North AmericaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 01 Sep 2014 13:37:57 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbObama to spell out message to Putin on former Soviet land Setting the stage for a NATO summit dominated by the worst East-West tensions in decades, President Barack Obama will go to Estonia this week with a simple message for Vladimir Putin -- don't mess with NATO's ex-Soviet members.

With Europe and the United States accusing the Russian president of sending his troops to intervene directly in Ukraine, Obama's trip to Europe, his second of the year, comes at a dangerous moment.

Obama will make clear that NATO views its Article Five creed on common defense as inviolate, and his first visit as president to the Baltic states -- long seen as a potential flashpoint of any Western military clash with Russia -- is highly symbolic.

The only other sitting president to visit Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, the trio of former Soviet republics, was President George W. Bush, in 2006, when calm prevailed across former Cold War frontiers.

"There is a perception in Eastern Europe and in the Baltics that Putin poses not just a threat to Ukraine, but he does actually pose a long-term threat to NATO, because his long-term strategic goal in this view is to undermine the US alliance system in Europe, or to show that it's hollow," said Thomas Wright, of the Brookings Institution.

"The best way of doing that is to show that Article Five is hollow; that it doesn't mean what it says it means," said Wright, referring to the NATO pledge that binds member nations to view an attack on one country as an attack on the entire membership.

"If he can prove that in one instance, he basically discredits Article Five for NATO for as a whole, and he would discredit NATO as a whole."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaMon, 01 Sep 2014 04:01:18 +0000
Enforced disappearances cannot be tolerated in 21st century: UN chief NATIONS: Stressing that the enforced disappearance of individuals by States constitutes an unacceptable violation of human rights, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has declared that the time has come for the end to this 'abhorrent' practice.

"Enforced disappearance is a practice that cannot be tolerated in the twenty-first century," the secretary general said in a message to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, which is observed annually on 30 August.

"This abhorrent practice places people outside the protection of the law, and thus, potentially in great danger of physical violence and sometimes barbaric execution.

In addition to causing unimaginable worry and anguish for the victims and their loved ones, this creates a generalized climate of fear and terror across entire societies," he said.

Ban noted that enforced disappearance was once employed mainly by military dictatorships.

"Increasingly, it has become a tool of many States around the world, some operating under counter-terror strategies, or fighting organized crime, and others seeking to quash dissent and human rights activism.

"On this solemn Day, I reiterate in the strongest possible terms that under international law, no one should be kept in secret detention.

Any person deprived of his or her liberty must be held safely in officially recognized and supervised locations that observe the rule of law.

"States should provide full information about the whereabouts of persons who have been disappeared. And they must effectively implement the right to the truth, justice and reparation for all victims and their families," he added.

The Secretary-General also urged all Member States who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which entered into force in December 2010 and has been signed by 93 States and ratified by 43.

General Assembly President John Ashe echoed that call, asking Member States to commit to eradicating this crime and to consider becoming a party to the Convention so that ?in every corner of the world, the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance becomes a reality."

He went on to say in a statement that whether it is used to fight terrorism and organized crime or to silence voices calling for democracy and human rights, enforced disappearances cannot and should not be tolerated.

"In the face of contemporary forms of enforced disappearance, including the placement of victims in secret detention outside the protection of the law, we need new strategies to counter this crime and protect the victims."

He noted that today in many countries, decades after internal conflicts and political repression, the fate of thousands of peoples remain unknown.

"Behind each disappearance is a personal story and a family seeking the truth, justice, and the right to an effective redress.

Relatives of disappeared persons and civil society groups are often the only voices reminding us of the plight of the victims.

"They play a fundamental role, yet many of them are vulnerable to intimidation and face numerous obstacles in their fight to bring an end to enforced disappearances.

Effective measures are needed to protect them and other members of the community from threats and prevent and punish any act of intimidation, persecution or reprisal."

On the occasion of the Day, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances urged governments to support relatives of the disappeared by removing all obstacles hindering their search for loved ones, including through the opening of all archives, especially military files.

