Chi is a popular women magazine in Italy with over than 218,262 copies and 3,607,000 readers; Chi Magazine features interviews, stories and exclusive photographs of famous in television, politics, sports but their latest expertise has been candid photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, either topless or sporting her baby bump in a bikini in a deserted island.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
An accelerating U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan this year and next will raise the risk of ill-advised spending of billions in U.S. funds for the country’s rebuilding, the top auditor of U.S. reconstruction spending said Wednesday. John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction, told the House Oversight Committee that civilians monitoring these projects are allowed to work only within a “safe zone, or bubble” limited to areas within about a 20-minute helicopter flight to a facility that can provide emergency medical care. “As our U.S. troops continue to withdraw, the amount of territory in Afghanistan that falls outside of the bubble will increase,” Sopko said. “Accordingly, the amount of programs and number of projects that can be monitored and overseen by U.S. personnel will decrease.” President Barack Obama announced Tuesday in his State of the Union speech that 34,000 U.S. troops will come home from Afghanistan over the coming year, with an unspecified additional number leaving in 2014. There currently are about 66,000 U.S. troops there. The combat mission is due to end at the end of 2014. Obama’s goal is to have Afghan forces sufficiently trained and equipped to handle security on their own by then. Sopko said $20 billion in reconstruction money appropriated by the Congress has not yet been spent. He said security issues and Afghan government corruption make it problematic that the money will be used wisely. He said his auditors already have encountered limitations on their work due to security restrictions. Recently in northern Afghanistan his organization was prevented from visiting an area because it was deemed too dangerous, he said. “As a result, 38 projects and over $72 million in U.S. taxpayer money is beyond our inspection.” Acknowledging that his organization does not have a firm grasp on the amount of U.S. money that could be at risk in the next few years in Afghanistan, Sopko said he will soon request that the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies tell him the status of each of their Afghan reconstruction projects and how many more they plan to start in the months ahead. The projects that are still on the drawing board could commit billions in additional U.S. funds, Sopko said. His conversations with various agency leaders suggested to him that they are seized with a “desire to get the money pumped out before the clock runs out,” he said, referring to Obama’s timetable for ending the war. Sopko said he is concerned about the prospect for success of Washington’s two main aims in Afghanistan: transferring full responsibility for Afghan security to Afghan forces, and the simultaneous effort to improve the Afghan government’s ability to manage the country’s reconstruction during that transition and beyond. “I think it is fair to say that the success or failure of our entire 10-year engagement in Afghanistan is teetering on whether these two interrelated and very important and ambitious goals can be met,” he said.
Director Vishal Bhardwaj has said that his trip to Pakistan with lyricist-driector Gulzar was not truncated for political reasons. The Indian High Commission has also clarified that it had no role to play in the artistes' premature return to Mumbai. The duo had travelled to Pakistan with Mr Bhardwaj's wife, singer Rekha Bhardwaj. They were scheduled to attend the Karachi Literary Festival which starts on Friday; Gulzar was listed as the keynote speaker at the inaugural session of the three-day event. Mr Bhardwaj's press release said that the trip to Pakistan was made to record a song for his new film, 'Dedh Ishqia'. "Gulzar Saab visited the grave of his mentor, an eminent poet Ahmed Nadeem Qasimi," Mr Bhardwaj said. "After that he visited his birth place Dina in Pakistan after 70 years. He was emotionally overwhelmed and stressed and felt uncomfortable after reaching at his hotel in Lahore. So we cancelled his recording and decide to escort him back to India and discontinued his journey further. There is nothing political about it. We plan to visit Pakistan again for recording as soon as Gulzar Saab feels better." The Indian High Commission, in Islamabad said Gulzar's trip was a private one and that it " was not aware of his itinerary and no one from the mission gave him any advice regarding his return to India... the news that he has been advised to return to the India by the Indian High Commission, Islamabad is false and fabricated."
