SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, has said that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects intended to blow up their remaining explosives in Times Square.
Speaking at a joint press conference on Thursday with Police Commissioner Raymon Kelly, Bloomberg said that the Tsarnaev brothers had a pressure cooker bomb and five pipe bombs they intended to set off.
"Last night we were informed by the FBI that the surviving attacker revealed that New York City was next on their list of targets," Bloomberg said at New York City Hall.
"He and his older brother intended to drive to New York and detonate those explosives in Times Square."
The mayor said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the captured suspect, told Boston investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother Tamerlan had discussed about "spontaneously" going to New York to detonate their remaining explosives.
Miriam Conrad, Tsarnaev's lawyer, declined to comment on Thursday on whether her client was still talking with investigators.
On Wednesday, two US officials, speaking anonymously to the AP news agency, revealed that the federal government had added Tamerlan to a terrorist database 18 months before the deadly explosions.
Five days after the US determined who was allegedly behind the deadly Boston marathon terror attacks, Washington is attempting to piece together what happened and whether there were any unconnected dots buried in the US government files that, if connected, could have prevented the bombings.
"It's now clear that both the FBI and the CIA were aware of Tamerlan Tsarnaev for more than a year," said Al Jazeera reporter Dominic Kane.
"When the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers concluded last week, police and law enforcement agencies spoke of it as a victory.
"But now the revelation that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on a watchlist of potential terror suspects might put that in a different light."
Tsarnaev, 19, told authorities that his older brother, 26, had only recently recruited him to be part of the attack, the US officials said on Wednesday.
Dzhokhar is said to have told the FBI that he and his brother were angry about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said. How much of those conversations will end up in court is unclear.
The CIA added Tamerlan to a huge, classified database of known and suspected terrorists a year and a half ago, officials said, an acknowledgment that will undoubtedly prompt a congressional inquiry about whether the Obama administration adequately investigated tips from Russia that Tsarnaev had posed a security threat.
Shortly after the bombings, US officials said the intelligence community had no information about threats to the marathon before the April 15 explosions.
The US officials who spoke to AP were close to the investigation, but insisted on anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the case with reporters.
Investigators have said the brothers appeared to have been radicalised through materials on the internet and have found no evidence tying them to any one group.
Tamerlan, whom authorities have described as the driving force behind the plot, was killed in a shootout with police.
The CIA made the request to add Tamerlan's name to the terrorist database after the Russian government contacted the agency with concerns that he had become a follower of extremism.
About six months earlier, the FBI had separately investigated Tsarnaev, also at Russia's request, but the FBI found no ties to terrorism, officials said.
Officials say they never found the type of information on Tsarnaev that would have elevated his profile among counterterrorism investigators and placed him on the terrorist watch list.
Politicians who were briefed by the FBI said they had more questions than answers about the investigation of Tsarnaev.
The Senate is due to be briefed on the investigation on Thursday.
Officials said on Wednesday that Dzhokhar acknowledged to the FBI his role in the attacks but did so before he was advised of his constitutional rights to remain silent and seek a lawyer.
It is unclear whether those statements would be admissible in a criminal trial and, if not, whether prosecutors would need them to win a conviction.
Officials said physical evidence, including a 9mm handgun and pieces of a remote-control device commonly used in toys, was recovered from the scene.
Authorities had previously said Dzhokhar exchanged gunfire with them for more than an hour on Friday night before they captured him inside a boat covered by a tarp in a suburban Boston neighbourhood backyard.
But the two US officials said on Wednesday that he was unarmed when captured, raising questions about the gunfire and how he was injured.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – British anti-war activists are set to march later on Saturday in a national demonstration in support of the innocent residents of the besieged Gaza Strip outside the British prime minister’s office and the Israeli embassy in London.
The protest organized by anti-war campaigners the Stop the War Coalition will be held in “solidarity with Gaza” to call for “an end to the siege” on the impoverished coastal strip.
“It has suffered a barbaric onslaught by the world's fourth most powerful military, killing over 150 Palestinians, injuring over 1000 and devastating many areas,” the Stop the War coalition said in a statement on its website.
