Monthly Archive: August 2011

BBC News – Banking reforms will go ahead, says Vince Cable

BBC News – Banking reforms will go ahead, says Vince Cable.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said banking reforms will go ahead despite a row over the speed of the changes.

CBI director general John Cridland said taking action now could starve businesses of the capital they needed and damage the economic recovery.

But Mr Cable said that suggestion was “disingenuous in the extreme”.

Ensuring taxpayers are not liable for any future losses or bank collapses, and ring-fencing banks’ retail operations, are among the proposals.

Anxieties about the big financial institutions were “all the more reason for grappling with this issue”, Mr Cable told The Times.

The Liberal Democrat minister said: “It is disingenuous in the extreme to use the current context to argue against reform.

“Banks are in a way trying to create a panic around something which they know has got to happen.

“The governor of the Bank of England and many other people have been arguing that we have to deal with the too-big-to-fail problem.

“We can’t have big global banks with balance sheets bigger than British GDP underwritten by the taxpayer; this can’t go on and it has got to be dealt with.”

‘Radical slowdown’

The Independent Commission on Banking’s final recommendations are due on 12 September.

In its interim report published in April, the banking commission – chaired by former Bank of England chief economist John Vickers – recommended ring-fencing banks’ retail operations from their investment banking arms.

It also said that taxpayers should not be liable for future losses, and that depositors should get their money back before creditors.

But Mr Cridland told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there had been “a radical slowdown” in the economy since that interim report and there was now real concern about the impact of any reform.


The tussle between the banks and the business secretary is more than just another bout of political fisticuffs between Mr Cable and those he once dismissed as “spivs and gamblers”.

The stakes for the government over banking reform are dangerously high.

If ministers decide to delay the reforms – as demanded by the banks – and there is another banking crisis, then the electoral repercussions could be devastating.

On the other hand, if ministers decide to ignore the banks’ warnings and press ahead quickly, and this then results in bank lending faltering, the consequences for the coalition could be equally serious.

No wonder then that within Whitehall, ministers are still undecided about how fast to move on reform and whether to legislate before the next election.

“We’re going to have a major problem if growth stagnates, and at that point, my businesses being able to get cash from their banks is critical,” he said.

“Anything which makes it harder for banks to keep the wheels of the economy well-oiled is not good timing.”

Andrew Lilico, from financial consultancy Europe Economic, agreed that plans to force banks to hold more capital in reserve – rather than lend it out – could “tip us into a great depression”.

But he said pressing ahead with reform now need not be a problem if the changes introduced were the correct ones.

“If you have the right sort of reforms… which in this case ought to be means of making it easier for banks to be allowed go bust safely without causing problems for taxpayers or the wider economy, you should introduce them at the earlier possible opportunity.

“In fact, it’s amazing that the crisis has gone on since 2007 and serious reforms have not yet been introduced.”

No obligation

The Vickers commission was set up by the government last June to review the UK banking sector after bailing out some of the UK’s biggest banks during the financial crisis.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the government wanted to wait for the full report before responding to its recommendations.

And he said: “I think the key thing we want from our banks is really two things. First of all, to be lending into the real economy so we can support growth and jobs.

“But the second thing we do need to make sure that our banks are not taking risks that put the economy at risk.”

British Bankers’ Association chief executive Angela Knight said banks should be allowed to “finance the recovery first, pay back the taxpayer next”, and only then set about reform.

“If more regulation remains at the top of the list, then this will only have the affect of risking the recovery which is so essential to our future,” she said.

The government is under no obligation to implement the Vickers recommendations.

Treasury sources say there have been no official discussions on when any changes might be brought in and have refused to promise legislation before the next general election.

There has been speculation the reforms could possibly be delayed until 2019, but ministers are expected to make their position clear by the end of the year.

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BBC News – Gender pay gap ‘to last for another 98 years’

BBC News – Gender pay gap ‘to last for another 98 years’.

It will take almost a century for UK women managers to be paid the same as their male counterparts, a study says.

Female managers are now paid an average £31,895 per year, compared with males earning £42,441 for doing the same job, according to the report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Despite female pay rising more than men’s in 2011, the CMI said it will take 98 years to gain parity.

