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Showing posts from March 14, 2013

Everyone's Got The Chinese 'Ghost Towns' Story All Wrong

Chinese ghost towns are widely considered to be symptomatic of its property bubble.

But some, like Yale professor and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, Stephen Roach, have argued that these cities will become "thriving metropolitan areas" as China continues to urbanize.

In a new report titled Demystifying China's "Ghost Towns," Bank of America's Ting Lu explains why all the chatter on ghost cities is overblown and says while there are smaller bubbles, it is inaccurate to characterize China's entire property sector as a giant bubble.

Lu writes that there are a few ghost towns because of "failures in city planning and irrational over-building," but they are not as prevalent as media reports would have us believe. If there were, he said, the media would be able to find a lot more ghost towns than they have.

"Favorite “ghost towns” covered in media have been invariably from the following short list: Ordos in Inner Mongolia province, the Ne…

China's Xi appointed president, completes rise to the top

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's parliament formally elected heir-in-waiting Xi Jinping as the country's new president on Thursday, completing the country's second orderly political succession since the Communist Party took power in 1949.

The largely rubber-stamp National People's Congress chose Xi in a tightly scripted ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing, putting the final seal of approval on a generational transition of power.

Xi was appointed party and military chief - where real power lies - in November.

The 59-year-old was also elected head of the Central Military Commission, the parallel government post to the party's top military position which he already holds, ensuring that he has full power over the party, state and armed forces.

There was virtually no opposition among the carefully selected legislators to Xi becoming president. Xi drew just one no vote and three abstentions from the almost 3,000 delegates.

Xi bowed deeply and shook hands wi…

China offers 500 mln-dollar loan to Pak for IP gas pipeline project

Islamabad, Mar. 13 (ANI): In a major development, China has offered a 500 million dollar loan to Pakistan for the controversial Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, which was launched despite strong objections from the United States.

Pakistan had earlier planned to generate the billion dollars through the tax and Iran will be putting in 500 million dollars, reports The Express Tribune.

This development comes days after Pakistan handed over to China control of its key Gwadar port in Balochistan.

Islamabad and Tehran had formally launched the project on Monday in an elaborate groundbreaking ceremony held at the Pakistan-Iran border.

Petroleum ministry officials confirmed that Pakistan is in the middle of procuring compressors and pipelines from a Chinese company and Iranian company Tadbir will do the construction.

The 1,600-kilometre pipeline, projected to cost a whopping $1.5 billion would enable the export of 21.5 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas to Pakistan daily. The country h…

Syria massacre: What happened in the village of Haswiya?

When the BBC discovered evidence of a massacre at a village just outside the central Syrian city of Homs in January, those on both sides of the conflict blamed each other for the atrocity. What really happened?

After news spread of a massacre in the village of Haswiya in central Syria on 15 January 2013, two accounts of what happened emerged.

Syrian security forces who escorted the BBC team to the site of the killings insisted the 100 deaths were the work of the al-Nusra Front - Islamist militants fighting alongside the rebels.

However, activists said pro-government gangs, known as Shabiha, were to blame.

Since then, the BBC has been trying to piece together the two narratives. Was this sectarian bloodletting by the state-sponsored militia or was it an attack by militants on a village that was supporting the government?

Security forces view: The case against the Islamists

According to the Syrian security forces, the victims were killed by militant Islamist group the al-Nusra Front in reven…

Five troops killed as gunmen attack Kashmir security camp

Militants in Indian-administered Kashmir have killed at least five security personnel in a gun and grenade attack near a school in Srinagar.

Two gunmen were also killed and at least five others, including three civilians, were injured, police said.

The gunmen, who concealed weapons in sports bags, launched the attack after mingling with children playing cricket.

It was the bloodiest militant attack for three years in the region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The Hizb-ul Mujahideen militant group said it had carried out the attack and threatened more violence, according to local media reports.

Indian-administered Kashmir has seen an insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, but violence has declined in recent years.
The gunmen attacked a security camp manned by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) near a school run by the police in Bemina district of Srinagar.

The school was closed and no children were hurt in the attack, officials said. Security forces swiftly cordoned of…

US drones spread fear to Afghan villages

Every civilian that US drones kill by mistake is another victory for the Taliban's recruitment campaign.

The United States has increased its use of drones as international forces prepare to leave Afghanistan.

Yet, every civilian the drones kill by mistake is another victory for the Taliban's recruitment campaign.


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, have crept into modern warfare as quietly as the airborne killing machines themselves and, on the whole, media reporting on them has been just as subdued.

Last week, the veil of silence was finally lifted when two of the most important and influential newspapers in the United States – the New York Times and the Washington Post – ran stories on a secret airbase in Saudi Arabia from which the US military has operated its 'drone war' campaign over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen for the past two years.

However, as the story broke, it also came to light that reporters at both newspapers had known …

Chavez's body 'unlikely' to be embalmed

Venezuela's acting president says it could be too late to preserve late president's body for permanent display.

The Venezuelan government has said that it may not be possible to embalm the body of late President Hugo Chavez as planned.

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting president, acknowledged on Wednesday that it could be too late to do so, as "preparatory steps would have to have been taken much earlier".

"Russian and German scientists have arrived to embalm Chavez and they tell us it's very difficult because the process should have started earlier ... Maybe we can't do it," Maduro said.

"So I have the duty to report on these steps so that everyone knows that there are difficulties that could make it impossible to do what was done with Lenin, Ho Chi Minh or Mao Tse Tung," Maduro said.

Two days after Chavez's death Maduro had announced that he wanted Chavez preserved "eternally" so his body could be on permanent.

Camilo Jaram…

Deadly blast at Afghan sporting match

Family of parliament speaker among those killed in attack at buzkashi venue in northern Kunduz province.

A suicide bombing during a buzkashi match in northern Afghanistan has killed at least eight people.

Amanddin Quriashi, a senior official in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province, where the blast took place, said Abdul Qayum Ibrahimi, the district police chief, was among the injured in Wednesday's attack.

"The suicide attacker detonated [his explosives] at the end of the match in Imam Sahib district this evening," Abdul Khalil Andarabi, Kunduz police chief, told the AFP news agency.

Among the dead in the remote village of Basos were several family members of the Afghan speaker of parliament, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, regional police spokesman. Another eight people were wounded.

The parliament speaker, Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, was born in Basos. Ahmadzai said the dead include Ibrahimi's father, two brothers and one nephew.

The crowd of 3,000 was watching a game of bu…