Maryam Nawaz Faces Embarrassment on a PIA Flight

Clip_13PM Nawaz Sharif’s family’s protocol is never ending. It was faced with an embarrassing situation on board a flight to London on September 16, 2014 when the captain of the aircraft refused to allow one of their maids to be bumped up to Business Class from Economy.

The incident took place on the Lahore-London PIA flight. One also wonders as to why Maryam Nawaz was going to London. One can only hope that not to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York as she has no concern with that meeting.

A maid was travelling along with Maryam Nawaz and her family to London. The maid’s ticket was purchased for Economy Class, but, once on board the aircraft, the premier’s daughter had the flight crew bump up her up to Business.

Following directions, the PIA cabin crew seated the woman in Business Class. The person sitting next to the maid was a senior Pakistani bureaucrat — and the official protested (initially not knowing that the maid worked for the premier’s family’s entourage) and approached the aircraft’s captain to complain when the cabin crew did not move the woman back to Economy. Ironically, the senior bureaucrat himself had been upgraded from Economy to Business.

When the matter reached him, the captain disallowed the move, despite it being the premier’s daughter. Interestingly, the senior bureaucrat was not sent back to Economy.

When initially approached to comment on the incident on Wednesday, PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar said that no such incident had taken place.

The incident follows close on the heels of the dramatic expulsion of two parliamentarians from a Karachi-Islamabad flight by angry passengers. The passengers had faced a long delay and believed that the delay was due to the flight being made to wait for the VIPs’ arrival. Footage of the incident was uploaded by some of the passengers and went viral on social media.

PIA and the parliamentarians both held that the delay was due to a technical fault.

What Will Doom the Death Penalty

Capital Punishment, Another Failed Government Program?

By Daniel Lachance

Clip_26To opponents of the death penalty, recent accounts of botched executions and DNA-based exonerations of death-row prisoners have revived hope that judges and voters will finally see capital punishment for what it is: an intolerable affront to human dignity.

But while such optimism is understandable, it is misplaced. Support for capital punishment is, in fact, in decline — but it’s less the result of a moral awakening on the part of the public than a symptom of a 40-year-plus process of disillusionment.

In 1972, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutionally unfair, but left the door open for states to come up with new laws to remedy the arbitrary sentencing criteria it found troubling. Conservatives seized that opportunity to advance a broader agenda of reclaiming a government that, in their minds, had been captured by liberal elites — welfare-oriented bureaucracies and Earl Warren’s Supreme Court — that were intent on using big government to upend traditional values. The timing was right. Violent crime had been rising since the mid-1960s. More and more Americans wanted a government that would vanquish evil rather than manage it. The revival of capital punishment expressed a powerful moral clarity that “time off for good behavior” did not.

When it came to delivering punishment in a timely and dramatic fashion, moreover, the death penalty delivered the goods: As late as 1959, most of those executed spent less than two years on death row. Thus, as states created new death penalty laws, which the Supreme Court approved in 1976, few foresaw the degree to which federal oversight of capital cases would continue.

This, more than wrongful convictions and botched executions, is what is distinctive about the contemporary American death penalty. New layers of appeals and new issues to litigate at both the state and federal levels meant that inmates put to death in 2012 had waited an average of almost 16 years for their execution date. The deeply unsatisfying, decades-long limbo that follows a death sentence today is without precedent. The 3,054 men and women languishing on the nation’s death rows have become the unwitting cast of a never-ending production of “Waiting for Godot.”

A sense of moral solidarity is hard to generate when the devil appears in the execution chamber 20 years later, a middle-aged or elderly man whose crimes have long faded from popular memory. And it’s impossible to generate when he doesn’t appear in the execution chamber at all: A vast majority of those sentenced to death since 1977 were not, or have not yet been, executed.

Efforts to remedy the problem by reforming the appellate process have been unsuccessful. In 1996, when the average stay on death row was approaching 11 years, Congress enacted legislation restricting death-row inmates’ access to federal courts, in order to speed up executions. But it didn’t work; since then, the time between sentencing and execution has grown by over 50 percent.

The problem, it turns out, isn’t foot-dragging by defense lawyers or bleeding-heart judges. It’s money. In California, for instance, the low wages paid by the state to qualified lawyers who take on indigent inmates’ appeals have meant that there aren’t enough lawyers willing to do the work. Inmates wait an average of three to five years after sentencing for a government-appointed lawyer to handle their appeal. And that’s just the beginning of a process — sometimes lasting 25 years or more — that afederal judge recently determined was so protracted that it made capital punishment in California unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.

