“Russia Has Never Denied Israels Rights To Jerusalem, The Temple Mount Or The Western Wall”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JERUSALEM POST)    (THIS IS A RE-POST FROM 11-06-2016 HAS ANYTHING REALLY CHANGED)

Moscow has never denied Israel’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said in advance of his visit to the Jewish state later this week.

“These rights are clear and it would be absurd to deny them,” he told Channel 2 anchorwoman Yonit Levy.

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He spoke warmly of Russia’s ties with Israel, despite Moscow’s votes against the Jewish state at the United Nations and its delivery of the S-300 missiles to Iran.


Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev. (Photo credit: RIA NOVOSTI / REUTERS)

Levy quizzed him about those controversial issues as well as his support for Syrian President Basher Assad and charges that his country had intervened in the US elections.

How does Russia explain its support of the UNESCO vote “to disregard the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” Levy asked Medvedev.

The issue had been blown out of proportion, he responded speaking in Russian, with a Hebrew translation by Channel 2.

There have been some ten votes by UNESCO Boards and Committees on such Jerusalem resolutions, Medvedev said.

“There is nothing new here,” he said, as he dismissed the significance of UNESCO texts that refer to the Temple Mount solely by its Muslim name of Al Haram Al Sharif.

“Our country has never denied the rights of Israel or the Jewish people to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount or the Western Wall,” Medvedev said.

“Therefore there is no need to politicize this decision,” Medvedev said, adding that such resolutions, were “not directed against Israel.”

Similarly, he said, there was nothing contradictory in Russia’s sale and shipment of the advanced S-300 advanced surface to air missile defense system to Iran.

Israel had opposed such sales because they significantly upgrade Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites against any attacks. It is particularly concerned because it does not believe that the Iran deal, put in place in 2015, will limit Tehran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

Medvedev told Channel 2 that prior to the Iran deal, Russia respected the sanctions against Tehran and refrained from delivering the S-300. Now that the deal is in place and the sanctions were lifted, there was no reason not to complete the sale, he said.

Moving over to Syria, he referred to President Bashar Assad as the country’s only legitimate leader and added that Israel’s leadership preferred his rule to the prospect of a divided country under terrorist leadership.

“I know him (Assad) personally. There are those who love him and those who don’t. At present Assad is the only legitimate authority operating in Syria. Any regime change would have to occur legitimately,” Medvedev said.

“I remember that during my meetings with Israeli leaders, they told me they were not completely for Assad, but that there has to be someone in charge of the situation, rather than an uncontrolled break up of the country into enclaves ruled by terrorists,” Medvedev said.

Middle East terrorism, he said, is threatening his country from within.

“There are thousands of Russians fighting on behalf of ISIS and other Islamic Jihadist groups,” Medvedev said. “When they return they are experienced murders and terrorists. After their time fighting in Syria we don’t want them to organize something similar [within Russia],” he said.

Levy asked how the presence of the Russian air force in Syria impacted Israel’s ability to prevent the flow of weapons to Hezbollah.

Medvedev said that it was operating from the assumption that “all sides would not take steps to aggravate the conflict.”

With regard to the United States, he charged that it had not kept its commitments in Syria and that the relationship between Washington and Moscow was at a very low point.

Medvedev chuckled when Levy asked him if Russia had interfered with the US elections.

He quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he stated that “the United States is not a banana republic.”

The US, he said, was a large and strong country and could not be influenced in that way. “It doesn’t matter who will be elected, but what policy they will execute,” he said.

“Its clear [that either candidate] will act in the best national interest of the US,” Medvedev said.

He called Republican candidate Donald Trump brilliant and said he had never met him. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he said, was professional and known to him from the times he met with her when she was US Secretary of State from 2009-2012.

Russia expects to have a “normal” and “productive” relationship with whichever of the two candidates wins the White House, Medvedev said.

With regard to the Russian initiative to hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Presdient Mahmoud Abbas, Medvedev said that Moscow was not looking to replace the United States or anyone else when it comes to the peace process.

On the other hand, he said, there are very discouraging signs with regard to that conflict and there have been no advancements to speak of on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the last few years.

“It’s very sad,” he said.

