Thursday, 22 November 2012

Israel, Hamas agree to Gaza truce

CAIRO:Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announced that a truce had been agreed between Israel and Hamas over the Gaza conflict and said a ceasefire would come into effect at 1900 GMT.
Egypt has been leading international efforts to reach a week of violence in and around Gaza and "these efforts have reached an agreement for a ceasefire."
Earlier, A senior Hamas official told AFP that a deal to end a deadly week-long conflict between Hamas and Israel in and around the Gaza Strip was agreed.
"The deal has been agreed. There will be an announcement in half an hour," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Reuters news agency reported that Israel has agreed to a truce in the Gaza Strip, but will not lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory, Israeli sources said, declining to give further details of any deal.
Shortly before, a Palestinian official with knowledge of Egyptian mediation between the two sides told Reuters that there was a ceasefire agreement to end eight days of fighting in Gaza that has killed more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis.

World hails Israel-Hamas ceasefire, thanks Egypt

WASHINGTON: The US, the EU and the UN on Wednesday welcomed a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and Washington thanked Egypt's new government for its successful first turn on the diplomatic stage.
World powers were relieved by the deal, which may offer at least temporary respite from bloodshed in Gaza and southern Israel, but puts them in the debt of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, who sprang from the Muslim Brotherhood.
US President Barack Obama, re-elected this month after a first term in which the Middle East peace process moved not one pace further down its supposed "road map", led a chorus of approval for Morsi's mediation work.
Morsi, a leading member of the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in June this year in Egypt's first election since a popular revolt brought down secular strongman Hosni Mubarak.
He resigned from his Brotherhood-led party, the FJP, and vowed to represent all Egyptians, but his elevation raised concerns about Cairo's peace treaty with Israel and its ties with Hamas, part of the Brotherhood movement.
In the first big crisis of his tenure, however, Morsi was hailed as a peace broker, working with US officials to arrange a truce.
"The president thanked President Morsi for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal," the White House said in a statement.
Obama also reaffirmed the "close partnership" between Washington and Cairo, the White House said, adding that the two leaders "agreed on the importance of working toward a more durable solution to the situation in Gaza."
The US leader also praised a more natural Washington ally, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but again stressed Egypt's role in securing the deal that it is hoped will end Hamas' rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes.
"The president expressed his appreciation for the prime minister's efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem," a White House statement said.
"The president commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which the president recommended the prime minister do, while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself," it said.
Canada also praised Egypt, while criticizing Palestinian militants.
"Canada welcomes this ceasefire and hopes terrorist cells based in Gaza will abide by the terms," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said. "The Egyptian government showed leadership and responsibility as a major regional state."
European Union leaders, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy, also welcomed the ceasefire, while cautiously stressing that the parties must "ensure its implementation and to prevent the restart of violence."
Pledging EU support for the peace process, their statement added that the events of the last days "stress the urgent need to move towards a two-state solution allowing both sides to live side-by-side in peace and security".
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared not quite ready to believe that a truce had been possible, after a week of bloodshed that killed more than 150 people, the majority of them Palestinians caught in Israel's onslaught.
"We are encouraged and relieved that they have reached this ceasefire," Ban told reporters. "There are still many details to be solidified for a durable ceasefire. I hope they will finalize these details as soon possible.
"Our focus now must be on ensuring that the ceasefire holds," he said. "They must keep their promises. I urge them to exercise maximum restraint, patience with a sense of mutual understanding, this is very important."
Global oil prices had been rising before the ceasefire, with chaos in the Middle East boosting supply concerns, but they fell back to finish the day steady after news of the ceasefire broke. 

UN Security Council urges Israel, Hamas to uphold ceasefire

UNITED NATIONS: The U.N. Security Council called on Israel and Hamas to uphold a ceasefire agreement on Wednesday and commended the efforts of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and others for brokering the truce.
The 15-member council said in a statement it "deplored the loss of civilian lives resulting from this situation and reiterated the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection in according with international humanitarian law."
Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement agreed earlier on Wednesday to an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire to halt the eight-day conflict around the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 162 Palestinians and five Israelis.
"The members of the council called on the parties to uphold the agreement and to act seriously to implement its provisions in good faith," it said. "The members of the council strongly commend the efforts of Egyptian President Mursi and others to achieve the ceasefire."
It also praised the efforts of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who visited the region this week, and called on the international community to provide emergency aid, including food and medical supplies, for Palestinians in Gaza.
"We have to put an end to the options of war and to open the gate for the option of peace, ending the occupation and (bringing) independence for our state," Palestinian U.N. observer, Riyad Mansour, told reporters.
He said President Mahmoud Abbas would visit New York next week as the Palestinians seek an upgrade of its observer status at the United Nations from that of an "entity" to a "non-member state," implicitly recognizing Palestinian statehood.
U.N. diplomats said a vote on the Palestinian request was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 29. A senior Western diplomat said the Palestinians would easily secure 120 to 130 votes in the 193-nation General Assembly, which would ensure the success of their upgraded status at the United Nations.
Israel and the United States have made clear they would oppose the upgrade, which would give the Palestinians the right to join bodies like the International Criminal Court, where it could file legal complaints against Israel.
"The idea of going to the United Nations and avoiding bilateral negotiations with Israel is wrong," Israel's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Haim Waxman said of the Palestinian bid.
"The entire international community ... should look at what has happened in the last week and think again because we have seen a Palestinian authority in Gaza," he told reporters.
Israel withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but maintained control over its borders. The United Nations says it remains an occupied territory, along with the West Bank.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from the Western-backed Abbas in 2007 in a brief but bloody war with his Fatah movement. The Palestine Liberation Organisation, led by Abbas, wants the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem for an independent state. (Reuters)

