Iceland and United Kingdom in diplomatic dispute over financial crisis

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Iceland and United Kingdom in diplomatic dispute over financial crisis
December 10th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Relations between Iceland and the United Kingdom are deteriorating after the two nations fell out over the current financial crisis. When Iceland nationalised first Landsbanki and then Kaupthing Bank the Financial Services Authority only took on domestic assets, leaving British customers with subsidiary banks out of pocket. While Britain feels Iceland should also pay out to their citizens, Iceland blame the UK for triggering the crisis by using the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to freeze the UK assets of Icelandic banks.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Iceland should pay out up to €20,887 (£16,448) of UK investors’ money in the banks, particularly Icesave, an online company owned by Landsbanki which had around 300,000 accounts owned by UK customers. It will cost an estimated 2.4 billion pounds to compensate them, and it looks likely the UK will foot that bill.

Alistair Darling, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said that individuals with accounts will see their money again but other accounts are not guaranteed – leaving governmental, corporate and charitable deposits at risk of being lost. UK local authorities could lose £799 million.

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“The prime minister made clear the behavior of the Icelandic authorities had been unacceptable, and we had found it very difficult to get information from them,” said Michael Ellam, a spokesperson for Brown. A delegation has been sent to Reykjavik from the UK to try and solve the dispute amicably.

However, fears that the crisis may escalate have led to the pound becoming heavily devalued. The pound hit its lowest level for five years versus the US dollar after Brown threatened to freeze the assets of all Icelandic companies in the UK, which employ around 100,000 people.

The last time the two nations had a dispute, dubbed the Cod Wars, was in the 1970s. Iceland declared an exclusive fishing zone and began to cut the nets of British trawlers entering the area. That dispute came to a head in 1976 when a UK naval vessel with nuclear arms rammed an Icelandic ship that had been cutting nets. After this a compromise was reached to allow a limited number of British ships in the area.

‘Jesus Camp’ shuts down

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‘Jesus Camp’ shuts down
December 10th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The evangelical Christian summer camp “Kids on Fire ” featured in the documentary Jesus Camp will shut down for several years due to negative reactions to the film, negative e-mails, phone calls and letters. Many accuse camp leader Becky Fischer of “brainwashing” the children.

The documentary showed camp leader Becky Fischer acting as a “drill instructor” for young children preparing themselves for spiritual and political warfare. Fischer makes explicit comparisons between her camp and Islamist ‘jihad training camps’. It also shows children praying before a photograph of President Bush.

The film included scenes with disgraced preacher Ted Haggard, who resigned his leadership of the National Association of Evangelicals after he was accused of having sex with a male prostitute and using methamphetamine.

Haggard has criticized the film as mocking the evangelical movement and for using his statement that “If the Evangelicals vote, they determine the election.” The film makers responded that “Pastor Haggard is the only person in Jesus Camp who has a problem with how he was portrayed” and stated that they had been careful to avoid his more inflammatory and divisive comments.

Taliban resurgent in Pakistan on enforcement of Sharia law/Interview archive

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Taliban resurgent in Pakistan on enforcement of Sharia law/Interview archive
December 8th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

What is the current situation in the NWFP?

The Pashtun people are or were renowned for their hospitality. Many westerners commented on it. Some with suspicion NOT willing to believe some people so poor could be so generous. It was almost a character flaw. One could travel with out fear of personal danger as long as you followed local protocols. (I would urge you to read Kiplings “East is East & West is West.” one more time, know this time that it is written about the Pashtun people.)

That was the sort of mind set among the people. An ageless paradigm of self satisfaction: This is enshrined in the code of the Pashtuns way of life (see James Spain “The Way of the Pathans”) – called Pashtunwali- in Pashto hospitality is referred to as “maelmastiya”.

The Islamic radicalism is in reality nothing but the Taliban movement. As I said earlier not all Pashtuns are Taliban (obviously) but most Taliban are Pashtun. Of these most belong to the FATA. Of these, most were affected by their cousins from Afghanistan coming over. Mingled with them were Arab-Afghans. Uzbeks and some Tajiks and even Chechens. Some of these married within the tribes and formed a bond with the locals. Marriage bonds go back in history. Again remember the mindset of the people here. Always keep that in mind. To them the scripture in the written word of God, and that includes the Old Testament (called Torat (Torah) and (Injeel = Bible less St. Pauls contributions).

This Talibanization shows itself in the content of the Friday sermons at the mosque. Now it shows in the popularity of growing beards, especially since the MMA – the coalition of religious political party’s – won power. More recently in their showdown with the Pakistan army in N and S Waziristan – where according to my sources, people prefer going to the Taliban for justice rather than the older system of Maliks and Political Agents. The latter are known as corrupt. In Pakistan in general people are sick of the amount of corruption.

And now in Bannu, from where hails the Chief Minister of the NWFP, Mr Durrani, is in Taliban control in the sense that there is a parallel government that they have established and which is functioning quite well and is popular among the people.

Justice in tribal areas of Pakistan has been handled by elders, following a mixture of tribal tradition and Islamic law. Would you say that Taliban influence has caused a stricter intrepretation of Islamic law in the NWFP?

Yes. The Maliks, or tribal elders who consider themselves quite conservatively religious, even so had a laid back attitude towards enforcement of religious doctrine. That is where the difference comes. My opinion is that this is the reason that the Maliks supported the government of Pakistan in South Waziristan, which has recently been in the news having kicked out the militant Uzbek who came as guests in the post-soviet era and started mischief of their own but am not sure what their agenda was to begin with, and I myself have questions about their presence as to why they were not reported earlier, since reporting the presence of any foreigner(s) in the FATA is job one of the Pakistani Political Agents (PA). Why is the presence of the Uzbeks and the Chechen in the area just coming to light? Remember there are seven of these PA’s – one for each FATA. The Taliban emulated the Saudi system of having a department concerned with citizens’ morals, even the name is the same, the department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and this department has – as in Saudi Arabia, an enforcement police, called mutawwa’in, a morals law-enforcement agency.

