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Most comments: 2

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2016-08-30 09:36:55 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Bangkok gloom
Heavy rain clouds move over the central business district in Bangkok
AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha

Most reshares: 2

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2016-08-30 07:51:55 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

THE OTHERS
Other children of Syrian War who didn't grab the headlines.

Most plusones: 4

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2016-08-30 09:36:55 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Bangkok gloom
Heavy rain clouds move over the central business district in Bangkok
AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha

Latest 50 posts

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2016-08-31 04:34:30 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

GWADAR PORT AUTHORITY
A 30-by-45-foot Chinese flag draping the port authority building at Gwadar port

GWADAR PORT AUTHORITY
A 30-by-45-foot Chinese flag draping the port authority building at Gwadar port___

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2016-08-31 04:25:55 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

HANDS OFF BALOCHISTAN ! - CHINA WARNS INDIA

Beijing has broken its silence over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Balochistan with an influential think tank maintaining that “China will have to get involved if India intervenes in Balochistan.”

This sharp response given through an interview to IANS has already elicited a statement from the Congress party that has urged PM Modi to officially ask China what this involvement means.

In an interview to India’s IANS, Hu Shisheng, the director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said that India’s growing ties with the United States, and its new position on the South China Sea were ringing alarm bells in Beijing.

“The latest concern for China is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the RedFort in which... more »

HANDS OFF BALOCHISTAN ! - CHINA WARNS INDIA

Beijing has broken its silence over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Balochistan with an influential think tank maintaining that “China will have to get involved if India intervenes in Balochistan.”

This sharp response given through an interview to IANS has already elicited a statement from the Congress party that has urged PM Modi to officially ask China what this involvement means.

In an interview to India’s IANS, Hu Shisheng, the director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said that India’s growing ties with the United States, and its new position on the South China Sea were ringing alarm bells in Beijing.

“The latest concern for China is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort in which he referred to the issues like Kashmir (occupied by Pakistan) and Balochistan,” Hu said.

“It could be regarded as a watershed moment in India’s policy towards Pakistan. ” he added.

Hu said China fears India may use “anti-government” elements in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan where Beijing is building the $46 billion CPEC -- a key to the success of its ambitious One Road One Belt project.

“There is concern that India may take the same approach, which is believed by the Indian side Pakistan is taking, asymmetrically using anti-government factors in Pakistan,” Hu said according to IANS.

“If this kind of plot causes damage to the CPEC, China will have to get involved,” he said, referring to the alleged involvement of India in backing separatists in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

PM Modi’s decision to put the spotlights on Balochistan, with India now openly embracing what was earlier at best a covert program, was expected to elicit a China response by foreign policy experts here. More so as the CPEC is a prestigious program for China, connecting Xinjiang with the Gwadar port in Balochistan. This corridor passes through PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. India has consistently refused to join or support China’s One Belt, One Road program from the outset.

Hu told IANS, “This will not help Pakistan to become a normal country. And it will also further disturb India-China relations.”

Hu in fact spelt out the Chinese position on India’s relations with the US saying earlier they were not so concerned but the growing relations under PM Modi were sending an “alarming signal to China. It is a concern for China.”

He said it was imperative for India to resist the pressure being exerted by the US and Japan to counter China several issues said that earlier China was not particularly worried about growing India-US relations but now was concerned” Hu pointed out. He said this specifically on the increase in defence, technology and trade ties, referring alo to the Logistics Agreement being signed by India and the US.

“We also know that the US and Japan, as well as Australia, are very keen on getting India in their camp. They are also exerting pressure”he added.“They are also luring India by giving high-technology deals and advanced military weapons. It is up to India whether India can resist this kind of temptation.”

On India’s stand on the South China Sea, Hu added.“In the past, India’s stand on the South China Sea was impartial. Indian is getting more and more involved. This attitude is another concern for China.”

“Our problem is with the US. We can see India is becoming more vocal in issuing joint statements with the US and Japan on the South China Sea,” he added.

China that usually makes its policy known through controlled media, and think tank experts, has sent out what experts here point out, is a clear warning to India through this interview. It has flagged issues of concern. The message is clearly for India to keep out of Balochistan and not disturb multi million dollar projects; to keep out of the South China Sea dispute and not take the side of US and Japan as it has been doing so increasingly; and to go slow on developing this exclusive military relationship with the US as it will impact on India-China ties.

The open warning that China will get involved, is serious and as experts pointed out here, New Delhi will have to factor this in as it moves on both Balochistan and the South China Sea issues.___

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2016-08-31 02:12:21 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

PRESS BRIEFING - US SECRETARY OF STATE JON KERRY, AND COMMERCE SECRETARY PRITZKER; INDIAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER SUSHMS SWARAJ, AND COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES MINISTER NIRMALA SITHARAMAN
Full Transcript:

MINISTER SWARAJ: (In progress, via interpreter) …the finalization of which President Obama and Prime Minister Modi played key roles. We have agreed to scale our collaboration in clean energy and to quickly operationalize the various initiatives that were announced during Prime Minister’s visit to facilitate investment in this sector from U.S. into India. We look forward to working with the U.S. to ensure the success of the International Solar Alliance.

We also agreed to work together on the implementation of Agenda 2030 through its 17 sustainable development goals. The SEDs are entirely consistent with many of our government’s flagship domestic initiatives, such as SkillIndia... more »

PRESS BRIEFING - US SECRETARY OF STATE JON KERRY, AND COMMERCE SECRETARY PRITZKER; INDIAN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER SUSHMS SWARAJ, AND COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES MINISTER NIRMALA SITHARAMAN
Full Transcript:

MINISTER SWARAJ: (In progress, via interpreter) …the finalization of which President Obama and Prime Minister Modi played key roles. We have agreed to scale our collaboration in clean energy and to quickly operationalize the various initiatives that were announced during Prime Minister’s visit to facilitate investment in this sector from U.S. into India. We look forward to working with the U.S. to ensure the success of the International Solar Alliance.

We also agreed to work together on the implementation of Agenda 2030 through its 17 sustainable development goals. The SEDs are entirely consistent with many of our government’s flagship domestic initiatives, such as Skill India, Make In India, Swachh Bharat, and Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. Given the fact that we account for one-sixth of humanity, success or failure in realizing Agenda 2030 or fulfilling the (inaudible) will depend on the success achieved in India.

I thank Secretary Kerry for his (inaudible) continued U.S. support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and permanent membership of the UN Security Council. We both agreed that India’s enhanced global role is in mutual interest. We also had detailed discussions on the developments in our region, particularly Afghanistan. We have agreed to work together to strengthen the national unity government in Afghanistan.

We have decided to widen our consultations to more effectively address the rapidly evolving regional and global situation. We will hold consultations on Africa and on multi-lateral issues within this year. We have also strengthened our cooperation in the area of peacekeeping. In this context we recently launched the first UN peacekeeping course for African partners in New Delhi. This is an apt symbol of our partnership of peace, security, and development in the wider world. We have agreed to strengthen our cooperation in the area of maritime security. Our trilateral with Japan has moved from dialogue into action in key areas of regional connectivity and (inaudible) on the bilateral side.

Our partnership now covers every aspect of human endeavor. In this context, there have been a series of sustained ministerial exchanges in the areas of defense, finance, urban development, commerce and industry, power, environment and forest, petroleum and natural gas, among others. More such exchanges are planned in the coming months. I sought Secretary Kerry’s support for resolution of long-pending issues of totalization and the fee hike for H-1B and L-1 visa that impact our people-to-people exchanges, which is a vital source of strength for our relationship.

Overall, our meeting today has contributed to our efforts to forge a closer partnership with the U.S. in pursuit of our development goals and strategic priorities. We are certain that the India-U.S. partnership will continue to benefit not only both our peoples but also become a factor for peace and stability in the region and the wider world. Thank you.

MODERATOR: May I now invite Secretary for his remarks to the meetings. (Applause).

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good evening and thank you very much. Thank you, Minister Swaraj, for your very thoughtful comments. And thank you for an outstanding dialogue throughout the course of today, and thank you for your partnership on so many important issues. In more than two years of working together, I have to say that you have always lived up to your reputation as a fierce advocate for India’s interests and for India’s citizens, and I know that you have never wavered in your belief about the importance of strengthening the relationship between India and the United States, and we thank you for that.

I also want to thank my colleague and my friend, Secretary Penny Pritzker, and her counterpart, Ms. Minister Sitharaman, both of whom have understood the importance of the commercial ties between our countries and of also bringing our private sector leaders to the table for these discussions. And we had private sector leaders, very important leaders, and Mr. Mistry of the Tata Group and David Cote of Honeywell, and they contributed significantly to this discussion.

Let me just for a moment, on a personal level, make a comment of observation that I made at the end of our meeting today. I’ve had the privilege of coming to India since I think in the 1990’s, if I recall correctly, as a senator. And I had the chance to on occasion talk with various groups about our relationship, and I experienced a period of time when we were struggling to come out of the Cold War still and struggling to build a relationship. In the last two years, I must say, there has been no sense of that. We have really moved amazingly in this relationship, and the evidence of that is that just yesterday, our defense minister in the United States and your defense minister visiting in Washington signed a defense logistics agreement between our countries. Today, we signed a cyber agreement where we will work together on cyber issues. We have topped $15 billion in defense trade between our countries.

We have agreed now to move forward on six Westinghouse nuclear reactors, which will provide energy for 60 million Indians, not to mention an enormous number of jobs. We have some 40 government working groups that are now engaged in working on different issues, and some 70 or so initiatives between our countries. So I think we are witnessing a moment that defines, for certain, a very different and renewed relationship between the United States and India. And all of these steps, and more than I have just mentioned, have strengthened and redefined our dialogue, and they have energized our entire relationship. And I think Sushma would agree with me about that.

To me the wide-ranging talks and constructive talks that we held this afternoon reaffirm something that we can’t take for granted, and that is that when two democracies that are as large, as dynamic, as vibrant, as interdependent as ours get together, we can not only make a big difference for our citizens, but I believe we can make a difference in taking steps that have an impact – a positive impact – on people in the rest of the world. And I was struck by the comment that Sushma made just a moment ago about – this is a discussion that, because of India’s size, does represent more than one-sixth of humanity on this planet. That is an important discussion by definition. That is why President Obama made the U.S.India relationship such a high priority for him and I’m sure it is why Prime Minister Modi did the same, and it’s why our agenda today was such a large agenda. I’m very pleased to report that we made headway on a variety of issues in this second Security & Commercial Dialogue.

To bolster our mutual defense in an age when threats can come from literally anywhere, we committed to a joint cyber framework to reduce cyber crime, to encourage responsible behavior in cyberspace, to improve coordination among our technical experts, and to improve coordination among our law enforcement agencies, and to promote cyber research and development. And we reaffirmed India as our major defense partner and welcomed the signing of this new agreement that took place in Washington. To more effectively counter the threat that is posed by violent extremism within both of our borders and beyond, we agreed to expand the exchange of terrorist screening information, to deepen cooperation in designating terrorist groups at the United Nations, and to expedite mutual requests for legal assistance.

