Thursday, August 30, 2018

McCain's Death Marks The Near-Extinction Of Bipartisanship

The death of John McCain represents something more than the death of a U.S. senator and an American military hero.

In this hotly partisan era, it also symbolizes the near-extinction of lawmakers who believe in seeking bipartisanship to tackle big problems.

"[O]ur arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all," McCain said in July 2017, with a cut over his eye from treatment for brain cancer, speaking of Senate rules. "The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America's problems and defend her from her adversaries."

McCain was a conservative. But he earned his "maverick" reputation because when it came to seemingly intractable problems, like immigration and money in politics, he believed it was necessary to work with the other side — even if it meant bucking his party.

"The thing that I continue to think about is his love of politics," said Pablo Carrillo, who worked for McCain for 15 years, including as his chief of staff from 2013 to 2017. "The phrase that has been used occasionally about him has been 'the happy warrior.' I absolutely agree with that."

That love of politics was also rooted in a belief that politics is the art of the possible. It's why he sought out friendships with Democrats, from Joe Biden to Ted Kennedy to Hillary Clinton. - Read More, NPR

McCain's Death Marks The Near-Extinction Of Bipartisanship

Monday, August 27, 2018

U.S. And Mexico Reach Trade Deal; Trump Wants To Drop NAFTA Name

The United States and Mexico have reached an "understanding" on several critical trade issues following bilateral talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. They will now likely re-engage with Canada to reach a final deal on NAFTA, a primary goal of the Trump administration.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Trump said he wanted to change the NAFTA name to the U.S. Mexico Free Trade Agreement. He also reframed the negotiations as two bilateral trade deals.

"We've made a deal with Mexico, and we'll get started with Canada immediately," Trump said. He also said he would "be terminating the existing [NAFTA] deal very soon" because NAFTA has "a lot of bad connotations" and has been a "bad deal" for the United States.

The breakthrough between the U.S. and Mexico involved an agreement on the amount of North American content a vehicle must have in order to pass duty-free across borders. The percentage was moved up to 75 percent from its current level of 62.5 percent. Negotiators also agreed to increase the percentage of vehicles built in factories paying an average wage of at least $16 an hour.

U.S. automakers have opposed raising the North American content requirement, but the United Auto Workers union has supported it.

The third NAFTA partner, Canada, has not been at the negotiating table for many weeks. It will now presumably re-engage. - Read More

U.S. And Mexico Reach Trade Deal; Trump Wants To Drop NAFTA Name

Long Before Facebook, The KGB Spread Fake News About AIDS

A few years ago, historian Douglas Selvage discovered the blueprint for a fake news campaign. It was a 1985 cable from the Stasi, the former East German police, outlining how the Soviet Union and its allies were working to promote the idea that AIDS was an American biological weapon. "We are carrying a complex of active measures, in connection with the appearance in recent years, of a new, dangerous disease in the United States: Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS."

It was a smoking gun, proving what intelligence agencies on both sides of the Cold War already knew — that the Soviets had played a key role in spreading false rumors about the AIDS epidemic.

Fake news isn't a 21st century creation of the digital age. It has a long track record. Selvage says the Soviets used dezinformatsiya during the Cold War to harden people's existing beliefs and fears, to sow divisions among Americans. It's eerily similar to the 2016 campaign season when Russian entities are said to have inserted fake stories and profiles on Facebook. In recent months, Silicon Valley has stepped up its fight against disinformation. Tuesday, Twitter and Facebook said they had taken down hundreds of fake accounts linked to Iran. Facebook also purged some accounts originating in Russia. And just a few weeks ago, Facebook deleted 32 pages and profiles it deemed false.

Back in the 1980s, the rumor that AIDS was human-made was based partially on a report written in 1986 by Russian-born biophysicist Jakob Segal. "It was very successful," explains Selvage. "The local press picked up on it. And then also British newspapers picked up on it. It started to spread around the world." Even U.S. newspapers picked up the story. Papers read specifically by African-American and gay communities, both of which were being devastated by the epidemic. "AIDS/Gay Genocide" read a headline in the Gay Community News, based in Boston, which quotes Segal extensively.