Gaza truce in effect after week of bloodshed

GAZA CITY: A ceasefire took hold Thursday in and around Gaza after a week of cross-border violence that killed at least 160 people.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr of Egypt, which brokered the ceasefire after marathon talks, announced the cessation of hostilities at a joint news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday.
The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas to uphold the ceasefire while joining with US President Barack Obama in praising Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi for mediating an end to the violence.
The accord, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls on Israel to "stop all hostilities... in the land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals" and urges the Palestinian factions to end "rocket attacks and all attacks along the border".
Israel would be obliged to ease restrictions on Gaza residents under the accord which specified that "procedures of implementation shall be dealt with" 24 hours after the ceasefire went into effect on opening Gaza's border crossings and allowing the free movement of people and goods.
"This is a critical moment for the region," Clinton said. "In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners in the region to consolidate this progress."
Gaza City's streets were dark and deserted in the minutes after the truce took effect at 1900 GMT Wednesday, but soon afterwards people poured out of their homes to hail the "victory" as the ceasefire appeared to hold.
Heavy celebratory gunfire could be heard throughout the Gaza Strip and fireworks were released into the sky, where Israeli drones still buzzed overhead.
"The resistance has triumphed," some shouted, alongside chants of "Allahu akbar (God is greatest)."
After urging the two sides to uphold the accord, the 15-member UN Security Council also called in a statement for an international effort to get "emergency aid" into Gaza.
There had to be "expeditious and unimpeded delivery of such humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment," said the statement.
-- Chorus of approval --
Meanwhile Obama, re-elected this month, led a chorus of approval for Morsi's mediation work.
"The president thanked President Morsi for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal," the White House said.
European Union leaders Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy also welcomed the ceasefire while stressing that the parties must "ensure its implementation and to prevent the restart of violence."
The exiled chief of Hamas, which rules Gaza, said Israel had "failed in all its goals" and thanked Iran for supporting his movement during the conflict.
"After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance," Khaled Meshaal said in Cairo.

Karachi: Bomb found near Imambargah in Orangi Town

KARACHI: A bomb has been found near an Imambargah in Orangi Town Thursday, 
According to initial reports, the bomb was buried in a ground near an Imambargah in Orangi Town. The bomb disposal squad is currently working to diffuse the bomb.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Iraqis locked in rival sectarian narratives

Shia shrine in NajafIn 2003, US-led forces invaded Iraq, dismantled the state, and brought an end to Baathist rule.
Chaos followed, giving rise to civil war and laying the foundations of a new order.
Sectarianism is one of the pillars of that order. Until the invasion of Iraq, it was mostly associated with Lebanon, where Christians and Muslims shared power in peacetime, and fought over it during successive civil wars.
But after the invasion, Iraq lapsed into Sunni-Shia civil war, and almost a decade later, sectarianism has been wired into the Iraqi system.It began with defeat. Abu Muhannad, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein's army who lives in Fallujah, recalls with bitterness the end of his service in 2003, after the army was disbanded.
"A whole segment of Iraqis who served and built Iraq have been forgotten - thrown to the wind overnight," he says.
It was not only army officers. Professors who had no choice but to join the Baath Party lost their jobs in a campaign of "De-Baathification".
"When you're hurt, you don't forget your wound," said Abu Muhannad. "It is a very difficult psychological situation we're in."
As that feeling spread, the Sunni community sank into collective alienation.