More money for defense lawyers would reduce the high error rates in capital trials and speed up appellate reviews. But it is unlikely to be forthcoming. The costs of capital trials and appeals overwhelm budgets everywhere, but particularly in places, like the South, where the political will to fund them is the weakest. It has simply become unsustainable to be both pro-death penalty and anti-taxation, as so many Americans are.

Delivering this message to voters, rather than a moralistic one, might change their thinking. A 2012 ballot measure to abolish the death penalty in California, the shrewdly named Savings Accountability and Full Enforcement for California campaign, appealed to voters’ wallets more than their hearts and came tantalizingly close to passing. Importantly, though, that near-win occurred after nearly seven years of no executions in the state, suggesting that it wasn’t just about the financial cost of the death penalty. It was about what that money had stopped delivering to taxpayers: the sense of control, closure and confidence that are the raison d’être of the death penalty.

As depressing as it may be to abolitionists driven by a commitment to human rights, Americans, most of whom are white and live above the poverty line, find it hard to sympathize with members of an indigent, mostly minority death-row population who have been convicted of horrible crimes. Preaching to the congregation rather than the choir, then, ought to focus on the failure of capital punishment to live up to the promise of retributive justice it once held.

Casual supporters of the death penalty can be made to recognize that the death penalty has become inextricably mired in the very bureaucracy and legalism it was once supposed to transcend, and that the only solutions to the problem — an elimination of appellate lawyers for death-row inmates or a financial bailout — are unlikely to be legal or feasible.

Resources for fighting the death penalty are scarce, and for too long, abolitionists have spent them appealing to the humanistic ideals they wished most Americans shared, instead of one they actually do: distrust of government. Arguing that the death penalty is an affront to human dignity just doesn’t work. But portraying it as another failed government program just might.

Daniel LaChance is an assistant professor of history at Emory University.

 

Marrying a Dog to Fight Off Evil Spirits in India

MarriageMany people have asked for a hand in marriage, but what about a paw? This sounds like a whole new spin on the tradition of prearranged marriages in some countries.

In a remote part of India, young Mangli Munda is marrying a stray dog  to fight off evil spirits that her family believes she has. The dog was found by the woman’s father. The big wedding was taken care of by the 18-year-old’s parents, to the dismay of the wife-to-be. Munda wasn’t pleased with her parents’ selection of a groom, saying, “I am not happy with this marriage.”

If you think Munda’s father was solely to blame for this unusual arrangement, he wasn’t. Munda’s mother was adamant about the need for her daughter to get hitched to the hound named Sheru. The pooch even arrived stylin’ and profilin’ as most grooms often do — chauffeured in a car. Munda’s mother mentioned, “We have to spend money on this wedding. That is the only way we can get rid of her bad luck and ensure the benevolence of the village.”

But Munda won’t have to love and honor her husband all the days of her life. The relationship isn’t legally binding, which will probably keep this bride from going barking mad.

In this remote village in the eastern state of Jharkhand, the ceremony isn’t unheard of. It’s just a tradition meant to ensure the longevity of a couple’s marriage when Munda is eventually married to a human groom. And, hopefully, her next husband won’t turn out to be a dog.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/odd-news/woman-in-india-marries-dog-to-ward-off-evil-194029727.html

79 Election Petitions Still Await Decisions

IMG_2017The election tribunals decided five cases from August 11 to 31, 2014 – bringing the total number of decided cases to 331 out of 410 (305 out of 384 by the tribunals and 26 by the ECP) while 79 petitions (19%) are still pending with the election tribunals.

Given the backlog, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seems to have failed to ensure compliance with the mandatory legal provision of disposing of election petitions within 120 days of receipt.

Section 67(1)A of the Representation of Peoples Act 1976 says that “where a petition is not decided within four months further adjournment sought by any party shall be given only on payment of special cost of Rs 10,000 per adjournment and an adjournment shall not be given for more than three days.”

Even though all the pending cases have crossed the limit of 120 days, no tribunal has complied with the mandatory provision of imposing fine to the responsible party.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has already emphasized that the tribunals should follow the above-mentioned provision strictly. The ECP constituted 14 tribunals across the country following the General Elections 2013 to redress election-related complaints of contesting candidates. The ECP received 409 petitions, while one petition was filed directly with the election tribunal in Lahore.

Most of the petitions were moved by contesting candidates, while three petitions were filed by voters. Independent candidates filed 98 petitions, followed by PML-N candidates with 66 petitions – 12 against PTI and 14 against PPP. Of the 12 petitions against PTI, only one has been accepted so far. Eight petitions against PTI have been dismissed while three still await decisions. Meanwhile, none of the petitions filed by PML-N against PPP have been accepted.

