Monday, October 16, 2017

Austria - Foreign Minister Addresses General Debate, 72nd Session

19 Sep 2017 -  Sebastian Kurz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, addresses the general debate of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the UN (New York, 19 - 25 September 2017). - Read More

UN Live United Nations Web TV - Austria - Foreign Minister Addresses ...


انتخابات اتریش؛ کورتس جوان‌ترین صدراعظم می‌شود

سباستین کورتس ۳۱ ساله بعد از پیروزی حزب‌اش در انتخابات پارلمانی صدراعظم جدید اتریش خواهد شد. حزب دست‌راستی و ضد مهاجرت «آزادی اتریش» ممکن است شریک ائتلافی او باشد.

براساس آخرین شمارش آرا، «حزب مردم» اترش در انتخابات روز یک‌شنبه ۳۱،۶ درصد آرا را گرفته است که بیانگر پیروزی بزرگ برای سباستین کورتس ۳۱ ساله است. براساس این نتیجه، این حزب ۶۲ کرسی پارلمانی را احراز خواهد کرد.
بیشتر بخوانید: سباستین کورتس، سیاستمدار جوان اتریش کیست؟

کورتس در همایشی به هواداران خود گفت: «امروز به شما قول می‌دهم که برای تغییر در این کشور با همه قدرت خود مبارزه می‌کنم. من این مسئولیت را با تواضع بزرگ قبول می‌کنم.» - Read More

انتخابات اتریش؛ کورتس جوان‌ترین صدراعظم می‌شود | آلمان و جهان | DW

Hundreds of Turkish officials seek asylum in Germany: report - dw.com

Some 600 senior-ranked Turkish officials have sought asylum in Germany since last year’s coup attempt in Turkey, according to a Berlin newspaper. The number highlights the growing uncertainty in the country.

Germany's Funke media group, which includes the Berliner Morgenpost, reported Saturday that the more than 600 asylum applicants comprised 250 persons with Turkish diplomatic passports and 380 with identity papers showing them to be senior Turkish public servants.

Last year's coup attempt, blamed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, was followed by the arrests of 50,000 people in Turkey and 150,000 sackings and suspensions in the military, public and private sectors.

The Berliner Morgenpost said it had obtained the figures from Germany's Interior Ministry, which last month said 196 Turks with diplomatic passports had been granted asylum in Germany.

That count did not include members of Turkey's military, including NATO attaches, who have also sought asylum. - Read More

Hundreds of Turkish officials seek asylum in Germany: report

EU defends Iran deal despite Trump, appeals to U.S. Congress

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union on Monday reaffirmed its support for a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers despite sharp criticism of the accord by President Donald Trump, and it urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Trump defied both U.S. allies and adversaries on Friday by refusing to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the accord, even though international inspectors say it is, and said he might ultimately terminate the agreement.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg said a failure to uphold an international agreement backed by the U.N. Security Council could have serious consequences for regional peace, and also undermine efforts to check North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“As Europeans together, we are very worried that the decision of the U.S. president could lead us back into military confrontation with Iran,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters.

After a closed-door meeting chaired by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Iran, the ministers issued a joint statement saying the 2015 deal was key to preventing the global spread of nuclear weapons.

“The EU is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA,” it said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the accord with Iran agreed in July 2015 in Vienna.

Trump meanwhile renewed his criticism of the accord, and raised the possibility he might try to end it completely. - Read More

EU defends Iran deal despite Trump, appeals to U.S. Congress

Afghanistan: new EU strategy - European External Action Service - eeas.europa.eu

16/10/2017 - 14:44
EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs today approved a new EU strategy on Afghanistan, reconfirming the EU's and member states' long-term commitment to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and to support its sustainable development.

The EU new strategy on Afghanistan, adopted today by the ministers of foreign affairs from all 28 EU member states, focuses on four priority areas: promoting peace, stability and regional security, reinforcing democracy, the rule of law and human rights and promoting good governance and women's empowerment, supporting economic and human development, addressing challenges related to migration.

In recent years, Afghanistan has been confronted with a number of challenges that threaten the progress made in its economic and social development and its democratic institutions. The European Union recognises that the delicate security situation and the fragile economic situation the country is facing, combined with a clear determination on the part of the Afghan authorities to implement much-needed reforms necessitates renewed attention from the international community.