More broadly, we have reiterated our unwavering commitment to the protection of our citizens and to defeating the terrorist mantra of bigotry and of hate.

Let me be clear, the United States continues to support all efforts to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai and the Pathankot attacks to justice, and we cannot and we will not make distinctions between good and bad terrorists. Terror is terror no matter where it comes from or who carries it out.

And to build on our shared leadership in combating climate change, the United States is going to do more to help India upgrade its power grid and work with our private sectors in order to help provide financing for innovative renewable energy projects and clean energy entrepreneurs. That is the only way we will have a chance of adequately meeting the promise of Paris and adequately meeting the challenge of climate change.

Our civil nuclear cooperation will bring affordable, clean energy to tens of millions of Indian households as we move closer in the use of safe, modern, latest-generation modular nuclear power. And my government looks forward to making the promise of Paris a reality and of being one of the countries that will soon officially join the global climate agreement.

Now, to halt unnecessary loss of life and prevent diseases, we intend to develop and start clinical trials for vaccines against dengue and tuberculosis. And to reaffirm our mutual roles as essential players on behalf of security and progress in this region, we will restart trilateral talks between the United States, India, and Afghanistan at the United Nations General Assembly next month. Doing so is going to enable us to determine how best to build on the past gains of securing villages, empowering women, educating students, and promoting good governance across Afghanistan. And I want to thank India for the important contribution it has been making to the efforts in Afghanistan.

Now there were, of course, a lot of other issues that we discussed, including our robust student exchange programs, cooperation in space, support for women’s rights, and making it easier for Indian travelers to enter the United States. The bottom line is that India and the United States are more deeply engaged on more important issues than at any time in the history of our relationship. In other words, we are cooperating and we are working more closely together than ever before, and this is a product of the many interests and the values that we share, and is a process I think that also comes from the deep respect that we have for each other and for the personal relationship that Prime Minister Modi and President Obama have built together.

In closing, I again thank my friend, Minister Swaraj, for her special hospitality and her leadership, and to say that I look forward to our continued collaboration on behalf of peace and security in the months and the weeks to come. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. May I now invite Honorable Minister for Commerce and Industry Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman to make her press remarks.

MINISTER SITHARAMAN: Thank you. We had a fruitful and productive meeting at the second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue meeting which was held today. Both the sides appreciated the intense engagement between India and the United States under various work streams and various economic initiatives under the S&CD mechanism. It was assessed that ties between the United States and India have never been stronger – as reflected by the unprecedented commercial cooperation, high levels of bilateral trade, and highest ever FDI inflows to India in 2015-16, especially from the U.S. In the morning, Secretary Pritzker and I held discussions with the U.S. and the Indian CEOs and took into account their extremely valuable suggestions on economic development initiatives. I thank the U.S. CEO Forum co-chair Mr. Dave Cote and Indian CEO Forum co-chair Mr. Cyrus Mistry for successfully articulating major concerns and recommendations of the CEOs on both the sides, which will form an important input for our ongoing work under the S&CD. A number of recommendations made during the previous two editions have already been acted upon. Based on the CEO forum recommendations we have agreed to take a focused intervention in the following areas: One, we have launched a transparent government e-market place, GeM, developed by DGS&D. We have agreed to look at best practices exchange with GSA Advantage, which deals with government procurement in the US. We will work on best practices on procurement models and will look at collaboration between the Department of Expenditure and the USTDA. Two, taking forward innovation and entrepreneurship work stream, we have agreed to focus our attention on small and medium-scale enterprises. We would be looking at creating a platform for sharing of best practices and technology as also address issues of finance and market access for SMEs and thus promote their integration into the global value chain. We have agreed on program called – on a program called the Silicon Valley Comes to India, which will have experts from USA coming to India to interact with startups and provide the required momentum to Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem. The third is under the Commercial Track of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, Secretary Pritzker and I had extensive discussions on bilateral economic initiatives and reviewed the progress made since the last S&CD under the four work streams relating to infrastructure collaboration and smart cities, ease of doing business, innovation and entrepreneurship, and standards. Both sides welcomed the addition of travel and tourism as a new work stream for future collaboration. We took note of the progress in infrastructure and smart cities collaboration such as the Smart Cities Business Development Mission to India, Reverse Trade Mission to USA by the Andhra officials. It was agreed that the USTDA will collaborate with the Andhra Pradesh Government for facilitating integrated master plan development. And the USTDA, in collaboration with Ajmer and Allahabad, to facilitate their proposal for the Smart City Challenge stage would continue. The collaboration initiated for municipal bonds with Pune would also continue. We were very happy to share that reforms in commercial law such as the bankruptcy code and policies such as Make in India have yielded remarkable benefits facilitating ease of doing business in India. The off-shoots of our constant focus on innovation are there for all to see. India’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index has shot up 15 places this year alone. India and the USA have agreed to co-host the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India, which will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, educators, government officials, and business representatives from all around the world, creating new opportunities for investments, partnership, and collaborations. We have signed the GES Statement of Intent for this event. We have decided to work together to see how the U.S. companies and investment bodies tap the opportunity of India’s infrastructure projects through mechanisms like the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund. Both sides will also facilitate collaboration in research in health sector, specifically focusing on non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular ailments, diabetics, and cancer. We welcome the exchange of best practices in the area of standards and outcomes of the roundtable organized by the CII in association with standards regulators of both the countries. We discussed the NPL and the NIST collaboration which would look at both developments of reference material production and collaboration on physical, mechanical, electronic standards. A technical delegation on standards to U.S. is also proposed which will engage with NIST on reference material production, conformity of assessments, and conformity in standards. BIS will also engage with NIST on TBT Enquiry Point and sector-specific guides. We agreed to encourage the CII and ANSI – the ANSI partnership for development of standards portal and other initiatives as per the MOU signed during last S&CD. We agreed to make a new addition to existing work streams under the S&CD on partnership in the travel and tourism sector. Both sides recognize the huge potential for engagement in advancing bilateral trade in travel and tourism services and it was agreed to observe 2017 as the travel and tourism partnership year. Given the increased tourist movement between both the countries, the cooperation in the areas of best practices in tourism administration and marketing, public-private partnerships, diversification of travel and tourism expertise, niche markets, and promotional activities are likely to benefit both the countries. Both countries discussed their priorities for economic development and the policies initiated to achieve these objectives and agreed to continue their engagement in fulfilling the potential for bilateral trade between the two largest democracies in the world.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: May I now invite Ms. Penny Pritzker, U.S. Commerce Secretary, to deliver her press remarks.

SECRETARY PRITZKER: Let me begin by recognizing my co-chairs, Secretary Kerry, Minister Swaraj, and Minister Sitharaman. Thank you for all of your commitment to elevating the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and strengthening the U.S.India commercial partnership. I also want to recognize the co-chairs of the U.S.-India CEO Forum, Dave Cote and Cyrus Mistry. They injected – and the CEOs that they worked with – they injected recommendations and perspectives of our countries’ private sectors into the bilateral commercial relationship.

In the two years since Secretary Kerry and I first – became the first U.S. cabinet members to meet with Prime Minister Modi, the relationship between the United States and India has blossomed and grown. This is attributed to the progress made through the S&CD and to the real domestic economic reforms undertaken by the Modi government. I applaud the prime minister, Minister Sitharaman, and the Government of India for their ambitious agenda, including the landmark Goods and Services Tax law, the new insolvency and bankruptcy code, and the decision to raise foreign direct investment caps in key sectors.

As a result of the progress through the S&CD and as a result of the Modi government’s reforms, today the United States and India trade more with each other. We invest more in each other and we do more business together than ever before. Our challenge has been to build on that progress by thinking bigger, acting bolder, and delivering real results. And I believe we met that challenge during today’s S&CD. Our governments, as Minister Sitharaman delineated in detail, agree to advance our ongoing work and move forward on a series of new initiatives that will promote our shared goal of a closer, more productive relationship between our nations and our people.

Over the next year, our governments will partner to implement new recommendations from the U.S. India CEO Forum, including facilitating financing for infrastructure and energy projects, the development of India’s smart cities, enhancing digital infrastructure here in India, improving the ease of doing business, and supporting our small businesses, our innovators, and our entrepreneurs. We’re excited about our – that our governments will soon sign a partnership agreement to launch the Global Procurement Initiative, here in India, to encourage the broader adoption of value-based procurement methodologies in India’s civil sector.

We also agreed to strengthen economic ties between U.S. and Indian states and cities, including by highlighting state-level business opportunities and linking U.S. and Indian companies looking to invest with local leaders and economic officials – economic development officials in both of our countries.

Finally, we will inaugurate our first-ever bilateral dialogue on travel and tourism tomorrow. In 2015, the United States welcomed 1.1 million visitors from India, up from nearly about 600,000 Indians who visited the United States in 2008. Last year, India welcomed 1.2 million visitors from the United States. It’s quite obvious the opportunities for growth are tremendous. Our new effort – our first effort, a bilateral dialogue on travel and tourism – will ensure that we’re well positioned to capitalize on our status as travel and tourism partner countries for 2017 and to bring even more visitors to our respective shores.

Today, as we close our second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, the strategic and commercial partnership between the United States and India has never been stronger. In a very short time, we have seen how this dialogue can make us stronger economic partners. However, we have much more to do to reach the incredible potential that exists in our commercial relationship.

I look forward to building upon the trust, the openness, and the honesty we have developed. And I thank Minister Sitharaman for her partnership and leadership. Thank you.

MODERATOR: I thank all four dignitaries for their press remarks. We will now have the Q&A session, which I’ll be conducting together with my U.S. colleague, Mark Toner, who is Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department. The principals have agreed to take a total of four questions, two from the U.S. side and two from the Indian side. When you – I want a show of hands, those who want to ask questions. When you do that, please also identify yourself, the organization that you represent, and which of the four principals you would like to address your question to.

I recognize ANI for the first question from the Indian side.

QUESTION: My question is for – to Secretary Kerry and Sushma Swaraj. Secretary Kerry, India has been a longstanding victim of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. Today in your talks with her, did – what did you convey to – about the U.S. position on this?

(Via interpreter) Are you satisfied with the views which have been expressed in the (off-mike)?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you for the question. I think I answered the question in my opening comments, in which I made it very, very clear that the United States stands in strong partnership with India against all terrorism, no matter where it comes from, no matter what form it takes. And as I said, there’s no good terrorist here and bad terrorist here; terrorism is terrorism. We stand fully behind India in demanding that there be justice with respect to the Mumbai attacks, with respect to other – and we have had conversations with all of the members of the region, frankly, about efforts they need to take to curb terrorism that comes out of their countries. And that is true of everybody, anywhere in the world. So I think it is crystal clear that the United States and India are of exactly – well, of similar mind with respect to the issue of terror and the need to not only prevent it but to bring those to justice who perpetrate it.