PTI filed 58 petitions – 43 against winning candidates of PML-N. Of these 43 petitions, 20 were filed to resolve disputes over National Assembly seats while the rest were related to the provincial assemblies. One petition was filed by PTI against PPP to resolve a dispute over a National Assembly seat in Sindh. So far, none of the petitions filed by PTI against either party have been accepted. Twenty-eight petitions (27 against PML-N and one against PPP) have been dismissed while 16 are still awaiting decisions.

In addition, PPPP members filed 50 petitions that included 19 against PML-N and one against PTI. The only petition against PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was dismissed by the tribunal. Of the 19 petitions against PML-N, only two have been accepted; 13 dismissed while four are pending with the respective tribunals.

 

Bugti’s Declaration of Balochistan’s Independence

  1. Due to the oppressive policies followed by successive Pakistani regimes, intense human rights abuses have taken part in the Baluchistan region.  Pakistan has occupied Baluchistan and expanded injustices against the Baluch people, in addition to exploiting their mineral wealth.
  1. Following the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Baluch leaders stated a clear intent to remain independent and maintain their cultural heritage and identity. Pakistan’s response was to use military force and illegally occupied Baluchistan on 27th of March 1948.
  1. The Pakistani armed forces have launched ethnic cleansing and genocide in Baluchistan against the Baluch people and are systematically kidnapping, imprisoning and murdering Baluch political activists, students, lawyers, intellectuals and nationalist leaders. Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Baluchistan as Bloch nationalists  ‘disappear’ and in many cases are extra-judicially executed.
  1. Pro independence Baluch leaders have met on a regular basis and have demanded complete independence from the tyrannical rule of Pakistan, including immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Baluchistan.
  1. Thus it is called upon to take cognizance of the deteriorating human rights situation in Baluchistan and look into case of missing persons in Baluchistan and to join hands with the political forces, human rights organizations and civil society groups addressing the human rights concerns of the Baluch people.
  1. The international community is also called upon to support the demand of independent and democratic Baluchistan and take immediate steps to end the militarization of Baluchistan and exploitation of the Baluch natural resources.
  1. The concerned parties are also called on to take into account the aspirations of the Baluch freedom lovers and support their voices against Pakistani oppression on various international forums.
  1. This declaration, together with the name of the signatories, is forwarded to the concerned authorities.

Signatories:

  1. Nawab Brahumdagh Bugti , Baluch Nationalist leader and President of BRP (Baloch Republican Party)
  1. Mir Javed MengalBaluch Nationalist leader   
  1. Nawab Mehran Baluch (Marri)Baluch Nationalist leader and Baluch Representative to the UNHRC & EU
  1. Sardar Bakhtyar Khan DomkiBaluch Natoinalist leader

 

Media Contact

Mr. Riaz Malik

Press Officer

Baluchistan House

www.baluchistanhouse.com

info@baluchistanhouse.com

Women’s Role in Farming

Clip_3Women are the backbone of farming. Across the planet, women and girl farmers play a big role in changing the food system and creating a well-nourished world. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all farmers in the developing world are women. In poor and rich nations alike, they are taking on more defined roles in food and agriculture.

Meeting the needs of women farmers equals a better world.

Eaters, business leaders, policymakers, funders, and donors need to invest more in women for greater nutritional diversity, healthier children, children who do better in school, a stronger economy, and a less hungry world.

If access to new technology and resources is made available to women farmers, yields could increase by 20 to 30 percent and could reduce the number of hungry people in world by 100 to 150 million people. When women have the right tools, they have limitless potential.

Healthy, educated, and empowered women are more likely to have healthy, educated, and confident children.”

Yet, while women are responsible for the majority of food production, they are also more likely to suffer from hunger during food shortages. Addressing the deep-rooted inequalities that currently prevent women from gaining equal access to tools and resources will level the playing field and help close the gender gap.

More On Women In Agriculture

When women farmers have secure land rights, family nutrition improves; women become less vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS; and children, especially girls, are more likely to stay in school longer.

Women represent 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force and 47 percent of the global fisheries labor force.

The World Bank’s World Development Report 2012 stresses that gender equality can lead to increased productivity; women’s control of household resources can improve the livelihoods of the next generation; and empowering women as economic, social, and political actors can result in more representative decision-making.

According to FAO, female farmers produce less than male farmers, but not because they are less efficient; instead, evidence shows that the difference is caused by access to inputs. If women had the same access to resources as men, they could raise total agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent. Gains of this magnitude could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent!

More investment in women farmers will help alleviate hunger and poverty and will lead to more social justice and empowerment for girls and women. When women earn more, they invest more in the health of their families, thus ensuring vibrant, well-nourished, and happy future generations.

Anal Sex Amongst Heterosexual Couples

Clip_230Stigma, squeamishness and misunderstanding of anal sex is leading to research gaps and inaccurate information about the risks of this common sexual behaviour, and hindering effective HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. A move towards “sex positive” approaches could enhance social acceptance and increase protection.