Announcing the Joint Communication which set out the main elements of the EU Strategy in July, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said: "The Afghan people deserve peace and prosperity. As the European Union, we have been standing by them and will continue to do so, in support of the reform process, of Afghanistan's democratic path, of the rule of law and human rights, and of bringing peace to the country, to the benefit not only of all Afghans but also of the entire region and the international community as a whole. This work towards peace needs to be led by Afghans and owned by Afghans, but the active support of the region and of the international community is crucial. The Afghan people can count on the European Union to accompany this process.”

As part of the EU Strategy, the EU will work in close cooperation with civil society, the Afghan authorities, and all stakeholders, towards lasting peace, a consolidated democracy, equitable development and social justice in Afghanistan.

The new Strategy is the latest illustration of the European Union's strong engagement in and strong commitment to Afghanistan. Notably, it follows the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, held in October 2016 in Brussels, the signing of a new EU-Afghanistan Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development in February 2017, and the appointment of a Special Envoy to Afghanistan in June. -  Read More

Afghanistan: new EU strategy - European External Action Service


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Austria moving to the right as it's set to elect Europe's youngest leader - latimes

Austria was set to elect a new conservative leader on Sunday who triumphed by promising to take a hard line on the tens of thousands of refugees who have poured into the country from Syria.

Sebastian Kurz, 31, who would become the European Union’s youngest leader, is expected to attempt to form a coalition with a far-right populist party that was long ostracized for its extreme nationalism.

Kurz was leading the conservative People’s Party into first place in Sunday’s parliamentary election with 31.9% of the vote, according to Austrian TV projections. That was an increase of 7.9 percentage points from the last election and put Kurz, who has been serving as foreign minister, on track to become the Alpine Republic’s 12th post-war chancellor.

The country’s sharp tilt to the right after a bitter election campaign centered on migrants and taxes, reflecting both rising tensions towards a growing number of immigrants in the Alpine republic as well as growing support for far-right populists crusading to preserve national identities across Europe.

A wealthy country of 8.7 million people lodged between Germany and Italy, Switzerland and Slovakia, Austria served as a gateway into Germany for more than a million refugees fleeing Syria and other troubled spots over the last two years.

Austria itself took in about 100,000 refugees, equal to more than 1% of its population, before Kurz as foreign minister sensed public apprehension and designed a plan to shut its borders and effectively stop the stream of refugees moving north.

Kurz forced the snap election when he refused to continue in a coalition as junior partners to the Social Democrats and quickly attracted voters by vowing to shut down the flow of migrants to Austria and limit benefit payments to refugees.

Now, Kurz’s People’s Party and the Freedom Party would have enough support to form a hard-right coalition that would replace the left-center grand coalition that has ruled Austria for the last decade and that until now has been led by Chancellor Christian Kern, head of the ruling Social Democrats. - Read More

Austria moving to the right as it's set to elect Europe's youngest leader


Saturday, October 14, 2017

What Trump's decision to end a federal healthcare subsidy means for Californians - latimes

In an aggressive move to dismantle Obamacare, President Trump announced Thursday that the government was ending payments to health insurers that help fund the law.

The approximately $7 billion a year in federal dollars have allowed companies to offer discounted plans to low-income Americans who buy coverage through the healthcare exchanges.

According to experts, withdrawal of the subsidies could lead insurers to drop out of the exchanges, healthcare marketplaces to collapse and premiums to increase. The biggest effect would be on the individual insurance market, through which about 3 million Californians buy a health plan.

Under the Affordable Care Act, there are two kinds of subsides intended to make insurance more affordable in the individual market.

One goes toward premiums and is given directly to consumers. The other reduces co-pays and deductibles, and is paid to the insurance companies so they can afford to lower the cost of their plans.

On California’s exchange, Covered California, 90% of the approximately 1.5 million enrollees receive the first kind of subsidy and 50% benefit from the second one, according to officials.

What Trump got rid of was the second subsidy, known as cost-sharing reductions. - Read More

What Trump's decision to end a federal healthcare subsidy means for Californians

Canadian says child killed, wife raped in Afghanistan - Aljazeera

Former hostage Joshua Boyle said upon arriving back in Canada that the Haqqani network in Afghanistan had killed his infant daughter and raped his wife during the years they were held in captivity.

Boyle gave the statement shortly after landing in Canada late on Friday with his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, and three young children.

The couple was rescued on Wednesday, five years after they had been abducted by the Taliban-linked network while in Afghanistan as part of a backpacking trip.

Coleman was pregnant at the time and had four children in captivity. The birth of the fourth child had not been publicly known before Boyle appeared before journalists at the Toronto airport.

Boyle said the killing of his daughter was retaliation for his "repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani network had made to me".

