SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar says the Israeli regime will now "think twice" before launching an attack on Iran following its failure in the Gaza war.
"The Jews will think twice before" attacking Iran, al-Zahar said on Saturday.
The resistance movements in the tiny blockaded enclave managed, for the first time in two decades, to target Tel Aviv with rockets and missiles they had produced using, according to the Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Iranian technology.
According to US Center for Military Studies, Fajr-5, newly developed by resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip using Iranian know-how, has a range of up to 75 kilometers, weighs 915 kilograms and has a 90-kilogram warhead. It was one of the rockets that penetrated Israel’s Iron Dome missile interceptor and landed in Tel Aviv.
Iran has made great advances in the missile technology over the past years. According to the Commander of the Aerospace Division of IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Iran's Sejjil (Baked Clay) and Shahab missiles are among the missiles capable of targeting objects within a range of 2,000 kilometers.
During Great Prophet 6 military drills in June 2011, the Iranian commander said although Iran is equipped with the technology to produce longer range missiles, it does not intend to do so as Israeli targets are within the reach of its missiles. A distance of 1,200 km, according to Hajizadeh, separates Iran from Israel.
Israel has at times threatened to attack Iran's nuclear facilities based on the unsubstantiated allegation that Iran's nuclear energy program has been diverted towards the production an atomic bomb, a claim Iran has rejected.
Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said in October that Iran's arsenal of ballistic missiles is powerful enough to repel any threats. Last November, he said Israel would not have a minimal chance of survival if it ventured to attack Iran.– www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Australia's government has apologised to hundreds of victims of abuse within the military, clearing the way for victims to receive compensation.
In an address to parliament on Monday, Defence Minister Stephen Smith acknowledged that soldiers, sailors and member of the air force had suffered abuse, often by superiors under the excuse of toughening up younger recruits, since the early 1950s.
"Young men and women have endured sexual, physical or mental abuse from their colleagues which is not acceptable and does not reflect the values of a modern, diverse, tolerant Australian society," Smith told parliament.
"On behalf of the government, I say sorry."
An independent report into abuse within the military earlier this year found 775 plausible allegations of sexual, physical
and mental abuse within the armed forces since 1951.
The report detailed 24 allegations of rape that never went to trial.
'Hostile to women'
Smith said senior military leaders were committed to changing a defence force culture which has often turned a blind
eye to abuse and was often hostile to women or those who spoke out or complained about their treatment.
The apology follows an independent report sparked by an incident in 2011, when footage of a female defence academy cadet having consensual sex with a male colleague was streamed online to other cadets without her knowledge.
"That at the time, was said to be an isolated incident," Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from Sydney, said. "But very quickly, other people came forward and said similar sorts of abuse had happened to them while they were in the military.
"The government asked a law firm to conduct a review and over 1,000 people came forward, saying they had suffered some form of abuse."
Defence Force chief General David Hurley also apologised, saying he recognised "the damage and suffering that has been caused to some"."
The Australian Defence Force has begun addressing these causes through its cultural reform programme," he said.
Smith said an independent task force would now examine specific allegations and rule on compensation of up to A$50,000 ($52,200) for victims. It will also refer matters to police or the military justice system if there is evidence of a crime.
She noted that U.N. treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights take precedence over any regulations ITU may adopt that could relate to freedom of expression.
"We will not support any effort to broaden the scope of the ITRs (International Telecommunications Regulations) to facilitate any censorship of content or blocking the free flow of information and ideas," said Terry Kramer, a former technology industry executive who was given ambassador status to lead a powerhouse 123-member U.S. delegation to the World Conference on International Telecommunications.
The groups include representatives from Facebook, Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Google — which has been leading an aggressive online campaign to warn about the risks of increased Internet regulations from the meeting.
The international Internet Society, a group headquartered in Virginia and Switzerland that maintains the Internet core protocols, also claims any tighter U.N. controls could "interfere with the continued innovation and evolution of the telecommunications networks and the Internet."
The American technology company envoys in Dubai also are expected to push back strongly against any sweeping revision in Internet charges. The proposal, led by the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association, would do away with the current system — called "net neutrality" — that now treats all Internet traffic equally, regardless of who is sending or receiving.
In its place, the European plan seeks to have content providers pay when their service is accessed across borders. The money raised, theoretically, could pay to expand broadband infrastructures in developing countries. Opponents, however, say companies such as Facebook could cut off access to countries where the extra charges are too burdensome.