“If we look at historical art depictions and carvings, heterosexual anal sex has been part of the human sexual repertoire for a long time. Not discussing anal sex and its relationship to HIV transmission leads people to making wrong assumptions about its risks,” said Jim Pickett, director of prevention advocacy and gay men’s health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

In 2011 the UN General Assembly issued its “Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS” which, among other goals, set the target of reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50 percent by 2015.

According to the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the number of new HIV infections among adults in low- and middle-income countries in 2012 was 30 percent lower than in 2001, which the agency attributes in its 2013 global report as: “primarily representing a reduction in sexual transmission.”

However, some experts warn, even with this decreased infection rate, the HIV response remains harmfully incomplete unless it begins to acknowledge a range of sexual behaviours, including those that are stigmatized, misunderstood, or deemed disgusting.

Mixed messages cause risky oversight

Clip_117The risk of HIV transmission for anal intercourse is 18 times higher than for vaginal intercourse because the anus has thinner membranes and does not self-lubricate like the vagina – making it more prone to tears and lesions.

Historically interventions that mention anal sex have focused on men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women, who are often (wrongly, many argue) categorized as male for public health purposes. Research focused on MSM populations has uncovered some important facts about anal sex, including dangerous gaps in personal lubricant availability around the world.

Pickett argued that anti-sodomy laws further add to the stigmatization of anal sex and also link it to being something only MSM do.

Some 76 countries criminalize homosexuality in some way, many by specifically outlawing “sodomy” – often understood to be anal sex.

However, new evidence is emerging that the MSM focus may lead to assumptions that heterosexual intercourse does not include anal penetration and therefore sends the wrong message about who needs to protect themselves.

study on the practice of heterosexual anal sex in five communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda found that it is widely practiced for a variety of reasons including the preservation of virginity, contraception, economic gain and maintaining fidelity.

The 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health Promotion and Behavior by Indiana University in the US showed that among the men and women surveyed, around 45 percent admitted to having anal sex.

However, despite it being relatively common behaviour, there is a dearth of accurate information on it.

“Even though most people who have anal sex engage in it only occasionally, anal sex is a fairly common practice. And if people are going to engage in a sexual behavior, then they deserve enough information to help make that behavior as safe, pleasurable and satisfying as possible,” wrote Debby Herbenick, one of the authors of the 2009 survey, which was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Other experts agree, and argue that part of the reason anal sex gets overlooked is the reluctance to explore the behaviour in studies.

“We’re not asking, so people are not telling,” said Pickett who attributes this disinclination to stigma around the anus as a body part.

“We have been conditioned to think of it as filthy and unclean so we do not talk about it,” said Pickett, who coordinates the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA), a global network that works to create “safe, effective, acceptable and accessible rectal microbicides for the women, men, and transgender individuals around the world who engage in anal intercourse.”

“If we cannot talk about all sex acts and what is risky and less risky, people cannot really make intelligent choices,” said Pickett.

Going “sex positive” with HIV messages

“Anal sex is one of the last taboos of the HIV world. It is not mentioned in campaigns targeting straight couples and leads to informal messaging that it is actually safe or there is no need to wear a condom,” said Anne Philpott, founder of The Pleasure Project, an organization that works with NGOs, sex counsellors and erotic film producers on incorporating “sex-positive” approaches to sex education.

A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal revealed that the first experience of anal sex among teenagers was often painful and coercive. Many of the study’s participants, however, perceived anal sex as “safer” because they did not think it was possible to get sexually transmitted infections from it.

Easy access to pornography featuring anal sex scenes among heterosexual couples also contributes to the expectation that anal sex is part of the “standard sex routine.

“About four percent of websites are now pornographic. We need to be proactive about creating more safe porn, and models of sex that do not legitimize unsafe sex,” added Philpott who explained that in countries where there is little or no sexuality education, pornography can become a default information source.

Philpott pointed out that unprotected anal sex also has a higher rate of infection for the receptive partner – in heterosexual couples, the woman. During anal sex without a condom, an insertive partner has about a one in 909 chance of HIV infection compared to a one in 154 chance for the receptive partner.

A 2008 National Health Statistics Report in the US showed that of the more than 13,000 respondents 36 percent of women and 44 percent of men reported having anal intercourse with the opposite sex.

However, a related study indicates that only 13 percent of receptive women used condoms during their past 10 anal intercourse events, compared to 44 percent of receptive men – a significant behavioural gap in heterosexual intercourse.

“Not even mentioning this risk to straight couples is a huge mistake. Not giving them tips and information on how to make anal sex safe is a huge loss,” said Philpott.

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