Northern Mali Faces Political, Economic Crisis as Islamists Gain More Control There is a video interview and transcript at the link.
J. PETER PHAM, Atlantic Council: Certainly.
One of the insurgency groups, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, was the first al-Qaida franchise outside of the key organization in South Asia, in Afghanistan, Pakistan and then al-Qaida in Iraq. It's connected to al-Qaida and it's very well resourced, because the last decade, they have been make making a lot of money kidnapping for ransom.
Just earlier this year, they obtained -- last year -- excuse me -- they obtained close to $10 million in ransom for several European hostages. They have also made a lot of money assisting drug traffickers. It's the preferred route through the areas they control for cocaine smugglers to Europe.
So, they have got money. And with that money, they purchase arms that have been looted from Libyan arsenals after the fall of the Gadhafi regime. So, you have got arms, money and fighters.
Hindustan Times: Rahul Singh & Jayanth Jacob
PM rules out business as usual as India turns up heat on Pak
India toughened its stance sharply against Pakistan on Tuesday, suspending an easier visa regime for visitors from across the border and asking their hockey players to leave the country as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered a stern warning. "After this barbaric act, there can't be business as usual with Pakistan," the normally dovish PM said, breaking his silence on the murder of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan army.
He was speaking after the government decided, at the last minute, to put on hold a scheme to issue visas on arrival for elderly Pakistanis. The new visa regime is touted as the most tangible outcome of the peace process resumed in 2010.
Singh's words, and the visa move, suggest that the government is beginning to echo the belligerence of its armed forces.
This is in direct retaliation/response to the recent actions in Kashmir, and does not seem to be due to current state-of-affairs in Pakistan. Because we need more belligerence.
Dawn.com: various wire services.
SC orders arrest of PM Ashraf in RPP case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the authorities to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, television reports said.
The apex court ordered the prime minister's arrest during a hearing of the rental power projects case.
The bench ordered the arrest of 16 persons, including the premier, and directed the authorities to present Prime Minister Ashraf in court tomorrow.
"The chief justice ordered that all concerned, regardless of their rank, who have been booked in the case be arrested and if someone leaves the country, then chairman of National Accountability Bureau will be held responsible along with his investigating team," lawyer Aamir Abbas told AFP.
"The sixteen include Raja Ashraf," said Abbas, referring to the prime minister.
The prime minister's adviser, Fawad Chaudhry, condemned the court's order, calling it unconstitutional, the Associated Press reported.
Their stock market dropped on this news. Also.
The Nation: AFP
Russia, Bangladesh seal $1 billion arms deal
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday met the prime minister of Bangladesh for talks that included the signature of a $1 billion arms contract.Bangladesh has recently been expanding its defence capabilities, building a new air base close to neighbouring Myanmar and adding frigates to its navy."Our countries intend to expand their military and technological cooperation," news agencies quoted Putin as telling Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a Kremlin ceremony."Russia will extend Bangladesh a credit of $1 billion, which will be spent on the purchase on Russian weapons and military technology," the Russian leader said.The arms purchase agreement included orders for armoured vehicles and infantry weapons, air defence systems and Mi-17 transport helicopters, a source close to Russia's state arms export agency told the Vedomosti business daily.
$1B: Arms, not economic development or FOOD or something useful.
China stands fast in face of Japan's muscle-flexing
Both Tokyo and Beijing have scrambled fighter jets to the area in recent weeks in a further escalation of the row.
China's armed forces have been instructed to raise their fighting ability in 2013 and "should focus closely on the objective of being able to fight and win a battle," according to a directive from the Headquarters of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
On Monday, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that Japan would deploy two more patrol ships to boost its "defense" of the Diaoyu Islands. And Japan conducted its first drill simulating the recapture of an island seized by enemy forces.
Japan in Diaoyu warning aimed at Chinese planes
Japan will send a signal shell as a warning if a Chinese plane enters the airspace around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, it said yesterday.
If the Chinese plane ignores a warning by radio, Japan will then launch the signal shell as an "appropriate response based on international norms," the Asahi Shimbun reported Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera as telling a news briefing.
Japan sent a signal shell in 1987 when a Soviet Union bomber entered its airspace, according to the newspaper, without identifying the airspace.
China is apparently mapping
the islands. Because we need MOAR belligerence.
Hürriyet Daily News
'Peace process' still on, PM says for PKK talks
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to continue the "peace process" aimed at ending the three-decade old conflict between security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) while admitting that potential provocations and sabotage threatened the negotiations.
"We are hopeful on this recent process. We aren't losing our hope no matter what happens. We are cautious and careful, but we are still hopeful," Erdoğan said yesterday in an address to his ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) parliamentary group meeting. "We will succeed in this process despite attempts at provocations and sabotage, with the help of our nation and with the will of the God."
"The peace process," or "İmralı process," refers to recent talks involving Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the PKK who is serving a life sentence on the İmralı island prison in the Marmara Sea. In late December 2012, Erdoğan revealed that intelligence officials were holding talks with Öcalan to convince PKK militants to lay down their arms and withdraw from Turkish soil. On Jan. 3, two lawmakers, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Ayla Akat and independent deputy Ahmet Türk, were allowed to visit Öcalan as part of the process.
Minister shocked by Amplats' 14 000 job cuts
Anglo's 'change of leadership'
Shabangu said Anglo American approached her department last year to say it was facing problems and considering restructuring. She said the company was told to discuss any such plans with the department first.
Yet, the company waited until seven days ago to do so. Shabangu asked if this was a sign of new company management.
"When the horse has bolted, then they come to us."
She was referring to Mark Cutifani, who would replace outgoing chief executive Cynthia Carroll in April.
The minister said the company's mining rights were renewed in 2010 for 30 years, on condition the mining programme was uninterrupted and operated at maximum capacity.
"Anglo American Platinum imposed large-scale retrenchments in 2009, and today's announcement seems to present a pattern of unsustainable business decisions linked to change of leadership in the company," Shabangu added.
Followup to previous coverage: South African Mine Strikes. This action, upon initial review, seems directly targeted at the mines where the strikes occured.
Cuba admits 51 cholera cases in Havana; travel warnings from UK and US
The ministry said nobody had died from the latest outbreak, which began January 6, and stressed that preventive measures already taken had put the disease "on the way to extinction." It said cholera was first detected in the capital's Cerro neighborhood, and then spread elsewhere. No other areas of the capital were mentioned, but there have been reports of cases in the leafy Playa neighborhood that is home to many foreign embassies.
The government has not responded to repeated requests for comment in recent months, nor has it made any experts available to talk about the cholera situation.
Cholera is a waterborne disease caused by a bacteria found in tainted water or food. It can kill within hours through dehydration, but is treatable if caught in time. Cholera is unusual in Cuba. But recent outbreaks in nearby Haiti have killed more than 7,200 people.
Meanwhile in South American, there are questions around Chavez, and what will happen if he dies; also, 100th anniversary of a Battle for Falklands.
Iraqi MP killed in suicide attack
An Iraqi member of parliament and his bodyguard have been killed in a suicide attack in western Anbar province, officials say.
Ayfan Sadoun al-Essawi, a member of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc that is part of Nuri al-Maliki's national unity government, was targeted as he inspected a road being constructed south of Fallujah.
"The moment he stepped out of the car to check out this road between Fallujah and Amriyah, at this moment, there was a man. He came to him, hugged him, said Allahu Akbar, and blew himself up," Sohaib Haqi, the chief of Essawi's office, said.
Dr Assem al-Hamdani at Fallujah hospital put the overall toll at seven dead - Essawi, four of his bodyguards and two civilians - and six wounded, including four of the politician's guards.
The Guardian: Larry Elliott
World Bank urges poor countries to boost growth
"Although the likelihood of a serious crisis of confidence in the euro area that would lead to a bloc-wide freezing up of financial markets has declined significantly, continued progress is needed to improve country-level finances, and enact plans to reinforce pan-European schemes for a banking union and sovereign rescue funds."
The bank said that if the euro area failed to maintain the momentum for reform, some of the more vulnerable members could be frozen out of capital markets.
"In the US, solid progress towards outlining a credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan that avoids periodic episodes of brinkmanship surrounding the debt ceiling, is needed. Policy uncertainty has already dampened growth. Should policymakers fail to agree such measures, a loss of confidence in the currency and an overall increase in market tensions could reduce US and global growth by 2.3% and 1.4% respectively."
The report said many of the poorest countries of Africa continued to grow rapidly. Excluding South Africa, the region's largest economy, GDP output expanded by 5.8% in 2012, with a third of countries in the region growing by at least 6%.
Flag Riots in Northern Ireland: Grim Prospects Drive Youth to Sectarian Violence
The violent flag riots in Belfast have shown just how delicate relations between sectarian groups in the British province remain. They also reveal the frustrations of a generation that has grown up feeling misunderstood and disadvantaged.
Raymond Lavery was about to describe just how messy the situation has become in Belfast when a loud bang, probably a firecracker, ripped through the air a few meters away. The explosion was so loud that any normal person would duck for cover. But Lavery didn't even flinch.
He was standing in front of one of the many walls in the Northern Irish capital that separate Catholics and Protestants. The 52-year-old works for Inner East, an outreach project for boys and girls on the Protestant side of the wall. His office is near one of the streets where wooden pallets, trash bins and cars have been burning for weeks now. "It's not only about the flag anymore," he says.
On Dec. 3, the Belfast City Council voted to stop flying the British flag on the city hall every day. Instead, the Union Jack will now only be raised on special occasions. Protestants saw the decision as yet another defeat by the city's increasingly strong Catholic community, and it didn't take long for more than 1,000 Protestants to protest in front of the building. Lavery was among them.
"Our flag has flown for 106 years, why are they taking it away now of all times?" he asks, walking past houses that have long since had their window panes replaced with plexiglass -- a symbol of the conflict. If you want to find out whether you're in a potential troublespot of Belfast, just take a look at the windows.
Please let this not be a return to The Troubles.
Photo Source: The Age
The Age: Dan Oakes & Nino Bucci
Ned's last wish: Bushranger to be buried with family
Ned Kelly will be buried with his mother in a small cemetery near where he reached infamy as a bushranger.
Fairfax Media can confirm Kelly will be buried at Greta, near Glenrowan in north-east Victoria, where his mother Ellen lies in an unmarked grave. A memorial service will be held on Friday, with the burial on Sunday.
A statement from the Kelly family says they want the burial to be in keeping with the bushranger's last wish before his execution in 1880.
"The descendants of the Kelly family wish to give effect to Ned Kelly's last wish and that he now be buried in consecrated ground with only his family in attendance in order to ensure a private, respectful and dignified funeral," the statement reads.
APNZ: Kieran Campbell
Coroner: Eye drops linked to baby's death
A coroner has recommended weaker strength eye drops be available in New Zealand after a premature baby died of septicaemia caused by drops that have been linked to an illness in her bowel.
Hannah Charlotte Hope Smith was 65-days-old when she died at Wellington Hospital on July 21 last year.
The tissue of her bowel began to deteriorate 12 hours after laser eye surgery for damage to her retinas caused by being born premature.
An investigation by the coroner focused on the eye drops used for her eye surgery.
Eye drops causing large intestine issues. More to worry about.
Photo Source: io9.com
Ancient Roman Vestal Virgin hairstyle re-created for very first time
Janet Stephens, a Baltimore hairdresser and amateur archaeologist, has recreated the hairstyle of the Roman Vestal Virgins on a modern head - but it wasn't easy. After becoming inspired by an ancient portrait bust she saw at a local museum, Stephens tried to recreate the hairstyle at home, failing miserably. She spent the next seven years conducting research in an effort to properly reconstruct the lost technique. And now, the results of her work have been published in the journal Roman Archaeology.
Ancient Roman Vestal Virgin hairstyle re-created for very first time. The Vestals were priestesses who guarded the fire of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. These women, who were chosen before puberty and sworn to celibacy, were among the most celebrated women in Rome and were held in very high esteem.
As reported in LiveScience, to create the Vestal Virgin hairdo, Stephens had to reference two busts showing the hairstyle. This wasn't much to go by, as all other depictions showed the women wearing various headdresses. Stephanie Pappas explains the technique:
If you can't braid, or don't have enough hair to attempt this, you may consider knitting a hairstyle
Bakken Oil Output Fell in November for First Time in 18 Months
Oil output from North Dakota's portion of the Bakken shale formation slipped in November for the first time in 20 months after producers began pulling rigs out of the state.
Production declined 2.2 percent from October to 669,000 barrels a day, according to the North Dakota Industrial Commission. It was the first month-to-month drop since April 2011. The decline closely followed a decline in rig counts in the state, from 210 on Oct. 19 to 181 on Nov. 30, according to data compiled by Smith Bits, a drilling products and services provider owned by Houston- and Paris-based Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB)
Bakken wells tend to have steep decline rates because they're created with directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, James Williams, president of WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said by telephone.
Des Moines Register: Jennifer Jacobs
Branstad: Government will focus on big improvements
Iowa's finances are so healthy that Gov. Terry Branstad thinks state government should focus on big improvements - namely, permanent tax cuts for business property owners, better pay for new teachers, and incentives to lure doctors to live here.
"I learned a long time ago if you want to be effective, you can't try to do everything," he told The Des Moines Register's editorial board Tuesday afternoon. "You've got to focus on the things that are most important."
If lawmakers agree to the vision of opportunity Branstad laid out in a 33-minute Condition of the State speech Tuesday morning, Iowa will be "well positioned for unprecedented growth," he said.
"Everyone should see a reduction in their property taxes," he told the Register.
Why not fund infrastructure instead, O Governor of My Teen Years?
Tampa Bay Times: Peter Jamison, Curtis Krueger, Lisa Gartner and Kameel Stanley
Pinellas sheriff opposes placing armed deputies in elementary schools
Pinellas County's elected officials have been quietly discussing whether to place armed officers in the county's 72 elementary schools, but the idea is opposed by the county's largest law enforcement agencies, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.
A similar plan has been set in motion in Hillsborough County, where officers have been posted for the rest of the academic year at 150 elementary schools. The increased police presence is a response to a gunman's Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he has had private conversations with members of the Pinellas County Commission and Pinellas School Board about placing armed deputies throughout the school district. His answer to his fellow elected officials: not a chance.
The next paragraph is interesting. In the Chinese sense.
Mercury News: John Woolfolk (Host City of NN13)
San Jose weighs putting trash pickup on property tax bills
San Jose officials moved toward abandoning in-house billing for residential trash collection with a vote Tuesday to explore having residents either pay with their county property taxes or directly to the garbage companies.
For residents, the switch is expected to save them money that the city otherwise would have to charge them to replace an outdated billing system. City officials estimated the annual savings to ratepayers at anywhere from $333,000 if haulers handle billing to $3 million if it's included with county property taxes, as the city does with sewer fees.
"It's a cost avoidance to the ratepayers," City Manager Debra Figone said.
City administrators plan to further research the options and survey residents and return to the City Council for a decision in the spring. The billing switch would occur in 2014 if haulers take over or 2015 if it is handled by the county tax collector.
Star Tribune: JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY and BILL MCAULIFFE
Minn. legislators and scientists team up on climate change
Science made a comeback at the State Capitol on Tuesday.
Five of Minnesota's most prominent researchers on agriculture, land use, weather and climate change gave a room packed with legislators a quick but sweeping summary of the global environmental problems facing the state. They touched on floods, drought, massive thunderstorms, a changing forest, invasive bugs and rising demand for groundwater.
The point, Reps. Jean Wagenius and Alice Hausman said, is that the DFL-controlled House intends to base new laws and policy decisions -- especially those related to climate change -- on research rather than dogma.
"It's science vs. ideology," said Hausman, a DFLer from St. Paul and chairwoman of the House Capital Investment Committee, describing a debate that is going on nationally as well. "There are still some that question the science."
High Country News: Laura Paskus
Protecting culture in the ancient Sky City
About an hour west of Albuquerque, N.M., a sandstone bluff rises above the high desert floor. For more than 800 years, the people of Acoma Pueblo have lived there, protecting their culture, language and many traditional ways. Archaeologist Theresa Pasqual, the director of the Acoma Pueblo's Historic Preservation Office, works with state and federal agencies to ensure that laws such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are followed when archaeological sites and human remains are discovered - as when pipelines, roads, mines, or dams are built on the tribe's ancestral lands in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
Recently, she's also been leading the fight to protect Mount Taylor, which is sacred to the Acoma Pueblo. The 11,301-foot-tall peak - called Kaweshtimi in their language, Keres - dominates the view to the north. It has long been sacred to others, too, including the Pueblo of Laguna, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo. With the U.S. Forest Service fielding an increasing number of development proposals - including for uranium mining - the five tribes have set aside their cultural and historical differences and united in support of a sustainable, long-term plan for the mountain. They released an ethnographic report on tribal connections to the mountain -- in order to give the Forest Service and others a better idea of how important the area is to them --and requested that 400,000 acres be designated as a "traditional cultural property." The state did so in 2009, but mining proponents promptly sued; the suit is currently within the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Salt Lake Tribune: David Montero
Proposal: Exempt Utah from federal gun laws
The Washington County Republican Party will hear a resolution at its monthly meeting that seeks to exclude Utah from federal gun laws just as President Barack Obama announces his proposals for gun restrictions Wednesday.
Dale Ure said he plans to read the resolution at the Washington County Republican Central Committee Jan. 19 - Gun Appreciation Day - and said he also is seeking a state lawmaker to sponsor the resolution when the Legislature opens for business Jan. 28.
"I think it is universally accepted, wanted and needed," Ure, a 64-year-old financial services salesman, said. "I think, we as a people, need to stand up and say we need to do that. I don't think there is any debate about it."
The resolution calls for Utah to give sole firearm confiscation powers to county sheriffs and impose a $5,000 fine on any federal agent who takes a gun from a Utah resident without the authorization of the sheriff.
The City Weekly: Scott Renshaw
Slamdance Locals Passes
For years, the Sundance Film Festival has offered special package deals to Utah residents. For the first time, Slamdance is also making it easier than ever for locals to attend.
New for 2013, the Slamdance Local's Pass offers all the benefits of the standard Slamdance All Access Pass -- entry to all screenings, parties and panel discussions for the Jan. 18 - Jan. 24 festival at Park City's Treasure Mountain Inn. But where visitors will need to pony up $325 for that All Access, Utah residents (with ID) will only need to spend $150. That's a crazy deal for a week of intriguing independent films (visit here for program information).
Sundance is not the only game in town ;-) More on the alt Slamdance
Park City Restaurant Snubs Stars During Sundance
One Park City restaurant is not taking advantage of the Hollywood hype during the Sundance Film Festivalthe owner is saying locals only and she means it.
According to Salt Lake Tribune, this is the fifth year owner Karleen Reilly announced her soup-and-sandwich shop called Uptown Fare will cater to Park City locals while Sundancers roam Main Street.
The festival will run for ten days, beginning January 17thand for that ten days, the small restaurant will be Hollywood free.
She says she learned from experience when she used to let the lines wrap around the store. She says the restaurant would get cold and people would demand their food be delivered faster.
I see maggiejean caught the big story of our brand-new Attorney General involved in a potential bribery case. Also, we are apparently getting the "mother of all inversions" in our forecast. SLC vs. Beijing, I guess.
Imagine You're At A Party and Someone Offers You A Drink . . . , or Why is it okay for Nancy Reagan to say "no" but not you at a party?
Gandalf's Problem Solving: try it, you'll like it.