Friday, December 14, 2012
The District Teachers Association in Turbat District has threatened to shut down all public schools from December 15 in protest against the nonpayment of teachers’ salaries for more than a month. A spokesman for the Government Teachers Association on Thursday said all public schools were closed down on December 13 because the Education Department had not paid salaries to the teachers for their services in the month of November. The teachers would stop performing their duty if officials in the Department of Education do not immediately release their salaries. “It is very unfortunate that the officials have stopped the teachers’ salaries without providing us any solid reasons. As a result, the teachers are suffering financially,” said the spokesman. He also appealed to Commissioner Mekran Division and the Deputy Commission of Turbat District to play their respective roles in getting the’ salaries paid without further delay.The Baloch Hal News
Saudi GazetteA Saudi woman did not know when she filed for alimony from her foreign husband, the court will sentence her to jail instead. The woman complained to a Jeddah court that her husband was not paying her child support and requested the court’s intervention. The judge, however, ruled against the woman and sentenced her to five days in jail and 10 lashes. Announcing his verdict, the judge who looked into the case said the woman was legally married to her foreign husband with the approval of the Ministry of Interior but was divorced after they had two children from the marriage. Three years later, the woman returned to her husband, but this time without the prior approval of the ministry or authentication from court, which is against the Saudi law. Saudi women seeking to marry foreigners are required to fullfill a series of tough conditions. The woman said she was ignorant of the law and argued that authenticating the marriage was the husband’s job and not hers. She said she approached the court seeking child support from her ex-husband and not to authenticate their marriage. The woman said she wanted identification for her children, especially as her husband had abandoned them and that was the reason why she moved the court. The woman claimed she currently lives on charity as she receives only SR800 in social security support.
Afghanistan SunAn alarming number of Afghan women are setting themselves on fire in a desperate attempt to escape abuse, torture and domestic violence, human rights officials have said. While some want to die, others simply hope their faces and bodies are so badly disfigured that their worth will plummet, and families and husbands who view them as commodities won't care enough to beat them any longer. Many even resort to self-immolation the night before they're forced into a marriage, hoping the wedding will be called off, the New York Daily News reports. According to the report, nearly as many are forced to lie about it when or if they're brought to a hospital. "I was in the kitchen cooking meat in a pressure cooker. Suddenly it exploded," 16-year-old Taranna told ABC's "20/20," white bandages covering her burnt skin from head to toe. Doctors who reviewed Taranna claimed that the teen wasn't burned by a gas explosion, but by flame, likely, self-inflicted. In approximately the past decade, women have regained voting and education rights in Afghanistan, but abuse is still widespread, the report said. The burgeoning number of women resorting to self -immolation has now prompted the United Nations (UN), which this week called for Afghan officials to enforce the 2009 Elimination of Violence against Women (EWAW) law, the report added. The law criminalizes child marriage, forced marriage, buying and selling women, rape and beating, the report concluded.
AL ARABIYA NEWSThe Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University for women in Saudi Arabia has banned students from wearing trousers, urging them to abide by the campus dress code. The statement was mainly addressed to female students in the school of art and design, for reasons unstated by al-Hayat newspaper. The dress code bans students from wearing skirts made out of mesh, or see through materials and they must be in black or gray. They are free to choose the color of their shirt, but it should not be revealing or transparent. Violators will be disciplined by marking them absent even if they attend classes. In a previous statement, King Abdulaziz University announced that it was not against women wearing trousers, but that trousers had to be designed in a way that is modest consistent with the “public taste.” Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University was established in 1970 as the Riyadh University for Women. It is the largest women-only university in the world with more than 50,000 students. In 2008 the university was renamed after Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman, the sister of King Abdulaziz.