"Link AIDS To CIA Warfare" read another article, from the New York Amsterdam News, a paper read by African-Americans. The article begins by introducing a "prominent physician" who "has charged that the spread of AIDS epidemic in some part of Africa is due largely to bacteriological and chemical experiments conducted over the years in these areas by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency."

"A cycle of misinformation" is how Selvage describes it. Conspiracy theorists in America would cite KGB sources, and vice versa. - More, NPR

Long Before Facebook, The KGB Spread Fake News About AIDS

U.S. and Mexico strike preliminary accord on NAFTA; Canada expected to return to bargaining table

The Trump administration has reached a deal with Mexico on a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the two sides now need a quick buy-in from Canada, which still has significant issues with some of President Trump’s demands.

The preliminary agreement with Mexico, which includes a tightening of auto rules to increase production in North America, was struck after several weeks of talks and a marathon session over the weekend in Washington.

Trump announced the deal in the White House and in front of reporters called Mexico’s outgoing president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to congratulate him on the agreement. Trump, putting Peña Nieto on a speaker in the Oval Office, said the agreement “makes it a much more fair bill.” He suggested renaming NAFTA as the U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement.

Though Trump characterized the agreement as a bilateral deal that will proceed with or without Canada, Peña Nieto said repeatedly he hoped and expected Canada would come on board. Peña Nieto said on Twitter that he had spoken with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and had "expressed the importance of [Trudeau's] re-joining the process, with the goal of concluding a trilateral negotiation this week."

Luis Videgaray, Meixco's foreign minister, said at a press conference at the Mexican Embassy in Washington that although Mexico wants Canada incorporated into the talks, the terms of the U.S.-Mexico deal would stand if for some reason Canada and the U.S. can’t work out an agreement. 

In Ottawa, Adam Austen, a spokesman for Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, said in a statement: “Given the encouraging announcement today of further bilateral progress between the U.S. and Mexico, Minister Freeland will travel to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to continue negotiations. We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada’s signature is required.”- More, LATimes

U.S. and Mexico strike preliminary accord on NAFTA

German government condemns far-right demonstration after killing

Sunday’s protest in the eastern city of Chemnitz was the latest manifestation of unrest since Merkel’s government allowed about 1 million asylum seekers to enter Germany in 2015, triggering a shift to the right in German politics.

Television news channels broadcast amateur footage of skinheads chasing a foreign-looking man through the streets. Other clips showed hundreds of demonstrators shouting “We are the people!”, a slogan used by far-right supporters.

Police said around 800 demonstrators had taken to the streets on Sunday, hours after one man was killed and two other people were injured in the stabbing incident overnight.

Local police were trying to avert further violence as dozens of far-right demonstrators and hundreds of leftist protesters staged separate rallies in the city on Monday evening.

“That has no place in our cities and we, as the German government, condemn it in the strongest terms,” he said. “Our basic message for Chemnitz and beyond is that there is no place in Germany for vigilante justice, for groups that want to spread hatred on the streets, for intolerance and for extremism.” - Read More

German government condemns far-right demonstration after killing ...

Russia postpones peace talks with Taliban: Afghan President

KABUL (Reuters) - Russia has agreed to postpone multilateral peace talks with the Taliban, a week after the insurgents accepted an invitation to go to Moscow for a Sept. 4 summit, the office of the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday.

Russia invited 12 countries and the Taliban to Moscow for peace talks next month. But though the Taliban had accepted the invitation, Kabul turned it down on the grounds that peace talks with the insurgent group must be led by Afghanistan.

Ghani spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “to iron out the differences and ensure talks with the Taliban happen in presence of the Afghan government,” a senior Ghani official told Reuters.

Lavrov assured Ghani that the summit dates “will be changed to ensure Afghanistan’s participation,” the official said.

