Thursday, December 26, 2013
The biggest technology story of the 2013 is one of the biggest stories of the year, period. It has had serious implications in the United States and around the world, and half a year later its true impact is only beginning to be felt. In June, The Guardian first published leaked documents from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The classified documents contained information about highly confidential government programs that collect massive amounts of data about Americans' cell phone calls and Internet activities The scope of the program has led to lawsuits and protests, a public debate about the right to privacy versus the government's need to secretly collect information for security. Another big story this year was cybersecurity, illustrated by a string of attacks by hackers against news organizations, major tech companies and retailers. The motivations behind the attacks varied -- some like the recent Target breach -- were financially motivated, while others were political statements or acts of espionage. They all highlighted the limits of online security and privacy. It was a year when established tech companies struggled to reinvent themselves. Microsoft continued to push its new Windows 8 operating system and Windows 8 smartphones, even going as far as to buy the No. 1 maker of Windows phones, Nokia's mobile division. In the end, it wasn't enough and the company decided on one more big change: a new CEO. A bright spot for Microsoft could be its new Xbox game console, the Xbox One, which is competing against Sony's new Play Station 4. Apple didn't have to switch much up to stay popular. It announced an expected update to its iPhone and iPad lines with the usual fanfare, slimming down and speeding up the devices, throwing in some flashy features like a finger print scanner and new colors to keep the masses interested. A more dramatic overhaul was of the iOS 7 mobile operating system, which was flattened, simplified and updated. Twitter went public and released a new social micro-video app called Vine, Snapchat broke out of the naughty messaging market and made "ephemeral" communications a hot feature, and virtual currency Bitcoin skyrocketed in price while people waited to see if it would drop back down to Earth. Some of 2013's big stories were just previews of what's to come in 2014. Wearable technology moved from the hype stage to the prototype stage, but Google Glass and the myriad of bad smart watches just showed that the industry still has a lot more work to do (on design and social norms) before these gadgets are hot holiday items. Tune in next year and see whether face-mounted computers become a socially acceptable accessory, 3-D printed guns become something to worry about and original content from sites like Amazon and Netflix can take on TV.
U.S. President Barack Obama and wife Michelle visit Marine Corps Base to thank U.S. troops for their service.
China on Thursday strongly condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni shrine, saying the Japanese leader's move has deeply hurt the feelings of Asian war victims. "(We) strongly protest and condemn the Japanese leader's wrongdoing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said immediately after Abe's Thursday visit to the shrine, where 14 WWII class-A war criminals are honored. Abe's visit is the first by a serving Japanese prime minister since 2006. Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's annual visits to the shrine during his tenure from 2001 to 2006 were a major factor that affected the ties between Japan and its Asian neighbors. Japanese militarists' aggression brought atrocities to China and some Asian countries and deeply hurt the Japanese people, Qin said. Qin labelled the Yasukuni shrine as "a spiritual tool and symbol" of Japanese aggression in WWII. Abe's visit to the shrine whitewashes Japanese aggression and colonial rule, overthrows the international community's trial of Japanese militarism and challenges the post-war international order, said the spokesman. Qin said Japanese leader's challenge of justice and historical trend gives its Asian neighbors and the international community every reason to be highly vigilant and deeply concerned over what road Japan will take in the future. Japanese politicians visiting the Yasukuni Shrine anger Japan's neighbors such as China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Since Abe took office, his government has shown an irresponsible attitude to Japan's war history by refusing to apologize to its Asian neighbors and trying to revise the pacifist constitution. Qin said China-Japan relations have faced "severe difficulties" since the Japanese government announced in September 2012 its plan to "purchase" part of the Diaoyu Islands, a move that contributed to the disintegration of bilateral relations.