Even the U.N.'s cultural agency, UNESCO, has raised concerns about proposals that are so broadly worded that they could be used to restrict freedom of expression under the guise of national security or fighting spam and Internet fraud.– www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said on Wednesday he and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had agreed to defer more nuclear talks until she has consulted the six world powers she represents next week.
Jalili said his talks with Ashton had been constructive.
"We evaluated the common points and what we could do for further cooperation and future meetings," Jalili told a news conference in Istanbul, after meeting Ashton late on Tuesday.
He said they had agreed to renew contact after Ashton has met the six powers seeking to rein in Iran's nuclear program. The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain have sought to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear work by intensifying economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —In an interview published a day after his death, a prominent progressive Catholic cardinal left the best summary of his contribution to debates within the Church.
"The Church has remained 200 years behind the times. Why has it not been shaken up?" Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said in an interview published in Saturday's Corriere dell Sera newspaper. "Are we scared? Fear instead of courage? However, faith is the fundamental to the church."
He died Friday at age 85, the Archdiocese of Milan announced.
Martini suffered from Parkinson's disease and died at his residence in Milan, where he had lived since 2008, when the disease forced him to leave Jerusalem, the archdiocese said.
A public viewing was scheduled for Saturday at Milan Cathedral and the funeral for Monday.
Pope Benedict XVI sent his condolences to the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, remembering his "beloved brother that served with generosity the Gospels and the Church."
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, called Martini "an expert and passionate in the Holy Scripture."
Martini was born in 1927 and entered the Society of Jesus at age 17.
Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Milan in 1979 and proclaimed him cardinal in 1983. In 2002, at the retirement age of 75, Martini moved to Jerusalem to dedicate himself to Biblical studies, according to his official Vatican biography.
Martini was known for his progressive position on some of the Church's most controversial issues, including priestly celibacy, the use of condoms, euthanasia and homosexuality.
Even after his retirement, Martini raised "subtle though crucial objections" to the Church's opposition to all cases of assisted fertility, distribution of condoms to AIDS victims, and so-called right-to-die cases, Time magazine reported in 2007.
He "politely challenged" the pope's strong condemnation of an Italian government proposal to legalize civil unions for homosexual partners and voiced support for the ordination of women as deacons, Time reported.
Italy's ANSA news agency said Martini was considered one of the more liberal high-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano remembered Martini's "innovative paths in the inter-religious dialogue," as well as the "enlightening and concrete suggestions" he received from the prelate in each of their many encounters, especially on social themes like immigration.
Martini was one of the "papabili," or papal contenders, at the 2005 Conclave that elected the current pope.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Air China flight 981 returned to the Beijing Capital International Airport to “guarantee passenger safety”, the airline said in a brief statement released through its official microblog after the flight landed.
An inspection of the plane turned up nothing abnormal and the flight was due to resume, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The flight originally took off at 1:00pm (0500 GMT), Xinhua said, but did not say what time the plane turned back.
A microblog posting from an individual claiming to be a passenger said the plane was in the air for eight hours however.
“After eight hours of flying, our flight just came back quietly to Beijing,” said the posting under the name Natalie.
Communication breakdown sparks Schiphol airport hijack panic 29 Aug 2012
Seven 'terrorists' shot dead in China 29 Dec 2011
The airline’s schedule shows flight CA981 bound for John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport was originally due to arrive in New York at 2:20pm (1820 GMT) on Wednesday.
JFK’s website said it had “no recent information” about the flight of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft.
Xinhua said police were investigating the incident and warned authorities would crack down on any illegal action.
In June, six members of China’s Uighur minority tried to hijack a Chinese domestic flight departing from a restive city in the far-western Xinjiang region, but crew members and passengers thwarted them, authorities said.
The Tianjin Airlines plane, bound for the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, returned safely to the airport in Hotan city after a struggle between the hijackers and the crew members and passengers.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Amid fears of repeated attacks on their mosques over the past two weeks, US Muslims are getting ready to celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday as Muslim groups try to increase mosques security without spurring panic among worshippers.
"We ask our member organizations and the Muslim community in general to exercise extreme caution and immediately report any incidents of harassment, abuse or violence to the appropriate authorities," Dr. Zaher Sahloul, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, said in a statement cited by Huffington Post on Friday, August 17.
Sahloul comments came as CIOGC sent a memo to its 63 mosques and organizations, advising them to create safety committees as well as emergency and evacuation plans to be distributed to members.