“A decision has been made to postpone the Moscow meeting for more preparation and to make it effective so that Afghan and Russian governments together will manage and host the meeting,” Ghani said in a tweet.

The United States had also declined to attend the Sept. 4 event. - More

Russia postpones peace talks with Taliban: Afghan President

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sen. John McCain, Former Presidential Nominee And Prisoner Of War, Dies At 81

Arizona senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain died Saturday at the age of 81.

McCain leaves behind his wife of 37 years, Cindy; seven children, including three from his first marriage, to Carol Shepp; and his 106-year-old mother, Roberta McCain.

Perhaps America's most famous prisoner of war, the former Navy pilot with a famous admiral father was shot down over Vietnam and spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in the north, most of that time in a prison sarcastically termed the Hanoi Hilton for the way inmates were treated.

McCain endured torture at the hands of his captors, a cause he would speak out against 40 years later as a United States senator during the Iraq War following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. McCain even voted against President Trump's nominee to be director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, for her role in overseas detention centers.

A Washington institution, McCain served in the Senate for more than 30 years, first entering public service as a congressman in 1982, just nine years after his release from the Vietnamese prison. - More, NPR

Sen. John McCain, Former Presidential Nominee And Prisoner Of War, Dies At 81

John McCain, War Hero, Senator, Presidential Contender, Dies at 81 - NYtimes

John S. McCain, the proud naval aviator who climbed from depths of despair as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to pinnacles of power as a Republican congressman and senator from Arizona and a two-time contender for the presidency, died on Saturday at his home in Arizona. He was 81.

According to a statement from his office, Mr. McCain died at 4:28 p.m. local time. He had suffered from a malignant brain tumor, called a glioblastoma, for which he had been treated periodically with radiation and chemotherapy since its discovery in 2017.

Despite his grave condition, he soon made a dramatic appearance in the Senate to cast a thumbs-down vote against his party’s drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But while he was unable to be in the Senate for a vote on the Republican tax bill in December, his endorsement was crucial, though not decisive, in the Trump administration’s lone legislative triumph of the year.

A son and grandson of four-star admirals who were his larger-than-life heroes, Mr. McCain carried his renowned name into battle and into political fights for more than a half-century. It was an odyssey driven by raw ambition, the conservative instincts of a shrewd military man, a rebelliousness evident since childhood and a temper that sometimes bordered on explosiveness.

Nowhere were those traits more manifest than in Vietnam, where he was stripped of all but his character. He boiled over in foul curses at his captors. Because his father was the commander of all American forces in the Pacific during most of his five and a half years of captivity, Mr. McCain, a Navy lieutenant commander, became the most famous prisoner of the war, a victim of horrendous torture and a tool of enemy propagandists.

Shot down over Hanoi, suffering broken arms and a shattered leg, he was subjected to solitary confinement for two years and beaten frequently. Often he was suspended by ropes lashing his arms behind him. He attempted suicide twice. His weight fell to 105 pounds. He rejected early release to keep his honor and to avoid an enemy propaganda coup or risk demoralizing his fellow prisoners.

He finally cracked under torture and signed a “confession.” No one believed it, although he felt the burden of betraying his country. To millions of Americans, Mr. McCain was the embodiment of courage: a war hero who came home on crutches, psychologically scarred and broken in body, but not in spirit. He underwent long medical treatments and rehabilitation, but was left permanently disabled, unable to raise his arms over his head. Someone had to comb his hair.

His mother, Roberta McCain, Navy all the way, inspired his political career. After retiring from the Navy and settling in Arizona, he won two terms in the House of Representatives, from 1983 to 1987, and six in the Senate. He was a Reagan Republican to start with, but later moved right or left, a maverick who defied his party’s leaders and compromised with Democrats. - Read More

Friday, August 24, 2018

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good For Your Health, Global Study Says

Countless scientific studies have espoused the idea that a glass of red wine a day can be good for the heart, but a new, sweeping global study published in The Lancet on Friday rejects the notion that any drinking can be healthy.

No amount of alcohol is safe, according to The Global Burden of Diseases study, which analyzed levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016.

