New York Times who say foreign fighters under the banner of al-Qaida’s black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but God,” are taking a bigger role.

The jihadis are the best-funded and well-equipped of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

While the American-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) had its own share of U.S.-based Islamists pulling the strings, it is now clear these jihadis-in-suits will not be the ones determining the future of Syria when the doctor dictator is gone. Very soon, Damascus will get a taste of al-Qaida’s hatred of life and their yearning for death as they have demonstrated in the last couple of months.

In one attack by the al-Qaida fighters on the historic Damascus district of Zainabiya, the fighters made no effort to hide the al- Qaida flag. Some wore the black head bands while others wore the flags of Pakistan, Somalia, and other Muslim countries. They killed Shia residents and pilgrims as they tried to destroy the shrines of Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter Hazrat Zainab and Ruqaiya. At least one Afghan family was slaughtered inside their home.

One al-Qaida commander inside Syria, Abu Khuder, had this to say about foreign jihadis: “In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience … Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan … (al-Qaida’s) goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state.”

The role of America in Syria seems at best incompetent and disastrous.

However, evidence suggests there is a method in the madness of the Obama Administration. Instead of helping the democratic forces of Syria it has dilly-dallied on the sidelines until the Islamists managed to get an upper hand. The same cowardice was demonstrated when Iran’s democrats rose up in 2009.

One of the leaders of the Syrian al-Qaida is Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan accomplice of Osama bin Laden who, according to former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Belhadj was arrested by the CIA, but then released under mysterious circumstances and returned to Libya where he facilitated the U.S.-NATO overthrowing of Col. Moammar Gahdafi.

Now the same Libyan ally of NATO has been parachuted inside Syria with the help of the Turkish government.

Reportedly, 15,000 Syrians have given their lives to fight a dictator, and Belhadj’s presence in the war-torn country could make it a hell on earth.

Courtesy: Toronto Sun

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/31/hell-and-al-qaida-descend-on-syria

Via – Twitter

Eye Opener: An Indian-American Visits Pakistan

By: Mahanth S. Joishy

Many of us travel for business or leisure. But few ever take a trip that dramatically shatters their entire worldview of a country and a people in one fell swoop. I was lucky enough to have returned from just such a trip: a week-long sojourn in Pakistan.

It was a true eye-opener, and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that. Many of the assumptions and feelings I had held toward the country for nearly 30 years were challenged and exposed as wrong and even ignorant outright.

Continue reading Eye Opener: An Indian-American Visits Pakistan

What’s Wrong with Pakistan?

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in the territorial waters of Balochistan near the port city of Gwadar

Reports claim American supership USS Enterprise is in Pak territorial waters

By Shafqat Ali

US moves its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, into Pakistani territorial waters near Gwadar, media reports said.

“The US has moved its biggest aircraft carrier 65 to 70 nautical miles away from Gwadar in the second week of June”, a Pakistani television channel reported.

The USS Enterprise, which holds a crew of over 4,000, had taken part in several wars.

The move comes as relations between Pakistan and the US have touched new lows. Pakistan has refused to reopen Nato supply through infuriating the US.

The Pak-US relations have never recovered to normal since the killing of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in May last year. The killing of 26 Pakistani soldiers by the Nato forces in November further dented the ties.

“After the deployment of the aircraft in Pakistani sea the country’s security agencies are now investigating into the matter. The movement apparently shows the increasing interest of the US in Balochistan province of Pakistan”, another channel reported.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon plans to soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

The move to introduce new small drones seeks to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, the report said.

Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the US government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups, the newspaper said.

The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smouldering rubble.

The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.

“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible”, said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.

The Obama administration, notably the CIA, has long been lambasted by critics for its use of combat drones and carelessly killing civilians in targeted strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.

In Islamabad, on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Muazzam Khan said that efforts were underway to mend the strained relationship between Pakistan and the US.

Speaking to reporters at a weekly news briefing, Mr Khan said that the decision to restore the Nato supply route would be made by the political leadership.