However, the CMI said junior female managers now earned more than males.

According to its survey, junior women managers now earn £21,969 on average, £602 more than men at the same level.

But for women managers as a whole, the CMI said the pay gap is wider in 2011 than 2010, rising to £10,546 from £10,000.

As a result, the number of years it says it will take women managers to achieve equal pay has risen from 57 to 98.

‘Damaging businesses’

The CMI added that female salaries had increased by 2.8% this year, compared with 2.3% for their male colleagues.

Start Quote

it is wonderful to see that the gender pay gap at junior executive level has closed – and we hope this continues as this generation climb the ranks of management”

Sandra Pollock CMI

The CMI’s director of policy and research, Petra Wilton, said: “While CMI is delighted that junior female executives have caught up with males at the same level, this year’s salary survey demonstrates, yet again, that businesses are contributing to the persistent gender pay gap by alienating top female employees by continuing to pay men and women unequally.

“This kind of bad management is damaging UK businesses and must be addressed.”

Across the nations and regions of the UK, the gender pay gap is biggest in Northern Ireland, where on average, male managers are paid £13,793 more than their female counterparts, said the CMI.

It found that the Midlands had the next largest gap, £11,346, followed by London with £11,129.

Salaries are most equal in Wales, where the pay gap is £2,441, said the CMI.

‘Ongoing war’

To help close the gap, Ms Wilton said the CMI wanted the government “to scrutinise organisational pay, demand more transparency from companies on pay bandings and publicly expose organisations found guilty of fuelling the gender pay gap”.

However, the CMI said it was not calling for the imposition of quotas or for organisations to be forced to reveal staff salaries.

Its survey of 34,158 managers across the UK also found that more female managers (4.2%) were choosing to quit their jobs than their male colleagues (3.6%).

At the same time, exactly the same level (2.2%) of managers of both sexes had been made redundant.

Sandra Pollock, national chair of the CMI’s women in management network, said: “Too often managers are male and aged 45-plus, and we are fighting an ongoing war to ensure that professions attract people based on their talent, and not their age or gender.

“The research launched today does, however, show that we have won our first battle – it is wonderful to see that the gender pay gap at junior executive level has closed – and we hope this continues as this generation climb the ranks of management.”

‘Dragging feet’

Back in February, an independent report for the government told firms to more than double the number of women on their boards by 2015 or face government measures.

The report’s author, former minister Lord Davies of Abersoch, urged FTSE 350 companies to boost the percentage of women at the board table to 25% by 2015.

But he stopped short of imposing quotas, unless voluntary measures fail.

Lord Davies said on Wednesday that the progress he had seen since February had been “encouraging”, but more needed to be done.

“Many companies can be proud that they have set out their own targets towards achieving greater diversity on their boards, but there are others who are dragging their feet,” he said.

“The rate of female appointments since March is still well below the 25% target that my panel has set, with 47% of all FTSE 250 companies continuing to have all male boards.

He added: “There is more work to be done and the panel will be reconvening in the autumn to assess progress and agree next steps.”

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Cable: US pressured EU to approve Oracle-Sun merger – Software – Technology – News –

Cable: US pressured EU to approve Oracle-Sun merger – Software – Technology – News –

The US Government met with European competition officials to lobby on behalf of Oracle during its purchase of Sun Microsystems, according to leaked diplomatic cables.

The cables, released this week by whistleblowing site Wikileaks, reveal that the Obama administration had monitored the European Union’s investigation into the competition issues that could arise from the merger and tried to convince them to let the deal go ahead.

The EU had investigated the merger due to concerns for the future of Java and the open source MySQL database.

The cable noted that Oracle representatives were “unwilling or unable to make certain divestitures to satisfy the Commission’s concerns” and that without the merger Sun would “go bankrupt.”

The cable suggests the US Government lobbied on behalf of Oracle to prevent Sun from shedding any further jobs and to save face for the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust division, which had approved the acquisition months earlier.

“The Department of Justice/Antitrust views this matter as a high priority,” said the Deputy Chief of the US Mission to the European Union, Ambassador Christopher W. Murray.

“Its senior officials and investigative staff are currently engaging productively and intensely with their DG COMP [EU Director-General for Competition] counterparts, and are in close touch with Oracle and Sun, in the hopes of preventing a divergent outcome.”