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is A Complete Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NEW YORK MAGAZINE.COM’)

(Is Donald “FAKE NEWS” Trump The Biggest Idiot On Earth?)(TRS)

11:49 am

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is a Complete Idiot

By 

Image
Donald Trump and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images

The transcript of Donald Trump’s discussion with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull obtained by the Washington Post reveals many things, but the most significant may be that Trump in his private negotiations is every bit as mentally limited as he appears to be in public.
At issue in the conversation is a deal to settle 1,250 refugees who have been detained by Australia in the United States. I did not pay any attention to the details of this agreement before reading the transcript. By the time I was halfway through it, my brain could not stop screaming at Trump for his failure to understand what Turnbull was telling him.

Australia has a policy of refusing to accept refugees who arrive by boat. The reason, as Turnbull patiently attempts to explain several times, is that it believes giving refuge to people who arrive by boat would encourage smuggling and create unsafe passage with a high risk of deaths at sea. But it had a large number of refugees who had arrived by sea, living in difficult conditions, whom Australia would not resettle (for fear of encouraging more boat trafficking) but whom it did not want to deport, either. The United States government agreed under President Obama to vet 1,250 of these refugees and accept as many of them as it deemed safe.

In the transcript, Trump is unable to absorb any of these facts. He calls the refugees “prisoners,” and repeatedly brings up the Cuban boatlift (in which Castro dumped criminals onto Florida). He is unable to absorb Turnbull’s explanation that they are economic refugees, not from conflict zones, and that the United States has the ability to turn away any of them it deems dangerous.

Donald Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy

President Trump’s efforts to fix his headline-making crises often have the effect of making the situation worse.

Turnbull tries to explain to Trump that refugees have not been detained because they pose a danger to Australian society, but in order to deter ship-based smuggling:

Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

At this point, Trump fails to understand the policy altogether, and proceeds to congratulate Turnbull for what Trump mistakes to be a draconian policy of total exclusion:

Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.

Trump has completely failed to understand either that the refugees are not considered dangerous, or, again, that they are being held because of a categorical ban on ship-based refugee traffic.

He also fails to understand the number of refugees in the agreement:

Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.

Then Trump returns to his belief that they are bad, and failing to understand the concept that they have been detained merely because they arrived by sea and not because they committed a crime:

Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.

He still thinks they’re criminals.

Later, Trump asks what happens if all the refugees fail his vetting process:

Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.

After several attempts by Turnbull to explain Australia’s policy, Trump again expresses his total inability to understand what it is:

Trump: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

After Turnbull has told Trump several times that the refugees have been detained because they arrived by boat, and only for that reason, Trump’s question is, “But they are arrived on a boat?”

Soon after, Turnbull again reiterates that Australia’s policy is to detain any refugee who arrives by boat:

Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boa. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”

Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

No, you don’t get it at all! It’s not that they come from certain regions! It’s that they come by boat!

So Turnbull very patiently tries to explain again that the policy has nothing to do with what region the refugees come from:

Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.

At this point, Trump gives up asking about the policy and just starts venting about the terribleness of deals in general:

I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it — START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

Shortly afterward, the call ends in brusque fashion, and Turnbull presumably begins drinking heavily.

Ari Harow, the man who could bring down the Prime Minister

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Ari Harow, the man who could bring down the prime minister

The US-born Netanyahu confidant and former chief of staff has signed an agreement to testify against his old boss

 August 5, 2017, 4:46 am 3

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flanked by former chief of staff Ari Harow, left, and former parliamentary adviser Perach Lerner, right, as he arrives at a Likud faction meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Those who know Ari Harow describe him as a straight arrow. Now some believe he could be the one to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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For years, Harow, 44, has been one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and a chief cog in his political machine. But despite this, he has remained largely unknown to the Israeli public until now, when it was revealed on Friday that Harow had signed an agreement to turn state’s witness as part of ongoing investigations into alleged corruption by Israel’s premier.

Harow is very “low-key and discreet,” Odelia Karmon, a former Netanyahu adviser, told Channel 2 news on Friday, calling him very modest and saying he was someone who was never involved in the political intrigue that so often dogged Netanyahu’s inner circle. “He is a very straight man.”

Harow fits the mold of the type that Netanyahu has frequently chosen to head or play key roles in his office: young American-Israelis from the national religious camp. While others have sought the limelight — like Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, or current Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — Harow stayed largely in the background during several stints in the high-profile position as Netanyahu’s chief of staff.

