US ‘willing to work with Russia and Iran’ on Syria

President Barack Obama has said the US is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict in Syria.

He told the UN General Assembly in New York compromise would be essential for ending the long civil war.

But he said realism required a “managed transition” away from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to an inclusive leader.

He and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is a key ally of Syria, are to hold rare talks later.

Read more » BBC
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US On The Ropes: China To Join Russian Military In Syria While Iraq Strikes Intel Deal With Moscow, Tehran

by Tyler Durden

Last Thursday, we asked if China was set to join Russia and Iran in support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Our interest was piqued when the pro-Assad Al-Masdar (citing an unnamed SAA “senior officer”), said Chinese “personnel and aerial assets” are set to arrive within weeks. To the uninitiated, this may seem to have come out of left field, so to speak. However, anyone who has followed the conflict and who knows a bit about the global balance of power is aware that Beijing has for some time expressed its support for Damascus, most notably by voting with Russia to veto a Security Council resolution that would have seen the conflict in Syria referred to the Hague. Here’s what China had to say at the May 22, 2014 meeting:

 For some time now, the Security Council has maintained unity and coordination on the question of Syria, thanks to efforts by Council members, including China, to accommodate the major concerns of all parties. At a time when seriously diverging views exist among the parties concerning the draft resolution, we believe that the Council should continue holding consultations, rather than forcing a vote on the draft resolution, in order to avoid undermining Council unity or obstructing coordination and cooperation on questions such as Syria and other major serious issues. Regrettably, China’s approach has not been taken on board; China therefore voted against the draft resolution.

In other words, China could see the writing on the wall and it, like Russia, was not pleased with where things seemed to be headed. A little more than a year later and Moscow has effectively called time on the strategy of using Sunni extremist groups to destabilize Assad and given what we know about Beijing’s efforts to project China’s growing military might, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising to see the PLA turn up at Latakia as well.

Sure enough, Russian media now says that according to Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has decided to join the fight. Here’s Pravda (translated):

According to the Russian Senator Igor Morozov, Beijing has taken decision to take part in combating IS and sent its vessels to the Syrian coast.

Igor Morozov, member of the Russian Federation Committee on International Affairs claimed about the beginning of the military operation by China against the IS terrorists. “It is known, that China has joined our military operation in Syria, the Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier follows it,” Morozov said.

According to him, Iran may soon join the operation carried out by Russia against the IS terrorists, via Hezbollah. Thus, the Russian coalition in the region gains ground, and most reasonable step of the US would be to join it. Although the stance of Moscow and Washington on the ways of settlement of the Syrian conflict differs, nonetheless, low efficiency of the US coalition acts against terrorists is obvious. Islamists have just strengthened their positions.

As Leonid Krutakov told Pravda.Ru in an interview, the most serious conflict is currently taking place namely between China and the US. Moscow may support any party, the expert believes, and that is what will change the world order for many years.

Clearly, one has to consider the source here, but as noted above, if Beijing is indeed set to enter the fray, it would be entirely consistent with China’s position on Syria and also with the PLA’s desire to take a more assertive role in international affairs.

Meanwhile, it now looks as though the very same Russian-Iran “nexus” that’s playing spoiler in Syria is also set to take over the fight against ISIS in Iraq, as Baghdad has now struck a deal to officially share intelligence with Moscow and Tehran. Here’s CNN:

Iraq says it has reached a deal to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants.

The announcement on Saturday from the Iraqi military cited “the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS.”

The news comes amid U.S. concerns about Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria and would appear to confirm American suspicions of some kind of cooperation between Baghdad and Moscow.

We’d be remiss if we failed to note the significance here. The entire narrative is falling apart for the US, as Russia and Iran are now moving to transform the half-hearted Western effort to contain ISIS into a very serious effort to eradicate the group.

Read more » Zero Hedge
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A high-speed rail from L.A. to Las Vegas? China says it’s partnering with U.S. to build

For decades private developers and entrepreneurs have periodically announced bold plans to run high-speed trains between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

None have gotten anywhere because they lacked money or suffered other setbacks.

On Thursday, however, one long-discussed proposal appeared to gain some intriguing support.

Officials for XpressWest, which has been unable to secure adequate private investors in the United States or a $5.5-billion federal loan, announced that it had formed a partnership with China Railway International USA, a consortium led by China Railway, the national railroad of the People’s Republic of China.

Details about the joint venture, the proposed project and its financing were unavailable Thursday, except China Railway International stated that it would provide initial capital of $100 million. Project officials say they are confident construction could begin as early as September 2016.

