Tag Archives: France

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

KARACHI: Activists of rights groups and civil society gathered at the Teen Talwar traffic intersection in Clifton on Sunday and marched on the French consulate to express solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks. The rally called ‘peace march’ was organised by the Sindh Secular Forum and other civil society organisations in the city.

Read more » DAWN

Paris attacks: Dozens dead and Bataclan hostage stand-off

France has declared a national state of emergency and has closed its borders after scores of people were killed in multiple gun and bomb attacks in Paris.

At least 100 people are reported to have died at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris.

Gunmen took many hostages there before being overpowered when police stormed the building.

Others died in attacks near the Stade de France, with some reports suggesting a suicide blast, and at restaurants.

Paris residents have been asked to stay indoors and military personnel are being deployed across the city.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34814203

French intellectual supports France’s civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Dr Pascal Boniface, eminent French intellectual and Director of the premier French think-tank, Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, has supported France’s civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, on the pattern of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear agreement, saying that ‘Pakistan as a country of 200 million people with nuclear weapons has a pivotal role to play in the most strategic part of the world’.

He made these remarks during a guest lecture on ‘France, Europe and Changing Global Scenario’ at the Pakistan-China Institute, which was chaired by Ambassador Masood Khan, Chairman, Institute of Strategic Studies.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee and who is recently-elected as Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), was also present on the occasion, while the lecture was attended by the Ambassador of France, Mrs. Martine Dorance, and Belgium Ambassador, Verheyden, as well as heads of think-tanks, university professors and scholars of international relations, former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar and former head of ISI, Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani.

Dr Boniface also criticised the Iraq War since it was ‘destabilising for the Arab World’, and he welcomed the Iran Nuclear deal terming it as ‘a rare defeat for the powerful pro-Israeli lobby in the United States’.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, while exchanging his views, praised the French role in world affairs, whose architect was the great French statesman, the late President General Charles de Gaulle. He said that countries like France and China, together with Pakistan, would be ‘key players in the emerging multipolar world’.

Read more » BUSINESS RECORDER
See more » http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/108/255098-french-intellectual-supports-frances-civil-nuclear-cooperation-with-pakistan.html

Terror attacks cannot save Islam’s ‘honour’

By Husain Haqqani

Soon after the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, Islamist sympathizers on social media unleashed familiar rhetoric. AlQaida and ISIS supporters used Arabic language hashtags like “our revenge for the messenger (Muhammad)”, “Paris is the messenger (Muhammad)”, “Paris is Burning”, “Paris under Fire” and “Lions of Tawheed (monotheism)”. One self-styled jihadi tweeted, “This is the first reaction. You’ll not live in safety again.” Another said: “This proves that the Islamic State can strike deep in Europe whenever it wishes.” Someone styling himself as Abu Sari alIraqi put up a graphic of the Islamic State’s black flag on the Eiffel Tower, with the slogan in French: “We are everywhere.”

Such bombast reflects the emptiness of the Islamist dream. The killing of unarmed cartoonists and journalists is hardly an act of courage. Paris did not, in fact, burn and this latest act of terrorism mobilized the French against the jihadis just as terrorist attacks in New York, London and Mumbai had united people against them in the past.

More important, terrorism is unlikely to dissuade anyone so inclined to refrain from insulting Islam, its prophet or Muslims. Like followers of any other religion, Muslims do not like insults to their faith or to their prophet. But threats and actual attacks of the type witnessed in Paris last week have been limited to Islamists.

Contrary to the assertion of some, such violence has nothing to do with recent wars or the policies of great powers in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. A man named Alam Din from Lahore was proclaimed a ‘ghazi’ for killing a Hindu publisher of a book insulting Prophet Muhammad in 1929. Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ prompted fatwas and violent protests 50 years later. These incidents cannot be attributed as reaction to US military intervention.

Of course, not all of the world’s over one billion Muslims react to real or perceived insults to their religion in the same manner. Believers in different deities and prophets have often slandered each other’s faiths. Islam has endured its share of criticism and abuse over the centuries, especially from Christians, against whom they fought the Crusades and the Ottoman wars.

But in earlier times, Muslims responded to religious affronts by pointing out flaws in other religions and outlining their own perfect faith. Their armies were violent but so were the armies of others. When Muslim emperors ruled over large non-Muslim populations, preachers and Sufi mystics worked to win converts to Islam. There is no record in those days of targeted attacks in retaliation for blasphemy against the prophet or Islam in distant lands.

