Sunday, October 12, 2014
US President Barack Obama has instructed US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to conduct an investigation into the case of Ebola virus infection in Texas, the White House press service said in a Sunday statement. “The President during the conversation [with Secretary Burwell] directed that … The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s [CDC] investigation into the apparent breach in infection control protocols at the Dallas hospital move as expeditiously as possible,” the press release read. Obama also stressed the importance for the additional personnel CDC to be sent to the area to work closely with state and local authorities to review infection control procedures, adding that the lessons learned from the inquiry must be shared quickly and broadly. The US President also ordered at a federal level to ensure the readiness of hospitals to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient. A Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on the US territory, died on Wednesday. A health worker, who helped to care for Duncan has been tested positive for the deadly virus on Sunday. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa broke out in southern Guinea in February, and later spread across Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll from the epidemic has surpassed 4,000. There is currently no officially approved cure for Ebola, however, several nations, including Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan are working on a vaccine.
But a third leg of that strategy has quietly created a network of family detention centers to lock up some children and their parents rather than freeing them pending deportation hearings. The centers, which were opened this summer to receive families with children, are in Artesia, New Mexico and Karnes, Texas. Another one in Texas is scheduled to open in coming months. With little public debate, they have effectively become flagships of the Obama administration's "get tough" campaign to discourage future border crossings. These augment a Pennsylvania facility that has been in operation since 2001, but holds only small numbers of people. It represents a U-turn for the Obama administration, which for five years favored less restrictive programs, such as ankle bracelets and telephone check-ins, for keeping tabs on families while they awaited court decisions on whether or not they would be deported. In 2012, the administration noted these programs saved "many millions of dollars." "The Obama administration in 2009 decided that it was going to turn away from family detention ... the turn back is really alarming," said Carl Takei of the American Civil Liberties Union. The White House referred briefly to "increased detainment" in a fact sheet it issued on July 8 on an emergency funding request to Congress. But the policy change, which immigration groups characterize as a major shift for the administration, has not been laid out in detail. SIGNIFICANT EXPANSION The big expansion of detention beds, from only 90 last year to about 3,700 by the end of this year, comes amid data showing that the seasonal migration wave has receded. The number of families coming over the border declined to 3,295 in August, from 16,329 in June. "These (family detention) facilities will help ensure more timely and effective removals that comply with our legal and international obligations, while deterring others from taking the dangerous journey and illegally crossing into the United States," a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said. Human rights groups counter that the new policy is badly misguided. Michelle Brane, director of a migrant rights program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, said children, some of them infants and toddlers, cannot be properly cared for in large detention centers. The policy shift on detention centers, which has not been debated much in Congress, follows President Barack Obama's warning last summer to illegal migrants from Central America that they would be detained and promptly shipped back home if they attempted to make the dangerous journey. Immigration advocates argue that many of these children have valid claims for asylum and flee to the United States because their governments cannot protect them from both gang and domestic violence. The detention centers are intended to discourage another migrant wave that some fear will start early next year, said Marshall Fitz, an immigration specialist at the Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the White House. March to June, when it is neither dangerously cold nor hot, have been peak months for children, either traveling alone or with their parents, to brave the journey to the U.S. border by foot and atop trains. "We could see the same thing come back again and I want to build against that," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Thursday. POOR CONDITIONS Advocacy groups and defense lawyers donating their services to detainees complain of unsafe conditions, poor medical care and inadequate access to lawyers at the government-run center in Artesia and the Karnes facility, which is operated by the GEO Group, a for-profit operator of prisons. Responding to allegations of sexual assault at Karnes, ICE said the agency was "committed to ensuring all individuals in our custody are held and treated in a safe, secure and humane manner" and that it has a "zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse or assault." GEO has denied the allegations. A Department of Homeland Security inspector general report this month said that while conditions in Artesia were improving, more progress was needed. Congress could weigh in on the new detention policy later this year when it debates a bill to fund agencies administering the program.
As the wife of the newly elected president, Rula Ghani stands to be the first publicly visible wife of an Afghan leader in nearly a century.
