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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India and Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India 'Much Better Than We Expected': Senior Pakistan Official 

May 28, 2014 15:24 IST


Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India and Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India 'Much Better Than We Expected': Senior Pakistan Official 

May 28, 2014 15:24 IST


Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan across India



Mangalore- In an ostensibly provocative act to disturb communal harmony among different religious communities in India, Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a little known Mangalore based Hindutva outfit has called for the morning Muslim call to prayer (Adhan) to be banned across the country, Indian media reported today.


Activists from various right wing groups organised a protest in Mangalore in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner, demanding the authorities to impose ban on the Adhan call during early morning. “Every citizen has the right to practice his own religion and tradition in India. But their way of practice should not harm others,” said Vijayalaxmi, an activist from Sanatana Dharma, one of the many smaller and larger organisations participating in the protest.


Vivek Pai, Vice President of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, said that sleep is the birth right of every citizen and the Supreme Court of India has placed restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in public places. He said that the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am in public places was restricted, and questioned the use of loudspeakers for the call of prayer in a mosque.

He called for a permanent stop on using loudspeakers for Adhaan, and called for severe punishment against those officers permitting the use of loudspeakers or anyone using loudspeakers for Adhaan.
Bharat Kranti Sena chief Pranavananda Swami, who had tried to commit suicide by pouring kerosene on himself in January this year opposing televangelist Benny Hinn’s programme in Bangalore, and who had announced Rs 1 lakh cash reward to Karnataka’s Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) trooper who killed 23 year old Mangalore youth Mohammed Kabeer, who many believe was a victim of an 'extra judicial murder', said that protest against morning Adhan will continue, "until a strict ban on that ritual will come into force in the entire country."

The protest follows a series of violent incidents witnessed in Mangalore in recent days, which many Muslims believe is a forerunner to events to come in the future. The day Narendra Modi led BJP to a historic victory at the centre, a group of inebriated right wing hooligans attacked two Mosques in separate places of the district.


One group burst crackers, entered a madrassa in Vittla village and shouted slogans of victory. In an another incident in the neighboring village of Hoode, Mohammed Ais, a chicken stall owner was beaten up by a gang after getting into an altercation with him about the results of the elections.



In the coastal region of Kundapur, an ornamental pot at the entrance of the Holy Rosary church was found broken by miscreants, and a signpost leading to St. Antony Church in Koteshwar was also found uprooted.

State Vice president of Sri Rama Sene Kumar Malemar, Nagesh Bajilakeri of Hindu Yuvasena, Rajesh Poojary, Udayshanker Devadiga, Rajesh Pavitran,Lokesh, Vivek Anchan and Leelavati were also present among others in the protest.

Hindutva outfit launches campaign to ban Fajr Azan in India

 MANGALORE: In a controversial demand that may spark widespread uproar, a less popular Hindutva outfit has called for a strict ban on dawn Azan (Fajr prayer call from Masjids)across India.

Recently, dozens of Hindutva activists including a controversial swamiji, who had earlier tried to commit suicide, staged a protest in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner in Mangalore to pressurize the authorities concerned to strictly impose ban on Azan during early morning.

The protest was held under the banner of Rashtriya Hindu Andolan and some of the protesters were displaying the banner of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, an extremist Hindutva outfit. The protest comes a day ahead of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Sanatan Sanstha activist Vijayalakshmi said that even though India has granted religious freedom for all the people, followers of one religion should not misuse this freedom to disturb the followers of other religions in the society.

Using a derogatory word for Azan, she said that when Muslims shout using loudspeakers every morning they should know that it would disturb sleep of a majority of people in the society.

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti activist Vivek Pai said that the right to sleep peacefully is also comes under the ambit of fundamental rights of every Indian citizen. “The use of loudspeakers should not be permitted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The supreme court also had directed to impose ban on playing loud music or making any type of noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, this ban has not been applied to the early morning Azan,” he said adding that in some places Muslims deliberately cause noise pollution through loudspeakers in the early morning.

He said that those who use loudspeakers for Azan before 6 a.m. in the morning should be arrested and punished.

Rashtriya Hindu Andolan activist Ramesh Nayak said that many Masjids are located in the area of schools, colleges, hostels and hospitals. Loudspeakers used by such Masjids will always cause problems for students and patients, he added.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Youm-e-Takbeer to be observed today

Youm-e-Takbeer, the celebration of Pakistan’s atomic explosions in 1998, will be observed across the country with national zeal and fervor on Wednesday.


Pakistan joined the prestigious club of the nuclear powers on May 28, 1998 by conducting nuclear tests in response to India’s initiative of testing nukes on May 11 and 13 the same year.A remarkable ceremony in connection with the day will be held at the place of Chaghi model near Faizabad interchange.

The ceremony will be addressed by the PML-N chairman, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MNA. The party workers will also lit candles besides holding cake-cutting ceremonies on this occasion to mark the day in a befitting manner. Various organizations will also bring out rallies and hold seminars to highlight the importance of the day. Rich tributes will be paid to the team of the nuclear scientists who raised Pakistan’s strategic status in the comity of nations and signified the principle of self-reliance.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

US to rev up hacking fight against China

The U.S. plans to "keep up the pressure" on China as it gauges that nation's response to this week's indictment of five Chinese military officials for allegedly hacking into American corporate computers, a senior administration official said Friday.
If China doesn't begin to acknowledge and curb its corporate cyberespionage, the U.S. plans to start selecting from a range of retaliatory options, other officials said.
They include releasing additional evidence about how the hackers allegedly conducted their operations, and imposing visa, business and financial restrictions on those indicted or people or organizations associated with them.
Beyond that, some officials are advocating more stealthy moves. These could include the government working with a U.S. company that has been breached to feed hackers bad data, said one person familiar with the discussions.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges Monday, alleging the five men hacked into five U.S. companies, including Alcoa Inc. and U.S. Steel Corp. X, as well as the United Steelworkers union, to take sensitive information. U.S. officials said they expected the Chinese would strike back.
But so far, China's response has been fairly restrained: denying the accusations, canceling the nation's participation in cybersecurity talks and signaling that U.S. technology companies may face greater scrutiny in trying to do business in China.
A senior administration official said the Chinese response is as expected, and the U.S. will tie any retaliation to Beijing's longer-term reaction.
"It has to be calibrated some to what the Chinese government chooses to do," the senior administration official said. "This is a long-term process."

