SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Lufthansa cancelled all its Middle East flights on Monday as a result of a one-day strike planned by the German carrier’s ground staff in a pay dispute. The flights affected in the UAE included one flight from Abu Dhabi and two flights from Dubai, according to a Lufthansa spokesperson.
“All Middle East flights are cancelled and should be back on schedule on Tuesday,” Aage Dunhaupt, Lufthansa German Airlines’ Director Group Communications for Southeast Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Gulf News in an e-mailed statement.
He added that the flight to and from Kuwait should be back in operations on Monday, “making it the only Middle East flight to be first back on track and one of the six that Lufthansa is doing in total”.
The carrier further said that affected passengers were contacted prior to the flight cancellations and will either get rebooked accordingly or refunded. It added that passengers should check lufthansa.com for updates.
Globally, Lufthansa reportedly said that out of nearly 1,800 planned flights on Monday, it was to operate 20 short and medium-range flights and 12 long-distance services, cancelling most of its domestic, European and long-haul flights at six German airports owing to strike by ground staff and some cabin crew.
Meanwhile, at its main hub in Frankfurt, Lufthansa would operate six out of a total 50 flights, and three from 17 at Munich.
The strike on Monday comes a month after Lufthansa was forced to cancel nearly 700 out of a total 1,800 flights due to half a day of warning strikes.
As three rounds of pay talks with management ended in no agreement, services union Verdi called the strike on Monday, demanding a 5.2 per cent pay increase for 33,000 Lufthansa ground staff, plus employees of several subsidiaries besides cabin crew members who are union members.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Gulf News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Middle East is headed towards a water shortage crisis, as NASA satellites show that reserves the size of the Dead Sea have been depleted in just seven years, largely due to well-drilling.
Newly-obtained results show that 144 cubic kilometres of freshwater – a volume nearly equivalent to that of the Dead Sea or Lake Tahoe – had been removed from the ground in the area that encompasses Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria between 2003 and 2009.
"That's enough water to meet the needs of tens of millions to more than a hundred million people in the region each year, depending on regional water use standards and availability," said Jay Famiglietti, the UC Irvine professor who led the team who made the findings, which are due to be published on Friday in Water Resources Reasearch magazine.
While 40 percent of the decline is in the soil and surface water, the decrease in groundwater, caused by human actions, is responsible for 90 cubic kilometers of the shortfall.
"Satellite data shows an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Famiglietti.
The study was made possible by the US space agency’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. The two identical vessels measure miniscule changes in the planet’s gravity through the variations in distance between them as they circle the Earth, their positions influenced by the varying mass of the water reserves.
The research team said the depletion was caused by poor water management, combined with unfavorable climate conditions.
A devastating 2007 drought in the area not only caused depletions of surface water, which have still not been compensated, but also forced Iraqi authorities to order the drilling of more than 1,000 water wells. The actual number of wells drilled is likely to be much higher, as official statistics in the region are often patchy.
"That decline in stream flow put a lot of pressure on northern Iraq," said Kate Voss, another study author. "Both the UN and anecdotal reports from area residents note that once stream flow declined, this northern region of Iraq had to switch to groundwater.”
At the time, the country was at the height of a deadly sectarian conflict.
“In an already fragile social, economic and political environment, this did not help the situation," said Voss.
Last year’s authoritative Global Water Security report, produced by US intelligence agencies, marked the Middle East, naturally the driest region in the world alongside North Africa, as the area most vulnerable to water shortages, saying the situation was exacerbated by a lack of legal agreements and political instability.
"They just do not have that much water to begin with, and they're in a part of the world that will be experiencing less rainfall with climate change," Famiglietti said. "Those dry areas are getting dryer. Demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.”
Turkey, whose territory houses the headwaters of the region’s two major rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, enjoys a strained relationship with Syria and Iraq, the countries further downstream, and has systematically diverted water for its irrigation, which is frequently inefficient (throughout the Middle East).
Meanwhile, the World Bank predicts that water demand in the region will rise by 60 percent by 2045.
Groundwater has made up the shortage so far but it is being extracted at much faster rates than it is replaced.
"Groundwater is like your savings account," said Matt Rodell, another study author. "It's okay to draw it down when you need it, but if it's not replenished, eventually it will be gone."-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union (IIPU) has underscored Iran’s call for the denuclearization of the Middle East.
In a 17-point resolution closing its two-day meeting in Khartoum on Tuesday, the 48-member IIPU demanded that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and particularly nuclear weapons be removed from the Middle East.
This proposal was put forwarded by the Iranian parliamentary delegation to the eighth General Assembly Meeting of the IIPU.
The union also underlined the rights of all nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while expressing profound concern over the nuclear arsenal of the Zionist regime.