MINISTER SWARAJ: (Via interpreter) The second part of your question was related to me. I think after listening to the reply of the Honorable Kerry, you must have been satisfied with the reply in my opening remarks. I had mentioned that America and India – we are both friendly nations. Both of us are friendly nations, and we are one of the largest democracies of the world. And on such issues related to terrorism, some expectations are there, and with those expectations Honorable Kerry spoke to me. He agreed with me on all the four issues. We cannot differentiate amongst the good terrorists, bad terrorists. No country should become a safe haven for terrorism. Mumbai, Pathankot terrorist attacks – we would take strictest possible action against the perpetrators of this crime, and the UN committee which puts sanctions on the terrorists – on that issue also Honorable Kerry supported our stance, and I think he has taken a very positive attitude – positive attitude (inaudible).

MR TONER: First question on the U.S. side is Lesley Wroughton of Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you. To Madam Foreign Minister, I wanted to ask you: What needs to happen for dialogue to resume between India and Pakistan? And how concerned are you that a possible escalation of these tensions and possible further cross-border attacks if no talks are possible?

And then for Secretary Kerry: Can you elaborate a little bit more on the Afghanistan – the trilateral Afghanistan talks that you mentioned? How you – and how you see this perhaps helping to resolve the tensions within the unity government? And is there also a fear that with those talks and what you’re saying today that Pakistan – that you might – that Pakistan might be feeling more isolated as you’ve mentioned about the closer dialogue with India, the Afghan talks, and what you said on terrorism?

MINISTER SWARAJ: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) about Indo-Pak tension, I’m sure you are aware of the fact that there is – we do not create any kind of tensions. Our first issue while dealing with Pakistan was that we want to discuss these bilateral issues peacefully. All kinds of initiatives were undertaken by our government. When this government came to power, at the oath-taking ceremony, prime minister of Pakistan was invited. After that, foreign secretary level talks, we decided to hold these talks.

But a kind of atmosphere was created by them that we had to decide not to hold those talks. When I visited Islamabad and comprehensive bilateral dialogue, this would be started once this decision was taken. And I returned with a decision. But when honorable prime minister of India, he visited Lahore, then what we found, we found there was terrorist haven Pathankot air base. So how can we hold dialogue in such an atmosphere, at least this kind of expectation – aspiration of the – we are having that terrorism and dialogue, both of these things cannot go together.

Therefore, it is not a matter of grave concern, but this is what we aspire and expect, that all these – some actions should be taken against the perpetrators of these crimes. They should be brought to book.

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the first part of your question, the trilateral and what can we hope to accomplish and why, India has been enormously helpful with respect to Afghanistan. Prime Minister Modi has visited Afghanistan twice to inaugurate Afghan’s parliament and also to – most recently to inaugurate the India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam.

There are major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan that India is investing in. I think there’s about $2 billion of Indian investment in Afghanistan. And clearly, it is in India’s interest, as it is in Afghan interests and our interests and Pakistan’s interests, frankly, to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that is no longer under siege from the Taliban or from any other group that tries to use its territory to propagate terror.

So our hope is to be able to strengthen all of the efforts that we have been deeply engaged in for a long period of time through these talks, and perhaps even to find ways ultimately to explore the possibilities of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which is something we have also been seeking through various efforts to engage the Taliban – I might add, under the auspices of the leadership of the Afghan Government. That is a critical component of it. None of this would be done separate from whatever President Ghani and the government will decide they want.

In addition to that, the question of Pakistan feeling isolated because of it, et cetera – I think all of us are in touch with Pakistan in one way or the other. I have most recently talked to both the prime minister and General Raheel Sharif regarding the need for Pakistan to deprive any group of sanctuary. And Sushma has talked about this danger of sanctuary in any place. It is well known that the Haqqani Network and others have operated out of the western part of the country. Lashkar-e Tayyiba is a threat, as we all know, and one that we have all spoken out against and which has had an impact on India directly.

And so it is vital that Pakistan join with other nations in tackling this challenge. And in fairness, in recent weeks and months, they have been moving much more authoritatively in the western part of the country on the strongholds of the Haqqani Network, and I think recently have made difficult decisions in order to carry that elsewhere. So we have to keep working together and stay in communication on these efforts, and that’s exactly what we are doing.

We also are in touch with the unity government in Afghanistan. I have had personal conversations with both President Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Our special envoy, Rick Olsen, and the ambassador, Mike McKinley, are working extremely hard right now with all of the parties, as are others, in encouraging them to resolve the differences that exist. And I think India’s participation, frankly, can only help strengthen those efforts and underscore to the Government of Afghanistan the importance of them being unified, of working through whatever difficulties exist, and of remaining stable in the face of the challenges that they face.

So my hope is that Pakistan, on the contrary, is not isolated by this, but is encouraged by this and finds in this a roadmap for its own choices, because we all need to be engaged simultaneously and in the same direction in tackling this challenge of terrorism. The Government of Pakistan has made it clear to me that they are deeply committed to this effort, and we need to cooperate as much as possible in order to rid ourselves of this scourge that is disrupting life in so many places in so many parts of the world.

And I believe we are – I might just add; this is not part of your question – I am convinced we are on the road to success. It takes a while. Daesh is significantly under pressure in Iraq and in Syria. We have liberated communities from Ramadi to Fallujah to Tikrit to Manbij City in Syria, and so forth. There is not one area, one city, one major plot of land where since last May – a year ago – Daesh has succeeded in assaulting and holding and taking new territory.

So there are obviously big challenges – challenges of communication, of recruitment, of dissatisfaction in certain places that they try to appeal to. But that is the value of the kind of meeting that we had here today. It is to organize our efforts and to make sure we are cooperating as broadly as possible on a global basis, because there isn’t one country in the world – not one – that supports the intentions of a Daesh or of a Boko Haram or of an al-Shabaab or any of these other terrorist entities, and they’re the ones that will be isolated by what we are doing here today.

MODERATOR: Second question from the Indian side. I recognize Elizabeth Roche from Mint.

QUESTION: My question is for Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman. Ma’am, has there been any addressing of India’s concerns on the visa fee hikes from the U.S. side? And on the totalization agreement, has there been any discussion on that in the S&CD, and what kind of assurance have you got from the American side?

MINISTER SITHARAMAN: Yes, both in the S&CD and also in the CEO Forum the issue of visa fees and the totalization have been taken up. The industry spoke during the CEO Forum, and during the S&CD – the Commercial Track – we’ve also raised the issue. I must thank Secretary Pritzker, who came forward proactively and spent some time also with, I understand, industry representatives. And then she’s offered – and with her due consent, I would like to say this – that she will look into this matter definitely, and because there was this feeling by the industry which was voiced during the CEO Forum meeting that probably the Indian industry is under the impression and is pushed to believe that they probably are being targeted. And we do not want – as the industry said, we do not want anything which would affect the mutual trust that prevails between India and the United States.

As a result, to dispel the feeling of being targeted and to also ensure that the feeling of trust which prevails between the two countries, Penny Pritzker came up voluntarily during the meetings, on her own said she would take it up, will look into this matter, and see what progresses. So I’m indeed thankful, because that was a very candid and open, forthcoming statement from the Commerce Secretary. We did raise it. We voiced our concern. We gave estimates of what damage it would do to our industry too. Thank you.

SECRETARY PRITZKER: Hi. I would just like to make a couple comments on this subject. If you step back and think the goal of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is to strengthen one of the world’s most significant partnerships, and when industry expresses concern that they’re being targeted, it’s absolutely imperative that we look into that issue. I don’t believe that that’s true because the United States recognizes the enormous contribution of foreign workers to our economy, including in our workers from India, and increasing U.S. and Indian business-to-business ties has been one of our highest priorities. And we greatly value the Indian companies that invest in our economy, and in fact, Indian foreign direct investment into the United States is around $11.8 billion as of 2015.

And in fact, if you look at the data, Indians are the beneficiaries in Fiscal Year 2015 of about 69 percent of all H-1B visas and 30 percent of all L-1 visas issued worldwide. And any changes that have been made to our H-1B and L-1 visa application process – they’re not limited or focused on Indian nationals. They’re really – they’re an across-the-board change. But given the concern expressed by Indian industry, I committed to Minister Sitharaman to look into this and to report back, so I will be working with the State Department to understand how we’re implementing the new laws that we have.

MR TONER: Thank you. The final question will go to Nick Wadhams from Bloomberg.

QUESTION: For Secretary Pritzker and Commerce Minister Sitharaman, on the issue of TPP and TTIP, it looks like TTP is – sorry, TPP is opposed by both U.S. president candidates, and Germany and France are now saying that TTIP should not proceed. So do you believe that we’re sort of returning to a system where bilateral treaties and trade agreements are sort of the order of the day?

And then, in line with that, I noticed over the course of the day there was no mention of the BIT between India and the United States. Is that an indication that an investment treaty is sort of dead in the water, that there’s too much work to be done on that right now? And could you talk a little about the importance of proceeding with the BIT? Thank you.

SECRETARY PRITZKER: Let me begin by saying the trade agenda for the United States has been a top priority for President Obama and for all of us in the Administration, and trade is always difficult to get done, and particularly multilateral trade agreements. TPP is an agreement that we’ve completed negotiation. We’re in a process to see if we can get this passed. Our President and our entire Administration remain completely committed to that agreement. It’s not only an important economic agreement, but it’s an important strategic agreement for the United States. It really underscores part of our commitment to our partners throughout the Asia Pacific region who want us and want our businesses to be more present. They want to adopt the high standards of labor, standards – environmental standards, e-commerce standards that will enable them to trade as first world nations. And so this is not an agenda that we are forgoing at all.

As it relates to the BIT with India, I make the same statement I made to the previous question, which is this is my third visit to Delhi. This is – I’ve had many, many meetings with Minister Sitharaman and our teams have met because we are focused on strengthening one of the world’s most significant partnerships both from the strategic standpoint and the commercial standpoint, which is why we elevated the commercial side of our relationship. And one of my proudest accomplishments as Secretary of Commerce is the commitment we’ve made to that elevating of our economic ties between the United States and India and the progress that we’ve made towards achieving the vision that President Obama and Prime Minister Modi set out for us, which is to strengthen, deepen, and broaden our commercial and economic engagement.

As it relates specifically to the BIT, a high-standard U.S.-India BIT would provide real economic benefits to both of our countries and would significantly boost India’s efforts to attract U.S. investment. But it’s not in anyone’s interest or neither of our interest to negotiate an agreement that doesn’t meet those high standards. In the meantime, we’ve made enormous progress, and whether it’s facilitating financing for energy projects, infrastructure projects; whether it’s investment in our – India’s smart cities; enhancing the digital infrastructure here in India; improving ease of doing business; supporting small businesses, innovation, entrepreneurship; growing our travel and tourism, we have a robust agenda where enormous progress is being made.