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kohat district gets Rs620m oil and gas royalty

The Kohat district has received over Rs620 million as royalty of oil and gas production for development work, said executive district officer, finance, Abdul Wahid Khattak while talking to Dawn on Wednesday.
 Million
                                  

He said that half of the funds had been equally distributed between the PK-37 and PK-39 constituencies while the other half was allocated for the city’s municipality limits.
The royalty funds are given by the federal government to the provincial government and then released to the gas producing district.
Similarly, MNA Shehryar Afridi’s fund of Rs120 million has also been released.
Mr Khattak said that the projects had been identified at the meetings of district development advisory committee.

Half of funds goes to PK-37, PK-39 constituencies; development projects identified


He said that work on some projects had already been started.
However, the ground situation is dismal because most of the local people in KP-37 and KP-39 are still deprived of drinking water.
In some areas, the OGDCL has spent millions of rupees on providing water through tankers, but could not lay a pipeline from Indus River to solve the problem on permanent basis.
A local elder, Fazalur Rehman, told Dawn that due to plying of hundreds of oil tankers from the oil producing areas of Kohat to Attock Refinery the roads had been turned into dirt tracks full of ditches.
Despite generating billions of rupees annually from Kohat, the government has not provided a good health facility and jobs to the local people.
Though the district has been receiving millions of rupees every year from the last 10 years, nothing has changed for the good of people.
EXPLORATION WORK: After a delay of three years the Hungarian oil exploration company, MOL, has been asked to resume work in Hangu district following security assurance by the administration and elders.
The work was suspended in Sarki Chamba Gul area due to tussle between the local people over renting land to the company and law and order situation.
Now the administration has decided to establish a checkpost in the area to ensure safety of the workers and installations.
Deputy commissioner, Hangu, chaired a meeting of the MOL company representatives, MPs and elders of the area in his office on Wednesday.
He hoped that after resumption of work the local people would get jobs.
‘VACCINE REACTION’: At least 27 children landed in hospital after they were given measles vaccine in remote Dalan area of Hangu district on Wednesday, police said.
According to Hangu police, as soon as the health staff administered vaccine to children in the girls school and a house in Dalan 27 of them collapsed.
The police said that they shifted the affected children to a local hospital where they recovered after getting treatment.
Meanwhile, five children who were administered anti-measles vaccine were brought to Liaquat Memorial Hospital, Kohat, on Wednesday.
Dr Luqman, children specialist at the LMH, told this correspondent that the children were discharged after giving them first aid. He said that the affected children were complaining of giddiness.
Source

Confusion reigns in Pakistan after polio guidelines

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has seen a rush on vaccines and angry scenes at hospitals after new World Health Organization guidelines aimed at halting the crippling disease caused widespread confusion.
The WHO declared a 'public health emergency' at the start of May after new polio cases began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries including Pakistan.
The disease remains endemic in Pakistan, which is responsible for 80 percent of polio cases diagnosed around the world this year.
The WHO advised Pakistani authorities to ensure all nationals and long-term residents planning to travel abroad were vaccinated.
But the government's response has led to a rush on vaccines, confusion about certification and even angry scenes in hospitals.
All this on the eve of the peak summer travelling season, when tens of thousands of Pakistanis go to see relatives or celebrate weddings in countries with large diaspora populations, such as Britain.
Observers say that since the WHO had been holding extensive discussions with the government of Pakistan prior to the recommendations, authorities should have been better prepared for what was coming their way.
In a government paediatric clinic in Islamabad with walls decorated by posters of Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, an ugly scene breaks out as families line up to receive polio drops.
Staff ask latecomers to return the next day, prompting some who are due to travel the same night to start hectoring the unit's director - who gives them short shrift.
"It's not our job to give you the polio vaccine, our job is to look after sick children who arrive at the hospital" the doctor, Tabish Hazir, cried.
"We are doing this only because of the confusion at this stage," he tells AFP, still angry. "The government wasn't ready, it hadn't anticipated that the WHO would recommend restrictions. It arrived suddenly like a bomb."
Pakistan has undertaken countless UN-backed campaigns in recent years to try to stamp out polio.
But these efforts have been met with hostility in parts of the northwestern tribal areas, where Taliban warlords have banned vaccination as a Western spying plot. Militant opposition to vaccination has increased after Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi attempted to help the CIA track down Qaeda terror chief Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccine project.
Vaccination teams have come under attack, with more than 50 health workers and police escorts killed in attacks in the past year and a half.
The US this week pledged that its intelligence agencies would foreswear the tactic due to the fallout.
On top of this, long-standing unfounded rumours about the vaccine causing infertility or containing pig products also persist.
As a result, polio continues, mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border and the southern metropolis of Karachi.
Pakistan saw 91 cases last year, up from 58 in 2012, and has recorded 59 of the world's 74 cases already this year.
Polio traced back to Pakistan has been found in Afghanistan and Syria and the new campaign of vaccination is aimed not at eradicating the disease from Pakistan but at stopping its spread beyond its borders.
The government has said that anyone who has been in Pakistan longer than four weeks must be vaccinated before going abroad, even if they have been inoculated in the past.
The WHO guidelines said travellers should ideally receive the vaccine between four weeks and 12 months before travel.
It is a difficult task in a country where immunised children rarely receive certificates and rampant corruption means there is a risk unvaccinated people could simply bribe officials to get the paperwork.
Mahwish and Bilal Khan, a young couple in the capital, were forced to revaccinate their family and complained the government has been sending out contradictory messages.
"People thought that they will get these drops at the airport as we exit the country, then we have been told to get it here (at hospital), then we heard it has to be four weeks before we travel, then there are these exceptions for emergencies, so yes it is confusing," said Mahwish.
Even though polio mainly affects young children, the WHO has called on authorities to also immunise adults leaving the country. This is because adults can carry the virus without developing symptoms, said Keith Feldon, field coordinator of the WHO anti-polio campaign in Pakistan.
The public clinics selected by the government to vaccinate travellers are drowning in work, while private doctors are doing a brisk trade with diplomats, journalists and other expats. One interviewed by AFP said he had vaccinated more than 500 people in the space of a week, at $35 a time.
The government has now called on the army to go with health workers in the tribal areas and vaccinate anyone trying to leave. For Pakistanis preparing to fly to the UAE, Canada and Britain, confusion lingers.