The IIPU also condemned the assassination of nuclear scientists in the Muslim world.
The IIPU was established in 1999 based on an initiative by Iran. It seeks to strengthen parliamentary cooperation among Islamic countries in order to solve challenges facing the Islamic world.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – German luxury car maker Audi plans to double its Middle East sales to at least 20,000 vehicles a year by 2020, helped by investment in showrooms and service centers, its local chief said.
“It is the minimum target. You have to have buildings, you have to have capacity,” Trevor Hill, managing director of Audi Middle East, told Reuters on Monday following a presentation on its 2012 sales in Dubai’s sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, a symbol of the emirate’s expansion in the last decade.
“Already those investments have been signed off, most of them have been made already ... So half the battle is already won [in] creating capacity and now we have to work in terms of volume improvement and in terms of quality,” he said.
Audi, a Volkswagen AG unit which booked a 16.4 percent sales jump to a record 9,155 units in the Middle East in 2012, aims to sell at least 10,000 vehicles in the region in 2013, Hill told the presentation.
Together with its local partners, Audi has seven major construction projects on the way, including showrooms and after-sales service facilities in the UAE, Oman and Qatar. The brand needs to double its workshop capacity in the region, Hill said.
Globally Audi plans to boost deliveries to more than 2 million cars and sport-utility vehicles by 2020, as it aims to snatch leadership of the luxury car market from BMW.
The Volkswagen division expects sales in the premium segment sales to surge by between 12 and 15 percent in the Middle East this year, while the overall passenger car market could see a rise of 6 to 8 percent from an estimated 1.1 to 1.2 million vehicles sold in 2012, Hill told Reuters.
Unrest in the Arab world since early 2011 may have helped to boost Audi’s sales in the UAE, its top market in the region, as the country benefited from its safe-haven status, drawing in businesses and expatriates.
“Dubai is growing quite rapidly so that will create a lot more opportunities for us to sell. There is a lot of wealthy people living in Dubai right now,” Hill said.
The UAE made up 41 percent of Audi’s total sales in the region, with 3,819 units sold in 2012, up 21.7 percent. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s biggest market for volume rather than premium passenger cars, followed with a 26 percent jump.
Audi, which has suspended operations in civil war-torn Syria, did not see sales being hit in neighboring Lebanon, and in Jordan, which has also seen social unrest.
“We have not seen that much slowdown in Lebanon. Lebanon is hitting the targets, Jordan is hitting its targets, so there are no real spillovers for us in those markets,” Hill said. “I think it [sales] will keep growing [this year].”
Ingolstadt-based Audi expects to increase annual sales of luxury cars and sport utility vehicles to 1.5 million earlier than the planned 2015 target date, its CEO said this month.
On Sunday, U.S.-based Ford Motor Co, which has a 7.5 percent market share in the Middle East, reported record sales of over 75,000 vehicles in the region for its Ford and Lincoln brands in 2012, a 10 percent rise. It saw sales soar 55 percent in the UAE, while Saudi Arabia and Lebanon were stable.
That is still behind Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, which has a dominant share across the region and reported a 30 percent jump in sales to 650,000 units in 2012, local media reported.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Skirmishes between the Pakistani and Indian armies in Kashmir left two Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers dead last week. Each side accuses the other of violating a ceasefire that has been in place since 2003. The following coverage by Al Jazeera English provides background on the recent flare-up.
Although cross-border firing on the Line of Control in Kashmir is not unusual, many fear the escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan because of their nuclear capabilities. The two sides have fought three major wars, two of them over Kashmir. Following the recent clashes, both sides have engaged in diplomatic talks hoping to stabilise the situation.
Despite an interest in reconciliation, prominent Indian leaders have expressed adamant disapproval of the Pakistani army's reported beheading of an Indian soldier. Pakistan has denied the accusation. Below, General Bikram Singh, Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, spoke on the subject.
The struggle for democracy in Kashmir began long before the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Kashmiris have often taken to the streets to call for their right to self-determination. Below are videos of protests in 2010 and 2012.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A major exhibition of Middle Eastern photography has opened in London combining the expertise and resources of two of Britain's most respected museums - the Victoria and Albert and the British Museum.
Organisers of the free exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum said more than 12,000 people visited in the first five days to see the 94 photographs by 30 artists from the Middle East.
For the show, the “Middle East'' is a purely geographic definition that ranges from North Africa to Turkey to Afghanistan, curator Marta Weiss explained.
Weiss designed the photo exhibition, which runs until April 7th, into three sections: recording, reframing and resisting. But there is a prelude: a photojournalism series from 1978-79 of the Iranian revolution by the iconic Iranian photographer Abbas.