XpressWest, a private company formerly called DesertXpress, has been talking about its high-speed rail project since at least 2007. Plans have called for a 185-mile route that would run adjacent to heavily-traveled Interstate 15 from Las Vegas to Victorville, 85 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Chinese officials now describe the project as a 230-mile route with an additional stop in Palmdale and eventual service throughout the Los Angeles area using some of the same track that would be used by the publicly backed California high-speed rail project.

Federal railroad records indicate that XpressWest has already secured approvals and permits from a number of federal agencies for the 185-mile route. Additional permits, approvals and environmental analysis would be needed for the 230-mile proposal.

“As China’s first high-speed railway project in the United States, the project will be a landmark in overseas investment for the Chinese railway sector and serve as a model of international cooperation,” Yang Zhongmin, chairman of China Railway International, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese officials disclosed the joint venture during a news conference in Beijing. XpressWest representatives also issued a brief statement on their website, but declined to comment until additional regulatory approvals are obtained.

The announcements of cooperation come just days before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States.

Read more » Los Angeles Times
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Syria crisis: US concern over Russia ‘military build-up’

US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed concern to Moscow over reports of Russian military build-up in Syria, the state department says.

US media reports said Russia has sent advisers and hardware to Syria, in what Washington fears is an expansion of its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Any such development would “escalate the conflict”, Mr Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Russia has been a key ally of Syria throughout its four-year civil war.

The New York Times cited US officials as saying Russia had despatched an advance military team to Syria, as well as housing units and an air traffic control centre to an airfield.

The officials quoted admitted they were unsure of Moscow’s intentions, but said the deployments could enable Russia to use the airbase to facilitate supply of military gear or to launch air strikes against Mr Assad’s enemies.

Mr Kerry made his concerns over the reports known to the Russian Foreign Minister in a phone call.

“If such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-Isil coalition operating in Syria,” the state department said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State (IS).

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday it was “premature” to talk about Moscow getting involved in direct fighting.

Russia and the US disagree sharply on Syria. While Russia has backed the Syrian government, and provided it with arms, the US wants to see the removal of President Assad.

In the latest fighting on the ground, at least 47 people died in fierce clashes between IS militants and other rebels in the northern town of Marea.

At least six members of Syria’s security forces were shot dead in the south-western city of Sweida, after a prominent cleric in the minority Druze community died in a car bomb blast.

News courtesy: BBC
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Pakistan takes security of N-stockpile seriously: US

WASHINGTON: Pakistan takes its responsibilities for securing its nuclear stockpile quite seriously, says the White House.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made these remarks while commenting on a report by a US think-tank, also published in The Washington Post, which claimed that in 10 years Pakistan would have the third-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world after the US and Russia.

“We continue to be confident that the government of Pakistan is aware of those responsibilities and takes those responsibilities quite seriously,” said Mr Earnest.

Pakistan has rejected the report as “utterly baseless”.

Mr Earnest said he had seen the think-tank report but did not have any official government assessment to share with the media.

He said that President Barack Obama had a long-term goal of “a world without nuclear weapons”. He convenes an international summit every couple of years to promote this goal.

Read more » DAWN
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US Set to Suspend Military Aid to Pakistan

The U.S. government will withhold certification of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations against the Haqqani network.

By Ankit Panda

The United States government will not certify Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations in North Waziristan over recent months as adequately damaging to the Haqqani network, a U.S.-designated terror group. The U.S. Department of Defense has reportedly notified the Pakistani embassy in Washington of the development, according to a report by Dawn. The non-certification of the Pakistani counter-terror campaign, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, will block the release of a new tranche of U.S. financial assistance for the Pakistani military from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). CSF support had been extended for a year with a specific stipulation that the U.S. Department of Defense would certify the effectiveness of Pakistani military operations in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network.

The development would drive a major wedge between the United States and Pakistan, two allies who have grown apart over their divergent interests and priorities in stabilizing the broader Afghan-Pakistan border. Beyond the financial implications of the blocked CSF tranche, the development will deal Islamabad a politically damaging blow. As the Dawn report notes, given the recent deterioration in ties with Kabul amid allegations from the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, that Pakistani has inadequately reigned in cross-border terrorists, including militants affiliated with the Haqqani network, the U.S. government’s decision to withhold certification vindicate Afghan perceptions.

Read more » The | Diplomat
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Outgoing US Army Chief Urges Considering Boots on the Ground In Islamic State Fight

By VICE News

The outgoing US Army chief of staff has said that the United States should increase efforts to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), and that putting military forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria might be the only way to do so.

General Raymond Odierno said at a Wednesday press conference that current US strategy in the region has helped deter IS in some ways, but that there is a long way to go to fully address the deeper economic and political issues facing Iraq and Syria.