Has there been a shift from tribal elders to clerics, as the main interpreters of law?

Yes there has been a movement in that direction but it has started a power struggle between the clerics who traditionally have been at the lowest strata of the social structure, to now when they have seen a bigger role for themselves first from the Taliban in Afghanistan – but also the government of the MMA in the NWFP who are nothing more than glorified clerics themselves, only a little smarter in exploiting religion politically, and the MMA is largely non-Pashtun which is a source of discontent in that they stand in the way of Pashtun nationalism, such as it is, because it only rears its head when non-Pashtuns start to usurp power over what the Pashtun consider their turf.

The deal made between Pakistani central government and the North and South Waziristan provinces, where tribal leadership was given the pivotal role in dealing with militants and the Taliban, has been criticized as a failure. What caused an initiative by tribal authority to fail?

First off, I don’t agree with the premise of the question, that the “deal” is a “failure” – for the following reasons:

  1. In the first place the Pakistan army (govt – same difference) did not have many options. This was the least worst option they had.
  2. And most importantly, I have said this before, this area is literally in a time warp – which means they proceed at (what seems to us in the west) a glacial pace. I will give an example from the folklore:

    The story goes that a Pashtun had to repay (badal) an enemy for a crime against his family and he waited patiently for 20 years (some say 50 years), after this time, he exacted his revenge – but soon after was depressed because he wondered “Did I act too hastily?”

    So one part of Pashtunwali is to “pay back” – (Badal: literally to exchange) which most people translate as revenge. Yes that is the form that is most visible, but badal is also played out in the exchange of gifts at wedding and other celebrations, and in the exchange of favors like in politics. The rules can be arcane, unwritten and hard to follow — who did what to whom, when, and so on, and what is the proper recompense — this same give and take would occur in a peace process pursued by the Tribal Maliks, who rule by consensus (see Olaf Caroe) and there is no actual leader in the western sense, because all the Maliks, in fact all the others are de facto, so many co-equals (The Way of the Pathans/ People of the Khyber – James Spain pp 129 on.) – it is a mind set, a paradigm foreign to the uninitiated, as is the concept of consensual gay sex to the Wazir in Waziristan.

  3. I wish someone would read the history of this area, it would help in dealing with our expectations and possibly much more. For instance there are two major tribe in N and S Waziristan, the Wazir, and the Mahsud – in the news you hear about the sub tribes; The most famour character of North Waziristan, the equivalent of a Jesse James, was leader called the “Faqir of Ippi” – he died in 1960, the Pakistan govt never was able to capture him, even though he set up a govt of Independent Pashtunistan in cahoots with Kabul. The great uprising of India of 1897 had its roots in Waziristan, as did the Treaty of Razmak. Of all the Pashtun, the Wazir are the most independent minded and the least to be cowed by military action.
  4. So what options did Pakistan have, more military action? It had already lost hundred of their “privates” in action. Allow the US forces to come in, as a matter of fact the ISAF do cross into the Pakistani territory, we just don’t know how deep they go — the rules of engagement, as I understand them are, that if they (the US Army of Marines) are in “hot pursuit” then they cross into Pakistan. In reality they do it more often then that, just that there is no proof of it, who will report it, the Wazir? Or the Pakistan army?
  5. The last part of your question, there are many assumptions, all wrong. The initiative was not from the tribals. There is no single authority amongst the tribal, they would convene a Jirga and decide on a course of action, such as this, to my knowledge no such jirga was called. To save face the Pakistan government might claim it was a tribal initiative, but it seems highly unlikely. The Pak troop’s casualties were so high, and there was talk of hostages being held as well — I tend to believe, that the Governor of the NWFP initiated the talks and the agreement, because he sure as hell is taking all the heat for its “failure”.
  6. That brings me to the last issue, the agreement has not failed, because it has not been given enough time, in Wazir time reference, not American time presidential election cycle controlled. I do not have a crystal ball, but if I did, I would see NATO troops in Afghanistan long after Iraq is over. Afghanistan can be a success ONLY if we accept one thing, the time warp these people live in — by my reckoning its still 1700 CE over there.

If the Talibanization of Pakistan is partly due to a perception of corruption among the older system of Maliks and Political Agents, and Musharraf has critics lining up, who can the U.S. turn to in dispensing with $10 billion in aid monies?

Talibanization has nothing to do with your premise there. Zilch. Nada. The corruption is in the ISI, the Pak army and the Pak system of Political Agents (PA) assigned to these tribal zones (FATA & PATA). These PA have budgets that are much like the CIA in that they are a single line item in the national budget, there is no accountability of where or how the PA spends the money. If one followed the IRS rules and looked at the lifestyles of the PA and compared them with their income, you would soon understand what was going on. Musharraf critics are a larger issue. For eons, Republicans have coddled Pakistan with the belief that “as long as they are pro America” – democracy in Pakistan will come in due course. Democrats have, I think, insisted Democracy first, and then we can discuss the other issues later. For example, pre 9/11, compare how Carter’s administration treated Gen Zia and how Reagan’s administration treated him.

The Talibanization of Pakistan has more to do with graduates of “Raiwind” a place near Lahore where the “Tablighi Jamaat” conducts brainwashing camps. It was graduates of this place, in my opinion, that are responsible for Britain’s 7/7 attacks as an example. For the Talibanization of the FATA, see Ahmed Rashid’s classic study on the subject wrt to Afghanistan but applicable to Pashtuns in the NWFP equally, in a sense.

Corruption amongst the Maliks is self limiting because of the egalitarian society they live & because of Pashtunwali (see Charles Lindholm, Oxford press).

Who can the US turn to? This is a tough one. The Pakistani national psyche has not progressed the way the Indians have. There are still very much remnants of the Raj visible and present and invisible but Pakistani behavior gives it away – in the way they treat household help, in the way company bosses treat their employees, in the way the government officers often act above the law. For example the NWFP is supposed to be dry – yet the governemt employees consume copious amounts of liquor. There are some that even moonshine at home. (I have pictures I could share taken at “dance” party, more like a stag party.)