Narendra Modi invites Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif to inauguration



Anaylsts see the invitation from India's prime minister elect as a bold step to launch a policy of regional engagement
If Nawaz Sharif were to attend the ceremony, it would be a first in the history of the two states, which both have nuclear arsenals and have fought four wars since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947. Repeated bids to improve relations have failed, though there have been incremental gains over the last decade.
Sharif, who won elections last year to become Pakistan's prime minister for the third time, is among eight leaders of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) invited to attend Modi's swearing in next Monday.
"It's an important gesture … as the largest country in the region, India should be reaching out to its neighbours. This is a very accident-prone relationship, but very intimate too on another level. We are cousins in a very real sense," said Raja C Mohan, one of India's most respected foreign affairs analysts.
Nirmala Sitharaman, a spokeswoman from Modi's Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), said all the SAARC countries had been invited through the proper channels.
The invite poses a dilemma for Sharif, who leads the conservative pro-business Pakistan Muslim League, as many in the country and elsewhere in the Muslim world see the 63-year-old Modi as a hardline Hindu nationalist who harbours sectarian prejudices.
Aziz Ahmed Khan, a retired diplomat who served as Pakistan's high commissioner to Delhi, said Modi had been "really very shrewd" with an invitation that the government will find it hard to respond to.
"On the one hand it's a good gesture that should be taken as a sign of peacemaking by Modi, but at the same time the baggage that he carries makes it very difficult for the government. There is a widespread belief in Pakistan that he was behind the massacres in Gujarat."
Modi has been accused of allowing, or even encouraging, mob violence in the western Indian state in 2002. About 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in rioting that followed an arson attack on a train in which 59 Hindu pilgrims died. Modi, who had been appointed Gujarat's chief minister the year before, has denied any wrongdoing. "I'm sure the government must be in a huddle wondering what to do," Khan said.
There was no official response from Islamabad several hours after the announcement, but officials at Pakistan's high commission in Delhi confirmed they had received a formal invitation. A meeting with counterparts at the Indian foreign ministry was scheduled for early evening.
"Then we will see what is the substance of it," one said. 

Pakistan's Geo News becomes latest target in blasphemy accusation trend

Widespread calls for popular TV channel to be shut down after using Sufi song on broadcast of mock celebrity wedding


Geo TV
A police officer walks past a wall in Karachi with graffiti directed at Geo TV, which has stepped up security after being accused of blasphemy. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Young children, religious minorities and people with mental health problems have all been accused of the crime of blasphemy in Pakistan.
Now the country's most popular television station has shown that even one of Pakistan's most powerful institutions is not immune from a growing trend.
Ever since Geo News was accused of airing blasphemous material on one of its morning shows last week the channel has taken extraordinary security precautions, including removing its corporate branding from the side of its broadcast trucks.
"It's a very dangerous situation because it puts all our staff at risk," said Imran Aslam, president of the channel. "This is not just about the destruction of property or the shutting down of the channel, but lives."
For weeks Geo, which is part of a conglomerate that also owns leading newspapers, has been at the centre of a media and political storm, with the country's spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate – and opposition politician Imran Khan calling for it to be shut down.
The ISI was furious after Geo carried accusations that the agency was behind the attempted killing of the channel's star journalist Hamid Mir last month. Khan has accused the company of helping to rig last year's general election.
But the situation became more serious on Friday when clerics across Pakistan condemned GEO for broadcasting a staged "wedding" of two celebrities on its morning show.
The problem was not the involvement of Veena Malik – an actor who once scandalised the country by appearing nude on the cover Indian FHM magazine with "ISI" written on her arm. Instead offence was taken at the performance of a Sufi song about the marriage of Muhammad's daughter – a popular element to many ordinary weddings in Pakistan – and that a comparison was being drawn with Malik.
Many fundamentalist Islamic sects take a dim view of Sufi culture, which often revolves around singing, poetry and visiting the shrines of holy men.
Geo responded with full-page apologies in its newspapers and the suspension of all the staff involved in the programme.
But that has failed to stop angry demonstrations around the country, including a lawyers' strike called by bar associations. A legal petition against the channel has been accepted by the Islamabad high court.
That such a frivolous bit of daytime television, similar to many other shows, could cause widespread outrage highlights the growing sensitivity around perceived insults to Islam, which can now be found almost anywhere in Pakistan.
On 13 May, police arrested and charged 68 lawyers for blasphemy after they held a public protest and chanted slogans against a police officer whose first name happened to be the same as a revered figure in early Islam.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws have long been used to settle scores and financial grievances, particularly against religious minorities who often cannot defend themselves because lawyers are reluctant to represent them and because evidence cannot be properly scrutinised in court for fear of repeating the alleged blasphemy.
This year an elderly British-Pakistani man diagnosed with schizophrenia was sentenced to death in a blasphemy case brought by a man with whom he was in a property dispute.
In 2012 a 13-year-old Christian girl who reportedly had Down's syndrome was arrested in Islamabad after she was accused of burning pages of the Qu'ran.
She became one of the very few blasphemy suspects to be released after men from the local mosque came forward to testify that the mullah had planted the evidence on her as part of his campaign to force out the Christian community.
Although leading human rights organisations have all called for laws to be repealed, public criticism of the legislation can itself be seen as a form of blasphemy.
On Wednesday the Express Tribune deleted an article on the subject in the international edition of the New York Times, which it carries as a daily insert.
The opinion piece by Lahore-based author Ali Sethi discussed the case of Rashid Rehman, a human rights activist who was shot dead in his office on 7 May after daring to take on the legal case of a young academic accused of publishing blasphemous material on Facebook.
One of the most famous people to publicly criticise the laws was former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was gunned down by his bodyguard.
The killer Mumtaz Qadri has been feted in many quarters, including by lawyers, and a mosque in Islamabad has been named in his honour.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Warner Bros., Tom Cruise Gear Up to Make Sure 'Tomorrow' Never Dies