“We should probably absolutely consider embedding some soldiers (with Iraqi forces), then see if that would make a difference,” Odierno said in response to whether he thought the US should deploy ground forces if the situation does not improve.

“I think that’s an option we should present to the president when the time is right,” he added.

Read more » Vice News
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How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries.

By Michael Cohen

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

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

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

In its 2014 annual report, CCA wrote:

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

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Bernie Sanders: Campaign Will be ‘A Movement of Millions’


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders formally kicked off his underdog White House bid on Tuesday, promising to build a grassroots movement of millions ready “to stand up and fight back.”

“Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back,” Sanders said in the first major speech of his campaign. “We are going to take this campaign directly to the people – in town meetings, door to door conversations, on street corners and in social media.”

Read more » NBC News
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US okays attack helicopters, hellfire missiles for Pakistan under $1 billion sale

WASHINGTON The US State Department has okayed Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of around one billion dollars deal.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday. The helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia, the defence agency noted. This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

Islamabad had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters, 32 T-700 GE 401C Engines (30 installed and 2 spares), 1000 AGM-114 R Hellfire II Missiles in containers, 36 H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, 17 AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, 30 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Communication Systems, 19 H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 32 Helmet Mounted Display/Optimised Top Owl, 17 APX-117A Identification Friend or Foe, 17 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 17 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 15 Joint Mission Planning Systems, and 17 M197 20mm Gun Systems.

Also included are system integration and testing, software development and integration, aircraft ferry, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $952 million. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron in Fort Worth, Texas; General Electric in Lynn, Massachusetts; The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama; and Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meanwhile, in a reference Islamabad’s close ties with major powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the US defence companies are engaged in a three-way tussle with Russia and China to sell weapons to Pakistan, complicated by the need to avoid upsetting neighbor India and its even larger arms’ import market.

News courtesy: Daily Times
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How China used more cement in 3 years than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century

By Ana Swanson

China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century.

It’s a statistic so mind-blowing that it stunned Bill Gates and inspired haiku. But can it be true, and, if so, how? Yes, China’s economy has grown at an extraordinary rate, and it has more than four times as many people as the United States. But the 1900s were America’s great period of expansion, the century in which the U.S. built almost all of its roads and bridges, the Interstate system, the Hoover Dam, and many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. And China and the U.S. are roughly the same size in terms of geographic area, ranking third and fourth in the world, respectively.

Read more » The Washington Post
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The Fed is considering a more ambitious target for “full employment”

Fed Weighs More Ambitious Goal for Sweet Spot on Employment

(Bloomberg) — As the U.S. jobless rate reaches the range that the Federal Reserve defines as full employment, some Fed officials are asking a question: How low can you go?

Their answer: less than the 5.2 percent to 5.5 percent the Fed currently defines as the lowest that can be achieved without heating up inflation. Some Chicago Fed economists say this sweet spot, often called full employment or the natural rate of unemployment, may be as low as 5 percent.

Their boss, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, is among policy makers who have lowered their estimates for the normal rate. “I now think that it might be something more like 5.0 percent,” Evans said in a speech Wednesday.

Read more » Bloomberg
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China submarines outnumber U.S. fleet: U.S. admiral

Washington: (Reuters) – China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

For instance, China had carried out three deployments in the Indian Ocean, and had kept vessels out at sea for 95 days, Mulloy said.

“We know they are out experimenting and looking at operating and clearly want to be in this world of advanced submarines,” Mulloy told the committee.

U.S. military officials in recent months have grown increasingly vocal about China’s military buildup and launched a major push to ensure that U.S. military technology stays ahead of rapid advances by China and Russia.

Mulloy said the quality of China’s submarines was lower than those built by the United States, but the size of its undersea fleet had now surpassed that of the U.S. fleet. A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines.

U.S. submarines are built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and General Dynamics Corp.

In its last annual report to Congress about China’s military and security developments, the Pentagon said China had 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

Mulloy did not provide details about the number of surface ships now operated by China.

He said the U.S. military did not believe China carried nuclear missiles on its submarines, but that it had been producing missiles and testing them.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Gunna Dickson)

News courtesy: Reuters
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Barack Obama says US ‘at war with those perverting Islam’

US President Barack Obama says the US is “not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam”.

He was speaking to representatives from 60 nations attending a three-day event on extremism that follows attacks in Denmark and France.

Mr Obama said the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people.

He said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists.

Mr Obama said associating Islamic State or al-Qaeda with Islam would be buying into the propaganda of those groups, challenging critics who have questioned him for not describing recent attacks as the work of “Islamic radicals”.