"More than 43,000 cases, the majority dating back decades, remain outstanding with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

These cases stay open for several reasons, often because relatives have no support in finding out what happened," they said in a press statement.

They added that the search for disappeared family members and, in many cases, the identification of discovered remains, is always the most pressing request of relatives who endure tremendous suffering in their long wait to know the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones.

Many relatives face unjustified hurdles in their search, due to the lack of political will, or insufficient and inadequate investigations.

"Transparency and information-sharing is a good demonstration of political will, so we call on States to immediately open all archives, including military files, as these sometimes contain information relating to the whereabouts of disappeared persons," the two expert groups said.

"The time for promises has passed. Now it is the time to act. States must urgently address the anguish of the relatives of the disappeared and reinvigorate their investigations into cases of disappearances."

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaSun, 31 Aug 2014 20:38:51 +0000
'Legroom war' rages as planes grow more cramped To recline or not to recline? Airplane "legroom wars" are prompting growing rage in the United States, with two recent seat battles sparking a heated debate about the knee-bumping practice.

Amid the furor, one thing everyone seems to agree on is that space on passenger planes is getting scarcer and scarcer.

The question of reclining etiquette "has been a topic of discussion for many years," said Sarah Schlichter, editor in chief of

"But the current uproar seems to be a sign that people are simply not happy fliers anymore."

Within just a few days, two aircraft were re-routed because of passengers fighting over a seat recline.

On a United Airlines flight between Newark, New Jersey and Denver, Colorado which was detoured to Chicago one passenger even used a "Knee Defender" to hold his position.

The $22 gadget consists of two clips that attach to tray table arms to block the seat in front of them from leaning back.

Sales of the gadget "in the past two and a half years have been increasing on a continuous angle," its inventor, Ira Goldman, told AFP, without giving precise figures.

"People are travelling more, on more crowded planes, the space is smaller and the airlines still provides seats that recline," added the six-foot-three (1.92-meter) entrepreneur who says he flies 100,000 miles (150,000 kilometers) a year.

For the past week, commentary, often tongue-in-cheek, has abounded, denouncing the cramped seats and taking sides in the undeclared war between the too-tall versus the generally inadvertent strikes of the knee crushers in the next row.

"The war between recliners and legroomers is escalating," joked website on Friday.'s Dan Kois was unafraid to take sides, saying "tilting your seat back on an airplane is pure evil."

He described a cross-country flight with "the deceptively nice-seeming schoolteacher's seatback so close to my chin that to watch TV I must nearly cross my eyes."

But in The New York Times, Josh Barro defended the recliners. "I fly a lot. When I fly, I recline. I don't feel guilty about it," he wrote.

The "Knee Defender" inventor, who created his gadget more than a decade ago, however, is ready to move on.

"I would be gratified if the airline industry would solve the problem that they have been ignoring for so many years," he said.

In fact, a Wall Street Journal study in October 2013 found that airlines were reducing space for economy class passengers in order to make more room for first and business class passengers, who pay far higher ticket prices.

The norm for long flights has gone from around 18 inches (46 centimeters) in the 1970s and 1980s, briefly up to 18.5 inches before shrinking down to just 17 inches in recent years, the newspaper reported.

In comparison, legroom on a typical US train is more like 20 inches. To stop the legroom battles, some low-cost carriers, like easyJet and Ryanair, have removed the reclining option on short flights.

"Baggage restrictions and fees, the loss of meal services, tighter seating and more for-fee upgrades that reduce the basic experience, all contribute to more aggravation for fliers," said SchliReuters

Etiquette experts say leaning back is every passenger's right but beware about pushing to hard to exercise it.

"You purchase that as part of your ticket price, and no other passenger has the right to prevent you from reclining your seat," said Anna Post, one of the directors of a famous school of etiquette, the Emily Post Institute.

