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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saudi king resets succession to cope with turbulent times

RIYADH | BY ANGUS MCDOWALL (Reuters) - Saudi King Salman appointed a new heir and made his young son second in line to rule on Wednesday, a major shift in power within the ultra conservative kingdom's elite at a time of almost unprecedented regional turmoil. By making Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, 55, crown prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman, 30, deputy crown prince, King Salman has effectively decided the line of succession for decades to come in the world's top oil exporter. Almost all powers under the king are now concentrated in the hands of the pair, who each chair committees determining all security and economic development issues in Saudi Arabia, and have led Riyadh's month-old campaign of air strikes in Yemen. In another big shift, Salman replaced veteran Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who had served in the role since October 1975, with the kingdom's Washington ambassador Adel al-Jubeir, the first non-royal to hold the post. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who replaces Prince Muqrin, the successor chosen by the late King Abdullah before his death in January, enjoys closer personal ties with U.S. officials than almost any other senior royal, diplomats have said. The changes come as Saudi Arabia navigates the messy aftermath of the Arab spring and has departed from decades of backroom politics with its military intervention in Yemen. The Yemen move, closely associated with both Prince Mohammeds, is seen by analysts as reflecting a more assertive approach to Saudi Arabia's foreign policy under Salman and his ruling team. "I think we're going to see a more confrontational policy, faster decision-making and more long-term thinking. A leadership that won't hesitate from any confrontation," said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi security analyst with close ties to the kingdom's Interior Ministry. RELATED COVERAGE › New Saudi Crown Prince marks generational shift › Saudi king orders one-month salary bonus for security personnel It follows what many Saudis see as a decade of growing Iranian influence across the Middle East and a steady disengagement by Riyadh's historical main strategic partner Washington. Saudi Arabia also faces long-term domestic challenges, including entrenched youth unemployment, unsustainable state spending and tension between religious conservatives and more Western-oriented liberals. OIL APPOINTMENTS The reshuffle also touched the oil sector, hugely sensitive to financial markets as the world's biggest petroleum exporting country holds the key to global supplies. The chief executive of state oil firm Aramco, Khalid al-Falih, was appointed Health Minister, according to the text of the decree published on the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television also reported he had been named chairman of state oil company Saudi Aramco, a position hitherto held by veteran Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who remained in his ministerial post. The decree as published on SPA did not mention the new role at Aramco, but oil traders said they were closely monitoring the situation to see if there would be a new Aramco CEO and whether oil minister Naimi's position would be affected. Naimi, who is 79 years old and has been oil minister since 1995, was seen as crucial in Saudi Arabia’s decision last November not to cut production in support of crude prices, which have halved since June 2014. Analysts said oil policy was not likely to change. While Mohammed bin Nayef is a familiar figure both inside the kingdom and in the West for his role in quashing an al Qaeda uprising and leading Saudi policy in Syria, his successor as second in line to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, is comparatively unknown. Until four months and six days ago, the young Prince Mohammed had only served as head of his father's court, was a virtual stranger to the Saudi public and had had relatively little contact with the kingdom's foreign partners. Since then he has become, as Defence Minister, the face of Saudi Arabia's newly-launched war in Yemen, with his bearded features rarely off television screens or street billboards, and is now established as a central figure. "Mohammed bin Salman can grow into the job under Mohammed bin Nayef's supervision," Alani said. The replacement of Prince Muqrin, Salman's youngest half brother, as crown prince means the present monarch will be the last of the sons of Saudi Arabia's founder King Abdulaziz Al Saud to rule after five of his brothers. It also ends concerns about a line of increasingly frail, aged kings after Salman, who is 80 this year, replaced the 90 year old Abdullah. "We don't want Saudi Arabia to be ruled by one ailing leader after another," said Jamal Khashoggi, general manager of al-Arab television station. The move also solidifies Salman's own branch of the ruling family. Abdullah's only son in a position of significant power now is Prince Miteb, who is head of the national guard and was retained in his post on Wednesday. The new deputy crown prince, who also serves as head of a top committee on economy and development, was replaced as royal court chief on Wednesday by Hamed al-Sweilam, the decree said, possibly to answer critics who said he had too many jobs. (Reporting by Sami Aboudi, Mostafa Hashem, Maha El Dahan and Reem Shamseddine and Henning Gloystein; editing by William Maclean and Philippa Fletcher) Sponsored Links by Taboola From The Web Shantan Wantan Ichiban Takes You to the Real NZ. Watch Now! Contiki NZ Better on the Ground Than in the Air ..! RIPBird Say Goodbye To Snoring With This Cool Tip My Snoring Solution The top 10 frustrations amateur golfers hate Hank Haney University 15 Of The Rarest (And Most Mind Blowing) Photographs In History LOLWOT Top 20 World’s Most Beautiful, Peaceful and Safest Countries Amerikanki More From Reuters Saudi-led coalition bombs Yemen despite calling off air campaign |23 Apr Saudi says arrests 93 Islamic State suspects, foils U.S. embassy attack |29 Apr Iranian Revolutionary Guards seize cargo ship in Gulf |29 Apr UPDATE 2-MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt hits 4-month low on tax worries, Saudi Arabi… |28 Apr U.S. blames Houthi battlefield moves for renewed Saudi strikes |28 Apr TRENDING ON REUTERS Indonesia executes drug traffickers, sparks anger from Australia, Brazil | Video ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia seems to be frustrated with Pakistan’s decision to stay away from the alliance against Houthi rebels in Yemen. In an informal chat with The Express Tribune in Islamabad on Wednesday, the acting Saudi Ambassador Jassim Bin Mohammad Al-Khalidi asked “How would Pakistanis feel if we do the same with you (as Pakistani parliament’s resolution) in the time of crises.” Read: Decisive Storm: Saudi-led coalition calls off Yemen operation While replying to a question on whether Saudi Arabia was disappointed by the resolution adopted by Pakistan’s parliament, Al-Khalidi said that his country still hoping Pakistan would join the alliance, even if only for reconstruction and humanitarian work. This is the first time a Saudi official has publicly voiced his displeasure over Pakistan’s reluctance to commit troops, and military equipment for the Yemen operation. The acting Saudi envoy said that Pakistan’s support was crucial to send a message to the people of Yemen that not only the Arab countries, but the rest of the Muslim world was showing solidarity with Saleh’s legitimate government. Read: Yemen conflict: Is Pakistan neutral no more? Al-Khalidi, however, ruled out the possibility of launching of ground offensive in Yemen. “The situation in Yemen is now under control and most of the objectives have been achieved,” he added. With Saudi Arabia deploying co-opted Yemeni tribes back in their home areas this week, Islamabad can expect to be under a little less pressure on Yemen, meaning the cards it played by staying away from the conflict seem to have worked. Pakistan, while distancing itself from direct involvement in the Yemen conflict, had vowed it would spare no effort to defend Saudi Arabia if its territorial integrity and sovereignty was violated. However, diplomatic sources suggest that Pakistan needs to do more to appease Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom feels let down by Islamabad. Sources revealed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who led a high-level delegation soon after the Parliamentary resolution to Riyadh, was confronted by Saudi authorities over Pakistan’s reluctance to join the alliance. The Saudis told the Punjab chief minister that they were not expecting the government to take the issue to the Parliament since they needed ‘urgent’ help from Pakistan. The growing unease in Riyadh had prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to lead a powerful delegation comprising of Army chief General Raheel Sharif to Saudi Arabia as part of a damage control exercise. In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, Nawaz had termed his recent tour of Saudi Arabia a success. He said that all issues had been discussed with King Salman in detail, including the Yemen conflict. The premier reiterated Pakistan’s stance on defending Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity at all cost adding that Pakistan would contribute to implement a UN Security Council resolution on Yemen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Move to build nuclear plants on the outskirts of Karachi criticised

#karachinuclear K2/K3 EIA process a farce. SEPA allows only 15 days to review 2300pg EIA report. PAEC hosts public hearing at #KANUPP plant Move to build nuclear plants on the outskirts of Karachi criticised Increase font size Decrease font size Reset font size | 4/28/2015 12:00:00 AM KARACHI: Representatives of civil society at a public hearing on Monday once again criticised the construction of twin nuclear power plants on the outskirts of Karachi and requested the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to give at least over two months to go through the voluminous environmental impact assessment (EIA) report and debate the pros and cons of the critical project. The public hearing, the ñrst on any nuclear power plant in the country, was held on the directives of the Sindh High Court that had stayed the construction of the $10 billion project last year till a proper EIA is conducted and properly processed before the approval. The project K-2 and K-3 of 1,100MW each is to be built by a Chinese company while the government agency involved in the project is the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). `Such an EIA report was not expected from you. It`s not a fresh EIA and most studies presented in the report are old, conducted in 2011. The report doesn`t include the impact assessment of the two other reactors [K-4 and K5], also part of the project,` said Arif Belgaumi, senior architect and social activist. He also questioned as to why the evacuation plan was restricted to five kilometres only, though the wind, as mentioned in the report, blew from the plant site to Karachimost part of the year. Criticising what he called `overconfidence` of PAEC experts who claimed to have built a 100 per cent foolproof system, he said that even the best technology could fall victim to a natural disaster or an act of war and it was important that plans were made and implemented that catered to all kinds of emergencies. Roland D`Souza of a non-governmental organisation, ShehriCitizens For A Better Environment, termed the plan of constructing nuclear power plants close to the city of 20 million `criminal`. The city`s population, he said,was growing fast and might increase multiple times when the project would finally commence in 2021 and complete its 60-year operational life in 2080. `These population estimates should have been mentioned in the report, though majority of Karachi is located within 30km of the project site,` he said, adding that the site was also ecologically sensitive and had been notified as a sanctuary under the category four of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Citing a study published in the journal Nature a few years ago, hesaid that Karachi had been found to have the largest population of 8.2m living within the 30 kilometres of a nuclear power plant (Kanuup) than any other reactor site in the world. Fearing that an unforeseen accident at the nuclear power plants could lead to a closure of Karachi port and subsequently affect the economy of the entire country, Mr D`Souza suggested that the nuclear plants should be taken to a site where only 10 to 15pc population of the country lived. He raised doubts over the inhouse capability of Sepa in con-ducting the preliminary scrutiny of the EIA, while also calling into question the expertise of the environmental management consultants in carrying out an EIA of the nuclear power project. `The experts` names and details about their professional background should be provided to us, he said, adding that the 2,400-page EIA report on the construction of nuclear plants was too technical and lengthy and it was important that Sepa give sufficient time to concerned citizens to go through the report and hold series of meetings on the subject. Concerns relating to the storage of spent fuel and possible impact of hot water on marine ecology were also raised at the gathering. PAEC justifies project`s location Earlier, PAEC experts gave detailed presentations, highlighting various features of the plants, including its in-built safety systems. They were of the opinion that the plants posed no serious threat to people and environment during construction and operation as, they argued, the earthquake-proof plant design with double containment and active and passive systems was the most modern (ACP-1000, a generation three design) and the projectwas located at a higher elevation to make it secure against tsunami risk. They justified the project`s location saying that detailed geological studies had shown that the area was located in a stable zone and there was no change in its location with respect to tectonic setting. The government was spending 30pc to 40pc more just to have more safety features and nuclear plants based on the new design were also being constructed in China, Dr Anser Pervez, adviser to the National Command Authority on power sector, told the audience. `The situation at Fukushima developed because it became a political issue rather than a technical one. They had an emergency committee based in Tokyo headed by the prime minister. Resultantly, some wrong decisions were taken [that could have been avoided if the decision-making was in the hands oftechnical experts],` he explained. Secured systems for disposal of waste (that would be produced once plants become operational), he said, would be developed and the project would have a strict monitoring system. Fishermen`s hopes The programme was well attended by members of the fishing communities that wholeheartedly supported the project, seeing it as a hope to uplift their areas facing official neglect for decades. `It`s an issue of our survival because we believe that this project will bring employment opportunities for the locals. We request the project proponents to provide us with clean drinking water and build health and educational facilities so that our areas could also come up at par with other parts of the city,` one fisherman said.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Baltimore presenting scenes of another Baghdad Tonight

