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Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Can Obama wage war without consent of Congress?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 13, 2014

barack-obamaWASHINGTON (AP) — On the cusp of intensified airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama is using the legal grounding of the congressional authorizations President George W. Bush relied on more than a decade ago to go to war. But Obama has made no effort to ask Congress to explicitly authorize his own conflict.

The White House said again Friday that Bush-era congressional authorizations for the war on al-Qaida and the Iraq invasion give Obama authority to act without new approval by Congress under the 1973 War Powers Act. That law, passed during the Vietnam War, serves as a constitutional check on presidential power to declare war without congressional consent. It requires presidents to notify Congress within 48 hours of military action and limits the use of military forces to no more than 60 days unless Congress authorizes force or declares war. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Kissinger Cables’ Offer Window Into Indian Politics of the 1970s

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 9, 2013

By NEHA THIRANI BAGRI
Indira Gandhi, then Indian prime minister, at the site of India's first underground nuclear test in Pokhran, Rajasthan, in Dec. 1974.ReutersIndira Gandhi, then Indian prime minister, at the site of India’s first underground nuclear test in Pokhran, Rajasthan, in Dec. 1974.
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The “Kissinger Cables,” a collection of U.S. diplomatic cables released on Monday by WikiLeaks, contain some fascinating revelations about the political scenario in India in the 1970s. Here are the five great insights about India in the WikiLeaks release:

India’s first nuclear test was possibly motivated by political considerations:

According to this cable, sent from New Delhi to the Department of State, India’s first nuclear test on May 18, 1974, was motivated by domestic politics. The cable says that the nuclear test had been done at a time when the Indian government was tackling an economic slowdown, increasing discontent and rising political unrest.

“We are inclined to believe that this general domestic gloom and uncertainty weighed significantly in the balance of India’s nuclear decision,” reads the cable sent on the date of the nuclear test. “The need for a psychological boost, the hope of recreated atmosphere of exhilaration and nationalism that swept the country after 1971 – contrary to our earlier expectation – may have tipped the scales.” Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. official says government wasted $6-8 billion in Iraq reconstruction

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 18, 2012

By Zach Toombs and Aaron Mehta

iWatch News

The official in charge of monitoring America’s $51 billion effort to reconstruct Iraq has estimated that $6 billion to $8 billion of that amount was lost to waste, fraud and abuse.

Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) for the past eight years, gave that estimate in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity on Monday, shortly after releasing a new summary of his office’s many grim discoveries since it began work in in 2004.

In Friday’s report, Bowen said the exact funds lost to fraud and waste “can never be known,” largely because of poor record-keeping by the U.S. agencies involved in the effort. These include the Departments of State and Defense, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

According to the report, auditors repeatedly found that the State Department and Defense Department failed to properly review invoices from government contractors, often approving billions of dollars in services without checking if costs were accurate or efficient. “I think the consistent theme throughout our eight years of oversight work has been the inconsistent availability of records and information on contracts and costs,” said Bowen, a former Texas lawyer.

Bowen said his efforts were hampered from the outset by the ineffectiveness of a clearinghouse created in Iraq for government departments to submit reconstruction bills and contracts for review and oversight. Known as the Iraq Reconstruction Management System, the system was often ignored, with the result that nearly a third of all the contracts could not be monitored adequately.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Why we Nepalis have to unite for our better future?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 3, 2012

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U.S. Child Poverty Second Highest Among Developed Nations: Report

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on May 31, 2012

By Saki Knafo

Child Poverty

Can government spending lift poor children from poverty?

A new report from UNICEF suggests it’s possible. The latest edition of UNICEF’sreport on child poverty in developed countries found that 30 million children in 35 of the world’s richest countries live in poverty. Among those countries, the United States ranks second on the scale of what economists call “relative child poverty” — above Latvia, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, and 29 others. Only Romania ranks higher, with 25.5 percent of its children living in poverty, compared with 23.1 percent in the U.S.

The term “relative child poverty” refers to a child living in a household where the disposable income is less than half of the national median income. Many critics arguethat relative poverty isn’t the same as real hardship, or absolute poverty.

But the report brushes that away. Poverty is “essentially a relative concept,” it says. For example, a little more than a century ago, the wealthiest people in the world didn’t have cars. It concedes, however, that the measurement has some weaknesses. First, a child’s well-being doesn’t always correspond to the parents’ income. Second, comparing the relative poverty rates of various countries doesn’t make sense unless the countries have similar median incomes.

