Fuente: Banco Mundal Sur de Asia
Fuente: Banco Mundal Sur de Asia
KABUL CITY – The school bell chimes and students make their way to the classrooms. They are dressed in winter uniforms, bundled up in blazers and woolens. In the classrooms, teachers hurry students to their seats and begin distributing exam papers. Today is the last day of examinations in the school and the students are excited about the winter holidays that start the next day.
It was not always the case that students sat in a proper classroom, insulated from inclement weather, for lessons and exams at the Mirman Khajo Secondary School. “It was only a few years ago that this building was constructed. It is well planned and a strong, stable structure,” says Jamila Ahmadzai, the school principal, of the school building. “Before it was constructed, all we had were ruins. We had no doors, no windows, and in some classrooms, no wall.”
Established in 1960, Mirman Khajo School stands tall in the heart of the twisted and crowded lanes of Shur Bazar in old Kabul city. In the past, classes were held under tents and among the ruins of old buildings. “It was not at all like a classroom,” says Ahmadzai. “Now students attend classes in standardized classrooms and are more focused.”
The school has the Education Quality Improvement Program (EQUIP) to thank for the school building and other facilities. Now in its second phase, EQUIP II seeks to increase equitable access to quality basic education, especially for girls. It is implemented by the Ministry of Education and funded by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). EQUIP was originally supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries.
Construction of the school building started in 2007 and was completed in 2009. The eight new classrooms were constructed at a total cost of $98,461, financed by EQUIP’s Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG). A proper building has led to a significant increase in the enrollment, paved the way for better quality education, and strengthened the school’s connection with the community, says Jamila Ahmadzai. The school has seen an increase in enrollment—80 children registered for admission in 2016, a jump of more than 30 percent over previous years’ average of 50-60 new enrollments.
Shima, 45, a teacher at the school, agrees that the school building has had significant impact on enrollment. “When we did not have a school building, things were very different. Even though I was a teacher in the school, I did not want to send my child here,” she says. “Once the school building was constructed, a lot of people were eager to send their children to this school.”
trailer film Patriots Day 2016
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
WASHINGTON: United Airlines found itself at the center of a social media storm after it barred two girls from boarding a flight in Denver on Sunday (Mar 26) because they were wearing leggings.
Another girl who was also wearing leggings was allowed to board the flight from Denver International Airport to Minneapolis after she changed, a witness said.
The incident was reported on Twitter by Shannon Watts – founder of gun reform group Moms Demand Action – who was a passenger at the airport waiting to board another flight to Mexico.
“She’s forcing them to change or put dresses on over leggings or they can’t board,” she said. “Since when does @united police women’s clothing?”
“A 10-year-old girl in gray leggings,” she added of one of the girls. “She looked normal and appropriate.”
However, United Airlines maintained its support for the gate agent’s decision in its own series of tweets.
Later, it clarified that the girls prevented from boarding were “pass riders” – those who fly free or at heavily reduced rates because they are airline employees or their relatives.
“Our regular passengers are not going to be denied boarding because they are wearing leggings or yoga pants,” a spokesman told The Washington Post.
“But when flying as a pass traveller, we require pass travellers to follow rules, and that is one of those rules.”
That didn’t stop a tsunami of ridicule against the airline on social media for what critics called sexist and intrusive actions.
“@united Leggings are business attire for 10 year olds. Their business is being children,” actress Patricia Arquette tweeted.
Model Chrissy Teigen weighed in: “I have flown united before with literally no pants on. Just a top as a dress.”
“Next time I will wear only jeans and a scarf,” she added.
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
WASHINGTON: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday revived talk of the possibility the United States may move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, saying President Donald Trump was seriously considering the matter.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Trump’s team spoke often about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. But since taking office, the contentious issue appears to have moved to the backburner.
“After decades of simply talking about it, the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said in a speech to the influential, pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group AIPAC.
Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all countries to base their embassies there, though Israeli politicians also understand that moving the U.S. embassy there could be destabilising.
The relocation is strongly opposed by many U.S. allies as the Palestinians also claim the city as their capital.
