SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will return to Cuba to continue medical treatment, the country's top legislator said.
- Hugo Chavez
The 58-year-old leader, who was re-elected in October for a third term, staged what appeared to be a remarkable comeback from an undisclosed type of cancer in his pelvic region diagnosed in June 2011.
Chavez travelled frequently to Cuba for chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the subsequent months.
Following a nearly two-week absence from the public eye, Venezuela's Congress on Tuesday gave him permission to return to the Communist-run island for additional medical treatment.
"Six months after I completed the last radiation therapy treatment, it has been recommended that I begin a special
treatment consisting of various sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation," Chavez wrote in a letter to the legislature read by congressional leader Diosdado Cabello, a Chavez ally.
"Together with physical therapy, [this] will consolidate the process of strengthening my health."
Hyperbaric oxygenation involves breathing pure oxygen while in a pressurised chamber, according to the American Cancer Society. Cabello made no mention of cancer..- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Returning Israel’s recent wave of attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has so far killed at least 21 people, Palestinians have fired over 250 rockets taking Tel Aviv under fire and targeting several other spots in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The attacks have been targeting Gaza since Wednesday.
The retaliatory fire from the coastal strip has struck the heart of Tel Aviv. On Thursday, the Israeli Army said a projectile fired from Gaza struck Rishon LeTzion, some 15 kilometers (nine miles) southeast of Tel Aviv, but there were no injuries or damage.
The Israeli Minister for Military Affairs, Ehud Barak has given the green light for the military to call up 30,000 reservists.
The return fire has sounded off air raid sirens across the occupied territories for the first time in nearly two decades.
Earlier in the day, the democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh vowed revenge on Israel, saying Palestinians will keep up resistance despite the deadly attacks.
The Israeli military frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the acts of aggression are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, in violation of international law, disproportionate force is always used and civilians are often killed or injured.
The attacks rage on while Israel keeps up its crippling blockade on Gaza, which it imposed on the enclave in 2007— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is facing widespread condemnation and anger in the Palestinian territories and abroad after he publicly waived his right to return to live in the town from which his family was forced to flee in 1948, a repudiation of huge significance for Palestinian refugees.
After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.
He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.
The president told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13 years old.
"I visited Safed before once, he said. "But I want to see Safed. It's my right to see it, but not to live there."
Referring to the internationally-recognised pre-1967 border, he went on: "Palestine now for me is '67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever ... This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel."
The comments sparked protests in Gaza, where protesters in refugee camps burned images of the Palestinian president. Abbas was denounced on Twitter by pro-Palestinian activists.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas ruler in Gaza, said the issue was not about Abbas's right to return to Safed but "the rights of six million Palestinians".
He said in a statement: "No one has the right, whoever he is – a common man or president, organisation, a government or authority – to give up an inch of Palestinian land."
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokeman, said the president's statement did "not represent in any way the views of the Palestinian people".
The "right of return" is one of the most intractable issues in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians for a resolution to their decades-old conflict. The Palestinians have historically demanded that all those who fled or were expelled from their homes in the period around the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and their descendants, must be allowed to return to their former homes.
About five million Palestinians are registered as refugees in the Palestinian territories and abroad.
Israel rejects their demand, saying that such a move would spell the end of the Jewish state. Most international diplomats and observers believe that a settlement to the conflict is likely to involve a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees being given the right to return.
Following the broadcast of the interview, Israel's president, Shimon Peres, said Abbas's comments were a "brave and important public declaration". In a statement, he said Abbas had shown he was "a real partner for peace" and that he understood "the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue cannot be in Israel's territory and to the detriment of Israel's character".
Defence minister Ehud Barak described Abbas's remarks as courageous and clear.
But prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed the comments, saying that the Palestinian president had different messages for different audiences.
"There is no connection between [his] statements and his actual actions," he said, calling for Abbas to return to negotiations.
Palestinian sources played down the row, saying Abbas's comments had been misconstrued. One suggested the president had been ill-prepared for the interview and it had been a mistake to agree to conduct it in English, a language in which Abbas is not fluent.
Ghassan Khatib, an academic at Bir Zeit university in the West Bank and a former PA spokesman, said Abbas had not suggested a change in the official position. "This is an optional right. If an individual refugee does not wish to return, he will be free not to return. We all know that all Palestinians are not going to return. Some understand this, some do not."
In the interview, Abbas also said that, while he was president, there would be "no third armed intifada [uprising against Israel]. Never."
He said: "We don't want to use terror. We don't want to use force. We don't want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That's it."
He has said that Palestinian negotiators are willing to resume talks with Israel following the submission of a request, expected later this month, to the United Nations general assembly for recognition as a "non-member state".