"We may be right, but trying to pursue being right may cause more trouble that it's worth," she said, advising passengers to lean back slowly "so you don't slam into someone." "Sometimes just a little bit is enough to be more comfortable."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaSat, 30 Aug 2014 20:45:05 +0000
Mexico searches Grupo Mexico Buenavista mine offices in spill probe CITY: Mexican authorities on Friday searched the offices of Buenavista copper mine, which belongs to miner Grupo Mexico, as part of an investigation into a toxic spill that could cost the firm billions of pesos, the prosecutor's office said.

Mexican officials are preparing to bring a lawsuit against Grupo Mexico, which released 40,000 cubic meters of toxic mining acid into the Bacanuchi River in the Northern state of Sonora earlier this month, Mexico's environmental prosecutor said.

A spokesman for Mexico's attorney general's office declined to specify what authorities were searching for and Grupo Mexico declined immediate comment. Metals miner and railroad operator Grupo Mexico is in the midst of a $3.4 billion expansion project at the mine, which has the largest proven copper reserves in the world.

The expansion aims to boost production capacity to 1.3 million tonnes by 2017.

Mexico's Congress earlier this month urged the government to cancel Grupo Mexico's concession to operate the mine, formerly known as Cananea.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)North AmericaSat, 30 Aug 2014 05:41:56 +0000
US judge lifts suspension on Microsoft overseas email seizure YORK: A judge on Friday lifted a suspension on her order directing Microsoft Corp to turn over a customer's emails stored overseas to US prosecutors.

Chief Judge Loretta Preska of the US District Court in Manhattan had on July 31 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling on the emails, which have been held in a data centre in Ireland.

That prospect had drawn concern from technology companies fearful of losing revenue from foreign customers worried that US law enforcement might win broad power to seize their data.

Preska had delayed enforcement of the government's search warrant so Microsoft could appeal.

But prosecutors later said that because her order was not a "final, appealable order" and because Microsoft had yet to be held in contempt, there was no legal reason to enforce the stay.

Preska agreed, saying her order "merely confirmed the government's temporary forbearing of its right to stay enforcement of the order it secured."

She added that "the fact the court has not closed this case cuts against Microsoft's argument" that her order was final and appealable. The judge ordered both sides to advise by Sept. 5 how to proceed.

"Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court," a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said. "This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."

The case appeared to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a US search warrant seeking data held abroad. AT&T Inc, Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Verizon Communications Inc submitted briefs supporting Microsoft's opposition to the warrant.

The case is In re: A Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corp, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-mj-02814.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaFri, 29 Aug 2014 21:25:50 +0000
Obama to meet national security advisers on Iraq, Syria, Islamic State US President Barack Obama will meet his top national security advisers on Thursday to discuss the challenge presented by Islamic State militants and the situation in Iraq and Syria, the White House announced.

Obama's meeting, with Vice President Joe Biden and members of his National Security Council, will take place at 4 p.m. EDT in the White House Situation Room.

Obama is considering launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

"Today the President is meeting with his National Security Council to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria, our ongoing efforts to support the Iraqi government, and our efforts to counter the threat posed by ISIL (Islamic State). You should not expect that we'll have new decisions to announce on these issues today," a White House official said.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Imaduddin)North AmericaThu, 28 Aug 2014 16:20:43 +0000
Sister of Boston bomb suspects is arrested, charged in NY YORK: A sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was arrested Wednesday in New York on suspicion of making a bomb threat, police said.

Ailina Tsarnaeva, 24 and a resident of North Bergen, New Jersey, "was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment," a NYPD spokesman told AFP.

She is a sister of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspected of having carried out the April 2013 bombing which killed three and injured 264 people near the marathon's finish line.

Police said Tsarnaeva threatened a woman in Manhattan by telephone, saying "I know people who can put a bomb on you," CBS television reported.

Tsarnaeva was taken into a police station in Manhattan's Harlem district, where she received a hearing date of September 30 and was released, police said.

