International News

MEXICO CITY: Mexico said Sunday it will award its 2013 International Prize for Equality and Non-Discrimination to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for championing girls' rights to education.

The award seeks to recognize Malala's efforts for “the protection of human rights” and especially her fight to protect the right to education without discrimination on “grounds of age, gender, sex and religion,” Mexico's official National Council to Prevent Discrimination said in a statement.

The award ceremony is planned for early 2014.

The 16-year-old, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in 2012, has become a global ambassador for the rights of children.

She is currently living in Britain, where she underwent surgery after the attack.

Malala, who since age 11 has written a blog about girls' right to education, has written an autobiography, addressed the United Nations and set up a fund to help girls around the world go to school and promote universal access to education.

Last week, she was awarded the European Union's prestigious Sakharov human rights prize at a ceremony significantly held on World Children's Day.

ISLAMABAD: The Canadian High Commission is establishing a facilitation desk to woo Pakistani investors and develop business links between entrepreneurs in both countries.

Talking to the participants at the ‘Investment Round Table for Pakistan Entrepreneurs’ organised by the Canadian diplomatic mission on Wednesday, High Commissioner Greg Giokas said that his country’s friendly investment regime is recognised for its low costs and low taxes.

“The Canadian government is interested in attracting foreign direct investment to facilitate economic growth for Canadians,” he said.

He said that the business environment in Pakistan would benefit from Canada’s example of improved investments and attractive policies.

The participants were informed that Canada provides a top performing economy for businesses to innovate, grow and succeed.

The event was attended by businessmen who already have investments in Canada as well as those seeking to avail opportunities. Most Pakistanis have invested in consumer outlets and non-technical businesses in Canada, which were an extension of their core businesses in Pakistan.

INDIA: Kuwaiti-Indian relations are exemplary in their broadness and depth, said His Highness the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, in a speech addressing a joint meeting of the two countries’ chambers of commerce in New Delhi on Friday. Reviewing the long history of trade and commerce between Kuwait and India, he said that ‘Kuwaiti businessmen have been visiting India for decades and still do business in this country today, transferring to Kuwait numerous aspects of the culture and civilization of India, and in turn these Kuwaitis have been leaving behind their imprints on the Indian society — imprints that can still be seen in India even today.’ On the other hand, the Prime Minister added ‘Indian commerce and trade have been ubiquitous in Kuwait for generations, with many consumer products and services resonating very well with the Kuwaiti public.’

He noted that India has perennially had a large expatriate community in Kuwait noted for its verve and vibrancy, enriching the scope and depth of the Kuwaiti private sector. Kuwait, he said, has been fortunate over generations to be a point of transit for Indian commerce aimed for destinations in the West. He said time was ripe at this juncture to spike the current level of bilateral trade, given the aspiration of growth and development in Kuwait, and the brisk expansion of the economy and technology in India.

Meanwhile, His Highness the visiting Prime Minister of Kuwait received at his residence in New Delhi on Friday Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma and Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram separately. During the meetings, they discussed bilateral relations in the fields of economy, investment, trade and industry, and ways and means of further promoting and bolstering them for the common interest of both friendly countries. His Highness the premier’s accompanying delegation members were also present in the meeting. (KUNA)

NEW DELHI: Downplaying concerns over deportation of illegal Indian workers in Gulf countries including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, India yesterday said it is an opportunity to correct their work status and that it is better to be deported than to be put in jails there. The issue is likely to figure during the talks Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah will have with top leadership here during his fourday visit beginning today. “I think it is good for our people that they are sent back rather than put into jails,” Joint Secretary (Gulf Region) Mridul Kumar said, adding that actions are being taken against those found violating the laws of the respective countries.

Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi had yesterday said that around 1.34 lakh Indians have already come back from Saudi Arabia after the country launched a strict inspection campaign to target illegal foreigners earlier this year and the extended deadline expired on November 3. Kumar said 4,500 to 5,000 Indians have been sent back by Kuwait this year which is less than last year’s figure. “When you have got a huge expatriate population within your country, it is a very sovereign right of a sovereign nation to decide what kind of treatment people who are in violation of their law would meet,” said Kumar. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said this was an opportunity for illegal workers to leave those countries without facing any major penalty and correct their work status.