MINISTER SITHARAMAN: (Inaudible) to respond on that? On the model investment treaty, the model investment treaty that we have made has been shared with the U.S. authorities. We certainly want to have imports coming from them. Based on that, we would like to continue the dialogue towards a BIT.

As regards TTIP and TPP, you observed rightly the presidential candidates of the U.S. have both spoken about it. At this stage, there’s nothing that we can comment. We certainly will wait to see how after the elections the TPP is progressing.

As regards the European Union, we will also wait to have a dialogue (inaudible) European Union. We’ve asked for dates. So for India, it’s a time to wait and watch, although we are eager to continue talking.

MODERATOR: This concludes the joint press interaction. Thank you.___

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2016-08-31 01:33:55 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

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2016-08-31 00:26:41 (0 comments; 1 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Rally in Chicago to protest against State Violence and HR Violations in Kashmir.

Rally in Chicago to protest against State Violence and HR Violations in Kashmir.___

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2016-08-31 00:12:11 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Rally in Chicago to protest against State Violence and HR Violations in Kashmir.

Rally in Chicago to protest against State Violence and HR Violations in Kashmir.___

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2016-08-30 23:48:00 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

INDIA's ANGRY DALITS RISE AGAINST AGE-OLD CASTE PREJUDICES

The video footage posted on social media by India's self-proclaimed cow saviors was brutal. It showed four bare-chested men tied with ropes to a car, flinching as an angry group of men took turns beating them with wooden sticks, belts and iron rods. Their crime: skinning a dead cow.
The savage beating of the men — all "Dalits" from the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy — in the small town of Una in the western state of Gujarat last month stirred outrage across the country. The men were beaten by a group of upper-caste men, highlighting how the rigid social hierarchy persists more than 65 years after India instituted laws banning caste discrimination.

http://bigstory.ap.org/6ffa3736a8154dcfb9efb69b14d51b54

INDIA's ANGRY DALITS RISE AGAINST AGE-OLD CASTE PREJUDICES

The video footage posted on social media by India's self-proclaimed cow saviors was brutal. It showed four bare-chested men tied with ropes to a car, flinching as an angry group of men took turns beating them with wooden sticks, belts and iron rods. Their crime: skinning a dead cow.
The savage beating of the men — all "Dalits" from the lowest rung of India's caste hierarchy — in the small town of Una in the western state of Gujarat last month stirred outrage across the country. The men were beaten by a group of upper-caste men, highlighting how the rigid social hierarchy persists more than 65 years after India instituted laws banning caste discrimination.

http://bigstory.ap.org/6ffa3736a8154dcfb9efb69b14d51b54___

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2016-08-30 23:36:46 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Thousands organize freedom rally in Shopian village despite forces’ raid
Aug 30 2016

The participants were carrying banners with messages like ‘No development, no jobs, only freedom from India’, ‘Right to Self-determination’ and ‘Hum kya chahte, Azadi’.

Thousands organize freedom rally in Shopian village despite forces’ raid
Aug 30 2016

The participants were carrying banners with messages like ‘No development, no jobs, only freedom from India’, ‘Right to Self-determination’ and ‘Hum kya chahte, Azadi’.___

2016-08-30 23:30:13 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST KASHMIRIS DEMANDING RIGHT OF SELF DETERMINATION - THE VICTIMS OF INDIA's PELLET GUNS

https://www.facebook.com/hameedurrehmanansari/videos/1450634444970847/

STATE VIOLENCE AGAINST KASHMIRIS DEMANDING RIGHT OF SELF DETERMINATION - THE VICTIMS OF INDIA's PELLET GUNS

https://www.facebook.com/hameedurrehmanansari/videos/1450634444970847/___

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2016-08-30 22:45:03 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Winners at the US Open in the past 10 years

Winners at the US Open in the past 10 years___

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2016-08-30 22:34:45 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Nepal bans Indian police couple for faking Everest climb

Nepal has imposed a 10-year mountaineering ban on an Indian couple who faked photographs purporting to show them at the top of Mount Everest, an official said Tuesday.
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, both police constables, said they reached the top of the world’s highest mountain on May 23.
Later investigations proved the photos submitted by the couple showed they had superimposed themselves and their banners on photos taken by another Indian climber of his Everest summit.

Nepal bans Indian police couple for faking Everest climb

Nepal has imposed a 10-year mountaineering ban on an Indian couple who faked photographs purporting to show them at the top of Mount Everest, an official said Tuesday.
Dinesh and Tarakeshwari Rathod, both police constables, said they reached the top of the world’s highest mountain on May 23.
Later investigations proved the photos submitted by the couple showed they had superimposed themselves and their banners on photos taken by another Indian climber of his Everest summit.___

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2016-08-30 22:20:00 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Part of a series of dog portraits to help sheltered pups get adopted. Baby Girl was abandoned on the side of a motorway in Arkansas and had been seen in the same spot for three days before being rescued.

Part of a series of dog portraits to help sheltered pups get adopted. Baby Girl was abandoned on the side of a motorway in Arkansas and had been seen in the same spot for three days before being rescued.___

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2016-08-30 22:14:43 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

A zookeeper looks after a newborn king colobus monkey at Paignton Zoo.

A zookeeper looks after a newborn king colobus monkey at Paignton Zoo.___

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2016-08-30 22:05:32 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Lightning strikes close to wind turbines in a wind energy park during a thunderstorm near Sieversdorf in eastern Germany.

Lightning strikes close to wind turbines in a wind energy park during a thunderstorm near Sieversdorf in eastern Germany.___

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2016-08-30 21:52:27 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

A young girl selling cigarettes in the rebel held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 30, 2016.
REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

A young girl selling cigarettes in the rebel held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 30, 2016.
REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail___

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2016-08-30 21:21:46 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Israel's military overnight destroyed the home of a Palestinian accused of involvement in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank that led to the death of a rabbi, it said Tuesday.
The army said it used explosives to destroy the home of Mohammed Abed Almajid Mohammed El-Amaira, 38, in Dura, southwest of the West Bank city of Hebron.
Israel routinely demolishes homes of Palestinian assailants in what it says is a means to deter further attacks
AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh

Israel's military overnight destroyed the home of a Palestinian accused of involvement in a shooting attack in the occupied West Bank that led to the death of a rabbi, it said Tuesday.
The army said it used explosives to destroy the home of Mohammed Abed Almajid Mohammed El-Amaira, 38, in Dura, southwest of the West Bank city of Hebron.
Israel routinely demolishes homes of Palestinian assailants in what it says is a means to deter further attacks
AFP Photo/Jaafar Ashtiyeh___

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2016-08-30 21:06:26 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

UN HAILS SUSPENSION OF FRANCE's BURKINI BAN, SLAMS 'STIGMATISATION'
France's burkini bans a 'grave and illegal breach' of basic freedoms and a "stupid reaction" to recent extremist attacks - UN human rights office

Press briefing by Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
"We welcome last Friday’s decision by France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, to suspend the ban adopted in the seaside town of Villeneuve-Loubet on supposedly inappropriate beachwear – which had been widely interpreted as targeting the burkini and other forms of dress worn by Muslim women.
We call on the authorities in all the other French sea-side towns and resorts that have adopted similar bans to take note of the Conseil d’Etat’s ruling that the ban constitutes a grave and illegal breach of fundamentalfreedoms. W... more »

UN HAILS SUSPENSION OF FRANCE's BURKINI BAN, SLAMS 'STIGMATISATION'
France's burkini bans a 'grave and illegal breach' of basic freedoms and a "stupid reaction" to recent extremist attacks - UN human rights office

Press briefing by Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
"We welcome last Friday’s decision by France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, to suspend the ban adopted in the seaside town of Villeneuve-Loubet on supposedly inappropriate beachwear – which had been widely interpreted as targeting the burkini and other forms of dress worn by Muslim women.
We call on the authorities in all the other French sea-side towns and resorts that have adopted similar bans to take note of the Conseil d’Etat’s ruling that the ban constitutes a grave and illegal breach of fundamental freedoms. We urge all remaining local authorities which have adopted similar bans to repeal them immediately, rather than exploit the limited geographical scope of this particular decision in order to keep their highly discriminatory bans in place until the end of the current holiday season.
According to international human rights standards, limitations on manifestations of religion or belief, including choice of clothing, are only permitted in very limited circumstances, including public safety, public order, and public health or morals. In addition, under international human rights law, measures adopted in the name of public order must be appropriate, necessary, and proportionate.
We fully understand – and share -- the grief and anger generated by the terrorist attacks carried out in France in recent months, including the atrocious 14 July attack in Nice. However, these decrees do not improve the security situation but rather fuel religious intolerance and the stigmatization of Muslims in France, especially women. By stimulating polarization between communities, these clothing bans have only succeeded in increasing tensions and as a result may actually undermine the effort to fight and prevent violent extremism, which depends on cooperation and mutual respect between communities.
Clearly, individuals wearing burkinis, or any other form of clothing for that matter, cannot be blamed for the violent or hostile reactions of others. Any public order concerns should be addressed by targeting those who incite hatred or react violently, and not by targeting women who simply want to walk on the beach or go for a swim wearing clothing they feel comfortable in.
Nor can it be claimed that such a ban on beachwear is necessary on grounds of hygiene or public health.
Dress codes such as the anti-burkini decrees disproportionately affect women and girls, undermining their autonomy by denying them the ability to make independent decisions about how to dress, and clearly discriminate against them. In addition, as has been widely noted, the manner in which the anti-burkini decrees have been implemented in some French resorts has been humiliating and degrading.
Achieving gender equality requires understanding the barriers that prevent women and girls from making free choices, and creating an environment which supports their own decision-making, including but not limited to choice of dress. Gender equality cannot be achieved by restricting individual freedoms including by policing what individual women choose to wear."___

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2016-08-30 20:53:50 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

THIS FISH's APPETITE COULD SAVE CORAL REEFS - IF WE CURB OURS !

Sandy, white beaches and bountiful coral reefs are inextricably linked to the image of the Caribbean. Today, both are under threat because of our taste for the beak mouthed, rainbow coloured parrotfish.

It is estimated that as much as a half of all Caribbean coral reefs were lost since the 1970s. And the future looks bleak for the remaining 50 per cent, which could disappear in the next 20 years, stifled by overgrown algae.
The loss of grazers, such as the parrotfish and sea urchins, is a key driver of coral decline in the region, according to the Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, a report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UN Environment.
The parrotfish spend up to 90 per cent of their days grazing on the overgrowth of... more »

THIS FISH's APPETITE COULD SAVE CORAL REEFS - IF WE CURB OURS !

