WASHINGTON POSTAfter just four days of vacation, President Obama is planning to leave Hawaii early to return to Washington in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. A White House official said Obama would fly home as soon as Wednesday – giving him only five days before an automatic series of deep spending cuts and sharp tax increases on nearly all Americans begins to take effect. After a month and a half of largely fruitless negotiations with congressional Republicans, Obama left for Hawaii late Friday to begin his customary winter vacation in his native state, expressing hope that cooler heads would prevail over the holiday. But he pledged to return this week, holding out hope that Republicans will either agree to a stopgap measure intended to reduce the impact of the fiscal cliff or, possibly, to an even broader deal to begin to tame the nation’s debt. Lawmakers are set to return to business on Thursday, but no specific talks are scheduled yet.Little progress has been accomplished over the holiday weekend, with virtually no talks between Republicans and the White House. Since arriving early Saturday morning, Obama has had a quiet few days in Hawaii, playing golf, going to the gym and hiking with his family. On Christmas, he often goes to church and visits troops on a nearby base, but he did not go to church Tuesday. As of 4 p.m., Hawaii time, he was on his way to visit troops at the nearby Marine base. Obama’s stopgap proposal is to freeze tax rates for people earning under $250,000 and extend unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of the month. He’d also want to patch the alternative minimum tax, which will dramatically raise taxes on millions of people next year if left untouched, and potentially address other remaining issues, including automatic decreases in Medicare payments and the spending cuts, known as “sequestration.” But many lawmakers were pessimistic last week that a deal may be within reach after House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had to pull a vote on his “Plan B” measure to raise taxes on millionaires after too many Republicans refused to back it.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Rape capitals of the world in 2010: South Africa – it has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. The same year a survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone United States – more than 84,000 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option India – reported a little more than 22,000 cases United Kingdom – 16,000 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison Mexico – nearly 15,000 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines Germany – counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, just under 8,000 Russia – almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4 -10 years in jail
Letter Published in The Express Tribune
BY:Masood KhanI feel quite ashamed and sad that Malala Yousufzai had to ask authorities in Pakistan to reverse a decision to rename a girls’ college in Swat after her. She had to do this after that particular college’s female students protested against the name change. According to reports, some of the students were apprehensive that the Taliban may target their institution following the name change. At a time when the rest of the world is united in its support for the cause for which Malala was targeted, we are unable to even make a ceremonial gesture. We are also unable to protect our brave health workers who risk their lives to protect our children, who are our future. What was the fault of 14-year-old Farzana who was shot dead at point-blank range the other day in Peshawar when she was coming out of a house after administering polio drops? Her assailants were successful in their aim as the anti-polio campaign has now been suspended across the country. It clearly shows the retreat of the state in the face of extremism and militancy. Yesterday it was Malala, today it’s Farzana, and tomorrow it will be someone else. This will go on and on unless we stand up and make ourselves heard by calling a spade a spade.
Hours after Makhdoom Syed Ahmed Mahmood took oath as governor Punjab, three leaders of PML-N on Tuesday announced to join Pakistan Peoples Party claiming that their former party leadership had not paid any heed to their problems. The announcement was made by former PML-N leaders, Syed Salman Ahmed Gardezi, Syed Irfan Ahmed Gardezi and Syed Sajid Hussain, during a press conference at Governor House, Lahore. PPP Punjab President Manzoor Watto was also present at the occasion. Talking to media, Watto said that more PML-N leaders were willing to join PPP and soon they would join the party. Watto further said that although the newly appointed governor Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood was affiliated with Pakistan Muslim PML-F but he was a sympathizer of PPP. He further said that he had no differences with Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi adding that they had grievances with federation not with the provincial leadership. He further said that the PPP would continue its activities at Governor House in Lahore.