While the study's authors say that moderate drinking may safeguard people against heart disease, they found that the potential to develop cancer and other diseases offsets these potential benefits, as do other risks of harm. The report urges governments to revise health guidelines to suggest lower levels of consumption.

"Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none," the report states. "This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day."

The study looked at a broad range of risks posed by alcohol consumption, including diseases, driving accidents and self-harm. According to the report, alcohol led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for disease worldwide, the study found, accounting for almost 10 percent of deaths among those ages 15 to 49.

For younger people, the three leading causes of death linked to alcohol use were tuberculosis, road injuries and self-harm, according to the study. Drinking alcohol was also a leading cause of cancer for people older than 50.

This may send a message that alcohol consumption is OK, experts say, but they warn that about 5 percent of cancers are linked to alcohol. The American Cancer Society of Clinical Oncology, a group of cancer doctors, has been working to raise awareness about the risks of excessive drinking. - Read More

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good For Your Health, Global Study Says

Pompeo expected to tap diplomatic vet Zalmay Khalilzad as Afghanistan special envoy

Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to name Zalmay Khalilzad as a special envoy on Afghanistan, according to a senior US official and another source familiar with the matter.

Khalilzad is a diplomatic veteran, having served as a US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. A source told CNN that Khalilzad is close to all of the players, knows the region well and is known by the Afghans.

"He's a charmer," one source said. "And knowing him, he wouldn't do it if he didn't have a chance. With the right mandate he could be quite effective."

Reuters first reported the news.

The 67-year-old Khalilzad, who is Afghan-born, served as a foreign policy adviser to multiple administrations and held several diplomatic posts under President George W. Bush's administration.

Pompeo's expected choice of Khalilzad comes as the United States looks to make headway in its longstanding campaign against the Taliban.

Alice Wells, a senior State Department official, met for discussions with Taliban officials last month in Doha. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered a month-long ceasefire with the Taliban last week, a move that was supported by Pompeo. - More, CNN

Pompeo expected to tap diplomatic vet Zalmay Khalilzad as ...

20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss, Stop Using Them

If you are having trouble remembering things and you have taken some of the medications we are about to talk about, then that might be the problem. In the past, doctors thought that memory loss was only a part of the aging process. However, nowadays, scientists claim that memory loss is not inevitable. Actually, our brain can grow new cells and reshape the connection during life.

A lot of people are aware of all the things that can cause memory loss, like for instance alcohol and drugs, also, head injuries, strikes, heavy smoking, severe stress, sleep deprivation, lack of vitamin B12, or illnesses like Alzheimer’s. What most people do not know that some prescribed drugs can also affect your memory.

Unfortunately, the number one death cause in the United States is adverse drug reactions. Actually, prescription drugs cause more than 100.000 deaths per year, and over 1.5 million hospitalized patients that have experienced adverse drug effects.

Medications that Cause Cognitive Health Issues and Memory Loss - Read More

20 Medications That Cause Memory Loss, Stop Using Them

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Facebook Shuts 652 Iran-Backed Accounts Linked In Global Disinformation Campaign

Facebook has taken down 652 accounts, pages and groups that originated in Iran. The accounts were used for political disinformation and targeted at users in the Middle East, Latin America, the UK and the U.S., according to Facebook.

This is the first announcement of this magnitude from Facebook about a coordinated influence campaign from Iran. Twitter followed soonafter, saying it too had suspended 284 accounts "for engaging in coordinated manipulation." Those accounts too appeared to originate in Iran.

Facebook said it was tipped off by the cybersecurity firm FireEye, which said the network of accounts across social media platforms pushed "narratives [that] include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran," such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

"The activity we have uncovered is significant, and demonstrates that actors beyond Russia continue to engage in and experiment with online, social media-driven influence operations to shape political discourse," FireEye said in its initial report.