Times of Oman
BY SUJEET SARKARAfghanistan may be rejoicing with the formation of a unity government after a month of political deadlock and uncertainty, the same may not augur well for the country in the long run. That the unity government in Afghanistan will implement the decisions of the government, and fire on all cylinders, is highly improbable. With their political ambition set to ride the 2019 presidential election it is but obvious that both the camps would like to pitch their thinking differently on every issue, to preserve their political identity, hereon. In fact in order to safeguard their political interests they would refrain from submitting themselves completely to the decision of the unity government. They have to look different because of their political compulsion. And this political difference is likely to increase with each passing year. It is no brainer that the growth and economy of the nation would be the final casualty. At the outset there is likely to be a major scuffle over the appointment of key strategic positions such as peace chair, key political advisors, etc. Critical issues (such as an ailing economy, relationship with Pakistan, engagement with Taliban, poppy eradication, advancing peace process, etc.), which cry for assertive and definitive direction from the new government, will hit a deadlock every now and then because of the simmering political and ideological differences, within the new Government. Whether, both the camps would be able to resolve these differences by showing political maturity, contrary to Afghan politics, will remain an area of acid test for this newly formed government. Whether, they would stitch up a meaningful working formula, or allow the political tension to throttle the functioning of the new government, has to be seen. Further, for the government to prosper, the role of a strong Opposition cannot be ruled out in any democratic dispensation. The role of a constructive and objective Opposition becomes all the more important in fragile settings, where the institutions of the state are nascent and are often not neutral. A strong opposition's demand for excellence and effectiveness of the government can hold them accountable. It also helps to balance out power and avoid the excesses, which lead to the abuse of power in such settings. By co-opting the opposition into the fabric of the unity government, the space of opposition has been completely wiped out in Afghanistan. This would severely influence the functioning of the government and undermine democracy, as a whole. Even though the international analysts are busy fathoming the reason behind the acceptance of the unity government formulae in Afghanistan, it has a mark of US influence. It also needs to be analysed why the Abdullah Abdullah camp resorted to accepting defeat last time, after almost leveling the same set of charges against the outgoing president, Karzai. It is true that the US was not overtly intrusive in the recent election in Afghanistan. But that is only part of their larger strategy to facilitate the transition from a democratic government to a unity government in this embattled country. Of late think tanks in Pentagon have been working overnight to test the hypothesis if a unity government is better suited to conflict-prone countries than a democratic government. This sad realisation has kicked in after the rise of Isis and failure of the democratically elected Maliki government in Iraq. The Pentagon strategist believes that a unity government has better chances of survival in a war-torn nation. Hence instead of rallying for a democratic government as the only solution they are indirectly influencing a unity government in such settings. By remaining silent in the entire Afghan election episode they have clearly expressed their choice to the two warring presidential candidates. Zeroing on best solution for the country and its citizens amid diverse political ideologies and opinions remains an arduous task. Giving concessions to competing candidates in the backdrop of power sharing arrangement further requires higher degree of political understanding and ability. It would be interesting to see how the balance of power pans out and the various institutions of the unity government interact among themselves. This arrangement couldn't have come at worse time. The US forces are packing up for an exit and the herculean task of providing security to Afghan citizens rests on the rudimentary Afghan army, in the backdrop of a resurgent Taliban. The economy of the country is reeling under serious problems and the misery of the common man is increasing with the sky rocketing inflation. But as people in rural Afghanistan say, hope is the only way forward for this country embattled with terrorism and civil strife, for more than three decades. Let us hope that the new government sets aside its inherent differences and ego tussles in the larger interest of Afghanistan and delivers for its struggling citizens.
Dunya News-Multan tragedy leaves behind... by dunyanewsDunya News on Saturday brought the facts about who caused Multan tragedy on surface through its investigative report.
Pakistan Christian Congress PCC has issued a press note, condemning scheme of ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Group PML (N) targeting Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand who fled from Pakistan for safety of their lives after persecution fearing for their lives. The gathering of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka and their applications to UNHCR was never appreciated by government of Pakistan, PCC stated. - See more at: http://www.christiansinpakistan.com/pakistan-christian-congress-condemns-government-for-ignoring-christian-asylum-seekers-abroad/#sthash.sh8qnMrI.dpuf
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) patron-in-chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has once again stressed on the resolution of Kashmir dispute and said there is no peace in the region due to this issue, Geo News reported.
We are the 9/11 Generation-Bilawal-12 Oct 2014 by GeoNews Addressing students’ ceremony in the Sindh Assembly, Bilawal Bhutto said: “Non resolution of Kashmir issue is clear evidence of failure of United Nations.” He urged the world body to get its resolutions on Kashmir implemented. He said Pakistan respects human rights and international law. “We ourselves are responsible for prevailing crisis and can blame anyone else,” Bilawal said and added, “there is need to assess where we stand and it is time to be mature now.” PPP Chairman said he did not want to be recognized by concerts and laptops.
A delegation of Christians hailing from Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Narowal called on Punjab PPP President Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo on Saturday to apprise him about the problems the community was facing in the respective regions. They however appreciated the 5 percent quota reserved for the minorities in the government services by the PPP previous government that meant for their social upward mobility. Wattoo said that the PPP considered the minorities as Party’s natural allies because of the progressive and liberal orientation of the political philosophy of the party. He added that the PPP declared the 11 August as the Minority Day each year according to vision of the Quaid-e-Azam who declared that the citizens of Pakistan would enjoy equal rights regardless of their creed. Wattoo said that the PPP previous government covered a lot of groundwork to legislate for providing representation to the minorities in the Parliament in accordance with the population. He further said that PPP reserved four seats for minorities in the Senate which was a leap forward for bringing them in the mainstream politics of the country. He also said that it was the PPP government that decided to observe two religious functions of minorities officially each year. Later, Abdul Qadir Shaheen, the newly appointed coordinator for minorities in Punjab, urged them that they should focus to organize at the district and Tehsil levels in view of the forthcoming local bodies’ elections. Suhail Milk, senior vice president PPP, Punjab, organized the meeting. In another meeting of PSF and the youth wing, Wattoo said that they should work for ensuring the maximum participation of them in the October 18 rally in Karachi. They assured the PPP president that they were already on it and the level of participation of youth in the rally would please him. The delegation praised the PPP governments for lifting the ban on student unions.