“Our demonstration for Gaza starts at Downing Street to tell David Cameron and the British government that the green light they give to Israel's crimes is not in our name,” it added.
The Israeli regime led an eight-day onslaught on Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated places in the world with 1.7 million people packed into a strip of land. More than 160 Palestinians were killed and some 1,200 were injured in the attacks during November 14-21.
The Stop the War march will feature addresses by British pro-Palestinian MPs as well as members of other anti-war and pro-Palestinian groups and union members including the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Unite the Union and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
The latter sent a letter to the British Foreign Secretary William Hague back on November 20 in protest at his assertion that Hamas is mainly responsible for the Israeli assaults on Palestinians.
“We write to express our astonishment at your statement of 15th November, when you said that Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. It is difficult to square that with the recorded pattern of attacks or with the resulting deaths and injuries, and impossible to square it with the first-hand account of cease-fire negotiations,” the letter said.
“The statistics provided by OCHA (the UN Office for the Protection of Civilians) is the most authoritative record of the intensification of the conflict. They show a pattern of mutual attacks during the year to the end of October 2012, with 73 Palestinians being killed while no Israelis were killed. Israeli forces also carried out incursions into Gaza together with destruction of crops and the targeting of fishermen within Gaza’s Oslo-recognized maritime exclusion zone,” it added.– www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Israel's prime minister and defence minister ordered the country's military to prepare for a strike against Iran's nuclear installations two years ago, according to a television documentary.
But the order was not carried out after it met with strong opposition from two key security figures, the military chief of staff and head of the Mossad, claimed Uvda (Fact), broadcast yesterday.
It said that at the end of a meeting of selected ministers and officialsBinyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak ordered the army to raise its level of preparedness to P Plus, a code signifying imminent military action.
But the army chief, Gabi Ashkenazi and the Mossad head, Meir Dagan, who were at the meeting, opposed the move. According to the hour-long Channel 2 programme, Dagan told Netanyahu and Barak: "You are likely to make an illegal decision to go to war. Only the cabinet is authorised to decide this." The programme reported Dagan saying after the meeting that the prime minister and defence minister were "simply trying to steal a war".
Ashkenazi voiced fears that raising the alert level would "create facts on the ground", making a military strike inevitable. He was quoted as saying: "This is not something you do unless you are certain you want to execute at the end."
Both security chiefs have since left their posts.
Barak, who was interviewed for the programme, said the order was not carried out because the military did not have the necessary operational capability. He rejected the notion that security chiefs vetoed the order.
"The things you are describing are the responsibility of the government," he said. "The idea that if the chief of staff does not recommend something that is possible to do, then we cannot decide to carry it out – this has no basis in fact. The chief of staff must build the operational capacity, he must tell us from a professional point of view whether it is possible to carry out an order, or if it is not possible, and he also can – and must – give his recommendation. [But] it can be carried out against his recommendation."
Barak also said that raising the alert level "did not necessarily mean war".
The reporter for the programme, Ilana Dayan, said Israeli military censors prevented her from disclosing the date in 2010 for the order.
Since leaving office, both former security chiefs have made clear their opposition to premature military action against Iran's nuclear programme. In August, Ashkenazi said "we're still not there", urging more time for sanctions and diplomacy.
Dagan said bombing Iran was "the stupidest idea I've ever heard". He told CBS's 60 Minutes: "An attack on Iran now before exploring all other approaches is not the right way … to do it."
The current senior echelon of Israel's military and intelligence establishment in Israel is also believed to have serious reservations about launching unilateral military action. The US has urged restraint, arguing that sanctions need time to take effect.
In his speech to the United Nations in September, Netanyahu pulled back from the likelihood of an imminent Israeli strike when he declared that a "red line" – the point at which Iran is close to nuclear capability – would not be crossed until next spring or summer. The Iranians say their nuclear programme is for domestic use, not to create weapons.
Scott Johnson, a senior analyst with IHS Jane's, said that Israel still faces the same capability issues as two years ago. "The capability issues that prevent them from performing a unilateral strike are the same now as they were in 2010," he said, citing the lack of air-to-air refuellers and heavy-duty bombs needed to penetrate underground bunkers. "They can plan and prepare for a unilateral strike as much as they want, but they can't actually do it without the US."