The FO spokesman dispelled the impression that Pakistan was raising the tariff on the supply route adding that there were several other issues involved.

“Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used as terrorist safe havens”, he added.

Courtesy: Decan Chronicle

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/world/asia/reports-claim-american-supership-uss-enterprise-pak-territorial-waters-664#comment-123222

Obama Increases Pakistan Drone Strikes as Relations Sour

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan

President Barack Obama has ordered a sharp increase in drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan in recent months, anticipating the CIA may soon need to halt such operations in Pakistan’s territory, two U.S. officials said.

His decision reflects mounting U.S. frustration with Pakistan over a growing list of disputes — mirrored by Pakistani grievances with the U.S. — that have soured relations and weakened security cooperation. The U.S. is withholding at least $3 billion in reimbursements for counterinsurgency operations and security-related funding, according to congressional aides and Pakistani officials.

“We are reaching the limits of our patience, and for that reason it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action” to crack down on armed groups based there that attack American and coalition forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday in Kabul. ….

Read more » Bloomberg

US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

The United States is contemplating a total reversal of its highly ineffective Pakistan policy. This was stated by Prof Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service while delivering a talk on “The situation in the Af-Pak region” at Observer Research Foundation on June 4, 2012.

Frankly expressing her views from both Pakistani as well as American perspectives, Prof. Fair said that the US does not have a long-term policy for Pakistan, and the present practice of granting aid with the aim of fighting the roots of terrorism has not yielded any results. Consequently, despite fighting the Taliban, the US has inadvertently supported them while alienating the civilian population.

Prof. Fair said that the Pakistan’s decision to close ground supply routes for NATO troops in Afghanistan backfired as the NATO forces soon developed alternative air routes. This, in turn, led many Western leaders to recognise the futility of engaging Pakistan in the war on terror. She also pointed out that the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan further convinced policy makers in Washington of its duplicity.

Asked about the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s perceived lack of understanding about the situation in the West Asia and the Af-Pak region, Prof Fair said that presidential candidates learn very quickly once they take office. As an example, she pointed out Barack Obama’s similar naïveté four years ago and how he learnt and adapted his foreign policy within months into his presidency.

Prof. Fair said that President Obama is disappointed with Pakistan’s counter-terrorism performance, and that the US administration is contemplating containment to force it to abide to its obligations.

According to Prof. Fair, the futility of attempts to alter the pro-jihadist worldview of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite make a serious case of containment, which would hold Pakistan responsible for any terrorist attack with its ’signature’ on it.

Prof. Fair challenged the conventional wisdom that civilian governments in Islamabad are more responsible. She argued that past history suggests a linearity of foreign policy making between military and democratic regimes. This is compounded by a drastic transformation of the popular mindset towards fundamentalism and hatred against India.

Continue reading US contemplating reversal of its Pakistan policy

Our Man in Pakistan – Why didn’t the U.S. help get Shakil Afridi out of trouble?

Since Osama bin Laden met his demise in the garrison town of Abbottabad last May, Pakistani officials say they haven’t found anyone who helped him hide out for most of a decade in their backyard. But our supposed allies have spared no effort to hunt down the people who helped the U.S. find the al Qaeda mastermind.

Soon after the successful American raid, the Pakistani army picked up locals suspected of supplying fuel to SEAL Team Six’s helicopters and firing flares to …

Read more » WALL STREET JOURNAL

The combination of no apology and no meeting, Mr. Nasr said, “will send a powerfully humiliating message back to Pakistan.

Supply Lines Cast Shadow at NATO Meeting on Afghan War

By HELENE COOPER and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

CHICAGO — President Obama was struggling to balance the United States’ relationship with two crucial but difficult allies on Sunday, after a deal to reopen supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan fell apart just as Mr. Obama began talks on ending the NATO alliance’s combat role in the Afghan war.

As a two-day NATO summit meeting opened in Chicago, Mr. Obama remained at loggerheads with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, refusing even to meet with him without an agreement on the supply routes, which officials in both countries acknowledged would not be coming soon.