Warner Bros., Tom Cruise Gear Up to Make Sure 'Tomorrow' Never Dies
Edge of Tomorrow” might be one of Tom Cruise’s better films in recent memory but will audiences show up to see it? Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, hopes so, despite the worrisome lack of buzz as the sci-fi movie nears its June 6 opening.
Director Doug Liman makes his first big foray into a visual effects-heavy tentpole, while Emily Blunt delivers her action debut in the futuristic thriller, which follows Maj. William Cage (Cruise), an untrained solider who finds himself reliving the same day again and again in the hopes of sorting out a way to successfully defeat the alien race that has taken Earth hostage.
But Warners will have to move fast to ramp up advertising and communicate to audiences that they’re in for an action-packed ride.
“Nobody really knows what this film is,” said Doug Creutz, senior media and entertainment analyst for Cowen & Co. “There isn’t a huge amount of action competition and there’s room for a film like this this summer, and yet there’s no buzz.”
This week, pre-release tracking numbers dropped $5 million from last week, suggesting that “Edge of Tomorrow’s” opening weekend debut would be in the $25 million range, a dismal opening for any studio tentpole. The pricey pic, co-financed by Village Roadshow, cost between $175 and $200 million, meaning that in order to turn a profit, the film will have to make at least double that worldwide.
Based on a Japanese military-centric science fiction graphic novel entitled “All You Need is Kill,” the studio made the switch to the title “Edge of Tomorrow” nearly a year after the project was announced, in part because “there was a lot of negative chatter about having a movie with the word ‘kill’ in the title,”Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. president, worldwide marketing and international distribution, told Variety. The studio introduced the new title at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.
Kroll admits that “The Fault in Our Stars,“ Fox’s $12 million adaptation of the bestselling novel which shares the release date with “Edge of Tomorrow,” is a “social phenomenon,” but emphasizes that “Edge” still has plenty of potential. The studio is sending Cruise to three different premieres – Paris, London and New York – in one day (May 28), tying in with the film’s tagline, “Live. Die. Repeat.”
“We will definitely be biting our nails for the next few weeks,” Kroll said, addressing the challenges of marketing an original title in a summer packed with sequels. “We’ve been in this situation before and we know it’s going to be tough, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
According to Kroll, 80 percent of the paid media for the film has yet to be released. With several television season finales and both the NHL and NBA playoffs in full swing, she is confident that the studio’s message can get through and strongly emphasizes that pre-release tracking is just one factor.
“I think it is absolutely irresponsible and disrespectful and destructive; a lot of movies have had this kind of tracking at the outset,” Kroll said, listing “Inception” and “Gravity,” (which grossed an impressive $716 million and $825 million worldwide, respectively) as having been in similar situations. “I don’t think people have made up their mind about the film,” she added.
While “The Fault in Our Stars” will play strongly to under-25 women, “Tomorrow” could be effective counterprogramming as it is largely targeted toward an older crowd, at least in the U.S. where Cruise’s appeal seems to be waning. Warners is running twice the typical amount of test screenings both domestically and internationally, spread over three rounds. Creating a “worldwide sensibility,” according to Kroll, the studio is maintaining the same marketing message in both domestic and overseas materials.
Although some early critics have positioned the film as a repetitive “Groundhog Day”-esque picture, there’s a shrewd subtext that could attract audiences looking for an action film that travels beyond the typical alien invasion theme.
The film will open the weekend of May 30, a week before the U.S., in more than 30 countries including the U.K. and Brazil. Throughout Asia, Cruise is still a “huge success,” said Kroll, and the studio will lean on his star power in the lead-up to release.
In fact, Cruise has become more of an international star than a domestic one over the past few years — his recent action pics “Oblivion” and “Jack Reacher,” were both domestic disappointments, and made well over half their respective $286 million and $218 million worldwide grosses from the international box office.
Moviegoers right now are focused more on upcoming titles “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Maleficent,” according to Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
“This film isn’t shaping up to be a massive hit, but it could also be a little too early for a movie like this,” he said about “Edge of Tomorrow.”
Although there’s currently not a lot of buzz around the release, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, believes the film will pick up speed closer to opening day. “It makes sense that Warner’s would not want to dilute the waters with their own film,” he said, pointing out that the studio is focusing right now on rolling out the monstrous “Godzilla,” which targets a similar audience.
With a $196 million worldwide opening weekend and the largest domestic opening day of 2014 ($38.5 million), “Godzilla” is also helping to sell “Edge of Tomorrow.” The studio created a newly-enhanced IMAX trailer which it dropped in front of “Godzilla.”
“It’s tough out there,” said Kroll, “Now it’s time to go to work.”


Friday, May 9, 2014

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India and Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India 'Much Better Than We Expected': Senior Pakistan Official 

May 28, 2014 15:24 IST


Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India and Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan

Nawaz Sharif's Visit to India 'Much Better Than We Expected': Senior Pakistan Official 

May 28, 2014 15:24 IST


Hindutva group demands ban on Fajr Adhan across India



Mangalore- In an ostensibly provocative act to disturb communal harmony among different religious communities in India, Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a little known Mangalore based Hindutva outfit has called for the morning Muslim call to prayer (Adhan) to be banned across the country, Indian media reported today.