Violence gripped Baltimore Monday night, after riots broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody. Here's what we know so far: - At least 15 police officers have been injured in the protests. Two remain hospitalized. - The Maryland governor has declared a state of emergency and has activated the National Guard. - The Baltimore Orioles are postponing tonight's game. This follows an incident at Saturday's game, when fans were instructed not to leave the stadium. - A large CVS pharmacy was looted and set on fire. A number of other businesses in the area have suffered the same fate. Read on for more news and updates. by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:58 AM Reply Permalink Share Make a comment Share Options Live Updating graphics.thomsonreuters.com by Brian Tracey via Graphics.thomsonreuters 9:51 AM Twitter patkiernan @patkiernan Baltimore mayor: "it is idiotic to think that by destroying your city you're going to make it better for anyone." A fire hose cut by rioters sprays water into the air as protesters and a line of police move in at the site of a burning CVS drug store during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:50 AM 9:48 AM Twitter davidclinchCNN @DavidClinchNews . @finessebryan Angry mother caught on camera slapping son for participating in #BaltimoreRiots twitter.com/finessebryan/s… 9:45 AM Twitter Andrew Peng @TheAPJournalist Baltimore police: 27 arrested as of half an hour ago. #FreddieGray 15 police officers injured in violence in Baltimore, two remain hospitalized: city official by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:41 AM 9:36 AM Twitter TheMarkBerman @markberman The Baltimore curfew will be 9 p.m. for people age 14 and younger A Baltimore resident (R) trying to restore order in his neighborhood speaks to a protester during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:36 AM 9:35 AM Twitter jmsummers @jmsummers City Council President Jack Young says news media focusing on "negativity" in Baltimore, rather than young people protesting peacefully. National guard will be deployed as soon as possible, Baltimore mayor Rawlings-Blake says by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:33 AM City-wide curfew being instituted tomorrow, 10 pm to 5 am. Will preliminarily extend for a week, possibly further, as needed: Mayor Rawlings-Blake by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:30 AM A protestor on a bicycle thrusts his fist in the air next to a line of police, in front of a burning CVS drug store, during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Bourg by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:27 AM A Baltimore firefighter pulls a hose through crowds of protestors, who later cut the hose, in front of a burning building during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to address the violence in Baltimore, his office said on Monday. Several Baltimore police officers were injured on Monday in violent clashes with young people after the funeral of a black man, Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, and local law enforcement warned of a threat by gangs. REUTERS/Jim Bourg by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:16 AM 9:15 AM Twitter Eduardo A. Encina @EddieInTheYard I believe the last time an #Orioles game was postponed for non-weather reason was July 20, 2001, when a train derailment ppd a DH vs. Texas. Baltimore Orioles Executive Passionately Defends Freddie Gray Protesters The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the bill of rights by government pay the true price, an ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importance of any kids' game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. Click through to read more at the Huffington Post by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 9:11 AM 9:07 AM Twitter Baltimore Orioles @Orioles An announcement regarding a make-up date will be made asap. Fans are encouraged to keep their tickets & parking until more info is available 9:02 AM Twitter AprilDRyan @AprilDRyan 7:45 on press conference with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake. On Baltimore riots Gallery: Protests erupt in Baltimore by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:55 AM 8:48 AM Twitter cnnbrk @cnnbrk Maryland governor: “There is a significant difference between protesting and violence.” cnn.it/1GBqMGl http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CDol_0pW8AEKeCT.jpg Maryland governor declares state of emergency over Baltimore violence Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to address the violence in Baltimore, his office said on Monday. The governor's office said the actions came at the request of the city of Baltimore. It added that Hogan would hold a news conference at 8:30 p.m. to discuss the violence following the funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died after he was injured in police custody. (Reporting by Peter Cooney in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler) by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:47 AM 8:45 AM Twitter ktvu @KTVU PHOTOS: Riots in #Baltimore #FreddieGray bit.ly/1IgMoHr http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CDomOm9W0AMsavl.jpg Demonstrators jump on a damaged Baltimore police department vehicle during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:43 AM A demonstrator looks up after being sprayed with pepper spray during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:42 AM Maryland governor declares state of emergency, activates National Guard over Baltimore violence by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:38 AM UPDATE: Violence erupts after funeral of Baltimore man who died in police custody (Reuters) - Seven Baltimore police officers were injured on Monday as rioters threw bricks, broke windows, looted businesses and burned patrol cars in violent protests following the funeral of a black man who died after he was injured in police custody. The riots broke out just a few blocks from the site of the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in northwest Baltimore and then spread through other parts of the city in the most violent demonstrations since looting in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Television images showed mobs of rioters jumping on top of a police car, destroying a taxi and setting two other patrol cars on fire after teenaged crowds ignored calls to disperse and clashed with lines of hundreds of police. Gangs had threatened to target police officers, local law enforcement said. Read more by cassandra.garrison edited by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:37 AM 8:27 AM Twitter The White House @WhiteHouse Attorney General Lynch just updated the President on the situation in Baltimore related to the death of Freddie Gray. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/CDohXHbWYAEZcVm.png Baltimore police officers stand outside the stadium prior to the cancellation of the game between the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:26 AM Baltimore Orioles will postpone Monday night game after consultation with police by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:05 AM New U.S. attorney general briefs Obama on Baltimore violence WASHINGTON - Newly sworn-in U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch briefed President Barack Obama on the violence in Baltimore on Monday and said the Department of Justice was ready to provide any assistance, the White House said. It added that Obama also spoke with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (Reporting by White House Speed Team; Editing by Sandra Maler) by Amy Tennery (Reuters) 8:04 AM Obama spoke with Baltimore mayor over violence in the city: White House by cassandra.garrison 7:56 AM BREAKING: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he has put the Maryland National Guard on alert over Baltimore riots: WTOP radio by cassandra.garrison 7:55 AM Baltimore Police @BaltimorePolice Groups of violent individuals are continuing to throw bricks, bottles and other dangerous items at police cars WITH officers inside. Apr. 27, 2015Reply Retweet Favorite by cassandra.garrison 7:46 AM People with goods looted from a store walk near burning vehicles during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by cassandra.garrison 7:42 AM Baltimore Police @BaltimorePolice A violent group continues to destroy property in the area of North Avenue and Carey Street. We are asking everyone to avoid this area. Apr. 27, 2015Reply Retweet Favorite by cassandra.garrison 7:38 AM Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun captured this video of people throwing rocks or bricks at police cars as they speed past. Justin Fenton @justin_fenton http://t.co/BMs5Fv7vQj Apr. 27, 2015Reply Retweet Favorite by cassandra.garrison 7:36 AM Christopher Miller @ChristopherJM #Baltimore resident tells @ColinDaileda: "This is nothing compared to what's going to happen." http://t.co/cHSsQBRPAW http://t.co/0JHOnjXE5y Apr. 27, 2015Reply Retweet Favorite Delete by cassandra.garrison 7:33 AM Jordan Fabian @Jordanfabian POTUS and AG Lynch avoid taking questions on #Baltimore during their first meeting in the Oval Office http://t.co/cwL3oWGKhJ Apr. 27, 2015Reply Retweet Favorite by cassandra.garrison 7:29 AM I wanted to ask the protesting kids what they were feeling. I got my answer when one of them knocked into me and took my phone and as I chased after him, others knocked me to the ground. Some of them had rocks and bricks in their hands. But one came with an outstretched hand and picked me up, trying to get me somewhere safe. That was their message. Anger and confusion. Read more from Petula Dvorak on Washington Post. by cassandra.garrison 7:28 AM A woman with goods looted from a store runs past burning vehicles during clashes in Baltimore. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by cassandra.garrison 7:18 AM A man with goods looted from a store walks past burning vehicles during clashes in Baltimore. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by cassandra.garrison 7:17 AM A woman cries as demonstrators throw rocks at Baltimore police during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton by cassandra.garrison 7:15 AM < Newest 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... Oldest > Powered by ScribbleLive Content Marketing Software

Pakistani workers among 50 trapped in Saudi building collapse: media

Pakistani workers among 50 trapped in Saudi building collapse: media By AFP Published: April 27, 2015 RIYADH: The collapse of a convention centre being built northwest of the Saudi capital left more than 50 workers trapped under rubble on Monday, official media said. The collapse “happened at noon and resulted in more than 50 workers being trapped”, the Saudi Press Agency said, adding that four wounded were recovered from the building site for Qassim University. Bandar al-Roshodi, the university spokesman, told Saudi television news channel Al-Ekhbariya that the workers were mostly from Pakistan. “Until now we are searching,” he later told AFP. The trapped workers were of “different nationalities,” Roshodi said. Asked about the chances of more survivors, he said: “We have hope, God willing.” Pictures from the scene showed a sprawling but low-level construction site, where many steel support rods (scaffolding) had collapsed along with other parts of the structure.

The secret of how Egyptians moved pyramid stones has finally been discovered

By Web Desk Published: April 27, 2015 50 SHARES Share Tweet Email Ancient Egyptians had to move massive statues and pyramid stones weighing 2.5 tons on large sledge across the desert PHOTO: AFP Ancient Egyptians had to move massive statues and pyramid stones weighing 2.5 tons on large sledge across the desert PHOTO: AFP Historians and scientists have for years wondered how ancient Egyptians had managed to move stone blocks weighing up to 2.5 tonnes through the sand without access to modern technology. New research now offers clues to a simple trick that means less than half the workers would have been needed to haul the load than previously thought. According to a study published in the Physical Review Letters journals, adding a small amount of water to sand reduces the sliding friction for a sledge which could be loaded with heavy statues or stones for pyramids. Just like in building sand castles, when water is added to sand, the grains stick to each other and keep the castle in its shape. The same principle applies in transportation over sand bodies – like the Sahara desert: The right amount of water binds sand grains and reduces the sliding friction of any object moving over it. An international team led by Daniel Bonn from the University of Amsterdam tested the sliding friction of dry and wet sand by pulling a weighted sledge across the surface in a tray. With the dry sand, a stack would form in front of the sledge, increasing friction. As they added water, both, the force required pulling the sledge and the amount of friction, decreased. With the sand now more stiff, the stack got smaller and smaller until there was no obstacle forming in front of the sledge. Their experiments revealed that the required pulling force decreased proportional to the stiffness of the sand. With the right amount of water, wet desert sand is about twice as stiff as dry sand, allowing the sledge to slide far more hassle free. “I was very surprised by the amount the pulling force could be reduced — by as much as 50 per cent — meaning that the Egyptians needed only half the men to pull over wet sand as compared to dry,” Bonn told the Washington Post. However, the balance of water used is critical. Too much water is not good. Water saturation can lead to a decrease in sand stiffness, and instead become a bog which can increase drag. “If you use dry sand, it won’t work as well, but if the sand is too wet, it won’t work either,” Bonn told Live Science. “There’s an optimum stiffness.” The ideal amount of water falls between two and five per cent of the volume of sand. The answer had been in the open all along, but no one ever saw it as such. In a wall painting from the tomb of Djehutihotep, workers are seen using same technique, by pouring water in front of a sledge that is carrying a gigantic statue. The sledge was larger than a normal wooden plank with upturned corners. “Egyptologists had been interpreting the water as part of a purification ritual,” Bonn says, “and had never sought of a scientific explanation.” This story originally appeared on the Washington Post