Authorities say ethnic Chechen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, carried out the bombing with his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed last year during a police manhunt while the pair were on the run.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaThu, 28 Aug 2014 03:28:25 +0000
Fighter jets escort Cuba-bound Canadian jet back to Canada The North American Aerospace Defence Command scrambled two CF-18 fighter jets out of Quebec Wednesday to escort Sunwing Flight 656 back to Toronto after a "passenger disturbance," a spokeswoman said.

Referring to the Canada to Cuba flight, NORAD spokeswoman Major Julie Roberge told AFP: "in fact, the pilot decided over South Carolina, because of a passenger disturbance, to head back to Toronto" where the plane arrived at 8:33 pm (0033 GMT Thursday).

Roberge could not say how many passengers were involved or if arrests had been made. Social media reports from passengers however said two passengers apparently were involved.

"Once the aircraft was safely on the ground, the Canadian fighters returned to their home base," a NORAD statement added.

NORAD is the joint Canadian and American command in charge of maritime warning, aerospace warning and aerospace control for the neighbouring nations.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)North AmericaThu, 28 Aug 2014 03:19:29 +0000
US budget office raises deficit forecast The US Congressional Budget Office raised its forecast for the US fiscal deficit this year on Wednesday, but said it would still be much lower than last year's.

The CBO also reiterated its medium-term view that the US deficit will begin accelerating at the end of this decade, gaining size in real terms and as a percentage of gross domestic product.

The agency's new estimate for the deficit for the year ending September 30 is $506 billion, out of a $3.5 trillion budget, slightly higher than the $492 billion in its April estimate.

The CBO said lower-than-expected tax payments by businesses forced it to cut its forecast for total government receipts.

Even so, the total deficit would be $174 billion less than last year's, and come in at 2.9 percent of GDP, down from almost 10 percent in fiscal 2009, when the crisis-period deficit hit $1.4 trillion.

That trend was projected to continue over the next three years as the impact of the 2008-2009 Great Recession ebbs, with businesses boosting investment and consumers spending more.

Even so, the persistent deficit will continue to push US debt to higher levels, the CBO forecasted.

Total debt held by the public would rise from 72.0 percent of GDP last year to 74.4 percent this year, and continue to push to more than 77 percent in 2024, when the annual deficit would again approach $1 trillion, on a $4.9 trillion budget.

That rise would come with the rapid increase in Social Security and government medical insurance payments required by an aging population.

The surge in debt needed to finance the deficit over the longer term "would have serious negative consequences," the CBO said, including higher costs for debt service, slower economic growth, and, eventually, an increase in the risk of another fiscal crisis.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaWed, 27 Aug 2014 21:30:12 +0000
US health worker home after 'low-risk' Ebola exposure A health worker with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has returned to the United States after possible exposure to Ebola while working in Sierra Leone, the agency said on Wednesday.

The CDC downplayed the risk of infection, describing the person's contact with another infected health worker as "low-risk" and saying the CDC staffer was not showing symptoms.

"CDC has returned a staff member from West Africa by charter flight after the employee had low-risk contact with an international health worker who recently tested positive for Ebola," said a statement.

"The CDC staff member worked in close proximity (within three feet (one meter)) in the same room with the ill person for a prolonged period when that individual had symptoms."

The CDC did not say whether the staffer was male or female. West Africa is in the midst of the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.

More than 1,400 people have been killed by the hemorrhagic virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria since the start of the year.

"The CDC staff person is not sick with Ebola, does not show symptoms of the disease and, therefore, poses no Ebola-related risk to friends, family, co-workers, or the public," the statement said.

"The exposed staff person is not restricted to staying at home and could return to assigned work duties at CDC during the 21-day period of symptom monitoring."

Ebola has an incubation period of three weeks, though symptoms typically appear within two to 10 days of infection.

The virus causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea and internal bleeding. It has been fatal in just over half of cases in the current outbreak.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Muhammad Iqbal)North AmericaWed, 27 Aug 2014 20:46:49 +0000