Activists from various right wing groups organised a protest in Mangalore in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner, demanding the authorities to impose ban on the Adhan call during early morning. “Every citizen has the right to practice his own religion and tradition in India. But their way of practice should not harm others,” said Vijayalaxmi, an activist from Sanatana Dharma, one of the many smaller and larger organisations participating in the protest.


Vivek Pai, Vice President of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, said that sleep is the birth right of every citizen and the Supreme Court of India has placed restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in public places. He said that the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am in public places was restricted, and questioned the use of loudspeakers for the call of prayer in a mosque.

He called for a permanent stop on using loudspeakers for Adhaan, and called for severe punishment against those officers permitting the use of loudspeakers or anyone using loudspeakers for Adhaan.
Bharat Kranti Sena chief Pranavananda Swami, who had tried to commit suicide by pouring kerosene on himself in January this year opposing televangelist Benny Hinn’s programme in Bangalore, and who had announced Rs 1 lakh cash reward to Karnataka’s Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) trooper who killed 23 year old Mangalore youth Mohammed Kabeer, who many believe was a victim of an 'extra judicial murder', said that protest against morning Adhan will continue, "until a strict ban on that ritual will come into force in the entire country."

The protest follows a series of violent incidents witnessed in Mangalore in recent days, which many Muslims believe is a forerunner to events to come in the future. The day Narendra Modi led BJP to a historic victory at the centre, a group of inebriated right wing hooligans attacked two Mosques in separate places of the district.


One group burst crackers, entered a madrassa in Vittla village and shouted slogans of victory. In an another incident in the neighboring village of Hoode, Mohammed Ais, a chicken stall owner was beaten up by a gang after getting into an altercation with him about the results of the elections.



In the coastal region of Kundapur, an ornamental pot at the entrance of the Holy Rosary church was found broken by miscreants, and a signpost leading to St. Antony Church in Koteshwar was also found uprooted.

State Vice president of Sri Rama Sene Kumar Malemar, Nagesh Bajilakeri of Hindu Yuvasena, Rajesh Poojary, Udayshanker Devadiga, Rajesh Pavitran,Lokesh, Vivek Anchan and Leelavati were also present among others in the protest.

Hindutva outfit launches campaign to ban Fajr Azan in India

 MANGALORE: In a controversial demand that may spark widespread uproar, a less popular Hindutva outfit has called for a strict ban on dawn Azan (Fajr prayer call from Masjids)across India.

Recently, dozens of Hindutva activists including a controversial swamiji, who had earlier tried to commit suicide, staged a protest in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner in Mangalore to pressurize the authorities concerned to strictly impose ban on Azan during early morning.

The protest was held under the banner of Rashtriya Hindu Andolan and some of the protesters were displaying the banner of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, an extremist Hindutva outfit. The protest comes a day ahead of Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Sanatan Sanstha activist Vijayalakshmi said that even though India has granted religious freedom for all the people, followers of one religion should not misuse this freedom to disturb the followers of other religions in the society.

Using a derogatory word for Azan, she said that when Muslims shout using loudspeakers every morning they should know that it would disturb sleep of a majority of people in the society.

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti activist Vivek Pai said that the right to sleep peacefully is also comes under the ambit of fundamental rights of every Indian citizen. “The use of loudspeakers should not be permitted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The supreme court also had directed to impose ban on playing loud music or making any type of noise between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, this ban has not been applied to the early morning Azan,” he said adding that in some places Muslims deliberately cause noise pollution through loudspeakers in the early morning.

He said that those who use loudspeakers for Azan before 6 a.m. in the morning should be arrested and punished.

Rashtriya Hindu Andolan activist Ramesh Nayak said that many Masjids are located in the area of schools, colleges, hostels and hospitals. Loudspeakers used by such Masjids will always cause problems for students and patients, he added.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Youm-e-Takbeer to be observed today

Youm-e-Takbeer, the celebration of Pakistan’s atomic explosions in 1998, will be observed across the country with national zeal and fervor on Wednesday.


Pakistan joined the prestigious club of the nuclear powers on May 28, 1998 by conducting nuclear tests in response to India’s initiative of testing nukes on May 11 and 13 the same year.A remarkable ceremony in connection with the day will be held at the place of Chaghi model near Faizabad interchange.

The ceremony will be addressed by the PML-N chairman, Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, Senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MNA. The party workers will also lit candles besides holding cake-cutting ceremonies on this occasion to mark the day in a befitting manner. Various organizations will also bring out rallies and hold seminars to highlight the importance of the day. Rich tributes will be paid to the team of the nuclear scientists who raised Pakistan’s strategic status in the comity of nations and signified the principle of self-reliance.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

US to rev up hacking fight against China

The U.S. plans to "keep up the pressure" on China as it gauges that nation's response to this week's indictment of five Chinese military officials for allegedly hacking into American corporate computers, a senior administration official said Friday.
If China doesn't begin to acknowledge and curb its corporate cyberespionage, the U.S. plans to start selecting from a range of retaliatory options, other officials said.
They include releasing additional evidence about how the hackers allegedly conducted their operations, and imposing visa, business and financial restrictions on those indicted or people or organizations associated with them.
Beyond that, some officials are advocating more stealthy moves. These could include the government working with a U.S. company that has been breached to feed hackers bad data, said one person familiar with the discussions.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the charges Monday, alleging the five men hacked into five U.S. companies, including Alcoa Inc. and U.S. Steel Corp. X, as well as the United Steelworkers union, to take sensitive information. U.S. officials said they expected the Chinese would strike back.
But so far, China's response has been fairly restrained: denying the accusations, canceling the nation's participation in cybersecurity talks and signaling that U.S. technology companies may face greater scrutiny in trying to do business in China.
A senior administration official said the Chinese response is as expected, and the U.S. will tie any retaliation to Beijing's longer-term reaction.
"It has to be calibrated some to what the Chinese government chooses to do," the senior administration official said. "This is a long-term process."