One month later, another cable sent to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the USTR (United States Trade Representative), the US National Security Council, the US Departments of Treasury, Justice and Commercial and the Federal Trade Commission, went into great detail about the EU’s competition commissioner’s opinions on the open source software movement.

Anthony Whelan, chef du cabinet to Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told the US Mission to the EU that Kroes sympathised with “the argument that open source software is by definition pro-competitive, since the theory is that everyone has access to it and can contribute to improving open source programs” but was equally swayed by “subtle and complex counterarguments to this.”

Whelan was quoted in a second cable as saying that “in the dynamic, real marketplace in Europe, this open source argument needs to be examined.”

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BBC News – Minister snapped leaving No 10 with Afghan memo

BBC News – Minister snapped leaving No 10 with Afghan memo.

A senior minister has accidentally revealed a UK government briefing document “welcoming” the departure of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was photographed clutching the note as he left No 10.

It said the UK should “publicly and privately” approve Mr Karzai’s decision not to seek a third term in 2014.

In response, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the memo was “pretty low level”, adding “these things happen”.

Mr Mitchell was photographed leaving Downing Street following a meeting of the National Security Council – in which ministers discussed Libya, Afghanistan and a range of other issues.

The BBC’s Political Correspondent Robin Brant said Mr Mitchell immediately realised he had mistakenly displayed confidential briefing papers and told an aide “it is nothing top secret”.


The document says: “Note that Karzai has publicly stated his intention to step down at the end of his second term as per the constitution. This is very important. It improves Afghanistan’s political prospects very significantly. We should welcome Karzai’s announcement in private and in public.”

William Hague says Mr Mitchell was carrying a “low level briefing document”

It goes on to say: “Afghan perceptions of violence are very important for their confidence in their future, and for their readiness to work for the Afghan government.

“Have we got the strategic communications on levels of violence right?”

The document also discusses reforms to Afghanistan’s banking sector and a planned IMF visit to the country.

The Department for International Development said the papers were “of a routine nature”.

“They would have had a national security level marking of ‘restricted’ or ‘confidential’ if they contained anything of significant sensitivity,” a spokesman said.

Mr Karzai was controversially re-elected to a second five-year term in 2009 after an election which was marred by allegations of fraud and vote-rigging.

Troubled relationship

Under the terms of the Afghan constitution, Mr Karzai is not allowed to stand for a third term – which means he will stand down in 2014.

There had been speculation he would try to continue in office beyond that date but he has confirmed he will not be seeking a third term.

Asked about Mr Mitchell’s disclosure, Mr Hague said the memo was a “pretty low level briefing document within one department” and President Karzai had already made his intentions clear.

He added: “Of course we always look to presidents of a country, of all countries, to respect the constitution of their countries. It is as simple as that.”

Mr Karzai was controversially re-elected to a second five-year term in 2009 after an election which was marred by allegations of fraud and vote-rigging.

The Afghan leader’s relationship with the UK and US has often been fraught, with critics urging him to do more to tackle corruption within his government.

But Nato forces in Afghanistan have said significant progress is being made in building up the capacity of the Afghan army and police as they take over greater responsibility for security.

The UK plans to withdraw the majority of its 9,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when its combat mission will come to an end.

Mr Mitchell is not the first person to be caught unawares by photographers outside No 10.

Former senior Metropolitan Police officer Bob Quick was mistakenly revealed a secret terrorism document as he arrived at Downing Street in 2009.

He subsequently resigned, saying his position was “untenable”.

In other similar cases, Treasury minister Danny Alexander was pictured last year holding a memo detailing the forecast scale of public sector job cuts while, in 2009, the then Labour Cabinet minister Caroline Flint inadvertently displayed a document which talked of a “property crisis”.

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BBC News – Libya interim leaders give ultimatum to Gaddafi forces

BBC News – Libya interim leaders give ultimatum to Gaddafi forces.

The interim leaders offered a “holiday ceasefire” to cover the Eid festival

Libya’s interim leaders have given pro-Gaddafi forces until Saturday to surrender or face military force.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who leads the National Transitional Council (NTC), said the ultimatum applied to loyalists of Col Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte and in other towns.