Mr. Zardari, who flew to Chicago with hopes of lifting his stature with a meeting with Mr. Obama, was preparing to leave empty-handed as the two countries continued to feel the repercussions of a fatal American airstrike last November, for which Mr. Obama has offered condolences but no apology. Mr. Zardari did, however, meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to discuss the supply routes.

Pakistan closed the routes into Afghanistan after the strike, heightening tensions with Pakistani officials who say that the United States has repeatedly infringed on their sovereignty with drone strikes and other activities.

“This whole breakdown in the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has come down to a fixation of this apology issue,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser on Pakistan. The combination of no apology and no meeting, Mr. Nasr said, “will send a powerfully humiliating message back to Pakistan.” …

Read more » The New York Times

The Khan bowls too wide

Imran Khan’s endorsement of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has been a PR disaster for him even within Pakistan,

By: Kunal Majumder reports

IN APRIL 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million for information leading to the prosecution of Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and believed to be the mastermind of the 26 November 2008 Mumbai terror strike. Saeed, a hero of the fundamentalist right in Pakistan, claimed he was being victimised due to his anti-American politics. Soon enough, he was adopted by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party. The PTI president, Javed Hashmi, called Saeed “a preacher of peace in the world!”.

Hashmi didn’t stop there. Participating in a rally organised in Multan by the Difae-Pakistan Council — an umbrella body of quasi-political religious parties opposing the opening of NATO supply lines to Afghanistan and the Most-Favoured Nation trade status to India — Hashmi vouched for the “piousness” of Saeed. “A social worker,” he said, “can never be a terrorist but all those declaring him a terrorist are the real threat to the peace of the world.”

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Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Pakistan after the American withdrawal

By Khaled Ahmed

Most observers are worried about Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-Nato forces from there in 2013-2014. It should be interesting to see what would happen to Pakistan once the Americans are gone.

Islamabad’s Jinnah Institute in its briefing (July 25, 2011) spelled out Pakistan’s ‘objectives’ in relation to post-withdrawal Afghanistan. The most outstanding point made in the report pertained to India: “Pakistani foreign policy elite accept that India has a role to play in Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction … but Pakistani security establishment [thinks] a reluctance to address Pakistani misgivings increases the likelihood of a growing Indian footprint, and in turn, New Delhi’s greater ability to manipulate the endgame negotiations and the post-settlement dispensation in Kabul”.

Will India get out of Afghanistan after the American withdrawal? From a statement by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (“we will support the Afghan people”), it appears that it plans to retain its presence in Afghanistan.

The most likely post-withdrawal scenario is that there will be a civil war in Afghanistan. A parallel war will take place between the Afghan National Army and the non-state actors from Pakistan. The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has told Congress he thought a future 230,000-strong Afghan force, scaled down from a planned 352,000, was enough after 2017. That will historically be the largest army Afghanistan will ever have.

Continue reading Khaled Ahmed: Pakistan has sought to appease terrorism by becoming anti-American and pro-Taliban. [The coming blowback]

Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

As we Pakistanis heap more ridicule on the American action to place a bounty on Hafiz Saeed’s head, derisively pointing out to the world how he is living openly in known residences; attending rallies in the open; addressing announced press conferences, and how he is thumbing his nose at his adversaries, we lose sight of the fact that (most of) the world is not on the same page as us.

No matter what defence we trot out: there is no evidence that he is a terrorist, the Lahore High Court having given him a clean chit; he heads a charity, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), and not a militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT); that he has even asked the United Nations to strike the JuD off the terrorist organisations list, and so and so forth, we lose complete sight of the fact that the United States is a power that can exert its influence anywhere in the world.

Continue reading Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

The U.S. Empire’s Achilles Heel: Its Barbaric Racism

by Glen Ford

The American atrocities in Afghanistan roll on like a drumbeat from hell. With every affront to the human and national dignity of the Afghan people, the corporate media feign shock and quickly conclude that a few bad apples are responsible for U.S. crimes, that it’s all a mistake and misunderstanding, rather than the logical result of a larger crime: ….

Read more » Common Dreams