Weiss said she included the Abbas photographs “to indicate that photography in the Middle East is not brand new, that it hasn't suddenly emerged from nowhere".
Weiss said the artists she's chosen for the show aren't photojournalists and they aren't just taking snapshots, but exploring what photography means on a deeper level.
She said the exhibit looks at “how photographs can be used for different purposes - propaganda, censored, or manipulated, and within the Middle East there is a heightened awareness of that due to the particular circumstances".
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Islamic scholar mentioned that Israeli attacks on Gaza during the eight-day period changed the whole equations in the region and revealed this fact that being in the monitory is not a good pretext for Muslims to obey falsity in order to meet their needs.
"What happened recently in Gaza can be regarded as a great achievement,” said the religious scholar stating that in confrontation between right and wrong, the final result is important, and the damages in this process should not be given that much attention.
In other part of his speech, the Saudi scholar underscored the necessity of unity in the Islamic world and said, "Palestine is the most important basis in the Islamic world which can gather all Muslims from different nations together.”
"Unity does not refer to melting one group in another group,” said the religious cleric adding that what the concept refers to is focusing on commonalities and similarities stand among Muslims from different denominations.
To the very end of his speech, Seyyed Hasan Al-Namr called on Muslims not to just consider the importance of Ashura and Imam Hussein’s (PBUH) Movement in the Months of Muharram and Safar and pointed out,” we should understand this fact that our needs to Imam Hussein (PBUH), at the level humane values, is like our physical need to air and water.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The British Prime Minister (PM), David Cameron arrived yesterday in the Persian Gulf area on a tour of selling military equipment to the region’s dictators. His trip attracted a lot of criticisms inside the UK and around the world. This trip once again showed the double standards and hypocrisy that is apparent in all British foreign policies and their lack of regards for human rights. David Cameron arrived in the Persian Gulf with the aim of selling at least 100 Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and the UAE amongst other deadly military equipment.
It is very interesting to remind the world about the words of Cameron’s speech to the so called the Kuwaiti National Assembly on 22 February 2011. At the time of the Arab Spring, Cameron denounced previous British governments for prioritising commercial ties over human rights. He said “For decades, some have argued that stability required highly controlling regimes, and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk. So, the argument went countries like Britain faced a choice between our interests and our values. And to be honest, we should acknowledge that sometimes we have made such calculations in the past. But I say that is a false choice. As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse. Our interests lie in upholding our values in insisting on the right to peaceful protest, in freedom of speech and the internet, in freedom of assembly and the rule of law. But these are not just our values, but the entitlement of people everywhere; of people in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square.”
Newstatesman in an article about Cameron’s trip said “But as the PM's three-day trip begins, we've heard much about ‘our interests’ and all too little about ‘our values’. Downing Street shamelessly declared that the purpose of the visit was ‘to help Britain compete and thrive in the global race.’ It went on: ‘A central pillar is our defence relationship with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia given our shared commitment to security and stability and defeating the threats we face in the wider Middle East region.’ Yet for the people of the Middle East, as Cameron previously noted, ‘stability’ means autocracy. While No. 10 went on to make a token reference to the ‘pursuit of political and economic reform’, it made no effort to disguise the fact that human rights are now of little concern. Indeed, the trip is partly designed to reassure Saudi Arabia after the Commons foreign affairs select committee launched an investigation into UK relations with the country and Bahrain. After Cameron's laudable words on democracy, the government has reverted to type.”
British PM last night said “It is not wrong to sell arms” as he defended sale of weapons to the Middle East dictators and he went on to say “Britain has ‘nothing to be ashamed of’ for selling weapons to Arab leaders. He accused his critics in Britain and around the world of being ‘at odds with reality’ after he was condemned for taking eight arms manufacturers on his tour of the Persian Gulf. An angry Cameron said yesterday that he could not understand why anyone would oppose his attempts to boost British defence sales in such a volatile region!
The delegation accompanying British PM includes bosses from such arms firms as BAe Systems, Thales UK, Atkins and Qinetiq. Among the reported equipment being promoted at the UAE’s Idex 2011, the Middle East’s biggest arms fair, were CS gas shotgun cartridges and stun grenades – precisely the type of weapons used by security forces to try to quell crowds of pro-democracy protesters. Dailymail reported that “According to ADS, the body that represents UK companies, an estimated £7.2billion worth of British defence exports are sold every year – half of which go to Middle Eastern countries.”
Dailymail also reported “Official figures show the UK Government approved at least 75 arms export licences to Libya since 2008, worth between £75million and £100million. Since the election, British firms have sold crowd sniper rifles, tear gas and ammunition to Gaddafi regime. Military export licences from Britain over the first nine months of last year totalled £64.3million to Saudi Arabia, £4million to Egypt, £270million to Algeria and £15.9million to the United Arab Emirates. We sell combat helicopters, bomb-making parts, missiles, body armour, elements for unmanned drones, military software and heavy machine guns. Of course Britain is not alone. According to data collected by Forbes magazine, from 2007 to 2010 the Pentagon persuaded Congress to approve $180billion worth of arms sales to the Middle East region with $100billion signed off since President Obama took office.”