On visit of Sheikh Jaber, Kumar said India was looking forward to upgrade its relationship with the oil-rich nation from “buyer-seller” to that of a “strategic” level and that enhancing ties in diverse sectors including in energy security, trade and investment will be discussed. “It is a very special visit for us,” he said. It will be the first head of governmentlevel visit from Kuwait to India since the post of Crown Prince and Prime Minister was bifurcated in the Gulf nation in 2003. The last high-level visit to Kuwait from India was in 1981 when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had gone there. Kumar said India was interested in having joint ventures with Kuwait in petro chemicals and fertiliser sectors. Sheikh Jaber, who will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising ministers, senior officials and captains of industry, will hold talks with the top leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

WASHINGTON: Doctors and nurses tasked with monitoring the health of terror suspects were complicit in abuses committed at prisons run by the Pentagon and the CIA, an independent report said yesterday. The Defense Department and the CIA demanded that the health care personnel “collaborate in intelligence gathering and security practices in a way that inflicted severe harm on detainees in US custody,” according to the two-year study by the Institute of Medicine and the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

Medical professionals helped design, enable and participated in “torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” of detainees, according to the report. Collaboration at US prisons in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and the Central Intelligence Agency secret detention sites began after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States. “It’s clear that in the name of national security, the military trumped (the Hippocratic Oath), and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice,” said study co-author Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University.

The Hippocratic Oath is a commitment made by medical personnel to practice their profession in an honest and ethical manner. The report, conducted by two dozen military, ethics, medical, public health and legal experts, calls on the US Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate medical practices at the detention sites. Co-author Leonard Rubenstein of Johns Hopkins University focused on force-feeding on Guantanamo Bay’s hunger strikers, as well as CIA agents’ use of harsh interrogation methods and simulated drowning known as waterboarding at secret sites. “Abuse of detainees and health professional participation in this practice is not behind us as a country,” he said. The authors also urged the Pentagon and CIA to follow standards of conduct that would let medical personnel adhere to their ethical principles so they could later heal detainees they encounter. Both the CIA and the Pentagon rejected the report’s findings.

The report “contains serious inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions,” said CIA public affairs chief Dean Boyd. “It’s important to underscore that the CIA does not have any detainees in its custody and President (Barack) Obama terminated the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program by executive order in 2009,” Boyd said. Obama signed an executive order shortly after taking office in 2009 that banned interrogation techniques used under his predecessor George W Bush and that critics say amount to torture. Although the president has not banned extraordinary rendition, new rules prevent suspects from being tortured before they are transferred to a different country for interrogation, trial or continued detention. Obama also established a task force to review interrogation and transfer policies and issue recommendations, but the group’s 2009 report remains classified. —AFP

LOS ANGELES: Police were hunting for a motive yesterday after a gunman opened fire at Los Angeles International Airport, killing an unarmed federal official, terrifying hundreds, and sowing chaos at the busy transport hub. Panicked travelers scrambled to escape after the shooter-identified as 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia-armed with an assault rifle, blasted through a security checkpoint at the airport shortly after 9:00 am Friday. Ciancia then walked calmly through the terminal seeking further victims. He was eventually stopped when police shot and wounded him. TV footage showed people diving to the floor at the sound of gunfire and scrambling to escape the terminal.

The dead agent was the first Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employee killed in the line of duty since the group was set up following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The lone gunman, who reportedly had a grudge against the TSA, also wounded seven people in the rampage. But he was still carrying plenty of ammunition when he was arrested, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “There were more than 100 more rounds that could have literally killed everybody in that terminal today,” he said, praising airport police. “If it were not for their actions, there could have been a lot more damage,” he said.

“My prayers are with the TSA family today and with your fallen. Thank you for your courage and your service. Our country is indebted,” Garcetti later wrote on his Facebook account. The mayor also ordered flags on city buildings to fly at half-mast in honor of the slain TSA agent. While reports suggested Ciancia-who was shot several times before he went down-was a disgruntled loner, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it could not rule out terrorism.

The shooter opened fire in a crowded terminal of the country’s third-busiest airport. He “came into Terminal Three, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire,” said Patrick Gannon, head of the airport police. “He proceeded up into the screening area … and continued shooting,” he said. Police chased the gunman, “engaged him in gunfire… and were able to successfully take him into custody.” The terminal remained close Saturday as authorities carried out a detailed investigation of the shooting.

‘DISAPPOINTMENT IN GOVT’
The TSA, which employs unarmed screeners at airports, confirmed that one of its employees had died. “Multiple Transportation Security Officers were shot, one fatally,” said a TSA statement. The FBI later named the shooter, and said that he was a Los Angeles resident originally from the eastern state of New Jersey. Police found a note on the gunman voicing “disappointment in the government” but that he did not want to harm “innocent people,” a law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It appeared that Ciancia was hunting for TSA agents. During the shooting spree, which lasted less than 10 minutes, he approached a number of people cowering in the terminal and pointed his gun at them, asking if they “were TSA.” If they answered “no,” he moved on, the Times reported, citing witnesses who said he cursed the TSA repeatedly.