Read more » BBC
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Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms


By Natalie Obiko Pearson and N.C Bipindra

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to build military ties with Pakistan as India buys more weapons from the U.S., changing an approach toward the nuclear-powered neighbors that has endured since the Cold War.  Sergei Shoigu, making the first visit by a Russian defense minister to Pakistan since the Soviet Union’s collapse, last week signed a “milestone” military cooperation agreement. The world community “wants to do business with Pakistan now,” Shoigu said, according to a Pakistan government statement.
Read more » Bloomberg
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USA: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson

By Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY

FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday, following nights of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

“If we’re going to have justice, we must first have and maintain peace,” Nixon said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. “The eyes of the world are watching.”

Read more » USA Today

Israeli official confirms US nixed arms shipment; pols argue over who’s to blame

WSJ report of frayed relations between Washington and Jerusalem, including combative Obama-Netanyahu phone call, sparks firestorm among Israeli politicians

senior Israeli official confirmed to Israeli media that the US had suspended a shipment of Hellfire missiles to Israel amid worsening ties over fighting in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition
White House issues unusually strong rebuke after 16 deaths
But Pentagon confirms that US resupplied Israel with ammunition

By  in Washington and in Jerusalem,

The United States issued a firm condemnation of the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed at least 16 Palestinians on Wednesday, but also confirmed it restocked Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.

The White House expressed concern that thousands of civilians who had sought protection from the UN were at risk after the shelling of the girls’ elementary school. Some 3,300 civilians were taking shelter there, after being told by Israel to leave their homes.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the school, said its initial assessment was that it has been struck by Israeli artillery.

Read more » The Guardian

Syria President Bashar al-Assad sworn in for third term

Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third seven-year term as president of Syria, after an election last month that opponents dismissed as a “farce”.

State television broadcast what it said was a live ceremony from the presidential palace in Damascus.

Mr Assad vowed to fight “terrorism” until security was restored to all of the country, but also promised to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.

He has defied calls to step down since an uprising began in March 2011.

The conflict that erupted after the authorities launched a brutal crackdown on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and driven more than nine million others from their homes.

‘Monstrous faces’

Mr Assad won 88.7% of the votes cast in the first multi-candidate election in decades, which took place only in areas of Syria that were under government control.

After taking the oath of office on Wednesday, Mr Assad told his supporters: “Syrians, three years and four months… have passed since some cried ‘freedom’.”

“They wanted a revolution, but you have been the real revolutionaries. I congratulate you for your revolution and for your victory,” he added.

“Those who lost their way can now see clearly… the monstrous faces have been unveiled, the mask of freedom and the revolution has fallen.”

Mr Assad also promised that Arab, regional and Western countries who are helping the rebels trying to topple him would soon “pay a high price for supporting terrorism.

Over the past year, Mr Assad’s forces – backed by Iran and the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah – have consolidated their control over a corridor of territory stretching north from the capital to the city of Homs and then into Hama and Latakia provinces.

However, large swathes of the north and east remain under the control of rebel forces, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

The powerful al-Qaeda breakaway declared the creation of a “caliphate” in its territories last month after launching an offensive that saw it capture parts of northern and western Iraq.

Western-backed and more moderate Islamist rebels in Syria, who have been engaged in deadly battles with the group’s fighters since the start of the year, rejected the announcement.

Courtesy: BBC

More » BBC urdu

The biggest threats to American workers


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

US company signs billion-dollar energy deal with Iran

US company World Eco Energy has signed a preliminary agreement to invest $1.175 billion to generate electricity in Iran. The plan is to turn solid waste into power.

Representatives from the American company and the Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province Governor General, Malek-Mohammad Qorbanpour, signed the deal, the Tehran Times reported.

It is expected the project will create 650 immediate jobs, with another 2,000 emerging over the next two to three years, Oorbanpour told the IRNA news agency. Local companies will also be investing the same amount of money into the project.

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‘US hegemony in world has ended’ – Russia’s deputy security chief

The deputy head of Russia’s supreme security body says US international dominance is being replaced by multiple centers of power. He urged a global agreement on the results of the Cold War, warning that the world could otherwise become engulfed in chaos.

The United States has an impression that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the only result of the Cold War. This is arguable, and this is possible. But no one has attempted to analyze the results or make any conclusions from the situation. The unipolar world headed by Americans simply appeared,” Evgeny Lukyanov told the RIA Novosti.

However, this status quo was not built to last. New power centers have appeared on the international arena, including the BRICS nations, and Russia itself has managed to regain its stance. Nations openly declare their interests and demand respect to their basic rights. This is how the US hegemony on the international arena has ended and of course Washington officials cannot agree with this,” the Russian official stated. Lukyanov emphasized in the interview that the USSR was no more.