The timing of the broadcast, two months before a general election in Israel, could be significant, said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli analyst. "If Netanyahu and Barak are shown as too eager to go to war without considering opinion inside the cabinet and security establishment, that makes them look reckless. The fact that the [Israeli] military censors allowed the programme to be aired could mean that they are trying to show it was the military establishment that basically saved Israel from possible disaster."
Channel 2's disclosures came as a respected Israeli thinktank, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), published the outcome of awar game simulating the 48-hour period after an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear installations. In the scenario, Israel does not inform the US of its operation until after its launch. Iran reacts by launching around 200 missiles at Israel, and urging its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas to do likewise. However, it is careful to avoid attacking US targets in the immediate aftermath of a strike.
According to the INSS, there are two opposing outcomes of an Israeli attack: "One anticipates the outbreak of world war three, while the other envisions containment and restraint, and presumes that in practice Iran's capabilities to ignite the Middle East are limited." Its war game "developed in the direction of containment and restraint". www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - A planned 10,000-capacity ‘mega mosque’ in East London is under consideration by city authorities as locals mount a campaign to halt construction amid fears it will become a hotbed of Islamic extremism.
The gigantic mosque, four times the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral, will sport towering 40-foot minarets, an Islamic library, sports facilities and eight apartments.
Planning permission for the place of worship is being considered by Newham Council, despite controversy and fierce opposition from the local community, including many Muslims.
The plans were submitted by Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim missionary movement, which some have described as an ‘antechamber of fundamentalism’.
Critics claim the Islamic group preaches separatism and segregation. Two of the July 7, 2005, London bombers – Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammad Sidique Khan – are believed to have prayed at a Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, before committing their terror attack.
“They teach that if you want to be a good Muslim you must separate off from non-Muslims…It's only Tablighi Jamaat – of all the Islamic groups – that has created ghettos over in Toronto, in Canada. They're all around the world, this is a huge group and wherever they go they create barriers, hostility, division, they create separatism," Alan Craig, campaign director of ‘Mega Mosque No Thanks,’ which is actively opposing its construction, told RT.
If given the go-ahead, the massive mosque could be the first Sharia-law-controlled area in Britain. Many East Londoners are worried that flouts Prime Minster David Cameron’s policy of a multicultural Britain that embraces all ethnic groups.
“The grounds on which they're trying to set-up here in Britain are anti-British, anti-Western. This is not just going to be a Mosque – this is going to be a centre of training, where they are going to try to reach out to Islamist Muslims. To harden up and medieval-ize the Islam of ordinary Muslims in this country. And I meet so many Muslims, who don't want that," journalist and cultural analyst Dr. Jenny Taylor, founder of religious literacy consulting group Lapido Media, explained to RT.
That view is shared by many Muslims in East London. Asqhar Bukhari, a spokesperson for the UK branch of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, told RT, “Muslims themselves oppose this mosque. Not on the grounds that, they don't want to worship their God, but on the grounds that women aren't allowed, the local population, the Muslim population, has no say in how the mosque itself is governed."
The proposal has sparked intense opposition in the years since the plans were first submitted in 1999.
In 2001, Tablighi Jamaat agreed worship would only be on a temporary basis at the site of the proposed mosque. In 2010, Newham Council issued an enforcement notice, but Tablighi successfully appealed it in 2011 and now more than 5,000 people worship at the ramshackle site every week.
The plans had initially included a provision for retail units and 300 houses, which were shelved in place of the mega mosque. The Muslim community refused to allow their donations to contribute to commercial businesses.
Newham Council, which received the proposal from Tablighi on September 5, 2012, issued a statement in response: “We can confirm we have received a planning application. As this is currently being processed it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
The Mega Mosque No Thanks website contains a checklist for mobilizing activists, including signing an e-petition on the government’s website and contacting local MPs.
Craig explained to RT, “If this went ahead it would be like a tipping point – there will be no stopping fundamentalist Islam. If that happens – well we'd all need to leave the county."
