Guv’s rule to end in Punjab soon: Zardari
200 UK kids identified as potential extremists
China-based hackers break into PCs of Dalai Lama, Indian embassy
‘Al-Qaida operative’ makes CIA go on wild goose chase
Scalding tea ‘raises risk of throat cancer’
18 kidnapped by militants in Pak
Guv’s rule to end in Punjab soon: Zardari
After readying to reconcile with the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) to form government in Punjab, President Asif Ali Zardari has said the Governor’s rule in the province would be lifted within next couple of days.
Not only that, Zardari has made it clear that to see a stable government in Punjab, the PPP would sit in the opposition. Sudden shift in the stance, according to the President, has been motivated by his policy of national reconciliation and to end politics of horse-trading.
Speaking at a meeting of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Lahore, Zardari reiterated that the PPP would ensure the stability of the PML-N government.
The President flew into Lahore for a brief visit to work out future strategy of the party following his decision to assign it the role of opposition in the province. Earlier, Zardari had announced in Parliament that the PPP would support a candidate of the PML-N to be Chief Minister of Punjab.
Even PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who was presiding over a meeting of senior leaders of the party in Lahore, has welcomed his offer of reconciliation. Party spokesman Khosa later told the media that the PML-N was willing to extend cooperation to the PPP in efforts to resolve dire internal and external problems.
Zardari repudiated the impression that restoration of deposed judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was announced by him under popular pressure built up by lawyers with the help of former premier Nawaz Sharif.
He also refuted reports that he was being pressurised by the Army and Pakistan’s foreign donors to reconcile with Nawaz Sharif to help remove his ineligibility.
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also praised his father for pursuing a policy of reconciliation. “My father’s sacrifices for democracy are exemplary, “ Bilawal Bhutto said adding that he learnt politics from his mother Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who had outshined her opponents.”
At least 200 local schoolchildren, some as young as 13, have been identified as potential terrorists by the Britain police.
The number was revealed by Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and Britain’s most senior officer in charge of terror prevention.
He said the “Channel Project” had intervened in the cases of at least 200 children who were thought to be at risk of extremism, since it began 18 months ago. The number has leaped from 10 children identified in June 2008.
The programme, run by the Association of Chief Police Officers, asks teachers, parents and other community figures to be vigilant for signs that may indicate an attraction to extreme views or susceptibility to being “groomed” by radical elements.
Sir Norman, whose force covers the area in which all four 7 July 2005 bombers grew up, said: “One of the four bombers of 7 July was, on the face of it, a model student. He had never been in trouble with the police, was the son of a well-established family and was employed and integrated into society. But when we went back to his teachers they remarked on the things he used to write. In his exercise books he had written comments praising Al-Qaida. That was not seen at the time as being substantive. Now we would hope that teachers might intervene, speak to the child’s family or perhaps the local imam who could then speak to the young man.”
The scheme, funded by the Home Office, involves officers working alongside Muslim communities to identify impressionable children who are at risk of being radically motivated or who have shown an interest in extremist material on the internet or in books.
Once identified the children are subjected to a programme of intervention tailored to the needs of the individual.
Sir Norman said this could involve discussions with family, outreach workers or the local imam.
He stressed that the system was not being used to target the Muslim community.
“With the help of these communities we can identify the kids who are vulnerable to the message and influenced by the message.
The challenge is to intervene and offer guidance, not necessarily to prosecute them, but to address their grievance, their growing sense of hate and potential to do something violent in the name of some misinterpretation of a faith. We are targeting criminals and would-be terrorists who happen to be cloaking themselves in Islamic rhetoric. That is not the same as targeting the Muslim community. Nor was it criminalising children,” he added.
But Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain said the police ran the risk of infringing on children’s privacy. – By arrangement with The Independent
New York, March 29
Canadian researchers, the New York Times reported, have concluded that computers based almost exclusively in China are controlling the network and stealing documents, but stopped short of saying that the Chinese government was involved.
It quoted researchers as saying that they had found no evidence that the US government offices had been infiltrated, although a NATO computer was monitored by the spies for half-a-day and computers of the Indian embassy in Washington were infiltrated.
The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software or malware, the paper said, quoting a report being issued shortly.
Their sleuthing, it said, opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than 2 years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centres in India, Brussels, London and New York.
The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focussed on the governments of South Asian and South-East Asian countries, the paper reported.