How potential loopholes could limit impact of Saudi land tax

How potential loopholes could limit impact of Saudi land tax By Reuters Tuesday, 31 March 2015 4:39 PM A planned tax on undeveloped urban land may transform Saudi Arabia's real estate market, boosting construction and making homes more affordable, but potential loopholes could dilute the impact and make the effect on the market hard to predict. Real estate stocks tumbled and construction stocks rose last week after the cabinet backed introducing the tax, which could help the government meet promises to build 500,000 new homes and ease a housing shortage. By pushing more land out into the market, the tax could bring down prices, hurting developers who are sitting on big land banks. "It should release land for development - people who earlier held onto a plot will now likely look at building income-generating housing on it," said Fayyaz Ahmad, director of property consultants JLL's Riyadh operations. "It should benefit construction, but there are a lot of unanswered questions that will determine the true impact." One area of uncertainty is the minimum size of land to be taxed, and whether the tax will apply only to completely undeveloped land or also to plots with some infrastructure already built. Smaller land parcels are typically "serviced" - connected to utilities such as power and water - while larger parcels defined as "raw" lack such amenities. Raw plots tend to trade in sizes above 50,000 square metres, while serviced parcels are usually less than 1,000 square metres, said Ahmad. "Some big parcels of say 1 million square metres are sub-divided into many lots and then these get sold and re-sold, passing through many hands," he added. The dominance of land trading in the property market can be seen in the fact that of 20,460 real estate deals completed between December and mid-March in Riyadh and Jeddah, the two main cities, 71 percent were land sales, JLL said. Sales of villas accounted for only 20 percent and apartments, 9 percent. If the tax is not applied to smaller parcels, owners may be able to avoid the levy simply by sub-dividing their holdings, or by building minimal infrastructure on them. The cabinet has given no details of the likely size of the tax, how it would be implemented, or a timetable for introducing it. An economic council will make proposals to the Shura Council, a top advisory body; given the money at stake, there may be considerable lobbying to water down the tax. Other questions include whether the tax will be levied at a flat rate or on a sliding scale, and whether holders will be given a lengthy grace period - perhaps one to three years - before paying tax. The answers to these questions will help to determine whether holders transfer ownership to relatives, business contacts or shell companies to avoid the tax. "How effective the government will be in closing these loopholes will be a big factor in determining whether the law is effective," said Ahmad. "It's too early to say how the law - if introduced - will affect land prices. Sellers may be able to incorporate the tax owed into the selling price." The idea of the law was raised about six months ago, Ahmad noted, so some property developers have probably already been making contingency plans. The stock market's property sector index has dropped 8.3 percent since last week's cabinet decision because of a belief that the value of real estate developers' land banks will shrink. It has underperformed the main Saudi equities benchmark, which dropped 3.9 percent because of the conflict in Yemen; the construction sector index is now down 3.5 percent. The Saudi building sector was worth 152.4 billion riyals ($41 billion) in 2014, providing 5.4 percent of gross domestic product, HSBC estimates. "It may help spur economic activity in the construction sector, which is a significant driver for Saudi's non-oil economy," said Razan Nasser, HSBC's economist for the Middle East. That would be especially welcome at a time when weak oil prices are dampening the energy sector. The tax could also be a significant step in diversifying Saudi Arabia's revenues beyond oil, which traditionally has provided about 90 percent of budget income.

Are you one of the 700 ‘missing’ Nakheel homeowners?

Are you one of the 700 ‘missing’ Nakheel homeowners? Article Reader Comments (4) By Sarah Townsend Wednesday, 15 April 2015 10:13 AM Share via facebook Tweet this Bookmark and Share . Hundreds of completed homes in Dubai are reportedly lying empty because their owners have gone missing, according to the CEO of one of the emirate's biggest developers. Government developer Nakheel revealed this week that out of 9,000 homes it has built across various projects in Dubai, 700 of them remain unclaimed. The company’s chief executive Sanjay Manchanda told 7Days newspaper that the buyers who placed deposits on the homes years ago have not come forward, and admitted he did not know where they are. “We took a resolve to deliver 9,000 units. As we speak today, 8,300 have been delivered, keys handed over (but) the remaining 700, we are still looking for the customers,” Manchanda was quoted as saying. “We are finding it difficult to establish contact [with customers]. This could be for various reasons. Maybe the person has left the country, or due to natural causes such as a death?” “Or maybe they just paid the 10 percent deposit and it’s not a major amount for them and they have forgotten about it? Or they have changed their contact information?” He added: “What can we do if they have changed their email or phone or shifted their address and not updated it?” According to 7Days, Manchanda believes the situation will be dealt with under real estate regulations. “The Dubai Land Department has very detailed rules,” he said. “Depending on the amount paid towards their unit, if the owner is not taking delivery, [the developer] can terminate the unit [agreement], retain some amount and pay the balance to the owner and resell the property.” However, the situation appears to be less clear cut if the owner has paid a 10 percent deposit or higher. Manchanda said: “If the owner has paid 10 percent towards the unit, and it’s been constructed and ready, then we cannot do anything. We have to leave it as it is. We cannot auction it. “Bottom line: we remain fully compliant with the law. If any out of the 700 still have to get their handover, they should establish contact with us.” The Dubai Land Department was contacted for comment. Related: . Stories Postdated cheques 'work wonders' for us, says Nakheel . . Nakheel says Dubai Metro extension will add value to its homes . . Nakheel's Dragon City to boost UAE-China trade, says envoy . . Dubai's Nakheel plans $3.81bn projects over next three years . . Nakheel CEO bans recording of speech to entrepreneurs . .. Companies Nakheel - UAE . .. Also in Property Dubai real estate transactionss total $17.4bn in Q1 . . Revealed: Dubai’s top 10 most luxurious golf properties . .. Also in UAE Top UAE tycoon urges new rules on succession for family businesses . . Dubai's Topaz said to be close to securing $550m loan . .. Join the Discussion Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers. Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules Posted by: Sak Saturday, 18 April 2015 10:01 AM[UAE] - uae Rubbish.... The law is simple and very clear. They can easily cancel the contract for any body who is paid up until 40% and even beyond that. There is something else to this article than it shows. Posted by: Raj Saturday, 18 April 2015 8:15 PM[UAE] - uae What is the law if one has paid 20% only and dont have the funds now as Nakheel has delayed in deilver Is legal action possible? Reply to this comment. Posted by: Amir Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:50 PM[UAE] - USA This seems to be very odd that Nakheel has not cancelled the sales agreements after the buyers failed to keep up with the instalments and taking the deposits as a compensation. Reply to this comment. Posted by: Tareq Wednesday, 15 April 2015 3:36 PM[UAE] - UAE Let me guess, now Nakheel are after late handover fees? I'm guessing these villas will be in Furjan and Jumeirah Park and have been ready for two years. So, basically after two years the cost of late handover fees will be more or less the price of buying another villa. Still a mystery why no one is showing up? Maybe if Nakheel propose to waive the late fees and impose a flat AED50K for later delivery some of these people will reappear.

Saudi Arabia sues Kuwaiti MP over Yemen criticism

Saudi Arabia sues Kuwaiti MP over Yemen criticism By Courtney Trenwith Monday, 27 April 2015 10:08 AM Kuwaiti Shiite Muslim MP Abdulhameed Dashti (C). (Getty Images) The Saudi embassy in Kuwait is suing a Kuwaiti MP who criticised military action against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Kuwait Times reported. Shia MP Abdulhameed Dashti made the offending comment during an interview on a television station owned by Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia has led airstrikes against the Shia Houthis. Its lawsuit claims Dashti’s criticism of the strikes insulted the kingdom, the embassy claims. It is the second case the kingdom has filed against Dashti. In the first, he was accused of insulting both the kingdom and the Saudi monarchy. Meanwhile, a court has upheld the acquittal of Sunni Islamist activist Abdullah Al Nafisi who was prosecuted for insulting Shias, Kuwait Times said. The case against outspoken former MP Saleh Al Mulla, who is accused of insulting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi during his visit to Kuwait is due to be heard on October 4. Al Mulla wrote on several Twitter comments that he objected to Kuwait giving more funds to Egypt. He was detained for five days before being released on bail. ================== Kuwait deports opposition leader to Saudi Arabia By Staff Writer Thursday, 23 April 2015 12:00 PM Kuwait has deported a prominent opposition figure to Saudi Arabia after stripping him of his citizenship, his political party has said, according to AFP. The former spokesman of the Popular Action Movement (PAM), Saad Al Ajmi, was arrested by secret police on Tuesday and escorted to the Saudi city of Khafji by road at night, PAM said in a statement. Al Ajmi was among several political opponents whose citizenships have been revoked in recent months as part of a crackdown. Authorities argued Al Ajmi had dual citizenship with Saudi Arabia, which is illegal. He has denied the allegation and filed a lawsuit to challenge the government’s action, according to local media. Human Rights Watch has called on Kuwait to stop targeting opponents by revoking their citizenships, and to reinstate their nationalities. There has been no official comment on Al Ajmi’s deportation so far. ========================== Kuwait sets up 700 police check points in security crackdown By Courtney Trenwith Sunday, 19 April 2015 12:47 PM Kuwait has set-up 700 police check points across the country in a bid to increase security, Kuwait Times reported. The check points were particularly along the border and in highly populated areas and police were monitoring potential criminal and terrorist activity, Interior Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for General Security Major General Abdelfattah Al Ali was quoted as saying. The number of thefts, fights, unruliness and shootings already had declined due to the check points, he said. Kuwait borders Saudi Arabia and Iraq, where conflict has increase in the past year as ISIL attempts to control more territory in the region. ===================== Kuwait sets up 700 police check points in security crackdown By Courtney Trenwith Sunday, 19 April 2015 12:47 PM Kuwait has set-up 700 police check points across the country in a bid to increase security, Kuwait Times reported. The check points were particularly along the border and in highly populated areas and police were monitoring potential criminal and terrorist activity, Interior Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for General Security Major General Abdelfattah Al Ali was quoted as saying. The number of thefts, fights, unruliness and shootings already had declined due to the check points, he said. Kuwait borders Saudi Arabia and Iraq, where conflict has increase in the past year as ISIL attempts to control more territory in the region. ==================== Kuwait puts freeze on expat population By Courtney Trenwith Monday, 27 April 2015 1:45 PM Share via facebook Tweet this Bookmark and Share . Kuwait has frozen the number of expatriates in the country, according to Kuwait Times. New foreign workers will only be granted visas to replace exiting expats. Kuwaiti authorities have struggled to deal with contention among citizens over the imbalance between locals and foreigners in the country, particularly as infrastructure has failed to keep up with the expanding population. Expats make up about two-thirds of the total population of about 3.3m. Various schemes to reduce expat numbers have been previously announced, including in 2013 when the then-social minister said the number of expats would be cut by 100,000 each year until 2023, effectively halving the total. The new government has not followed through with that policy. More than 90 percent of Kuwaitis who work are employed by the public sector, while there are more than 2m expats in the private sector, according to Arabian Business sources.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Insight - Pakistan military's move on Karachi seen part of "creeping coup"

World | Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:12am IST Related: World, South Asia ISLAMABAD | By Mehreen Zahra-Malik (Reuters) - The chief of Pakistan's main spy agency is spearheading a campaign to wrest control of the teeming port city of Karachi from a powerful political party, the military's latest, and some say boldest, foray into civilian life in recent years. According to military officials, police officers and members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party which has traditionally dominated Karachi, Rizwan Akhtar has decided the time for policing the city from the sidelines is over. "There is a quiet, creeping takeover of Karachi by the military," said a government official close to Akhtar, head of of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which traditionally acts as an extension of army power in Pakistan. "Karachi is just too big ... too much land, too much business, resources. No one party will be allowed to rule Karachi from now on," added the official, who declined to be named. The sweltering, violent metropolis is Pakistan's largest and wealthiest city. It accounts for half of national revenues and hosts the stock exchange, central bank and a giant port. The military's crackdown in Karachi started late in 2013, when the murder rate soared and mutilated bodies were dumped in alleyways daily. The operation, which escalated last month, is officially aimed at criminals and militants, but some say MQM is the real target. Army spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment. Weakening the MQM's grip, and particularly that of exiled leader Altaf Hussain, would free space for other political parties seen as more sympathetic to the military, like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by former cricketer Imran Khan. It would also give the army leverage over Pakistan's economic hub. That complements other steps taken in the last two years to tighten its grip on national security, foreign policy and the judiciary through the introduction of military courts. The army's increasing influence could make it harder for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to deliver a rapprochement with India that he promised when he won elections in 2013. "MISSION CREEP" Critics call it "mission creep" and say the army's power grab is a setback for Pakistan, where the military has ruled for about half the country's history. But police in Karachi are seen as too weak or corrupt to stamp out violence effectively, so many residents are willing to rely on the military despite its history of coups and accusations of rights abuses. Last month, paramilitary Rangers swooped on the MQM's headquarters in Karachi, seizing arms and detaining "criminals", including a fugitive convicted of murder. It was a direct challenge to the authority of Hussain, who, despite living in London since he fled murder charges in Pakistan in 1991, leads the party and remains one of the country's most powerful figures. The army has long accused the MQM of racketeering, kidnappings for ransom and targeted killings in Karachi. Police recorded 2,507 murders in the city in 2013, up from 278 in 2006. MQM denies the charges against it, but says that, while it has cooperated with Rangers in the past, the party will resist attempts to break it up. "What is happening now (raids and arrests) is inconceivable to us," said MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi. "But they will not be able to dismantle the party, if that is the plan." Senior government officials said the civilian administration in Karachi had been sidelined, and that decisions were being taken by the head of the Rangers and the chief military commander for Sindh province. Both are backed by Akhtar and the army chief. The Rangers declined to comment for this article. According to the officials, the government was not consulted either before the raid or when Rangers lodged a criminal case against Hussain last month. Sindh's governor, who has ruled the southern province where Karachi is located for 13 years, and chief minister are being excluded from regular security meetings they previously chaired. "SWEAT AND BLOOD" MQM leaders said the military had launched a campaign of mass arrests and "disappearances" of political workers, and said they were being unfairly targeted. At least 2,600 MQM workers had been arrested since the operation began, they said, and 36 members killed. But law enforcement officials said it was time to dislodge what they called a "militant" party. "If Altaf Hussain steps down, the MQM will live on; if he doesn't, the party will go down with him," said an official with knowledge of the army's new strategy in Karachi. In the past, the party has resisted attempts to rein it in by shutting down the city and hurting Pakistan's economy. This time, though, there has been little hostility. Party insiders express frustration with Hussain, who gives rambling, contradictory speeches to rallies by telephone from London. "We have built this party with our sweat and blood. Now a man living in exile ... is intent on destroying it," said a senior MQM leader, who did not want to criticise Hussain openly. Hussain remains defiant. After MQM comfortably won a Karachi by-election on Thursday, he declared: "the people and Altaf Hussain have a special relationship which cannot be shaken." (Additional reporting By Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

RBA must choose between housing and currency bubbles: Computerisation of land records continues in six districts

Mar 25 2015 at 1:02 PM | Updated Mar 25 2015 at 1:44 PM RBA must choose between housing and currency bubbles The RBA has introduced unprecedented monetary policy settings in the form of the cheapest borrowing rates in history to put downward pressure on the Aussie dollar. Rob Homer by Christopher Joye The Reserve Bank of Australia's governor Glenn Stevens is trying to unravel a Gordian knot created by his institution's inconsistencies. The RBA is blowing the mother of all housing bubbles to deflate an overvalued exchange rate. It is replacing one asset pricing conundrum with another, arguably more dangerous, one. The RBA has introduced unprecedented monetary policy settings in the form of the cheapest borrowing rates in history to put downward pressure on the Aussie dollar. Relative to both the Greenback and our key trading partners' currencies, the exchange rate is way above the RBA's estimate of fair value, which is around US70¢. When the RBA cut rates in February it judged the local housing market was cooling. Much like it thought rate cuts in 2013 would not fuel an unsustainable housing boom that would force regulators to introduce macro-prudential rules to slow credit growth running at three times the rate of incomes. On all these counts the RBA's forecasts have proven badly wrong. It has probably been blindsided by housing dynamics over the last couple of years because it has never confronted these conditions before. Back in 1991 the value of housing debt divided by disposable household incomes was just 35 per cent. Today it is over 140 per cent - beyond any previous peak. And climbing every day. Australia has never had to contend with home loan rates below 4.3 per cent. And home buyers have never seen more expensive house prices - either in absolute terms or compared to their incomes. The bad news for the RBA is that the asset-class it has consistently mis-called is heating up again with national house prices inflating at a circa 12 per cent annualised clip over the three months to 25 March. In Sydney and Melbourne auction clearance rates are the strongest we've seen in years. With so much more leverage in the household sector, small changes in interest rates can have a bigger impact on participants' behaviour. The exact size of this sensitivity is, however, hard for the RBA to anticipate because it is in unchartered waters - it has no "base-line" against which to compare current circumstances. It has never had to deal with a cash rate as low as 2.25 per cent... The RBA has been quite explicit in admitting that it is already an active combatant in the global "currency wars", repeatedly declaring that it is battling the overvalued Aussie dollar by crushing interest rates. The problem is that this is a very blunt tool that is inflicting far-reaching collateral damage by inflating asset price bubbles across interest rate elastic areas of the economy and forcing retirees to assume untenable capital risks that could decimate their future living standards. And it is not clear that all borrowers - and especially the record 40 per cent share taking out "interest-only" home loans - will be able to service the repayments required in an inflationary world. We're talking mortgage rates back above 8 per cent, which is only a touch higher than their average level since 1993. Lean on exchange rate So one crucial question is why the RBA is not using its formidable balance-sheet powers to lean against, or actively sell, the exchange rate as it has done on occasion in the past. The RBA's reluctance to directly tackle these distortions is ironic given its two most senior leaders - Glenn Stevens and Phil Lowe - made their policy bones advocating that central banks should "lean against" asset prices that were far removed from fundamental values if they threatened the economy's overall well-being. There is no doubt the Aussie dollar falls into this camp. Indeed, that has been the RBA's official assessment. Interestingly, Lowe and Stevens made this case in the context of their critique of the US Federal Reserve, which they suggested contributed to a house price bubble by leaving rates too low for too long prior to 2007. The worry is that on any credible measure the Aussie house price bubble today is much bigger than its US equivalent prior to the global financial crisis. Australia does not need cheaper money. In fact, it would be quite detrimental to long-term productivity. The lesson from the GFC was meant to be that we needed to take on less leverage and redirect scarce resources away from overvalued banks and homes into real-world businesses that make things that actually contribute positively to productivity. In Australia at least we've done the opposite. Our banks and homes have never been dearer while households have never been more indebted. Of course the currency war itself is an artefact of central bank interference in markets in a race to the bottom to furnish voters with ever-cheaper money. Here I would pay heed to the RBA's Guy Debelle, who in October last year said he found it "somewhat surprising that the market (in aggregate at least) is willing to accept the central banks at their word and not think so much for themselves". Put differently, the central bankers' current BS is not likely to last. There will eventually be a reckoning when freely functioning financial markets reassert themselves at radically different prices. Nobody knows when, but it will happen. And you've been warned. ======================== By Our Correspondent Published: April 26, 2015 Abdul Karim Khan had broached the subject when he asked a question in the house. STOCK IMAGE PESHAWAR: Computerisation of land records has been completed in Mardan while the project is currently in progress in six districts of the province, documents shared with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly earlier this week have revealed. Qaumi Watan Party MPA Abdul Karim Khan had broached the subject when he asked a question in the house. According to the documents shared with the house, the project was initiated under the budget for 2013-2014. Seven districts in K-P – Mardan, Peshawar, Buner, Kohat, Abbottabad, Bannu and DI Khan – were selected for the first phase of computerisation. The document stated land records of Mardan district have been digitised while the project was at different phases in other districts. The land record computerisation project in seven districts had also been in K-P’s budget for 2014-2015, added the document. Going digital Several types of documentation are needed to digitise land records, all of which need to eventually be computerised. Documents on the computerisation of mauza-wise (mauza is vernacular for estate) scanning of records on rights and data entry in Peshawar showed 191 register haqadaran zameens (RHZ), a land registration process which gives the details of the landowner, cultivator, land and soil, according to the country’s land administration system. Of these, 190 have been computerised. Out of 191 mutations (records of the transfer of title from one person to another), about 176 have been completed. Furthermore, out of 345 RHZs of Abbottabad, about 258 RHZs were completed. Only nine mutations out of 345 have been completed. In Mardan, 176 RHZs and mutations were completed. In DI Khan, 340 out of 390 RHZs have been completed while a similar number of mutations are yet to be computerised. Similarly, in Bannu, 209 out of 249 RHZs have been computerised. Data entry The data entry status for all seven districts revealed out of 191 mauzas in Peshawar, data entry had been completed for 190 while the entry of the last mauza was currently in progress. Data entry for 248 mauzas has been completed in Abbottabad. Moreover, 314, 112, 57 and 14 mauzas have been entered in DI Khan, Bannu, Kohat and Buner. In Mardan, 176 mauzas have been computerised, it added. In addition, farad badar (the error correction process) and mutation entries of 106 mauzas in Mardan, 29 mauzas in Katlang and 41 mauzas in Takht Bhai have also been completed. Management of records According to the K-P finance department white paper for 2014-15 shared with the house, the government had prepared a project cycle of around Rs803 million for the seven districts. However, it was later revised to around Rs1.24 billion. The white paper stated the project would be extended to the remaining districts of the province from the next financial year and an estimated amount of Rs2.8 billion is likely to be allocated in this regard. Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2015.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled Source: Reuters - Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:38 GMT Author: Reuters hum-nat Enlarge image Smoke and ash rise from the Calbuco volcano as seen from the city of Puerto Montt, Chile, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Rafael Arenas By Felipe Iturrieta SANTIAGO, April 25 (Reuters) - Ash from the Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning this week, reached as far as southern Brazil on Saturday and prompted some airlines to cancel flights to the capitals of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Calbuco, considered one of the most dangerous along Chile's chain of around 2,000 volcanoes, erupted twice in 24 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, sending up a spectacular 17-km-high (11-mile) cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash. Authorities have set up a 20-km (12-mile) cordon around Calbuco, in the scenic Los Lagos region, around 1,000 km (620 miles) south of the capital Santiago, evacuating more than 6,500 people in the area. "The dangerous nature of volcanic activity like this, plus the volcano's current instability that could lead to more intense activity in the short term, indicates we should maintain the perimeter," Chile's national office of emergency said in its latest report. Authorities allowed people who had been evacuated to return briefly on Saturday to check their houses and animals, and to pick up clothes and medication. Some houses and schools located close to the volcano have collapsed under the weight of the ash. The ash also presents a threat to air traffic, as particles in the atmosphere can cause problems for planes. With winds blowing the ash cloud northeast into Argentina, Argentine air traffic has been the worst affected so far. Delta Air Lines, Air France, American Airlines, Air Canada and Qantas Airways have all suspended flights from and to the airports of Santiago, Buenos Aires and Montevideo as a precautionary measure. But Chile's LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas were operating flights as usual from those airports. "The situation is much better than yesterday," said a spokesman for Argentina's National Civil Aeronautic Administration. "The airports (of Buenos Aires) are operating normally. The first ash cloud has already passed by and the second is on the move. American Airlines is not operating on their own accord, nor are Delta Air Lines, or United. They are evaluating the situation on a day-to-day basis." Some flights had also been canceled in southern Brazil, in Rio Grande do Sul, broadcaster O Globo reported. Officials from the Brazilian aviation agency Infraero were not immediately available for comment. The head of Chile's mining and geological service said on Friday the volcanic process could last for weeks. (Additional reporting by Malena Castaldi in Montevideo, Brian Winnter in Sao Paolo and Nicolas Misculin in Buenos Aires, Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Frances Kerry)