High-Paying Jobs That Might Not Be Worth The Effort



Jobs that pay well aren't always what they're cracked up to be if there aren't enough of them to go around.


Some high-paying careers might look great at first glance. They may pay well, offer flexible hours, provide interesting challenges, and perhaps even a combination of these. A few years of schooling, or even more than a few, may seem like a small price to pay to get a shot at one of them. But if a job looks good to you, it probably looks good to a lot of others, too, and there may not be enough openings to go around.
If you're not concerned about having to fight for limited openings, you may still want to pursue one of these six high-pay, low growth careers. However, if getting a job within a reasonable amount of time is your goal, you might be better off pursuing the careers we've identified as worth it; careers that pay at least a $75,000 annual median salary* and have hiring projections of more than 50,000 new hires over ten years.**

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kohat district gets Rs620m oil and gas royalty

The Kohat district has received over Rs620 million as royalty of oil and gas production for development work, said executive district officer, finance, Abdul Wahid Khattak while talking to Dawn on Wednesday.
 Million
                                  

He said that half of the funds had been equally distributed between the PK-37 and PK-39 constituencies while the other half was allocated for the city’s municipality limits.
The royalty funds are given by the federal government to the provincial government and then released to the gas producing district.
Similarly, MNA Shehryar Afridi’s fund of Rs120 million has also been released.
Mr Khattak said that the projects had been identified at the meetings of district development advisory committee.

Half of funds goes to PK-37, PK-39 constituencies; development projects identified


He said that work on some projects had already been started.
However, the ground situation is dismal because most of the local people in KP-37 and KP-39 are still deprived of drinking water.
In some areas, the OGDCL has spent millions of rupees on providing water through tankers, but could not lay a pipeline from Indus River to solve the problem on permanent basis.
A local elder, Fazalur Rehman, told Dawn that due to plying of hundreds of oil tankers from the oil producing areas of Kohat to Attock Refinery the roads had been turned into dirt tracks full of ditches.
Despite generating billions of rupees annually from Kohat, the government has not provided a good health facility and jobs to the local people.
Though the district has been receiving millions of rupees every year from the last 10 years, nothing has changed for the good of people.
EXPLORATION WORK: After a delay of three years the Hungarian oil exploration company, MOL, has been asked to resume work in Hangu district following security assurance by the administration and elders.
The work was suspended in Sarki Chamba Gul area due to tussle between the local people over renting land to the company and law and order situation.
Now the administration has decided to establish a checkpost in the area to ensure safety of the workers and installations.
Deputy commissioner, Hangu, chaired a meeting of the MOL company representatives, MPs and elders of the area in his office on Wednesday.
He hoped that after resumption of work the local people would get jobs.
‘VACCINE REACTION’: At least 27 children landed in hospital after they were given measles vaccine in remote Dalan area of Hangu district on Wednesday, police said.
According to Hangu police, as soon as the health staff administered vaccine to children in the girls school and a house in Dalan 27 of them collapsed.
The police said that they shifted the affected children to a local hospital where they recovered after getting treatment.
Meanwhile, five children who were administered anti-measles vaccine were brought to Liaquat Memorial Hospital, Kohat, on Wednesday.
Dr Luqman, children specialist at the LMH, told this correspondent that the children were discharged after giving them first aid. He said that the affected children were complaining of giddiness.
Source

Confusion reigns in Pakistan after polio guidelines

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has seen a rush on vaccines and angry scenes at hospitals after new World Health Organization guidelines aimed at halting the crippling disease caused widespread confusion.
The WHO declared a 'public health emergency' at the start of May after new polio cases began surfacing and spreading across borders from countries including Pakistan.
The disease remains endemic in Pakistan, which is responsible for 80 percent of polio cases diagnosed around the world this year.
The WHO advised Pakistani authorities to ensure all nationals and long-term residents planning to travel abroad were vaccinated.
But the government's response has led to a rush on vaccines, confusion about certification and even angry scenes in hospitals.
All this on the eve of the peak summer travelling season, when tens of thousands of Pakistanis go to see relatives or celebrate weddings in countries with large diaspora populations, such as Britain.
Observers say that since the WHO had been holding extensive discussions with the government of Pakistan prior to the recommendations, authorities should have been better prepared for what was coming their way.
In a government paediatric clinic in Islamabad with walls decorated by posters of Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, an ugly scene breaks out as families line up to receive polio drops.
Staff ask latecomers to return the next day, prompting some who are due to travel the same night to start hectoring the unit's director - who gives them short shrift.
"It's not our job to give you the polio vaccine, our job is to look after sick children who arrive at the hospital" the doctor, Tabish Hazir, cried.
"We are doing this only because of the confusion at this stage," he tells AFP, still angry. "The government wasn't ready, it hadn't anticipated that the WHO would recommend restrictions. It arrived suddenly like a bomb."
Pakistan has undertaken countless UN-backed campaigns in recent years to try to stamp out polio.
But these efforts have been met with hostility in parts of the northwestern tribal areas, where Taliban warlords have banned vaccination as a Western spying plot. Militant opposition to vaccination has increased after Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi attempted to help the CIA track down Qaeda terror chief Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccine project.
Vaccination teams have come under attack, with more than 50 health workers and police escorts killed in attacks in the past year and a half.
The US this week pledged that its intelligence agencies would foreswear the tactic due to the fallout.
On top of this, long-standing unfounded rumours about the vaccine causing infertility or containing pig products also persist.
As a result, polio continues, mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border and the southern metropolis of Karachi.
Pakistan saw 91 cases last year, up from 58 in 2012, and has recorded 59 of the world's 74 cases already this year.
Polio traced back to Pakistan has been found in Afghanistan and Syria and the new campaign of vaccination is aimed not at eradicating the disease from Pakistan but at stopping its spread beyond its borders.
The government has said that anyone who has been in Pakistan longer than four weeks must be vaccinated before going abroad, even if they have been inoculated in the past.
The WHO guidelines said travellers should ideally receive the vaccine between four weeks and 12 months before travel.
It is a difficult task in a country where immunised children rarely receive certificates and rampant corruption means there is a risk unvaccinated people could simply bribe officials to get the paperwork.
Mahwish and Bilal Khan, a young couple in the capital, were forced to revaccinate their family and complained the government has been sending out contradictory messages.
"People thought that they will get these drops at the airport as we exit the country, then we have been told to get it here (at hospital), then we heard it has to be four weeks before we travel, then there are these exceptions for emergencies, so yes it is confusing," said Mahwish.
Even though polio mainly affects young children, the WHO has called on authorities to also immunise adults leaving the country. This is because adults can carry the virus without developing symptoms, said Keith Feldon, field coordinator of the WHO anti-polio campaign in Pakistan.
The public clinics selected by the government to vaccinate travellers are drowning in work, while private doctors are doing a brisk trade with diplomats, journalists and other expats. One interviewed by AFP said he had vaccinated more than 500 people in the space of a week, at $35 a time.
The government has now called on the army to go with health workers in the tribal areas and vaccinate anyone trying to leave. For Pakistanis preparing to fly to the UAE, Canada and Britain, confusion lingers.