The accounts shut down by Facebook altogether had at least 813,000 followers and posted in English, Arabic and Farsi. They falsely posed as news and civil society organizations to spread political disinformation and ran at least $12,000 worth of ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook says it was able to draw a link between a part of the network called "Liberty Front Press" to Iranian state media. Its first accounts date back to 2013. 

Another subset of the network dates back to 2016 and was "also engaged in traditional cybersecurity attacks, including attempts to hack people's accounts and spread malware," according to Facebook.

Separately, Facebook also said it removed an unspecified number of accounts linked to the Russian military intelligence services.

Facebook said the campaign originating from Iran and Russia did not appear to be linked or coordinated with each other, but "used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing."- Read More

Facebook Shuts Down Hundreds Of Accounts Backed By Iran, Russia

U.S. general sees progress in Afghanistan despite mounting Taliban attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Even after a string of deadly Taliban attacks in Afghanistan in recent months, the outgoing commander of U.S. and international forces there insisted on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s strategy of an open-ended deployment was making progress.

A year ago Trump agreed to an open-ended deployment of U.S. military advisers, trainers and special forces and increased air support for Afghan forces.

“I believe the strategy is working... The reconciliation progress is significant and ultimately wars end with a political settlement,” General John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, said. He was speaking to reporters on the telephone from Kabul in one of his last media engagements.

The Taliban have launched a wave of attacks in recent weeks, including on the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul. Hundreds have been killed in the fighting.

An inspector general report released this week said that despite Trump’s new strategy, the Taliban continue to launch attacks across the country.

“As has been the case since the announcement of the South Asia strategy, the share of the population in areas controlled/influenced by the Taliban or the Afghan government did not change this quarter,” the report said. - More

U.S. general sees progress in Afghanistan despite mounting Taliban attacks

Afghanistan won't attend peace talks in Moscow with Taliban: government sources

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan will not attend peace talks hosted by Russia, two senior government officials said on Wednesday, a decision that could scupper Moscow’s plans for a multinational conference also involving the Taliban to discuss the future of the country.

The decision not to attend the Moscow conference scheduled for Sept. 4 came just hours after Afghanistan’s top security official said he hoped Russia could press the Taliban insurgents into joining peace talks with the Kabul government.

Russia has invited 12 countries, including the United States, to the Moscow talks but Washington has also declined to attend. The Taliban, which this week rejected a government offer of a three-month ceasefire, have yet to say whether they will attend the Moscow talks.

“We have decided against attending the Moscow conference,” said an official of the Afghan foreign ministry, adding that the government would “hold direct talks” with the Taliban without the direct involvement of foreign powers. The official gave no reason for the decision. 

Nearly 40 years have passed since Moscow sent its troops into Afghanistan, beginning a bloody decade-long occupation and factional conflict which is still going on.

A Western diplomat in Kabul said Russia was seeking to increase its influence and improve its image in Afghanistan by inviting Taliban leaders for talks.

Back-channel diplomacy between the Taliban and a range of countries — including the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia — has taken place over the years to end the latest phase of Afghanistan’s decades of war, which began with a U.S. invasion in 2001.- Read More

Afghanistan won't attend peace talks in Moscow with Taliban: government sources

Sunday, August 19, 2018

UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’

Mr. Annan was the seventh man to take the helm of the global organization and the first Secretary-General to emerge from the ranks of its staff.

The current UN chief, Antonio Guterres hailed him as “a guiding force for good” and a “proud son of Africa who became a global champion for peace and all humanity.”

“Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi Annan a good friend and mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom — and I know I was not alone,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

“He provided people everywhere with a space for dialogue, a place for problem-solving and a path to a better world.  In these turbulent and trying times, he never stopped working to give life to the values of the United Nations Charter. His legacy will remain a true inspiration for all us.”

Kofi Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, on 8 April 1938.

He served as UN Secretary-General for two consecutive five-year terms, beginning in January 1997.

Mr. Annan joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, rising to hold senior-level posts in areas such as budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

As Mr. Guterres noted: “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination.” - Read More

It’s time to end America’s war in Afghanistan - Michael H Fuchs

As the country’s longest war continues, it is sapping resources and focus while the list of far more serious national security threats continues to grow
Achild born on this date in 2001 – just before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – is old enough to be fighting today in the war in Afghanistan.