The phenomenon of violent outrage over insults to Islam seems to have started during western colonial rule, with Muslim politicians seeking issues to mobilize their constituents. Contemporary jihadism seems to have grown out of the slogan ‘Islam in Danger’, which has been periodically invoked as a rallying cry for Islamist politics.

Ironically, it is the Islamists who draw attention to otherwise obscure attacks on Islam and then use those to muster popular support. The reaction makes more people aware of a book like Rushdie’s or a film like ‘The Innocence of Muhammad’. Charlie Hebdo regularly published only 45,000 copies but will likely be read by hundreds of thousands now.

The violence over ‘Islam’s honour’ is a function of the collective Muslim narrative of grievance. Decline, weakness, impotence, and helplessness are phrases most frequently repeated in the speeches and writings of today’s Muslim leaders. The view is shared by Islamists, who consider Islam a political ideology , and other Muslims who don’t. The terrorists are just the most extreme element among the Islamists. As a community , Muslims are obsessed with their past pre-eminence, which stands in stark contrast with their current weakness. The bravado of beheading blasphemers and thinking a terrorist attack can change the global order are ways of reclaiming a glory that is vividly recalled but not seen by Muslims in recent centuries.

Like all national and community narratives, this one has elements of truth. But it is equally true that Muslims have made no serious effort to understand the causes and remedies of their decline over the past 300 years. Outrage, resentment and violence -and the conspiracy theories that inform them -serve as palliatives for an Ummah that reads little, writes even less, hasn’t invented much in recent centuries, and wields little political or military power in the contemporary world. Dealing with the causes of Muslim decline, not random or orchestrated acts of terrorism, would be the real way forward in saving Muslims from dishonour.

The writer is former Pakistan envoy to the US.

Courtesy: The Times of India
Learn more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/all-that-matters/Terror-attacks-cannot-save-Islams-honour/articleshow/45839372.cms

Charlie Hebdo attacks: Vast Paris rally to take place

Huge crowds and some 40 world leaders have gathered in Paris for a unity march after 17 people were killed during three days of deadly attacks.

More than a million marchers are expected to take the streets.

Police are seeking accomplices of the gunmen who attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

Ahead of the rally, a video emerged appearing to show supermarket gunman Amedy Coulibaly pledging allegiance to militant group Islamic State.

In the video, he said he was working with the Charlie Hebdo attackers: “We have split our team into two… to increase the impact of our actions.”

Said and Cherif Kouachi – who were shot dead by police on Friday – killed 11 people at the magazine offices in the French capital on Wednesday, and a policeman in a nearby street.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765824

A Postcard From Paris

By

I arrived in Paris yesterday, scheduled to give a series of lectures in philosophy. The lectures are in political philosophy, on how power distorts liberal democracy. I’ve been nervous about giving these lectures in Paris, the city in which a liberal democratic revolution toppled a system of power, monarchy, which seemed to those subject to it both permanent and inevitable.

My plane, scheduled to arrive to 8:30 a.m., was late. By the time my taxi made its way to my apartment in the 11th arrondissement, it was nearly noon. Cordons of police were blocking the streets, and the sound of sirens was everywhere. My taxi driver swore and took a side street to my destination. I ducked into a cafe next to my apartment, awaiting my keys. There I heard the startling news that we had driven past the scene of a terrorist attack, and that the target was Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper famed for ridiculing authority in all its incarnations. Among the 12 people killed were four of France’s most famous satirical cartoonists.

Read more » The New York Times
Learn more » http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/a-postcard-from-paris/?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

Vigils held across Europe in support of Charlie Hebdo, press freedom

Thousands gathered for rallies in French cities, standing in solidarity with victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris that killed 12 on Wednesday. At the biggest rally, in Paris, people lit candles and held up their pens to support press freedom.

Paris witnessed a large rally on Place de la République, which is located close to the office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Masked gunmen stormed the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning. Ten journalists and two policemen were killed. Police said that three gunmen carried out the assault. They are still at large, while Paris is on high alert.

Read more » http://rt.com/news/220671-rally-europe-france-shooting/

China launches ‘world’s longest’ train route: Cargo train from China to Spain.

Move over Trans-Siberian: China launches ‘world’s longest’ train route

The 82-wagon cargo train is expected to take 21 days to travel 6,200 miles, passing through six countries between China and Spain.