EU budget summit offers hours of hard bargaining

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso - file pic
EU leaders are to begin talks on the bloc's seven-year budget, with many of them calling for cuts in line with the savings they are making nationally.
Countries that rely heavily on EU funding, including Poland and its ex-communist neighbours, want current spending levels maintained or raised.
The UK and some other net contributors say cuts have to be made. At stake are 973bn euros (£782.5bn; $1,245bn).
The bargaining in Brussels will continue on Friday, or even longer.
The draft budget - officially called the 2014-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) - was drawn up by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who made cuts to the European Commission's original plan.
France objects to the proposed cuts in agriculture, while countries in Central and Eastern Europe oppose cuts to cohesion spending - that is, EU money that helps to improve infrastructure in poorer regions.
They are the biggest budget items. The Van Rompuy plan envisages 309.5bn euros for cohesion (32% of total spending) and 364.5bn euros for agriculture (37.5%).
The EU budget is a small fraction of what the 27 member states' governments spend in total.
Many hurdles
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says another summit may be necessary early next year if no deal can be reached in Brussels now.
In a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday, the EU Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, complained, "No one is discussing the quality of investments, it's all cut, cut, cut."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that he may use his veto if other EU countries call for any rise in EU spending. The Netherlands and Sweden back his call for a freeze in spending, allowing for inflation.
Any of the 27 countries can veto a deal, and the European Parliament will also have to vote on the MFF even if a deal is reached.
Failure to agree would mean rolling over the 2013 budget into 2014 on a month-by-month basis, putting some long-term projects at risk.
If that were to happen it could leave Mr Cameron in a worse position, because the 2013 budget is bigger than the preceding years of the 2007-2013 MFF. So the UK government could end up with an EU budget higher than what it will accept now.
The European Commission says that the EU budget accounts for less than 2% of public spending EU-wide and that for every euro spent by the EU the national governments collectively spend 50 euro.


Bomb found in karachi near orangi town

Shahbaz Sharif accuses govt of plundering, corruption

LAHORE: Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif met with Khawaja Noor Mohammad Sahoo (Sajada Nasheen Sheikh Fazil Sharif Burewala) in Lahore where the latter along with his fellows announced to join Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Geo News reported Thursday.
At the occasion, Shahbaz Sharif said that PML-N will be successful in the upcoming elections under the leadership of Mian Nawaz Sharif.
He accused the government of plundering, corruption and said that it has pushed the country into darkness.
Shahbaz also predicted the current government’s downfall in the near future.

SC should have observed official holiday: AG

ISLAMABAD: Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir has said that it was holiday today and the Supreme Court should have also observed the same.
Talking to media in Islamabad, the attorney general said that it is against the narrative that the apex court is working despite the official holiday in Islamabad.
Qadir said that he has come to the court after watching news reports.
Replying to a query, the attorney general said that the question regarding the issuance of notification for the appointment of judges in Islamabad High Court should be asked from the president not him.


 mohoram start in pakistan

Whale worship a way of life for Vietnam fishermen

LY SON ISLAND: At a colourful temple next to the turquoise sea off Ly Son Island, weather-beaten Vietnamese fishermen offer up their prayers to an unusual god -- "Ca Ong" or Mr Whale.
Before setting sail on a month-long voyage, Nguyen Hoang Loi makes a pilgrimage to the ornately decorated Tan Temple, which houses the remains of two sacred giant whales.
"Praying to the whale will help us if we encounter trouble at sea," the 45-year-old said as he and his crew prepared to depart from Ly Son, an island of 21,500 people off the coast of central Vietnam.
Up and down Vietnam's 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) of coastline, fishing communities worship giant whales, which they view as their guardian angels -- a religious phenomenon of a type that experts say is unique to the country.
"If fishermen encounter a sudden storm when fishing and don't know where to shelter, then they pray to Mr Whale to help," Ly Son Island's whale priest Tran Ngo Xuong told.
"The whale will appear beside their boat, helping them through the dangerous moments," said Xuong, a 79-year-old retired fisherman who now acts as a custodian at Tan Temple.
After an elaborate prayer ceremony to appease the whale spirits, Xuong unseals two dimly lit rooms behind Tan Temple's ornate altar piece, where the bones of two giant whales are stored.
The whales -- which weighed between 50 and 70 tons when alive and were both more than 20 metres long -- beached in separate incidents on Ly Son's shores over 100 years ago, Xuong said.
The creatures were so big that hundreds of people would normally have struggled to haul them in, but after many prayers and rituals, just a few dozen islanders managed to drag them ashore with the help of a favourable tide, he said.
Beached whales are given traditional Vietnamese funerals -- they are buried for between five and 10 years, and then their bones are excavated and kept above ground.
Whale oil is separated off and stored in huge ceramic containers to be used during ritual cleaning of the whale bones on their death anniversary.