Because of these weaknesses the report considers “child deprivation.” To measure this, researchers produced a list of 14 items found in most middle-class households and counted the number of children whose families couldn’t afford them. The list included Internet connection, new clothes, three daily meals, two pairs of properly fitting shoes, and “the opportunity, from time to time, to invite friends home to play and eat.” Read the rest of this entry »

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World’s Deadliest Wealthy Countries

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 5, 2012

By Howard Steven Friedman,  Statistician/Economist for International Organization, Columbia University

 Before diving into any detailed analysis of government data, I usually hear the voice of one of my professors telling his favorite statistics joke. It went something like this, “Statisticians are brilliant people. They can analyze raw data, develop complex models, draw causal inferences and make bold projections of the future. They do this fearlessly, without concern for the minor issue that the data itself came from the fellow down the hall who wrote down whatever he felt like so he could get paid.” Analyzing government data isn’t quite as bad as that joke, but statisticians do need to be concerned about the danger of “garbage in garbage-out” in any work that do.

So how do these concerns about data quality relate to identifying the world’s deadliest wealthy countries? It starts with the fact that the data for crime is notoriously fraught with quality issues. Criminologists use the phrase the “dark figure of crime” to describe the amount of crime that goes unreported or undetected. This “dark figure of crime” represents the gap between the true crime rate and the rate found in official reports.

Knowing that the “dark figure of crime” is so large, I decided to focus on homicide rates in this article. Why homicide? For starters, it is a critically important measure of crime since it is perhaps the most extreme of possible crimes, the taking of a life. More importantly, it is considered to be one of the more reliable crime statistics.

So which wealthy countries have the highest homicide rates? Of the 34 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the countries with the five highest homicide rates are, in order: Mexico (highest), Chile, Estonia, the United States and Turkey (fifth highest). Anyone looking at that list would likely call out the fact that these countries, while all being in the OECD, are not equally wealthy. In fact, the United States has a GDP per capita that is more than twice that of any of the other top four most deadly OECD countries. A simple scatterplot, where each data point represents a different country and the US is displayed prominently, gives a clearer picture of how America stands. The graph below shows that for the OECD countries, the US has one of the highest rates of GDP per capita (a rough, but commonly used metric of wealth). You will also quickly see that the US is a major outlier in the general observation that wealthier countries tend to have lower homicide rates. Read the rest of this entry »

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David Cameron And Barack Obama To Discuss Afghanistan Withdrawal In Washington Talks

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 13, 2012

David Cameron flies to the USA today for talks with President Barack Obama, with the timetable for withdrawal of British and American troops from Afghanistan likely to top the agenda.

Both leaders have stressed in public that there will be no rush to the exit in the wake of the recent deaths of six British soldiers and the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a renegade US serviceman.

They are expected to focus during the three-day visit on the timing of handover of the lead security responsibility throughout the country to Afghan forces during 2013.

This will allow allied troops to step back into a support role in the fight against the Taliban and begin the process of returning home by the previously-agreed target of the end of 2014.

An announcement on the date for transition to Afghan control is not expected until Nato’s Chicago summit in May. Nato agreed at a previous summit in Lisbon in 2010 that home-grown forces would take the lead responsibility for security by the end of 2013, but there was some speculation today that this could be brought forward to the summer of next year. Read the rest of this entry »

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End of Cold War? ‘US hate dies with N.Korean leader’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 29, 2011

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Personality: Simon Phillip Cowel

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 18, 2011

Simon Phillip Cowell (born 7 October 1959) is television producer, entrepreneur, and television personality. He is known in the United Kingdom and United States for his role as a talent judge on TV shows such as Pop IdolThe X FactorBritain’s Got Talent and American Idol. He is also the owner of the television production and music publishing house Syco.

As a judge, Cowell is known for his blunt and often controversial criticisms, insults and wisecracks about contestants and their abilities. He is also known for combining activities in both the television and music industries, having promoted singles and records for various artists, including television personalities. He was most recently featured on the seventh series of The X Factor and the fifth series of Britain’s Got Talent. In September 2011, he began featuring as a judge on the first season of The X Factor USA.

In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Cowell at number 41 in a list of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010”

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5 Countries With the Highest Military Expenditure

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 1, 2011

How much a country spends on its military budget is a reflection of a number of factors, including the size of the economy, the perceived military threat or opportunity, the influence of the private sector on government policy and the overall priorities of a society.

When we look at the absolute spending amount, the United States is by far the largest spender. According to theStockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2011, America spent nearly $700 billion in 2010. This accounts for about 43% of the entire global military spending and is nearly 6 times more than the amount spent by the next largest, China. In fact, the United States spends more on its military than the total spent by the second largest (China), third largest (United Kingdom), fourth largest (France), fifth largest (Russia)… and fifteenth largest (Turkey) combined.

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So, while in absolute dollar amount the United States is an extreme outlier regarding its military spending, it is more appropriate to examine the normalized spending since comparing the absolute amount each country spends on its military another isn’t very fair. After all, we would certainly expect that a large country with one of the world’s largest economies like the Russian Federation would spend more than a small country like Lithuania. But what is the most appropriate way to normalize the spending?