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Harow was born in Los Angeles and moved with his family to Israel in 1985, when he was 12, living in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron.

After completing his army service he moved back to the US to study in New York, before returning again to finish a Master’s degree in Political Science at Tel Aviv University.

It was at this time that he first stated working with Netanyahu, volunteering for him in 2002 as an adviser on Diaspora affairs, and more crucially on fundraising.

He then moved back to the US for several years where he headed the American Friends of Likud.

It was during this period that he was first linked to allegations of financial irregularities surrounding Netanyahu and the so-called Bibi Tours scandal in which, as finance minister a decade ago, Netanyahu had private donors and organizations fund most of his trips as well as cover travel expenses for his wife and children, and failed to clear the information with the Knesset.

According to the Haaretz daily, the American Friends of Likud were also paying the salary of Karmon, who was working as Netanyahu’s media adviser.

Odelia Karmon (YouTube screenshot)

Odelia Karmon (YouTube screenshot)

The Bibi Tours issue was first reported by Channel 10 in 2011 and, while a state comptroller’s report found ethical problems, no charges were ever filed.

By 2008, Harow was back in Israel, started working for Netanyahu as the head of his office, and was with him when he returned to power in 2009.

Harow left politics in 2010 to start a political consultancy firm, which works with politicians and political campaigns. He served a second stint as the PM’s bureau chief in 2014, and directed the election campaign that kept Netanyahu in office in the 2015 national elections.

But police began investigating Harow on suspicion that when he came back to work for Netanyahu in 2014, he only fictitiously sold his consulting firm, rather than genuinely doing so, as was required.

On Friday police announced that Harow is expected to receive six months of community service and a NIS 700,000 fine ($193,000) on breach of trust charges in exchange for his testimony against his former boss.

His former colleagues said that Harow was a particular favorite of Netanyahu and very trusted. He is expected to have crucial information in both cases against Netanyahu.

“Ari Harrow, you have to understand, sat on the seam between the political and the personal, between the family of Netanyahu and the national, between the bureau and the home,” Yoaz Hendel, a former communications director for Netanyahu, told Channel 2. “On these seams — all the grey episodes happened.”

Yoaz Hendel (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Yoaz Hendel (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, through Knesset legislation in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Harow is expected to provide information in both probes, having served as chief of staff during the time of the alleged deal with Mozes and while Netanyahu is said to have received gifts worth thousands of shekels.

The recordings of Netanyahu’s conversations with Mozes were made on Harow’s phone and discovered by police during their investigation into his sale of his consultancy.

On Friday, Hebrew media reported that police would now suggest indicting Netanyahu. A police recommendation does not carry legal weight. It is for state prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

Netanyahu, who has denied any wrongdoing, dismissed the latest developments, calling them “background noise.”

In a short video posted early Friday evening before the start of Shabbat, Netanyahu said: “I want to tell you, citizens of Israel, I don’t pay attention to the background noises, I continue in my work on behalf of you. Shabbat shalom.”

Harow’s family suggested that his legal problems were all a result of attempts to bring down Netanyahu.

“What really bothers me is that no one is paying attention to the obvious: that this whole exercise against Ari and those around Bibi is to get Bibi,” Harow’s mother told Channel 2, using the prime minister’s nickname.

“What I can tell you is that Ari is one of the most honorable, trustworthy people I know. And I think that he was close to Bibi because Bibi knew he could trust him. That’s what I know,” she said.

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST UNDER DIPLOMACY AND DEFENSE)

 

China’s tough stance on India dispute raising concern across Southeast Asia, analysts say

Beijing’s handling of protracted conflict in Himalayas has had a spillover effect in the region and fueled suspicion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 August, 2017, 11:15pm
Catherine Wong

 

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The protracted border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has created a “spillover effect” as China’s neighbours become unsettled by its tough handling of the escalating conflict between the two Asian giants, foreign policy experts have said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Smt. Sushma Swaraj are scheduled to attend the Asian foreign ministers’ meeting in Manila later this week. And while the North Korean nuclear crisis and South China Sea disputes are expected to dominate the meeting, analysts will also be keeping a close eye on how members of the 10-nation group interact with China and India.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations generally regards a robust Indian presence in the region as a useful deterrent against China, which has been increasingly assertive in its approach to handling territorial issues, as has been the case in the Himalayas.