Dubbed Yixinou, the train left Yiwu, an industrial center less than 200 miles south of Shanghai, on Tuesday and is expected to reach Madrid in December after traversing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and France, reports the Local.se.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/news/207447-china-spain-longest-train/

India’s Role in the World’s Largest-Ever Scientific Project

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA In southern France, more than 20 billion dollars are being spent on trying to make a first-of-its-kind nuclear reactor, a special steel cauldron where top scientists from countries including India hope to generate clean nuclear energy by fusing atoms, a process similar to what happens on the sun.

This is till date world’s largest scientific project ever to be undertaken. The reactor will weigh about 23,000 tons – as much as three Eiffel Towers. Some 80,000 kilometres of special super conducting wires will be used.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) brings together India, China, South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia and the European Union  as scientists see if they can jointly harness the power of the Sun by literally confining it in a steel bottle. The head of ITER, Dr. Osamu Motojima, points out that together these entities “represent half the world’s population and account for two-third of the global economic might.”

Read more » NDTV
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/india-s-role-in-the-world-s-largest-ever-scientific-project-613126

What Pakistan can learn from the economics Nobel laureate

By Murtaza Haider

From food items to consumer products, Pakistanis pay significantly higher prices than others in the region.

Being left at the mercy of oligopolies, which have controlled markets since Pakistan’s creation in 1947, the consumers have been forced to pay higher prices for, at times, inferior quality goods.

Another newly minted Nobel laureate’s efforts may help Pakistanis break free of the tyrannical control of State monopolies and private oligopolies.

Professor Jean Tirole of France has received the 2014 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his work on market power and regulation. His research has shown how firms gain market power and set prices at the detriment of consumers. His work is as relevant to privatisation-happy Pakistan as it is to developed economies.

Read more » DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1138136

France hits back after UK condemns Russia Mistral ship deal

France’s foreign minister has accused the UK of double standards following its criticism of the Russian Mistral warship deal. Referring to Russian oligarchs in the UK, he said that Britain must tend to its own backyard before attacking French policies.

Following the Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Ukraine, British Prime Minister David Cameron criticized Paris for its plan to go ahead with the delivery of Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. Cameron stressed that the move would be “unthinkable” in Britain.

The English in particular were very pleasant so to speak saying we would never do that, but I told my dear British friends let’s talk about the financial sector,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told TF1 television after a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels.

I am led to believe that there are quite a few Russian oligarchs in London,” he added, as quoted by Reuters.

When asked whether he meant that the UK must first address its own business, Fabius replied: “Exactly.

On Monday, French President Francois Hollande said the plan to deliver the Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia would go forward, despite calls from the US and UK. The first ship is nearly completed and will be presented in October.

The Russians have paid. Should we repay 1.1 billion euros if the boat was not delivered to the purchaser?” he asked while speaking to reporters late on Monday – the night before an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels to discuss tougher sanctions on Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis.

For the time being, a level of sanctions has not been decided on that would prevent this delivery,” he said. “The contract was signed in 2011, the boat is almost finished and should be delivered in October.

Read more » RT
http://rt.com/news/174808-france-uk-criticism-mistral/

 

Thousands in Paris and Rome protest austerity measures

A demonstration in Rome turns violent when protesters throw rocks and firecrackers at police

Anti-austerity protests took over parts of Paris and Rome on Saturday, with one demonstration in Rome spurring violence when protesters threw rocks, eggs and firecrackers at police, with at least one person injured.

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.

Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.

Read more » AlJazeera
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/12/rome-paris-anti-austerityprotests.html

Ukraine – Will Putin Send in the Tanks?

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“In the words of the popular proverb, Moscow was the heart of Russia; St Petersburg, its head. But Kiev, its mother…”

By James H. Billington

Just hours after a truce had been established between protesters and the government, violence erupted again today in the central square of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city.

A trio of officials from the European Union—the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland—now head to Kiev to try to breach the fundamental divide roiling the country: a struggle between east and west, its outcome highly uncertain, the possibility of a civil war undeniably looming.

This divide has been at Ukraine’s core for centuries. What’s unfolding now is nothing less than the violent struggle for a nation’s soul. To some current and former diplomats, what is surprising is not that Ukraine appears to be coming apart, but that it has taken this long into the post Soviet era for something like this to happen.