Sandy, white beaches and bountiful coral reefs are inextricably linked to the image of the Caribbean. Today, both are under threat because of our taste for the beak mouthed, rainbow coloured parrotfish.

It is estimated that as much as a half of all Caribbean coral reefs were lost since the 1970s. And the future looks bleak for the remaining 50 per cent, which could disappear in the next 20 years, stifled by overgrown algae.
The loss of grazers, such as the parrotfish and sea urchins, is a key driver of coral decline in the region, according to the Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, a report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UN Environment.
The parrotfish spend up to 90 per cent of their days grazing on the overgrowth of algae on corals, helping to maintain a healthy ecological balance between the two groups of organisms. As they go along, they chip away the calcium carbonate exoskeleton of corals with their beak-shaped mouths. These bits of corals are released back to the environment as fish droppings and are deposited as sand on the famous white Caribbean beaches. A single parrotfish can produce hundreds of kilograms of sand throughout its lifetime, making it invaluable to the tourism industry.
For years, the parrotfish, commonly found in the shallow tropical waters of the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, have been consumed at unsustainable rates. Today, conservation and fisheries management strategies are urgently needed to preserve these beautiful fish and the marine ecosystems they help to maintain.
A report by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of United States found that corals can remain resilient if less than 10 per cent of fishable parrotfish biomass is harvested and a minimum size of 30 centimetres is implemented.___

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2016-08-30 20:43:14 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

WATER POLLUTION - WHAT CAN BE DONE ?
Policy brief by United Nations Environment Programme

Although water pollution is serious and getting worse in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the majority of rivers on these three continents are still in good condition, and there are great opportunities for short-cutting further pollution and restoring the rivers that need to be restored. In previous points the focus was on the extensive reaches of rivers where water quality is poor and further deteriorating. But the other side of the coin is that many stretches of rivers are not yet polluted:
• About one half to two-thirds of all river reaches (in Latin America, Africa and Asia) have a low level of pathogen pollution
• More than three-quarters have a low level of organic pollution, and
• About nine-tenths have low salinity pollution.

It is still possible to prevent theseclean... more »

WATER POLLUTION - WHAT CAN BE DONE ?
Policy brief by United Nations Environment Programme

Although water pollution is serious and getting worse in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the majority of rivers on these three continents are still in good condition, and there are great opportunities for short-cutting further pollution and restoring the rivers that need to be restored. In previous points the focus was on the extensive reaches of rivers where water quality is poor and further deteriorating. But the other side of the coin is that many stretches of rivers are not yet polluted:
• About one half to two-thirds of all river reaches (in Latin America, Africa and Asia) have a low level of pathogen pollution
• More than three-quarters have a low level of organic pollution, and
• About nine-tenths have low salinity pollution.

It is still possible to prevent these clean river reaches from becoming heavily polluted. It is also possible to begin restoring the river reaches that are already polluted. Many actions can be taken to avoid the increase in pollution and restore polluted freshwaters:
1. Monitoring – More understanding is needed about the intensity and scope of the global water quality challenge. For this understanding, it is urgent to expand the monitoring of water quality and drivers of deterioration, especially in developing countries and in countries affected by rapid demographic, socioeconomical and climate change. At the international level, GEMS/Water will play a key role in these efforts.
2. Assessments – Comprehensive national and international assessments of the global water quality challenge are needed. These assessments are needed for pointing the way to priority locations and actions for dealing with water pollution.
3. New and old management and technical options – Developing countries have an opportunity to not only employ traditional wastewater treatment, but also to draw on many more new management and technical options for managing water quality including naturebased solutions.
4. Setting up effective institutions – An essential part of managing water quality is setting up institutions that promote action and overcome barriers to controlling water pollution.

Coping with the global water quality challenge is closely connected to many other priorities of society such as food security and health. Therefore, actions to protect water quality should be embedded in the larger concept of sustainability.
The case studies showed that the challenge of protecting water quality is intertwined with many other tasks of society – providing food, developing the economy, and providing safe sanitation. Therefore, over the coming years it will be very important to link goals for water quality with other goals of the Post 2015 Agenda and the new Sustainable Development Goals.___

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2016-08-30 20:29:23 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS FACE HEALTH RISK AS WATER POLLUTION RISES ACROSS THREE CONTINENTS
Tue, Aug 30, 2016

O- Pathogen and organic pollution rises in more than 50% of river stretches in Africa, Asia and Latin America
O- Asia hit hardest by rise in severe pathogen pollution with up to a half of all river stretches affected
O- Up to 323 million people on three continents at risk of infection from diseases caused by pathogens in water

The worrying rise in the pollution of surface waters in Asia, Africa and Latin America also threatens to damage vital sources of food and harm the continents' economies, says UN Environment in its latest report, Snapshot of the World's Water Quality. By making access to quality water even more difficult, water pollution also threatens to breed further inequality, hitting the most vulnerable - women, children and the poor - the... more »

HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS FACE HEALTH RISK AS WATER POLLUTION RISES ACROSS THREE CONTINENTS
Tue, Aug 30, 2016

O- Pathogen and organic pollution rises in more than 50% of river stretches in Africa, Asia and Latin America
O- Asia hit hardest by rise in severe pathogen pollution with up to a half of all river stretches affected
O- Up to 323 million people on three continents at risk of infection from diseases caused by pathogens in water

The worrying rise in the pollution of surface waters in Asia, Africa and Latin America also threatens to damage vital sources of food and harm the continents' economies, says UN Environment in its latest report, Snapshot of the World's Water Quality. By making access to quality water even more difficult, water pollution also threatens to breed further inequality, hitting the most vulnerable - women, children and the poor - the hardest.
Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist of UN Environment, said, "The increasing amount of wastewater being dumped into our surface waters is deeply troubling. Access to quality water is essential for human health and human development. Both are at risk if we fail to stop the pollution. "Luckily it is possible to begin restoring rivers that have already been heavily polluted and there is clearly still time to prevent even more rivers from becoming contaminated. It is vital the world works together to combat this growing menace."
Population growth, increased economic activity, the expansion and intensification of agriculture, and an increase in the amount of untreated sewage discharged into rivers and lakes are the main reasons behind the troubling rise in surface water pollution in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Pathogen pollution and organic pollution rose in more than 50 per cent of river stretches from 1990 2010 on all three continents, while salinity pollution has risen in nearly one third, the UN report finds.

PATHOGEN POLLUTON:
Severe pathogen pollution, the rise of which is largely down to the expansion of sewer systems that discharge untreated wastewater into surface waters, is estimated to affect around a quarter of Latin American river stretches, around 10 to 25 per cent of African river stretches and up to one-half of Asian river stretches.
In some countries, more than 90 per cent of the population relies on surface waters as their source of drinking water. These waters - which are also used to prepare food, to irrigate crops and for recreation - pose a major threat to human health when contaminated.
About 3.4 million people die each year from diseases associated with pathogens in water, like cholera, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, ascariasis and diarrheal diseases. Many of these diseases are due to the presence of human waste in water.
UN Environment estimates that up to 25 million people are at risk of infection from these diseases in Latin America, up to 164 million in Africa and up to 134 million in Asia.
The solution is not only to build more sewers but to treat wastewater.

ORGANIC POLLUTION:
Severe organic pollution, which is caused when large amounts of decomposable organic compounds are released into water bodies, now affects around one out of every seven kilometres of all river stretches in Latin America, Africa and Asia. This type of pollution can lead to the complete deoxygenation of water bodies, posing a major threat to freshwater fisheries that provide humans with the sixth most important source of animal protein and, in developing countries, employ 21 million fishermen and create 38.5 million related jobs.

SALINITY:
Severe and moderate salinity pollution already affects around one-tenth of all river stretches in Latin America, Africa and Asia. High salinity levels, which occur when humans dump salty wastewater from mines, irrigation systems and homes into rivers and lakes, make it even harder for the world's poorest farmers to irrigate their crops. Salinity pollution has increased between 1990 and 2010 in almost one-third of all rivers on the three continents.

EUTROPHICATION:
Agriculture has intensified and expanded as the world seeks to meet the growing food demands of a booming population. This has led to an increase in the amount of phosphorus from fertilizers and pesticides that pollute waterbodies. The resulting eutrophication can lead to a boom in nuisance plants and algal blooms, as well as changes in ecosystem structure and fish species.
More than half of the total phosphorus loads in 23 out of 25 major lakes worldwide are from human sources - inorganic fertilizer, livestock waste, human sewage. Most of the major lakes in Latin America and Africa now have higher levels of phosphorus than in 1990.

SOLUTIONS TO THE WATER QUALITY CHALLENGE:
There is still time to tackle water pollution. Better water monitoring, especially in developing countries, is needed to understand the scale of the challenge around the world and to identify key hotspots. Once in-depth assessments have been done there are a raft of new and old methods that can help to reduce the pollution at source, treat polluted water before it enters waterbodies, recycle wastewater for irrigation and protect ecosystems by, for example, restoring wetlands to remove pollutants from urban or agricultural run-off.
"There is no doubt that we have the tools needed to tackle this growing problem," said McGlade. "It is now time to use these tools to combat what is slowly becoming one of the greatest threats to human health and development around the world."

Read full Report:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/peacealliance/942210985908185/___

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2016-08-30 19:35:41 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

HARI MERDEKA !!!

HARI MERDEKA !!!___

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2016-08-30 09:36:55 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 4 +1s; )Open 

Bangkok gloom
Heavy rain clouds move over the central business district in Bangkok
AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha

Bangkok gloom
Heavy rain clouds move over the central business district in Bangkok
AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha___

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2016-08-30 09:34:06 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Honoring Juan
Fans sing in front of a statue of late Mexican singer, composer, and producer Juan Gabriel in Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, following his death on August 28, 2016 in Santa Monica, California from a heart attack
AFP / Ronaldo Schemidt

Honoring Juan
Fans sing in front of a statue of late Mexican singer, composer, and producer Juan Gabriel in Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, following his death on August 28, 2016 in Santa Monica, California from a heart attack
AFP / Ronaldo Schemidt___

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2016-08-30 09:31:57 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 


A Sri Lankan monkey eats a flower at the Rangiri Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya Buddhist pilgrimage site in Dambulla
AFP / Ishara S. Kodikara


A Sri Lankan monkey eats a flower at the Rangiri Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya Buddhist pilgrimage site in Dambulla
AFP / Ishara S. Kodikara___

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2016-08-30 09:24:12 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

Notting Hill
A performer poses on the second day of the Notting Hill Carnival in west London
AFP / Daniel-Leal Olivas

Notting Hill
A performer poses on the second day of the Notting Hill Carnival in west London
AFP / Daniel-Leal Olivas___

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2016-08-30 09:09:03 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

CHILDREN ARE THE WORST SUFFERERS OF WAR IN SYRIA

CHILDREN ARE THE WORST SUFFERERS OF WAR IN SYRIA___

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2016-08-30 08:59:05 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

کئی سراب ملے تشنگی کے راستے میں - رکاوٹیں ہیں بہت روشنی کے راستے میں

MAYOR OF KARACHI TAKES OATH OF OFFICE

KARACHI HAS SUFFERED A LOT - MAY THE NEW CITY LEADERSHIP WORK POSITIVELY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS OF KARACHI

MAY ALLAH BLESS KARACHI !