The final status of Jerusalem is supposed to be determined via direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
If the United States were to relocate its embassy, it would be seen as an explicit recognition of Jerusalem belonging to Israel, potentially pre-determining the outcome of eventual peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Trump’s pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer allied with the Israeli right, who favours moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Andrew Hay)
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
MEXICO CITY: Mexicans who help build U.S. President Donald Trump’s planned border wall would be acting immorally and should be deemed traitors, the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico said on Sunday, turning up the heat on a simmering dispute over the project.
In a provocative editorial, the country’s biggest Archdiocese sought to increase pressure on the government to take a tougher line on companies aiming to profit from the wall, which has strained relations between Trump and the Mexican government.
“Any company intending to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors to the homeland,” said the editorial in Desde la fe, the Archdiocese’s weekly publication.
On Tuesday, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo warned firms it would not be in their “interests” to participate in the wall. But the editorial accused the government of responding “tepidly” to those eyeing the project for business.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese, which centres on Mexico City and is presided over by the country’s foremost Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said the editorial represented the views of the diocese.
Trump says he wants to build the wall to stop illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S. southern border. He has pledged Mexico will pay for the wall, which the Mexican government adamantly says it will not do.
The Desde la fe editorial, which was published online, said the barrier would only feed prejudice and discrimination.
“In practice, signing up for a project that is a serious affront to dignity is shooting yourself in the foot,” it wrote. Mexican cement maker Cemex has said it is open to providing quotes to supply raw materials for the wall but will not take part in the bidding process to build it.
Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, another company specializing in construction materials, has also signalled readiness to work on the project.
(Reporting by Dave Graham and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
SINGAPORE: In a city renowned for its flashy sports cars, Dubai has set a Guinness World Record for the “fastest police car in service”.
The Bugatti Veyron has a top speed of 407kmh, 1,000-horse-power, a 16-cylinder engine and goes from 0 to 97kmh in just 2.5 sec.
The car was acquired by Dubai police in April 2016 for US$1.6 million, according to Guinness World Records.
But it is just one of many other exotic cars in the Dubai police fleet, which also boasts an Aston Martin One-77, Lamborghini Aventador and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, according to Gulf News.
These cars allow the city’s police force to be more accessible, Dubai police Lt. Saif Sultan Rashed Al Shamsi told Gulf News.
“One of the funny stories we have is that a lot of tourists and people here call the Dubai police … on [the emergency number] 999 to ask about these cars,” Al Shamsi told Gulf News. “They want to know which location they will be in and how they can find them and take pictures with them.”
He added that the cars don’t engage in high-speed pursuits, but appear for special events or cruise tourist areas to offer a glamorous image of Dubai police.
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday (Mar 28) to undo his predecessor Barack Obama’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fueled power plants, according to the new environmental chief.
Speaking on ABC’s Sunday talk show “This Week,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said rolling back Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan would bring back coal jobs.
“The past administration had a very anti-fossil fuel strategy,” he said. “So this is a promise (Trump) is keeping to the American people to say that we can put people back to work.”
Told by ABC host George Stephanopolous that most coal-job losses took place a decade ago under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush – as natural gas increasingly replaced coal – Pruitt dismissed concerns that Trump had made a promise he can’t keep.
“It will bring back manufacturing jobs across the country, coal jobs across the country,” he said of the president’s forthcoming order.
“For too long over the last several years, we have accepted a narrative that if you’re pro-growth, pro-jobs, you’re anti-environment,” he added, accusing the Obama administration of making “efforts to kill jobs across this country through the clean power plan.”
He said Trump’s order would also lower electricity rates for Americans.
Supporters of the Clean Power Plan say it would help create thousands of clean-energy jobs.
A known fossil-fuel ally, Pruitt’s appointment to head the EPA – an agency he repeatedly sued as a state attorney general – has been deeply contentious.
Earlier this month, the climate change skeptic said he believes carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming, as scientists have said for decades.
Trump’s action comes as the Clean Power Plan rule has been on hold since last year while a federal appeals court considers a challenge by coal-friendly Republican-governed states and more than 100 companies.
Trump’s proposed federal budget unveiled earlier this month already envisioned ending funding for the plan along with a number of other programs aimed at combating climate change.