Israel and the United States are vehemently opposed to the move, which is expected to be passed by a majority of the UN's 193 member states. www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Ahmed al-Arash bore the expression of a powerless father as he stood over his one-year-old son, Mohamed, in a health clinic in Turkey's Islahiyeh refugee camp.
Mohamed grimaced in pain, his little frame appearing even frailer in the middle of the adult-sized hospital bed.
Al-Arash, who arrived in the camp with his pregnant wife and their only son just over a week earlier, described how Mohamed hadn't eaten in five days and said doctors couldn't tell him what the problem was.
As he spoke a nurse walked past, muttering in Turkish that al-Arash didn't understand, and went on to take the vitals of another young patient.
"I swear to god it was better in Syria," al-Arash cried.
Eager for home
As fighting inside Syria continues, almost 350,000 people who have fled to neighbouring countries seeking refuge are becoming increasingly frustrated and eager to return home.
Turkey has already accepted more than 102,000 refugees into the 14 camps built since the refugee crisis began in 2011.
From the outside, Islahyieh looks more like a detention facility than shelter for the displaced. Its fences are lined with barbed wire and rendered opaque with blue tarp. Armed Turkish soldiers sit at lookout posts around the perimeter and guard its entrance.
The camp's 7,825 refugees, many of who escaped their homes without passport or any identification at all, are provided with picture ID cards that they must present to camp security upon entry and exit from the camp.
Inside Islahiyeh, Halil Geylan, a representative of Turkey's foreign ministry stationed in the camp, explained that the measures were for the refugees' own security with the war raging just kilometres down the road.
He described in detail the Turkish government's massive operation to take in the refugees. In addition to the health clinic and medical staff, Turkish authorities provide schools, social centres, tents, translators, food, markets, and other means for Syrians to establish some form of transient normalcy inside the camps.
"We don't like to think of [the Syrians] as refugees, but more as guests," Geylan said.
Those guests include not only civilians, but also the top military leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the main armed opposition group in Syria, who are being housed in the Apaydin camp.
It's not only for supporting the refugees, but also the armed opposition, that Syrians like Om Jamal say she and most others are grateful for Turkish support.
"The Turks are better than Arabs," she said while stitching a purse at a sewing workshop in Islahiyeh's social centre.
Om Jamal's younger brother was killed fighting the government in Aleppo city earlier this year, and she fled with her mother, sister and young son to Turkey.
She said she had few complaints about staying in the camps, but that "one can never replace living in [one's] country by living in another".
"God willing we'll go back."
As time goes on, many have started to create small stands from which they sell goods such as food, cigarettes, vegetables, candy, and mobile phone parts.
"We'll keep fighting until we topple [President Bashar] al-Assad," said Abu Taha while preparing a falafel sandwich for a young customer, adding that in the meantime people had to eat.
He said he had opened his falafel stand "Freedom Restaurant" because camp residents were growing tired of the free food provided by a local catering company hired by the government.
When later that day the food was delivered by a local catering company hired by the Turkish government, residents were quick to complain about the meal, which included meat stew, rice and apples.
One man, clenching two fists of bread that appeared crushed from the delivery said, "Look at what they're giving us, who could eat it?"
With winter approaching quickly, however, food might become less of a concern.
Residents said they were worried that the tents would not be liveable for the cold winds and rains that were expected in the mountainous region of southern Turkey. Many have begun covering their tents in plastic tarps to further shelter themselves from the elements.
Geylan said that some camps, like Kilis an hour away from Islahiyeh, have freight containers that should make the winter more bearable.
"I hope all the camps can have containers," Geylan said, adding that the government was working to replace the current tents with warmer ones and provide families with electrical heaters.
People in Kilis acknowledged that their situation was perhaps better than other camps, but still nothing like living at home.
Geylan admitted that the government couldn't make the conditions too comfortable for the refugees, otherwise "they would never want to return home".
'No way to live'
But not everyone sees the camps as a better alternative to return home where the fighting still rages.
Walking through Islahiyeh, Abu Omar, a refugee from a village near Aleppo, invited journalists in for tea. Like many tents, outside stood a satellite dish, and inside a TV playing Arabic news channels that regularly cover the news from inside Syria.
Surrounded by some of his grandchildren and neighbours, Abu Omar described how Syrians who took part in the early days of the uprising never anticipated the refugee crisis.
"At the beginning we thought the West would intervene to stop Assad," said Abu Omar, adding that he had four sons fighting with the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo.
Abu Omar said that the outside countries were not doing enough to support the Syrian opposition, and called for them to intervene military. Most Syrian refugees echoed his plea.
He described the decades of repression Syrians faced under the Assad regime, and said they were not going to lay down their arms until Bashar was gone.
He took a brief pause to roll a cigarette. Boxed cigarettes were too expensive, he said, so he and other men resorted to hand-rolled ones.
"You have two options: go back to Syria and die, or sleep here on the ground."