In spite of deep political division and calls for boycott, Egypt’s most controversial referendum poll will go ahead on Saturday as plannedEgypt’s constitutional referendum will be held against the backdrop of severe political division and with a lack of full judicial supervision. The referendum on its most controversial draft constitution is due to take place on Saturday, 15 December. For the first time since 1956, the referendum will be held over two stages. The first stage, due to begin Saturday, 15 December will include 10 governorates: Cairo, Alexandria, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Daqahliya, Assiut, Sohag, Aswan, and North and South Sinai. The number of citizens eligible for voting in this stage is estimated at 26.6 million out of a total 51.3 million. Four of these (Cairo and the three Nile-Delta governorates of Gharbiya, Sharqiya, and Daqahliya) voted overwhelmingly against Egypt’s current Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt's run-off presidential election in June. Alexandria, the upper-Egypt governorates of Assiut, Sohag, and Aswan, and the border governorates of North and South Sinai voted 'yes' for Morsi without a large margin from his rival Ahmed Shafiq. The second stage, due to be held on 22 December, will include Egypt’s remaining 17 governorates, with a number of voters estimated at 24.7 million. All referendums that have been held since the 1950s in Egypt were organized in one day. In most of the referendums voters never chose 'no' nor did they vote 'yes' in large numbers to what the president of the republic wished. Saturday’s referendum is not braced to be an exception. Political division After a week of indecision, the non-Islamist opposition, led by the National Salvation Front (NSF), embarked upon the option of voting 'no' on the draft constitution rather than calling for a public boycott of the referendum. The front, led by liberal-minded political activist Mohamed ElBaradie, the ex-chief of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a statement on 13 December that “the constitution, drafted by a majority of Islamists, aims to turn Egypt into a religious state and represents a threat to basic freedoms and rights.” In another move, the front also decided to file a lawsuit before Cairo’s Administrative Court, with the objective of invalidating the referendum. It said the staging of the referendum over two stages violates a basic condition stipulated by the1956’s law on the exercise of political rights. “This law states that should a referendum be held over two stages, it must take place over two consecutive days rather than on two separate weeks,” said the NSF's lawsuit. For their part, Islamists – mostly Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Islamist Salafists – mobilized to rally behind the constitution, urging their supporters to turn out en masse to vote in favour of the new constitution. They also have staged a number of pro-constitution demonstrations in front of mosques, especially in Cairo and Alexandria. Salafist said “voting yes is a necessity to pave the way for respecting God’s will, ridding Egypt of secularists and liberals and at last implementing Islamic Sharia (laws).” Monitoring the referendum poll: Media, human rights organizations, judges Political divisions went so far to include judges, with the majority of them deciding to boycott supervising the referendum. The Higher Electoral Commission (HEC) said as many as 7,000 judges will take charge of monitoring polling stations in 10 governorates.” According to HEC’s chairman Samir Abu El- Maati, the number of main polling stations stands at 175, while the number of auxiliary polling stations is estimated at 6,375. “This means that the number of judges available is enough to ensure that there is a judge for every voting box,” said Abu El-Maati. He also indicated that the “counting of votes will be held in both main and auxiliary polling stations.” Opposition and independent judges, however, beg to differ. The NSF warned that “there is a big lack of judicial supervision, the result of which is that polling stations could be swept by rigging practices and irregularities.” Joining forces, the independent Judges’ Club stressed that “the first stage of the referendum will by no means be held under full judicial supervision.” Ahmed El-Zind, chairman of the Club, said on 13 December that "the first stage is in need of 13,000 judges in order to be under full judicial supervision. Yet, the number of judges available stands at just 5,775, a fact which means that just 40 per cent of polling stations will be covered by judicial supervision.” El-Zind explained that most of the supervising judges draw from the State Cases Authority – an institution loyal to the government and the Ministry of Justice because it is in charge of defending the government before courts. El-Zind also indicated that the judges who decided to boycott supervision mostly draw from administrative and criminal courts and from the prosecution-general. “Most of the judges