Buildings collapse, at least four killed as 7.9 quake hits Nepal, India-witnesses

Desperate Nepalese sleep in open as aftershocks spread fear Sun, Apr 26 18:54 PM EDT image 1 of 35 By Gopal Sharma and Sanjeev Miglani KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Thousands of desperate Nepalese spent another night in the open in the early hours of Monday, terrorized by strong aftershocks that continued to shake the country two days after a massive quake struck, killing almost 2,500 people. Across the capital, Kathmandu, and beyond, exhausted families whose homes were either flattened or at risk of collapse laid mattresses out on streets and erected tents to shelter from rain. The sick and wounded also lay out in the open, unable to find beds in the city's overwhelmed hospitals. Outside Kathmandu Medical College, surgeons set up an operating theater inside a tent. People queued for water dispensed from the back of trucks, while the few stores still open had next to nothing on their shelves. Crowds jostled at one pharmacy to snap up medicine. High in the Himalayas, hundreds of foreign and Nepalese climbers remained trapped after a huge avalanche killed 17 people in the worst single disaster to hit Mount Everest. A total of 2,460 people were confirmed killed in the 7.9 magnitude quake, making it the worst such disaster to hit Nepal since 1934 when 8,500 died. Thousands more were injured. The death toll is likely to climb as rescue workers struggle to reach remote regions in the impoverished, mountainous country of 28 million people and as bodies still buried under rubble are recovered. With so many people sleeping in the open with no power or water and downpours forecast, fears mounted of major food and water shortages. Across the country, hundreds of villages have been left to fend for themselves. "We are overwhelmed with rescue and assistance requests from all across the country," said Deepak Panda, a member of the country's disaster management. Several countries rushed to send aid and personnel. India flew in medical supplies and members of its National Disaster Response Force. China sent a 60-strong emergency team. Pakistan's army said it was sending four C-130 aircraft with a 30-bed hospital, search and rescue teams and relief supplies. A Pentagon spokesman said a U.S. military aircraft with 70 personnel left the United States on Sunday and was due in Kathmandu on Monday. Australia said it was sending a specialist urban search and rescue team to Kathmandu at Nepal's request. Britain, which believes several hundred of its nationals are in Nepal, said it was delivering supplies, medics and search and rescue teams. But there has been little sign of international assistance on the ground so far, with some aid flights prevented from landing by aftershocks that closed Kathmandu's main airport several times on Sunday. AVALANCHE TERROR In the Himalayas, hundreds of climbers were still feeling tremors on Sunday powerful enough to send snow and boulders cascading toward them. The huge and deadly avalanche on Saturday triggered by the earthquake caused panic at Everest base camp, a sprawling "city" of tents from where mountaineers set off for the world's highest peak. "It was a monstrous sound, like the demons had descended on the mountain," Khile Sherpa, a Nepalese guide, told Reuters, recalling the moment the avalanche hit. He was one of the lucky few airlifted to the relative safety of Kathmandu, although hospitals there were overflowing and hundreds of patients had to wait outside to be treated. The disaster has underlined the woeful state of Nepal's medical facilities. The country has only 2.1 physicians and 50 hospital beds for every 10,000 people, according to a 2011 World Health Organization report. "The earthquake has exposed that Nepal's best public hospital infrastructure has crumbled at a time when it should serve more people in a hurry," said Sarvendra Moongla, a senior surgeon at Bir Hospital's Trauma Centre in Kathmandu, which opened in February. At the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, bodies, including that of a boy aged about seven, were heaped in a dark room. The stench of death was overpowering. Outside, a 30-year-old woman who had been widowed wailed: "Oh Lord, why did you take him alone? Take me along with him." COUNTING THE COST Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at business research firm IHS, said long-term reconstruction costs in Nepal using proper building standards for an earthquake zone could be more than $5 billion, or around 20 percent of the country's GDP. "With housing construction standards in Nepal being extremely low ... the impact of the earthquake has been devastating based on initial reports," he said in an early analysis of the likely damage. In crowded Kathmandu, many buildings were flattened or badly damaged. Nepali army officer Santosh Nepal and a group of rescuers worked all night on Saturday to open a passage into a collapsed building in Kathmandu. They used pick axes because bulldozers could not get through the ancient city's narrow streets. "We believe there are still people trapped inside," he told Reuters, pointing at concrete debris and twisted reinforcement rods where a three-storey residential building once stood. Among the capital's landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre (200-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal. (Additional reporting by Ross Adkin and Rupam Jain Nair in Kathmandu; Frank Jack Daniel, Mayank Bhardwaj, Krista Mahr, Amit Ganguly and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi; Robert Birsel in Islamabad, Neha Dasgupta and Clara Ferreira-Marques in Mumbai and Norihiko Shirouzo in Beijing; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Mark Bendeich) ============================= Top Google executive killed in Nepal quake, 100’s of foreign tourists missing Published time: April 26, 2015 02:27 Get short URL Google X executive Dan Fredinburg and host Sophia Bush (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for VH1/AFP) Google X executive Dan Fredinburg and host Sophia Bush (Michael Buckner/Getty Images for VH1/AFP) Tags Asia, Australia, China, Earthquake, Extreme sports, India, Information Technology, Japan, Natural disasters, UK, USA The head of privacy at the secretive Google X facility was one of the 18 people killed in an avalanche at Mount Everest, triggered by the Nepal earthquake. Hundreds of foreign nationals are also feared dead or are missing. Follow RT's Live Updates: Devastating 7.9-magnitude quake strikes Nepal, India Dan Fredinburg, 33, was part of the Jagged Globe expedition team that was tackling Mount Everest when the 7.9-magnidue quake shook Nepal, according to Jagged Globe and his family. He died of fatal head injury. Fredinburg headed the Google X research lab, which is in charge of developing projects like self-driving cars, drone deliveries, Google Glass, and contact lenses. Fredinburg’s sister posted the news of her brother’s death on social media. The manager’s former girlfriend actress Sophia Bush also published an emotional post on Instagram. An army spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that a mountaineering team from the Indian military had discovered 18 bodies on Mount Everest on Saturday. A spokesman for the Nepal Tourism Ministry, Gyanendra Shrestha said that two tents at the camp have been filled with wounded climbers. The Tourism ministry added that about 1,000 climbers, including around 400 foreigners, were present at base camp or were climbing Everest when the earthquake struck. Around 300,000 foreign tourists come to Nepal each spring for activities like climbing, trekking and hiking, according to Reuters. Those climbers who survived were pleading for help. Romanian mountaineer Alex Gavan was urging the authorities to support the rescue mission with helicopters: “Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap.” Carsten Lillelund Pedersen, a Danish climber, said there were at least 40 people being treated for injuries, adding that the avalanches were hitting the mountain one after the other. It was “difficult to see the following avalanches, and there are so many - maybe one every 5 min. - that I have stopped counting,” Pedersen said on Facebook. Communication remains difficult, as the network is down in the area. “It is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone,” said the joint secretary for the Nepalese Tourism Ministry, Mohan Krishna Sapkota. Many people have turned to social media in asking for help in locating their relatives who travelled to Nepal. They have posted pictures of the missing people with their descriptions. Others have said they will travel to Nepal themselves, believing they can be more productive on the ground. Officials are reportedly being overwhelmed by the number of calls they are receiving from friends and relatives of foreign nationals whose whereabouts are unknown. Meanwhile, those who experienced the quake in the Nepalese capital said the streets were filled with screaming people: “We were thrown around the room fairly comprehensively, we managed to get out. From where we were, we could see dust rising from the hills of Kathmandu, we could people screaming in the street,” Mark South from the International Red Cross told UK’s Channel 4 News. Many people in Nepal are choosing to sleep outside, due to the fear of aftershocks. The death toll has risen to 1,805 and another 4,718 people have been injured as a result of the Nepal earthquake, an unnamed official from Nepal’s Home Ministry told Reuters. Local authorities are scrambling to set up rescue missions, warning that the number of those killed could rise. The number of fatalities from the earthquake in India has reached 36 people, according to Reuters. Tremors were also felt in Chinese Tibet where 12 people were killed, with four deaths also recorded in Bangladesh. Two Chinese citizens are said to have died at the Nepal-China border. At least 47 Australians are unaccounted for in Nepal, Channel 9 reported citing an unconfirmed count by the International Red Cross. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that 388 Canadians were registered in Nepal at the time of the quake. However, they warned that registration is only voluntary, meaning that the actual number could be a lot higher. Dozens of Britons are also missing, according to local media. Google has created a person finder page for the Nepal disaster, where people can either list a missing person, or provide information of someone’s whereabouts. It is currently tracking about 2,500 records of missing or found people, which can be searched by sending an SMS with the name of a person to Indian or US numbers. Facebook also added a feature, allowing anyone to mark themselves as being "safe during Nepal Earthquake." ================ Nepal seeks help, death toll seen rising after devastating quake Source: Reuters - Sun, 26 Apr 2015 08:30 GMT Author: Reuters hum-nat hum-aid Enlarge image People survey a site damaged by an earthquake, in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2015. The shallow earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude struck west of the ancient Nepali capital of Kathmandu on Saturday, killing more than 100 people, injuring hundreds and leaving a pall over the valley, doctors and witnesses said. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar * U.S., Britain, Pakistan offer help in rescue effort * Death toll in Nepal quake seen rising * Thousands sleep in open, afraid homes will collapse * Fears of humanitarian crisis in impoverished nation By Gopal Sharma and Ross Adkin KATHMANDU, April 26 (Reuters) - Nepal urged countries to send aid to help it cope with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed more than 1,800 people, a toll officials said would rise as the desperate search for survivors continued on Sunday. As fears of a humanitarian disaster grew, thousands of people braved freezing temperatures to sleep on pavements, in parks or in fields, too afraid to return to homes damaged by a 7.9 magnitude quake which struck at midday on Saturday. "We have launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation action plan and lots needs to be done," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Minendra Rijal. "Our country is in a moment of crisis and we will require tremendous support and aid," he told Indian television. The home ministry said on Sunday the death toll had reached 1,805 and 4,718 people had been injured. A police spokesman said that more than 630 of them were killed in Kathmandu Valley and at least 300 more in the capital. Foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides around Mount Everest were caught by the tremors and a huge avalanche. Some took to social media to send desperate messages for assistance, warning that otherwise more people would die. Hospitals across the impoverished nation of 28 million people struggled to cope with the dead and injured from Nepal's worst quake in 81 years, and a lack of equipment meant rescuers could look no deeper than surface rubble for signs of life. Ramesh Pokharel, a staff member of the Bhaktapur Hospital on the outskirts of Kathmandu, said that around 50 bodies were lying in a field outside. Doctors were treating patients in a makeshift tent next to the main building, and staff were too busy to count or register names of the casualties. "It's chaos here," Pokharel said. PEOPLE STILL TRAPPED The earthquake, centred 50 miles (80 km) east of the second city, Pokhara, was all the more destructive for being shallow. Areas of Kathmandu were reduced to rubble, and rescue operations had still not begun in some remote areas. Among the capital's landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre-high (100-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years. A jagged stump 10 metres high was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside. Across the city, rescuers scrabbled through the rubble of destroyed buildings, among them ancient, wooden Hindu temples. "I can see three bodies of monks trapped in the debris of a collapsed building near a monastery," Indian tourist Devyani Pant told Reuters. "We are trying to pull the bodies out and look for anyone who is trapped." Neighbouring India, where 44 people were reported killed in the quake and its aftershocks, was first to respond to calls for help, sending military aircraft with medical equipment and relief teams. The Indian embassy in Nepal said 285 members of the National Disaster Response Force had been sent to assist the Nepalese army in the rescue effort. Aid groups readied staff to go to Nepal with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food, while the United States, Britain and Pakistan were among countries providing search-and-rescue experts. TRAGEDY IN THE MOUNTAINS An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest, where an avalanche unleashed by the earthquake swept through base camp. More than 1,000 climbers had gathered there at the start of the climbing season. A tourism official, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, said it was "hard to even assess what the death toll and the extent of damage" around Everest could be. "The trekkers are scattered all around the base camp and some had even trekked further up. It is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone." Around 300,000 foreign tourists were estimated to be in various parts of Nepal for the spring trekking and climbing season in the Himalayas, and officials were overwhelmed by calls from concerned friends and relatives. Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted that there had been a "huge earthquake then huge avalanche" at Everest base camp, forcing him to run for his life. In a later tweet he made a desperate appeal for a helicopter to fly in and evacuate climbers who had been hurt: "Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap." Nepal, sandwiched between India and China, has had its share of natural disasters. Its worst earthquake in 1934 killed more than 8,500 people. (Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Mayank Bhardwaj, Krista Mahr and Rupam Jain Nair in New Delhi, Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow, Manoj Chaurasia in Patna, Serajul Quadir and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Mark Bendeich) ============= Nepal seeks help, death toll seen rising after devastating quake KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepalese Home Ministry says quake death toll has reached 1,805. Sat, Apr 25 21:15 PM EDT image 1 of 18 By Gopal Sharma and Ross Adkin KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal urged countries to send aid to help it cope with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 1,400 people, a toll predicted to rise as rescuers used their hands to dig for survivors among the rubble on Sunday. Thousands of people braved freezing temperatures and patchy rain to sleep on pavements, in parks or in fields in the crowded Kathmandu valley, too afraid to return to homes damaged by a 7.9 magnitude quake which struck at midday on Saturday. "We have launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation action plan and lots needs to be done," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Minendra Rijal. "Our country is in a moment of crisis and we will require tremendous support and aid," he told Indian television. Police said the death toll had reached 1,394, with about 4,700 injured. More than 630 people had been killed in the Kathmandu valley and at least 300 more in the capital. Foreign climbers and their Nepalese guides around Mount Everest were caught by the tremors and a huge avalanche. Some took to social media to send desperate messages for assistance, warning that otherwise more people would die. Hospitals across the impoverished nation of 28 million people struggled to cope with the dead and injured from Nepal's worst quake in 81 years, and a lack of equipment meant rescuers could look no deeper than surface rubble for signs of life. Kathmandu's Bir Hospital had so far received 300 to 350 patients with serious injuries, and most of them died, said paramedic Dinesh Chaudhary. He said the hospital was running out of supplies and were procuring medicines from shops outside. "There will be many more patients coming in tomorrow because only a very small part of the debris has been cleared," he said. Ramesh Pokharel, a staff member of the Bhaktapur Hospital on the outskirts of Kathmandu, said that around 50 bodies were lying in a field outside. Doctors were treating patients in a tent next to Bhaktapur hospital's main building, and staff were too busy to count or register names of the casualties. "It's chaos here," Pokharel said. NEPAL EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER MAP http://link.reuters.com/myg64w PEOPLE STILL TRAPPED The earthquake, centered 50 miles (80 km) east of the second city, Pokhara, was all the more destructive for being shallow. Areas of Kathmandu were reduced to rubble, and rescue operations had still not begun in some remote areas. Among the capital's landmarks destroyed in the earthquake was the 60-metre-high (100-foot) Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 for the queen of Nepal, with a viewing balcony that had been open to visitors for the last 10 years. A jagged stump 10 meters high was all that was left of the lighthouse-like structure. As bodies were pulled from the ruins, a policeman said up to 200 people had been trapped inside. Across the city of roughly 1 million people, rescuers scrabbled through destroyed buildings, among them ancient, wooden Hindu temples. "I can see three bodies of monks trapped in the debris of a collapsed building near a monastery," Indian tourist Devyani Pant told Reuters. "We are trying to pull the bodies out and look for anyone who is trapped." Neighboring India, where 44 people were reported killed in the quake and its aftershocks, was first to respond to calls for help, sending military aircraft with medical equipment and relief teams. The Indian embassy in Nepal said 285 members of the National Disaster Response Force had been sent to assist the Nepalese army in the rescue effort. Aid groups readied staff to go to Nepal with supplies to provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food, while the United States, Britain and Pakistan were among countries providing search-and-rescue experts. DEADLIEST EARTHQUAKES BY YEAR http://link.reuters.com/nyg64w TRAGEDY IN THE MOUNTAINS An Indian army mountaineering team found 18 bodies on Mount Everest, where an avalanche unleashed by the earthquake swept through base camp. More than 1,000 climbers had gathered there at the start of the climbing season. A tourism official, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, said it was "hard to even assess what the death toll and the extent of damage" around Everest could be. "The trekkers are scattered all around the base camp and some had even trekked further up. It is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone." Around 300,000 foreign tourists were estimated to be in various parts of Nepal for the spring trekking and climbing season in the Himalayas, and officials were overwhelmed by calls from concerned friends and relatives. Romanian climber Alex Gavan tweeted that there had been a "huge earthquake then huge avalanche" at Everest base camp, forcing him to run for his life.