It would behoove the defence minister to ask why exactly the military still has agreements with assorted Taliban groups in FATA? Who has allowed sanctuary to the militants from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan in FATA?As the Punjab-based ruling and opposition parties wrangled over the latter’s Lahore weekend rally, the Pashtuns in Mirali, North Waziristan Agency (NWA) of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were caught between the foreign and domestic terrorists on one side and the artillery barrage from the Pakistani army on the other. According to locals and media reports, over 70 people, scores of them civilian, were killed when the army ostensibly retaliated against the terrorists. The plight of the Mirali residents got the attention of very few in the print and electronic media. The lions of Punjab — both those in waiting and the incumbent ones — devoured their share of airtime hours and column inches as news of civilian casualties trickled out of Mirali. The cabinet’s committee on national security in a meeting last week had reaffirmed its “commitment to the strategy of carrying out negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and considering use of other options only as a last resort”. The TTP’s spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, immediately snubbed the government and rejected any talks. The next day, the TTP affiliate Ansarul Mujahideen launched a suicide attack on a military checkpoint in the Mirali area in which five soldiers were martyred. The army responded in a knee-jerk manner using artillery and gunship helicopters as well as a ground assault, hitting the Mirali bazaar and residential quarters. That the army had every right to respond to attacks on its personnel is not moot but how the military resorted to unleashing massive firepower on terrorists holed up in the civilian neighbourhoods is perplexing, with an apparent disregard for collateral damage. A similar situation had arisen earlier this year during the military operation in the Tirah valley where civilians from the Afridi tribe were killed due to crude military tactics. An army supposed to be in a counterterrorism and counterinsurgency mode for almost 12 years would have had those skills honed almost to surgical precision by now. While the sacrifice of the armed forces personnel must be solemnly honoured, the Mirali and the Tirah episode before that should perhaps be investigated at the institutional level. The Mir Ali incident raises yet again the following perennial questions: what exactly is Pakistan’s policy vis-à-vis the terrorists holding FATA hostage? Who calls the shots in FATA on the state’s behalf? Why has the military failed to act comprehensively against the militants in the NWA despite its pledges to act at least since early 2010? Why have attacks by the same or similar terrorist groups on the civilians largely gone answered? The president of Pakistan, Mr Mamnoon Hussain, who is the constitutional authority over FATA, has not been heard from over this incident or, for that matter, any other. The minister for defense, Mr Khawaja Muhammad Asif, is reported to have said that “the attacks on the security forces will not be tolerated at any cost and the government will not show leniency towards terrorists.” The fact is that FATA effectively remains under the heel of the military and the militants who have played and periodically fought with each other at whim for a good decade now. Any other state would have, by now, developed a comprehensive revanchist policy to regain full sway over an area teeming with terrorists due to its own perverted national security and foreign policies. However, it seems that FATA is nothing more than an appendage for the Pakistani state, which it continues to use as a buffer against the boomerang of the jihadist militancy sired by none other than the state itself. While the outrageous calls to let the TTP open an office seem to have fizzled out, the Punjab-based politicians continue to push for negotiations with that murderous horde. The idea, it appears, is to keep the jihadist malignancy localised to the Pashtun lands at all costs to the Pashtuns. It would behoove the defence minister to ask why exactly the military still has agreements with assorted Taliban groups in FATA? Who has allowed sanctuary to the militants from Afghanistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan in FATA? Why does the military act with either an overwhelming and indiscriminate might or appease and capitulate altogether? Has the army not paid reparations to militants, released their men and vacated its posts as part of various deals with them? The army needs to come clean on its relationship with Afghanistan-oriented transnational jihadists like the Haqqani terrorist network. Despite the insinuations about the army dropping its Haqqani network allies, there is little to suggest that it has translated into severance of ties on the ground and denial of sanctuary to the Haqqani network as yet. It is well known that the network effectively sublets the sanctuary it has from Pakistan to various other transnational jihadists that attack Pakistan. This Charlie Foxtrot of jihadists that Pakistan has allowed on its soil also hampers the precision of any military operation. While Punjab-based politicians go blue in the face denouncing US drone attacks for an alleged rise in militancy, they conveniently ignore that random or poorly conceived military operations and indiscriminate use of massive firepower, which result in civilian casualties and displacement of the population, also cause tremendous resentment among people. Pounding the tribal Pashtuns that Pakistan itself has thrown under the jihadist bus compounds the tragedy of FATA. Forget about integrating FATA or conducting the local bodies polls there, the Punjab-dominated National Assembly of Pakistan argued over whether the word ‘tamasha’ (spectacle) or drama is against the parliamentary politesse as Mirali was being pummeled. The new chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s statement in Peshawar that “terrorist attacks will not be tolerated and will be responded to effectively”, should be welcomed. However, by most independent accounts, the events in Mirali leave much to be desired in how the army currently mounts such a response. General Sharif, who reportedly had a significant role in formulating the military’s counterterrorism strategy, still has some serious work on his hands. While the Mirali fighting is being interpreted as the rolling start to a larger NWA operation, it seems to have been a limited action gone awry. Still, General Sharif’s statement is being seen as a departure from his predecessor’s way of conducting business. However, unless the arbitrary policy of differentiating the so-called good Taliban from the bad ones is formally and publically scrapped, smoking out and neutralising them will remain an uphill task replete with pitfalls like the Mirali tragedy.
Pakistan TodayLarkana Peoples’ Party (PPP) Women Wing will set up a reception camp in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on the occasion of the sixth death anniversary of assassinated chairperson of PPP and former premier Benazir Bhutto. This was decided in PPP Women Wing meeting held Wednesday in connection with the sixth death anniversary of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Larkana PPP (Women Wing) President and former Sindh minister for Women Development Department Tauqir Fatima Bhutto presided over the meeting.