China and India last week held their first substantial talks since the dispute broke out more than a month ago in the Dolklam region, where the pair shares a border with Bhutan. Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval in Beijing, though neither showed any signs of backing down and tensions remain high.

Also last week, China’s defense ministry issued its strongest warning yet to India, with a spokesman saying Beijing had stepped up its deployment along the unmarked border and would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”.

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political scientist at the Manila-based De La Salle University, said the stand-off in Doklam had a “spillover effect” by fueling suspicion among countries that are caught in separate territorial disputes with China.

“People are asking, if China is really peaceful, why are there so many countries having disputes with China?” he said.

Such sentiment may create fertile ground for Southeast Asian countries to leverage China’s influence with engagement with India.

Vietnam’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Pham Binh Minh, has called on India to play a greater role in the region and to partner with Southeast Asian countries on strategic security and promoting freedom of navigation in South China Sea.

A few days after Minh spoke, Vietnam granted Indian Oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension on its plan to explore a Vietnamese oil block in an area of the South China Sea contested by China and Vietnam.

Analysts said recent developments have wide strategic implications – pointing to how Asia is increasingly defined by the China-India rivalry and the renewed tensions between the two Asian giants.

Nisha Desai Biswal, former US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, was quoted by Indian media PTI as saying that China needs to acknowledge that “there is growing strategic and security capability across Asia” and that “India is a force to be reckoned with”.

Wang Yi on Tuesday backed Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea of forming joint energy ventures in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.

Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration, and exploitation would restart this year.

However, analysts warn that India’s strong position in the standoff has strengthened the hawkish voices in the Philippines who seize opportunities to criticise Duterte’s détente policy towards China and “push forward the narrative that the Philippines needs to be careful on how to approach China and its territorial expansion”, Heydarian said.

Under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy, India in recent years has formed strategic partnerships with Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Northeast Asian countries including Japan and South Korea.

During the “India-Asian Delhi Dialogue IX” early this month, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi remained committed to enhancing maritime cooperation with Asian as well as upholding freedom of navigation and respect for international law in the region.

Heydarian suggests that India’s upgrading of its strategic partnership with Asian and increasing its strategic presence in the South China Sea could be a way of pushing back against China.

Even a non-claimant Southeast Asian state such as Thailand “would see the benefit of China being challenged in the South Asia theatre”, said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, an international relations scholar at Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University.

“India’s standing up to China can only be a boon for Southeast Asian countries even when they don’t say so openly,” he said, “Any major power keeping China in check can only yield geopolitical benefits to Southeast Asia as the region is wary of China’s growing assertiveness.”

But Pongsudhirak also said that India, a “latecomer to Southeast Asia’s geopolitics”, still lacks strategic depth in terms of military reach and economic wherewithal. “But in combination with other middle powers like Japan, India can have a significant impact in Southeast Asia’s power dynamics,” he said.

Despite Southeast Asian countries’ welcoming attitude, India has remained cautious towards more strongly engaging with the region, observers said.

“Southeast Asia is a natural extension of India’s security horizons in light of its growth as a regional power,” said Rajesh Manohar Basrur, a South Asia specialist with Nanyang Technological University.

Basrur said that while competition with China is a major driver of India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, India’s commitment to the region remains limited with measures amounting to no more than “symbolic acts such as military exercises, [to] generate a strategic environment aimed at building up political-psychological pressure on [China].”

Sourabh Gupta, a senior specialist at the Institute for China-America Studies in Washington, said that as India tries to limit fallout from its Doklam intervention, it will not want to expand the theatre of conflict or widen the geography of competition in the short-term.

“But I can foresee India making a qualitatively greater effort, albeit quietly, to build up Vietnam’s naval and law enforcement capacity to confront and deter Chinese assertiveness,” he said.

Gupta also warned that the situation in the South China Sea could lapse into even further conflict.

“India and China have a fairly rich menu of boundary management protocols which effectively translate into engagements between very lightly armed personnel from either side when a standoff breaks out,” he said.

“That is different from the situation in the South and East China Sea where engagement protocols are still very rudimentary and could see sharp Escalator spirals.”