کئی سراب ملے تشنگی کے راستے میں - رکاوٹیں ہیں بہت روشنی کے راستے میں

MAYOR OF KARACHI TAKES OATH OF OFFICE

KARACHI HAS SUFFERED A LOT - MAY THE NEW CITY LEADERSHIP WORK POSITIVELY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS OF KARACHI

MAY ALLAH BLESS KARACHI !___

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2016-08-30 08:08:20 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

BANGLADESH SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS JAMAAT-I-ISLAMI LEADER MIR QUASEM ALI's DEATH SENTENCE

The Supreme Court rejected Mir Quasem Ali's last attempt to overturn the death penalty handed down two years ago by the domestic tribunal for murders committed during Bangladesh's 1971 independence conflict.
"Now he has a chance to seek presidential clemency. Or else the verdict could be executed anytime whenever the state wants," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters.

Five opposition leaders including four leading Islamists have already been executed for war crimes since 2013. They were all hanged just days after their appeals were rejected by the Supreme Court.
Their families said they had refused to seek a presidential pardon as they did not want to legitimise the whole trials process.

BANGLADESH SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS JAMAAT-I-ISLAMI LEADER MIR QUASEM ALI's DEATH SENTENCE

The Supreme Court rejected Mir Quasem Ali's last attempt to overturn the death penalty handed down two years ago by the domestic tribunal for murders committed during Bangladesh's 1971 independence conflict.
"Now he has a chance to seek presidential clemency. Or else the verdict could be executed anytime whenever the state wants," Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters.

Five opposition leaders including four leading Islamists have already been executed for war crimes since 2013. They were all hanged just days after their appeals were rejected by the Supreme Court.
Their families said they had refused to seek a presidential pardon as they did not want to legitimise the whole trials process.___

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2016-08-30 07:51:55 (0 comments; 2 reshares; 3 +1s; )Open 

THE OTHERS
Other children of Syrian War who didn't grab the headlines.

THE OTHERS
Other children of Syrian War who didn't grab the headlines.___

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2016-08-30 06:51:11 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

دیکھو مجھے! جو دیدۂ عبرت نگاہ ہو
میری سنو! جو گوشِ نصیحت نیوش ہے

A wall hanging found on the ground near "90 Karachi".

دیکھو مجھے! جو دیدۂ عبرت نگاہ ہو
میری سنو! جو گوشِ نصیحت نیوش ہے

A wall hanging found on the ground near "90 Karachi".___

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2016-08-30 06:41:16 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

___

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2016-08-30 06:37:39 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 2 +1s; )Open 

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2016-08-30 06:31:11 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

US-INDIA JOINT STATEMENT ON THE VISIT OF MINISTER OF DEFENCE MANOHAR PARRIKAR TO THE UNITED STATES
Aug. 29, 2016

"At the invitation of U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Minister of Defence of India Manohar Parrikar made his second official visit to the United States Aug. 29-31. In addition to his official meetings at the Pentagon and joint visit to the 9/11 Memorial with Secretary Carter, Minister Parrikar also met with the leadership of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) and visited U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). He will also visit the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Joint Base Langley-Eustis for a tour of the Air Combat Command (ACC) and the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Wing. In addition, he will interact with representatives of U.S. defense industry during the visit.

The defense relationship between... more »

US-INDIA JOINT STATEMENT ON THE VISIT OF MINISTER OF DEFENCE MANOHAR PARRIKAR TO THE UNITED STATES
Aug. 29, 2016

"At the invitation of U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Minister of Defence of India Manohar Parrikar made his second official visit to the United States Aug. 29-31. In addition to his official meetings at the Pentagon and joint visit to the 9/11 Memorial with Secretary Carter, Minister Parrikar also met with the leadership of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) and visited U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). He will also visit the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and Joint Base Langley-Eustis for a tour of the Air Combat Command (ACC) and the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Wing. In addition, he will interact with representatives of U.S. defense industry during the visit.

The defense relationship between India and the United States is based on the two countries' shared values and interests, and their abiding commitment to global peace and security. During their meeting, Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter discussed the wealth of progress in bilateral cooperation and the deepening strategic partnership between the United States and India. The visit – their sixth interaction to date – demonstrates the importance both sides place on strengthening defense ties across many areas: from increased strategic and regional cooperation, to deepened military-to-military exchanges, to expanded collaboration on defense technology and innovation.

Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter discussed India’s “Major Defense Partner” designation, announced during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Washington in June. They agreed on the importance this framework will provide to facilitate innovative and advanced opportunities in defense technology and trade cooperation. To this end, the United States has agreed to elevate defense trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with its closest allies and partners.

Secretary Carter welcomed India’s membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and reaffirmed U.S. support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar welcomed continued progress under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). They welcomed the decision at the DTTI meeting in Delhi in July to broaden its agenda by setting up five new joint working groups on: naval systems; air systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; chemical and biological protection; and other systems. They also noted the signing of an information exchange annex under the framework of the Aircraft Carrier Joint Working Group. Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar also agreed to continue to their close consultation on “Make in India” proposals.

Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar praised the discussions at the inaugural Maritime Security Dialogue held in May. They welcomed the conclusion of the bilateral ‘White Shipping’’ technical arrangement for data sharing on commercial shipping traffic. They also discussed cooperation on capabilities to augment India’s capacity for maritime domain awareness (MDA). Acknowledging India’s positive contributions to regional security and stability, including in matters beyond the maritime space, Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar announced their agreement to further consultations in this area, including through the next Maritime Security Dialogue, which will be held later this year. They noted recent high level official exchanges including the visit to New Delhi of Gen. John Nicholson for consultations on Afghanistan, as well as by the secretary of the U.S. Navy and the secretary of the U.S. Air Force earlier this month.

Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter welcomed the continued efforts by both countries’ militaries to deepen bilateral cooperation and expand opportunities for greater collaboration. They commended the recent completion of the naval exercise MALABAR with Japan and India’s participation in the Rim-of-the-Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise in Hawaii, as well as the Red Flag Air Force Exercise in Alaska. They were encouraged by the increased complexity in the YUDH ABHYAS Army exercise, which is scheduled for September in India. They agreed to facilitate greater and regular interactions to deepen mutual understanding between military services and promote practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, special operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also welcomed the signing of the bilateral logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA), which will facilitate additional opportunities for practical engagement and exchange.

Secretary Carter reiterated his appreciation for the support provided by Minister Parrikar and the Government of India that facilitated the recovery and repatriation of U.S. World War II remains in April. Minister Parrikar reinforced his commitment to this important mission and he and Secretary Carter were pleased that the U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) would return to India Nov. 1-Dec. 14 to survey additional aircraft crash locations."___

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2016-08-30 00:24:11 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

NEXT UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Portugal's Antonio Guterres maintains his lead in 3rd round of Next UN Sec Gen straw polls [11-3-1]; Slovakia's Miroslav Lajcak 2nd [9-5-1]

Antonio Guterres: 11-3-1
Miroslav Lajcak: 9-5-1
Irina Bokova: 7-5-3
Vuk Jeremic: 7-5-3
Susanna Malcorra: 7-7-1
Srgjan Kerim: 6-7-2
Helen Clark: 6-8-1
Danilo Turk: 5-6-4
Natalia Gherman: 2-12-1
Christiana Figueres: 2-12-1

PRESIDENT OF THE 70TH SESSION GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS STATEMENT:
The President of the Security Council for the month of August, H.E. Ambassador Ibrahim of Malaysia, called to inform me that the third informal straw poll of the Security Council for the position of Secretary-General took place earlier today. Thanking him, I also recalled my letter dated 21 July 2016 in which I recognize the informal nature of the straw... more »

NEXT UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Portugal's Antonio Guterres maintains his lead in 3rd round of Next UN Sec Gen straw polls [11-3-1]; Slovakia's Miroslav Lajcak 2nd [9-5-1]

Antonio Guterres: 11-3-1
Miroslav Lajcak: 9-5-1
Irina Bokova: 7-5-3
Vuk Jeremic: 7-5-3
Susanna Malcorra: 7-7-1
Srgjan Kerim: 6-7-2
Helen Clark: 6-8-1
Danilo Turk: 5-6-4
Natalia Gherman: 2-12-1
Christiana Figueres: 2-12-1

PRESIDENT OF THE 70TH SESSION GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE UNITED NATIONS STATEMENT:
The President of the Security Council for the month of August, H.E. Ambassador Ibrahim of Malaysia, called to inform me that the third informal straw poll of the Security Council for the position of Secretary-General took place earlier today. Thanking him, I also recalled my letter dated 21 July 2016 in which I recognize the informal nature of the straw polls, while stressing that the absence of any further details beyond the fact that the informal straw poll has taken place adds little value and does not live up to the expectations of the membership and the new standard of openness and transparency.___

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2016-08-30 00:14:06 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

PAKISTAN INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS IN NEW YORK
28 August 2016

PAKISTAN INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS IN NEW YORK
28 August 2016___

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2016-08-29 23:18:25 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

PLANTS MAY HELP PROTECT EARTH FROM DROUGHT CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

Previous studies have projected that more than 70 percent of the planet will experience more drought as carbon-dioxide levels quadruple from pre-industrial levels over about the next 100 years, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But many of these models fail to account for how plant behavior will change in a warming world.

Plants take in CO2 through openings called stomata, which also release moisture. But when CO2 is abundant, these stomata stay open for shorter periods, lose less water, and therefore need less water from the soil.

"A number of studies assume that plant water needs are staying constant, when what we know about plants growing in lots of carbon dioxide suggests the opposite," said lead author Abigail Swann, a University of Washington... more »

PLANTS MAY HELP PROTECT EARTH FROM DROUGHT CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE

Previous studies have projected that more than 70 percent of the planet will experience more drought as carbon-dioxide levels quadruple from pre-industrial levels over about the next 100 years, said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But many of these models fail to account for how plant behavior will change in a warming world.

Plants take in CO2 through openings called stomata, which also release moisture. But when CO2 is abundant, these stomata stay open for shorter periods, lose less water, and therefore need less water from the soil.

"A number of studies assume that plant water needs are staying constant, when what we know about plants growing in lots of carbon dioxide suggests the opposite," said lead author Abigail Swann, a University of Washington assistant professor of atmospheric sciences and biology.