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US says China ‘destabilising’ force

Chuck Hagel: Beijing ‘destabilising’ South China Sea

Chuck Hagel: “China has undertaken destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea “Hagel: 

The US defence secretary has accused China of “destabilising” the South China Sea, saying its action threatened the region’s long-term progress. Chuck Hagel said the US would “not look the other way” when nations ignored international rules. Mr Hagel was speaking at a three-day summit – the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore – that involves the US and South-East Asian countries.

Read more » BBC

China confronts U.S. envoy over cyber-spying accusations

Reuters – By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) – China summoned the U.S. ambassador after the United States accused five Chinese military officers of hacking into American companies to steal trade secrets, warning Washington it could take further action, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Read more » Yahoo News–sector.html

Book Review: ‘The Wrong Enemy’ by Carlotta Gall

Pakistan’s intelligence agency hid and protected Osama bin Laden. The chief of the army even knew of the cover up. Some ally.

By Sadanand Dhume

In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—”a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists,” as Carlotta Gall notes in “The Wrong Enemy.”

Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.

The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the “right” enemy implied by the book’s title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: “Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons.” Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan’s ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.

At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won’t raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—”a veritable arm” of the ISI.

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Obama: ‘There will be costs for military intervention in Ukraine’

International community scrambles to  Russian moves in Crimea

President Barack Obama said the United States stands with the international community in affirming that “there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine” and defended the country’s citizens’ right to “determine their own future,” at a press conference Friday.

A senior U.S. official said Obama and European leaders would consider skipping the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, if the country intervenes militarily in Ukraine. He also said a possible response could include avoiding deeper trade and commerce ties Moscow is seeking. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called for sanctions against “Russian individuals and entities who use force or interfere in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.”

Read more » Aljazeera

Pentagon plans to downsize US military

Pentagon’s Chuck Hagel plans to downsize US military

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the US Army to its smallest size since before the US entered World War Two.

Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to 440,000-450,000 personnel, down from 520,000 currently.

Cold War-era Air Force fleets – the U-2 spy plane and the A-10 attack jet – will also be retired.

The US defence budget remains higher than during most of the Cold War.

‘Difficult decisions ahead’

On Monday, Mr Hagel noted the US military had come under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. “This is a time for reality,” he said

Read more » BBC

Obama meets Dalai Lama, defies China

by AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama welcomed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to the White House Friday, defying China, which said the meeting would “seriously impair” ties between the two countries.

The encounter took place in the Map Room on the ground floor of the president’s residence and not the Oval Office, which Obama usually uses to meet foreign leaders and visiting dignitaries.

“The president is currently meeting w/His Holiness the @DalaiLama in his capacity as an internationally respected religious & cultural leader,” the US National Security Council said on Twitter.

Read more » DAWN

Times Square bomb plot: Pakistani Army major arrested

A Pakistani Army major, who was until recently a serving officer, has been arrested in connection with the failed Times Square bomb plot.

By Rob Crilly, in Islamabad

Pakistani and US sources say there is evidence that mobile phone calls were exchanged between Major Adnan Ejaz and the suspected would-be bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was arrested on May 3 as he attempted to fly out of New York.

A Pakistani law enforcement sources said that the major had mobile phone contact with Shahzad on the day of the attempted bombing, including one conversation at the same time the bomber was allegedly parking his car loaded with propane tanks and explosives.

He had also met the naturalised American in Islamabad, he claimed.

Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer, has told interrogators he received training from the Pakistan Taliban in its rugged mountain stronghold of Waziristan.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have a long history of working with Jihadi organisations as an instrument of foreign policy.

Read more » The Telegraph

China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead.

Will China’s new supersonic warhead bust US missile shield?

China has tested an ICBM hypersonic warhead. It follows from the test results that China may deploy its ICBMs with these kinds of warheads in the foreseeable future, says an expert with the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Vassily Kashin.

The testing of the ICBM hypersonic warhead is the first practical achievement of a large-scale programme to create hypersonic weapons, a programme that China is translating into life. China has been engaged in developing hypersonic cruise vehicles for several years. In July 2012, the Chinese media reported the commissioning in China of a unique high-speed wind tunnel capable of testing model aircraft at speeds of up to Mach 9. Now China has reported the flight test of a hypersonic cruise vehicle. The basic questions that arise in this context are how the new technology will influence the Chinese nuclear strategy and what other hypersonic weapon projects China is carrying out.

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Gates says he never thought of Pakistan as an ally

by Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

Read more » DAWN

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani

Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek