AROUND THE WORLD
International forces will provide advice to Afghan military until 2020
Nicholas Watt, The Guardian
International forces will provide logistical advice to the Afghan military up until 2020 after concluding that Afghanistan's national security forces will be unprepared for full operations when Nato combat troops withdraw from the country at the end of 2014.
As David Cameron paid a visit to British troops in Helmand province on Armed Forces Day, senior military sources indicated that Nato would need to play a major role in Afghanistan until the end of the decade.
The prime minister said British forces were reaching the final phase of the 12-year campaign. But senior British military sources said the Afghan forces would need advice on providing close air support, the distribution of food and fuel and on medevac facilities.
British military commanders have been able to make their assessments after Nato handed control of security for the whole of the country to Afghan forces this month. The commanders have concluded that a great deal has been achieved but that Afghan forces will not have built their capacity to full operational levels by the time Nato combat troops leave at the end of 2014.
Rudd rewards backers, Crean departs
Judith Ireland & others, Sydney Morning Herald
Three women have been promoted to cabinet in Mr Rudd's reshuffle.
Julie Collins joins cabinet as Minister for Housing and Homelessness, and Catherine King will retain the regional portfolio.
Jacinta Collins also joins cabinet as Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.
The promotion of Ms King, Ms Collins and Senator Collins bring the total number of women in cabinet to six, with Senator Wong, Jenny Macklin and Tanya Plibersek.
''This will the largest number of women in the Australian cabinet in history, and the same for the ministry at large,'' Mr Rudd told Channel Seven on Monday morning.
Asked if he made the appointments because he feared a backlash after he deposed Australia's first female prime minister last week, Mr Rudd replied: ''These are women who are strong, professional, highly experienced and they are there exclusively on their merit.''
Labor politics was rather exciting in Australia this week. Parliamentary systems are so curious to me in how a politican can be resurrected.
China may put Xinjiang terror on Sharif menu
Syndicated; Times of India
China's Communist Party has blamed terrorists from "outside the country" for the rise in violence in the restive Xinjiang province, which borders Pakistan and Central Asia. Last week's clashes in the province, scene of a decades-old separatist movement involving Uighur Muslims, left 35 dead and 21 injured.
The official Xinhua news agency quoted Yu Zhengsheng, member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee , as saying that "separatists in and outside the country have been escalating their efforts", to cause disturbances.
In Pseudo-Communist China, the terrorist comes from outside.
Militant attacks on MPAs: KP govt wants talks with army chief on anti-terror strategy
Khawar Ghumman, Dawn.com
Worried over militant attacks on its lawmakers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI-led provincial government has decided to have a meeting with the army chief to work out a national strategy on terrorism.
At a gathering also attended by KP Chief Minister Parvez Khattak here on Sunday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said the provincial government would write to the army chief through the Prime Minister's Office in a day or two to seek a meeting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Mr Khan called for "all national forces" to sit together to hammer out a strategy to deal with terrorism.
Over the last three weeks the PTI has lost its two members of the KP Assembly to attacks claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
"On its own, the KP can do nothing against terrorism. This is a national issue which demands a national-level response. Hence we are seeking a meeting with the prime minister and the chief of the army staff to discuss a national strategy on terrorism," said Mr Khan at the convention of his party's Punjab chapter. The entire leadership of the PTI and its office-bearers from 36 districts of Punjab attended the convention.
3 MORE bombings killing 40+ people this weekend? This terrorism issue is more than one party's problem. Dear Pakistan, please help your people!
Uttarakhand CM uncertain of number of dead; 3,000 still missing
Agencies, Hindustan Times
"We will never know the exact number of those dead and the number of people who have been buried or washed away," he told PTI in an interview.
In the interview, the chief minister dismisses criticism about the state government's handling of the situation and suggestions that it was a man-made disaster.
Bahuguna also put the number of people missing in the flash floods in the state at 3,000.
"After taking into consideration all the missing-person reports lodged in this state and elsewhere, I have been told that the number of those missing is around 3,000," he told reporters in Dehradun.
He said instructions have been given that kin of all missing people should report the matter to the authorities.
"We will give the compensation amount to the next of kin of the missing if they give us an affidavit," the chief minister said.
The reporting on this gigantic flood has been so piecemeal - 10 here, 4 there. The total scale is nearly unimaginable.
FARC Says its "Willing" to Demilitarize
At the conclusion of the 10th round of Colombian peace negotiations in Havana, a FARC spokesperson has reaffirmed the guerrilla group's commitment to demilitarization.
The group, however, reiterated that while their objective is to put down their weapons, this does not necessarily mean they will hand them over to the Colombian government.
In an interview with Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, FARC negotiator "Pablo Catatumbo" said if the group can reach a peace accord, the FARC would be ready to give up the armed struggle. But, he added, "It's a matter of principal for us to give up armed struggle but not to give up our fight."
"Catatumbo" then pointed out that "Nelson Mandela never turned over a single weapon, nor did the IRA (of Ireland), the latter of which was able to reach a peace agreement with the British government through guarantees recognized by both sides."
Syrian forces escalate assault on rebels in Homs
Ruth Sherlock, Telegraph
The Syrian army, reportedly backed by the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah, has dramatically escalated an attack against rebel held pockets of Homs, seeking to consolidate control of the area from Damascus to the Mediterranean coastline.
"The campaign started yesterday morning against the besieged neighborhoods in Homs Old City," Abu Fidaa, an opposition activist speaking from inside the area told the Telegraph on Sunday.
"In the first two hours we were attacked with more than two hundred missiles. They are destroying everything. It is as if President Assad wants to burn the area." Eyewitnesses have likened the ferocity of the attack to the bombardment against the Homs district of Baba Amr in February 2012. The attack pushed out insurgents, but also killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed the area.
Chaos and Crime: The Trials of Running a Syrian Refugee Camp
Takis Würger, Der Spiegel
Kilian Kleinschmidt walks into the camp armed with a 6-inch stainless steel hook. "I hate refugee camps," he says. He is holding the hook in his hand like a dagger.
It is getting dark, and a military policeman tells Kleinschmidt that under no circumstances should he go into the camp at night. Kleinschmidt walks through the gate in silence.
The Zaatari Camp houses 116,000 refugees who fled to Jordan from the war in Syria. They live in trailers and tents with the letters UNHCR imprinted on them in blue. The UNHCR, or United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is Kleinschmidt's employer. The refugees arrive in buses from the border in this stretch of desert in northern Jordan, and their numbers are growing by the day. The local Bedouins say that before the refugees came, the only resident of this desert was the devil. Not even scorpions lived there.
Kleinschmidt's job is to ensure that the refugees survive in the Zaatari Camp. He wants to give them back their dignity, and he is supposed to create order in the camp. Kleinschmidt is German. A German can restore order -- at least that's the gist of the plan.
The refugees receive water, food, shelter, toilets and warm blankets for the night. They could be satisfied. Instead, they stormed a trailer where detergent was being distributed, and broke an aid worker's foot with a rock. Kleinschmidt was caught in the middle of a battle between the military police and refugees, and his throat still hurts from the tear gas. Refugees also pulled a police officer from his obstacle-clearing tank and beat him on the head with a rock.
Every day, four buses stop at the camp to collect people who want to travel back to Syria. The refugees stand in line in the morning, and when the buses arrive, they fight over seats, because they would rather live in a war zone than in Zaatari. For Kleinschmidt, the camp is a place where the devil still lives today.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
What gets readers' attention? Messing up
Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel
Dear Scott, my wife and I have been enjoying your column as long as you have been writing it. BUT I had to read your June 21 column several times to make sure that you had actually made an unforgivable error in the next-to-last paragraph - namely "... three different elementary schools nominated he and his wife, Kate ..." What happened to the pronoun "him"? It doesn't just sound better. It is correct. Sincerely, Dick
Dick, you are right. Mea culpa. I can do better.
Dear Scott, It should be "schools nominated HIM and his wife." Love your column! Vicky
Yikes. Strike two for me, eh, Vicky? You're right. I was wrong. My apologies to you - and to pronouns everywhere.
Dear Scott, Tell me you did not really write: "...nominated he and his wife..." Marina
Hmm, maybe I will tell you that, Marina. It's starting to feel as if that might be easier.
Scott, the pronoun "he" is in the nominative case, but you used it as if it were in the objective case. J.T.
Are you freakin' kidding me? I have poured my soul into columns about social injustices - about the wrongfully convicted and human trafficking - that have gotten fewer responses than this two-letter word.
Scott, I think it should be "HIM and his wife." Or has that changed? Please feel free to correct me as grammar does change. Avid reader, Irene
No, Irene, grammar hasn't changed. But I've decided my writing style will ... now that I know what gets reaction.
HERE IN UTAH
Former Sen. Bennett says tea party spells doom for GOP
Paul Rolly, Salt Lake Tribune
Then he gave a dismal prognosis for the future of his beloved Republican Party, comparing it to the train wreck of the Democratic Party in the 1970s brought on by the so-called McGovernites.
Those idealistic followers of 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern began their quest under the banner of the anti-Vietnam War movement. But Bennett said it morphed into what many perceived to be an anti-American movement and the passionate ideology presented at the time turned the Democrats into losers for the next 20 years.
The same thing is happening now, he said, to the Republican Party. And the counterpart to the McGovernite movement that destroyed the Democratic Party in the 1970s is the tea party movement that, he warns, is destroying the Republican Party in the same way.
The tea party was borne out of legitimate concerns about government overreach and incompetence, he said. But like the McGovernites in the Democratic Party, the movement's bullhorn was seized by uncompromising zealots whose extremism turns off the average American just as the ultra-liberal followers of McGovern did.
This speech was given at the AAEC
meeting, hosted in SLC this weekend.
Please compare and contrast the following two articles. They stood out to me, out of a week of up and down big and small news, for the sheer opposition of two concepts.
Please stop touching my breasts, and other things I say at cons
Carrie Cuinn, blogged.
I wasn't going to post this today, because I have a lot of other things going on, and another post I need to make this afternoon, but I've put it off long enough. Not only do we-as writers, and women-have to deal with sexism, and the agressive insistence from some men that we all just settle down, but we also have to deal with being harassed at conventions where we're supposed to be fans, writers, editors, and publishers. (Those links go to other writers saying the same thing.) Worse, because so often it goes unreported, many people's response has been, "I didn't know that happened." How can you stop something we don't talk about? So, okay, let's talk about the details.
Hi, I'm Carrie, and I've been sexually harassed at genre conventions. (Putting this behind a link because triggering. You've been warned.)
I've been going to cons since I was 19. Which, if you're doing the math, meant I attended my first con in 1992. From that first event, I've been groped, fondled, kissed, physically picked up and carried off, licked, shoved into corners so I can't escape, hugged, propositioned, wrestled into a submissive position to "prove a point", and actually thrown on a bed, by men who didn't have permission to do any of that, and almost never introduced themselves before they started. I've attended several more conventions over the years, and the only thing that's made a difference in how I get treated is whether I'm standing next to another man at the time. Being with a group of girls? That works too, sometimes, though just as often it means we'll all get harassed as a group, or one of us will get cornered the second we're alone.
Jewish Thought in the DOMA Ruling
Steven I. Weiss, The Tablet
Edith Windsor herself spoke to precisely what had changed, telling reporters last week, "As we increasingly came out, people saw that we didn't have horns," adding, "People learned that, OK, we were their kids and their cousins...It just grew to where we were human beings like everybody else."
Forgetting that others are human beings is surprisingly and dangerously easy; and it's amazing how much we learn when we stare into the face of the other and discover what it is to be human. That's probably part of why, amid dense legal texts and detailed precedent, our rabbis and now our Supreme Court have made sure to instruct us that we must not forget that basic sense of dignity, of kevod habriyot.
The concept of dignity in the law is more fully explored in Mets102's diary this afternoon. <---fix to point to the purple diary
Crossposted from the orange.