The memo also asked police for patrols during Ramadan and peak prayer times.
Similar calls were urged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington D.C. which issued a safety advisory on August 6.
The advisory urged Muslims to install surveillance equipment, request extra police patrols, and report suspicious vehicles driving near mosques ahead of `Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
The warnings followed attacks on seven US mosques in the last two weeks, including three attacks last weekend.
According to reports, vandals shot paintballs at the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City on Aug. 12, and in Lombard, Ill., someone threw a bottle filled with acid at an Islamic school while 500 people prayed inside.
A day earlier, a neighbor fired an air rifle at the Muslim Education Center in Morton Grove, Ill., while on August 7 two women were videotaped throwing pig legs on a proposed mosque site in Ontario, California.
On August 6, the Islamic Society of Joplin (Missouri) mosque burned to the ground in a suspected arson attack, while a vandal smashed a sign at the Masjid al-Islam in North Smithfield, R.I.
Four teens in Hayward, Calif., were arrested on August 5 for throwing lemons at a local mosque, and allegedly shot a BB gun at the mosque in earlier incidents.
All of that comes in the wake of a deadly shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin which left six people and the gunman dead.
Though urged for Muslims safety, the new security measures were criticized by a leading Islamic organization as scaring the Muslim community.
"By sending a lot of advisories, you can also scare the community, and that is something that we don't want to do," Naeem Baig, Vice President of the Islamic Circle of North America, told Huffington Post.
"Our organization is advising Muslims to practice your faith, be proud of your faith."
Baig noted that ICNA does not plan to send-out special warnings, though acknowledging the importance of the role played by CAIR.
Because CAIR is a civil rights group, Baig said their safety advisory was "appropriate."
"If all Muslim groups started doing the same thing, it could create chaos," Baig said.
Despite criticism, the new security measures were urged to protect Muslim worshippers during days of `Eid Al-Fitr.
"I think people do feel concern about their safety going to and from or being at mosques and in general feeling like prey," said Kelly Kaufmann, who attends the Muslim Education Center in Morton Grove, Ill., which was attacked.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Yasser Asgari, Latin America expert at Al-Mustafa International University explained on the issues of Muslims in the continent noting the first presence of Islam in the region dates back to centuries before Columbus discovered America.
He said many slaves who were kidnapped from Western and Northern Africa had been Muslims and that became the beginning point for presence and spread of Islam in Latin America.
This Muslim expert referred to the history of Islam in Latin American countries and counted political suffocation, economic motivations and civil war as the main reasons for later immigration of Muslims from across the world.
The researcher at Al Mustafa University said the number of Muslims is roughly estimated around four million who unfortunately do not have enough solidarity among themselves.
According to Yasser Asgari, due to the negative propaganda of the media and oppressive governments were the leverages to force Muslims to convert to other religions.
He criticized western capitalist and Zionist-backed media for misrepresenting Islam and Muslims when the same Islamophobic move stirred the curiosity of some others to convert to Islam.
Based on the researcher, a problem for the Muslims in Latin America is lack of mass media for a better education of Islamic sciences and Arabic language to the emigrants.
He also counted inviting Muslim leaders and preachers for international conferences, participating in interfaith dialogues and also an active presence in the media and universities as opportunities to present true Islam and foiling anti-Islamic moves in Latin America. —www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The attack came after thousands of Saudi protesters took to the streets in Qatif on Friday, demanding the release of political prisoners, including a prominent Shia cleric.
Chanting slogans in support of social justice in the oil-rich Eastern Province, protestors also asked the regime to stop killing civilians by the Saudi-backed forces in neighboring Bahrain.
Tensions are running high in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province in the past weeks following the detention of Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.
Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the Kingdom's east, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.
An interview with Ali al-Ahmed, director of IGA, to further discuss the issue. The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Al-Ahmed: I think so since the arrest of Sheikh Nemr the protest frequency has accelerated and the protest movement in the country not only in the Eastern region has expanded.
We saw that yesterday in Jeddah where a few people were gathering outside the ministry of the interior in Jeddah’s, you know, the branch there.
So we are seeing more protests across the country increasing and I have information that the end of Ramadan will have many protests in different cities and new cities in fact to take advantage of the King’s announcement of the conference, so-called Islamic solidarity conference at the end of Ramadan.
So we are seeing an acceleration of the protest movement across the country in different and new cities in fact.
