Storm slams into Eastern US with wet snow, strong gales

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A storm that arrived postcard-pretty in the nation’s capital Friday was morphing into a painful, even paralyzing blizzard with gale-force winds pushing heavy snow and coastal flooding. One in seven Americans could get at least half a foot of snow by Sunday, and Washington could see snowdrifts more than 4 feet high….

Can Our Children Be Safe? Pakistanis Ask After University Attack

Members of Civil Society protesting in Karachi, Pakistan against the attack on Bacha Khan University of Charsadda. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (21/1/2016)

Members of civil society protesting in Karachi, Pakistan, against the attack on Bacha Khan University of Charsadda. Image by ppiimages. Copyright Demotix (21/1/2016)

Heavily armed militants stormed Bacha Khan University in Charsadda on 20 January, 2016, and opened fire on students and staff members, killing 21 people and many more injured. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the four attackers were killed by security forces.

Charsadda, is about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, where in December 2014 Taliban gunmen killed 141 people, including 132 schoolchildren, at a branch of the Army Public School (APS).

The sheer scale and brutal violence in that attack spun the government to close all schools across Pakistan for a month, and the provincial government made it mandatory for all educational institutions to go through a security audit, train and arm their watchmen, install metal detectors, and increase their boundary walls to eight-feet, topping them with two-feet high razor wire. Bacha Khan University fell under this audit too and had 54 security guards on campus when the attack took place. More than 3,000 students are enrolled at Bacha Khan University.

Even though there hasn’t been a fatal attack targeting an educational institute in Pakistan since the 2014 violence at APS, the wounds of that bloodshed are still raw.

Element of surprise is what would have resulted in maximum casualties & fatalities. No Institute can respond to such an attack w/out losses

— norbalm (@norbalm) January 20, 2016

‘Stop using adjectives such as resilient,brave,heroes & courageous.They were students. (The Nation) #BachaKhanUniv http://pic.twitter.com/X6TE4iLzSK

— Abdul Majeed Khan (@koolkopper) January 21, 2016

The teachers and students at Bacha Khan University were attending a poetic symposium in the school to commemorate the 28th death anniversary of renowned Pakhtoon leader and proponent of non-violence Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as ‘Bacha Khan’. Khan opposed the partition of India and Pakistan after independence in 1947, and he toured India in an effort to quell inter-communal violence. Bacha Khan University was built by his own party, Awami National Party, in 2012 at Charsadda, his birth place.

#BachaKhan‘s ideology still pricks peoples’ conscience.An apprehension among radicals-resulted #BachaKhanUniAttack. http://pic.twitter.com/PwptWhx0PL

— Pirah Mangi (@pirahmangi) January 20, 2016

The Bacha Khan University has come under attack by terrorists on the day when his death anniversary is being observed. Such is the irony.

— Iftikhar Firdous (@IftikharFirdous) January 20, 2016

Pakistanis were not only outraged at the perpetrators of the attack, but also directed their displeasure at authorities. A year ago, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a comprehensive roadmap to counter the threat of these armed groups in his National Action Plan, the effectiveness of which has been much criticised.

This is going to be a test.. a harsh one.. comparisons will be drawn.. you can’t have winners when children have been snatched from parents

— norbalm (@norbalm) January 20, 2016

Under the plan, the government quickly passed a constitutional amendment relinquishing justice to “speedy military courts” to sentence “hardcore terrorists”, and arrested dozens of suspected “hate preachers”, launched more than 28,000 “terrorist” sweep operations across the country, arresting more than 100,000 people and lifted a seven-year-old moratorium of the death penalty executing more than 300 people, who were on death row, in 2015.

In a biting editorial, Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English-language daily says:

The death penalty does not deter terrorism. In fact, it can act as a propaganda tool for the militants as a contested claim of the responsibility for the Charsadda attack attests. Finally, the Bacha Khan University and the day of the attack do not appear to have been selected randomly.

The tolerant, compassionate, inclusive politics of Abdul Ghaffar Khan is what Pakistan ought to embody, and what the militant extremists are seeking to destroy. They must not win. Essential as it is to physically eliminate militancy, the very idea of the Taliban needs to be defeated too by making Pakistan a peaceful, democratic and constitutional land.