The Express TribuneA one-and-a-half-year-old was buried on Wednesday, four days after she died from pneumonia in Toba Tek Singh. The family said that Muslim residents of the area had refused to let them bury the child in the neighbourhood graveyard because “she was born to an Ahmedi family”. The child was finally buried on a land donated by a Muslim resident of the village, some 300 metres away from the graveyard. The settlement was reached after the family of the deceased child staged a protest demonstration. The family, a resident of Chak 312-JB Kathowali in Gojra, said that they had prepared the body for the burial in the neighbourhood graveyard. On Sunday, they said, some men stopped the funeral on its way to the graveyard and told them that they could not bury the child there. The family said they were told that the villagers had decided not to let any person from the Ahmadia community bury their dead at the graveyard. The family placed the body on the main road and sat around it. The sit-down continued for three days before police arrived at the scene and talked to both side. After negotiations between both sides, police said, the child’s family agreed to bury the girl on land donated by Yaqoob Ranjha, a Muslim resident of the village and a neighbour of the deceased child. The land is 300 metres from the old graveyard. Station House Officer Rana Muhammad Yar told The Express Tribune that the dispute was resolved amicably. He said no FIR was registered against anyone. He said the police had tried to avert an untoward situation. Talking to The Express Tribune, Waheed Ahmad, the child’s father, said that hers was the first ‘Ahmadi grave’ in the area. Earlier, he said, all members of his family had been buried in the village graveyard along with their Muslim neighbours. He said it was the first time the villagers had objected to burying an Ahmadi in the village graveyard. Ahmad, a daily wage labourer, said nearly Ahmadi families in Kathowali settled in the area in 1947. Most of them, he said, had migrated to Germany, Canada, the UK and the USA. He said there had been no altercation between the Ahmedis and the Muslims in the village. He said there had been instances where people from both sides attended each other’s weddings and funerals. “The situation got bad over the last few weeks, when a group of people in the village started a campaign against Ahmadis declaring them wajibul qatal. They had been asking other villagers to boycott Ahmadis and stop accepting our invitations,” Ahmed said.
Pervez Musharraf has been granted a onetime relief from appearing before the special court hearing the treason case against him because of threats to his life. The court was informed on Tuesday that a five kilogram bomb, arms and ammunition were found outside Musharraf’s farmhouse at Chak Shahzad. The court has directed the federal government to provide adequate security to Musharraf on January 1 to enable him to appear in court. Musharraf has been indicted under Section 2 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 for imposing the Emergency on November 3, 2007 that subverted the constitution. Musharraf has been dissatisfied over the mechanism adopted by the government to prosecute him whereby a special court has been established to conduct his trial. His legal team has objected to the formation of the special court and the appointment of the special prosecutor, Akram Sheikh, by filing two separate petitions. These the court would take up at the next hearing. To begin with, the federal government’s decision to try Musharraf for his November 3, 2007 act of holding the constitution in abeyance is itself a questionable attempt. His original crime dates back to 1999 when he overthrew the democratically elected government of Nawaz Sharif and abrogated the constitution. Through a Legal Framework Order he got himself elected president for five years and proposed 19 amendments to the constitution. Later parliament elected in 2002 through the 17th constitutional amendment validated the October 1999 coup. It is behind this shield that the federal government is trying to hide and protect all those politicians, members of the judiciary and other state institutions who assisted Musharraf in orchestrating his rule. Partial justice is being dispensed that ignores the greater crime against the constitution of a military coup. The plea that Musharraf could not be indicted for his 1999 act because it has been validated by the 2002-2007 parliament is challengeable to say the least. What kind of parliament was it that indemnified a dictator’s act? That phase of the political history of Pakistan is not even considered democratic, let alone its endorsement of a blatantly unconstitutional act be considered kosher. Validating a dictator’s coup by a ‘parliament’ is akin to collaborating in his act. Musharraf should be indicted for every sin that he committed against the constitution of the country and those who had been aiding him throughout the course of his rule should also bear the heat of the consequences. Presently Musharraf’s trial simply smacks of an attempt to single him out and let all his collaborators off the hook.