Tablighi Jamaat maintains that their purpose is peaceful missionary work. Spokesperson for the group’s charitable trust and site owner Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen previously told reporters, “The door is always open and we are happy to meet and discuss in depth our proposals.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)— PayPal has confirmed that it is eliminating 325 positions in the company as part of its plan to consolidate its product divisions into one large group.
“While PayPal is strong and performing well, making decisions that impact our employees was hard. So this is a difficult day at PayPal,” said David Marcus, PayPal’s president, in a blog post. “These are good people, good friends and colleagues, who have played a role in creating PayPal’s strong global leadership position today.”
The restructuring plan was originally disclosed during eBay’s earnings call earlier this month, but it was unknown how many people would be affected.
This morning, the digital payments company said it informed about 325 full-time employees, primarily in its product and technology organizations, that they were being laid off. Additionally, PayPal also ended contracts with about 120 contractors globally.
During eBay’s conference call, CEO John Donahoe said that the new structure was designed to consolidate its product groups from nine to one. “Here’s the way to think about it — customers want a seamless experience across the Web, online and offline,” he said. “While it’s true there will be reductions, we are committed to accelerating the pace of innovation. We aren’t seeking cost reductions — this is 100 percent about streamlining the creation of great products.”
Separately, eBay said it will take a $15 million charge in the fourth quarter related to the staff reductions.
Here’s Marcus’ blog post explaining the cuts:
Delighting our customers every day with great, simple products and experiences is a priority for me, and for everyone at PayPal. It’s something we need to become better and faster at. And that means we need to transform how we work.
So we’ve been redesigning our product organization, collapsing nine product groups into one. We are creating agile teams of designers, engineers and product managers. Instead of being organized around projects, our teams will now be dedicated to products and focused on our customers — consumers, developers, small businesses and large retailers.
Unfortunately, making the right decisions on behalf of our customers meant we had to make some very tough decisions inside our company. This morning we informed approximately 325 full time employees, primarily in our product and technology organizations, that their roles are being eliminated. We also are ending contracts with approximately 120 contractors globally.
While PayPal is strong and performing well, making decisions that impact our employees was hard. So this is a difficult day at PayPal. These are good people, good friends and colleagues, who have played a role in creating PayPal’s strong global leadership position today. We appreciate all the contributions that they have made. And they are being treated with fairness and dignity, consistent with our culture and values.
Moving forward, I’m confident these changes will make PayPal even better and stronger. Our customers can expect faster innovation and great products and experiences that make their lives simpler. That’s our commitment — every day. www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Indiana cannot cut off funding for Planned Parenthood just because the organization provides abortions, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld the core portion of a lower court order that said Indiana could not enforce a state law that barred abortion providers from collecting Medicaid funds for any medical services. Indiana's Republican governor, Mitch Daniels, signed a law in May 2011 that made Indiana the first state to deny the organization Medicaid funds for general health services, including cancer screenings.
In June 2011, US district judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued an order blocking parts of the law after Planned Parenthood challenged it. But the state appealed. The appeals court upheld the part of Pratt's order that said Indiana did not have authority to exclude a medical provider that qualifies for Medicaid. It said the law violated patients' right to obtain medical care from the provider of their choice.
However, the panel of three judges said Pratt needed to modify other portions of the preliminary injunction.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The FBI has arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi national they say intended to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan this morning, only a few blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood.
The man, identified as Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, is reported to have conspired with undercover officers working for both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department in an effort to blow up the bank branch, but local network NBC 4 says the public was never at risk. On Wednesday afternoon, he was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda, Reuters reports.
Authorities allegedly provided the man with fake explosives and assisted him in constructing the foiled plot after online posts he is thought to have authored referenced jihad. The complaint also includes quotes attributed to the suspect that reference former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Nafis was arrested early Wednesday after he attempted to detonate what he thought was a 1,000 pound bomb inside of a vehicle near the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street in the city’s financial district.
A criminal complaint filed in court on Wednesday suggests that Nafis traveled to the United States in January with the purpose of waging a terrorist attack. The document alleges that he had considered other targets before settling on the Fed branch, and even debated harming an unnamed, high-ranking US official.
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasize that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant's 'accomplices' were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism," FBI Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan tells reporters, WABC News reports.