and prosecutors decided to boycott out of their refusal to take part in a big farce and in spite of threats directed at them by the prosecutor-general (appointed by President Mohamed Morsi last month),” said El-Zind. Abu El-Maati explained that citizens will have to show their national identity cards in order to be eligible for voting. He said “female supervisors will be available to inspect female voters wearing a niqab (face cover).” According to Abu El-Maati, “voting will begin on 8am and end on 7pm at local time.” “To guarantee the integrity of elections,” said Abu El-Maati, “citizens will not be allowed to vote in any polling stations outside their electoral districts.” In spite of their sharp criticism of the draft constitution, most local human rights organizations said they would actively participate in monitoring the referendum. In a statement on 13 December, a coalition of these organizations warned that “the referendum will be held in a climate of uncertainty and lack of transparency.” They strongly oppose the state-affiliated National Human Rights Council (NHRC) upper hand in running the supervision and monitoring affairs. They warned that since the NHRC is currently headed by Hossam El-Gheriani, chairman of the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, fears are high that the referendum will be rigged. Chairman of the independent Egyptian Human Rights Organisation (EHRO), Hafez Abu Saada said “NHRC and El-Gheriani lack impartiality and there are strong doubts that they will do their best to manipulate the referendum in favour of Islamists. “In fact, many members of NHRC decided to resign in protest to El-Gheriani's affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood, NHRC's lack of independence from the government, not to mention its refusal to give guarantees about the integrity of the vote” said Abu Saada. Local and international media will be allowed to take part in monitoring the poll. Zaghloul El-Balshi, HEC’s secretary-general, said “Egyptian journalists will be required to show their press cards to be allowed to enter polling stations and cover the vote.” As for foreign journalists and media people, El-Balshi indicated that “they will be required to get a prior permission from the State Information Authority.” The role of the Egyptian army in referendum poll For the second time in Egypt’s modern history, the army will be mainly tasked with safeguarding polling stations. The first one took place during parliamentary elections held last December and January. An estimated number of 380,000 army and police forces will be deployed to secure the referendum. According to major-general Osama El-Saghir, chief of Cairo police, police and army forces will deployed in front of 1,728 buildings where polling stations will be located. “These buildings – mostly schools or youth centres or courts – will be under the tight security of police and army forces,” said El-Saghir, adding that “all forms of campaigning will be strictly banned and army forces are empowered to detain any persons suspected of violating rules.” On 8 December, President Mohamed Morsi gave army forces temporary arrest powers to impose discipline and order during the referendum days. Persons caught violating rules could be sent to military courts for trial. El-Saghir also indicated that Central Security Forces will be deployed to safeguard prisons and police stations against riot acts.
Rice asks Obama to no longer consider her for the job and says she would face 'lengthy, disruptive and costly' nomination battlethe embattled US ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew herself from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state in the face of sustained Republican attacks over her handling of the Benghazi consulate attack. Although Rice insisted the decision had been hers alone and that she was not pushed by the Obama administration, it provides the Republicans with an early victory barely a month after the presidential election. The danger for Barack Obama, even though the White House insists it did not push her, is that it will be interpreted as weakness by a president reluctant to face a fractious nomination battle. Her withdrawal means that John Kerry, Massachusetts senator and former presidential candidate, is almost certain to be nominated to be America's top diplomat. Rice wrote to Obama asking him to no longer consider her for the job because, she said, she would face "a lengthy, disruptive and costly" nomination battle with the Senate. "The position of secretary of state should never be politicised," Rice wrote. "As someone who grew up in an era of comparative bipartisanship … I am saddened that we have reached this point, even before you have decided whom to nominate. We cannot afford such an irresponsible distraction from the most pressing issues facing the American people." In a statement released by the White House, Obama expressed regret and described the attacks as "unfair and misleading". She is to stay in her position as UN ambassador, Obama