Tomorrow is holyday in pakistan

'Lord of the Rings' volcano erupts in New Zealand

WELLINGTON: A New Zealand volcano used as a backdrop to "The Lord of the Rings" films erupted on Wednesday, spewing a column of ash three kilometres (1.9 miles) above the North Island, scientists said.
Vulcanologists said Mount Tongariro rumbled to life at 1:25 pm (0025 GMT), in a five-minute burst that briefly closed roads, put aviation authorities on high alert and sent nearby hikers scrambling for safety.
"It was completely unexpected, there were no warning signs beforehand," a spokeswoman for official monitoring service GNS Science told.
"We were watching (neighbouring volcano) Ruapehu waiting for an eruption and instead this came out of nowhere."
The mountain in the centre of the North Island was dormant for more than a century until August this year, when a massive blast ripped a new vent in its side and hurled boulders the size of cars more than two kilometres.
While officials said the latest eruption was minor by comparison, they still closed a number of roads for a time and warned aircraft to stay away from the area as a precaution.
About 50 people, including schoolchildren, were hiking in the Tongariro National Park when the eruption occurred but police said they were not in danger and there were no injuries.
Park guide Stuart Barclay said there was a sense of "not quite panic, but getting there" among students as they heard a loud bang and saw a billowing ash cloud rise before them.
"We got them out of there quick-smart," he told national radio.
The national park, which was used to depict the desolate wasteland of Mordor in Peter Jackson's hugely successful "The Lord of the Rings" movies, attracts 800,000 visitors a year to its ski-fields and hiking tracks.
Its three volcanoes do not directly threaten population centres, with the nearest town Taupo some 80 kilometres (49 miles) away, but they have proved deadly in the past.
A eruption at Mount Ruapehu in 1953 caused New Zealand's worst rail disaster when it trigged a massive mudslide that washed away a bridge, causing a passenger train to plunge into the Whangaehu River with the loss of 151 lives.
Further north from the park, Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886 with a death toll estimated at 120-150.
New Zealand lies on the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", where the Earth's tectonic plates collide, making it a hotspot for volcanic and earthquake activity.
Local resident Clint Green said the latest eruption was "pretty spectacular".

Soccer team FC Thun's coach takes players' advice and quits

BERNE: Bernard Challandes has quit as coach of Swiss Super League side FC Thun after the players told him they did not want to work with him anymore.
"After losing against Sport Lausanne, coach Bernard Challandes took the confidence test and asked if the players were 100 percent behind him," the club said in a statement.
"The team told the coach that a large majority were against a future with him. Therefore, the coach accepted the consequences and has given up his position."
The 61-year-old coach has done the rounds of Switzerland's top clubs, coaching Young Boys, Servette Geneva, FC Zurich, FC Sion and Neuchatel Xamax in his lengthy career.
Thun, from the small lakeside town of the same name, are ninth in the 10-team Swiss Super League after a six-match winless run.
The club rose from third tier amateur football in the 1990s to the heady heights of the Champions League in 2005/06, only to drop back down to the second tier two seasons later.
They have finished the last two seasons in fifth after being promoted again in 2009/10.
FC Basel, FC Lucerne and Servette Geneva have changed coaches once each this season while Sion have parted company with two coaches. 

4D scans show fetuses yawn in the womb

LONDON: Growing into a fully formed human being is a long process, and scientists have found that unborn babies not only hiccup, swallow and stretch in the womb, they yawn too.
Researchers who studied 4D scans of 15 healthy fetuses also said they think yawning is a developmental process which could potentially give doctors a new way to check on a baby's health.
While some scientists have previously suggested that fetuses yawn, others disagree and say it is nothing more than a developing baby opening and stretching its mouth.
But writing in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, British researchers said their study was able to clearly distinguish yawning from "non-yawn mouth opening" based on how long the mouth was open.
The researchers did this by using 4D video footage to examine all the times when fetuses opened their mouths.
Nadja Reissland of Durham University's department of Psychology, who led the study, said the function and importance of yawning in fetuses is still unknown, but the findings suggest it may be linked to fetal development and could provide a further indication of the health of the unborn baby.
"Unlike us, fetuses do not yawn contagiously, nor do they yawn because they are sleepy," she said. "Instead, the frequency of yawning in the womb may be linked to the maturing of the brain early in gestation."
The study was carried out on eight female and seven male fetuses from 24 to 36 weeks gestation. The researchers found that yawning declined from 28 weeks and that there was no significant difference in how often boys and girls yawned. 

Aussie scientists un-discover Pacific island

SYDNEY: A South Pacific island identified on Google Earth and world maps does not exist, according to Australian scientists who went searching for the mystery landmass during a geological expedition.
The sizeable phantom island in the Coral Sea is shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia.
The Times Atlas of the World appears to identify it as Sable Island. Weather maps used by the Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel, also say it exists, according to Dr Maria Seton.
But when the Southern Surveyor, which was tasked with identifying fragments of the Australian continental crust submerged in the Coral Sea, steamed to where it was supposed to be, it was nowhere to be found.
"We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 metres (4,620 feet) in that area -- very deep," Seton, from the University of Sydney, told AFP after the 25-day voyage.
"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled. It's quite bizarre.
"How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out."
News of the invisible island sparked debate on social media, with tweeter Charlie Loyd outpointing that Sandy Island is also on Yahoo Maps as well as Bing Maps "but it disappears up close".
On, discussions were robust with one poster claiming he had confirmed with the French hydrographic office that it was indeed a phantom island and was supposed to have been removed from charts in 1979.
Another claimed: "Many mapmakers put in deliberate but unobtrusive and non-obvious 'mistakes' into their maps so that they can know when somebody steals the map data."
Google was not immediately available for comment. But the Google Maps product manager for Australia and New Zealand told the Sydney Morning Herald a variety of authoritative public and commercial sources were used in building maps.
"The world is a constantly changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour," Nabil Naghdy told the newspaper.
The closest landmass to the invisible island is the Chesterfields, a French archipelago of uninhabited coral sand cays. 