I think this last question is best answered in who has been reliable in the past, and assume the past to be an indicator of future behavior.

We know the Pak army will siphon large amounts towards its Nuclear program and the upkeep of its generals.

We know that Nawaz Sharif left the national treasury almost bankrupt when Musharraf took over.

We know that Benazir husband took 10% of all government deals. I believe he has an Interpol warrant for his arrest, although I can’t vouch for it, it does come out in the news, even though it’s puzzling why Interpol has trouble executing the warrant. Now I hear they are withdrawn.

So who does that leave?

The next generation of Politicians who are not beholden to anyone.

In my opinion, the US should insist on the scheduled elections but accede to some genuine Pakistani concerns:

Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto ought to be ineligible to run, BUT other members of the respective party PML (N) and PPP (B) can do so.

Prohibit allocation of emblems to the religious party which they can & have misused.

For example in the last election they asked for and got the symbol of a book, they then went on to advertise the symbol represented the Qur’an and a vote for the book was a vote for the Qur’an – not the candidate but the Qur’an. Well the ploy worked only too well. Imagine a similar vote here where a vote is asked for as a vote for the Bible! You can imagine the results.

What is your take on the Musharraf suspending the judge Iftikhar Chaudhry?

My take:

I believe, and this is widely held belief, that Musharraf has no constituency of his own for his power base. He wanted legitimization from the Supreme Court, and from Mr Choudhry as Chief Justice (their system is not like ours) would not give it.

So Musharraf has had to hang on to his Army Chief of Staff position to get his power from the Army. If some one else were Chief of Staff, that person could refuse to support Musharraf.

The Justice favorable to the general is Justice Iqbal, who was not the next in line for Chief Justice. The next in line is a Hindu. That presented problems of its own for Musharraf. So when the Hindu judge went for a trip to India, Iqbal became the “available” senior most Supreme Court judge, and hence the haste and lack of decorum with which Justice Chaudhry was removed.

Now we have to wait for the other shoe to fall — will Iqbal issue a Judicial ruling which would make it easy for Musharraf to stay on as Chief of Staff – in the meantime, the US has asked him to relinquish this army position.

Needless to say, it was very badly handled, high handed, and the TV was present — the country saw what was being done to the highest member of the court of law, and in their mind, as in mine, the law in Pakistan was being manhandled, handcuffed and sent off packing to jail, so to speak. Something we long suspected, but was confirmed on TV and in the Newspapers. Overseas organizations taking up Chaudhry’s cause, might lead one to belive that Musharraf’s days are numbered, and they would be wrong, because America needs Musharraf – for the time being, anyway – because Iraq has scared America, just as in the post Vietnam era, there is now a fear regarding Muslim countries – the fear of the alternative, will democracy in Muslim country give us more of Ahmedinejad or Al-Maliki, or can we find some Hamid Karzais’? We just don’t know.

Can you tell us what the prevailing sentiment in the region regarding the Pakistani government effort in the provinces and the international effort in Afghanistan to combat Taliban and affiliated militants?

In my dealings and inquires, one thing stood out like a sore thumb – the conspiracy theories vis-à-vis anything having to do with America. I mentioned to one of my close friends that events that were previously ascribed as acts of God were now considered acts of the CIA. Some even believed that the Earthquake in the northern areas was because of some sort of underground secret “bomb” used by the CIA. Lack of evidence is further proof that the CIA did it. I was flabbergasted, and started to give this kind of thinking as an example in speaking to “educated” Pakistani’s – and among these, those that did agree that the earthquake was NOT the work of the CIA, they would start giving other examples, notably the Blow up of the plane carrying Zia ul Haq an ex President of Pakistan, in which the US Ambassador also perished. When I would point this out, the response would be that that is the sort of thing they do to take away suspicion from themselves.

In a nutshell, the impression I came away with is, there is NO war of civilizations going on, what is going on is a war between literacy and illiteracy. I use the latter term in the widest connotation.

Pakistan government efforts: While on the one hand people would decry that the government is not doing enough, in the same breath they would state the government is a puppet of the US and only does what the US tells it to do. In this sense there is very little awareness among the people about what the Pakistani army is doing in the FATA or for that matter in Balochistan. The local newspapers are censored, and if not censored they do not allocate much space to the topics. “Dawn,” which is the highest circulation English language paper, carries more stories about the US than about the local stories, that might appear say in “Newsweek.”

The international effort in Afghanistan is not considered international at all, only American. You could speak till you are blue in the face, and you would not change anyone’s mind. In my case they would simply turn quiet, not wishing to offend a “guest” (see Pashtunwali).

It is commonly agreed that some thing has to be done to curb the religious extremism that has taken root here, while historically these people (Pashtun) are a moderate people (see Olaf Caroe “The Pathans”). In fact some of the reasons the extremism has crept in is that many of the cultural practices were not in accordance with Saudi based “Salafiism” more popularly known as Wahabism. But Mr Wahab dates to the period of Lawrence of Arabia – Salafism dates further back, and is one of the six or seven schools of “Fiqh” or jurisprudence, but the latter fiqh has morphed into a cult like sect.

Taliban are not visible in the areas I visited, but the militants handiwork clearly is – as elsewhere, the common criminals are taking advantage of this situation, and crime is up significantly. One new crime is Cell phone “snatching” – it’s easy and nobody wants to pursue it. If some one is using a Razr phone, he can expect to be hit soon, if he uses it in public. So people have two cell phone (Called mobiles here) one fancy to show off, one for use in public places.

In so far as “foreign” militants are captured and identified, that is to say non-Pashtun (including non Afghan Pashtun or Pak Pashtun) – then the people are obviously in agreement with the government that these people don’t belong here and need to go.

