Daily Archives: January 15, 2013

BBC News – Pakistan Supreme Court orders arrest of PM Raja Pervez Ashraf

 

BBC News – Pakistan Supreme Court orders arrest of PM Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of PM Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 others over corruption allegations, raising fears of a political crisis just months ahead of an election.

Mr Ashraf denies accepting bribes when approving power generation projects as minister for water and power in 2010.

Analysts say that the move is unlikely to lead to his immediate removal.

It comes as a populist cleric led thousands of protesters in Islamabad, demanding the government resigns.

Television images showed demonstrators, led by Tahirul Qadri, celebrating and triumphantly applauding as news broke of the court’s order.

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says it may just be a coincidence – but to many observers the timing of the move bolsters allegations that the cleric is backed by elements of the judiciary and military.

In recent years Pakistan’s government, judiciary and powerful military have been at loggerheads.

Mr Ashraf’s predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was forced out as prime minister last June after the Supreme Court convicted him of contempt for failing to pursue a corruption case against the president.

Mr Ashraf was appointed in his place, but analysts predicted that his tenure would also be troubled.

The Supreme Court order says the prime minister and the others should be arrested and produced before court within 24 hours. But analysts say the prime minister’s lawyers may find ways of delaying any appearance.

Dogged by controversy

The prime minister’s adviser, Fawad Chaudhry, condemned the order, labelling it unconstitutional, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Mr Ashraf is set to lead the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) into general elections due in May. Analysts say they expect the balance of power in the forthcoming parliamentary polls to broadly stay the same unless turnout is high, which could allow minor parties to translate popular support into seats.

He has long been a senior figure in the PPP, and has twice been a minister in the government which has been in power since 2008.

But it was his tenure as minister for water and power which is dogged by controversy.

The government needed to generate more power to deal with electricity shortages, but there were accusations of corruption from the opposition about the so-called “Rental Power Projects” devised to solve the crisis.

Critics labelled him “Raja Rental” because of the kickbacks he is alleged to have taken – he has consistently denied these claims and left the water and power post in 2011.

But many analysts say this case could simply be a continuation of the long feud between the PPP-led government and the judiciary.

And there have also been chaotic scenes in Islamabad after a long-planned march from Lahore to the capital by Dr Qadri culminated in a mass rally.

Clashes briefly erupted on Tuesday before Dr Qadri addressed his thousands of supporters camped near parliament, vowing to continue his mass protest indefinitely.

The cleric has said he wants the military and judiciary to be involved in installing a caretaker government to oversee the forthcoming elections.

But the government has accused him of trying to postpone elections due by May.

Video: U.S. Prisons Cost Us $228 Billion

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Dept. of Homeland Security Forced to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites

Dept. of Homeland Security Forced to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites

Dept. of Homeland Security Forced to Release List of Keywords Used to Monitor Social Networking Sites

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French Forces have Invaded Mali – Airstrikes Coming Down, U.S. to Get Heavily Involved | Spread Liberty News

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French Forces have Invaded Mali – Airstrikes Coming Down, U.S. to Get Heavily Involved | Spread Liberty News.

by Ezra Van Auken

In early December, SLN reported on the Pentagon confirming plans to deploy U.S. soldiers into the country of Malisometime in mid to late 2013. The move comes while many extremist groups are circulating through northern Mali and have taken multiple cities as well as threatened to capture even bigger ones.

SLN noted, “News broke of the upcoming U.S. intervention after a Senate hearing on Wednesday, when Pentagon and State Dept. officials explained the process. All of this is occurring after the United Nations’ endorsement of African-led troops, which U.N. officials say will probably agree to the deal and expect to see U.S. troops deployed within a year.” Since then, the U.N. has confirmed and given permission to the U.S. for intervention. The executive branch seems to have forgotten about seeking permission from Congress.

With U.S. approval internationally permitted, the French have carried out the first string of attacks and deployment on Mali. RT reported on Wednesday, “France has begun an operation to push back rebel forces in Mali. A state of emergency has been declared throughout the country.” The French President, Francois Hollande stated, “This operation will last as long as is necessary.” As many know the context of “as long as necessary” can mean years, as the Americans have witnessed in Afghanistan.

Friday, Mali witnessed French air strikes and deployment, along with Malian troops retaking the town of Konna, which had been seized by al-Qaeda extremists. RT explained, “A source at Sevare airport, located 40 miles (60 km) south of Konna, told Reuters that around a dozen war planes had arrived on Friday. Residents of the city also said that Western soldiers arrived late on Thursday, and reported the arrival of military helicopters and army reinforcements.”

The British are supportive of efforts led by Western forces in Mali including France, the UK foreign secretary tweeted out last week. With war brewing in Mali, French officials have also asked any residents to leave the country – as a safe haven from extremists. “Due to the serious deterioration in the security situation in Mali, the threat of attack or abduction is growing,” the ministry commented.

RT points out, “Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, stressed in an interview with RT that there is a lot of US and French involvement in the crisis. He noted that Mali’s interim president, Dioncounda Traore, has close ties with the United States and was installed by US-trained Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led last year’s coup d’état.”

Awikiwe said, “I do believe that both France and the United States have long-term plans for military intervention in Africa,” offering the idea that the U.S. government in accordance with France and other EU nations are using the extremist agenda as a pretext to invade and occupy northern African lands.

Interestingly, if it weren’t for the U.S., France and other Western nations overthrowing Gaddafi in Libya, while backing many different rebel factions with arms and money, the rebels in northern Mali probably wouldn’t be as capable as they are now.

The most recent update from the Associated Press explains, “French fighter jets have identified and destroyed this Sunday, Jan. 13, numerous targets in northern Mali near Gao, in particular training camps, infrastructure and logistical depots which served as bases for terrorist groups.” Associated Press’ Baba Ahmed and Rukmini Callimachi also detailed, “The French offensive to take back northern Mali from extremist Islamists continues with bombing of a major city. The United States is providing communications and transport help to the operation.”

Image Reference

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20998966

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Horse freed after three hours stuck in mud on Australian beach

Horse freed after three hours stuck in mud on Australian beach

Horse freed after three hours stuck in mud on Australian beach
on: November 10, 2012

The incredible story of one woman’s loyalty to her horse – she spent three hours holding its head above the tide after it got stuck in the mud on a beach in Australia.

A horse gets stuck up to his neck in mud on a beach as the tide rises. His owner, Nicole Graham, who was enjoying an afternoon ride, stayed with him as rescuers struggled for three hours to pull him out. With moments to spare, the 500kg horse, named Astro, was freed with the help of a tractor and harness at Avalon Beach in Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2012/feb/28/horse-freed-mud-in-pictures?CMP=OTCNETTXT8115