By:Dean ObeidallahCan a movie actually convince you to support torture? Can a movie really persuade you that "fracking" -- a process used to drill for natural gas -- is a danger to the environment? Can a movie truly cause you to view certain minority groups in a negative light? Some scoff at the notion that movies do anything more than entertain. They are wrong. Sure, it's unlikely that one movie alone will change your views on issues of magnitude. But a movie (or TV show) can begin your "education" or "miseducation" on a topic. And for those already agreeing with the film's thesis, it can further entrench your views. Anyone who doubts the potential influence that movies can have on public opinion need to look no further than two films that are causing an uproar even before they have opened nationwide. They present hot button issues that manage to fire up people from the left and right.The first, "Zero Dark Thirty," is about the pursuit and killing of Osama bin Laden, which features scenes of torture. The second, "Promised Land," stars Matt Damon and explores how the use of fracking to drill for natural gas can pose health and environmental dangers. Critics of "Zero Dark Thirty" fear that audiences will accept as true the film's story line that torture was effective in eliciting information to locate bin Laden. They are rightfully concerned that the film will sway some to become more receptive or even supportive of the idea of torturing prisoners.Opposition to the film escalated last week as three senior U.S. senators -- John McCain, Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein -- sent a letter to the film's distributor, Sony Pictures, characterizing the film's use of torture as "grossly inaccurate and misleading." The senators bluntly informed Sony Pictures that it has "an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative." Is this just more liberal whining? Well, the hostility toward "Promised Land" shows us that it's not just liberals who complain about movie messages. Big business -- namely, the gas industry -- is aggressively objecting to the allegation in "Promised Land" that fracking poses environmental and health risks. How concerned is the gas industry? It has set up a rapid response team to counter publicity for the film by using two Washington-based groups that lobby for gas and oil companies: the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Energy in Depth. These groups have scrutinized appearances by the films stars on talk shows, questioned who the financiers of the film are, published parts of the script and mocked the film on social media. Energy in Depth went as far as to "fact check" a recent appearance by the films co-star and co-writer, John Krasinski, on "Late Night With David Letterman." Within hours of Krasinski's appearance, Energy in Depth posted a blog on its website pointing out what it perceived as factual errors made by Krasinski about fracking. Regardless of whether "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Promised Land" intended to promote any message, people who watch them will be "educated" in some way on torture and fracking -- even if very subtly. This is the same reason that minority groups continue to object being represented in a negative light in movies and TV. They understand that accurate representations matter because studies have shown that biases can form based on stereotypes or inaccurate representations. (Being of Italian and Arab descent, I'm acutely aware of this issue as my respective heritages have been represented by a parade of mobsters and terrorists.) What's Hollywood's role in all of this? The same as it has always been -- to make money. In fact, there's no doubt that the studios behind these movies are overjoyed at the controversy that has erupted and the resulting free press. Indeed, the response of Sony Pictures to the uproar over "Zero Dark Thirty" tells you about what they really hope we will all do: "We encourage people to see the film before characterizing it." So go ahead, enjoy these films and ones like them that are based on actual events or current hot issues. But while you are watching them, be aware you might be getting more than the price of ticket. You might also be getting a (mis)education.
Barack Obama has threatened to use his inauguration speech in January to heap blame on the Republicans for forcing the United States over the so-called 'fiscal cliff' if they failed to reach a deal before the New Year, it was reported on Sunday.The threat came as the Republican party's negotiating position was left badly weakened by the failure of its lead negotiator, the House speaker John Boehner, to win support from his party rank-and-file for a 'Plan B' that would have raised taxes on those earning $1m a year. The two parties remain bitterly divided over how to rein in America's trillion-dollar-a-year annual deficits, with Republicans demanding fundamental cuts to welfare programmes and Democrats arguing for tax-rate rises on the wealthy. Despite both sides giving some ground, negotiations between Mr Obama and Mr Boehner since the election have failed to close the gap, increasing the likelihood that America will go over 'the cliff', triggering some $680bn in automatic spending cuts and tax hikes. The threat by Mr Obama to shame the Republicans in his inaugural address on January 21 – reported by the Wall Street Journal – reflects the president's determination to appeal to broader public opinion which polls show favours his plan to force through tax rises on the wealthy. Although both sides have compromised – Mr Obama cutting his demand for additional tax revenues from $1.6tr to $1.2tr and Mr Boehner agreeing to break the Republican taboo on raising marginal tax rates – the closed-door negotiations have been testy."I put $800 billion [in additional tax revenues] on the table. What do I get for that?", asked Mr Boehner, according to sources quoted by the Wall Street Journal, "You get nothing," replied the president, "I get that for free." In another meeting, the president reportedly repeatedly reminded Mr Boehner of the election result and the mandate he believes it gives him to raise taxes on those earning over $400,000 a year: "You're asking me to accept Mitt Romney's tax plan," Mr Obama is reported to have asked, "Why would I do that?" Congress is now on holiday until December 27, when members will return to discuss how to avoid going 'over the cliff' on December 31, an event that would raise taxes on all American, potentially spooking financial markets and driving the country back into recession. Mr Obama went for his break to Hawaii, boarding Air Force One with his wife Michelle, daughters Malia and Sasha and Bo the First Dog. He was spotted going to play golf with friends and dining at the upscale Morimoto Restaurant in Waikiki.Before leaving for his break, Mr Obama suggested Congress could pass a more limited, short-term deal – to at least avoid tax raises – but as discussions continued in Washington over the weekend, that prospect appeared to be receding. Delivering the Republican Party weekly address, Mr Boehner repeated his calls for Mr Obama to offer substantial, long term reform to America's spiralling welfare bills in order to clinch a deal. "What the president has offered so far simply won't do anything to solve our spending problem and begin to address our nation's crippling debt," he said. "The president's solution of raising tax rates would still leave red ink as far as the eye can see. And it would hurt jobs at a time when far too many of our citizens are struggling to find them."