The problem is this:

The foreigners are usually in the FATA and have been there since the Soviet war times. Many of them have taken local wives and now have a family. The local have accepted them into their family. Now for the Pak govt to ask them to kick them out, the locals are thinking what am I doing to my grandchildren’s father, etc. Again the edicts of Pashtunwali also play a role.

What kind of support is there in the area for the positions advocated by the Taliban on matters such as Sharia law, women’s education, role in public affairs, its proscriptions on entertainment such as movies, music ..etc?

In the areas that I visited and the people that I spoke to, which by definition is a very non-random sample, the people are TOTALLY opposed to the Taliban. I do have one nephew who seems to have come under the influence of the Salafi’s but that is a different story. I can address that separately and you can decide if it belongs with this story – not my nephew’s story but the way the Salafi’s have woven themselves into this area — which is historically a “Hanafi” fiqh area, which is much more moderate. Like I said this may be tangential to the main story.

In general, people will say Yes we are Muslim and we are for the Sharia, but in general most people do not know what that entails.

In their mind it entails a more just system, a less corrupt government.

But if you ask them if they want a system like the Taliban the answer is an unequivocal NO.

Women’s education is quite the norm in the non FATA parts of the NWFP. When I visited the earthquake area which is also mostly in the NWFP, (I have photo’s and video) the girl schools were some of the first to spring up. I remember being pleasantly surprised by this at the time.

As far as a role in Public, it gets complicated. Women are in general expected to be docile and compliant, and the same expectation foloows through into Public affairs. But this point of view is not limited to the NWFP – it is the same all over Pakistan, excluding the large cities of Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad etc. yet still applicable to Peshawar.

In Peshawar you do get to see more girls getting jobs as tellers in a bank and some other non traditional jobs, whereas previously the only jobs were either teachers to young kids, teachers to older girls, nurses and doctors – for the most part.

Movies in the NWFP in the Theaters are for the lower socio economic men only. The reason is other than Talibanization. The easy availability of pirated, good quality DVD’s of Indian and Hollywood movies (From China thru the land route over the Karakorum Highway) – it cost Rs120 ($2/-) for the whole family to watch a movie in the comfort of their home. Travelling to a theater might cost that much in gas. The inconvience. The crowds. The men gawking at the women and last but definitely not least, some bombs exploding in the theater some years back, put a comllete stop to the middle class from going out to see movies.

Paashtuns love music. So even though I hear that some bus drivers have been fined for playing their cassettes, I doubt this is going to stop them from playing their music. Some thing far worse has to happen – I think the drivers may start carrying guns and having it out with who ever is tring to stop them from their favorite music.

What is not being reported and what the Taliban could do effectively is to cut up cable tv cables. Most cable companies string their cable ABOVE ground to save cost and take it along the electric poles, below the electricity wires. Since these are exposed there have been many (several) instances of the cables being cut up. Luckiliy there is no market for coaxial cable, or more cable would be lost to druggies doing the cutting. The latter is a serious problem that you don’t hear about. One person that I knew told me that he was building his house and had poured conrete and reinforcements for the pillars. The next day he found the reinforcement bars to have been cut up flush with the ground slab leaving him to figure out how to do the rebar of the rest of the pillar.

To what degree does this support stem from fear and intimidation?

The Taliban are Pashtun, and the populace is Pashtun. The Pashtun do not scare easy. They are not intimidated easily. They might comply for the moment and then come back with a vengeance, so to speak. The women folk are more susceptible to intimidation, as was evidenced by the closure of the schools, because the mothers decided that they were not going to take a chance that their kids might get injured.

How about the “political positions” of the insurgent movement – resistance to foreign troops, and the Karzai government? Is there a separatist or nationalist component to the movement?

Karzai is not popular among the Pashtun’s who are loyal to Pakistan in the NWFP, those are the one I met mostly. They think that Karzai is opportunistic in that he is fleecing the government of the US whereas he himself is little more than the mayor of Kabul. They point to his American bodyguards as proof that he is disliked by his own people, that the moment the American leave Karzai is a dead man.

I can not speak to the separatist movement. I have seen no evidence of it. There is widespread resentment that the Federal government refuses to give a name to the province, a name of the people’s liking – there have been recently articles in Dawn about this, I will try and find them for you.

Nationalism is alive and well on the other hand, all over Pakistan – in all its four provinces. Everybody hates the Punjabi’s – almost to the man.

It is my opinion that were it not for US aid, Pakistan will go the route of Yugoslavia. With lots of bloodshed.

Resistance to foreign troops is like the national pastime among the Pashtun. Even today they collect in the evenings and will tell tales, vastly glorified of the way their grandfather fought against the British.

In other parts of the NWFP, like Charsadda and Mardan where Abdul Ghaffar Khan (the frontier Gandhi) was popular you have old “khudai khidmatgars” telling their stories of how they kicked out the British.

The only thing that Unites the Pashtun, are foreign troops on their soil. Other than that “Pashtun Unity” is almost an oxymoron.

What do you think the U.S., the international community and Pakistan should do to ease the problems in the region?

In my opinion, based on my conversations with individuals in positions to know these things, plus a little bit of plain common sense, plus knowing the history of the people and of the area: The ONE thing that will NOT work is direct military action. We know this from history. We know that the Pashtuns love to fight. We know that the Talibanization has brought the Jihadi’s into the picture, who like nothing better than to be martyred. So we need to keep this in mind, of what NOT to do. Having said that, what I am going to say next may appear like a paradox.

Because the Pashtun do not like to deal with what they believe are wus or weak people, we do need to have a strong PRESENCE there, and a strong “show of force” – invite a “Jirga” to like a demonstration of what the US air force is capable of doing – just to show them, – the reason is that their paradigm is the 14th century, if you simply told them that we can do this to you, they will simply think you are lying, because that is what they do, they lie to show off.

But if you drop a daisy cutter and tell them before hand what it is capable of, or a stealth bomber, these technologies are outsides their mind-set; we have to get them to believe that we have these capabilities, like the Drone. Or spy satellites.