At its origins, more than ten centuries ago, what was known as “Kievan Russia” was, as James Billington wrote in his classic study of Russian culture, “closely linked with Western Europe—through trade and intermarriage with every important royal family of Western Christendom.”

But , he continued, “those promising early links with the West were, fatefully, never made secure.”

Focus on that one word. “Fatefully.”  “Increasingly,” Billington writes, “inexerorably, Kievan Russia was drawn eastward into a debilitating struggle for control of the Eurasian steppe.”

What we’re witnessing now, make no mistake, is the latest chapter of that struggle. And it is one in which Moscow has an important, inherent and obvious advantage: Ukraine matters more to President Vladimir Putin, and Russia, than it does to Barack Obama, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 The dissolution of the Soviet Union is the central, disastrous geopolitical fact of Putin’s life (See Newsweek cover story February 13, Putin’s Games). And among the new states that were created when the empire imploded, Ukraine was first among equals. It was, as Walter Russell Mead, professor and author at Bard College wrote recently, “the largest and most important republic within the Soviet Union.”

If Putin dreams of reassembling a reasonable facsimile of the Soviet empire—and he does—then, as Russell wrote, “everything pales beside the battle for Ukraine.”

When it appeared last fall that the government in Kiev was going to more closely align itself politically and economically with Europe than ever before, Putin moved forcefully to block it. Flush with oil and gas revenue—the beginning and the end of Russian economic strength–he offered Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a $15 billion bribe to spurn the European Union.

Read more » News Week
http://www.newsweek.com/will-putin-send-tanks-229631

France passes 75% ‘millionaire’s tax’

By Thomson Reuters

France’s Constitutional Council gave the green light on Sunday to a ‘millionaire’s tax’, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than one million euros, or about $1.4 million, a year.

The measure, introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis, has infuriated business leaders and soccer clubs, which at one point threatened to go on strike.

It was originally designed as a 75 per cent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding one million euros, but the council rejected this, saying 66 per cent was the legal maximum for individuals.

The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.

Under its new design, which the Council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 per cent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.

Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 per cent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company’s turnover.

The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/france-passes-75-millionaire-s-tax-1.2478390

New French president to limit CEO pay at state owned businesses

by

François Hollande’s 75% tax rate is still going to struggle due to the ease of moving out of France (or any country besides the US) but bringing a dose of fairness is going to be much easier. There will be plenty of complainers who will suggest how difficult it will be to attract top talent but there is even more evidence that shows paying top dollar (or euro) does nothing to attract top talent.

For years we have seen one company after another bump up pay to attract the next Steve Jobs or whatever other CEO of the day is being described as the greatest leader ever. The reality is there was only one Steve Jobs. The others command superstar pay but more often than not, they under-deliver. (We only need to look at Bankia as one recent example.) They’re always billed as the leader who will take the business to the next level, but the only thing going to the next level will be the executive pay.

Since Hollande is a Socialist, this change will no doubt trigger a storm of criticism and howling from the so-called free market “capitalists.” As in the same free market capitalists who all thought it was important to bail out the lifestyles of the bankers and keep the quantitative easing policies that have been all about free money for bankers to gamble. There hasn’t been anything close to a free market or raw capitalism for years so spare me any arguments about socialism. We’ve had it and it has been socialism for the 1%.

If we are ever going to bring some balance back to society, we’re going to need a lot more action like this. We’ve tried excessive CEO pay and it simply does not provide an acceptable ROI. More on fat cat pay from The Guardian:

Read more » America Blog
http://americablog.com/2012/05/new-french-president-to-limit-ceo-pay-at-state-owned-businesses.html

JSMM seeks world help to ‘liberate Sindh’

By: Daily Dawn report

HYDERABAD, July 7: The chairman of the banned Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, Shafi Burfat, has urged the United Nations, European Union, America, France and other foreign countries to help the JSMM get ‘freedom for Sindh’.

He said in a recorded message played at a JSMM rally held on the Fatima Jinnah road outside the State Bank of Pakistan building late on Saturday night.

“The JSMM wants to reconstitute Sindhi nation on the pattern of civilised nations of the world…After the Abbottabad operation, the state has become a nursery for jihadists and world powers should break chains of slavery that have enslaved oppressed nations,” he added.

He said that free markets could not be established until all forms of slavery in the third world were abolished. The world should avoid wishful thinking that there was democracy in Pakistan, he added.