indiatimes.comA Pakistani court today directed an anti-terrorism court to conduct daily hearings in the 2007 Benazir Bhutto assassination case and to conclude the trial within three months. The Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore high court issued the order after prosecutors from the Federal Investigation Agency complained that the trial had not been completed though five years had lapsed since Bhutto's assassination. The two-judge bench heard a petition filed by the FIA, which asked it to direct the anti-terrorism court of Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman to conduct daily hearings. The FIA said Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007 and it was regrettable that the high-profile case was in court even after the lapse of five years. Special Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali contended that under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, the anti-terrorism court is bound to hold daily hearings of cases for their speedy disposal. Ali informed the Lahore High Court that the lawyers for all the accused were using delaying tactics, which was evident from the fact that no other cases from 2007 were still pending in the anti-terrorism court. Bhutto was killed by a suicide attacker shortly after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007. Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman is also conducting the trial of seven men, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who have been charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. That trial too has been hit by numerous delays.
One of the oft repeated facts about life is that it is incomplete without love. Love is one of the most beautiful and sacred emotions known to us human beings. It is an emotion that is prevalent throughout nature. It is an universal emotion. And, though most of us are not very good at expressing our heartfelt emotions like love. But, it is very important to be honest in relationships and tell someone that we love them. Occasions like Valentines day has made the 'when' part of it easy, now the only thing is 'how'. To counter this we have devised various means of conveying our feelings to the people we love. Some of these are, Words Whether written, spoken or communicated in any other way, words are a very powerful tool to express your innermost and heartfelt emotions. If you are someone who loves to use words as a way of communication, love letters or Valentines day cards are an excellent idea to do the same. Words as a medium can be accompanied with some other more commonly used gifts such as flowers or chocolates etc. It all depends on your nature too, you can either be a quiet and unassuming person or someone who likes to pamper your loved one by giving lots of add ons with your love message. Art Creativity in expression is considered very thoughtful by people in general. Love is a feeling that is an inspiration behind many art works too. Artists have produced, crafted or painted their best when they were under the influence of the varied emotions that accompany love. Some Valentine's day gift ideas which can be used to convey your love are art pieces like paintings, hand crafted figurines and decorative pieces. Music Music imbibes all emotions known to us. Most of us love music even if few among us understand it. There is no better way of conveying of your love than through this beautiful medium of expression. Music is poetry in action, it has the power to convey a range of feelings that can be called love. From the heady feeling of romantic love to the soulful sentimentality of motherly or brotherly love to the soothing calmness of spiritual love. Music can say it all. Place Planning a day or a few hours together with your loved one/ones on Valentine's day helps in creating the perfect mood for the occasion. You can choose a venue that holds a special place in your heart to say the all important words 'I Love You'. If you believe in spontaneity and simplicity while conveying your unadorned message, then too the place might become one of the reasons of the answer tilting in your favour. Love is an inborn quality in all of us. No one needs to learn to love. But, many of us have either forgotten or have never been adept at the communication part of it. Even if the other person knows, conveying the feelings of love always help in making your love grow.
Associated PressThe Afghan government on Wednesday welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to bring home half of the 66,000 American troops in Afghanistan within the next year, and said its forces are ready to take responsibility for the country's security. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been pressing for a faster pace in the withdrawal of foreign combat troops from Afghanistan and agreed with Obama last month to accelerate the handover of security responsibilities to his country's newly trained security forces to this spring — instead of late summer as originally planned. "Afghanistan welcomes the announcement by President Obama," Karzai's office said. "This is something Afghanistan has wanted for so long now. The withdrawal in spring of foreign forces from Afghan villages will definitely help in ensuring peace and full security in Afghanistan." The Afghan Defense Ministry said it was ready to take on the responsibility. "We are ready to fill the vacuum and we are ready to take full responsibility for security in 2013," ministry spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi told The Associated Press. Many Afghans, however, worry that a quick drawdown will destabilize a country that is still fighting a war with insurgents more than 11 years after the U.S. invasion. They also fear that the nearly 352,000 strong Afghan army and police forces are not ready to take the lead for security. Although the drawdown was widely expected, the announcement for the first time put numbers on the withdrawal plan and for many Afghans brought home the fact that foreign troops are indeed leaving. "I