Swann found that only about 37 percent of the world will face climate change-driven drought, because plants benefit from an environment with more carbon dioxide.

A hotter world with less rain will likely increase droughts across southern North America, southern Europe and northeastern South America, said the study.

"But the results show that in Central Africa and temperate Asia -- including China, the Middle East, East Asia and most of Russia -- water conservation by plants will largely counteract the parching due to climate change," it said.

The findings still show that droughts will increase as the climate changes, just not as far and wide as some have predicted.___

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2016-08-29 21:03:17 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

'DEAD EYES' EPIDEMIC IN KASHMIR CAUSED BY INDIAN STATE TERRORISM -
SUPPORTED /IGNORED BY WORLD POWERS

'DEAD EYES' EPIDEMIC IN KASHMIR CAUSED BY INDIAN STATE TERRORISM -
SUPPORTED /IGNORED BY WORLD POWERS___

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2016-08-29 20:31:38 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Musicians perform on the floating stage on the opening night of the Amazonia Live: Rock in Rio music festival in the waters of the Negro River in Manaus, Brazil.

Musicians perform on the floating stage on the opening night of the Amazonia Live: Rock in Rio music festival in the waters of the Negro River in Manaus, Brazil.___

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2016-08-29 20:13:57 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

THE MEDIA HAS FAILED TO EXPLAIN THE NEW WAR ON ISIS IN LIBYA - THE CHAOS WROUGHT BY NATO REGIME CHANGE

Libya remains embroiled in chaos. Its U.N.-backed government is falling apart, and internal wars continue to be waged on multiple fronts. ISIS ravages the north of the country. The U.S. is bombing it — again, in the second war in five years.

But what is rarely communicated in media reports is that the only reason ISIS is in Libya in the first place is because of the 2011 NATO regime change operation that toppled the government, giving Islamist extremists a vacuum in which to expand.

Western powers sold the 2011 bombing campaign as an ostensible humanitarian mission to protect rebels fighting the regime of Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi. Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, used NATO’s own materials, however, to conclusively show that “theLibyan ... more »

THE MEDIA HAS FAILED TO EXPLAIN THE NEW WAR ON ISIS IN LIBYA - THE CHAOS WROUGHT BY NATO REGIME CHANGE

Libya remains embroiled in chaos. Its U.N.-backed government is falling apart, and internal wars continue to be waged on multiple fronts. ISIS ravages the north of the country. The U.S. is bombing it — again, in the second war in five years.

But what is rarely communicated in media reports is that the only reason ISIS is in Libya in the first place is because of the 2011 NATO regime change operation that toppled the government, giving Islamist extremists a vacuum in which to expand.

Western powers sold the 2011 bombing campaign as an ostensible humanitarian mission to protect rebels fighting the regime of Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi. Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, used NATO’s own materials, however, to conclusively show that “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

In the process, the Obama administration “misled the American public,” Zenko wrote, because “admitting to the honest objective in Libya — regime change — would have brought about more scrutiny and diminished public support.”

You won’t see Zenko’s conclusive study cited in media reports, nevertheless. It is a wretched thorn in the side of the largely unquestioned hegemonic narrative.

Libya, a once relatively prosperous oil-rich North African nation, is still reeling from the NATO intervention. Members of Libya’s internationally recognized parliament voted 61 to one this week in an overwhelming expression of no-confidence in the Western-backed Government of National Accord, or GNA.

“The vote could severely undermine the fledgling government, which Western nations see as the best hope for combatting a potent Islamic State affiliate and curbing human trafficking,” the Associated Press noted.

In its report on the story, however, the AP did not once acknowledge the NATO bombing. It spoke of “the 2011 uprising” as though it were an exclusively indigenous event, absent of foreign intervention.

The AP is by no means alone. Western governments, news outlets and pundits have consistently downplayed their role in helping foment Libya’s chaos. The NATO bombing campaign that destabilized the region is slowly being expunged from history. Instead, Libyans themselves are being blamed.

The Washington Post’s recent report on ISIS’ bureaucratic reign of terror in Libya did not mention the Western bombing campaign. Nor did The Wall Street Journal’s. It is quite strange that major outlets can report on the declaration of a new war in Libya without even acknowledging the previous one, which took place just five years before.

In an article for the influential think tank the Brookings Institution this month, scholar Federica Fasanotti openly proposed that Libya be partitioned. She spoke of “Libya’s tribal divisions,” characterizing the country as a kind of primitive backwoods, capable only of political dysfunction.

“Libyans today have much in common with the tribes of one century ago,” she wrote, with an ironic air of colonial arrogance. “Libyans will continue to be their own worst enemies.”

Not once in the piece did Fasanotti acknowledge the 2011 NATO war in Libya; never did she mention the bombs and air strikes. She discussed the history of Italian colonialism in Libya as if it were exclusively a thing of the past, and argued that the Italian colonialists had earnestly tried to “unify” the country, but it remains divided, apparently by inevitability.

This is what passes muster in the intelligentsia today — condescending screeds on the supposed intransigence of Libyan tribalism that look as though they were lifted from the colonial era.

Today, Libya has competing governments. In the west is an Islamist regime centered in the city Tripoli; in the east, with the capital Tobruk, is the Libyan National Army, under the leadership of Khalifa Haftar, a general with past links to the CIA.

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Sirte, the murderous extremist group ISIS has created its largest so-called “caliphate” outside of Iraq and Syria. During the 2011 war, Sirte was reduced to rubble. Fascists who declared a so-called “Islamic State” emerged from the ashes.

Sirte was the birthplace of former dictator Muammar Qadhafi. It was also the place of his death: He was brutally murdered in the 2011 Western-backed uprising, sodomized with a bayonet by rebels. Upon hearing the news of his death, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quipped live on TV, “We came, we saw, he died!” Clinton played a leading role in pushing for the bombing.

As a result of the NATO regime change operation, Qadhafi’s enormous weapons caches were spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, arming extremist groups and fueling instability elsewhere. Jeremy Corbyn, the leftist U.K. Labour Party leader, noted that, with the Western-backed war, “we’ve actually created an arms bazaar.”

Thousands of Libyans have been killed, and a massive refugee crisis has been sparked in North Africa. In response to the influx, NATO announced that it would impose a blockade on Libya, to prevent African refugees from seeking asylum in Europe. Rights experts say the decision likely violates international law. It has become just one of myriad laws being violated in the conflict.

The prospects of some kind of stability being reached in the near future look slim, as the GNA falls apart. The U.N. special envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, warned this month that support for the unity government is “crumbling.”

Photo: Members of Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government fire a weapon towards Islamic State militants in neighbourhood Number One in central Sirte, Libya August 28, 2016.
REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny___

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2016-08-29 19:59:31 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Coffins of some of the victims of the earthquake in central Italy are seen inside a gym in Ascoli Piceno, August 26, 2016.
REUTERS/Adamo Di Loreto

Coffins of some of the victims of the earthquake in central Italy are seen inside a gym in Ascoli Piceno, August 26, 2016.
REUTERS/Adamo Di Loreto___

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2016-08-29 19:44:20 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

REED DANCE CEREMONY IN SWAZILAND - KING TO CHOOSE NEW WIFE
The maidens display culture and tradition as they sing and dance for the King who chooses a new wife at the end of the ceremony.

REED DANCE CEREMONY IN SWAZILAND - KING TO CHOOSE NEW WIFE
The maidens display culture and tradition as they sing and dance for the King who chooses a new wife at the end of the ceremony.___

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2016-08-29 19:30:41 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

FRANCE SEEKS NEW CHAPTER IN MUSLIM RELATIONS

France's government sought Monday to open a new chapter in relations with the country's Muslims following a summer scarred by jihadist attacks and a ban on burkinis that ratcheted up communal tensions.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with senior Muslim representatives and agreed that the effort to revive ties will include the creation of an Islamic foundation, funded solely with money from within France.

Around 30 towns have banned the burkini from their beaches, with some mayors linking the bans to the July 14 jihadist lorry attack in Nice that killed 86 and the murder of a Catholic priest near Rouen by Islamic State sympathisers.

The burkini controversy looks set to continue after several mayors said they would ignore a decision Friday by the country's top administrative court to suspend the... more »

FRANCE SEEKS NEW CHAPTER IN MUSLIM RELATIONS

France's government sought Monday to open a new chapter in relations with the country's Muslims following a summer scarred by jihadist attacks and a ban on burkinis that ratcheted up communal tensions.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve met with senior Muslim representatives and agreed that the effort to revive ties will include the creation of an Islamic foundation, funded solely with money from within France.

Around 30 towns have banned the burkini from their beaches, with some mayors linking the bans to the July 14 jihadist lorry attack in Nice that killed 86 and the murder of a Catholic priest near Rouen by Islamic State sympathisers.

The burkini controversy looks set to continue after several mayors said they would ignore a decision Friday by the country's top administrative court to suspend the ban.

Anouar Kbibech, leader of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said he hoped Monday's talks were the start of a new chapter in relations.

"This positive development will put an end to the repulsive saga of the burkini," he said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the aim of the discussions was to forge "an Islam anchored in the values of the French Republic".

Cazeneuve stressed however that all religions had to respect France's laws on the strict separation of religion and state.

The talks will lead to the creation of a "Foundation for Islam in France", which will aim to raise funds in France rather than abroad to ensure the transparent sourcing of funds.

But the choice of 77-year-old former defence minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement to head the foundation has sparked controversy, with many observers asking why a Muslim was not given the role.

Chevenement sidestepped the controversy, telling AFP: "As a former interior minister myself, I could not turn down the opportunity to contribute to this initiative of great interest to the public."

Cazeneuve, the current interior minister, said the foundation would act as a "bridge between the French state and France's Muslims".

Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun and the rector of a mosque in the central city of Lyon, Kamel Kabtane, are among Muslims who will sit on the foundation's board.

France's secular laws mean the foundation's scope is limited to areas like education and research.

"If they are given the financial means, Muslim institutions can strengthen their role in the prevention of radicalisation," said Kbibech.

The anti-Islamophobia group which spearheaded the legal challenge to the burkini ban said it will go to court this week to force four French Riviera towns -- Nice, Menton, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Frejus -- to drop the measure.

Nice is among the towns that have refused to obey the ruling.

Images of police apparently ordering a woman in a headscarf on the beach in Nice to remove clothing which allegedly contravened the ban sparked worldwide outrage.

Nice authorities however insisted she was simply showing police the swimsuit she was wearing under her top, over a pair of leggings, when the pictures were taken.___

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2016-08-29 18:56:27 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE VICTIMS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - 30 AUGUST

Enforced Disappearances:
Some men arrive. They force their way into a family’s home, rich or poor, house, hovel or hut, in a city or in a village, anywhere. They come at any time of the day or night, usually in plain clothes, sometimes in uniform, always carrying weapons. Giving no reasons, producing no arrest warrant, frequently without saying who they are or on whose authority they are acting, they drag off one or more members of the family towards a car, using violence in the process if necessary.
This is often the first act in the drama of an enforced or involuntary disappearance, a particularly heinous violation of human rights and an international crime.