Writer Umer Ali also doubted the efficacy of the National Action Plan in an oped at The Nation:

Whatever the military demanded, civilian government gave – from military courts to foreign policy, everything has been under control of Army. But what are the results beyond photo-ops and extensive PR gains?

Members of Civil Society are protesting against the attack on Bacha Khan University of Charsadda. Image by piiimages. Copyright Demotix (21/01/2016)

Members of Civil Society are protesting against the attack on Bacha Khan University of Charsadda. Image by piiimages. Copyright Demotix (21/01/2016)

According to a report released in 2014 by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), about 30 schoolchildren and 20 teachers lost their lives, in attacks on education institutions in Pakistan between 2009 and 2012. Perhaps one of the most famous victims of this violence targeting education is Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the face and neck on her school bus for “promoting secular and anti-Taliban values” by campaigning for girls’ schooling.

According to one timeline, 229 people were killed in attacks of all kinds in 2015 in Pakistan. In 2014, 280 died, and 429 lost their lives in 2013. A day before the horror at Bacha Khan University, 10 people were killed in suicide attack targeting security forces vehicle in the Khyber region of Peshawar, for which Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility.

And rumors of security threats to educational institutions forced closure of several educational institutions in the same region earlier in the week. A recent video message the Taliban faction behind the Bacha Khan University massacre in Charsadda vowed to target schools throughout the country, calling them “nurseries” for people who challenge the group’s interpretation of holy law.

Columnist and activist Ali Salman Alvi argued in an oped in NDTV.com that even though the National Action Plan “looked good on paper, the situation on the ground remains disturbingly awful and unchanged”:

While it is obvious that it’ll take significant amount of time to eliminate terror from Pakistan, the more worrying part is that the state of Pakistan has shown no clear intent or political will to counter the mindset that has been a major hurdle in developing a counter-terrorism narrative in the country.

The question is whether Pakistan will be able to stem the flow of expanding militancy in the country. An editorial in The News asks “How many children are we to sacrifice before history and politics teach us which way salvation lies?”

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UK doctors call for removal of Israel from World Medical Association

PNN/Bethlehem

British doctors have called for the removal of Israel from the World Medical Association (WMA) over claims of “medical torture” on Palestinians seeking treatment, Israeli media reported.

Dr. Zeev Feldman, chairman of the Israeli Medical Association World Fellowship and president of the Israeli Neurosurgical Society, revealed at a Knesset Science and Technology Committee discussion on boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and researchers that the latest boycott call came from this group of 71 British doctors.

Dr. Zeev FeldmanDr. Zeev Feldman

Dr. Feldman stated that the British doctors issued a letter to pressure the WMA to revoke the membership of the Israel Medical Association, over claims that Israeli doctors perform medical torture on Palestinian patients.

Also, according to Dr. Feldman, this letter was just one effort in a consistent and organized campaign against Israeli institutions and scientists.

“We are in a struggle, everyone must understand that there is an organized struggle – a fight against academia, doctors, and other Israeli bodies. Our stance is that these accusations are lies, and we are engaged in a dialogue with the World Medical Association and we will bring forth the facts, and I hope that it will be enough to [persuade the association to] reject this request,” Dr. Feldman said.

If the British doctors succeed, the Israeli medics will be banned from taking part in international medical conferences and publishing in journals.

The move follows similar measures launched by scholars around the world over the past few months to boycott Israeli institutions.

This week, 200 Brazilian academics  endorsed the academic boycott of Israeli institutions, including former U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar diplomat Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

Worried with the fast growing of the BDS movement and its impact on the Israeli economy, Israeli MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) called on the Israeli government to establish a central body responsible for coordinating the efforts to counter boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and researchers.

“The boycott [campaign] harms the strength of the State of Israel. The government must allocate appropriate funds for the good of the struggle in this hour of national emergency,” he said.

A Passion for Helping: Pilar Montoya

Por Estaphania Baez
pilar
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Pilar Montoya left her home country when she was just 5 years old with her mother and her two older brothers, leaving behind her dad, the rest of her family and friends, and the thousands of memories forged during her early childhood. Her mother’s goal was clear: to provide a better future for her children, and what better place to pursue that than the country of the Stars and Stripes, so she brought them to Los Angeles, California. It was there that Pilar witnessed a woman’s first act of grit and bravery and decided to follow on that same path. Today, she dedicates her life to helping the millions of Latinos in the U.S. shine through a foundation she set up precisely to help Hispanics living abroad, in addition to her being a motivational speaker and businesswoman.