heard on the news this morning about the withdrawal and became very sad. This is bad news for me," said Mohammad Naim, a 45-year-old Kabul restaurant owner. "The presence of the U.S. soldiers increased the morale of the Afghan people, the country was stable. I don't believe Afghan forces can keep security. For example, you can see that there is still fighting in the provinces." He recalled the civil war that followed in the years after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, and said he was worried history would be repeated. "The U.S. lost men and women in this country and spent billions of dollars. We should never forget this. If all the troops leave, the future of the country is dark," Naim said. Obama said Tuesday in his State of the Union address that the first 34,000 troops will leave within a year and more in 2014, when all foreign combat forces are to leave the country. But he did not reveal what U.S. military presence would remain after 2014 to help advise and train the Afghan forces, and fight al-Qaida and other extremist groups. That may stem from the lack of an agreement so far on a bilateral security deal between the United States and Afghanistan that would regulate the status of those forces, including the contentious issue of immunity from prosecution under Afghan laws. If no agreement is struck, the U.S. will not retain any forces in Afghanistan after 2014, just as Washington pulled all of its troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011. No other NATO forces are expected to remain either if the Afghans don't strike a deal with the Americans. The U.S.-led NATO coalition has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, including the 66,000 Americans. Many countries are also expected to accelerate their own withdrawals. Britain, which has 9,000 troops here, is expected to drop to 5,200 by the end of the year — although they and the U.S. troops are expected to start the main withdrawals after the summer fighting season. Before making the announcement, Obama had briefed Karzai in a video conference. Karzai's office said the two leaders discussed the pending security agreement, strengthening and equipping the Afghan forces, and the pullout of U.S. forces. "This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over," Obama said, adding that al-Qaida was no longer the threat it was on Sept. 11, 2001. The U.S. invaded less than a month later to rout al-Qaida in Afghanistan and overthrow its Taliban supporters. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid also welcomed the drawdown, but said it wasn't enough. The coalition, he said, should leave immediately. "The Western governments must realize that their baseless war in Afghanistan had no benefit for them," Mujahid said in a statement. "Thousands of their soldiers were killed, disabled or faced psychological problems. Billions of dollars were spent, which affected their economies. Their people are faced with poverty and other problems. Now it is time for America and all other countries to put an end to this baseless war in Afghanistan and withdraw their troops." In some of the country's eastern provinces, where coalition forces have been fighting a resurgent Taliban with mixed success, some people were worried. Aziza Maisam, a female member of the provincial council in eastern Ghazni province, said she was worried about the fate of women if the Taliban should make a comeback. "I heard the news this morning and I was thinking of the effect it would have on women. The situation is bad and insecure in Ghazni province. It is a premature decision by Obama to withdraw the troops," she said. "The foreign troops are very necessary. The fighting is not over as President Obama said." She said it is too early for U.S. troops to leave because the country is still not safe. "My province is an example," she said. "After 5 p.m. you can't leave Ghazni city." ___
Pakistan could soon join neighbours India as Olympic outcasts with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday considering suspending the country over what it said was government interference. “We might soon consider a suspension as a protective measure,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters. He said the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and the country’s government had been invited to the IOC’s headquarters later this week to discuss a domestic dispute over the sports body’s independence. “The government of Pakistan has ignored the invitation,” Adams said. Pakistan Olympic officials claim the government has been interfering with the administration of the POA in a dispute that has been simmering for months. The IOC banned India in December over government interference in elections of the Indian Olympic Association. An Olympic ban means an effective end to funding from the IOC to the national Olympic association. No officials of that association can attend Olympic meetings and athletes of a banned nation cannot compete at the Games under their country’s flag.
Contrary to the wishes and expectations of many among the general public, its representatives in the government have decided to continue a ban on video sharing website YouTube due to lack of cooperation, Geo.tv reported Wednesday. The decision was made during National Assembly’s standing committee on Information Technology. During the meeting, Ministries of Law and Information Technology said that complete blocking of anti-Islamic content on the website was impossible. They further added that YouTube was not willing to extend cooperation to the government of Pakistan in the matter. Pakistan had banned YouTube over clips from a sacrilegious film hosted on the website that sought to ridicule Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) on September 17, 2012. The amateurishly produced film, Innocence of Muslims, caused furore across the Muslim world precipitating into mass street protests in Egypt, Libya and in Pakistan among other Muslim countries. The site was recently blocked in Egypt over the video.