Sindh’s mineral and other natural resources were being usurped by Punjab which had become a strategic partner with China against America and India, he said.

JSMM senior vice chairman Lala Aslam Pathan urged the Urdu-speaking people to unite under the JSMM’s flag for ‘freedom of Sindh’. “Extremists and other organisations hold Urdu-speaking community hostage but if they follow G.M. Syed’s philosophy no power on earth can dare touch them,” he said. …… A message from Nawab Khair Bakhsh Mari was also read at the gathering.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1023506/jsmm-seeks-world-help-to-liberate-sindh

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What we can learn from Turkey

Smokers’ Corner: Cold Turkey

By Nadeem F. Paracha

I’ve twice been to Turkey in the last three years. My second trip there coincided with the 2011 election. Recently I have come across various conservative and pro-establishment personalities, politicians and media men in Pakistan praising the Turkish model of democracy and economics.

For example, Imran Khan just returned from Turkey and sounded extremely impressed by that country’s people and politics.

The reason why you might now be hearing more and more Pakistanis singing praises of Turkey is due to the fact that a determined political party with an Islamist background has been winning elections and forming governments there ever since 2001.

It is a good sign that to some of our conservatives the Turkish social and political model now seems more charming to emulate than the puritanical authoritarianism of certain oil-rich Arab states. However, the fact is they may really be over-romanticising their Turkish experience. Either they haven’t understood the dynamics of Turkey’s political and social milieus, or they are only seeing what they want to see: i.e. a conservative Islamist party at the helm in what was supposed to be a secular country.

Only recently I heard a TV commentator suggest that Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan’s AK Party, has been winning elections due to its popularity among the rural and semi-rural Turks. This is a rather simplistic understanding of what is actually a complex consensus that the AK Party has struck with almost all sections of Turkish society.

Erdogan’s multiple electoral successes have more to do with his emphasis on economic growth, reform and his all-out efforts to help Turkey become part of the European Union (EU) than on the usual stern moralistic and anti-West stances that most Islamist parties are stuck with in most Muslim countries. During my trip to Istanbul when the campaigning for the 2011 elections was in full swing, not even once did I hear Erdogan (whose wife adorns a hijab) mention the word Islam.

Continue reading What we can learn from Turkey

The great game

Western World’s opposition to Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline is seen as a reiteration of its economic interests and geopolitical hegemonic designs in the region

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

In the face of threats of sanctions from the United States, President Asif Ali Zardari and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on March 11, 2013 launched the groundbreaking work on the 781-kilometre-long pipeline on the Pakistani side of the border. The Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipeline Project, initialed in 1995, has been facing perpetual opposition from the United States and its allies. Heads of both the countries, in their speeches at the occasion, reaffirmed their commitment to go ahead with the project “despite threats from the world powers”.

President Zardari said that the project would promote peace, security and progress in the region besides improving economic, political and security ties between the two neighbouring states. Stressing that the project was not against any country, President Zardari said such steps forging better understanding would also help fight terrorism and extremism.

President Ahmadinejad, while pointing towards foreign states and criticising what he called “their unjustified opposition to the project under the excuse of Iran’s nuclear issue”, said: “They are against Iran and Pakistan’s progress and have used the nuclear issue as an excuse”. He added, “We never expected [Western] companies to make an investment in this pipeline which guarantees progress, prosperity and peace in the region; if they don’t want to join this project for any given reason, they are not entitled to rock the boat and disturb the project”.

Pakistan on the completion of IP is to receive 21.5 million cubic meters of natural gas on daily basis. Faced with extraordinary energy crisis, Pakistan needs natural gas badly — its shortage has caused miseries to millions of Pakistanis and closure of industries. Iran has already constructed more than 900 kilometres of the pipeline on its side. The Tehran-based Tadbir energy development group has undertaken all the engineering procurement and construction work for the first segment of the project. It will also carry out the second segment of the project and also extend the financing of $500 million to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistani are optimistic to complete the project by December 2014.

Continue reading The great game

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

Canada is not doing better

Ed Broadbent: Inequality’s a problem for Canada, too

By: ED BROADBENT, The Globe and Mail

I don’t know whether it’s smugness or indifference, but we Canadians can be a self-deluding lot. Growing inequality, portrayed recently in The Economist as a global scourge, when viewed from Canada, seems to be a problem only for others.