Facebook to share data with Instagram, loosen email rules

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc is proposing to combine user data with that of recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram, and will loosen restrictions on emails between members of the social network.
Facebook also said on Wednesday it is proposing to scrap a 4-year old process that can allow the social network's roughly 1 billion users to vote on changes to its policies and terms of services.
Facebook said it may share information between its own service and other businesses or affiliates that Facebook owns to "help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services."
One of Facebook's most significant affiliate businesses is Instagram, a photo-sharing service for smartphone users that Facebook acquired in October for roughly $715 million.
The change could open the door for Facebook to build unified profiles of its users that include people's personal data from its social network and from Instagram, similar to recent moves by Google Inc. In January, Google said it would combine users' personal information from its various Web services - such as search, email and the Google+ social network - to provide a more customized experience.
Google's unified data policy raised concerns among some privacy advocates and regulators, who said it was an invasion of people's privacy. A group of 36 U.S. state attorney generals also warned in a letter to Google that consolidating so much personal information in one place could put people at greater risk from hackers and identity thieves.
Facebook also wants to loosen the restrictions on how members of the social network can contact other members using the Facebook email system.
Facebook said it wanted to eliminate a setting for users to control who can contact them. The company said it planned to replace the "Who can send you Facebook messages" setting with new filters for managing incoming messages.
Asked whether such a change could leave Facebook users exposed to a flood of unwanted, spam-like messages, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said that the company carefully monitors user interaction and feedback to find ways to enhance the user experience.
"We are working on updates to Facebook Messages and have made this change in our Data Use Policy in order to allow for improvements to the product," Noyes said.
Facebook's changes come as the world's largest social networking company with roughly 1 billion users has experienced a sharp slowdown in revenue growth. The company generates the bulk of its revenue from advertising on its website.
The changes are open to public comment for the next seven days. If the proposed changes generate more than 7,000 public comments, Facebook's current terms of service automatically trigger a vote by users to approve the changes. But the vote is only binding if at least 30 percent of users take part, and two prior votes never reached that threshold.
Facebook has said in that past that it was rethinking the voting system and on Wednesday Facebook moved to eliminate the vote entirely, noting that it hasn't functioned as intended and is no longer suited to its current situation as a large publicly traded company subject to oversight by various regulatory agencies.
"We found that the voting mechanism, which is triggered by a specific number of comments, actually resulted in a system that incentivized the quantity of comments over their quality," Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Instead of the vote, Facebook will look for other forms of user feedback on changes, such as an "Ask the Chief Privacy Officer" question-and-answer forum on its website as well as live webcasts about privacy, safety and security.
Facebook, Google and other online companies have faced increasing scrutiny and enforcement from privacy regulators as consumers entrust ever-increasing amounts of information about their personal lives to Web services.
In April, Facebook settled privacy charges with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it had deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. Under the settlement, Facebook is required to get user consent for certain changes to its privacy settings and is subject to 20 years of independent audits.

OGRA increases petrol price by Rs1.57/litre

ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has notified an increase in petrol and a decrease in diesel as well as kerosene oil price with immediate effect, Geo News reported.
According to notification the petrol price has gone up by Rs1.57 per litre.
On the other hand the price of diesel and its light form have come down by Rs3.52 and Rs3.79 a litre respectively.
Kerosene oil price has also seen a cut of Rs4.23/litre.

Asian markets rise, China manufacturing picks up

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly climbed Thursday as Chinese manufacturing data indicated the economy continues to pick up, while the euro extended its gains on hopes a deal on Greece's bailout will be agreed.
Japanese shares hit at six-month high at one point, as the yen weakened further against the dollar and euro on expectations the country's central bank will unveil fresh monetary easing measures.
The Nikkei was up 1.05 percent by the break while Hong Kong added 0.31 percent, Sydney advanced 1.21 percent and Seoul was 0.71 percent higher. However Shanghai fell 0.67 percent, with investors still fretting over corporate woes.
Banking giant HSBC said China's manufacturing activity grew for the first time in more than a year in November, reinforcing recent views that the economy is beginning to pick up after several months of slowdown.
The bank's purchasing managers' index (PMI) stood at 50.4 this month, compared with 49.5 in October. Anything above 50 points to growth and anything below indicates contraction.
It is the first reading above 50 since October 2011 and adds to a slew of upbeat trade, investment and sales figures released this month and last that have fuelled optimism.
"This confirms that the economic recovery continues to gain momentum towards the year end," Qu Hongbin, HSBC's chief economist for China, said in the bank's release.
In Japan the Nikkei surged 1.46 percent to its highest point since May as it continues to benefit from the weakening yen.
Traders have been selling the Japanese unit since Shinzo Abe, the country's opposition leader and the man likely to become prime minister after next month's election, said he would press for unlimited monetary easing to lift the economy.