EDITORIAL : Daily TimesDr Tahirul Qadri has been questioned by the Supreme Court (SC) about his locus standi as a Canadian national to file a petition against the constitutional validity of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Article 213 and 218 of the constitution. The hearing on Monday that was supposed to be on the formation and hence the ultimate dissolution of the ECP, as desired by Dr Qadri, ended up with Dr Qadri standing in the dock answering the three member bench of the SC as to what the contents of his oath were when he became a Canadian national. At the end of the hearing Qadri was asked to submit a concise statement admitting that he had sworn an oath of allegiance to another country and that the federal government had issued a notification allowing him to retain the citizenship of Pakistan at the same time. On Tuesday, the SC once again raised questions on Qadri’s sudden foray into the politics of Pakistan and then barging into the constitutional domain of the country, that too only a few weeks prior to the elections. The Chief Justice (CJ) was curious to know as to why Qadri would come in December, and not earlier. After all the present ECP, about which Dr Qadri has reservations, has been working for over almost a year. The CJ made clear the significance of holding elections on time. He was all praise for democracy in the country that had found its place after going through enormous miscarriages. There was a clear message that all doors to undemocratic moves have been closed, especially to martial law. The locus standi, on which Dr Qadri’s statement on Tuesday relied, had yet to be decided and the hearing was adjourned for another day. The argument by the court, that Dr Qadri being a dual national does not stand legal or for that matter moral ground to file a petition against any institution of Pakistan, stands on weak foundations. Yes, why would Dr Qadri bring into the spotlight such a sensitive issue now, when the country is giving final shape to the arrangements for the next elections, is intriguing. Seen in this context the entire argument put forth by Dr Qadri against the ECP gives leverage to the court to inquire into the intention of the petitioner. That is exactly what is being done by the SC, besides examining the admissibility of the petition. Though Tahirul Qadri has been bending his back to upset the system by his intervening in election matters, the timing does not afford either the state or the judiciary to take any chances. We are hanging in the balance. We need the elections to happen, free, fair and in time. The court could rely on the doctrine of balance of convenience to save the country from the conspiracies surrounding Dr Tahirul Qadri’s political intervention. The dissolution or any verdict on ECP could be detrimental for the elections and for democracy at the end of the day. Dr Qadri might enjoy the right to move the courts on questioning the formation of the ECP, but dismissing his demand at this time would be to the greater good.
Couldn’t this be the century’s joke? Mian Nawaz Sharif, the supremo of his own faction of The Muslim League, says that the government is not serious in creating new provinces in southern Punjab. But doesn’t this hold good for his own PML (N), too? Isn’t it that it too is not serious about this? Isn’t it a fact that the PML (N) brought up the resolution for a Bahawalpur province in the Punjab Assembly after the PPP mooted the creation of a Seraiki province at various public, political and parliamentary forums feverishly and persistently? The move was evidently intended to neutralise the PPP and cut it down from garnering votes in southern Punjab by playing this politics of province. Otherwise, could it be presumed by any stretch of imagination that either the PPP is unaware that it doesn’t have the vote to adopt a constitutional amendment by a two-thirds majority in the Punjab Assembly or the PML (N) doesn’t know that it too has not the required vote in the parliament for a constitutional amendment for the creation of a Bahawalpur province? Both are indeed playing politics, and the electoral politics at that. And with this, both are playing a cruel joke on the people. Province creation is a very serious business. It involves acute local sensitivities and passionate people’s aspirations and felt needs. And it is unpardonable to trivialise this serious business for petty politics and electoral gains. There indeed is not something quaint or new about demands for new provinces or about carving out new provinces. Countries do undergo their shaping or reshaping off and on to meet popular demands for new provinces. India has gone through this process after independence and now boasts of many more states than were there at that time. And more demands for states are being articulated presently and the political class over there is listening to them intently. And it is not unimaginable if the country sees a new state or two emerging in not too distant a future. Instances of new provinces are not rare elsewhere too. In fact, more provinces surely make for a more focused administration, more focused development and more focused fulfillment of the people’s popular yearnings for progress and advancement. Accordingly, voices are coming out in the country not just from southern Punjab or Bahawalpur to be made a province. The tribal people are crying for their province in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas to get into the national mainstream, a craving denied to them rudely since independence. The people of Hazara region in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are calling to be made a province. The Pakhtuns in