Boyle said his wife was raped by a guard who was assisted by his superiors. He asked for the Afghan government to bring them to justice.

The Canadian government said in a statement they will "continue to support him and his family now that they have returned". - More

Afghanistan News - Today's latest from Al Jazeera

Iranians fear economic hardship, but united against Trump

ANKARA (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s hardened stance towards Iran evoked a mixture of indifference and national pride among Iranians on Saturday but many were concerned about economic hardship should a multinational nuclear deal unravel.

In a major shift in U.S. foreign policy, Trump said on Friday he might ultimately terminate the 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions in return for Tehran rolling back technologies with nuclear bomb-making potential. [nL2N1MO0DH]

 “Who the hell is Trump to threaten Iran and Iranians? Of course we don’t want economic hardship, but it does not mean we will be their puppet and do whatever they say,” said housewife Minou Khosravani, 37, a mother of two in the central city of Yazd.

Within minutes of Trump’s speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani went live on state television, ruling out any renegotiation of the deal Iran signed with major powers. He also signaled Iran would withdraw from the agreement if it failed to preserve Tehran’s interests.

 Tired of economic adversity during years of tough sanctions over Iran’s nuclear programme, many Iranians still fervently back the decision by Iran’s clerical rulers to resist U.S. pressure.

Iranians around the globe took to social media in anger. - More, Reuters

Iranians fear economic hardship, but united against Trump

Friday, October 13, 2017

Transcript: Trump's Remarks On Iran Nuclear Deal


President Trump Delivers Remarks on the Iran Strategy - Read More

Transcript: Trump's Remarks On Iran Nuclear Deal

President Trump says he will not certify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal ahead of a Sunday deadline, but the move does not automatically withdraw the U.S. from the agreement. Trump laid out his strategy in an address on Friday. Below are his full remarks, as released by the White House. - More, NPR
Transcript: Trump's Remarks On Iran Nuclear Deal

Trump Disavows Nuclear Deal and Denounces Iranian Leadership - nytimes

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday made good on a long-running threat to disavow the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. But he stopped short of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal’s defenders had once feared.

In a speech that mixed searing criticism of Iran with more measured action, Mr. Trump declared his intention not to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. Doing so essentially kicks to Congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the agreement.

“We will not continue down a path whose inevitable result is more violence, more chaos and Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Mr. Trump declared at the White House, as he laid out a broader strategy for confronting Iran.

The president derided the deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transaction the United States has ever entered into.” But he added, “What’s done is done, and that’s why we are where we are.”

Mr. Trump said he would ask Congress to establish “trigger points,” which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by Congress.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Mr. Trump said.

Those could include continued ballistic missile launches by Iran, a refusal to extend the duration of constraints on its nuclear fuel production, or a conclusion by the United States’ intelligence agencies that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon in less than a year.

Mr. Trump delivered a fire-breathing denunciation of the Iranian government, saying it financed terrorist groups, imprisoned Americans, plotted attacks on troops, and fomented civil wars in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. “Given the regime’s murderous past and present,” he said, “we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future.” - Read More

Trump Disavows Nuclear Deal and Denounces Iranian Leadership ...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

درصد اطفال محروم از مکتب در افغانستان را دختران تشکیل می‌دهند ۷۵

مقام‌ها و نماینده یونیسف در کابل به مناسبت روز بین‌المللی کودک دختر به مشکلات دختران به خصوص در بخش تعلیم و تربیه اشارت کردند. براساس آمار حکومت افغانستان، حدود دو سوم کودکان محروم از مکتب را دختران تشکیل می‌دهند.

مقام‌ها در حکومت افغانستان می‌گویند ۵۰ درصد مکاتب در افغانستان ساختمان ندارند و در نتیجه آن بیشتر دختران از درس و تعلیم باز می‌مانند. ۷۰ درصد دختران پیش از این که تا صنف دوازدهم برسند، به دلیل فشارهای خانوادگی و رسوم محلی مکتب را ترک می‌کنند.

حکومت افغانستان می‌گوید به منظور دسترسی بیشتر دختران به تعلیم و تربیه قرار است در چهار سال آینده ۳۰ هزار معلم زن برای تدریس در مکتب‌های دخترانه استخدام شوند.

خانم دنیز مسئول ارتباطات صنوق حمایت از کودکان ملل متحد (یونیسف) در این برنامه گفت: «آموزش دختران در افغانستان در خطر است. ۷۵ درصد از ۳.۵ میلیون کودک که از مکتب محروم هستند را دختران تشکیل می‌دهند. تفاوت جنسیتی بسیار زیاد است.»