Trump’s order – along with his promise to reverse rules about vehicle emissions – would make it impossible for the United States to reach its commitments under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
But Pruitt criticized the accord as a “bad deal.”
“This is an effort to undo the unlawful approach the previous administration engaged in,” he said of Trump’s executive order, “and to do it right going forward with the mindset of being pro-growth and pro-environment.”
He called Obama’s emissions rules “counter-helpful to the environment.”
As attorney general for Oklahoma, the 48-year-old Republican filed or joined in more than a dozen law suits to block key EPA rules, siding with industry executives and activists seeking to roll back various regulations on pollution, clean air and clean water.
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
MOSCOW/YEKATERINBURG, Russia: Police detained hundreds of protesters across Russia on Sunday, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The protests, reckoned to be the biggest since a wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011/2012, come a year before a presidential election that Vladimir Putin is expected to contest, running for what would be a fourth term.
Opinion polls suggest the liberal opposition, which Navalny represents, has little chance of fielding a candidate capable of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. But Navalny and his supporters hope to channel public discontent over official corruption to attract more support.
A Reuters reporter saw police detain Navalny, who hopes to run against Putin, as he walked along central Moscow’s Tverskaya Street with supporters, part of an unsanctioned rally as a police helicopter circled overhead.
Police put Navalny in a truck around which hundreds of protesters crowded, trying to open its doors.
“I’m happy that so many people came out (onto the streets) from the east (of the country) to Moscow,” Navalny said, moments before he was detained.
The Kremlin said on Friday that plans for the central Moscow protest, which the city’s authorities had rejected, were an illegal provocation.
The United States condemned the arrests, saying the action was an affront to democratic values.
“We call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement, adding that Washington was “troubled” to hear of the arrest of Navalny.
SEVERAL HUNDRED DETAINED
Grigory Okhotin, one of the founders of OVD Info, a human rights organisation that monitors detentions, said around 600 people had been detained in Moscow on Sunday.
Police said around 7,000 to 8,000 people were on Tverskaya Street and surrounding areas by mid-afternoon and put the number of detentions by late afternoon at around 500.
As evening drew in, hundreds of riot police lined up on Manezh Square at the end of Tverskaya Street and drove protesters away from the Kremlin’s walls. Some opposition supporters on Manezh Square shouted: “Putin is a thief” as tourists wandered nearby.
Navalny called the protests after publishing allegations that Medvedev, the prime minister and former president, had amassed a huge fortune that far outstripped his official salary.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks” unworthy of detailed comment and said they amounted to pre-election posturing by Navalny.
Elsewhere, at a rally in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, a Reuters reporter saw 30 people being detained after unfurling banners reading: “The prime minister should answer”.
“I’ve come out (to protest) against corruption and want the authorities to answer the accusations in the Navalny film,” 17-year-old student Denis Korneev said at the Moscow protest.
“In many countries the government would have resigned over this.”
Witnesses told Reuters that four people were also detained at a rally in Yekaterinburg in the industrial Urals region.
On Yekaterinburg’s Labour Square, protesters waved posters reading: “We are the authorities here” while nationalists and supporters of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party looked on.
Local media reported that large protests also took place in other cities, including St Petersburg and Novosibirsk. State media broadly ignored Sunday’s protests.
(Additional reporting by Anton Zverev and Svetlana Reiter in Moscow, Alexei Chernyshov in Vladivostok and Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Catherine Evans and Peter Cooney)
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
SOFIA: Bulgaria’s centre-right GERB party narrowly won a parliamentary election on Sunday, giving it a chance to form another government after leader Boiko Borisov resigned as prime minister in November, triggering the snap poll.
The GERB party won 33 percent of the vote, the Balkan country’s third in just 4 years, with the leftist Socialists trailing on 27.2 percent, partial official results with 26 percent of the ballots counted showed.
“The result of the vote shows that GERB is obliged to form a government,” said Borisov.
The election had been seen as a test of Bulgaria’s loyalties to the European Union, which it joined in 2007, and to Russia, with which it has historic political and cultural links.