An angry British PM told a journalist “I simply don’t understand how you can’t understand that democracies have a right to defend themselves. Are we honestly saying that for all time, countries like Kuwait have to manufacture and maintain every single part of their own defences? There are very few people who would even consider that argument for any length of time and give it any consideration at all.” Of course someone needs to remind the British Prime Minister that none of the countries he is selling arms to are democracies. Countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are all non-democratic dictatorships and have been staying in power by the help of their western masters like Britain.
A senior campaigns officer at the charity War On Want, commented on Cameron’s trip to the Middle East by saying “As people in the Middle East risk their lives opposing authoritarian regimes, it is deplorable that David Cameron is seeking to exploit the crisis by promoting sales of weapons and torture equipment to the region. Cameron should cancel this tour immediately and ban all UK companies from weapons deals with regimes that deny human rights to their people.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — International breast cancer awareness month represents an issue of special concern to Saudi Arabia, a country which sees more than 8,000 women diagnosed with the disease each year and in which breast cancer accounts for 24 percent of all cancer cases, according to the Saudi cancer registry at King Faisal specialist hospital and research center.
The cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the health of body cells, according to specialists.
“The normal behavior of cells is to stay where they belong and only divide if and when they need to,” however if the genes become faulty, cells can reproduce unchecked and form a tumor, when this occurs in the breast tissue it leads to breast cancer, explains Dr. Wafa Nichols, a breast cancer research specialist at Jeddah’s center of excellence in genomic medicine research at King Abdul Aziz university.
Nichols said women should regularly look for warning signs which include changes to “skin texture and shape, lumps and redness,” and that such indicators should be reported to a doctor.
The main problem in Saudi Arabia is that the disease is not caught in time. About 50 to 60 percent of cases are detected at an advanced stage which limits the effectiveness of all known treatments, according to a report in Arab News newspaper.
Dr. Taher Twegieri, breast cancer expert at King Faisal hospital and research center, said the treatment of breast cancer depends on the specific patient and the stage at which their cancer is diagnosed.
Treatment options include the surgical route if the tumor is localized, as well as chemotherapy and radiation therapy for select patients.
Twegieri added that “hormonal therapy is for those who have a hormonal responsive tumor” and that these distinct tumors grow as a result of the estrogen hormone present in women. The tumor is therefore targeted by reducing the patient’s levels of estrogen, according to this particular remedy.
Palliative care, which aims to relieve the suffering of patients, is administered throughout the patient’s experience with cancer.
Diagnostic laboratories are now able to conduct tests that help doctors decide which treatment will work better with which patient, added Dr. Nichols of King Abdul Aziz University.
The Kingdom is well-endowed with the medical resources needed for such treatments, with the necessary equipment and doctors at hand.
However, the subject of breast cancer remains a taboo, leading many women to suffer in silence.
The desire to sweep the issue under the rug has dissuaded many women in Saudi Arabia from seeking early detection.
“This is why we have late stage presentation and poor outcomes,” said Dr. Twegieri of Saudi’s King Faisal hospital.
Yahya Hamidaddin, managing director of the Adalid public relations company which handles media campaigns for Saudi’s Zahra breast cancer association, told Al Arabiya English that women are slowly but surely breaking the silence: there are “pioneer women who have suffered from this disease and were brave enough to discuss it in public and spread awareness.”
The association staged a major campaign in May of this year, entitled “A Woman's Journey: Destination Mount Everest.” The event saw 10 Saudi women climb to the mountain’s base camp to raise the profile of this disease.
“We had a mix of positive and negative responses from both genders, (however) our campaign created a public debate” Hamidaddin said.
Through such events local organizations wish to alert Saudi society to the dangers of ignoring breast cancer.
This is especially important amongst Saudi’s youth as 30 percent of breast cancer cases in the Kingdom occur in women under the age of 40, compared with five percent in the United States, according to Ms. Magazine online.
Twegieri noted the strange phenomena; “we have younger patients than the West has.” The reasons are unclear, he added.
Men’s breast cancer
A small percentage of men have also been known to suffer from breast cancer, “this wasn't known for the general public,” said Hamidaddin. He said part of the campaign was to raise awareness of breast cancer in men.
This year’s breast cancer awareness month is a chance for women, and
men, in Saudi Arabia to understand the disease and raise its profile, a measure which could save lives, he said.— www.shafaqna.com/English