Late Friday, the TSA identified the dead officer as Gerardo Hernandez, 39, US media reported. Before the shooting, Ciancia texted his younger brother that he might harm himself, the Washington Post reported Saturday. This led the shooter’s father to contact local New Jersey police, who in turn contacted their counterparts in Los Angeles. LAPD officers visited Ciancia’s home on Friday but could not find him, according to the Post. Brian Adamick, 43, said he saw a wounded TSA worker, with a bloodied ankle, board a shuttle bus helping passengers escape. “It looked like it was straight out of the movies,” he said.

Some 750 flights were disrupted after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a national ground-stop. Although there was no indication that other people were involved in the attack, the FBI said it could not rule out terrorism. “It would be premature to comment on a motivation at this time and joint investigators have neither ruled out terrorism, nor ruled it in,” said an FBI statement. This being Los Angeles, a number of celebrities were caught up in the action.

Filming of an episode of the hit TV show “Mad Men” underway in nearby Terminal Four was halted, a crew member wrote on Twitter. Actor James Franco posted a “selfie” picture of himself on a plane stopped on the tarmac by the incident. “Some s**tbag shot up the place,” he wrote in the first of a series of tweets, ending some five hours later with a more relieved message: “WE’RE OUT! everyone was calm.” The shooting comes just weeks ahead of the stressful end-of-year travel period that includes Thanksgiving-traditionally the busiest travel time of the year-and Christmas._ AFP

WASHINGTON: Airline passengers will soon be allowed to use a range of mobile electronic devices in flight with very few restrictions, US aviation authorities said Thursday.

The move by the Federal Aviation Administration put an end to stricter regulations that have barred the use of electronics during taxi, takeoff and landing for the past 50 years.

The changes are expected to take effect on most US-based carriers by the end of this year.

“Airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta told reporters at Reagan National Airport.

The relaxed safety guidelines came from a committee convened last year to study the matter, and included input from pilots, passengers, flight attendants, aviation manufacturers and experts from the mobile technology industry.

“The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices,” Huerta said.

“It is safe to read downloaded materials like e-books and calendars, and also to play games.”However, in rare cases passengers may be asked to turn off their devices when there is low visibility due to poor weather, he said.

“Some landing systems may not be proven to tolerate the interference,” Huerta said, describing this as “a very small percentage -- we are saying one percent of flights.””If the captain asks you to shut off the device, it is for a good reason,” he added.

Mobile phones still cannot be used for voice calls while in flight, due to rules from another federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission.

Passengers will be advised to use their mobile devices in airplane mode, which shuts off the cellular band technology.

But flight attendants will not be required to check individual devices, so the rule will likely go unenforced. “There is no safety problem if it isn't (in airplane mode),” Huerta added.

“But you are going to arrive at your destination with a dead battery, and I don't think anyone wants that.”He also addressed concerns that passengers may become more distracted by their devices, making them more likely to ignore the flight attendants as they describe emergency procedures prior to takeoff.

The changes affect airline carriers that are under the regulatory authority of the FAA, meaning US-based carriers, and will apply to the full scope of their international and domestic operations, Huerta said.

The committee called on the FAA to work with international regulatory authorities so that expanded use of personal devices is “universally accepted.”European aviation authorities also said that they are planning to allow the usage of portable electronic devices during flights.

“It is clear that it is necessary to develop the rules in force and the conditions of their application,” a spokesman for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told AFP.

The new FAA guidelines are being distributed to airlines now.

Delta Air Lines said it was already making changes and would be ready to allow passengers to use mobile devices below 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) as early as November 1.

The very first FAA restrictions on personal electronics in flight date back to 1966, when studies showed that portable FM radio receivers caused interference with some plane navigation systems.

But some concern was expressed by Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller, chair of the committee on commerce, science and transportation.

“Having access to e-mail or a movie is not worth compromising the safety of any flight,” he said, calling for “exhaustive oversight” of the changes by the FAA.

The new rules say bulkier electronic items must be still be stowed, either in the overhead bin or under the seat, during takeoff and landing.

Smaller devices can be held or put in the seat back pocket during takeoff and landing.

Browsing the Internet will continue to be possible on air carriers that provide Wi-Fi in flight, and Bluetooth technology for wireless keyboards will also be allowed.

“I think it'll be great,” said Mike Sullivan, 62, a musician and therapist who described himself as a frequent traveler.

“It seems like there is always someone who doesn't want to turn off their device. It creates a little bit of tension.”

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