Who Is Affected?
Definition:
According to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, proclaimed byt... more »

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE VICTIMS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - 30 AUGUST

Enforced Disappearances:
Some men arrive. They force their way into a family’s home, rich or poor, house, hovel or hut, in a city or in a village, anywhere. They come at any time of the day or night, usually in plain clothes, sometimes in uniform, always carrying weapons. Giving no reasons, producing no arrest warrant, frequently without saying who they are or on whose authority they are acting, they drag off one or more members of the family towards a car, using violence in the process if necessary.
This is often the first act in the drama of an enforced or involuntary disappearance, a particularly heinous violation of human rights and an international crime.

Who Is Affected?
Definition:
According to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992 as a body of principles for all States, an enforced disappearance occurs when:
- "persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law."

The Victims Themselves:
- The victims are frequently tortured and in constant fear for their lives. They are well aware that their families do not know what has become of them and that the chances are slim that anyone will come to their aid. Having been removed from the protective precinct of the law and “disappeared” from society, they are in fact deprived of all their rights and are at the mercy of their captors.
- Even if death is not the final outcome and the victim is eventually released from the nightmare, the physical and psychological scars of this form of dehumanization and the brutality and torture which often accompany it remain.

Friends and Families of the Victims:
- The families and friends of the victims, experience slow mental anguish, not knowing whether the victim is still alive and, if so, where he or she is being held, under what conditions, and in what state of health. They alternate between hope and despair, wondering and waiting, sometimes for years, for news that may never come. In addition, they are well aware that they, too, are threatened, that they may suffer the same fate themselves and that searching for the truth may expose them to even greater danger.
- The family’s distress is frequently compounded by the material consequences of the disappearance. The disappeared person is often the family’s main breadwinner. He or she may be the only member of the family able to cultivate the crops or run the family business. The emotional upheaval is thus exacerbated by material deprivation, made more acute by the costs incurred should they decide to undertake a search. Furthermore, they do not know when —if ever — their loved one is going to return, which makes it difficult for them to adapt to the new situation. In some cases, national legislation may make it impossible to draw a pension or receive other means of support in the absence of a death certificate. Economic and social marginalization is frequently the result.
- The serious economic hardships which usually accompany a disappearance are most often borne by women, and it is women who are most often at the forefront of the struggle to resolve the disappearance of family members. In this capacity they may suffer intimidation, persecution and reprisals. When women are themselves direct victims of disappearance, they become particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence.
- Children can also be victims, both directly and indirectly. The disappearance of a child is a clear contravention of a number of provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the right to a personal identity. The loss of a parent through disappearance is also a serious violation of a child’s human rights.

Communities:
- Communities are directly affected by the disappearance of breadwinners, and the degradation of the families' economic situation and their social marginalization.
- Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects their communities and society as a whole.

A Serious Violation of Human Rights:
Having been removed from the protective precinct of the law and "disappeared" from society, victims of enforced disappearance are in fact deprived of all their rights and are at the mercy of their captors. Some of the human rights that enforced disappearances regularly violate are:
- The right to recognition as a person before the law;
- The right to liberty and security of the person;
- The right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
- The right to life, when the disappeared person is killed;
- The right to an identity;
- The right to a fair trial and to judicial guarantees;
- The right to an effective remedy, including reparation and compensation;
- The right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of a disappearance.

Enforced disappearances also generally violate various economic,
social and cultural rights for both the victims as well as their families:
- The right to protection and assistance to the family;
- The right to an adequate standard of living;
- The right to health;
- The right to education.

Both the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force on 1 July 2002, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006, state that, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, a "forced disappearance" qualifies as a crime against humanity and, thus, is not subject to a statute of limitations. It gives victims' families the right to seek reparations, and to demand the truth about the disappearance of their loved ones.___

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2016-08-29 18:09:39 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

Migrations across the Mediterranean in 2016, as of August 25

Migrations across the Mediterranean in 2016, as of August 25___

2016-08-29 15:10:44 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

EK THI MARIUM (TRAILER)

Actor-host Sanam Baloch is all set to make her comeback with a powerful role in the upcoming short film made to honour Marium Mukhtar — The first woman fighter pilot in Pakistan to die in the line of duty, when a PAF jet crashed in Mianwali.
The teaser gives us a glimpse of Sanam as Marium, getting dressed in her Pakistan Air Force uniform

EK THI MARIUM (TRAILER)

Actor-host Sanam Baloch is all set to make her comeback with a powerful role in the upcoming short film made to honour Marium Mukhtar — The first woman fighter pilot in Pakistan to die in the line of duty, when a PAF jet crashed in Mianwali.
The teaser gives us a glimpse of Sanam as Marium, getting dressed in her Pakistan Air Force uniform___

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2016-08-29 13:57:10 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

Colombia on Monday began its first day of peace with the country's largest insurgency after a ceasefire between the FARC and the government went into effect, ending 52 years of warfare.

The full ceasefire ordered by President Juan Manuel Santos and the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Timoleon Jimenez, began at midnight Sunday (0500 GMT Monday).

Colombia on Monday began its first day of peace with the country's largest insurgency after a ceasefire between the FARC and the government went into effect, ending 52 years of warfare.

The full ceasefire ordered by President Juan Manuel Santos and the head of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Timoleon Jimenez, began at midnight Sunday (0500 GMT Monday).___

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2016-08-29 13:15:33 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 1 +1s; )Open 

RSF urges UK to charge London-based instigator of attack on Karachi TV station

In the wake of an attack by armed members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on a TV channel’s offices in Karachi four days ago, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the British authorities to bring charges against the MQM’s London-based leader Altaf Hussain, who openly urged his followers to carry out the attack.

Speaking by telephone to his followers on 22 August, Hussain angrily criticized the Pakistani media and urged his supporters “to storm the offices of TV channels.” Hussain has lived in exile in Britain since fleeing Pakistan more than 20 years ago and has obtained British citizenship.

Just minutes after the phone call, MQM members launched their attack on the ARY News offices in the Karachi district of Saddar and the Karachi Press Club. They threw stones at the premisesand fir... more »

RSF urges UK to charge London-based instigator of attack on Karachi TV station

In the wake of an attack by armed members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on a TV channel’s offices in Karachi four days ago, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the British authorities to bring charges against the MQM’s London-based leader Altaf Hussain, who openly urged his followers to carry out the attack.

Speaking by telephone to his followers on 22 August, Hussain angrily criticized the Pakistani media and urged his supporters “to storm the offices of TV channels.” Hussain has lived in exile in Britain since fleeing Pakistan more than 20 years ago and has obtained British citizenship.

Just minutes after the phone call, MQM members launched their attack on the ARY News offices in the Karachi district of Saddar and the Karachi Press Club. They threw stones at the premises and fired shots in the air. Armed with sticks, some of them stormed inside, attacked employees and caused a great deal of damage.
According to the information obtained by Freedom Network, at least two reporters and four cameraman – working for Samaa TV, Neo TV, Channel 24, ARY News, Dunya News and 92 News – sustained minor injuries during the attack.

The authorities reacted rapidly, dispersing the activists and making a dozen arrests. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the threats and violence, describing them as “an attack on freedom of press and expression” and calling for media personnel to be given full protection.

A Sindh province police spokesman said protection of the media would be reinforced in Karachi, the province’s capital.

“We welcome the reaction of the Pakistani authorities to these acts of organized violence,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “At the same time, since the violence was directly instigated from London by Altaf Hussain, we call on the British government to accept that it has a duty to bring proceedings against him.

“By directly inciting physical attacks on journalists, this politician committed a crime that the British authorities cannot ignore, even if the violence did not take place in the United Kingdom. The British government has an opportunity to directly contribute to the fight against crimes of violence against journalists.”

Under a Lahore high court order issued last year, the Pakistani media are no longer allowed to provide live coverage of any speech by Hussain or publish his photo. But he continues to address MQM members and supporters from London.

RSF also hails the fact that the Pakistani media were unanimous in their condemnation of this attack, overcoming political divisions and uniting in defence of media freedom. Such unity is more necessary than ever in what is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media personnel.

Pakistan is ranked 147th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.___

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2016-08-29 12:51:53 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

323 REINDEER KILLED BY LIGHTNING IN NORWAY

323 wild reindeer have been killed by lightning in southern Norway, officials said Monday, in the largest such incident known to date.
The reindeer, including 70 young, were found on Friday by a gamekeeper on the Hardangervidda plateau, a national park where Europe's largest herd of some 10,000 wild reindeer roam freely.
"There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning," an official from the Norwegian Environment Agency, Kjartan Knutsen, said.

323 REINDEER KILLED BY LIGHTNING IN NORWAY

323 wild reindeer have been killed by lightning in southern Norway, officials said Monday, in the largest such incident known to date.
The reindeer, including 70 young, were found on Friday by a gamekeeper on the Hardangervidda plateau, a national park where Europe's largest herd of some 10,000 wild reindeer roam freely.
"There were very strong storms in the area on Friday. The animals stay close together in bad weather and these ones were hit by lightning," an official from the Norwegian Environment Agency, Kjartan Knutsen, said.___

2016-08-29 10:47:46 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

MARKSMANSHIP

MARKSMANSHIP___

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2016-08-29 08:21:15 (0 comments; 0 reshares; 0 +1s; )Open 

AFGHANISTAN SITUATION

According to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Western-backed Afghan government has lost control of nearly five percent of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of this year.

The report says the area under Afghan government "control or influence" decreased to 65.6 percent by the end of May from 70.5 percent last year, based on data provided by US forces in Afghanistan.

That amounts to a loss of 19 of the country's approximately 400 governing districts.

However, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Army General John Nicholson, said the Taliban presence is mostly in rural areas.

Afghan officials, on the other hand, say an exact figure on areas controlled cannot be measured as the fight against the Taliban and other armed groups is still... more »

AFGHANISTAN SITUATION

According to a recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Western-backed Afghan government has lost control of nearly five percent of its territory to the Taliban since the beginning of this year.

The report says the area under Afghan government "control or influence" decreased to 65.6 percent by the end of May from 70.5 percent last year, based on data provided by US forces in Afghanistan.

That amounts to a loss of 19 of the country's approximately 400 governing districts.

However, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Army General John Nicholson, said the Taliban presence is mostly in rural areas.

Afghan officials, on the other hand, say an exact figure on areas controlled cannot be measured as the fight against the Taliban and other armed groups is still ongoing.

Based on reports gathered by Al Jazeera from local police, security forces and the Taliban, here is a conservative estimate of the areas in Afghanistan that are contested, under the Taliban, and under government forces.___

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