After all, it was other countries’ banks that crashed in 2008. It’s in southern Europe that tens of thousands are taking to the streets. And it was in France and the United States that recent elections were fought over the fact that those who created the mess, the top 1 per cent, are still getting big bonuses and low tax rates.

Well, guess what? Canada is not doing better. From 1982 until 2004, almost all growth in family income went to the top 20 per cent, with much of that going to the top 1 per cent, while the bottom 60 per cent saw no growth at all. The increase in inequality in Canada since the mid-1990s has been the fourth highest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But does this matter? Yes, the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: Inequality does matter. In terms of social outcomes, more equal societies do better for everyone, not just for the poor, in almost every respect: health outcomes, life expectancy, level of trust in society, equality of opportunity and upward social mobility. A recent study showed that if Americans want to experience the American Dream of upward mobility, they should pack up and move to Sweden. They would have to leave the most unequal democracy and move to the most equal.

Continue reading Canada is not doing better

With Timbuktu Retaken, France Signals It Plans to Pull Back in Mali

By LYDIA POLGREEN and SCOTT SAYARE

SEGOU, Mali — French paratroopers arrived in the ancient desert oasis of Timbuktu on Monday, securing its airport and main roads as thousands of residents poured out of its narrow, mud-walled streets to greet French and Malian troops, waving the two countries’ flags, with whoops, cheers and shouts.

“Timbuktu has fallen,” said the city’s mayor, Halle Ousmane Cissé, in a telephone interview from the capital, Bamako, where he has been in exile since the Islamist militants took over the city 10 months ago. He said he planned to return to his city on Tuesday.

The rapid advance to Timbuktu, a day after French and African troops took firm control of the former rebel stronghold of Gao, may spell the beginning of the end of France’s major involvement in the conflict here.

The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was a little more cautious than the mayor in his assessment of the situation in Timbuktu on Monday evening ….

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/world/africa/mali-timbuktu-france-britain.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

The world’s population is becoming less religious

New poll shows atheism on rise, with Jews found to be least religious

A Gallup poll conducted in 57 countries shows 9% decline in people who consider themselves religious, compared to a similar survey conducted in 2005.

By Haaretz

“Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?” This was the question posed to 51,927 people in 57 different countries, in a recent poll conducted by Gallup.

The results show the world’s population is becoming less religious, with a nine percent decline in believers compared with a similar survey conducted in 2005. The new survey also found a 3 percent increase of people who consider themselves atheists. Altogether, 59 percent of the world’s population defines itself today as religious, 23 percent as non-religious and 13 percent as atheist.

Of the religions surveyed in the poll, Jews were found to be the least religious: Only 38 percent of the Jewish population worldwide considers itself religious, while 54 sees itself as non-religious and 2 percent categorizes itself as atheist. In comparison, 97 percent of Buddhists, 83 percent of Protestant Christians and 74 percent of Muslims consider themselves religious.

The poll, titled “The Global Index of Religion and Atheism – 2012,” was conducted in five continents, and did not include Israel. China leads the list of countries with the highest population of atheists – 47 percent, followed by Japan, the Czech Republic, France, South Korea and Germany. Topping the list of countries with the highest number of believers is Ghana (96 percent), followed by Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji, Macedonia, Romania and Iraq.

Read more » Haaretz

Bravo, France!

“The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race. ” -Susan B. Anthony

“Men rule because women let them. Male misogyny is real enough, and it has dreadful consequences, but female misogyny is what keeps women out of power.” – Germaine Greer

There is a tendency to compare women with snails. Some people in UK say, ‘A snail could crawl the entire length of the Great Wall of China in 212 years, just slightly longer than the 200 years it will take for women to be equally represented in Parliament.’ Women are not like snails. But male-dominated systems try to make them like snails.

Today women constitute 19 percent of the members of parliaments around the world. Women have been deprived of equal access to education, health care, capital,decision making powers in the political, social, and business sectors only because they are women. The number of women in politics is now growing but the speed is very slow. But we need a gender balance in political institutions. The introduction of quota systems for women represents a qualitative jump into a policy of exact goals. Many people are against quotas for women. But there are many people who believe that:

Continue reading Bravo, France!

The French jihadi, Mohammed Mereh was trained in Pakistan, jailed in Afghanistan and killed in France.