The latest message from Alex, via his sat phone, at the end of this sad day, in reply to all the media requests he has...

Posted by Alex Gavan on Saturday, April 25, 2015
In a later tweet he made a desperate appeal for a helicopter to fly in and evacuate climbers who had been hurt: "Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap." In the Annapurna mountain range, where scores were killed in the nation's worst trekking accident last year, many hikers were stranded after the earthquake, according to messages on social media, but no fatalities have been reported. Stan Adhikari, who runs the Mountain House lodge in Pokhara near the mountain range, said the city had not seen much damage. He said he was hoping roads to Kathmandu would be accessible on Sunday morning. Nepal, sandwiched between India and China, has had its share of natural disasters. Its worst earthquake in 1934 killed more than 8,500 people. (Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Mayank Bhardwaj, Krista Mahr, Krishna Das and Rupam Jain Nair in New Delhi, Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow, Manoj Chaurasia in Patna, Serajul Quadir and Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Suvashree Choudhury and Aman Shah in Mumbai; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Paritosh Bansal and Mark Bendeich) ======================================== Buildings collapse, at least four killed as 7.9 quake hits Nepal, India-witnesses Sat, Apr 25 04:55 AM EDT image 1 of 4 By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A shallow earthquake measuring 7.9 magnitude struck west of the ancient Nepali capital of Kathmandu on Saturday causing buildings to collapse, injuring many and leaving a pall of dust over the city, witnesses said. The initial unconfirmed death toll was at least four but could be expected to rise significantly as Kathmandu's decrepit buildings, crisscrossed by narrow alleys, are home to large families. A 1934 quake of magnitude 8.3 in the impoverished Himalayan nation killed over 8,500 people. At the main hospital in Kathmandu, people with broken limbs and arms were being rushed in for treatment. It was unclear how many people were injured. A girl died after a statue fell on her in a park in Kathmandu, a witness said, while another died in India when her house collapsed. An historic tower built in the 19th century in Kathmandu collapsed, trapping at least 50 people, Nepal media reported. The Dharara Tower, built in 1832, had been open to visitors for the last 10 years and had a viewing balcony on its eighth floor. One body was removed from the tower and a second lay further up the road, a Reuters witness said. A Reuters reporter in Kathmandu said he had seen some buildings collapse and walls of several houses reduced to rubble. “Everyone is out in the streets, people are rushing to the hospital,” the reporter said. The city is home to ancient, wooden Hindu temples. Photographs posted online showed buildings left in rubble, large cracks along roads and residents sitting in the street holding babies. Mountaineer Alex Gavan tweeted from Mount Pumori, about 8 km (5 miles) west of Mount Everest, that the quake had caused an avalanche on Everest. "Everest base camp huge earthquake then huge avalanche from pumori. Running for life from my tent. Unhurt. Many people up the mountain," tweeted Gavan. Tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi and other northern cities in India, with reports of tremors lasting almost one minute. "Massive tremors have been felt here in Delhi and several other parts of India," said a newsreader on NDTV in Delhi. "You can see pictures of our Delhi studios, where the windows rattled and everything shook for a very long time, for a minute perhaps or longer," she said as footage showed studio ceiling camera lights shaking. A police officer in the control room of neighbouring Indian state of Bihar said the phone lines were jammed with callers from across the heavily populated state. "We don't know about the casualties, we are flooded with calls." The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, initially measured at 7.7 but upgraded to 7.9 magnitude, struck 80 km (50 miles) east of Pokhara. It was only 2 km deep. "We are in the process of finding more information and are working to reach out to those affected, both at home & in Nepal," tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi convened a high-level meeting with ministers and top officials to assess the situation. There were no preliminary reports of damage anywhere in India, Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Press Trust of India. Nepal emerged in 2006 from a civil war between Maoists rebels and the state that left 17,000 dead. Nepal abolished the monarchy in 2008 and the Maoists laid down their arms. (Reporting by New Delhi and Kathmandu newsrooms; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Friday, April 24, 2015