The announcement came after Col Gaddafi’s wife and three of his adult children fled to neighbouring Algeria.

Algeria has defended the move, which the NTC called an “act of aggression”.

Col Gaddafi’s own whereabouts are unknown – rumours have variously placed him in Sirte, in regime-controlled Bani Walid south-east of Tripoli, and in the capital itself.


The anti-Gaddafi forces are suggesting they will move in with all the force at their disposal if they don’t get what they want by the weekend.

If they are thinking about nation building for the future, they might be hoping for some kind of negotiated way out, because a big, bloody battle to end all this is not something they will want. If they want to build a new Libya, then the former pro-Gaddafi and anti-Gaddafi people are going to have to find a way to live together.

The infrastructure has not been that badly damaged here in Tripoli. Water is quite a serious problem but they do have electricity and people are getting things back on their feet. But there is an utter vacuum at the top in terms of power. Big decisions have to be taken because it won’t be easy reconciling all the forces in the country. Such a political leadership has not yet emerged and that is a major and urgent challenge.

The anti-Gaddafi forces are trying to overcome pockets of resistance by loyalists, and preparing to advance on Sirte.

Speaking at a news conference in Benghazi, Mr Jalil said that if there was no “peaceful indication” by Saturday that Gaddafi-loyalists intended to surrender, “we will decide this manner militarily”.

“We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait longer,” he said.

The NTC’s military chief, Col Ahmed Omar Bani, said: “Zero hour is quickly approaching… So far we have been given no indication of a peaceful surrender.”

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the deadline, saying: “I think it’s the right thing to do, to say to the forces loyal to the remnants of the Gaddafi regime: here is the opportunity to lay down your arms, to consider your situation.”

Mr Jalil said he had spoken to Nato officials and that the NTC had decided no foreign troops were needed in Libya to maintain security.

“We are betting on our youths and we are certain our bet will pay off,” he said.

But Mr Jalil warned that Col Gaddafi was “not finished yet”.

“The danger that is threatening the revolution and the Libyan people still exists. Gaddafi has support and partisans” inside and outside Libya, he said.

Another military commander on the NTC, Col Hisham Buhagiar, told Reuters news agency that 50,000 people were now thought to have been killed since the start of the uprising six months ago.

Nato ‘committed’

The anti-Gaddafi forces made an attempt to reach Sirte last week but were fought back by loyalist troops. On Monday, fighters coming from Benghazi in the east captured the small town of Nofilia, on the road to Sirte.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Benghazi says the anti-Gaddafi forces have mainly been negotiating with tribal leaders both in Sirte and the other two main remaining Gaddafi strongholds of Bani Walid and Sabha, deep in the Sahara desert region.

Map of Libya

While they have had some success with the tribal leaders there has been little response from regime loyalists, says our correspondent, and there are fears that a military assault on Sirte could be a lengthy and bloody battle.

In a news briefing on Tuesday, Nato spokesman Col Roland Lavoie said there had been “dialogues in several villages” that had been freed with “minimal hostilities” and he hoped the same might apply to Sirte.

Col Lavoie said Col Gaddafi’s regime was “rapidly losing control on multiple fronts” and that the Tripoli region was “essentially freed”.

However, he said Col Gaddafi was “displaying a capability to exercise some level of command and control” and that Nato was still “very much involved” in military action.

“We remain fully committed to our mission and to keeping the pressure on the remnants of the Gaddafi regime until we can confidently say that the civilian population of Libya is no longer threatened,” he said.


Algeria said Col Gaddafi’s wife Safia, daughter Aisha and sons Muhammad and Hannibal crossed the border between Libya and Algeria at 0845 local time (0745 GMT) on Monday.

(L-R) Hannibal, Muhammad and Aisha Gaddafi (L-R) Hannibal, Muhammad and Aisha Gaddafi have crossed into Algeria

The Algerian government later said Aisha Gaddafi had given birth to a daughter shortly after arriving in the country.

The NTC has condemned Algeria, which has not yet officially recognised the council, for offering shelter to the family, calling it “an act of aggression”.

Our correspondent says Mr Jalil softened the tone on Tuesday, saying he believed Algeria would not host the family for long before they left for a third country.