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif disqualified from office

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif disqualified from office

Pakistani policemen stand guard at the premisses of the Supreme Court building during a hearing on the Panama Papers case in Islamabad on July 28, 2017.

Story highlights

  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister required to step down by five-member panel of judges
  • Unanimous court ruling follows months-long investigation tied to revelations in the Panama Papers leak from 2016

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified from office by the country’s Supreme Court and will be required to step down.

The court ruled Sharif has been dishonest to parliament and to the judicial system and is no longer deemed fit for the office of prime minister. A panel of five judges announced their unanimous decision Friday afternoon.
The panel had been investigating Sharif’s alleged links to offshore accounts and overseas properties owned by three of his children.
The assets, which were not declared on the family’s wealth statement, were revealed in the massive Panama Papers leak in April 2016.
Although Nawaz Sharif was not named in the Panama Papers, a joint investigation committee formed by the Supreme Court in April 2017 concluded in mid-July that their investigation revealed incriminating documents that pointed to the prime minister and his family’s corruption.
The Panama Papers leak sparked mass protests in Pakistan and calls from opposition political groups for a panel to investigate him and his children over their alleged offshore accounts.

Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) take part in a protest against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on July 23, 2017.

Today’s verdict is the second Supreme Court ruling this year on Sharif. In April a five-judge panel formed by Pakistan’s Supreme Court delivered a ruling ordering a new investigation over corruption allegations.
This is the first time in the country’s history that a leader has been disqualified from office following a judicial process.
During his time in office there’s been economic growth, a marked drop in terrorism and a bold foreign policy initiative which has led to strong ties with neighboring China and the formation of the strategically important China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Political heavyweight

Known as the “Lion of Punjab,” the 68-year-old Sharif is one of Pakistan’s leading industrialists and richest men, as well as being a fearsome political operative — having served as prime minister twice before.
However, his long political career has been dogged with missteps and allegations of corruption, which already forced him to step down during his first time as prime minister, cutting his first term short after his family-owned business, Ittefaq Industries, was seen to grow tremendously during his tenure in office.
Re-elected in 1997, Sharif ordered Pakistan’s first nuclear tests but a showdown with the nation’s powerful military saw his second term end prematurely as well.
In 1999, Sharif fired then-army head Pervez Musharraf after a failed invasion of Kargil, in Indian-held Kashmir. But in a dramatic turnaround, Musharraf launched a coup and eventually had his former boss imprisoned on charges of hijacking for attempting to stop a plane carrying the general from landing.
Sharif was later sentenced to an additional 14-years in prison on corruption charges, but was released after six months when Riyadh brokered a deal to allow him to go into exile in Saudi Arabia.
In 2007, Sharif returned to his homeland after his Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) teamed up with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to force Musharraf out of office.
After some legal and constitutional wrangling Sharif was re-elected prime minister for a third time in 2013, amid accusations of rigging the elections.

From Panama to Pakistan

The latest and final nail in Sharif’s political coffin is not of his own making, but rather the financial improprieties of his children.
While owning property in itself is not illegal, opposition parties have questioned if the money to buy them came from public funds.
And while Sharif was not personally named, his three adult children were linked to offshore companies that owned the London properties. One British Virgin Islands holding firm listed his daughter, Maryam as the sole shareholder.
A taskforce called the Joint Investigation Team was created in April by the Supreme Court since it was unable to independently determine the links to corruption. At the time Sharif pledged that if anything from the investigation proved corruption, he would step down.
Last November, Maryam tweeted images of a disclosure form claiming she was not the owner of the London property. However, the document, dated 2006, used a font — Calibri — that did not become widely available until the following year.

Man From India’s Lowest Caste Elected President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Man from India’s lowest caste elected president

Ram Nath Kovind, center, gestures as he leaves his residence in New Delhi on June 20, 2017.

Story highlights

  • Victory could boost support for ruling party among India’s Dalit community
  • President is a largely ceremonial role in India

New Delhi (CNN) A relatively unknown political operator and member of India’s lowest Dalit caste has been elected as the country’s 14th president.