Keizer's street art with Om Kalthum saying 'Art is not a Sin'
AL ARABIYA NEWSThe Middle East Broadcasting Center’s children entertainment channel MBC3 hit back on Tuesday at a prominent Saudi preacher who urged parents to prevent their kids from watching the channel because its content promotes “atheism and corruption” according to him. Sheikh Mohammad al-Arifi, known for his controversial statements, wrote in a twitter post, "It is prohibited to enable your child to watch MBC3 children; its scenes are full of ideas of atheism and corruption; remove it now; your child is in your care.” MBC3 issued a statement describing Arifi's twitter post as "tendentious and far from reality altogether." The MBC3 statement pointed to a previous seen as preposterous religious edict by Arifi in which he said a daughter should not sit alone with her father for fear that she might tempt him into lusting after her. "Words cannot describe such mentality and such rationale, especially that it is coming from individuals who should be at the psychiatric hospital to treat abnormal thinking instead of issuing fatwas,” the MBC statement added. Sheikh Arifi had called on his followers on Twitter to boycott advertisers on MBC channels. Ironically as some commentators may see, the sheikh presents a religious show on another Arab television network which has a similar grid of programming and Western content. Al-Arifi’s twitter statements have regularly been a source of contention among religious and political circles. In October, he posted a statement on Twitter describing the Emir of Kuwait as unfit to rule and urged demonstrations against him. In his opinion, Emir Sheikh Sabah does not satisfy the religious conditions of an Islamic ruler. He later backtracked on his statement following mounting anger against him in Kuwait. In a Twitter post he urged Kuwaitis to “let bygones be bygones.” Religious figures in the Middle East and in particularly in Saudi Arabia use use social media forums to propagate their religious doctrines and ideas. Some of those preachers were reportedly “buying” twitter followers in order to boost their public image. The report also said that 25 percent of prominent religious figure Muhammad al-Arifi’s 2.2 million Twitter followers are “unreal” and almost 50 percent others are “inactive.” MBC3 delivers a programming mix of children's education and entertainment that connects with and stimulates the imagination of Arab kids aged between three and 13. The channel is part of MBC group, which is the same group that Al Arabiya News Channel belongs to.
http://dailynewsegypt.comAlmost a dozen girls gathered near Tahrir Square Tuesday afternoon to cut locks of their hair in protest against the new constitution.
http://www.foxsports.com.auHalf-centuries from Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik steered Pakistan to a tense five-wicket win in the first Twenty20 International against India in Bangalore. The tourists looked in serious trouble at 3-12 in pursuit of a target of 134, debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-9) doing all the early damage in the first bilateral series between the two neighbouring countries in five years.
By:Syed Badrul Ahsan
Interior ministry claims Segeant Nargas, accused of killing Joseph Griffin, came from Iran 10 years agoAn Afghan official says the policewoman who killed a US consultant in Kabul is an Iranian who came to Afghanistan 10 years ago with her husband and obtained a fake ID through him. Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said on Tuesday she had displayed "unstable behaviour" but that the investigation revealed no militants links so far. On Monday, the policewoman identified only as Sergeant Nargas shot 49-year-old Joseph Griffin, of Mansfield, Georgia, in what was the first such shooting by a woman in a spate of insider attacks by Afghans against their foreign allies. The US-based security firm DynCorp International says on its website that Griffin was a U.S. military veteran who had earlier worked with law enforcement agencies. In Kabul, he was advising the Afghan police force and was killed on Monday morning. There have been very few female combatants among insurgent ranks in conservative and male-dominated Afghanistan, although the Taliban did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack. A spokesman said the group was investigating. More than 60 soldiers and civilian advisers have been killed in 46 shootings this year, compared with 35 deaths in all of 2011. They account for nearly one in six of all Nato casualties in Afghanistan, and risk undermining the entire mission as it shifts towards a bigger focus on training. However, it was unprecedented to have a woman pulling the trigger and unusual to have an attack at such a high-level office, although two officers were shot dead in the interior ministry at the start of the year. The woman was confused and weeping, according to a police source from a gender awareness section of the interior ministry, which supervises the police. "She is crying and saying 'what have I done,'" Reuters news agency quoted the source saying.
http://worldtribunepakistan.comAll Pakistan Muslim League (APML) has issued a 35-point charge-sheet against PML-N’s Chief Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s corruption and misappropriation of powers. APML has also published the copies of Mian Nawaz’s apology letter as well as his pledge for not participating in politics, Dunya News reported on Thursday. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the leader of APML Sher Afgan Khan Niazi accused Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of acquiring 614 billion rupee debts for different uses and therefore an immediate inquiry of this matter should be done. He also urged Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his family to disclose the correct lists of their domestic and international assets. APML demanded an apology from Mian Nawaz Sharif for hiding the apology letter and the pledge for not participating in politics from his party members and the nation.
Federal Minister for Information said that the assemblies would be dissolved on March 16, 2013. While taking to the media in Haroonabad he maintained that the authority to take decision rests with the elected representatives. He emphasized that the general elections would be held on time and the government would not back any unconstitutional change. The decisions in democracy are taken through ballot, he added. The caretaker setup will be put in place after consultation with the opposition. There is no role of army or judiciary in people’s decisions, he maintained. Answering a query he admitted that people of the South Punjab has a sense of deprivation.
The Baloch HalThe Voice for Missing Baloch Persons (V.M.B.P.), on December 19, completed 1000 days of consecutive peaceful protest against enforced disappearances torture and brutal killing of Baloch citizens by Pakistani security forces. What was indeed an absolutely unique and prolonged protest of historic proportion, the landmark struggle of those consistently fighting for justice was barely covered by the Pakistani media.
The Express TribuneFormer premier Benazir Bhutto