The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected, the paper said. This is also believed to be the first time researchers have been able to expose the workings of a computer system used in an intrusion of this magnitude.
Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the paper said quoting the report - “Tracking ‘GhostNet’: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network”.
The researchers said they had notified international law enforcement agencies of the spying operation, which in their view exposed basic shortcomings in the legal structure of cyberspace. The FBI, the Times said, declined to comment on the operation.
Although the researchers said most of the computers behind the spying were in China, the paper said, they cautioned against concluding that China’s government was involved. The spying could be a non-state, for-profit operation, for example, or one run by private citizens in China known as “patriotic hackers”. “This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It’s a murky realm that we’re lifting the lid on.”,” Ronald J Deibert, a member of the research group, was quoted as saying. — PTI
Washington, March 29
Citing unidentified former senior government officials, who closely followed the interrogations, the Washington post today reported that when CIA officials subjected captive Abu Zubaida to severe interrogation, they were convinced enough that the Al-Qaida operative will divulge details about operations that were yet to be unleashed.
The methods succeeded in breaking him and the stories he told of Al-Qaida terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.
But, in the end, not a single significant plot was foiled from Zubaida’s tortured confessions, the paper said.
Nearly all the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida - chiefly names of Al-Qaida members and associates - was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, the paper said quoting officials. Former US president George W Bush, the paper said, had even publicly described him as “Al-Qaida’s chief of operations” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
None of that turned out to be accurate, the new evidence showed. Moreover, within weeks of his capture, US officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida.
The paper said Abu Zubaida was not even an official member of Al-Qaida, according to a portrait of the man that emerges from court documents and interviews with current and former intelligence, law enforcement and militarysources.
Rather, he was a “fixer” for radical Muslim ideologues, and ended up working directly with the Al-Qaida only after Sept 1 - and that was because the United States stood ready to invade Afghanistan. — PTI
London, March 29
A new study, published in the British Medical Journal, has revealed that drinking steaming hot tea is actually linked with an eight-fold increased risk of cancer of the food tube or the oesophagus.
According to lead researcher Reza Malekzadeh of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, “Informing the population about the hazards of drinking hot tea may be helpful in reducing the incidence of oesophageal cancer...”
In fact, the researchers came to the conclusion after analysing tea-drinking habits of 300 people with throat cancer and 571 people without the disease.
Compared with drinking tea at 65 degrees or less, drinking tea between 65 degrees and 69 degrees was associated with a doubling in the risk of cancer and drinking even hotter tea was linked to an eight-fold risk, the study found.
To be specific, people who drank their tea less than two minutes after it was poured had a five times higher risk of the cancer than those who drank it four or more minutes after pouring.
In an accompanying editorial in the journal, David Whiteman of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research wrote: “These findings are not any cause for alarm, however, and they should not reduce public enthusiasm for the time-honoured ritual of drinking tea. Rather, we should follow the advice of Beeton, who prescribes a five to 10 minute interval between the making and pouring of tea, by which time the tea will be sufficiently flavoursome and unlikely to cause thermal injury.” However, the study found no association between the amount of tea consumed and risk of cancer. — PTI
18 kidnapped by militants in Pak
Islamabad, March 29 The 12 Khasadar personnel were kidnapped from a check post in Bara sub-district that was attacked by the pro-Taliban militants, TV channels quoted officials as saying. In a separate incident, six persons were abducted by militants from another area of Bara, the officials said. Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search but were unable to find traces of any of the kidnapped persons. Troops have been conducting operations against militants in Khyber Agency for the past eight days and have destroyed many rebel bases. Earlier on Friday, a bloody suicide bombing of a mosque in Jamrud area of Khyber agency left 70 people dead, including members of Khasadar militia.
Islamabad, March 29
The 12 Khasadar personnel were kidnapped from a check post in Bara sub-district that was attacked by the pro-Taliban militants, TV channels quoted officials as saying.
In a separate incident, six persons were abducted by militants from another area of Bara, the officials said. Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search but were unable to find traces of any of the kidnapped persons.
Troops have been conducting operations against militants in Khyber Agency for the past eight days and have destroyed many rebel bases.
Earlier on Friday, a bloody suicide bombing of a mosque in Jamrud area of Khyber agency left 70 people dead, including members of Khasadar militia. — PTI
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