Ram Nath Kovind, who until recently was governor of the eastern state of Bihar, won an overwhelming majority to beat opposition Congress party candidate, Meira Kumar, a former parliament speaker and also a member of the Dalit community.
Kovind secured 2,930 votes in a secret nationwide ballot involving near to 5,000 lawmakers from the central parliament and state legislatures. Kumar received 1,844 votes.
The election of 71-year-old Kovind, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, is widely viewed as part of a strategy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen support among India’s 200 million-strong Dalit community.
Kovind is the second Dalit to become Indian president, after K. R. Narayanan, in office from 1997 to 2002.
Dalits, who are often referred to as untouchables, occupy the lowest rung on India’s caste system. Traditionally viewed as “impure” the group continues to grapple with persecution and exclusion.
Kovind, a lawyer by training who has practiced in both the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court, has never held popularly elected office and lacks an independent power base. For the last two years he has occupied the governorship of Bihar, a position appointed by the prime minister. He also served as the national spokesman of the BJP between 2010 and 2012.

Ram Nath Kovind delivers a speech in presence of Gujarat Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) members in Gandhinagar, on July 15, 2017.

Ceremonial role

Though the five-year post is largely ceremonial, Kovind’s election will help strengthen Modi’s grip on power, say analysts.
“Modi would not like anyone in Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s House) who can question him, that’s why Kovind was picked,” said Satish Misra, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, an independent think tank based in Delhi.
Unlike the American president, and in line with other Westminster-style governments, the role of India’s president lacks any real executive authority. All decisions taken by the president require the approval of the prime minister and the council of ministers.
However, each piece of legislation passed by parliament requires the president’s sign-off. As a result, the president can delay key legislation taken by the prime minister, and can symbolically signal disapproval of controversial bills.
Having a compliant president will help Modi if parliament does not cooperate with his agenda. The prime minister can pass ordinances, similar to a US executive order, with the approval of the president, said Shailesh Kumar, a senior analyst with the Eurasia Group.

Dalit identity

Analysts point to the recent rise in mob violence directed at minorities as among the BJP’s primary motives in selecting Kovind.
“There’s a disillusionment among the Dalits,” said Satish Misra. “That’s why it’s necessary for the ruling party to send a signal that we are with you.”
Kovind is also a member of the the Koli ethnic group, an important voting bloc in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. A survey by the Centre for Study of Developing Societiesfound that members of the Koli community, many of whom are Dalit, switched their support from the Congress Party to the BJP between 2007 and 2012.
“Until now, Dalits never voted for the BJP. But in 2014, some percentage of the votes went to the BJP,” Misra added. “The fact remains that Dalits constitute over 20% of the Indian population and they’re a vote bank.”

Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Narendra Modi to become first Indian PM to visit Israel

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 May 2017 in Berlin, Germany.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Modi has said India and Israel share a “deep and centuries-old” connection

Narendra Modi will become the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, when he arrives on Tuesday.

Mr Modi, who recently said India and the Jewish state share a “deep and centuries-old” connection, is expected to agree military and cyber security deals.

Observers note he will not travel to Ramallah or meet Palestinian leaders, as visiting dignitaries often do.

The visit is seen by some as a turning point in India’s position on Israel.

India and Israel have had diplomatic relations for 25 years, but it has always been a balancing act given India’s sizeable Muslim population.

The two countries have been working closely together for years on counter-terrorism, defence, agriculture and the water and energy sectors.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has hailed the meeting as a “a very significant step” in strengthening relations, which he said were “on a constant upswing”, reported the Times of Israel.

The Indian leader will also be meeting an Israeli boy, Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were killed when gunmen stormed a Jewish centre in Mumbai during a 2008 terror attack.

India: PM Modi, Sir India Is Not A Democracy If You Do Not Have Religious Freedom

To India’s Prime Minister Modi:

This article is in regard to a story I read earlier today from the Christian Post. In several regards this article if it is true shows that India is not yet a true democracy. For any country to actually be a democracy there are many issues that must be addressed, in this article I am only going to try to address a few of these ideals. In a true democracy there has to be equality in areas of their caste system where anyone can move up, or down in the financial arenas depending on their own abilities. All adults must be allowed to vote for whomever they chose at least as long as they are not convicted felons who are in jail at the time of the elections. This last issue I have with your government is in regard to India not having true honest religious freedom.