این مسئول یونیسف تاکید کرد که حکومت افغانستان باید جلو فساد در معارف را بگیرد زیرا در نتیجه فساد، فرصت‌های بزرگ شغلی و تعلیمی از دختران گرفته می‌شود. او افزود که دختران در افغانستان از ناامنی و جرایم جنسی رنج می‌برند. - Read More

 درصد اطفال محروم از مکتب در افغانستان را دختران تشکیل می‌دهند - dw۷۵

Trump signs order to eliminate ACA insurance rules, undermine marketplaces - washingtonpost

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday intended to circumvent the Affordable Care Act by making it easier for individuals and small business to buy different types of health plans with lower prices but also fewer benefits and protections.

The White House and allies portray the president’s move as wielding administrative powers to accomplish what congressional Republicans have failed to achieve: tearing down the law’s insurance marketplaces. The order represents Trump’s biggest step to carry out a broad but ill-defined directive he issued his first night in office for agencies to lessen ACA regulations from the Obama administration.

Critics, who include state insurance commissioners, most of the health-insurance industry and mainstream policy specialists, predict that a proliferation of other types of coverage would have damaging ripple effects: driving up costs for consumers with serious medical conditions and prompting more insurers to flee the law’s marketplaces. Part of Trump’s action, they say, will spark court challenges over its legality. - Read More

Global economic recovery may not last, warns IMF


Fund cuts UK and US growth forecasts, and also tells governments not to get complacent in its latest World Economic Outlook

The International Monetary Fund has said the global economy’s recent recovery may not last, despite a pickup in activity in all western countries except the UK.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the onset of the financial crisis, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) there was a risk that governments could be lulled into a false sense of security by booming markets and policymakers needed to guard against complacency.

Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF’s economic counsellor, cited high asset prices, rapid credit growth in China, political turmoil in Catalonia and a cliff-edge Brexit as risks to an improving global outlook.

Overall, the IMF said global output growth would increase from 3.2% in 2016 to 3.6% this year and 3.7% in 2018. It upgraded its growth forecast by 0.1 percentage points for this year and next from the last full WEO in April and the update to its forecasts in July. - Read More

US withdrawal from UNESCO 'loss for multilateralism,' says cultural agency's chief

12 October 2017 – The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voiced “profound regret” on Thursday over the United States' decision to withdraw from the agency.

“This is a loss to UNESCO. This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement.

“Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity,” she added, noting that UNESCO would continue to build a more just, peaceful, equitable 21st century.

Ms. Bokova recalled that in 2011, when the US suspended payment of its membership contributions, she was convinced that the UNESCO never mattered as much for the US or vice versa.

“This is all the more true today,” she continued “when the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security, to counter racism and antisemitism, to fight ignorance and discrimination.”

Ms. Bokova spelled out her belief that the American people support UNESCO's actions to harness new learning technologies; enhance scientific cooperation, for ocean sustainability; promote freedom of expression, defend journalists' safety; empower girls and women as change-makers and peacebuilders; bolster societies facing emergencies, disasters and conflicts; and advance literacy and quality education.

“Despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful,” she underscored. “Together, we have worked to protect humanity's shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy.” - Read More

US withdrawal from UNESCO 'loss for multilateralism,' says cultural agency's chief

UNESCO chief regrets United States decision to withhold funding

Why America Can't Win Its Revenge War in Afghanistan - The National Interest

Daniel R. DePetris
For the vast majority of Americans, this past Saturday was just another day on the calendar. College football fans streamed into stadiums across the nation to watch their favorite teams, friends met up for a drink or two, and the overworked and strung out among us caught an extra few hours of sleep.

October 7, however, wasn’t an ordinary Saturday. Rather, it marked the sixteenth anniversary since the United States began dropping the first bombs on Taliban installations and Al Qaeda bases throughout Afghanistan—a military campaign that President George W. Bush labeled as the opening phase in a war that would require patience, perseverance and support from the American people. The war objectives back then were simple, straightforward and easy to understand: the United States was attacked by nineteen terrorists who turned four commercial airplanes into ballistic missiles, and it was time for some payback. The group that planned and executed the worst terrorist attack in modern history and the Taliban regime that hosted that group needed to be taught a lesson. Bush said that afternoon that U.S. military action in the months ahead would be “designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them out and bring them to justice."