From this position of strength, and always reminding them that we are raring to use our forces in that like them we also love to shoot our guns at every opportunity, but then not actually do it ( in this sense we had achieved all out objectives with Saddam prior to invading Iraq IMHO invading Iraq was redundant) – so the next step would be:

  1. Education
  2. Development meaning providing a means of livelihood so they do not have to become military mercenaries to make a living.
  3. Gradually replacing their madrassas with our own madrassas, except in the latter, the Mullah is an educated individual who knows comparative religion, and they teach other subjects including Biology, anthropology, measuring the age of the earth by carbon dating etc. and astronomy to learn the age of the Universe, black holes, quasars Relativity concepts, quantum mechanic concepts (not the mathematics, the simple concepts behind them, and how these ideas are behind some of today’s everyday electronic devices)
  4. Leisure activity, starting with traditional leisure activity, i.e. not TV and cable and Internet, but ultimately making these available
  5. Introduce these “NEW” technologies through a religious mode. Transmit a Qur’anic recital competition to begin with, as an example instead of beginning with MTV.
  6. Making water available. Drinking water is an everyday necessity, for cooking etc, and not available in most of the FATA.
  7. Food grain. Wheat flour etc, keep the prices the same as in Peshawar – these people are not traders, they are easily exploited, and like porn they couldn’t tell you what exploitation is, but they can tell you when they see it.

What makes the North-West Frontier Province competent to administer any monies?

This is the central question. Much like California has taken a separate initiative on stem cell research – as an analogy – the NWFP is central to the war on terror, not Pakistan.

The NWFP was central to the fight and aid to the Afghans during the Soviet occupation, not Pakistan.

This small distinction is lost on Washington, and it is the main reason, in my opinion, why so much of the Aid was “lost in transit was because the Punjabi army officers could not bring themselves to dispense such large sums to an ethnic group which it considers anti-Pakistani (You would have to read the history of the Indian partition, in particular that the NWFP was a “Indian Congress Party” controlled province where as the “Muslim League” of Jinnah was trying to show the Brits that all the area was FOR the creation of Pakistan).

All the FATA is contiguous to the NWFP. The Taliban and Al-Qaeda are holed up somewhere either in the FATA, or across the Durand Line in Afghanistan, the Durand Line has never been recognized by the locals as an international boundary. Even today, the Pashtun travel from Peshawar to Kabul by road with out a passport or visa, and it has been like that for eons.

(Especially for the nomadic Pashtun tribe of Ghilzai’s who travel by caravan and conduct trade.)

The present governor of the NWFP belongs to the Orakzai tribe (he spells his name Aorakzai) and it is my opinion that that he was picked partly because he belongs to one of the FATA as well as he is a retired General of the Pak Army.

The Frontier Constabulary (FC) is a force which primarily recruits from the FATA. All or most of its forces are from the various tribes. In the eyes of the tribes this is a bona fide force and service with the FC is considered an honorable thing. The US has already allocated some funds for increasing recruitment, but far less than what it would take to counter the Taliban and far less than what the economic need is. [The US] spends a thousand times more on a battalions sent to monitor activity over there. Plus why endanger the lives of our troops and spread our forces thin when a more effective job can be done by the FC. The FC has over history shown that they will attack and use force against the tribes that create trouble. There have been no instances of insubordination or mutiny.

Even the US Embassy is protected by a contingent of the FC! That goes to show their trustworthiness & discipline.

My second proposal is that there is a common phenomenon for Pashtun men to go to the Gulf States for jobs.

The “tribal” Pashtuns ( All Pashtuns are tribal, in that Pashtun form the largest tribal society in the world in terms of numbers) wrt the FATA are not educated or trained and hence not employable right now. I propose that we fund directly the Director of Emigrants (Mr Azhar Arbab) in Islamabad to set up training facilities in Concrete laying, iron work, pipe work, welding etc, which would then qualify these tribesmen to obtain jobs in the Gulf. As such we would remove them from the scene altogether. They would not be available in the labor pool to the Taliban or anyone else. I might add here, that a number of these individuals have very high innate intelligence, which is one reason they make formidable foes.

Now the central reason why the NWFP ought to do this is because they are themselves most affected by the scourge of Talibanization. They are highly motivated in carrying out these policies because it is to their own benefit.

One has to be convinced on this last point, and for that I urge you research the sentiments amongst the people of the province, such as I am willing to provide, and which you can corroborate from other sources as well.

For instance, after Malik Saad was murdered, there were people, whom I heard myself, that expressed the feeling (admittedly stunned with grief) “If this is Islam then fuck such Islam” (I paraphrase, obviously, the Pashto is not directly translatable) – moreover, Mr Saad’s posters are competing with Osama’s in the Bazaar’s as a spontaneous gesture from the public. We can’t afford to let this good-will to be lost.

An Associated Press report on MSNBC dated March 15, 2007 and headlined “Arrest of al-Qaida’s ‘best’ reflects changing role” stated, “A senior Western diplomat in Islamabad, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the Taliban resurgence had not necessarily led to the re-emergence of al-Qaida training camps in Pakistan – a key U.S. ally in the war on terror – but had “created the environment for whatever is left of al-Qaida to feel more comfortable.” What does that mean?

A senior western diplomat usually means a Political Officer in the US Embassy, which most people know is a CIA agent, OR it could be some other Embassy official –

First there is a big difference between Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Al Qaeda is mostly composed of Arabs, they do not trust any one else. While they might use others as couriers or in lowly position as servants, for second rate Al Qaeda officials, the Top guys ONLY deal with Arabs and are served by Arabs.

The Taliban are mostly Pashtun tribesmen. Mostly they are graduates of madrassa’s.

Mostly illiterate by any world standards. The better educated among them will know how to speak a few words of English, such as their Information minister. There might be one or two notable exception of which I am not aware, I had heard Yale had admitted a Taliban, but never followed up on the story.