Algeria’s ambassador to the UN, Mourad Benmehidi, told the BBC earlier that in the desert regions there was a “holy rule of hospitality” and his country had accepted the family on humanitarian grounds.

Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: “Nato still has a job to do in Libya”

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about recent mass killings in Libya.

According to the NTC’s Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi, four mass graves have been discovered across the country – including one at Ain Zara in south-east Tripoli, behind the barracks of the so-called Khamis Brigade, whose commander was Col Gaddafi’s son, Khamis.

Some rebel sources have said Khamis was killed on Saturday. However, the anti-Gaddafi forces have claimed his death before and on Tuesday, Col Lavoie said Nato had no word of Khamis’s fate.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe, whose President Robert Mugabe is a strong ally of Col Gaddafi, expelled the Libyan ambassador and his staff on Tuesday after they recognised the interim National Transitional Council.

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Yemeni protesters blast USZ, Saudi intervention


Yemeni protesters have rejected a new initiative to mediate a transfer of power in the country, calling it a USZ-Saudi plot to crush the revolution that began eight months ago, Iranian Press TV reported. Protesters took to the streets in the capital city of Sana’a on Monday chanting, We reject, we reject, American and Saudi intervention”.
The youth reject the initiative. The correct solution is the one offered by the people. It should not come from Washington or Riyadh, it should come from the Yemeni people”, said political analyst Khalid Abdullah, who was among the protesters.
Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh claimed on Monday that he was again ready to conditionally sign an agreement proposed by the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) supposedly to diffuse the political crisis in his country. The plan, drafted by the [P]GCC in April, includes three steps to be taken by both the opposition and the government. The first condition requires Saleh to resign 30 days after shifting his powers to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, and setting a date for a presidential election two months later. The opposition would then be tasked with forming a national unity government, which would consist of diverse Yemeni opposition groups, including those from Southern Yemen. The third condition is to have senior military commanders form a committee to oversee a reorganization of the country’s armed forces. Saleh, however, said he would only sign the deal in exchange for the establishment of an executive mechanism that would pave the way for “electing a new president for Yemen”.

The embattled ruler has backed out of signing the deal three times already. Saleh has been in office for more than 30 years with several opposition members arguing that his long-promised reforms have not been implemented. On Monday, Ali Abdullah Saleh urged the ruling party to start talks with the opposition, the [P]GCC, the United States of Zionism, and the European Union to implement the deal. Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in Yemen’s major cities since late January, calling for an end to corruption and unemployment and demanding Saleh’s ouster. The demonstrators have rejected the [P]GCC’s plan on numerous occasions and accused their Arab neighbors of meddling in their country’s internal affairs. The developments come as Saleh continues to receive treatment in Saudi Arabia for injuries he received during an attack on Yemen’s presidential palace on June 3.
( Press TV )

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A New Study Finds That Memory Contaminates Perception

Images in the mind's eye can alter how we see things. Photograph: Joe Mcnally/Getty

By the

We take it for granted that we see the world as it actually is, but in fact, we do not. Our perception of the world is the brain’s best guess at what is actually happening, based on the information it receives through the senses. Optical illusions clearly demonstrate that the brain does not always interpret sensory information correctly, by producing a discrepancy between what we see and and how we perceive.

These discrepancies usually occur because the visual information is incomplete and the brain has to fill in the gaps. But our perceptions can be influenced by many factors, even under normal circumstances – we know, for example, that how we feel affects what we see, and that music affects how we perceive facial expressions.

A new study now shows that visual working memory can influence our perceptions, so that mental images in the mind’s eye can alter the way we see things.

Working memory refers to our ability to hold and manipulate limited amounts of information for a short period of time. This information is usually relevant to the task at hand – when making a phone call, for example, you might repeat the number to yourself several times until you have dialled it; once you’ve dialled the number, you stop the repetition and then quickly forget it. In exactly the same way, visual working memory allows us to retain visual information as mental images in the mind’s eye.

Two previous studies, published in 2009, showed that the contents of visual working memory are represented in a region of the brain devoted to vision, and can be predicted accurately by decoding the activity in that region. These findings suggest that the brain mechanisms responsible for perception and working memory are closely linked, and prompted Min-Suk Kang and his colleagues at Vanderbilt’s Visual Cognition Neuroscience Lab to investigate whether information retained in visual working memory can change the appearance of the things we see.