Back in October 2001, the country was still mourning and had barely passed the first stage of grief. Those who had no idea whether or not their loved ones made it out of the Twin Towers before they collapsed continued to hope that relatives and friends would wind up at their front doors tomorrow or the next day. You didn’t have to be a fully-formed adult to feel the depth of the country’s wounds; even as a seventh grader, I could tell that my classmates, their parents and even random guy shopping for food at the supermarket were all on edge. Indeed, the entire country was in a state of fear. While New Yorkers were continuing to search for bodies at Ground Zero, many Americans from coast to coast were almost operating on the assumption that another attack on the scale of 9/11 was in the offing.

As perverse as this may sound today, those first Tomahawk cruise-missile strikes on Taliban compounds and Al Qaeda hideouts was a celebratory affair. The people who bloodied our nose were now getting their faces pounded. The opening three months of Operation Enduring Freedom wasn’t so much about freedom per se as it was about punishing the criminals who took the lives of nearly three thousand innocent people, including hundreds of first responders. Those criminals also destroyed one of the New York skyline’s legendary landmarks.

And punish them we did. In the weeks before September 11, the Taliban were the rulers of Afghanistan, having steamrolled nearly every militia group and warlord they confronted on their way to Kabul. The Northern Alliance was holed up in the far north of the country, recuperating from the assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the legendary anti-Taliban commander. Osama bin Laden was the father of the jihadist movement, leading a terrorist network that churned out thousands of recruits.

Sixteen years later, U.S. troops not only remain in Afghanistan but now they are being reinforced with an additional three thousand soldiers. The rules of engagement have been loosened, with commanders in the field granted more authority to launch more bombs on more target sets. A third consecutive U.S. president is hoping that perhaps with a little more firepower and a little more time, the United States and its NATO allies can accomplish an objective that has proven elusive for the previous decade and a half. U.S. commanders running the war remain upbeat that the new strategy, combined with a more capable Afghan army, “is the beginning of the end for the Taliban.” We’ve heard this kind of rhetoric before, of course, but the war has been going on for so long that most Americans have tuned it out. - More 

Why America Can't Win Its Revenge War in Afghanistan

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Thousands flee as wildfires ravage California; at least 17 killed - abcnews

Massive wildfires sweeping through parts of California have killed at least 17 people and damaged more than 2,000 residences and other buildings, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling dozens of fires across multiple counties in the state as of Tuesday, authorities said. Intensified by strong winds, the fires charred over 115,000 acres of land, destroyed at least 2,000 buildings and forced nearly 20,000 residents to evacuate.

St. Joseph Health said about 170 patients have been treated, many for burns and smoke inhalation, at three of its hospitals, including two in Sonoma County, where at least 11 people died of fire-related injuries. Authorities have 183 unresolved missing person reports, according to one Sonoma County official. - Read More

Thousands flee as wildfires ravage California - ABC News


DW - تشریح کوتاه ماده‌های کلیدی قانون اساسی آلمان

مرز طنز تا کجاست؟ آیا دختران می‌توانند در مکتب چادر بپوشند؟ انتخابات پارلمان آلمان فدرال چگونه برگزار می‌شود؟ همه این موارد را قانون اساسی آلمان تعریف می‌کند. ما در این ویدیوها مهم‌ترین مواد قانون اساسی را تشریح می‌کنیم.

توماس دیمیزیر، وزیر داخله آلمان فدرال از حزب دموکرات مسیحی (سی دی یو) در ماه اپریل با اظهارات خود بحث جدیدی را در مورد «قواعد اصلی فرهنگ آلمانی» (Leitkultur) برانگیخت. آلمان بر چه مبنائی استوار است؟ کدام قواعد و ارزش‌ها زندگی باهمی را در جمهوری فدرالی آلمان تعریف می‌کنند؟ پاسخ این سوال و سوال‌های مشابه را قانون اساسی آلمان می‌دهد. قانونی که امروز ۲۳ می ۶۸ ساله شد. - Read More

تشریح کوتاه ماده‌های کلیدی قانون اساسی آلمان | مهاجرت به اروپا | DW

Germany may not agree new coalition until next year: Merkel ally

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany may need to wait until next year for a new government as the three blocs trying to form an alliance are so far apart they will need a deeply detailed coalition deal, a senior Bavarian ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Reuters.

Alexander Dobrindt, parliamentary floor leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), said a coalition agreement would have to be more precise than the one that accompanied the right-left grand coalition in the last parliament. - More, Reuters

Germany may not agree new coalition until next year: Merkel ally


How long will Germany have to wait for a government?