Q: Mr. Al-Ahmed, the response of security forces has also been getting harsher when it comes to these protests as they have picked up since the arrest of Sheikh Nemr. How do you see the continued escalation in the brutality of the Saudi forces moving onwards in the coming days and months as these protests intensify and more eyes are on Saudi Arabia?
Al-Ahmed: They are I think motivated by two things: that they are unable to do anything else, but use violence against mostly young protesters; and the silence of the international community is encouraging them to shoot and to use brutal force against peaceful protesters.
So I think this will continue. However this will encourage the protest movement even further. We will see that in the coming weeks in Ramadan will be really a changing and it will mark a massive change in the protest movement in the country.
Q: The Al Saud household is going through internal frictions of its own as we have seen over the past weeks and months coupled with this intensified protest movement, which is as you have mentioned spreading across the kingdom. What is to come? Is this the beginning of the end of the Al Saud?
Al-Ahmed: I think we are seeing this end more realistic than before, the fact that they are now fighting within their ranks. Among the questions that the security forces have been asking certain activists that if they have any contact with members of their own families who have already departed and are working against the regime.
So we are seeing even within the ruling family, fighting. We have a princess who sought asylum or others who are now outside the country and trying to really unseat the current leadership and just put it to the right stability because of the in-fighting and the end of the Saudi state will be mostly rousted not because of this protest movement alone, but because of the division where it is within the ranks of their own family.
Q: And before I let you go Mr. Al-Ahmed this also brings up the question of Bahrain, the Saudis clinched their grips on the Bahraini protesters in the hopes that it will not have spillover effects in its own soil but that has failed quite clearly. How is the Saudi response to Bahraini protesters going to be from here onwards?
Al-Ahmed: I think they will try to make an example of Bahrain to scare their own population. That has been the policy, what they call it kill one Shia to scare the rest into defense because they know that the protest movement is now reaching Riyadh and Jeddah and other Sunni Muslim strongholds and it is going to mark the rapid end of this cursed family forever. —www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Zhou “Peter” Fang and his mother Nora Fang suffered graphic abuse and degradation that is too obscene and depraved for any Hollywood script.
“William” Si Cheng tormented his son “Peter” Fang since he was a crying one-month-old baby until the 24-year-old killed him in a crowded Toronto public library in December 2010.
Senior forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hy Bloom described the Fangs’ abuse case as “one of the worst and most chronic child and spousal abuse scenarios he has ever encountered.”
Fang was pinched on the cheek as a one-month-old and when his mom intervened, Cheng attacked her. Later, he poured urine on to his son, forced him to eat vomit and fish from the garbage and he choked the child in his sleep.
The father twisted the heads off Peter’s pet birds “as punishment for his son making a charitable donation at school,” said Fang’s lawyer Mark Sandler.
He outlined 22 pages of “the most extreme, physical, emotional abuse” heaped upon both Fang and his mom.
Cheng threatened to kill or cut out his wife’s and son’s tongues — and he chopped off a rabbit’s tongue in their presence to emphasize the point — if they divulged their torturous lives, said Sandler.
Both of them were sexually abused by the twisted Cheng.
The wife was so viciously beaten by Cheng that she stopped working as a Toronto teacher. Nora Fang was temporarily blinded by the attack at the hands of her abusive husband, Si “William” Cheng, the documents indicate.
“I stopped working because of the cruelty I suffered at the hands of William Cheng,” wrote Fang, 51. “I was forced into hiding by Cheng.”
Cheng and Fang’s 17-year marriage — which featured abuse dating back to their days in China — collapsed after the May 2002 assault.
When Peter Fang was 10, the family moved to Australia, but the abuse that marred their time in Canada never stopped.
Peter and his mom were beaten without reason, and the son was confined to a bedroom, forced to urinate in a bottle. Then the father poured the waste on to his son’s head. When the mother was being sexually assaulted, the young son tried to save her but Cheng choked him.
The family moved to Vancouver in 1997 where Peter was choked in his sleep. His father was charged but the family moved to Australia before the courts dealt with the latest violence.
They returned to Toronto in 1998 where Peter was ordered to sleep on a board and urinate in a bowl on the floor at night.
Cheng was repeatedly charged, convicted, given minor sentences and intimidated his hostage family members to convince authorities that he “had changed,” court heard.
Peter still suffers from chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but a psychiatric assessment indicated he’s “not predisposed to violence towards others” or criminal behaviour in general.
He feared for his and his mother’s life up until Dec. 2, 2010 when he killed their tormentor.—www.shafaqna.com/english