Narendra Modi invites Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif to inauguration



Anaylsts see the invitation from India's prime minister elect as a bold step to launch a policy of regional engagement
If Nawaz Sharif were to attend the ceremony, it would be a first in the history of the two states, which both have nuclear arsenals and have fought four wars since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947. Repeated bids to improve relations have failed, though there have been incremental gains over the last decade.
Sharif, who won elections last year to become Pakistan's prime minister for the third time, is among eight leaders of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) invited to attend Modi's swearing in next Monday.
"It's an important gesture … as the largest country in the region, India should be reaching out to its neighbours. This is a very accident-prone relationship, but very intimate too on another level. We are cousins in a very real sense," said Raja C Mohan, one of India's most respected foreign affairs analysts.
Nirmala Sitharaman, a spokeswoman from Modi's Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), said all the SAARC countries had been invited through the proper channels.
The invite poses a dilemma for Sharif, who leads the conservative pro-business Pakistan Muslim League, as many in the country and elsewhere in the Muslim world see the 63-year-old Modi as a hardline Hindu nationalist who harbours sectarian prejudices.
Aziz Ahmed Khan, a retired diplomat who served as Pakistan's high commissioner to Delhi, said Modi had been "really very shrewd" with an invitation that the government will find it hard to respond to.
"On the one hand it's a good gesture that should be taken as a sign of peacemaking by Modi, but at the same time the baggage that he carries makes it very difficult for the government. There is a widespread belief in Pakistan that he was behind the massacres in Gujarat."
Modi has been accused of allowing, or even encouraging, mob violence in the western Indian state in 2002. About 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed in rioting that followed an arson attack on a train in which 59 Hindu pilgrims died. Modi, who had been appointed Gujarat's chief minister the year before, has denied any wrongdoing. "I'm sure the government must be in a huddle wondering what to do," Khan said.
There was no official response from Islamabad several hours after the announcement, but officials at Pakistan's high commission in Delhi confirmed they had received a formal invitation. A meeting with counterparts at the Indian foreign ministry was scheduled for early evening.
"Then we will see what is the substance of it," one said. 

Pakistan's Geo News becomes latest target in blasphemy accusation trend

Widespread calls for popular TV channel to be shut down after using Sufi song on broadcast of mock celebrity wedding


Geo TV
A police officer walks past a wall in Karachi with graffiti directed at Geo TV, which has stepped up security after being accused of blasphemy. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Young children, religious minorities and people with mental health problems have all been accused of the crime of blasphemy in Pakistan.
Now the country's most popular television station has shown that even one of Pakistan's most powerful institutions is not immune from a growing trend.
Ever since Geo News was accused of airing blasphemous material on one of its morning shows last week the channel has taken extraordinary security precautions, including removing its corporate branding from the side of its broadcast trucks.
"It's a very dangerous situation because it puts all our staff at risk," said Imran Aslam, president of the channel. "This is not just about the destruction of property or the shutting down of the channel, but lives."
For weeks Geo, which is part of a conglomerate that also owns leading newspapers, has been at the centre of a media and political storm, with the country's spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate – and opposition politician Imran Khan calling for it to be shut down.
The ISI was furious after Geo carried accusations that the agency was behind the attempted killing of the channel's star journalist Hamid Mir last month. Khan has accused the company of helping to rig last year's general election.
But the situation became more serious on Friday when clerics across Pakistan condemned GEO for broadcasting a staged "wedding" of two celebrities on its morning show.
The problem was not the involvement of Veena Malik – an actor who once scandalised the country by appearing nude on the cover Indian FHM magazine with "ISI" written on her arm. Instead offence was taken at the performance of a Sufi song about the marriage of Muhammad's daughter – a popular element to many ordinary weddings in Pakistan – and that a comparison was being drawn with Malik.
Many fundamentalist Islamic sects take a dim view of Sufi culture, which often revolves around singing, poetry and visiting the shrines of holy men.
Geo responded with full-page apologies in its newspapers and the suspension of all the staff involved in the programme.
But that has failed to stop angry demonstrations around the country, including a lawyers' strike called by bar associations. A legal petition against the channel has been accepted by the Islamabad high court.
That such a frivolous bit of daytime television, similar to many other shows, could cause widespread outrage highlights the growing sensitivity around perceived insults to Islam, which can now be found almost anywhere in Pakistan.
On 13 May, police arrested and charged 68 lawyers for blasphemy after they held a public protest and chanted slogans against a police officer whose first name happened to be the same as a revered figure in early Islam.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws have long been used to settle scores and financial grievances, particularly against religious minorities who often cannot defend themselves because lawyers are reluctant to represent them and because evidence cannot be properly scrutinised in court for fear of repeating the alleged blasphemy.
This year an elderly British-Pakistani man diagnosed with schizophrenia was sentenced to death in a blasphemy case brought by a man with whom he was in a property dispute.
In 2012 a 13-year-old Christian girl who reportedly had Down's syndrome was arrested in Islamabad after she was accused of burning pages of the Qu'ran.
She became one of the very few blasphemy suspects to be released after men from the local mosque came forward to testify that the mullah had planted the evidence on her as part of his campaign to force out the Christian community.
Although leading human rights organisations have all called for laws to be repealed, public criticism of the legislation can itself be seen as a form of blasphemy.
On Wednesday the Express Tribune deleted an article on the subject in the international edition of the New York Times, which it carries as a daily insert.
The opinion piece by Lahore-based author Ali Sethi discussed the case of Rashid Rehman, a human rights activist who was shot dead in his office on 7 May after daring to take on the legal case of a young academic accused of publishing blasphemous material on Facebook.
One of the most famous people to publicly criticise the laws was former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was gunned down by his bodyguard.
The killer Mumtaz Qadri has been feted in many quarters, including by lawyers, and a mosque in Islamabad has been named in his honour.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Warner Bros., Tom Cruise Gear Up to Make Sure 'Tomorrow' Never Dies