SC directs AG to appear in IHC judges appointment case

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed Attorney General (AG) to appear before the court by 11 AM today in Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) judges appointment case.
The directives were given as the AG was not present in the hearing.

SC office returns Beg’s review petition

ISLAMABAD: The office of Supreme Court returned the review petition filed by former army chief Aslam Beg challenging the apex court’s verdict in Asghar Khan case.
The court made an objection that the affidavit presented to the apex court’s office didn’t contain signatures of Aslam Beg.

Bangladesh bowled out for 387 in second Test

KHULNA: Bangladesh were bowled out for 387 in their first innings in the second Test against the West Indies in Khulna on Thursday with number 10 batsman Abul Hasan the last man out for a stunning 113.
Hasan and Mahmudullah (76) pair added 184 runs for the ninth wicket -- just 11 runs short of the world record set by South Africa's Mark Boucher and Pat Symcox against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 1998.
Fidel Edwards was the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets for 90 runs.
The West Indies lead the two-Test series 1-0.

Rashid Latif goes to court to demand PCB reform

KARACHI: Pakistan's former captain Rashid Latif went to court Wednesday, demanding sweeping reforms to the national cricket governing body including the election rather than appointment of officials.
He filed a petition against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the southern province of Sindh.
"Latif filed a petition against the PCB for the betterment of cricket," said a statement from the Rashid Latif academy, which coaches young players.
It said the PCB constitution must be overhauled to allow it to operate "in a fair and transparent manner" and provide for the election of officials including the chairman.
The chairmanship is currently a political appointment in the gift of President Asif Ali Zardari. The process has been strongly criticised by experts and former players alike, including the World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) last year directed member countries to free themselves of government interference by June 2013 and to ensure that presidents of cricket boards are elected.
Pakistan opposed the ruling, saying it needs government support to develop the game and ensure security as it tries to revive international cricket which was suspended after the Sri Lankan team was attacked in 2009.
"Latif is convinced that the powers assigned to the patron of PCB are in complete disregard and violation of the constitution as they smack of non-transparent and discriminatory approach," said the statement.
"The blatant and admitted failure of government of Pakistan to amend or pass a new constitution in accordance with the directives of the ICC is a clear cut and flagrant violation," it added.
Latif, who played 37 Tests and 166 one-day internationals for Pakistan, is widely respected for blowing the whistle on match-fixing in 1995.

Warner hits out, injuries strike Proteas

ADELAIDE: Australian opener David Warner was in scintillating form amid a clatter of early wickets as South Africa suffered two injuries on the opening day of the second Test in Adelaide on Thursday.
Warner bounced back from a disappointing performance in the first drawn Test in Brisbane to lead Australia's fightback after the home side slumped to 55 for 3 after winning the toss.
At lunch, Warner had hit 67 runs off just 79 balls in a total of 102 for three, with skipper Michael Clarke unbeaten on 18.
South Africa's joy at their early successes was tempered by a hamstring injury that forced all-rounder Jacques Kallis from the field after he had taken 2-19.
Star paceman Vernon Philander was withdrawn from the team with a back problem before the start of play, making way for Rory Kleinveldt.
Australia's openers negotiated the first nine overs but Kallis, who came on to replace Dale Steyn, struck with his third delivery, dismissing Ed Cowan, caught and bowled for 10.
Rob Quiney, who kept his place when Shane Watson failed to recover from a calf injury, went for an eight-ball duck.
Morne Morkel enticed him to edge to Graeme Smith low down at first slip, leaving the Australians at 44-2 and Ricky Ponting's woes continued when he was bowled third ball for just four, playing inside Kallis.
The former Test skipper was out for a five-ball duck in Brisbane for his third duck in four Test innings against the Proteas and it was little better in Adelaide for Ponting, who stumbled and lost his footing.
Ponting's failure came despite a prolific record at the Adelaide Oval where he has accumulated 1,727 runs with six hundreds, the most runs by an individual at any Test venue in Australia.
But the Proteas faced a fresh injury setback when Kallis pulled up short while bowling the fourth delivery of his fourth over. Grimacing, he walked off for treatment for what proved to be a right hamstring problem.

Ruthless Chelsea sack manager again

Chelsea FC, one of the top clubs in Europe and the Barclays Premier League (BPL), has sacked manager Roberto Di Matteo after last night’s make-or-break Champions League group game with Juventus.
The 3-0 defeat in Italy proved to be the last straw for ruthless owner Roman Abramovich, who has axed Di Matteo despite the Italian guiding the club to glory in the FA Cup and Europe last season.
The Blues have also failed to win any of their last four Premier League games, a run which has seen them slip from top to four points behind leaders Manchester City.
Di Matteo took charge of Chelsea in March after the club had sacked Andre Villas-Boas, initially on a temporary basis.
Chelsea is now looking for a ninth manager ever since Abramovich took control of club in 2003.
According to foreign media sources, the Blues have already approached former Liverpool chief Rafa Benitez as a possible temporary replacement.