To do so, they used an optical illusion called motion repulsion, in which the angle between two objects moving in different directions appears to be exaggerated. The participants were shown two patterns of moving dots, one after the other and each moving in a different direction, and told that they had to remember the direction in which the first one was moving. They were then asked to judge whether the motion of the second pattern was clockwise or counterclockwise, relative to the first, and to indicate the direction of motion of the first pattern.

The participants consistently reported that they perceived a clockwise-shift in the direction of the second pattern. One possible explanation for these findings is that they were caused by a motion after-effect. Motion after-effects occur after looking at a moving stimulus for several seconds and then shifting your gaze to a stationary one, which then appears to move in the opposite direction to the first. But the patterns of dots were shown for just half a second, which is not long enough to produce an after-effect; furthermore, an after-effect would be expected to produce the illusion that the second pattern of dots is moving in the opposite direction to the first, which was not the case.

The researchers performed several variations of the experiment to rule out other possible explanations, such as involuntary eye movements and visual priming, and reached the conclusion that the contents of working memory can contaminate perceptual processes. The participants had to remember the first pattern of dots, and retained a mental image of its direction of motion in their visual working memory. This mental representation altered their perceptions of the second pattern, by “pushing” the motion of the dots away from the true direction.

The study provides evidence that visual working memory and perception interact with each other, and this may be because the same brain machinery is co-opted for both processes. The earlier work seems to confirm this by showing that the contents of visual working memory are encoded in the visual cortex and can be retained there for several seconds.

The findings may have important practical implications for everyday life. For example, we often rehash mental imagery while engaging in visually guided tasks such as driving. This study suggests that doing so may interfere with our ability to register and react to objects in our visual field.

Reference /> Kang, M-N, et al (2011) Visual working memory contaminates perception. Psychonomic Bulletin Review. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-011-0126-5

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Major Gen. Ijaz reposted as DG Rangers Sindh

Major General Ijaz Chaudhary
Maj Gen Ijaz who was removed as DG Rangers Sindh on the orders of the Supreme Court following killing of teenager Sarfraz Shah at the hands of Rangers troops in a park in Karachi has been re-posted as DG Rangers Sindh. The SC had ordered immediate transfer of Maj Gen Ijaz, and his services were placed at the disposal of the federal government. The federal government on Monday notified him back as DG Rangers Sindh. The Rangers troops who shot Sarfraz dead have all been convicted by a court. The main accused has been sentenced to death while the rest to life in jail.

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Heinous Water Terrorism by India continues amid friendship charade