This week – almost 17 years after the war began – the Taliban attacked Ghazni, killing more than 100 Afghan army soldiers. The Taliban also overran a base, where they killed another 17 soldiers.

It’s not hard to imagine that some of the fighters on both sides of this week’s battles – those fighting for the Afghan army and the Taliban – were not yet born on 9/11.

As America’s longest war continues in Afghanistan, it is sapping America’s resources and strategic focus while the list of far more serious national security threats – from climate change to the rise of China – continues to grow. It is time to find a way to wind down America’s war in Afghanistan, one way or another.

The United States remains stuck in strategic limbo in Afghanistan. No matter how many allied forces deploy to Afghanistan, there is no victory to be had on the battlefield. But Afghanistan is where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is a fact that imprisons US presidents and policymakers – imagine being the president who withdrew US troops from Afghanistan, only to then suffer another terrorist attack on US soil planned in Afghanistan. There is no good option.

And so, America fights. As the reporter CJ Chivers describes America’s current policies in Afghanistan: “They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.” 

While the US and its allies continue to send young men and women to fight and die, certain facts remain constant: the Taliban are not going anywhere. Terrorists are not going anywhere – 17 years later, the Islamic State has joined al-Qaida as a threat. The Afghan state will not achieve a level of “stability” that will put American policymakers at ease in the foreseeable future. Pakistan will not change its two-sided policy of working with the US in Afghanistan with one hand while quietly enabling the Taliban with the other.

As these facts remain unchanged, the war continues to blight the daily lives of Afghans, who have been at war on and off for almost 40 years now. There is no telling when this horrific cycle of war and violence will end for them. But it also seems clear that the US cannot end it with the military alone.

The United States remains stuck in strategic limbo in Afghanistan. No matter how many allied forces deploy to Afghanistan, there is no victory to be had on the battlefield. But Afghanistan is where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is a fact that imprisons US presidents and policymakers – imagine being the president who withdrew US troops from Afghanistan, only to then suffer another terrorist attack on US soil planned in Afghanistan. There is no good option.
- Read More

It's time to end America's war in Afghanistan | Mike Fuchs | Opinion ...

New Pakistan PM Khan calls for austerity; wants bullet-proof cars sold

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Sunday for the rich to start paying taxes and said the country will begin an austerity drive to reduce debt, a campaign he will kick-start by selling his office’s fleet of bullet-proof cars.

In his first address to the nation as premier, Khan set out his vision for a “New Pakistan” and spoke at length about the need to reshape the country by introducing an Islamic welfare system, reducing poverty and slashing high debt levels.

“We have formed a bad habit of living on loans and aid from other countries,” said Khan, speaking under a portrait of his hero and Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah

“No country can prosper like this. A country must stand on its own feet.”

Khan, 65, a former cricket legend, was sworn in as prime minister on Saturday after his party swept to power in last month’s election.

A firebrand populist, Khan’s appeal has soared in recent years on the back of his anti-corruption drive, which has resonated with young voters and the expanding middle class in the mainly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.

But Khan has inherited a host of problems at home and abroad, including a brewing currency crisis and fraying relations with Pakistan’s historic ally, the United States.- Read More

New Pakistan PM Khan calls for austerity; wants bullet-proof cars sold

Pompeo says 'time for peace' as Afghanistan announces ceasefire with Taliban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is ready to support and facilitate direct peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday, welcoming a Muslim Eid holiday ceasefire announced by President Ashraf Ghani.

“The United States welcomes the announcement by the Afghan government of a ceasefire conditioned on Taliban participation,” Pompeo said in a statement. “This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace.”

He said Washington was ready to back direct negotiations between the government and militant movement. “There is no obstacles to talks. It is time for peace,” Pompeo said. - More, Reuters

Pompeo says 'time for peace' as Afghanistan announces ceasefire with Taliban