More fighting, air strikes in Yemen, civilian death toll exceeds 550

Fri, Apr 24 18:42 PM EDT image 1 of 3 By Mohammed Mukhashaf ADEN (Reuters) - Fighting between Yemen's warring factions raged in southern and central parts of the country and air strikes hit Houthi militia forces in Aden on Friday, but there were no fresh moves toward dialogue. Saudi Arabia says it is winding down its month-old bombing operation against the Iran-allied Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen's former president. But Riyadh pounded targets with at least 20 airstrikes across Yemen on Thursday and 10 more on Friday. The civilian death toll from the fighting and airstrikes since the bombing started on March 26 has reached an estimated 551 people, the United Nations said on Friday. Its children's agency UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead. Washington and other Western countries backing the Saudi-led aerial campaign have grown increasingly worried about the humanitarian crisis on the ground and also about the risk of Sunni Muslim jihadist groups taking advantage of the chaos. Islamic State, which has had little presence in Yemen, released late on Thursday a video it said showed members of the group in the country conducting military exercises and pledging to attack the Houthis, who are from the Zaydi Shi'ite sect. Saudi Arabia has called a meeting with major U.N. aid agencies and others to discuss improving aid deliveries to Yemen, which have been hindered by the naval blockade, Saudi officials and U.N. sources said. Violent clashes continued between the Houthis and local militias near the Khor Maksar district of Aden on Friday, residents said, as well as in Taiz and al-Dhala. Heavy fighting in Marib province east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed 15 people, tribal sources there said, as the Houthi militia and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh tried to advance into the rugged Sirwah district. AIR STRIKES Renewed airstrikes, days after Riyadh announced the end of its main bombing campaign, hit the 35th Brigade in Taiz, a Yemen army unit loyal to Saleh whose troops have clashed this week with militiamen supporting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Four weeks of air raids have had limited impact on the lightly armed and mobile Houthi guerrilla fighters, but have significantly degraded army units loyal to Saleh, Western diplomats say. Splitting the alliance between the Houthis and Saleh is seen as pivotal to any chance of success for the Saudi-led coalition in its goal of pushing the militia back towards its northern heartland, resuming peace talks and restoring Hadi to Sanaa. Several army units have announced in recent days that they were pledging their loyalty to Hadi after fighting alongside Saleh or sitting on the sidelines. But those switches do not yet appear to have swung the balance of fighting on the ground. Separately, a spokesman for Defence Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi rejected on Friday as untrue local media reports that the Houthis had released him after weeks of detention. (Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Mohammed Ghobari in Cairo. Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

