Saturday, September 01, 2012

Imam held in blasphemy case after new testimony | DAWN.COM

Imam held in blasphemy case after new testimony | DAWN.COM


ISLAMABAD: A blasphemy case took a bizarre turn here on Saturday when police arrested Khalid Jadoon, a prayer leader who had allegedly put some pages of the holy Quran among the burnt papers to strengthen the case against a Christian girl.
The arrest was made after a statement before a magistrate by a witness, Hafiz Zubair, a Muezzin in the same mosque, in which he alleged that he saw Khalid Jadoon putting the pages of Quran in the polythene bags containing the burnt papers.
A heavy contingent of police raided the residence of the prayer leader after obtaining arrest warrants, picked him up and put him behind bars.
The witness disclosed before an executive magistrate that the Imam of the mosque in Mehra Jaffer had included two pages of the Quran among burnt papers brought to him by the complainant in order to exacerbate the situation.
He said he was sitting in Aitkaf in the mosque located in front of the house of the girl when complainant Malik Hammad brought the burnt pages in two polythene bags to the prayer leader.
The witness said he tried to stop the cleric from tampering with the evidence, but he insisted it would strengthen the case and lead to eviction of the girl’s family from the locality.

bth: credit to a brave and honest man for speaking up.

Russia says Iran's nuclear power plant fully operational - AlertNet

Russia says Iran's nuclear power plant fully operational - AlertNet


MOSCOW, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Iran's first atomic power plant, a symbol of what the Islamic Republic says is its peaceful nuclear ambition, is now operating at full capacity, Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on Friday.
The Russian-built 1,000-megawatt reactor near the Gulf city of Bushehr, was plugged into Iran's national grid last September, ending years of delays and suspicions that Moscow was using the project as a diplomatic lever.
Oil-rich Iran says electricity generation is the main motivation for nuclear work that its adversaries say is really aimed at getting atomic weapons capability.
However, the Bushehr plant is not considered a major proliferation threat by nuclear inspectors whose concern is focused on sites where Iran enriches nuclear fuel, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding it stop.

Bushehr was started by Germany's Siemens before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and was taken over by Russian engineers in the 1990s....

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pakistan blasphemy case: 'Muslims could take law into their own hands' | World news | The Guardian

Pakistan blasphemy case: 'Muslims could take law into their own hands' | World news | The Guardian


A lawyer representing the man who accused a Pakistani Christian girl of blasphemy has said that if she is not convicted, Muslims could "take the law into their own hands".
Rao Abdur Raheem cited the example of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last year shot dead a politician who had called for reform of the much-abused blasphemy law.
The apparent hijacking of the case against Rimsha Masih by organised extremists, including lawyers, could further complicate a bitterly contentious case.
The lawyer's comments are likely to further complicate a bitterly contentious case that has caused an international outcry and embarrassed the Pakistani government. It could intimidate the court and would put her life at further risk even if she is freed.
Rao Abdur Raheem, lawyer for the man accusing Rimsha Masih of blasphemy
The girl, Rimsha Masih, from Mehrabadi, Islamabad, whose family says she is 11, was arrested this month and charged with desecrating the Qur'an after a neighbour, Malik Hammad, claimed that he saw her with burnt pages of the holy text in a bag she was carrying....

 The case has caused an international outcry. Later, sitting in his office beneath a large poster of Qadri, Raheem told the Guardian: "If the court is not allowed to do its work, because the state is helping the accused, then the public has no other option except to take the law into their own hands."...
 
-bth: so basically this lawyer is threatening to lynch this child for blasphemy like the lawyers that rallied to support the murder of Mr Qadri last year.






ISI chief rules out handing over Dr Shakeel Afridi to US | DAWN.COM

ISI chief rules out handing over Dr Shakeel Afridi to US | DAWN.COM

ISLAMABAD: Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam has ruled out handing over Dr Shakil Afridi to the US, DawnNews reported.
Speaking at a press briefing, the ISI chief said that the US should consider the chapter of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, closed.
“He (Dr Afridi) will never be bartered for Dr Afia Siddiqui, no such proposal is under consideration,” said Islam.
Afridi was picked up by the ISI from near Peshawar, two weeks after Osama’s death. The official said that Afridi had accepted helping the CIA by running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad a month before the raid on OBL’s compound.