Warner Bros., Tom Cruise Gear Up to Make Sure 'Tomorrow' Never Dies
Edge of Tomorrow” might be one of Tom Cruise’s better films in recent memory but will audiences show up to see it? Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, hopes so, despite the worrisome lack of buzz as the sci-fi movie nears its June 6 opening.
Director Doug Liman makes his first big foray into a visual effects-heavy tentpole, while Emily Blunt delivers her action debut in the futuristic thriller, which follows Maj. William Cage (Cruise), an untrained solider who finds himself reliving the same day again and again in the hopes of sorting out a way to successfully defeat the alien race that has taken Earth hostage.
But Warners will have to move fast to ramp up advertising and communicate to audiences that they’re in for an action-packed ride.
“Nobody really knows what this film is,” said Doug Creutz, senior media and entertainment analyst for Cowen & Co. “There isn’t a huge amount of action competition and there’s room for a film like this this summer, and yet there’s no buzz.”
This week, pre-release tracking numbers dropped $5 million from last week, suggesting that “Edge of Tomorrow’s” opening weekend debut would be in the $25 million range, a dismal opening for any studio tentpole. The pricey pic, co-financed by Village Roadshow, cost between $175 and $200 million, meaning that in order to turn a profit, the film will have to make at least double that worldwide.
Based on a Japanese military-centric science fiction graphic novel entitled “All You Need is Kill,” the studio made the switch to the title “Edge of Tomorrow” nearly a year after the project was announced, in part because “there was a lot of negative chatter about having a movie with the word ‘kill’ in the title,”Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. president, worldwide marketing and international distribution, told Variety. The studio introduced the new title at San Diego Comic-Con 2013.
Kroll admits that “The Fault in Our Stars,“ Fox’s $12 million adaptation of the bestselling novel which shares the release date with “Edge of Tomorrow,” is a “social phenomenon,” but emphasizes that “Edge” still has plenty of potential. The studio is sending Cruise to three different premieres – Paris, London and New York – in one day (May 28), tying in with the film’s tagline, “Live. Die. Repeat.”
“We will definitely be biting our nails for the next few weeks,” Kroll said, addressing the challenges of marketing an original title in a summer packed with sequels. “We’ve been in this situation before and we know it’s going to be tough, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
According to Kroll, 80 percent of the paid media for the film has yet to be released. With several television season finales and both the NHL and NBA playoffs in full swing, she is confident that the studio’s message can get through and strongly emphasizes that pre-release tracking is just one factor.
“I think it is absolutely irresponsible and disrespectful and destructive; a lot of movies have had this kind of tracking at the outset,” Kroll said, listing “Inception” and “Gravity,” (which grossed an impressive $716 million and $825 million worldwide, respectively) as having been in similar situations. “I don’t think people have made up their mind about the film,” she added.
While “The Fault in Our Stars” will play strongly to under-25 women, “Tomorrow” could be effective counterprogramming as it is largely targeted toward an older crowd, at least in the U.S. where Cruise’s appeal seems to be waning. Warners is running twice the typical amount of test screenings both domestically and internationally, spread over three rounds. Creating a “worldwide sensibility,” according to Kroll, the studio is maintaining the same marketing message in both domestic and overseas materials.
Although some early critics have positioned the film as a repetitive “Groundhog Day”-esque picture, there’s a shrewd subtext that could attract audiences looking for an action film that travels beyond the typical alien invasion theme.
The film will open the weekend of May 30, a week before the U.S., in more than 30 countries including the U.K. and Brazil. Throughout Asia, Cruise is still a “huge success,” said Kroll, and the studio will lean on his star power in the lead-up to release.
In fact, Cruise has become more of an international star than a domestic one over the past few years — his recent action pics “Oblivion” and “Jack Reacher,” were both domestic disappointments, and made well over half their respective $286 million and $218 million worldwide grosses from the international box office.
Moviegoers right now are focused more on upcoming titles “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Maleficent,” according to Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
“This film isn’t shaping up to be a massive hit, but it could also be a little too early for a movie like this,” he said about “Edge of Tomorrow.”
Although there’s currently not a lot of buzz around the release, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, believes the film will pick up speed closer to opening day. “It makes sense that Warner’s would not want to dilute the waters with their own film,” he said, pointing out that the studio is focusing right now on rolling out the monstrous “Godzilla,” which targets a similar audience.
With a $196 million worldwide opening weekend and the largest domestic opening day of 2014 ($38.5 million), “Godzilla” is also helping to sell “Edge of Tomorrow.” The studio created a newly-enhanced IMAX trailer which it dropped in front of “Godzilla.”
“It’s tough out there,” said Kroll, “Now it’s time to go to work.”


Friday, May 9, 2014

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