Balochistan have long been demanding that the areas they dominantly inhabit should either be turned into a province or be merged with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Even the rumblings of a province are heard in the Potohar region of Punjab. In time, it is not inconceivable if the calls for province begin coming from other parts and regions of the country. One shouldn’t be shy of such demands. Rather, those should be taken in all earnestness and considered seriously. And the political parties across the spectrum would do well to put their think tanks to the task of studying and examining these demands dispassionately, objectively and sensibly. For, creation of a province isn’t just determining the geographical boundaries. It involves much more, and more importantly. Ticklish issues like resources distribution, capacity building, generation of revenues and so on come in critically. Hence, the political parties and groups must evolve their stances on the issue of provinces in the light of the studies of their think tanks and put their ideas and thoughts in their election manifestoes. And with this, they must go to the electorate in the hustings, telling unambiguously what new provinces they envisage and why. The electorate’s verdict will be the true voice of the people about the new provinces that in time should be donned with the apparel of reality by the new legislatures and the new governments. What presently is going on is a mere political circus being staged primarily by the PPP and the PML (N). It is a mere fraud. Their theatre has no substance to it. Both must take a mercy on the people and stop befooling them for their own petty politics.
Americans who have become weary of Washington’s endless battles over spending and taxes — and the stagnating economy that stalemate has produced — got a chance to hear about a different path on Tuesday night. President Obama’s message in the State of the Union address was clear: It doesn’t have to be this way. The country doesn’t have to get bogged down by demands for endless austerity and government contraction. It doesn’t have to defer investments in education and public works. The poor don’t have to remain on society’s lower rungs, and the middle class can aspire to do better. Mr. Obama said his proposals to bring about growth with government action would not have to raise the deficit. What is required to move the country forward is political will, which has been missing for too long. While many of the president’s proposals were familiar, and will probably be snuffed out by politics, his speech explained to a wide audience what could be achieved if there were even a minimal consensus in Washington. Mr. Obama called for a series of steps that would provide enormous benefit for the middle class and for those hoping to enter it: universal public preschool in every state, a tax code that encourages manufacturing, a higher minimum wage and vital repairs to infrastructure. These and other investments could be paid for by ending tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy, the kind of tax reform that Republicans have already said they support. The effect on jobs and incomes would be significant. “Most Americans — Democrats, Republicans and independents — understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” he said. “They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue.” Repairing the economy was only one of the challenges the president set before Congress. If lawmakers could overcome ideology and extreme partisanship, they could make real progress on things that most Americans say they want, including immigration and an improved voting system. In the most emotional moment of the night, drawing sustained cheers, he said victims of gun violence deserve a vote on each of his gun control proposals, from background checks to a ban on assault weapons. But on virtually every one of these issues, Republicans are standing in the way. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the Republicans’ designated responder, wielded the party’s ancient cliché that the president simply wanted more “big government.” In fact, according to the president, spending is going down, thanks to $1.4 trillion in cuts already enacted. That makes investing in programs like universal preschool more affordable. By educating children at a critical juncture in their lives, such a program could help reduce dropout rates later. The Center for American Progress estimates a similar idea would cost $200 billion over 10 years, but no investment would be more important. “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than $7 later on,” he said, “by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.” Raising the minimum wage to $9 from $7.25, and indexing it to the cost of living, would lift many families out of poverty, though it was not clear why Mr. Obama backed down from his 2008 proposal for a $9.50 wage. Mr. Obama laid out a timetable for withdrawing 34,000 American troops from Afghanistan by this time next year; we would have preferred that all 68,000 troops be pulled out. He also made an intriguing promise of greater transparency in targeting enemy combatants, which will require clarification in the days to come. He failed to propose a strong legislative agenda to eliminate long lines at the polls, instead announcing a bipartisan commission to recommend changes, even though good bills to improve registration and early voting have already been introduced. Nonetheless, Mr. Obama’s broad second-term agenda is impressive. It is largely what won him re-election. His task now is to turn his widespread public support into a wedge to break Washington’s gridlock.