BBC News - Food prices jump will hit poor, World Bank warns

BBC News - Food prices jump will hit poor, World Bank warns


Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices for the planet's poorest, the World Bank has warned.
The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.
The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as "historic".
The bank warned countries importing grains will be particularly vulnerable.
From June to July this year, corn and wheat prices each rose by 25% while soybean prices increased by 17%, the World Bank said. Only rice prices decreased - by 4%.
In the United States, the most severe, widespread drought in half a century has wreaked havoc on the corn and soybean crops while in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, wheat crops have been badly damaged.
The World Bank said that the use of corn to produce ethanol biofuel - which represents 40% of US corn production - was also a key factor in the sharp rise in the US maize price.
Overall, the World Bank's Food Price Index - which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities - was six percent higher than in July of last year, and one percent over its previous peak, in February 2011....

Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data - The Long War Journal

Green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan: the data - The Long War Journal

...  II. DATA SUMMARY
The following data will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect any new attacks.
The Long War Journal's data covers green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan from Jan. 1, 2008 up to the present. As of Aug. 29, 2012, there have been a total of 55 attacks.

Total number of attacks per year:
2012 - 29
2011 - 14
2010 - 6
2009 - 4
2008 - 2
Total number of attacks per province:
Badghis - 3
Baghlan - 1
Balkh - 2
Farah - 1
Faryab - 2
Helmand - 15
Herat - 1
Kabul - 2
Kandahar - 8
Kapisa - 2
Kunar - 1
Laghman - 3
Nangarhar - 3
Paktia - 2
Paktika - 3
Uruzgan - 3
Wardak - 2
Zabul - 1
Numbers of Coalition troops and affiliates killed and wounded by green-on-blue attacks:
The total number of Coalition casualties from green-on-blue attacks for the period Jan. 1, 2008 to the present is 109. The total number of Coalition wounded is 88.
Green-on-blue casualties per year, and percentage of Coalition deaths caused by such attacks:
2012 - 45 - 14%
2011 - 31 - 6%
2010 - 21 - 3%
2009 - 10 - 2%
2008 - 2 - less than 1%
Green-on-blue wounded per year:
2012 - 44
2011 - 23
2010 - 7
2009 - 11
2008 - 3
Total number of green-on-blue casualties per province:
Badghis - 5
Baghlan - 3
Balkh - 4
Farah - 2
Faryab - 2
Helmand - 33
Herat - 3
Kabul - 11
Kandahar - 11
Kapisa - 7
Kunar - 1
Laghman - 5
Nangarhar - 8
Paktia - 2
Paktika - 3
Uruzgan - 4
Wardak - 2
Zabul - 1
Total number of green-on-blue wounded per province:
Badghis - 3
Baghlan - 6
Balkh - 2
Farah - 0
Faryab - 2
Helmand - 16
Herat - 0
Kabul - 0
Kandahar - 21
Kapisa - 15
Kunar - 2
Laghman - 4
Nangarhar - 2
Paktia - 3
Paktika - 0
Uruzgan - 5
Wardak - 7
Zabul - 0
....

Dempsey Backs Away from Obama’s Threat to Intervene in Syria -- News from Antiwar.com

Dempsey Backs Away from Obama’s Threat to Intervene in Syria -- News from Antiwar.com


The top general of America’s military on Thursday backed away from President Obama’s threats to intervene militarily in Syria against the Assad regime, warning that the worst-case scenario would be some kind of failed state in the embattled country.
Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff General Martin Dempsey stressed while on a trip to London that direct military action in Syria, even simply no-fly zones, might be beyond the US and NATO’s capabilities and counter to their interests.
Last week President Obama warned that his “calculation” to refrain from direct military intervention in Syria “could change” if Syria’s chemical or biological weapons begin “moving around or being utilized,” describing the WMD issue as a “red line” that would prompt direct military action, like setting up safe zones, no-fly zones, or worse.
But Dempsey explained it wouldn’t be that easy. He said frequent comparison of the Syrian situation with that in Libya, where a “no-fly zone” was imposed following a United Nations resolution, is at best a source of “amusement.”...