said. The president is in the process of putting together his cabinet for a second term after many of the present team expressed a desire to leave. It emerged on Thursday that Obama is lining up a former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, to replace Leon Panetta as defence secretary, an effort to present his administration as being broad-based. Normally by this stage a president would have announced some appointments, but Obama's plans have been disrupted by the consistent Republican sniping against Rice, led by senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and, lately, Kelly Ayotte. "Senator McCain thanks ambassador Rice for her service to the country and wishes her well," said McCain's spokesman Brian Rogers. "He will continue to seek all the facts surrounding the attack on our consulate in Benghazi that killed four brave Americans." Graham, in a statement, said: "I respect ambassador Rice's decision. President Obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next secretary of state." Her withdrawal, revealed by NBC News, appears to be on mainly personal grounds, with the attacks expanding beyond just her comments on Benghazi to prying into her private life, including such things as her investments. In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, broadcast on Thursday night, Rice said she took the decision to avoid distracting from the main priorities Obama's second term. "We're talking about comprehensive immigration reform, balanced deficit reduction, job creation, that's what matters, and to the extent that my nomination could have delayed or distracted or deflected or maybe even some of these priorities impossible to achieve, I didn't want that and I'd much prefer to continue doing what I'm doing, which is a job I love at the United Nations." Her insistence that she volunteered to step aside was given credence by Bill Burton, a former White House spokesman and now a strategic adviser at the main Democratic political action committee, Priorities USA. In a tweet, he wrote: "You don't see a lot of people take one for the team in Washington - what ambassador Rice did was selfless and truly extraordinary." Rice is a big prize for the Republicans. She was championed by both Michelle Obama and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, in spite of having a reputation for being abrasive. It was that combative, highly political approach that first got her into trouble with McCain when, during the 2008 presidential election, she mocked him for wearing a flak-jacket on a visit to Baghdad at a time when he was surrounded by dozens of security staff and soldiers. McCain, a Vietnam veteran, took the criticism badly. The assault on Rice followed a series of television interviews she gave on Sunday talk shows after the attack on Benghazi that left four Americans, including the ambassador Chris Stevens, dead. Rice suggested that the attack had been launched by demonstrators upset about anti-Muslim video made in the US. She later acknowledged she had been wrong and that the attack had been mounted by an al-Qaida-linked group. Attempts last month in Washington to win over critical senators failed, enraging them further. In her letter, she told Obama: "If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities. "That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country … Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time." Obama, in his statement, said: "For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant … I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues." Kerry is well-placed to sail through the nominating process. The Senate foreign relations committee is responsible for screening the secretary of state and Kerry, as head of it, knows well all the members. McCain has applied to join the committee from January and could have used that position to throw up obstacle after obstacle for Rice. But he is on relatively good terms with Kerry. Kerry, in a statement, said of Rice: "As someone who has weathered my share of political attacks and understands on a personal level just how difficult politics can be, I've felt for her throughout these last difficult weeks, but I also know that she will continue to serve with great passion and distinction."
Amid one shooting after another, the only way to guarantee a gun-control debate is if Obama starts one.
A tearful President Barack Obama says the country's leaders must "take meaningful action" regardless of politics in response to the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. The president teared up, at times using an index finger to wipe at the corner of his eyes, as he addressed the nation from the White House. He also paused repeatedly as he struggled to keep his composure while speaking of the children — ages 5 to 10 — who had died and the life milestones they now would miss. He said, quote, "Our hearts are broken." Shortly before speaking, Obama ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half-staff on public grounds through Tuesday.