The Socialists, who had pledged to improve ties with Russia even if it meant upsetting EU partners, doubled their share of the vote compared to the last election in 2014 but failed to overtake the strongly pro-EU GERB.
If Borisov, 57, succeeds in forming a new coalition, it is likely to maintain the tight fiscal policies that underpin the lev currency’s peg to the euro.
GERB is expected to court the United Patriots nationalist alliance, which came third with 9.6 percent of the vote, followed by ethnic Turkish party MRF with 7 percent, according to partial official results. The Populist Will party will also enter the next parliament.
Political analysts are sceptical the results can lead to a government able to uproot widespread corruption in the EU’s poorest member state.
“I am not optimistic that these results will lead to the formation of a stable majority that can pursue strong policies,” said Ognyan Minchev, a political analyst with the Sofia-based Institute for Regional and International Studies.
“It is likely to be fragile and unstable,” he said.
The United Patriots has built its popularity on anger about the flow of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia trying to reach Western Europe via the Balkans.
On Friday, supporters of the alliance blocked Bulgaria’s border crossings with Turkey in an effort to stop buses bringing Bulgarian ethnic Turks to vote in Sunday’s election.
Ahead of the election, Borisov signalled he hoped to include the Reformist Bloc in a GERB-led coalition government, but exit polls suggested the right-wing group had failed to secure enough votes to make it into parliament. That will likely complicate coalition talks.
Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova, 48, conceded defeat in the election but said she would look at options for forming a government in case GERB cannot do so.
The Socialists had pledged during campaigning to raise wages and pensions as well as oppose continuing EU sanctions against former Soviet-era overlord Russia.
That would complicate relations with Bulgaria’s EU peers – already grappling with Britain’s move to leave and the rise of anti-establishment parties across the bloc – as it gets ready to take over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency in January.
Borisov resigned after a GERB candidate lost a presidential election in November to Rumen Radev, a Russia-friendly ally of the Socialists, and Bulgaria is currently being run by a caretaker administration.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Catherine Evans and Andrew Hay)
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
LONDON: British police investigating a deadly attack on parliament made a new arrest on Sunday (Mar 26) as officials set their sights on accessing WhatsApp, the heavily-encrypted messaging service that was used by the killer.
The arrest came four days after the lightening assault that unfolded in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, in which an apparently lone attacker killed four people and wounded 50 before being shot dead by armed police.
The latest arrest was a 30-year-old man who was detained in the central city of Birmingham on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
A dozen people have been arrested since Wednesday’s attack by 52-year-old Khalid Masood who deliberately ran down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge then stabbed a policeman just inside the gates of parliament.
Nine people have been released without charge, while a 58-year-old man remains in custody and a 32-year-old woman has been released on bail.
The arrest came as the government confirmed Masood had used the WhatsApp messaging service, saying it was crucial that the security services be allowed to access the heavily-encrypted app.
Media reports said Masood used the Facebook-owned service just minutes before staging his assault, although it was unclear whether he sent any messages or just looked at the app.
Speaking to Sky News, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that police and security services had not been able to crack the heavily-encrypted service.
“You can’t have a situation where you have terrorists talking to each other – where this terrorist sent a WhatsApp message – and it can’t be accessed,” she said.
‘DON’T LET THEM HIDE’
Police had on Saturday acknowledged they may never know why Masood, a Muslim convert with a violent criminal past, carried out the attack and that he probably acted alone, despite a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group.
“We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him,” said senior counter-terrorism officer Neil Basu.
Although police believe he acted alone on the day, investigators are still trying to find out whether he was encouraged or directed by others.
“There should be no place for terrorists to hide,” Rudd said in a separate interview with the BBC. “We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp – and there are plenty of others like that – don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.”
WhatsApp said it was “horrified” by the attack and was working with the investigating authorities without saying whether it would change its encryption policy.
“We are horrified at the attack carried out in London earlier this week and are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations,” a spokeswoman told AFP.
MUST BE ACCESSIBLE
Rudd acknowledged that end-to-end encryption was vital to cyber security, to ensure that business, banking and other transactions were safe – but said it must also be accessible.
“It’s not incompatible. You can have a system whereby they can build it so that we can have access to it when it is absolutely necessary,” she told Sky News.