Although the latest incident is the most recent attempted terror plot hatched at least in part by the FBI, it is far from the first. Months earlier in May, FBI agents arrested five men from the Cleveland, Ohio area that they said were orchestrating a plan to bomb the Valley View Bridge, a 4,150-foot roadway that stretches across the Cuyahoga River. In that case, authorities argued that the accused men expressed “intent on using violence to express their ideological views,” although the idea of bombing the bridge was admittedly introduced to them by an undercover informant working on behalf of the agency.
“I could show you” how to bring down the bridge, the informant told members of the alleged terror ring after infiltrating their circle. The source then offered to help the group purchase explosives.
An report done last year by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley revealed that the FBI has as many as 15,000 undercover agents working within the bureau. Of the roughly 500 prosecutions in recent years relating to terrorism charges, the FBI used informants for about half of them, the report suggested. Of 158 of prosecutions that ended in convictions, around one-third relied on direct involvement from federal agent provocateurs.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — JNN U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was not preplanned, directly contradicting top Libyan officials who say the attack was planned in advance.
“Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo,” Rice told me this morning on “This Week.”
“In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated,” Rice said, referring to protests in Egypt on September over an anti-Islam film. Protesters in Cairo breached the walls of the U.S. American Embassy, tearing apart an American flag.
“We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to – or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo,” Rice said. “And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons… And it then evolved from there.”
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, along with three other Americans, were killed in Libya following the assault on the American consulate in Benghazi, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Rice said the FBI is examining the attack, saying their investigation “will tell us with certainty what transpired.”
Rice’s account directly contradicts that of Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf, who said this weekend that the attack was premeditated by individuals from outside Libya.
“It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” told CBS News.
Rice said there were no Marines present to protect the consulate in Libya, saying the U.S. presence is Libya is “relatively new” since the revolution that overthrew former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
“There are not Marines in every facility. That depends on the circumstances. That depends on the requirements,” Rice said. “Our presence in Tripoli, as in Benghazi, is relatively new, as you will recall. We’ve been back post-revolution only for a matter of months.”
But Rice said there was a “substantial security presence” at the consulate in Benghazi, noting that two of the four Americans killed there were providing security.
“We certainly are aware that Libya is a place where there have been increasingly some violent incidents,” Rice said. “The security personnel that the State Department thought were required were in place… It obviously didn’t prove sufficient to the – the nature of the attack and sufficient in that – in that moment.”
“But the president has been very clear. The protection of American personnel and facilities is and will remain our top priority,” Rice added. “That’s why we’ve reinforced our presence in Tripoli and elsewhere.”
The attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans took place on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. That may simply be a coincidence, but if so, it would be a pretty big one.
In his interview, Mohamed Yusuf al-Magariaf, the president of Libya’s National Congress, said Libya had arrested 50 people, many connected to al-Qaeda. That would certainly bolster the notion that the date — Sept. 11 — was not a coincidence. He also said a few of those arrested were from other countries.
It is in Magariaf’s interest to emphasize that this tragedy does not reflect anti-American feelings by the Libyan people, especially because Stevens was a well-liked diplomat in the country. But he was also emphatic that “the way these perpetrators acted and moved” and the “specific date for this so-called demonstration” make it clear that the attack was planned.
“It was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago, and they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” he said.
To some extent, Rice and Magariaf may be speaking past each other. Magariaf is emphasizing a plan in motion for a period of time; Rice appears to be focused on a plan for that particular day, or even an attack specifically on the ambassador. The two positions do not necessarily contradict each other.
For instance, Stevens was known to travel with a relatively small security detail, so the attackers may have planned to take advantage of that. But that does not mean they had a specific plan for that day — until the opportunity presented itself.
Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation, may not have been the target of the attacks in any case. One media report claims that key documents, including one with the names of Libyans working with Americans, were taken from the consulate.
That same report, in the Independent, quotes a Libyan military official as saying that a separate safe house also came under attack:
The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”
Indeed, news services reported last week that Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, briefing lawmakers last week, said the attack appeared to be planned because it was so extensive and because of the “proliferation” of small and medium weapons at the scene. That also would seem to contradict Rice’s stance.