However while Al Qaeda does not trust the Taliban, the Taliban look up to Al Qaeda top leadership. We saw this situation in Iraq where initially Al Zarqawi had no direct link with Qaeda but was keen to form one. It would be conjecture on my part to state that in the end he did indeed succeed in forming that connection. In the press at least that impression was prevalent.

So the lines of interest proceed ONE way, like one way traffic. Extremist want to be affiliated with Qaeda, IMHO, while the latter does not, again, in my opinion want to – so as to maintain its hideout.

Now we come to the statement below:

The Taliban resurgence is not connected directly to the Qaeda.


(al in Arabic = the; Qaeda means the base, or the foundation e.g. in kg school here you are asked “did you learn your “abc’s” – in the Muslim world one is asked in an equivalent kg “did you learn your qaeda”?)


The Qaeda supply lines are hampered, new recruits would have to be Arabs, and they would have to travel a long way through tight Pakistani security to reach here, or suffer hardship over a long and arduous land route through Balochistan and the Tribal area’s – NOT all of which are accommodating.

So as is becoming clear, Qaeda is having trouble replacing people they loose meaning those that were captured or died. They only trust Arabs, and that also a certain type of Arabs, (not all Arabs are the same, not all Arabic is the same – for example they would never trust a Syrian, in fact Qaeda folks consider Syrian brand of Islam an apostasy – but that is another story).

Okay so now we can understand the statement, that whatever remains of the Qaeda, are not in a position to set up training camps, since they are in a survival mode. The Taliban resurgence helps them get a little warm and fuzzy in this survival mode, since they feel a little bit more secure with their partners-in-arms doing some evil stuff, blowing up people and causing mayhem.

How many men does the FC field currently?

The FC currently has about 23000 men in total.

How much do they get paid?

They are paid the equivalent of $60 per month per person -Pak Rupees 3665, where Rs61= $1. They do have some fringe benefits but life is very spartan for these soldiers.

What the US could get in return is a huge bang for a buck, no pun intended.

I think we ought to double the number of these soldiers with one proviso that the FC maintains its high standards of recruits.

Compare this with our costs in the War against Terror; just Halliburton’s bills will have you reeling. I think that it would be foolish, NOT to do this.

Again to reinforce the reasons:

The Frontier Constabulary is an Institution with a long and glorious history within the Frontier Province.

The recruits come strictly from the tribes of the various FATA and so they are very familiar with the people, the bad guys the terrain etc.

They speak the Pashto dialect of the locals. The Pashto language has many dialects, and you can tell where someone is from based on which dialect he speaks. So if you do not speak the correct dialect, you are immediately identified as an outsider. This is one reason why these tribes are impossible to penetrate, there are other reasons as well, that are beyond the scope of the current discussion.

How can the FC help prevent attacks like the suicide bombing attempt on Sherpao in Charsadda last weekend?

In essence your question is how can anyone prevent a suicide attack? And frankly if I knew the answer to that I think the US military – and several other groups – would be knocking on my door. I think the Israeli Army has had the most experience with this sort of thing. The suicide bombing as a tactical weapon was invented by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, and even today in terms of statistics they use it in far greater numbers.

So to summarize neither the FC nor anyone else can prevent a suicide bombing. We could attempt to improve our intelligence to find out about an imminent attack, but so far these have not been very successful in Pakistan. In the Lal Masjid Case the government avoided a suicide killing by negotiating with those two Mullah brothers – but I don’t know if that counts. But it does make for an interesting story. Both Washington, DC and Islamabad now have Madams threatening to publish the list of their clients unless they are given protection. Who would have thunk?Going back to your question:In my opinion what ought to be done is to make a Policy change, and address the issues that are producing these suicide bombers, that is the only way to stop this phenomenon.In this part of the world this is relatively new because prior to 9/11, suicide bombing was unheard of. Moreover it is not the FC’s job to provide security to the Minister of the Interior, that is the job of the Police force, because this Ministry is equivalent to the Department of Homeland Security.You don’t expect Border patrol to provide body guard duty to the Secretary of the department of Homeland Security. I am making these analogies so the American readers would relate to what is happening, and understand the difference in nomenclature.–RHakeem 20:13, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

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Wikimedia fundraiser highlights webcomic community’s frustration with Wikipedia guidelines

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Wikimedia fundraiser highlights webcomic community’s frustration with Wikipedia guidelines
December 8th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Monday, October 29, 2007

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

On Monday, October 22, as the latest Wikimedia fundraiser began, Wikinews reporter Brian McNeil thought his own small donation could be turned into a bigger donation by his buying some advertising on a popular website and encouraging others to contribute. With this in mind he approached Howard Tayler, creator of the Schlock Mercenary webcomic.

Tayler’s response was not as McNeil expected, prompting a Wikinews investigation. Tayler refused to help the foundation raise money although he conceded that he does sometimes use the site. Instead he explained that some members of the webcomic community feel slighted by Wikipedia because over 50 articles on webcomics were deemed not to meet their notability guidelines and were deleted during January and February of 2007. Some members of the webcomics community considered this unacceptable. Whilst some of the comic related articles deleted did not qualify for inclusion in the encyclopedia under Wikipedia guidelines, the deletion of a large number of articles in such a short time period struck some webcomics writers and fans as a selective purge.

Much of the criticism has been focused on Wikipedia editor Dragonfiend, who has described notability as “whether a topic has been noted by independent reputable sources”. She has said that “If we include every article that anyone wants to write, then the encyclopedia becomes useless because nobody can find the actual needle of worthwhile information on a topic hidden in that hay stack of trivia.” She has said Wikipedia should only have articles on webcomics like Penny Arcade, Get Your War On, Fetus-X, and Achewood.

This deletion of numerous webcomic articles has not sat well with some in the webcomic community. Modern Tales editor and Websnark blogger Eric Burns has written that “There are people — and Dragonfiend is clearly one of them — who are clearly going through Wikipedia looking for articles that should be weeded out as non-notable. and they’re doing it in fields they clearly — I mean, clearly — have no interest, experience or knowledge.”