It had to happen one day in the long drawn out saga that comprises of the dharnas (sit-ins) and jalsas (rallies) that first took over the capital city of Islamabad and are now becoming a prominent happening in almost every major city in Pakistan. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) rally in Multan on Friday saw a huge turnout in the number of people cheering on their leader Imran Khan. When the rally ended, however, the jubilation turned to tragedy as a stampede erupted when the crowd tried to leave the stadium in which the jalsa was being held. As many as eight people were crushed and more than 40 injured when the people tried to leave through the five exits out of the stadium. There are reports that the stairs leading to and out of the open exits were also strewn with water, leading many people to slip and be stepped on by thousands of others. As can be expected, a blame game has exploded between the PTI, district administration and federal government with no one side taking any responsibility for the human cost involved. First let us wonder about the organisers of the rally, the PTI itself. The rally was, ultimately, one held under the banner of Imran Khan’s party and much of the arrangement must have fallen upon its shoulders. During the rally, there were reports of young people fainting due to the heat and dehydration. Add to this exasperation the fact that, once the rally ended, the people may have really wanted to go home and may have made a mad dash for the exits. Could this not have created a panic in our already panic-prone people? Maybe the attendees did not follow protocol and leave in an orderly fashion. Maybe there was too much jostling and pushing. However, one must consider that the PTI is accusing the District Coordination Officer (DCO) of Multan of being behind allegedly sealing a few exits and not letting the people use them. This may very well have contributed to the panic being felt by the people. The DCO denies this and says that all exits were very much open. The PTI is now crying itself hoarse over how this tragedy has been orchestrated by the powers that be to limit attendance at their rallies. It has also rejected a three-member investigative committee formed by the Punjab government, calling it a “drama”. It has announced a financial compensation for the victims. Who is at fault one cannot say but one can comment on the inevitability of such a sorry situation. The people of the subcontinent do not have the necessary restraint to stay safe in poorly arranged gatherings. These are haphazard, hurriedly arranged events and safety protocol does not garner much priority. Amid the charges and counter-charges, it must be made clear who is to blame for the rally that turned into misfortune.
Chairperson, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari congratulated Malala Yousafzai over telephone on winning the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and invited her to work with him for transformation of education system in Sindh. In a telephonic conversation, Bilawal said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was alive in the shape of Malala and added every girl of Pakistan has the potential to become Benazir Bhutto, said a statement. He said education is the best tool to eradicate extremism from the society and Malala could play a pivotal role in this regard as the torch-bearer of education for each girl and boy movement. Bilawal said Malala Yousafzai has given hope to me and entire country and she is the voice of real youth of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Pakistan. "This daughter of Pakistan is the Ambassador of Peace and our national heroine," he stated.
PPP Co-Chairman former President Asif Ali Zardari has felicitated Malala Yousafzai and the people of Pakistan and said that by winning the Nobel Peace Prize Malala had made every Pakistani proud. In a message the former President said that the award of Nobel Peace Prize is recognition of Malal’s courage in standing up to the bigot and narrow minded. It is also a stinging rebuff to the extremists and militants who reject girls’ education and tormented Malala for seeking right to education for herself and for girls like herself. This young, innocent, and courageous daughter of my country was attacked by forces of darkness only because she aspired for education. The people of Pakistan are grateful to God for having spared her life and also grateful to the international community for honoring her with the Nobel Peace Prize. It demonstrates the resolve of the international community to support to the cause of education for girls everywhere particularly in Pakistan. The award today is a reminder that the fight in Pakistan today is the battle between good and evil and between forces of light and the forces of darkness. The enlightened and the moderates are fated to win this battle against extremists, fanatics and the agents of death, destruction and ignorance. Malala’s survival and the honor shown to her teach us that extremism can best be fought through collective action. The resolve to provide education to all, in particular to the millions of out-of-school girls is the best strategy to defeat extremism. Extremists are abusing the name of Islam in seeking to hamper our progress. They are doomed to be defeated. During the PPP government Pakistan took a giant leap when education for all girls and boys, between 5 to 16 years, was declared a fundamental right and a constitutional right. We have over 50 million school-age children but only about half of them go to school. The key challenge is access to education. The Nobel Peace Prize to Malala strengthens national resolve to fight its battle against the bigots and fanatics with democracy, political commitment and support of the international community. It will be decisive in winning this existential war. It is a giant leap forward to put every Malala in school. Congratulations Malala Yousufzai.
By Faraz Talat
Disclaimer: the blog post below is an imagining of what Dr Abdus Salam would convey to Malala today.