Conn. Massacre Second-Deadliest School Shooting in U.S. History
The Express TribunThe health department has initiated a ‘School Heroes’ programme whereby schoolchildren will be responsible for the polio immunisation drive. The target of these ‘heroes’ will be to get every child in the region vaccinated by June 2013. At the inauguration ceremony of the sub-national immunisation days, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan said all stakeholders should play their due role in eradicating the disease. He launched the campaign by administering the vaccine to a child. The three-day drive, which starts from December 17, is expected to inoculate more than five million children across the province, including Afghan refugees. A thousand schools in the province have nominated one teacher along with a team of 10 students, who will be trained to become focal persons for the programme. In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), 400 schools will be involved to reach 120,000 students. The drive will include public service messages to motivate families to get their children vaccinated. K-P Deputy Director Expended Programme on Immunisation, Dr Janbaz Afridi said that the ‘polio heroes’ will be responsible to keep a check on the campaign in their areas and identify localities where teams have not reached. “They will inform their teachers if any child has missed the vaccination and the teacher will then notify the health department which will immediately send a team to immunise the child,” he added. Dr Afridi said the pilot project had been launched in high-risk districts of Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera, where approximately 10,000 teachers will run the training programme. The drive will later be extended to the whole province. K-P education department and UNICEF will support the provincial health department in involving students and teachers. A total of 301,016 oral polio vaccines will be provided to the children. So far, 56 polio cases have been reported this year, out of which 24 are from K-P and 21 from Fata.
http://www.msnbc.msn.comThe main ingredient in most of the homemade bombs that have killed hundreds of American troops in Afghanistan is fertilizer produced by a single company in Pakistan, where the U.S. has been pushing unsuccessfully for greater regulation. Enough calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer for at least 140,000 bombs was legally produced last year by Pakarab Fertilizers Ltd., then smuggled by militants and their suppliers across the porous border into southern and eastern Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.ukIt is no surprise that girls in Pakistan have been protesting against the renaming of their schools in honour of Malala Yousafzai, the brave teenager who survived a Taliban assassination attempt. Of course, there is nothing wrong with honouring such a talented and articulate campaigner for girls education. She should be honoured. But there is something deeply troubling about the way politicians in Pakistan and overseas are jumping on to the bandwagon.
THE FRONTIER POSTTax evasion has so been deeply rooted in Pakistani society as to become a culture permeated in all sections of the population and lawmakers are no exception. A report carried by all newspapers of the country on Thursday portrays a ham-fisted picture of MPs hailing from all political organizations without exception saying that more or less 70 per cent of them do not pay taxes and they include top leadership like the head of the state, prime ministers, governors, chief ministers and federal and provincial ministers. The report also suggests that members of the National Assembly and the Senate alone own an average net wealth of around $882,000 and yet they do not pay due taxes. What is ironic that legislator are rolling in wealth while Pakistan has one of the lowest tax-to-GDP ratios in the world, estimated at 9.2 per cent. It also found that 78 MNAs and senators are still not registered with a national tax number. In all, only 260,000 out of 180 million citizens, around two per cent, have paid tax consecutively for the last three years. It may be pertinent to note that Pakistan's refusal to implement sweeping tax reform was instrumental in the collapse of a $11.3 billion IMF bailout programme in November 2010. Also a fact is the country is one of the biggest recipients of Western aid - payouts that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron have said are difficult to increase when Pakistan's own elite pays no tax. The anomalous, rather unlawful, picture that has emerged once again points out to injudicious and unjust taxation system and tax laws that deducts the petty salary of a clerk at source but does dare touch the elitist who keeps on playing fraud with the public exchequer for years and decades and yet is not proceeded against. The report comes after the chairman of the FBR, Ali Arshad Hakeem, offered Pakistani tax evaders the chance to pay around $420 to have their slates wiped clean in return for committing to pay tax regularly from next year. The wealth that has concentrated in a few hand has the potential of fetching much more than Rs one trillion in tax a year. However, tax collection has even not covered the budget deficit that has kept on mounting. The problem is not limited to lawmakers, it is that of the entire prosperous class of Pakistan. Their lifestyles totally betray their declared income. Another difficulty is that even when breaches of the tax laws are discovered, the rich and politically connected are rarely prosecuted and this manifests how weak is governance in the context of overall enforcement of law in Pakistan.