 

I do believe that India is a great country right now yet it could be so much more if the political will is there. The article today in the Christian Post said that six Christian adults were arrested last month for taking 72 Christian children of Christian parents to a ‘vacation Bible school’. A State can not prosper for all of its citizens if they cannot worship their God as they see fit. The only exception to this rule should be if the religion is telling people to go into the population and attack and or kill people who don’t agree with them and their ‘God’s’ teachings. If a person actually knows anything about the New Testament Scriptures of the Bible then they know that the Scriptures do not teach violence toward anyone. As you well know Mr. Modi there are some ‘Religions’ that do teach such violence and not even as arbitrarily, but as a requirement. Mr. Modi, is the Hindu Religion really one of these Demonic Cults? I believe that the Nation of India can be the greatest Democracy size wise on this planet in about 20 or 30 years and you may think it is now but with these glaring flaws that is not so, not yet. If the politicians in your country do not fix these serious issues I believe your future will look like a mixture of Iran and China except not Islamic or Atheist but a horrible debased Hindu State that will end up having no semblance of Democracy or freedom.

‘Trump-Modi nexus’ could spell disaster for regional peace: AJK president

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER DAWN)

Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Mohammad Masood Khan in a statement on Tuesday warned that a “Trump-Modi nexus” could spell disaster to regional peace.

The statement follows a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the run-up to which the US State Department had designated Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin a global terrorist and slapped sanctions on him ─ a move slammed by the Foreign Office today as ‘completely unjustified’.

Read more: Unjust to designate supporters of Kashmiri struggle as terrorists: FO

The White House had called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, a statement from the White House said.

Sardar Khan, who retired from the foreign service of Pakistan as a career diplomat, claimed that the US had always deceived Pakistan and its latest decision was yet another example of it.

“The US has never acknowledged Pakistan’s sacrifices despite the latter’s being a frontline state in the war against terrorism,” he said.

Khan questioned the justification of the US decision, claiming that the Hizbul Mujahideen had been struggling solely for freedom of India-held Kashmir (IHK), and was neither linked to any terrorist group nor had resorted to any action outside IHK.

“In fact, it’s the Indian army committing terrorism in occupied Kashmir. Ignoring the genocide of Kashmiris by Indian army and declaring freedom fighters as terrorists is a criminal departure from international humanitarian and democratic norms by the US,” he claimed.

Kashmiris protest US move

Hundreds of people from different walks of life staged a rally in the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to condemn the US administration’s decision of designating Salahuddin a terrorist.

Demonstrators started the rally from Muzaffarabad’s famous Burhan Wani Chowk, named after a Hizbul Mujahideen commander who was killed by Indian forces in IHK last year.

Just in front of them, a large Indian tricolour flag was also placed on the ground with two young children standing on it.

Amid loud anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, it was later torched by the demonstrators.

Representatives of separatist groups and political parties took strong exception to the decision which they termed a reprehensible attempt by the Trump administration to please India.

Speaking at the rally, Khawaja Farooq Ahmed, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and a former AJK minister, claimed it was the weak foreign policy of the PML-N led government in Islamabad that had encouraged the Trump administration to take this step during Modi’s visit.

“If you are serious in your avowals of extending diplomatic, political and moral support to the Kashmiris, then you should show some strength and as a first step summon the US and Indian envoys in [the] Foreign Office to lodge [a] protest over this unfair decision,” he said, addressing the federal government.

Ahmed also asked the AJK government to give a strike call on both sides of disputed Kashmir, like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had given for February 28, 1974, to express rejection of the US decision.

“All political parties and mujahideen groups should be taken on board to make this strike a historic one,” he said.

PPP leader Shaukat Javed Mir and several others also spoke on the occasion.

Former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew Created A Near Perfect National Healthcare System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SINGAPORE NATIONAL REVIEW)

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM OUR FELLOW BLOGGER ‘1EARTUNITED’ 1EARTHUNITE.WORDPRESS.COM’)