MANCHANABAD (INP) – India has released additional water in Sutlej River submerging dozens of villages and destroying standing crops on thousands of acres of land here. According to details, India released 70,000 cusecs of land which after passing through Sulemanki headworks entered Bhindi area of Manchanabad. As a result, many villages of the area have been submerged under water. Because of the gushing water, fertile land along the river banks was also washed away. Sources said that local people have started moving to safer places where administration has set up flood relief camps and concerned staff has been placed on alert.
The administration has asked people in Lala Amar Singh, Usmanpur Ratika, Pir Khalis, Bonga Akbar Mari Nihal, Bachianwali to shift to relief centres. Staff Reporter from Chunian adds: After failing to provide shelter and relief items for the flood affectees in various villages of Kasur, the district police officer on Friday forbade the Irrigation Department’s flood information centre to update the media on flood situation and inflow and outflow of water in the river Sutlej. He also gave a shut-up call to the administration of DHQ Hospital Kasur. However, the people living in Talwar Post, Kekar Post, Baqarke, Kothi Fateh Muhammad, Nagar, Aimen Pura, Shehjara, Chanda Singh Wala, Kalanger, Kasoki and Mashteki are crying out for help.
Yesterday, the flood information centre claimed that the Ganda Singh Wala gauge is showing a mark of 20.00, while the total inflow is 82,500 cusecs. When asked how it was possible that after 24 hours the water level has not even decreased or increased an inch because they reported the same measurements yesterday too, the officials at the centre said, “Please dial the number of the DPO office for update.” However, impeccable sources revealed that the current gauge at Ganda Singh Wala was 19.80 and the total inflow of water at the same point is 78,000 cusecs. The sources also revealed that in order to get maximum funding from the provincial government, the district government has decided to exhibit a more pathetic situation for a few days further. Although the already released funding by the provincial government has not yet been spent anywhere except on a few banners.
The river level here has significantly come down today but the miseries of the poor villagers are still at peak. There were a number of complaints regarding theft of valuables from the empty homes of the villagers in their absence during evacuation. But the police have not registered even a single case in this regard. Similarly, the patients are suffering from cholera, malaria and skin-related diseases but the hospital administration denied to give any official numbers. However, sources privy to the health issues said that since Monday 57 cases of cholera, 22 of skin diseases and 75 of malaria have been reported from these villages. A local social activist, GA Khan Advocate, termed these actions of district administration dictatorial and a clear violation of “Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002”.
Said Alam Khan from Peshawar adds: At least 38 dead bodies have so far been recovered while 26 other persons are still missing, as flash flood caused by torrential rains wreaked havoc in Kohistan district. A total of two Army helicopters took part in rescue operation to recover the dead bodies and provide relief to the victims on the second day of the deluge at tehsil Kundia of district Kohistan. Of the total 38 recovered bodies, 30 have also been identified and handed over to their heirs, while efforts are on to recover the remaining bodies soon, DCO Kohistan Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah told TheNation on telephone from Kohistan on Friday.
The dead bodies, he said, had been swept away by gushing floodwater to downtowns and that was why, there were some hurdles in their recovery. He said a total of 64 persons had gone missing in the flood, adding that the 26 remaining bodies would be recovered soon. On Friday, two helicopters of Pakistan Army took part in the rescue operation by airlifting affected families and providing foods to the victims living in remote mountainous worst affected Gibrial union council in Kohistan. Moreover, DCO Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah said that hailing from flood-hit areas, over 100 persons were also treated along with those 18 people who sustained minor injuries in the mishap. “We have distributed ample food stuff among the victims”, he added. Besides, giving tents, almost all the daily use stuffs are included in the food packages.
He said, “I think the food packages would be enough for two to three months”. If weather permitted, the remaining relief work and packages distribution would be commenced today (Saturday), the DCO maintained. He said they did their job with very much care so as to assist the deluge-hit families by making proper assessment. A local while talking to TheNation said that floods damaged the whole infrastructure. It would take enough time to make it functional, he added. Due to the disaster, several far off areas are still cut-off from other parts of the province. He informed that about 1600 families were residing in Gibral area of tehsil Kundia. In addition, the deluge has also washed away almost 80 houses, standing crops and many cattle. The severe flood multiplied the miseries of the residents of Kohistan, as it is one of the backward districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where most of the people have to get basic facilities yet, he concluded.
( The Nation )

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Oil Companies Scramble for Libyan Oil

Many looking to restart deals made with Gadhafi on more favorable terms with the Western-supported rebels. Oil companies from the United States, Europe, and Asia are scrambling for a share in Libyan oil as the rebels’ Transitional National Council gradually works to take the place of the Gadhafi regime.Many of the companies are eager to restart business deals they had with Gadhafi on more beneficial terms with the rebels. British Petroleum (BP) of the United Kingdom, Total of France, and ENI of Italy had major projects in Libya before the rebellion against Gadhafi began six months ago.

ENI, which was producing 196,000 barrels per day before the war,was sending technicians to back Libya even before Gadhafi’s fortified compound in Tripoli was overrun by rebels this week, so it may be the first to resume production.BP is likely to push a $1 billion deep-water exploration program in the Gulf of Sidra,part of a $900 million deal signed with Gadhafi in May 2007.
Other companies, like Gazprom from Russia and Repsol from Spain, are also looking to restart oil drilling, production, and export out of Libya, which has at least 41.5 billion barrels in reserves, the ninth largest in the world. Some have made the case that Libya’s high potential value as an oil exporter influenced the US-NATO decision to intervene on behalf of the rebels.
( The Ugly Truth )
Faraan Khan
Pakistan Cyber Force

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