Mohamed Merah: polite neighbour who was turned down by French army

Toulouse shootings suspect described as friendly and well-behaved was under surveillance after trip to Afghanistan

By Peter Beaumont

As the Toulouse siege unfolded on Wednesday, a fuller picture was emerging of the young man behind one of France’s worst killing sprees.

Some of the details remain contradictory, but it appears that Mohamed Merah, who shot a rabbi and three Jewish children dead at point-blank range, has a history of petty crime. An alleged former jihadi fighter, he was rejected by the French military two years ago.

On Wednesday morning he had been planning to kill again, he told negotiators, targeting a soldier he had already identified.

Most extraordinary was an almost certainly false claim that emerged during the armed siege of Merah’s apartment block: that in 2008 he escaped in a mass jailbreak in Kandahar, where he had been arrested for bombmaking the previous year. The claim was denied by Afghan security sources. Merah does appear to have spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but later than 2007. ….

Read more » The Guardian.co.uk

SINDH DELEGATION to attend Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille, France

World Sindhi Institute organizes SINDH DELEGATION to attend Alternative World Water Forum in Marseille France

Two of Sindh’s premier Water Experts on Rivers and Dams and renowned scholar activists Mr Naseer Memon and Mr Abrar Kazi to attend and speak at Forum Alternatif Mondiale de l’Eau “FAME” taking place in Marseille France on 16th March 2012

They will present the Case of Sindh and how the mega dams of Mangla, Tarbela and as well other structures on the Indus have devastated lowest riparian Sindh’s economy; In spite of this new dams are still being planned without Sindh’s permission.

http://www.fame2012.org/en/tag/marseille/

India – The Parso Gidwani Center for Sindhi Studies.

By Gul Agha

Saaiin Parso Gidwani had a bhuungo constructed in a small village Kutch and stayed there. His love of Sindh was legendary. I went to visit Saaiin Parso Gidwani in 2000 in Kutch but he had gone for treatment to Mumbai they said. Some time after I returned to the US, he wrote to me and very kindly sent a copy of his book on the Sindhi language. “The Parso Gidwani Centre of Sindhi Studies was created in 2011 in memory of the Ethnolinguist Parso J. Gidwani (1937-2004) who was a pioneer in the field of ethnology and linguistics related to the Sindhi world. The PGCSS results from a cooperation between Dr Michel Boivin, Centre for South Asian Studies, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris, France) and Dr Charu Gidwani, R. K. Talreja College (Ulhasnagar, India). The Centre is a first step towards realizing Parso Gidwani’s wish for an Institute for Sindhi Studies. Its policy is framed by an Advisory Board whose members are scholars of international fame. The PGCSS is an integrated approach to Sindhi Studies with perspectives on Sindhi History, Culture, Literature and Language.”

Via » above article adopted from Gul Agha’s facebook page.

A French minister of Arab origin says ‘there is no such thing as moderate Islam’

By AFP

Paris – A French minister said there was no such thing as moderate Islam, calling recent election successes by Islamic parties in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia “worrying” in an interview published Saturday.

Jeannette Bougrab, a junior minister with responsibility for youth, told Le Parisien newspaper that legislation based on Islamic sharia law “inevitably” imposed restrictions on rights and freedoms.

Bougrab is of Algerian origin, whose father fought on the French colonial side during Algeria’s war of independence, and said she was speaking as “a French woman of Arab origin.”

“It’s very worrying,” she was quoted as saying. “I don’t know of any moderate Islam.”

“There are no half measures with sharia,” she added. “I am a lawyer and you can make all the theological, literal or fundamental interpretations of it that you like but law based on sharia is inevitably a restriction on freedom, especially freedom of conscience.” ….

Read more » AL ARABIYA NEWS

How a Paris Mosque Sheltered Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust

– Heroic Tale of Holocaust, With a Twist

By ELAINE SCIOLINO

PARIS — The stories of the Holocaust have been documented, distorted, clarified and filtered through memory. Yet new stories keep coming, occasionally altering the grand, incomplete mosaic of Holocaust history.

One of them, dramatized in a French film released here last week, focuses on an unlikely savior of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France: the rector of a Paris mosque.

Muslims, it seems, rescued Jews from the Nazis.

“Les Hommes Libres” (“Free Men”) is a tale of courage not found in French textbooks. According to the story, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the founder and rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, provided refuge and certificates of Muslim identity to a small number of Jews to allow them to evade arrest and deportation.