'I don't want to be complicit' in an Israeli strike on Iran, says US army chief | The Times of Israel

'I don't want to be complicit' in an Israeli strike on Iran, says US army chief | The Times of Israel

The US should not become embroiled in an Israeli military strike on Iran that would not only fail to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, but could also undo international diplomatic pressure on Tehran, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said Thursday in London.
Such an attack by Israel would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” Dempsey said, adding: ”I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.”
The US’s top general – the Guardian reported – said that he could not presume to know Iran’s ultimate intentions in pursuing a nuclear program, as intelligence was inconclusive on that score. It was clear, however, he maintained, that mounting pressure from the American-led “international coalition… could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely.”
Last week, Dempsey said that Israel and the US did not see eye to eye on the Iranian nuclear threat, admitting that Washington and Jerusalem were on “different clocks” regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
He noted, however, that he understood Israel’s urgency in calling for action against Iran’s nuclear program.
“They are living with an existential concern that we are not living with,” he said.
Dempsey added that he and Israeli Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz spoke on a bi-weekly basis to coordinate intelligence, despite gaps in understanding how close Iran was to a breakout nuclear capability.
“We compare intelligence, we discuss regional implications. And we’ve admitted to each other that our clocks are turning at different rates,” he said.
Thursday’s comments from Dempsey, who was in London for the Paralympic Games, come amid mounting chatter over a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program. The US has been working to keep Israel from launching a unilateral strike, maintaining that sanctions should be given more time to work.
Last week, the former American ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, termed Israel’s talk of attacking Iran “a classic case of crying wolf.”

LtGen Kelly - YouTube

LtGen Kelly - YouTube

Thursday, August 30, 2012

CIA balked at chance to kill bin Laden in ‘99, Polish ex-spy says | McClatchy

CIA balked at chance to kill bin Laden in ‘99, Polish ex-spy says | McClatchy


In late 1999, two years before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, a group of Afghan agents loyal to an anti-Taliban guerrilla leader proposed assassinating Osama bin Laden. All they wanted was the $5 million reward the Clinton administration had offered for bin Laden’s capture, says a former Polish spy who was the Afghans’ go-between on the plot.
The CIA rejected the plan, however, saying, "We do not have a license to kill."
The story, the centerpiece of “Ferreting out bin Laden,” a book by former spy Alexander Makowski that was published in Poland in June but isn’t yet available in English, offers previously unknown details about how the United States missed warning signs of the deadliest foreign attack ever on U.S. soil. It’s told from the perspective of an allied intelligence service whose specialty is human intelligence – recruiting and running agents – not the technological monitoring that’s considered the U.S.’s strength.
“They gave us the exact location of the houses where bin Laden would be staying in Kandahar, the route he would be taking between his living quarters, his meeting place, and what kind of transportation he would be using,” Makowski told McClatchy in a recent interview, referring to the city in southern Afghanistan that was the Taliban’s seat of power. The Afghans planned to use car bombs to kill the Saudi-born leader of al Qaida.
But on Oct. 14, 1999, a CIA officer whom Makowski identified as "Jim" flew to Warsaw with a response. “I would like everyone here to be absolutely clear on one thing: We do not have a license to kill,” “Jim” told top officials at the headquarters of Polish intelligence. Makowski, at the time a businessman, said he was at the meeting.
“We have to capture bin Laden safe and sound so that he can stand trial and be sentenced legally,” Makowski quotes the officer as saying. “Any other solution is out of the question. CIA operates within the American legal order.”
According to Makowski, the intelligence proved accurate: Bin Laden arrived in Kandahar as planned and stayed in the house as had been predicted. Could the Afghans have killed him? “I have no doubt,” he said....

-bth: as usual McClatchy delivers real news.  the article is worth reading in full.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Apple kills Star Trek - YouTube

Apple kills Star Trek - YouTube

AP Exclusive: Secret compound in Jordan’s desert houses 1,200 Syrian security defectors - The Washington Post

AP Exclusive: Secret compound in Jordan’s desert houses 1,200 Syrian security defectors - The Washington Post


MAFRAQ, Jordan — In an isolated stretch of Jordanian desert, a heavily guarded, secret compound houses 1,200 senior police and army officers who defected from nearby Syria.
The men live in trailers with fans but no air conditioning, surrounded by barbed wire, and they pass their days browsing the Internet and watching TV for news of Syria’s civil war, longing to join the fight — but they are largely unable to leave.
The Jordanian military runs the camp near a site formerly used by the U.S. to train some its forces for the war in Iraq, and the defectors are debriefed by intelligence agents. Access to them is tightly restricted for their own protection. They are even separated from their families, who live outside the camp near the northern border city of Mafraq but can get special police permits to visit.
The defectors in the camp are allowed to communicate with the rebel Free Syrian Army in Jordan and abroad, both in person and through telephone and Internet communications, but do not have what is considered valuable intelligence, according to Jordanian security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to make press statements.
The facility is a sign of Jordan’s growing role as a quiet supporter of Syria’s opposition. But at the same time, Jordan wants to avoid aggravating tensions with its more powerful northern neighbor, fearing that President Bashar Assad may remain in power.
There are more than 160,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and their number is increasing by the thousands every day. About 8,000 live in a newly set up camp on the border, while the rest are scattered across Jordan....