If we look at the military expenditure per capita, we can control for differences in population between different countries. In this comparison we see once again that the United States is an outlier, spending an average of over $2,000 per person versus a global average that is about one-tenth that amount. Among the top 15 countries with the highest military expenditure, only two other countries had more than $1,000 per person spent on military, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

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FBI releases surveillance tapes of sexy Russian spy Chapman

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 1, 2011

The FBI on Monday released a trove of declassified documents, videos and picturesfeaturing Russia’s undercover femme fatale Anna Chapman and other members of a Russian spy ring busted last year.

The FBI said it had collected the materials during its decade-long Ghost Stories investigation into the activities of 10 Russian spooks who were arrested in June 2010 and within a month deported home in what became the biggest Russian-U.S. spy swap deal since the end of the Cold War.

In one video, a modestly dressed Chapman, now a TV host, a senior member of the ruling United Russia party, and sometimes a lingerie model in Russia, meets up with an undercover FBI agent posing as a government official in a New York coffee shop.

Another video shows Chapman browsing around a department store while a Russian government official is filmed waiting for her on the street outside. By eavesdropping, the FBI showed that there was a kind of electronic communication between them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Russia Spies In The U.S., One Year Later

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on November 1, 2011

MOSCOW — One is a compulsive socialite who hosts a TV show. Others landed lucrative jobs at state-run companies. Many have simply vanished from sight.

The 10 Russian sleeper agents arrested last year in the United States and deported to Russia in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War have taken vastly different paths since returning home to a hero’s welcome.

The FBI’s release Monday of a trove of material related to “Ghost Stories,” the operation that busted the ring, has brought the spy saga back into the spotlight, but the agents have mostly taken pains to keep their lives low-key.

The exception is Anna Chapman. The 29-year-old posed for the cover of a men’s magazine in sexy lingerie and has promoted everything from the occult to venture capitalism. As recently as Sunday, she turned up at a Moscow fashion show.

Nataliya Pereverzeva, known in the U.S. as Patricia Mills, was appointed adviser on foreign affairs to the Russian oil pipeline monopolist, Transneft. Andrei Bezrukov, who used the assumed name Donald Heathfield, landed a job with Russia’s top oil company, Rosneft, as a foreign affairs adviser to the chief executive.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Quality Of Life Index 2010: Which Country Has It Best? (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 25, 2011

The Hffington Post

In order according to this post 

1. France

2. Australia

3.  Switzerland

4. Germany

5. New Zealand

6. Luxemburg

7. United States

8. Belgium

9. Canada

10. Italy

 

 

 

 

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For Pakistan, time to try India as a friend

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 21, 2011

By Adnan Rehmat | DAWN.COM

Is Pakistan set to implode in its exasperating persistence to define itself in only security terms vis-à-vis

A cricket fan gets his face painted with the colors of the Pakistan and Indian national flags ahead of the ICC World Cup semifinal match between India and Pakistan, in Gauhati, India, Tuesday, March 29, 2011. – AP Photo/File.

India as did the Soviet Union with the United States in a nuclear-shadowed Cold War that lasted 40 years, a numbing fear that consumed three generations, but ended in a barren inevitability 20 years ago of the former collapsing into 13 new countries?

It seems more likely than not, given the few signs that a fundamental rethink in underway in Pakistan in determining what it stands for rather than what it doesn’t stand for, which passes for its schizophrenic identity.

Two specific WikiLeaks cables published in Dawn in recent weeks reveal more than just what is already known about Pakistan’s paranoid obsession with India and the authorship and control of the policy of paranoia by the military establishment. In the first, President Asif Zardari, the commander-in-chief of Pakistan’s armed forces, counters the suggestion of Senator John Kerry that New Delhi is interested in pursuing peace with Islamabad by arguing that India has five times more tanks than Pakistan and that these are Pakistan-specific because the Sino-India border terrain cannot support a tank battle. In the second cable, severe civil-military tensions are revealed over access to and control of American aid flows to Pakistan with the army insisting for, and getting, direct aid and refusing to share details with the elected government even during drafting of the annual budgets.

The oversimplification of the link between military prowess and bilateral relationship – no doubt handed to Zardari in briefings from the military leadership – is disturbing. If Pakistan has to match India tank to tank, plane to plane, soldier to soldier, frigate to frigate and missile to missile before making peace, then it’s a lost battle in perpetuity. If matching military might was the precondition to peace then the world would have been blown up 200 times over because the unending Indo-Pak tensions and Indo-Pak like wars would have been replicated on every shared national border on the planet. What use was there to acquire super-expensive nuclear capability if it didn’t solve the problem of imbalance in conventional military capability? No two nuclear powers have fought a conventional war. Tensions are one thing but war is another. So why still sacrifice national prosperity at the cost of national dignity, as Army chief General Kayani said days after Osama bin Laden was taken out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Drug War Has Failed And Governments Should Explore Legalizing Marijuana, Says Report

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 2, 2011


The drug war seems failed everywhere and the reason could be high profile people behind this business.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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