The key is to ensure that one generation won’t bankrupt future generations by living beyond its means. Obituaries of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore who died this week at age 91, broke down into roughly two camps: He was a hero, building a “clean as Disneyland” republic that runs like a Swiss watch. He was an autocrat, who built a successful economy but crushed opponents and journalists who challenged his “managed” democracy.  Both statements have big elements of truth. I take a third approach, based on a fascinating visit I made to Singapore earlier this month. Lee Kuan Yew, a member of Britain’s left-wing Labour party while a student at Cambridge, managed to create a workable welfare state, one that provides for people without creating Social Security–like Ponzi schemes or unsustainable entitlements. Both liberals and conservatives have much to learn from what he built, the details of which are missing in most of the tributes to him.  Lee’s first priority when he became prime minister in 1959 was to reimagine Singapore’s economy. “Back then, this place was a swamp, with no natural resources, and it even had to import its drinking water from Malaysia,” Jim Rogers, a noted American investor who has lived in Singapore for nearly a decade, told me during my visit there.  By embracing free trade, capital formation, vigorous meritocratic education, low taxes, and a reliable judicial system, Lee raised the per capita income of his country from $500 a year to some $52,000 a year today. That’s 50 percent higher than that of Britain, the colonial power that ruled Singapore for 150 years. Its average annual growth rate has averaged 7 percent since the 1970s. “A 2010 study showed more patents and patent applications from the small city-state of Singapore (population 5.6 million) than from Russia (population 140 million),” noted economist Thomas Sowell observes. But that wealth wasn’t used to create a traditional welfare state. Economist Mark Skousen notes that Singapore is rated along with Hong Kong as one of the two most free economies in the world. Any expansion of government is gradual and grudging. In 2013, when Singapore broadened its medical-benefits program, the local Straits Times newspaper made clear the government’s philosophy: “The first [priority] is to keep government subsidies targeted at those who most need them, rather than commit to benefits for all. Universal benefits are ‘wasteful and inequitable,’ and hard to take away once given, [finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam] said.” That mindset is embodied in Singapore’s philosophy of welfare, which rests on four pillars: Each generation should pay its own way. Each family should pay its own way. Each individual should pay his own way. Only after passing through these three filters should anyone turn to the government for help. But it will be there when needed. Singapore’s approach to the provision of health care, retirement income, and housing is in sharp distinction to that of other countries. People are required to make relatively high payments into savings plans from which they can later buy a home, pay tuition, and purchase a variety of insurance policies. For those under age 50, the employee contributes 20 percent of his income, and the employer 16 percent. A third of the employee’s share is put into a private Medisave account. When the balance reaches 34,100 U.S. dollars, any excess funds can be used for non-health-care purposes. All are enrolled in a catastrophic-health-care plan, although they can opt out.  MORE LEE KUAN YEW, FATHER OF THE SINGAPORE MIRACLE LEE KUAN YEW’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN SINGAPORE’S ECONOMIC SUCCESS Health-care expert John Goodman is credited (along with economist Richard Rahn) with first proposing medical savings accounts in the U.S. He says Singapore shows that they can work as the backbone of a health-care system. “The issue is,” he says, “can individuals be counted on to manage their own health-care dollars responsibly, or does health care work better if all the dollars are controlled by government or insurance companies?” The answer is clear.  Not only is Singapore’s population healthy, but the private sector dominates health-care spending, and consumer choice keeps health-care costs down. In Singapore, the government’s share of health-care spending has fallen to 20 percent, down from 50 percent 30 years ago. “Singapore has found a rational way to provide services that are provided by legalized Ponzi schemes in the rest of the developed world,” Goodman told me in an interview. “Those governments have made promises they must either default on or impose draconian taxes to pay for. Singapore has avoided that problem.” It’s no wonder that other countries constantly consult Singapore for guidance on how to turbo-charge their economies. In 2011, Ghana’s vice president, John Dramani Mahama, told a visiting delegation from Singapore that his country “takes a lot of inspiration from Singapore in their economic transformation from a third- into a first-world country.” There is less to emulate from Singapore’s brand of politics. As Frank Lavin, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore from 2001 to 2005, notes: “Lee believed that open politics can lead to demagoguery, rent-seeking, and short-term thinking. Yet over time, Singapore did become more open, allowing for both political debate and contested elections. . . . Of Lee’s many successes, his most important legacy might be the move to that more open political system to complement the open economics.” But from my visit there, I believe that the least appreciated part of Lee Kwan Yew’s legacy is his method of ensuring that one generation won’t bankrupt future generations by selfishly living beyond its means. It’s a welfare state that works, and one he always said was available to any political leader with the courage to tell his people the truth about the limits of government’s power to pass out goodies. — John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for NRO.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/416071/singapore-lee-kuan-yew-built-welfare-state-works-john-fund

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