It was simpler than it sounds. In the early 1940s France was home to a large population of North Africans, including thousands of Sephardic Jews. The Jews spoke Arabic and shared many of the same traditions and everyday habits as the Arabs. Neither Muslims nor Jews ate pork. Both Muslim and Jewish men were circumcised. Muslim and Jewish names were often similar.

The mosque, a tiled, walled fortress the size of a city block on the Left Bank, served as a place to pray, certainly, but also as an oasis of calm where visitors were fed and clothed and could bathe, and where they could talk freely and rest in the garden. …

Read more → The New York Times

Paradox!!! Am I right?

The Moslems aren’t happy!

They’re not happy in Gaza.

They’re not happy in Egypt.

They’re not happy in Libya.

They’re not happy in Morocco.

They’re not happy in Iran.

They’re not happy in Iraq.

They’re not happy in Yemen.

They’re not happy in Afghanistan.

They’re not happy in Pakistan.

They’re not happy in Syria.

They’re not happy in Lebanon.

And where are they happy?

They’re happy in England.

They’re happy in France.

They’re happy in Italy.

They’re happy in Germany.

They’re happy in Sweden.

They’re happy in the USA.

They’re happy in Canada.

They’re happy in Norway.

They’re happy in every country that is not Moslem!

And who do they blame?

Not their leadership. Not themselves.

THEY BLAME THE COUNTRIES THEY ARE HAPPY IN !!!

Courtesy: Pakistani e-lists/ e-groups + social media

Pakistan’s ‘secret’ war

Author: Karlos Zurutuza, Balochistan
Editor: Rob Mudge

Excerpt:

Armed groups of Balochs in southwest Pakistan are gaining momentum at a critical point for the country’s future. Deutsche Welle looks at the phenomenon which presents yet another problem in the troubled region.

A province marked by floods and images of burned-out NATO tankers, Balochistan is the land of the Baloch, who today see their country in southwest Asia divided by the borders of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Balochistan is the size of France and boasts enormous reserves of gas, gold and copper, as well as untapped sources of oil and uranium. The exploitation of these natural resources in combination with repressive and discriminatory state-run policies have led to armed uprisings in the region.

In his book “Descent into Chaos,” best-selling writer and renowned Afghanistan commentator, Ahmed Rashid, says that the Baloch have instigated five insurgent uprisings to date. These insurgents take shelter in the rugged mountains of southern Pakistan and across the border, in Afghanistan.

The Baloch insurgents in Pakistan are fragmented into several groups: the BLA (Baloch Liberation Army), the BRA (Baloch Republican Army), the BLF (Baloch Liberation Front) and Lashkar-e Balochistan (Balochistan’s army). Several analysts say this fragmentation reflects the tribal element among the Baloch. Accordingly, the BLA, BRA and Lashkar-e Balochistan are led by the local main clans of the Marris, the Bugtis and the Mengals respectively, while the BLF is a more heterogeneous movement.

Despite the apparent fracture, all these groups are markedly secular movements – at odds with the Taliban – who share a common agenda focusing on the independence of Balochistan. They organize their actions around guerrilla attacks, primarily against military targets and government infrastructures like gas pipelines.

Growing discontent

“Given that parliamentary politics is a fake option for us, we are forced to make politics with weapons. Since the partition of India in 1947, we have had to chose between slavery and death,” Khair Bux Marri told Deutsche Welle from his residence in Karachi. The 90-year old Marri is the leader of the biggest Baloch tribe. His life-long struggle against Pakistan has taken him from years of exile in Afghanistan to terms in Pakistani prisons.

His son, Balaach Marri, led the BLA and was killed in 2007 by the Pakistani army. The portrait of this guerrilla leader, wearing a Baloch cap and holding an assault rifle, is almost ubiquitous in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan and can often be spotted alongside Hayrbyar’s, his younger brother, also considered to be a “national hero” by many Baloch.

From his London exile, Hayrbyar Marri calls for the independence of Balochistan and defends the right of “self defence” by his people. When asked about a possible dialogue with Islamabad, he is categorical. “There’s only one thing to negotiate with Islamabad and that’s the immediate pull-out of their occupation troops,” he told Deutsche Welle from his house in London. ….

Harrison also said that the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan enjoys sympathies in the neighboring Sindh province which, according to the journalist, “has brought back the ancient dream of a state or a Sindhi-Balochistan federation extending along the Arabian Sea, from Iran to India.”

Read more: Deutsche Welle