West Indies 62-2 at lunch in second Test

KHULNA: Bangladesh dismissed dangermen Kieran Powell and Chris Gayle to reduce the West Indies to 62-2 at lunch on the second day of the second Test in Khulna on Thursday.
Powell, who scored a century in each innings in the first Test, was caught off a short Rubel Hossain delivery for 13 while Gayle was caught behind off a miscued sweep off spinner Sohag Gazi for 25.
At the interval Darren Bravo (11) and Marlon Samuels (12) were at the crease with the tourists 325 behind Bangladesh's first innings total of 387.
Earlier, Bangladesh added 22 runs to their overnight score of 365-8 before the last two wickets fell in quick succession.
Abul Hasan, who on Wednesday became only the second man in 135 years of Test cricket to score a debut hundred while batting at number ten, was the last man out, caught in the slip off a short Fidel Edwards' delivery for 113.
The 20-year-old left-hander hit 14 boundaries and three sixes during his 163-ball knock.
He fell just four short of equalling the highest ever individual score by a number ten batsman set by Walter Read for England against Australia at The Oval in 1884.
His partner Mohammad Mahmudullah was the first wicket to fall in the day, caught and bowled by Darren Sammy for 76.
The Hasan-Mahmudullah partnership added 184 runs for the ninth wicket to lift the home team from a precarious 193-8 on the first day.
It fell just 11 short of the world record ninth-wicket partnership set by South African pair Mark Boucher and Pat Symcox against Pakistan in Johannesburg in 1998.
Edwards was the pick of the bowlers with 6-90, his 12th five-wicket haul in Test matches. Sammy chipped in with 3-74.
The West Indies lead the two-Test series 1-0 on account of their 77-run win in the first Test in Dhaka.

TTP claim Karachi, Rawalpindi attacks

PESHAWAR: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Thursday claimed responsibility for twin bomb attacks targeting Shiite Muslims in Karachi and Rawalpindi, which killed 25 people.
"We carried out the attacks (on Wednesday) in Rawalpindi and Karachi because the Shiite community is engaged in defiling the Prophet," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told by telephone from an undisclosed location.

MQM files petition to become party in voter lists case

ISLAMABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to become party in the voter lists case Thursday, Geo News reported.
According to sources, the petition was filed by Barrister Farogh Nasim on behalf of MQM. The petitioner was of the view that the MQM has complete mandate in the urban areas of Sindh especially in Karachi. Therefore, he should be heard in the case related to electoral rolls of Karachi.

Morsi bows out of D-8 summit

ISLAMABAD: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has bowed out of a scheduled visit to Pakistan, where he was due to attend the Developing Eight summit in Islamabad, the Pakistani government confirmed Thursday.
Morsi -- who was thanked by the United States for helping to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas -- had been slated to join the Islamabad talks but state TV in Egypt said he would now stay home to monitor the truce.
In Pakistan, officials said they did not know why Morsi was no longer coming, but that Vice President Mahmud Mekki had arrived instead.
"The Egyptian vice president is representing his country at the summit on behalf of President Morsi, who is not coming," said one foreign ministry official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
"I don't know the reason for the change of plans by the Egyptian president at the 11th hour," he added.
Pakistan, which wants to use the D8 to improve its international standing, had welcomed Morsi's prospective visit as the first by an Egyptian head of state in four decades.

Toll in Rawalpindi blast rises to 23

ISLAMABAD: Toll in the suicide attack on a Moharram ul Haram procession in Rawalpindi that occurred late on Wednesday night rose to 23 on Thursday, a police rescue spokeswoman told.
The attack, in the Dhok Sayidan area of Rawalpindi, came hours after two back-to-back bomb blasts --40 minutes apart-- near an Imambargah in Karachi, which killed two people and left 16 others wounded.
Sources quoted eyewitnesses as saying that a suicide bomber suddenly entered into the Moharram-ul-Haram procession and detonated the explosives strapped to his body.
"Two unknown people, who did not appear to be mourners, barged in the procession and one of them blew himself up", said eyewitnesses.
It is pertinent to mention that around 3,000-4,000 mourners left one Imamabargah in the form of a procession and were on their way to another, when the bomber struck.
Deeba Shehnaz said the death toll rose from 16 after patients, who were critically wounded in the attack, died from their injuries in various hospitals.
"A total of 23 people have expired and 62 injured, eight of them are children," she said.
"The 23 apparently include the bomber because we have pieces of the body that have apparently not been identified," she added.
The attack came as Pakistan welcomed Muslim leaders for a rare summit in Islamabad that brings together Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey and Pakistan in the Developing Eight.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for twin bomb attacks targeting Shiite Muslims in Karachi and Rawalpindi, which killed 25 people.
"We carried out the attacks (on Wednesday) in Rawalpindi and Karachi because the Shiite community is engaged in defiling the Prophet," spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