Rudd said she did not yet intend to force the industry’s hand with new legislation, but would meet key players on Thursday to discuss this issue, as well as the “constant battle” against extremist videos posted online.
Tech firms and social media players are coming under increasing pressure over extremists using their websites, applications and technology to communicate extremist content.
Last year, US authorities fought a legal battle with tech giant Apple to get it to unlock a smartphone used by one of the shooters in a 2015 attack in San Bernardino, California.
The FBI’s own experts ended up breaking into the device. And Google has faced a boycott by companies whose adverts appear alongside extremist content on its internet platforms, particularly its video-sharing site YouTube.
Fuente: Channel News Asia World
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump on Sunday (Mar 26) squarely blamed his Republican party’s ultra-conservative wing for the most stinging defeat of his young presidency, holding it responsible for the failed attempt to repeal Obamacare in a way that may signal bruising battles ahead over taxes and spending.
In a Twitter message, the US president not only faulted the hardline Freedom Caucus and two other influential conservative groups for the stunning setback, he suggested they had weakened efforts to curb abortions, a touchstone conservative cause.
“Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!” he tweeted early Sunday, two days after he and Republican leaders canceled a House vote on repealing Obamacare that was headed for failure.
After a day of sober stock-taking and a flurry of behind-the-scenes consultations over lessons learned from the embarrassing setback, Trump appeared to be returning Sunday to his customary bravado.
His frontal attack on the Freedom Caucus and the other groups cast a sharp light on the intraparty tensions that seem sure to flare up as Trump turns now to other key priorities like tax reform and a big infrastructure spending plan.
Analysts say he will have to work with the small but determined Freedom Caucus – or find a way to work around it, most likely by forging coalitions with Democrats, who for now seem little disposed to cooperate.
The health care loss was a devastating early setback for Trump that could cast a long shadow over his presidency. The failure to gain the tax savings that the repeal bill would have brought will make it far harder for him to provide the “massive” tax cuts he had promised.
The president, who prides himself on his negotiating abilities, had prominently inserted himself into last-minute talks, travelling to Capitol Hill and inviting some Republican lawmakers to the White House, demanding action.
When the effort collapsed, sparking a blame game between White House aides and congressional leaders, an unusually subdued Trump quickly vowed to move on. “We will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform,” he said. “That will be next.”
But the head of the Freedom Caucus, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, insisted Sunday that progress on health care remained possible.
“This is not the end of the debate,” he said on ABC. Likening the process to a football game at halftime, he added: “At the very end of the day, the most valuable player will be President Trump on this, because he will deliver.”
Meadows also vowed to work with Trump for “real tax reform.”
With every Democrat opposed to Obamacare repeal, and both far-right and moderate Republicans opposing the recent bill for their own reasons, the effort to kill former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care plan is widely seen as moribund for now.
But some lawmakers suggested Sunday that progress could yet be achieved if Democrats were brought into the picture.
“The president never called us once about this,” top Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said on ABC. Not a single Democrat voted for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare’s formal name.
“But I would say this,” Schumer added. “We Democrats, provided our Republican colleagues drop ‘replace’ and stop undermining the ACA, are willing to work with our Republican friends… to improve Obamacare. We never said it was perfect.”
The Club for Growth, one of the groups Trump singled out for blame in the repeal debacle, has a strong anti-tax focus and has long been influential in conservative Washington circles. It reportedly financed a half-million dollar ad campaign urging Republican lawmakers to oppose their party’s health bill.
It was an early critic of the Trump candidacy, branding him a “big-government liberal.”
The Heritage Foundation is a leading conservative think tank. When Trump was drawing up his list of potential Supreme Court nominees last year, he said he was relying on guidance from Heritage and the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal group.
By invoking Planned Parenthood – the country’s largest provider of abortion services – in his attack on the conservative groups, Trump appeared to be trying to mobilise his vocal grassroots base for the battles ahead.
On Friday, before the scheduled vote, Trump had tweeted a warning to his party’s right wing: “The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!”
The Republican bill would have barred the women’s health organisation from receiving federal funds in the form of reimbursements for the free contraception it provides for low-income patients.