China to inject $62 bn in policy banks to boost ‘New Silk Road’ - report

COMMENTS (84) Your comment is awaiting moderation. inject $62 bn in policy banks to boost ‘New Silk Road’ - report Published time: April 20, 2015 22:08 Edited time: April 21, 2015 07:57 Get short URL Reuters/Petar Kujundzic Reuters/Petar Kujundzic 349213 Tags Banking, China, Investment China will reportedly allocate $62 billion of its foreign exchange reserves to three state-owned “policy banks” in order to support its New Silk Road project aimed at creating infrastructure links with foreign markets. The project called "One belt, One road", also known as the New Silk Road, includes plans to build roads, ports, railway systems and other infrastructure from China into the Middle East, Central, South and Southeast Asia to create demand for China’s industrial exports, as it already sees oversupply at home. The People’s Bank of China will direct $32 billion to China Development Bank (CDB) and $30 billion to Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), the Caixin magazine said in a report on its website. The third bank to receive cash from China's central bank is Agricultural Development Bank of China (ADBC); another state-owned bank that supports the farming sector. Read more China to invest $46bn in economic corridor with Pakistan - media The capital injection will be carried out through converting entrusted loans into stakes, the journal said, adding that the People's Bank of China will become the second largest shareholder in the China Development Bank and the biggest shareholder of the EXIM bank. Chinese government said last week it had approved the reform plans for CDB, Exim Bank and Agricultural Development Bank proposed by the Central Bank in attempts to advance finance projects amid the current economic slowdown. The government has been saying for years it intended to transform these three policy banks into commercial institutions, but little progress has been seen. Policy banks in China do not accept deposits and fund themselves mainly by selling bonds carrying an explicit government guarantee. The banks sell bonds in Yuan within China and USD bonds in the offshore market. The foreign exchange reserves of China, considered the worlds largest, fell by $110 billion to $3.7 trillion in the first quarter of 2015. China had previously used part of its foreign currency reserves to recapitalize major state-run banks, help them restructure and list their shares. 759 characters COMMENTS POLICY BESTNEWESTOLDEST M.M.SHERAZIabout 22 hours ago Long Live Pakistan, Love Live China, the Friendship of all weathers... RECOMMEND112 STRINGabout 22 hours ago China has no plan yet to develop her south and western part , even though they have plan but it will take them 100 years , All the universities and industry exit in Eastern china with port cities,.. For China Eastern and western part has as contrast as Pak has Lahore and DI Khan . Even China are facing extremism and terrorism in south western cities .. Pak has to made on companies to build coal based power plant , Chines can not afford to work with exiting force in Pak. RECOMMEND23 HUZAIFAHabout 22 hours ago Big Opportunity for Pakistan. RECOMMEND67 KAMAL PASHA.about 22 hours ago China is the most trusted friend since day one. Pakistan should always receiprocate their help. RECOMMEND55 HARMONYabout 22 hours ago "India is concerned about China’s growing investment in Pakistan". Why? Prosperity and peace for any country in the region is good for others in the region and rubs along! RECOMMEND96 KAMAL PASHA.about 22 hours ago China has always been good friend from the day one. Pakistan must receiprocate all their help. There is too much for both in maintaining their good friendship. RECOMMEND27 KAMAL PASHA.about 22 hours ago Both countries have spent long time about this Gwadar project. They will fortified this area in suchna way that nothing will go wrong and not even bird will fly over these areas. It will be good for insurgents to keep themselves away from these areas. It is upto them. RECOMMEND27 TARIQ, LAHOREabout 22 hours ago Pakistan India are natural partners but the their BIG mistake is their failure to resolve the Kashmir issue - this has, is and will cost much more in the future if this issue is not addressed!! RECOMMEND53 ASHEIKHabout 22 hours ago No amount of additional energy is enough, if power theft cannot be controlled. We are our own worst enemies. RECOMMEND36 GAURAV ARYAabout 22 hours ago @Harmony - We are not concerned. Just don't mess it up like everything else. Rest if fine. Its your sovereign matter. We are no one to have an opinion. Its between China and Pakistan. RECOMMEND85 AHMEDabout 22 hours ago very informative article!!! whether one likes it or not credit for this investment goes to PMNS!! RECOMMEND22 SAEED MASOODabout 22 hours ago These projects put together are enormous by any standard...the government must announce very clearly how it will be done honestly and successfully on time.Only signing is not enough do the Pakistan side have the capability to fulfill. RECOMMEND13 IRFAN FAROOQUIabout 22 hours ago amazing what a brilliant and well made project..... RECOMMEND20 HARMONYabout 22 hours ago @ahmed - But he prefers building roads and metros more! RECOMMEND7 EHSAN KARIMabout 21 hours ago Most of the money for the purchase (Gwadar) from Oman came from donations, with Prince Ali Salman Mohammad Shah Aga Khan, being the greatest contributor, while the remainder was raised by taxation. RECOMMEND17 MUHAMMADabout 21 hours ago Its a win win for all, China is going to reap the benefits of friendship with Pakistan. India should also work along same lines, forgetting the past, for returning prosperity to the sub-continent. RECOMMEND33 JAINYabout 21 hours ago This will soon be turned as Kalabagh Dam due to route change. Such projects will definitely change people's mind and thinking. Route must not be changed if you want to see progressing Pakistan. ANP and other such parties are already declaring this to be another Kalabagh Dam. Please stick to the original route and make Pakistan Progress. Development leads you to Peace. RECOMMEND12 HANIabout 21 hours ago @Kamal Pasha. Pakistan always does RECOMMEND0 ABC@ABC.COMabout 21 hours ago @Jainy - First make sum thing happen and once single route is up, other (original route) will be peanuts. As fruit from the wave of progress from first route will be tremondous. RECOMMEND5 AAM ADMI about 21 hours ago “China is not building the corridor as an act of charity for Pakistan,” RECOMMEND35 MUHAMMAD FAROOQabout 21 hours ago Huge Chines investment to the tune of billions of dollars in the infrastructure and energy related projects will serve as a catalyst for the economic and social development of the country. The real benefits of this progress will go to common people is a question mark because for that we need a fair and equitable corruption free taxation system and honest implementation of projects for the welfare of the people. RECOMMEND15 ONEEBabout 20 hours ago International energy war between US, Israel, India etc. against Arabs, Chinese etc. is slightly exposed in this article. RECOMMEND9 GURUabout 20 hours ago such a good idea to have the good relation with your neighbor. Be friendly to the one who is friendly to you and then you can do much more with the friendship than just hello and goodbye. You can build many things and be the one who is going to supply the power to the places that need the supply for the long time and place. When you do this it will be a good idea to make the long investment in the good place that will give you the return for the good will of the other place that is the more money and more better life for the common people of the region which is helpful in making the place a better world for the fifty five cents that you will get for your opinion. RECOMMEND5 EUROabout 20 hours ago India can not tap into Central Asia without Pakistan allowing it to. The same goes for land rutes to Afghanistan. For now India can only continue to fund and train terrorists from Afghanistan and send them into Pakistan - as long as it last - as Pakistan is winning this war under General Raheel. RECOMMEND41 EUROabout 20 hours ago Indians should learn from Pakistan-China friendship and quit Kashmir occupation and return Kashmir to Pakistan, her mother country since partition of 1947, and establish friendship with us. After wll, we have more in common with each other then any other nation on this planet. RECOMMEND26 MALIKabout 20 hours ago @Gaurav Arya I hope others think the same way. RECOMMEND9 MGabout 20 hours ago 8000 security persons to protect 8100 workers!!!! Insane. China must be either trying to establish a military base or feeling insecure to core. RECOMMEND18 MALIKabout 20 hours ago China has been a great friend of Pakistan. These are Great projects which will benefit both countries. Some countries will definitely try to disrupt the arrangements. Indian involvement in the insurgency in Baluchistan will be a huge factor in the success of the Projects. Changing the Route will be another sore spot. Like it or not as long as the corrupt Pakistani government stays in power huge portion of this investment will go into their satanic deep pockets. In short, The new Silk Route must be built but it might not be “Silky” and smooth. RECOMMEND7 RAOabout 20 hours ago No matter what, N.Shariff deserves all the praise for bringing China as a great power bearing gifts, help and sincere friendship is not an easy joke but a Herculean task. This might turn out to be a cornerstone in Pak history to emerge as an Asian tiger. For, Pakistan has the people power, nuke power etc along with growing infrastructure in everything. So the prime minister has turned to be a great statesman as long as his political opponents torpedo it. RECOMMEND7 SANDHUabout 19 hours ago Game changer investment for Pakistan. RECOMMEND13 SHAZIA about 19 hours ago after listening to Pakistani s on TV and reading comments on net, i am of firm belief that every third person in Pakistan is a strategic expert . even when economy is in shambles and jobs are nowhere , people are not talking how the job will be created and has Pakistan got enough talent or potential to absorb so called investment, but are happy to see china as counter weight to Americans. All so called money is not investment ONLY but majority is loan, If Chinese get their own manpower , experts and sub let requirements to own industry, it will not be so sweet senario as it is being painted RECOMMEND43 ARYASTANabout 19 hours ago @Euro India totally isolated. RECOMMEND10 ARYASTANabout 19 hours ago @Euro China wont agree. RECOMMEND2 Zabout 19 hours ago @Gaurav Arya I wish all Indians (and Pakistanis) think like that. Thank you. RECOMMEND9 SHUJAAT KHANabout 19 hours ago Hope they have taken into consideration how many tankers will be torched on land route . RECOMMEND6 Zabout 19 hours ago @Jainy Origianl route(s) not going away, only in the interim utilize existing infrastructure and safer areas. So trade activity starts sooner. RECOMMEND4 VICKYabout 19 hours ago I am afraid of a serious reaction from UAE/GCC for 2 reasons; Pak didn't send troops to KSA & 2ndly this Chinese Corridor will hurt the ongoing trade through Dubai & Oman. Gawadar is in actual deep sea while Dubai has just a bay. RECOMMEND10 LAFANGAabout 18 hours ago "China’s new silk road: What’s in it for Pakistan?" Opportunity ... that is if the clueless leadership can see it. They ONLY like to remind people of the FOREX in Pakistan which is ballooned to $18 bn on the back of soft and hard loans. Hardly any achievement. If the leadership doesn't look at short term gains, there is plenty of opportunity in this deal. Chinese don't want to hand out freebies. They would like to make money and also help Pakistan to make money as well i.e. if Pakistanis are willing to. RECOMMEND10 PRASADDECCANIabout 18 hours ago @Harmony That statement spices up the story; otherwise it reads very bland. RECOMMEND2 TURTH SEEKERabout 18 hours ago Not a fan of NS or PML-N but JOB Well done! RECOMMEND6 PRASADDECCANIabout 18 hours ago @SHAZIA China is investing in and/or extending loans to power projects in Pakistan. Importance of a power project is actually not with the project proper, but, with the potential it generates to set up downstream industries. So, one must accept that China is definitely helping you, and, it is up to you how your private & public sectors take advantage of the available power and invest further which in turn spurs job market. RECOMMEND5 LAFANGAabout 18 hours ago @Vicky "I am afraid of a serious reaction from UAE/GCC for 2 reasons; Pak didn't send troops to KSA & 2ndly this Chinese Corridor will hurt the ongoing trade through Dubai & Oman. Gawadar is in actual deep sea while Dubai has just a bay." Well they can hurt as much as they want. It's called competition and Pakistan has a bigger gun to defend it's side of the Persian gulf and they know it. They can't push Pakistan too hard or it's bye bye to GCC and hello to Iran. RECOMMEND9 ANSabout 18 hours ago @Euro Heard of Chahbahar Port by India in Iran? Alternate route to Afghanistan and competitor to Gwadar coming up there. RECOMMEND9 NASIR NADEEM about 18 hours ago great initiative.credit goes to NS and Mr She.This project must rollout on war footing and should be completed within 3-4 years .It will be a game changer for both countries. RECOMMEND7 TOMabout 17 hours ago @Harmony, Absolutely agree. Indians wish all the very best to Pakistan in building its economy. RECOMMEND5 KAZIM REZAabout 17 hours ago The strategic importance has mentioned by Zofeen T Ebrahim's brief analysis that "the port could turn into China’s naval base in the Indian Ocean, enabling Beijing to monitor Indian and American naval activities."If US had any plan to encircle China with the various Asian powers through land or maritime borders that is not workable at least in Tibet-Kashmir sides due to port Gwadar- Kashgar economic corridor. It's interesting.So chances of any future war by Asian nations have further lessened.A symmetry is being established against India- US axis and more economic competition more non lethal competition among the great nations. Thanks Dawn for focusing such a positive news item. RECOMMEND1 NASIR NADEEM about 17 hours ago @SHAZIA do;nt live in fool,s paradise.even a blind can see the opportunities due to this land mark project. how come there will be no job opportunity even chines bring their own people.Still opportunities will be there.construction;Transport;shipping;and general industry will be a big business during and in post build scenario. long live Pakistan. RECOMMEND1 PROUSTabout 17 hours ago Guide us through our troubled times, our trusted friend. Thank you. RECOMMEND8 THINKERabout 17 hours ago No friend is indeed friendship without personnel interest, told by world ever political science teacher chanakya' ,5000BC RECOMMEND10 ASHOK KUMAR LALabout 17 hours ago But why Gilgit Baltistan and north Pakistan is being placed under China administrative control RECOMMEND0 ZAHIDabout 17 hours ago The question is what is in it for the regions except Upper Punjab? RECOMMEND0 ONE TRICK PONYabout 17 hours ago This investment will be a game changer for Pakistan growth. I can see why India and U.S are worried. This shows you who really is our friend and enemy. RECOMMEND7 ZUBAIRabout 16 hours ago So,this is the startup of development from Urumqi to Gwadar .It will probably coverup the physical link of Allama Iqbal's Nile ke sahil se ta ba khak e Kashgar. RECOMMEND1 MUZAFFAR ALIabout 16 hours ago Friends can do only so much....Pakistan needs to put its own house in order now. RECOMMEND1 SIDDHARTH SAMAIYAabout 16 hours ago China is giving soft loan to Pakistan to fulfill its own purpose.. How ? 1.Pakistan will pay interest on debt to China . 2.Through Gwadar they could save more than $300 billion annually. 3.Will Expand the trade activities with Central Asia , Africa n Middle East. 4.Will use Gwadar as a military base against their rivals . 5.Through pakistan they could increase the flow of goods and capital . What will Pak get ?? Electricity - Which pak would have increase with its own resources ... 2.Employment !! - I don't think bcoz gwadar is now a part of china for at least 40 yrs. Yes Pakistani would work as a lobourer in their aka's region 3.Reduction in funds from West plus bitter relations with India .. China is clever .. It won't give you anything for free ... RECOMMEND3 ZACK KHANabout 15 hours ago Pakistan should ask China to stop persecuting Muslims in China! If you don't stand for something, you will fall for everything! RECOMMEND10 ZACK KHANabout 15 hours ago @ahmed WAKE UP...!! RECOMMEND1 CYRUSabout 15 hours ago Gwadar port to Islamabad. That's where the money is. So much is stolen from the docks in Karachi that Pakistan AND China needed a secure seaport. We could call it the Silk Road because silk dresses and dress creations will exported by China, and so much more. That may include military weapons and vehicles if they are in the budget. RECOMMEND1 MR.GOOabout 15 hours ago If honest work kicks off to materialize this imvestment, will the scope of Civil Engineers increase in Pakistan ? Tell me ..tell me !! RECOMMEND3 ZACK KHANabout 15 hours ago @ahmed nawaz is clueless as to the severity of this project and has failed to reap benefits for Pakistan to the extent he should have! This is true as a nation we have no idea what in it for us! RECOMMEND0 AWabout 15 hours ago If Pakistan can get rid of religious influence on Politics and governance, then Pakistan can be successful as a member of the world community and for maximizing socio-economic development of its own people. Let Pakistan be Pakistan as envisioned by Jinnah and not a religious republic PLEASE for the sake of the Country RECOMMEND9 CYRUSabout 14 hours ago @Kamal Pasha. Absolutely true. RECOMMEND3 USMANabout 14 hours ago @Euro Err, Kashmir's are not interested in going back to Pakistan or India, actually they are demanding the end of occupation from all three: Pakistan, India and China. RECOMMEND0 CYRUSabout 14 hours ago @asheikh No doubt about that. India has the same problem, and in Northwest India the problem is even worse than in Pakistan. If you can believe it. In India no electricity means no electricity, but it also means no fresh water. In city neighborhoods electric pumps are all that draw water. RECOMMEND1 CYRUSabout 14 hours ago @Saeed Masood The PPP could not even get the deal signed. China does not like their money going into political pockets. The PPP and MQM wanted to maintain Karachi port's dominance, but could not stop the smuggling, the theft of goods and the pilferage of shipping containers. Or were afraid to. RECOMMEND0 CYRUSabout 14 hours ago @Jainy Without dams Pakistan will eventually be washed into the Arabian Sea. RECOMMEND0 HARMONYabout 14 hours ago @AW - I agree religion should be no business of state and your advice for Pakistan but at the same time it would have been fair on you to point out India seems to be regressing by promoting Hindutava. RECOMMEND1 CYRUSabout 14 hours ago @Oneeb You mean Pakistani paranoia has been only slightly exposed. You have enlightened us on the matter. RECOMMEND0 SIDNEYabout 14 hours ago The only thing that matters, irrespective of whether US and India are worried, is for China to help Pakistan develop and this will be good for the whole region. Afterall, stability for the region requires all countries do grow and the US does not live in the region. India should support such initiatives RECOMMEND7 NEPTUNE SRIMALabout 13 hours ago looking at it from another angle: China is building a road across Pakistan and building a port mostly for it's own use without having to pay any access charge and with money lent to Pakistan by China which Pakistan will eventually have to pay back. The projects will provide jobs for thousands of Chinese workers in Pakistan who will be protected by a special division of Pakistani security force raised and maintained with Pakistani money. China will also be constructing coal burning power plants -- the age of which is now past -- most likely such power plants will have to buy carbon credits in future from the global exchanges making them uneconomical. I fervently hope that this deal is a game changer for Pakistan, will bring economic prosperity to Pakistan and will provide jobs to unemployed Pakistani youth who will then move away from extremist philosophies. But seriously, I see a lot of benefits to China -- looks like Pakistan has been badly conned. RECOMMEND2 MANZOORabout 12 hours ago No mention of Nawaz Sharief, the main architect of this plan in the whole article. Says something about the policy of Dawn RECOMMEND1 JAVIDabout 12 hours ago Thanks to Musharaf. He started Gawader port. RECOMMEND1 PAVANabout 12 hours ago How many Pakistanis are going to get jobs. The only country which benefits is China. China has gone and made friendships with the countries which are strategically beneficial for them. They are not doing a charity here. Its heartening to know that Pakistan is getting mobbed by the Chinese. RECOMMEND2 EXCELSIOR LONDONabout 11 hours ago should there be a CIP (China-Iran-Pakistan) gas pipeline? RECOMMEND1 SALMAN AHMED about 10 hours ago @Turth Seeker just wait and see :-) RECOMMEND1 GULabout 9 hours ago Pakistan will benefit from china tremendously..we should support pakistan China cooperation whole heartedly RECOMMEND2 RAMAabout 8 hours ago Beware of China, they are not supporting Pakistan and looking only for their strategic interest, remember what happened to Vietnam after US left . RECOMMEND1 SHAHabout 8 hours ago I have observed that the map above has Bay of Bengal where the Arabian sea should be. RECOMMEND1 AYERabout 7 hours ago Its hard to understand the hyperbole and gushy language from commentators about Pak - China friendship. Everyone knows that it is only National interests that matter. Today Saudi Arabia is very much on the side of Israel over the Iran issue though it may not publicly say so. RECOMMEND1 SHEIKH KHALIDabout 6 hours ago @Rao China just came in to pluck the "ripe apple" at U.S. behest. That was the plan all along behind "War in Afghanistan". it is a case of Good Cop, Bad Cop, and certain Money Lenders. RECOMMEND0 SYED AHMED ABIDabout 6 hours ago History would remember Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as a great visionary who initiated the Pak China friendship the fruits of which are materialising now. RECOMMEND1 JUS_ANOTHER_GUYabout 6 hours ago @One Trick Pony who told you who is worried? or is it just another pint of pakistani imaginative conspiracy theories, 46 billion is nothing for US or for that matter even India, and its not even Donation , Why would someone invest somewhere, they will earn 460 billion out of 46 billion , mark my words, get ready for deceive again RECOMMEND0 SHEIKH KHALIDabout 6 hours ago Meta courtesy 25° 8'24.39"N, 62°19'45.22"E. Google Earth. The photo at that location. RECOMMEND0 ADHAWKabout 3 hours ago China is a strategic partner linked to Pakistan only in its rivalry with India. There is no cultural affinity or people-to-people links. Want to see real friends, check out U.S./Canada or U.S./U.K.