China confirms leadership change

Xi Jinping has been confirmed as the man to lead China for the next decade.
Mr Xi led the new Politburo Standing Committee onto the stage at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, signalling his elevation to the top of China's ruling Communist Party.
The party faced great challenges, he said, but would work meet "expectations of both history and the people".
Most of the new committee are seen as politically conservative, and perceived reformers did not get promotion.
Xi Jinping replaces Hu Jintao, under whose administration China has seen a decade of extraordinary growth.
The move marks the official passing of power from one generation to the next.
'Pressing problems'


The new faces contain no surprises - as all of them are from the list of favourite names widely mentioned by the media.
The new line-up shows that 86-year old former leader Jiang Zemin still has important influence, because at least four out of seven new members are widely seen as his allies.
Meanwhile the outgoing leader Hu Jintao's three allies - Li Yuanchao, Liu Yuandong and Wang Yang - did not make it into the Standing Committee.
Mr Hu has also given up his post as the chairman of the Central Military Commission, indicating he will fully retire from his political posts and stay away from political life too.
The prospect of political reform now looks more unlikely as most of the new leaders are regarded as political conservatives.
Mr Xi was followed out onto the stage by Li Keqiang, the man set to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao, and five other men - meaning that the size of the all-powerful Standing Committee had been reduced from nine to seven.
Those five, in order of seniority, were Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, Shanghai party boss Yu Zhengsheng, propaganda chief Liu Yunshan, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and Tianjin party boss Zhang Gaoli.
The new leaders had great responsibilities, Mr Xi said, but their mission was to be united, and to lead the party and the people to make the Chinese nation stronger and more powerful.
"The people's desire for a better life is what we shall fight for," he said.
Corruption had to be addressed, he said, and better party discipline was needed.
"The party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, being divorced from the people, going through formalities and bureaucratism caused by some party officials," Mr Xi said.
"We must make every effort to solve these problems. The whole party must stay on full alert."
'Confidence in continuity'
The new Standing Committee was endorsed in a vote early on Thursday by the new party Central Committee, but in reality the decisions had been made in advance.
The new leaders will gradually take over in the next few months, with Hu Jintao's presidency formally coming to an end at the annual parliament session in March 2013.
Mr Xi has also been named chairman of the Central Military Commission, a Xinhua news agency report said, ending uncertainty over whether that post would be transferred from Hu Jintao immediately.

Xi Jinping

  • Born in Beijing in 1953, father was Xi Zhongxun, a founding member of the Communist Party
  • Sent to work at a remote village for seven years when he was 15
  • Studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University and spent time at a US farm in 1985
  • Was Shanghai party chief in 2007 and became vice-president in 2008
  • Seen as having a zero-tolerance attitude towards corrupt officials
  • Married to well-known Chinese folk singer and actress Peng Liyuan with whom he has a daughter
Mr Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin, held on to the post for two years after he stood down from the party leadership.
New Standing Committee member Wang Qishan has also been named head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection - the party's anti-corruption watchdog.
Mr Xi, a former Shanghai party chief, was appointed to the politburo in 2007.
A "princeling" - a relative of one of China's revolutionary elders - he has spent almost four decades in the Communist Party, serving in top posts in both Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Shanghai.
His speech drew praise online, with a number of netizens liking his more informal style.
"This big boss at least is talking like a human being. I won't comment on the rest," well-known Chinese journalist Gong Xiaoyue said via micro-blog.
Mr Xi, 59, is said to be a protégé of Jiang Zemin, while Li Keqiang is said to have been Mr Hu's preferred successor.
Mr Hu has been the Communist Party chief since he led the Standing Committee line-up out on stage in November 2002.
Under his administration China has seen a decade of rapid development, overtaking Japan as the world's second-largest economy.
But the development has been uneven, leading to a widening wealth gap, environmental challenges and rumbling social discontent over inequality and corruption.

Party numbers

  • Ruled China since 1949
  • 83m members in 2011
  • 77% of members are men
  • Farmers make up one third of membership
  • 6.8m members work for the Party and state agencies
  • Funded by government grant and membership dues
  • Private businessmen allowed to join since 2001
Analysts say there has been division at the very top of the leadership in the lead-up to the party congress, with two rival factions jostling for position and influence.
The transition process has also been complicated by the scandal that engulfed Chongqing party leader Bo Xilai - a powerful high-flier once seen as a strong contender for the top leadership. His wife has been jailed for murdering a British businessman and he looks set to face trial on a raft of corruption-related charges.
That notwithstanding, the power transition process has been orderly, for only the second time in 60 years of Communist Party rule.
"The ostensible lack of drama throughout the week-long session may disappoint sensation seekers," China Daily said in an editorial on Thursday before the new Standing Committee line-up was announced.
"But the confidence in continuity, instead of revolutionary ideas and dramatic approaches, means a better tomorrow is attainable."