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/* Khurshid Shah says opp will prepare new strategy against govt if it fails to improve performance * Govt failed to reduce inflation and load shedding in last six months
The government of Pakistan actually holds the patrimony, including the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh war of independence, under its tunic. On December 16, the Victory Day of Bangladesh (Pakistan observes the day as "the fall of Dhaka"), Pakistan's National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the hanging of the Abul Quader Mollah. The resolution said: "This House expresses serious concern over the execution of 65-year-old Jamaat-e-Islam leader Abdul Qadir Molla only for siding with Pakistan in 1971 and condoles with Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh and the family of the deceased... This House demands from the government of Bangladesh not to give new life to matters of 1971 and close all the cases against the leadership of JI in Bangladesh." The resolution was moved by Jamaat-e-Islam leader Sher Akbar Khan and endorsed by the ruling PML-N and Tehrik-e-Insaaf of Imran Khan . Before adopting the resolution, Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhury Nisar Ali Khan, labelled Bangladeshi court verdict as "judicial murder". On the other hand, we had started to think that Pakistan was preparing to express contrition for the wrong-doing by their predecessors. We were charmed by Syed Haider Farook's statement as he remarked during his Dhaka visit that Jamaat should not be allowed to do politics in Bangladesh. Farook is the son of Jamaat founder Abu Ala Maududi. We were really glad to hear voices like Raja Hassan Raja, Hamid Mir and a few other Pakistani intellectuals and civil rights activists who demanded of their government to apologise to Bangladesh for the genocide and atrocities its army committed in Bangladesh in 1971. Even General Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan, during his Bangladesh visit in August 2002 wrote in the official visitors' book at Savar National Memorial: "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the event of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable." The celebrity cricketer Imran Khan once said, "Pakistan should apologise to Bangladesh for atrocities during 1971." But it now seems that we were wrong. The government of Pakistan actually holds the patrimony, including the genocide and crimes against humanity committed during Bangladesh war of independence, under its tunic. Secondly, the new generation of Bangladesh has learnt from Pakistan's action that recognising Mollah by the resolution means, yes, Mollah was indeed a collaborator of the Pakistan occupation forces. It debunks the cliam of Jamaat supporters that Quader Mollah was not the same guy who was known as Koshai (Butcher) Quader, who took part in the massacre. Moreover, the people of Bangladesh are now convinced that the relations between Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan have been uninterrupted. Yes, there are some countries which expressed their reservations about the procedure of trial at the International War Crimes Tribunal. Most of these countries have rermoved execution from their judiciaries. But Pakistan is not in a position to pass a resolution against Bangladesh on humanitarian ground. Pakistan still upholds its notorious blasphemy law, introduced by General Ziaul Haq decades ago. Zia introduced blasphemy laws under section 295b, 295c, 298b and 298c of the Pakistani Penal Code (PPC). According to Asian Human Rights Commission, more than 1000 people have been charged in Pakistan for committing offences against blasphemy laws. Among them are young, old and children! Report mentioned that since 1990, 52 people have been extra-judicially murdered for being implicated in blasphemy charges. There are reports that at least half a dozen Christians, including women, are now on death row in Pakistani prisons. These people were never violent; they are just accused of orally hurting Pakistani sentiment.
Pakistan's Shia Under Attack: Senior Shia journalist, 2 sons, a cousin injured in Yazidi terrorists attack
www.shiitenews.comYazidi nasbi takfiri terrorists shot injured senior Shia journalist Azhar Abbas Naqvi, his two sons and a cousin near NIPA Chowrangi Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi on Tuesday night. Shiite News Correspondent reported that Syed Azhar Abbas Naqvi, a senior producer in Samaa TV channel was returning from Chehlum procession on his motorcycle. When they reached NIPA Chowrangi, the terrorists opened fire upon them. Azhar Abbas, his sons Danyal and Daaim and cousin Haider were injured and fell from the motorcycle. They were rushed to a private hospital where doctors were operating upon them. Condition of Haider was out of danger because bullet his hand but more bullets hit Azhar Abbas whose condition is critical till the filing of this report. His sons had sustained wounds in legs. Reports had it that four bullets hit Azhar Abbas but police said that they recovered only three emptied of 9 mm pistol from the scene. Karachi Union of Journalists and members of Karachi Press Club have condemned the attack on senior journalist and his sons and demanded of the government to ensure immediate arrest of the terrorists. Shia parties and leaders have also condemned the attack and reiterated their demand for targeted military operation against the terrorists.
http://dunyanews.tv/Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will contest by-election from NA-204 constituency of Larkana, Dunya News reported on Thursday.
By TIM ARANGO Coming together over crisis has been a hallmark of the relationship between the United States and Turkey in recent years. So it was an especially troubling sign of degraded trust that a meeting between Turkish and American diplomats was canceled last week because it seemed more like an ambush than a consultation. A corruption inquiry of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle had been quickly intensifying, and late in the week, the Turkish foreign minister requested through an intermediary a meeting with the American ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr., to discuss the crisis, according to interviews with American and Turkish officials.
An anti-corruption demonstration in Istanbul turns violent with riot police using smoke grenades and water cannon to disperse bottle hurling protesters.
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Turkey demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid a widening corruption scandal rattling his government. There are reports of tear gas and clashes with police in Istanbul. Over 5,000 people gathered in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district and some 1,000 in the Besiktas district on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reports. Protesters have also gathered in the capital of Ankara, as well as in Izmir and other cities. Ruptly news agency says hundreds took to the streets of Istanbul.