Erfworld and PartiallyClips writer Rob Balder has expressed similar viewpoints, calling the deletion of the webcomics articles a “goddamned crime” and describing a “deletionist jihad” by “the politest bunch of book-burning assholes on the planet”. Balder also labelled “Deletionism” as a form of “naughtymancy” magic in Erfworld. Deletionism refers to the Wikipedia ideology that favours relatively rigorous standards for maintaining access to articles, as opposed to inclusionism which favours keeping and amending problematic articles.

There is concern among some webcomic groups that the notability guidelines are too rigorous for the typical webcomic. The standards usually require significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, which is rare since even comics with dedicated followings do not always attract mainstream book publishers or reviews from mainstream journalists. It seems that this policy has alienated webcomic artists and fans and discouraged them from contributing to Wikipedia.

Conflicts such as this are not uncommon. Members of a Wikimedia Foundation mailing list pointed to other examples where the application of the rules has been perceived to be selective, leaving other communities disgruntled with a variety of Wikimedia projects, not just Wikipedia.

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Popular soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ celebrates 35 years on the air

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Popular soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ celebrates 35 years on the air
December 7th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The popular American soap opera The Young and the Restless, currently the reigning Emmy Award-winner for best daytime drama, celebrated 35 years on the air Wednesday.

The 35th anniversary also comes after the series, known colloquially as Y&R, marked its 1,000th straight week as the highest-rated soap opera in a daytime slot. In addition to keeping the #1 spot every week since December 1988, Y&R has also been the top-rated soap in the African-American demographic since 1991.

A trend-setter since the beginning, Y&R relied on character-driven storytelling, accentuated with understated sexuality from its cast, which at that time was mostly young, in order to bring in teenage and twentysomething viewers who were ignored by soap producers and networks up to that time. These traits immediately set Y&R apart from other soap operas, and other soaps have since mimicked Y&R’s formulaic approach to offering something for everyone, especially younger viewers.

Since premiering on March 26, 1973, Y&R has become a worldwide cultural institution in its own right, racking up an impressive 100 Emmy Awards between the writers, producers, cast and crew since 1974. The show has aired in over 100 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, and reaches a worldwide audience of ten million daily. So far-reaching was Y&R’s appeal that Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci chose the serial’s theme song as accompanying music to her floor exercises at the 1976 Summer Olympics. In Australia, where Y&R has aired since 1974, the show was canceled by the original network that aired it in 2007, prompting a widespread fan backlash in that country. It was quickly moved to a pay channel.

Over the past 35 years, countless characters, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and every joy and trauma in between have visited the residents of Genoa City, where Y&R is set. To commemorate the milestone, Mike Halterman from Wikinews interviewed three actresses who have played long-running characters on Y&R, and asked them to share their memories. All three responded to questions about what being on Y&R means to them, what their favorite storylines were, what they perhaps would have wanted to do all over again, and what they’d love to tell their fans directly.

Below are portions of all three interviews.

Contents

  • 1 Wikinews interviews Y&R cast members
    • 1.1 Questions asked to all three
    • 1.2 Questions asked to Melody Thomas Scott
    • 1.3 Questions asked to Michelle Stafford
    • 1.4 Questions asked to Tricia Cast
  • 2 Sources
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How To Find A Small Business Law Attorney In Mooresville, Nc

December 6th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

byAlma Abell

Going into any business, especially in precarious financial times, requires planning to guarantee the best chances of success. Simply jumping into a business without proper research and advice puts the business at risk before the doors are even open. In addition to developing a detailed business plan, avoiding the many legal pitfalls that are common with new businesses requires consulting an attorney. Every Small Business Law Attorney in Mooresville, NC is trained to help entrepreneurs protect themselves and their businesses from a wide variety of issues.Properly setting up the business involves many decisions. One of the first is to determine which category of business is best for the particular situation. Would a sole proprietorship be the best option? Or, would some sort of corporation provide more benefits or protection from liability? Which type of accounting system is best suited to protect the business from financial issues both now and in the future? Quality legal advice will help to arrive at the best solutions. Small business law attorney service in Mooresville, NC personnel are prepared to suggest options that will allow business people to safeguard their business investments.Any business should have a plan in place to allow for a smooth transition in the event one or more of the principals of a business should no longer be able to continue. Where no plan is in place, the business may flounder while successorship is determined. An attorney from Lake Law Office, PLLC can help design a plan that will protect the company assets and keep the business flowing smoothly should anything happen to a principal.Legal problems can quickly arise at any time. Employer/employee disputes can take time away from business owners when they can least afford it. Having a relationship with an attorney can help in the event a dispute does arise. Calling an attorney before discharging an employee or making statements that could later create problems is always wise. Many business owners have regretted a lapse in judgment where things were said or done that set unfortunate events in motion. always get legal advice if there is any question of how a situation should be handled. Your Small Business Law Attorney in Mooresville, NC has access to all the latest rulings relating to labor law and will work to mitigate any problems before they worsen.Utilizing the services of a small business law attorney from Lake Law Office, PLLC to prevent problems is arguably the best investment any business owner can make.

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

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2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
December 5th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.

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Rescue efforts underway after China earthquake

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Rescue efforts underway after China earthquake
December 5th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Humanitarian aid groups and Chinese military forces are beginning rescue operations in western China after a heavy 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the region on Wednesday, that reportedly killed over 600 people and injured almost ten thousand.

The quake, which was centered around the remote town of Yushu, was largely destroyed by the heavy temblor, which occurred early in the morning as residents were waking up. The official death toll stands at 617, while 9,980 more were injured and an additional 313 reported as missing. The Chinese ministry of civil affairs reports that 15,000 houses had collapsed and 100,000 people – almost the entire population in the area – remain without homes.