After becoming a U.S. citizen at 11, she has never stopped thriving. She got her degree at Sacramento State University, and has over 25 years of experience in business entrepreneurship. She has also earned national and international awards and is known in the business world as a born leader and outstanding public speaker.

“My passion is helping those in the community who feel like they’re alone and make them see that they are not. I came to the realization that our challenge as Latinos is to get a job, build trust, create a good life in the U.S. both for ourselves and for our children, and achieve our dreams… that is the reason why I help the community”, highlighted Pilar Montoya during her interview La Prensa San Diego.

Pilar Montoya, now a resident of San Diego, created the Caminos Foundation in 2014, and since then she has provided support to more than 2,000 low-income Hispanic residents. The foundation provides training to men and women looking for work, as well as workshops to educate the community regarding risks they are susceptible to, such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer, which greatly impact the Hispanic community due to not having the right information as to how to protect their health. Also through her foundation, Ms. Montoya works with small-business entrepreneurs seeking to open their own business; she advises them on how to obtain their licenses, better manage their finances, and sometimes even provides the resources needed to get their businesses going. As a result, Pilar is greatly admired and loved by the people who have found in her a helping hand.

Pilar shared that one of her greatest recent achievements has been the workshops she provides specifically for Latino women, where she teaches them to overcome all the challenges life can throw at you and turn them into positive results.
“You can either play the victim or you can learn how to get back up and overcome the challenge; the key – and my goal – is to inspire, to encourage these people to get over the hump… people who have lost their job… that is how life is, we all go through it, and these obstacles have to be risen over”, stressed Ms. Montoya.

These workshops for women are taught through MANA, a grassroots organization, over a four-month period.
In spite of the large number of awards Pilar has earned and the satisfaction she feels when she sees her alumni thrive, she assured us that nothing can compare with the great pride she feels seeing her children – Carlos, now 28, and Sibone, who is 25 – becoming successful professionals. Carlos is an industrial designer, and her little girl has a degree in Psychology; they have both lived in the U.S. their entire lives and have had access to better opportunities, all thanks to their mother’s work.

Pilar Montoya is part of a growing list of successful Latino women who have made it in a country other than their own. She is a source of pride for the Hispanic community, a Latino jewel.

Of All Arizona and New Mexico Tribes, Navajo had More Violent Crimes in 2014

In this Feb. 12, 2014 file photo, Navajo police officers closely keep watch on two men who lie handcuffed on the ground early Wednesday morning after executing a search warrant in Shiprock. Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

In this Feb. 12, 2014 file photo, Navajo police officers closely keep watch on two men who lie handcuffed on the ground early Wednesday morning after executing a search warrant in Shiprock. Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero The Navajo Nation Drug & Gang Unit along with the Strategic Reaction Team aim their weapons at the front door of a suspected meth dealer on an early Feb. 12, 2014 in Shiprock while executing a search warrant. Officers arrested two men without incident. During their search, officers found 2.2 grams of meth and stolen firearms.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
The Navajo Nation Drug & Gang Unit along with the Strategic Reaction Team aim their weapons at the front door of a suspected meth dealer on an early Feb. 12, 2014 in Shiprock while executing a search warrant. Officers arrested two men without incident. During their search, officers found 2.2 grams of meth and stolen firearms.

Published January 21, 2016

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA — New Mexico continues to face a higher degree of violent crimes than most other states, according to figures released recently by the FBI.

National figures put out by the FBI for 2014, the latest year that is available, places New Mexico as the fourth highest state when it comes to the amount of violent crime per capita.

And figures provided for crime in Indian Country shows violent and property crime per capita far higher on the Navajo Reservation than for any other tribes in the country.

These figures coincide with figures released annually by the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.

New Mexico in 2014, according to FBI figures, showed 8,653 cases of violent crimes in metropolitan areas, 2,908 in the smaller cities in the state and 895 in rural areas in the state.

Violent crimes include murders, rapes, and aggravated assaults (usually with a weapon of some kind).

Looking at the counties in the state, San Juan ranked third (behind Bernalillo and Valencia) and McKinley County rates third in the state behind Otero and Taos for crime in non-metropolitan areas.

McKinley County Undersheriff Paul Lucero said Wednesday that crime in the county is high “but it seems to be getting a little better.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

 

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