The Netherlands finally has a new government, seven months after the election in March. There are similarities to the Dutch situation in Germany — but a key difference could make negotiations in Berlin even harder.

Ah, parliamentary democracy. Where small parties stand a chance, representativeness beats winner-takes-all — and managing to get a government together can take the better half of a year after an election.

Germans are getting antsy because exploratory talks between potential coalition partners have yet to start, two weeks after the Bundestag election. But in the Netherlands, a new government presented its program on Tuesday, nearly seven months after the election on March 15. Seven months! - More

How long will Germany have to wait for a government?


TOP STORIES | DW

Afghan-Pakistan border villages brace for Berlin Wall-style divide

The fence, which Kabul opposes, will run down the middle of so-called “divided villages” where few people have passports and Pashtun tribal loyalty often trumps allegiance to the state.

Seven such villages are dotted around Chaman district, home to the bustling border-crossing town of Chaman in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan. Other divided villages are believed to exist further north in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

“(A border wall) was there in Germany, it is in Mexico. It is all over the world – why not in Afghanistan and Pakistan?” said Col. Muhammad Usman, commander of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps paramilitary force in Chaman.

“These tribals have to understand that this is Pakistan and that place is Afghanistan.- More

Afghan-Pakistan border villages brace for Berlin Wall-style divide


24 structures lost, 7,500 acres burned in Orange County firestorm, but slow progress reported

Firefighters on Tuesday were slowing gaining more control of a brush fire that destroyed 24 structures in Orange County, burned 7,500 acres and forced a mass evacuation of residents in Anaheim Hills and Orange.

The Canyon 2 fire broke out around 9:20 a.m. Monday near the 91 Freeway and Gypsum Canyon Road, and quickly leaped the California 241 toll road. It raced up a ridge and hit tract homes at the top of a hill. Several caught fire and continued to burn even as firefighters sprayed the structures with water.

Fire officials said Tuesday that they were in the process of inspections of burn areas in hopes of getting better data about losses. Officials said the blaze was 25% contained and that much of the westward progression of the fire had been stopped. Firefighters were now working on the eastern flank of the blaze.

While evacuations remain in place, officials said they hope to lift some of those restrictions this afternoon or evening. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

 Orange County fire officials evacuated more than 5,000 homes in three cities as the fast-moving fire grew, spitting smoke into the air that was visible over Disneyland and caused officials to issue air quality warnings in parts of Los Angeles County. - More, latimes

24 structures lost, 7,500 acres burned in Orange County firestorm, but slow progress reported


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Mattis Discloses Part of Afghanistan Battle Plan, but It Hasn’t Yet Been Carried Out - nytimes

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, normally reluctant to speak publicly about American troops deployed around the globe, took a different tack this week on Capitol Hill.

Pressed by lawmakers, including Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, about the Pentagon’s failure to provide more details about the Afghanistan war plan, Mr. Mattis divulged new information about more aggressive rules of engagement there.

But the changes he described have yet to be issued as orders to troops in the field, according to American service members and officials in Afghanistan. With the new rules caught in bureaucratic limbo, Mr. Mattis effectively telegraphed the military’s plans to the Taliban before they could be put into action.

Why Mr. Mattis chose to publicly discuss the rules of engagement — parameters that are classified to ensure the enemy cannot take advantage of their limitations — is unclear. The Pentagon did not deny that the changes had yet to go into effect, but a spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, said he strongly disagreed “that the secretary said anything in public that would place forces on the ground at risk, or help the enemy.”

Mr. Mattis’s decision to talk about the secretive guidelines highlights the difficult position he is in: wedged between lawmakers’ demands for more transparency while trying to articulate how the United States is committed to the country’s longest-running war, one the public has largely dismissed.

The disclosure signaled to Taliban fighters that some of their well-established sanctuaries are no longer safe and that they will need to change how they move around the battlefield to avoid American bombs. It also takes away the element of surprise, a core aspect of any battle plan.

Battlefield commanders in Afghanistan have long publicly discussed the need to take more aggressive measures as the Taliban have gained ground since the American troop drawdown in 2014. But current and retired military officers expressed surprise that Mr. Mattis, himself a retired Marine field commander, went so far.

“You see some of the results of releasing our military from, for example, a proximity requirement — how close was the enemy to the Afghan or the U.S.-advised Special Forces,” Mr. Mattis said on Tuesday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “That is no longer the case, for example. So these kind of restrictions that did not allow us to employ the air power fully have been removed, yes.” - More

Mattis Discloses Part of Afghanistan Battle Plan, but It Hasn't Yet Been