Have Obama and Romney forgotten Afghanistan? - Inside Story: US 2012 - Al Jazeera English

Have Obama and Romney forgotten Afghanistan? - Inside Story: US 2012 - Al Jazeera English

Monday, August 27, 2012

17 Afghans beheaded in insurgent attack on party - Yahoo! News

17 Afghans beheaded in insurgent attack on party - Yahoo! News


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Insurgents beheaded 17 civilians in a Taliban-controlled area of southern Afghanistan, apparently because they attended a dance party that flouted the extreme brand of Islam embraced by the militants, officials said Monday.
The killings, in a district where U.S. Marines have battled the Taliban for years, were a reminder of how much power the insurgent group still wields in the south — particularly as international forces draw down and hand areas over to Afghan forces.
The victims were part of a large group that had gathered late Sunday in Helmand province's Musa Qala district for a celebration involving music and dancing, said district government chief Neyamatullah Khan. He said the Taliban slaughtered them to show their disapproval of the event....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tracking the Transportation of Violence in the Middle East, 25 August 2012 Saturday 11:49

Tracking the Transportation of Violence in the Middle East, 25 August 2012 Saturday 11:49

 Yas Air, an Iranian cargo airline, has become a nightmare for the United States amidst the United Nations sanctions, which failed to keep a check on arms shipments to Iraq and Syria from Iran. Yas Air portrayed itself as a private cargo company, but on the ground the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp is behind all its operations.

Yas Air caught the attention of the world media after March this year, when the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of the Iranian cargo airline Yas Air, Behineh Trading, three Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officials, and one Nigerian shipping agent – all pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for acting or on behalf of, or providing support to, the IRGC-QF, designated terrorist entities.

The airline, the trading company and the three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Qods Force officials were involved in arms shipments to Syria, the Treasury said, under the guise of humanitarian aid. In 2011, the Qods Force officials oversaw and authorized Yas Air taking a series of flights transporting weapons destined for Syria, working with Hezbollah and Syrian officials to ensure the delivery of its cargo....


-bth: interesting article worth reading in full.

Christian girl held on blasphemy cannot read: Vatican – The Express Tribune

Christian girl held on blasphemy cannot read: Vatican – The Express Tribune


VATICAN CITY: French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran on Saturday went to the defence of the young Pakistani girl accused of blasphemy, stressing that she “cannot read or write.”
Interviewed on Radio Vatican, Tauran, who is in charge of interfaith dialogue in the Vatican, said “that before asserting a sacred text has been the object of scorn, it is worth checking the facts.”
Rimsha, aged 11 to 16 according to different reports, is accused of burning pages from a children’s religious instruction book inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran. She was arrested and remanded in custody last Thursday.
But Tauran said that Rimsha “is a girl who cannot read or write and collects garbage to live on and picked up the fragments of the book which was in the middle of the rubbish.”...

Taliban attempts to kidnap family of jailed CIA informant in Pakistan | Fox News

Taliban attempts to kidnap family of jailed CIA informant in Pakistan | Fox News

 The Taliban attempted to kidnap the brother and other relatives of the Pakistani doctor jailed for helping the CIA hunt down Usama Bin Laden, members of the family told Fox News.
The alleged attempted abduction happened on Monday, according to Qamar Afridi, a cousin of Dr. Shakil Afridi, when a man identifying himself as a representative of Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with a family lawyer in Peshawar to discuss the case. The man reportedly said the Afghan leader wanted to help the Afridi family, and was willing to offer them financial support in their efforts to free the doctor.
The man, who identified himself as Haji Hukam Khan and said he was “very close to Karzai,” asked the lawyer to bring Jamil (Dr. Afridi’s brother) and other family members to Kabul, Afghanistan to meet Karzai. “He wants to aid you,” Qamar said the man told the lawyer....

-bth: there are severe ramifications for the loss of operational security. The administration and the navy seals have shamefully leaked information.