Abu Omar said he was choosing the former, and in the coming days plans to take his family back to their village near Aleppo, despite heavy fighting not far away.
"The Turkish government is helping as much as it can, but staying in the camp is no way to live."
Nowhere to go
When the doctor finally came to see young Mohamed, al-Arash's son, their conversation quickly turned into shouts as it was clear neither side, dependent on an annoyed Turkish-Arab translator in the middle, could properly understand the other.
Al-Arash grabbed Mohamed and marched outside with him squeezed tightly against his chest before being stopped by other Syrians, who tried to calm him down and convince him to return inside the clinic.
Al-Arash took a moment before turning around, realising he had nowhere else to go.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Thousands of miners have returned to work at South Africa's Gold Fields mine, amid dismissal by the company of 1,500 workers who remain on strike.
About 11,000 miners, threatened with dismissal, ended a six-week-long stoppage at a facility in Carletonville, 40km west of Johannesburg.
"At the KDC West mine, the vast majority of workers are back at work. As far as we are concerned, the strike is over," Sven Lunche, company spokesman, told the Deutsche Preese-Agentur news agency.
"The Beatrix mine is up and running. At Beatrix the situation is very stable and resumption of production is imminent.".
Gold Fields, the world's fourth largest bullion producer, has given 8,500 workers on a wildcat strike at KDC East,
another part of the mine, until early next week to report, or face losing their jobs if they continue to withhold their labour in their campaign for better pay and working conditions.
"The KDC East strike is ongoing and we have now issued a final ultimatum, which is effective from Monday night or Tuesday, depending on the workers' shifts," Lunche said.
"This is still an extremely volatile situation and things can change quickly."
The company is reported to have lost an estimated $139 million in revenue since September.
For his part, President Jacob Zuma has pledged to speed up investment and infrastricture plans to ease the grievances which have fuelled the worst labour unrest since the apartheid era.
"The failure to invest in basic services in black communities over the decades of colonial oppression and apartheid is a critical element in the persistence of inequality today," he said at a conference on infrastructure development on Friday.
A month-long strike at Anglo American Platinum, the world's top producer of the precious metal, shows no sign of ending.
Workers are also still off the job at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine.
About 35,000 miners, or about seven per cent of the industry's total workforce, are on strike and facing threats of dismissal, although roughly the same number have returned to work.
Nearly 50 people have died in unrest since August, including 34 striking miners shot dead by police on August 16 at Lonmin's Marikana mine in the deadliest incident of its kind since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Thousands of Lonmin workers staged a one-day walkout on Thursday in protest against the arrest of colleagues suspected of murdering labour leaders.
Lonmin said on Friday it was back to normal operations, an announcement which has done little to quell market concerns. The price of gold dropped from gains early in the day as shares in Asia slipped following a three day rally.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Thousands of students have rallied against tuition fee hikes in Quebec, an action organizers have trumpeted as a renewal of the protest movement.
The demonstrators marched through downtown Montreal on Wednesday ahead of Quebec’s general election that will be held on September 4th.The voting will decide whether Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal Party is reelected – who’ve run on a plan to drastically increase tuition fees to US$ 1,794 over seven years, a hike of 82 percent.
While the numbers of protesters were smaller than the hundreds of thousands seen last spring – according to the Montreal Gazette – organizers of Wednesday’s protest said it was the largest planned demonstration seen during an electoral campaign and that it signaled the revitalization of the protest movement.
"We already have far more than seen in the summer protests held on the 22nd of each month which drew about 10,000 people," Jeremie Bedard-Wien, spokesman for CLASSE, the largest and most militant of the student groups, said, according to the paper. "The mobilization is starting up again."
Student associations FEUQ and FECQ called for students to vote en masse to oust the Liberal government that introduced the fee hikes.
Despite many students taking decision to return to class, some intend to remain on strike, protesting the planned tuition hike and controversial Bill 78 – an emergency law that restricted demonstrations and introduced enormous fines.
"The strike is continuing in many faculties and many departments and universities and it will continue afterwards," Bedard-Wien said as quoted by The Canadian Press. "What we've put forward for students is this idea of popular mobilization."
The spokesman for CLASSE believes that the current election – and the avoidance of student issues – explains why many of the protesters distrust the traditional political parties.
"We recognize that the three main parties that can cease power haven't made much of a case in support of education," Bedard-Wien said. "They haven't supported us much during the strike and we don't expect much from them at all — and that is why we argue for sustained mobilization."
Many opposition parties, such as Parti Québécois, Québec solidaire, Option Nationale, and workers unions, have voiced their support of the student protest movement.
Politician Marie Malavoy, from center-left Parti Québécois, urged students not to pay their fees for the semester. Her party promises to scrap Charest’s planned tuition fee increase if they get elected.
Premier Jean Charest had called on students to go to classes and said that he hopes the issue will be resolved by September’s elections.—www.shafaqna.com/english