Finally, ABC News reported that Glen Doherty, one of the former Navy SEALs who was killed, was not there to provide security but was on a mission to track down shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles and destroy them. “Doherty said that he traveled throughout Libya chasing reports of the weapons, and once they were found, his team would destroy them on the spot by bashing them with hammers or repeatedly running them over with their vehicles,” ABC said.
The Cat is out of the Bag now , and People are well aware of the CIA Plans and now nobody is even afraid of them , as calling a Spade a Spade , as with US reputation gone totally down , after the 9/11 attacks , which has now been proved by so many that even a little research of any individual can satisfy him with the facts that , it was a joint operation of CIA and Mossad , and these Organisation or so Professional in their work that they don’t mind even Killing their own thousands of Citizens , Just for their Dream of ruling the World.
And now in the case of the Ben Ghazi Protests and then the Killing of the US Ambassador , the facts are again pointing towards the CIA Operation , being done and carried out by the Al Qaida Operatives , working on the directions of their Principal Agency CIA , as now they have other Plans for the Oil rich Land , as they are going in turn from Iraq to Sudan , and now Libya, the 7th Biggest Oil producer , is on the list of Menu , as the energy rich lands should be in under the Rule of US to maintain its supremacy in the World as Super Power.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — 13th edition of Russia's International Quran Contest is scheduled to be held on October 14 in Moscow.
According to arabic.ruvr.ru website, participants at this edition of the contest will compete on memorization of the Holy Quran under the supervision of Sheikh Rawi Ainuddin, Grand Mufti and president of the Ifta Council of Russia.
It will be held at Conference Hall of Cosmos Hotel of the capital city in cooperation with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country.
Some 30 Quran memorizers from different countries such as Turkey, France, Kazakhstan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, America, Indonesia, Tunisia, South Africa, China and Morocco will attend the contest.
Seven top participants of the preliminary stage of the contest will be selected to compete at the final stage.
Representatives of Barbados, Uganda, Senegal and Tanzania will be in attendance to this edition of the contest for the first time.
Various cultural programs have been organized on the sidelines of the international event.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Hot on the heels of Curiosity’s successful landing, NASA has decided to send another mission to Mars. The project, called InSight, involves drilling 16 feet into the crust of Mars. The mission, set to launch in 2016, will provide detailed information about the planet’s core, in particular determining whether it is liquid or solid.
“This is the first time we’re looking at the interior of Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator in the science mission directorate, during a press conference on Aug. 20. “There are many science questions we’re dying to learn the answer to.”
Though NASA currently has several probes on Mars — including the remaining MER rover, Opportunity, the new and popular Curiosity rover, and the high-flying Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey spacecrafts — future Mars exploration has been looking pretty sparse. Other than the MAVEN orbiter, set to launch next year, NASA had no further Mars missions on its plate. The U.S. agency had formerly partnered with ESA to send probes to the Red Planet in 2016 and 2018, but those plans were terminated when NASA’s last budget made deep cuts to planetary science. The new InSight mission puts Mars back on NASA’s radar.
Unlike Curiosity and its complex sky-crane maneuver, InSight will use Phoenix lander-type technology to reach the Martian surface. It will carry a robotic arm and two black-and-white cameras as well as instruments to measure Martian seismic activity and the planet’s rotation axis. A small drill-like instrument will vibrate to wiggle down into the soil and penetrate a few feet into the crust to make temperature measurements.
Though a rocky planet like Earth, Mars is much smaller than our home world and has evolved quite differently. Unlike Earth, the Red Planet has no crustal plates and no global magnetic field. It remains an open question whether Marsquakes shake its surface and how much.
InSight is part of NASA’s Discovery-class program, which aims to produce top notch science on the cheap. The mission is capped at $425 million, a steal compared to the recent flagship $2.5-billion Curiosity rover. Insight was competing for selection as the next Discovery mission against two others, the Comet Hopper, which would have explored the body of a comet, and the Titan Mare Explorer, which planned to land a small boat-like probe on a methane lake on Saturn’s moon Titan.—www.shafaqna.com/english