The plateau where the earthquake hit is frequently visited by tremors; however, there are rarely many casualties due to its remoteness and small population. However, in May 2008 a heavy 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Sichuan foothills, killing 80,000 people.

Rescue efforts are underway, but impeded due to the area’s remoteness and landslides, which have blocked many roads in the area. Also a factor is the high altitude at which the area is located – about 4,000 metres above sea level (13,000 feet) – which could adversely affect rescue crews not used to being in such thin air. Sniffer dogs, for instance, who aren’t accustomed to working at high sea levels, could have a harder time detecting living people buried beneath rubble.

Power and telephone lines were also downed by the temblor, affecting communication, although the authorities commented that electricity and phone links have been repaired to tens of towns.

China’s state media reports that troops garrisoned in the Yushu county, with help from locals, have already rescued over a thousand people buried beneath debris.

Residents and troops garrisoned in the Yushu county have managed to pull out more than 1,000 people alive, according to Chinese state media. They are using shovels and bare hands.

Further exacerbating the situation is the weather: temperatures are freezing, and meteorologists predict sleet and wind to come within the next few days. Many people were forced to sleep outdoors, protecting themselves from the cold in blankets, or spending the night in vehicles.

Pierre Deve for the non-governmental organisation Snowland Service Group, was present in Yushu. He described the damage to Times Online, saying: “There are corpses everywhere on the street. They don’t have time to deal with them. There is a real need for medicine, for food, for water and for doctors. People are terrified that there will be another earthquake. They are also afraid that a dam that has been cracked will burst and flood the town.”

A local doctor, Karma Sherab, also commented on the problems the area is facing: “Most of the hospitals have collapsed and others had become dangerous. The only thing we can do is to clean the wounds in a simple way or simply amputate instead of curing.”

Chinese president Hu Jintao, meanwhile, said that he would be dispatching over 5,000 rescuers and soldiers to the scene of the disaster; the government has pledged over US$29 million worth of aid. Hu described the quake as being a “huge calamity”. He is also shortening his visit to a summit in Brazil to return to his country. “That is why I decided to bring forward my return to China,” he said from Brasilia.

Premier Wen Jiabao has visited Yushu to oversee relief work; he decided to delay a visit to southeastern Asia due to the disaster. “As long as there is the slightest hope, we will make efforts that are 100-fold. Your disaster is our disaster, your suffering is our suffering.”

The head of China’s disaster relief department, Zou Ming, says that 120,000 articles of clothing, 120,000 quilts, food, and close to 40,000 tents were to be sent to the disaster zone; he encouraged people to donate money to assist in longer-term relief work.

Meanwhile, some foreign countries have offered financial help; among them is Japan, which has pledged over one million dollars to disaster victims. The United States also said it is “ready to assist” if China requests international aid.

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British Gas to increase electricity, gas prices

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British Gas to increase electricity, gas prices
December 4th, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

Sunday, July 10, 2011

British-based utility company Centrica, which holds ownership of British Gas, has announced its intentions to increase the prices of domestic electricity and gas later this year. On August 18, 2011, the company plans to raise the costs of gas and electrical supplies by eighteen and sixteen per cent, respectively. According to The Guardian, nine million customers will be affected by these changes.

British price comparison website uSwitch has reported that the “[a]verage household bill for a dual fuel British Gas customer will now go up from £1,096 to £1,288”. Mike O’Connor, the chief executive officer of consumer organisation Consumer Focus, has claimed that the announcement “will send a shock wave across the country” and will place an increasing amount of difficulties “on stretched household budgets. Consumers […] rightly question whether prices are fair.”

Phil Bentley, a managing director for British Gas, has claimed that value increases like this are “an issue facing all energy suppliers”. A director for British Gas, named Ian Peters, has claimed that “a fair return” will be made after the changes occur.

In 2010, British Gas experienced its largest ever profit, making £742 million (US$1,192 million, €835 million). Meanwhile, Centrica achieved £2.4 billion (US$3.8 billion, €2.7 billion) in profits. Richard Lloyd from product sampling charity Which? criticised the decision to raise prices, calling the declaration “unwelcome but unsurprising” for British Gas consumers.

Previously in December 2010, British Gas increased the price of its gas by 6.9%, which equates to £43 (US$69, €48). At the same time, the company’s electricity prices were raised by 6.7%, or £28 (US$45, €32). On Friday, Chris Huhne, the secretary of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, said that British electricity businesses must modify themselves so as to avoid “the cycle of fossil fuel addiction. Alternatives like renewables and nuclear power must be allowed to become the dominant component of our energy mix,” said Huhne.

This news comes to light as Scottish Power, a rival energy company to British Gas, announced last month their intentions to up the prices of their electricity and gas supplies by ten and nineteen per cent respectively.

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Mumbai officials demolish 39K shanties; 200K homeless

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Mumbai officials demolish 39K shanties; 200K homeless
December 2nd, 2018 by iGGDBfCR

December 25, 2004

Officials in Mumbai, India, demolished over 6,000 shanties today in a push to eradicate the capital city’s slums. In total, 39,000 shanties have been flattened, displacing over 200,000 people, in the city’s biggest-ever demolition drive, which began in early December.

When complete, over 2 million people are expected to be displaced. After wiping out the least desirable shanties, next in line for demolition are the illegal ‘well-off’ shanties and neighborhoods, according to the legal and bureaucratic motions that have been executed toward cleaning up Mumbai’s appearance by lowering the dominance of shanties, which make up 62 percent of Mumbai’s housing.

“As far as eye can see, there are mounds of wood, tin and tarpaulin, the remains of 6,200 illegal homes, flattened by a heavy excavator running on tank-like tracks and giant motorised claws,” the Indian Express reported about today’s destruction. [1]

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said that citizens would see a change within six months. “Every chief minister likes to be remembered, and I’m no exception,” said Deshmukh, who despite having an empty exchequer, also announced that Rs 31,000 crore will be spent on new roads, sea links and rail lines. [2]

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