SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hundreds of people protested in Tunis on Saturday against the Islamist-dominated regime, in a rally that was originally planned in support of women’s rights, witnesses said.
“The people demand the fall of the regime!” protesters shouted as they carried placards criticizing the composition of a new cabinet announced on Friday in the latest attempt to pull Tunisia out of its worst political crisis since the revolution two years ago.
“The cabinet reshuffle was a piece of theatre,” read one placard.
The new cabinet unveiled by premier-designate Ali Larayedh from the powerful Islamist party Ennahda is to replace the team of fellow Islamist Hamadi Jebali who stepped down as prime minister last month after his own efforts to form a new cabinet failed.
Larayedh, the outgoing interior minister, was tapped to form the new government in the wake of Jebali’s failure to do so, following the February 6 assassination of leftist leader Chokri Belaid that plunged Tunisia into turmoil.
The proposed line-up has to be approved by the national constituent assembly on Tuesday.
Larayedh said his new cabinet, in which key portfolios were entrusted to little known independent candidates, in a clear concession by the Islamists, would step down at the end of the year after elections are held.
The remaining portfolios were given to Ennahda and its two secular partners from the outgoing coalition, which together control 109 out of 217 seats in the national assembly, enough to ensure a vote of confidence.
But this support is far from enough to steer Tunisia out of its worst crisis since Zine el Abidine Ben Ali’s regime fell in January 2011, and to ensure support for the much-delayed new constitution-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Terrorist groups in northwestern Syria have abducted more than 300 people over two days in an unprecedented string of sectarian kidnappings.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director, Rami Abdel Rahman, said Saturday "In two days, the number of abductees has risen to over 300 people."
The kidnappings, involving large numbers of women and children, began on Thursday when upwards of 40 civilians from the villages of Fua and Kafraya were kidnapped by militants in Idlib Province.
Kidnappings have multiplied in Syria since the beginning of the Syrian unrest nearly two years ago.
Meanwhile in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, clashes erupted between insurgents and government forces in the vicinity of the Aleppo international airport, Nayrab military airbase and around the Kwiyres military airbase in the Eastern part of the city.
Four Turkish officers were also killed during the Saturday clashes in Aleppo, Syria's second city and its former commercial hub.
Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the Syrian turmoil.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - It's December 22nd and Earth and its people have officially made it through the purported Mayan doomsday. But before the end came and went, it seems a large number of people looked to NASA to quell their fears. The Los Angeles Times reports that in the weeks immediately preceding the fateful day, NASA's phone lines were consumed by callers asking about our planet's potential demise; would we be struck by a meteor? Could the planets suddenly align in such a way that it would lead to widespread destruction? And what about that rumor of a worldwide blackout that, according to some fringe theorists, NASA itself had been predicting? Used to dealing with about 90 calls each week, NASA quickly found itself taking over 300 per day as December 21st drew near.
The growing hysteria eventually compelled the agency to set up a website addressing such concerns. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012," the site reads. Thankfully that seems to be true, though we expect NASA may buffer up its phone staffing if and when humans come up with another "doomsday" point on the calendar.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Several hundred people rallied in central Moscow to mark the one-year anniversary of massive anti-government protests despite receiving a no-go for the event from city authorities. Arrests were made after some of the protesters refused to disperse.
The opposition says people came to honor political prisoners and to lay flowers on a monument which is located on Lubyanskaya Square.
Up to 40 people were detained, including opposition leaders Sergey Udaltsov and Aleksey Navalny, police said in the wake of the event. Police added only those were arrested who did not follow the law enforcers' orders.
Police counted around 700 people rallying in Lubyanskaya Square.
Both Udaltsov and Navalny claim that their detention was unlawful, saying people just came to the square for a stroll. Udaltsov, the head of the Leftist Front movement, was detained by police while holding some kind of banner in contravention of legislation banning unsanctioned rallies in Moscow. Later they were released without being charged.
Most of the arrests were made once the rally had thinned out and police ordered the remaining protesters to disperse. In response, several demonstrators attempted to form a human chain to hold their ground. Coming under a shower of insults, police advanced on those remaining on the square.
The unsanctioned rally was preceded by several rounds of negotiations between the opposition and authorities, but the sides could not reach an agreement on a march route.
Last December tens of thousands took to the streets of Moscow to protest against the results of parliamentary elections which they claimed were fraudulent. The rally on Bolotnaya Square marked the beginning of mass protests that continued throughout winter and spring, though the protest movement lost steam as time went on.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Floods resulting from monsoon rains have killed 422 people and left nearly 3,000 injured across Pakistan, a disaster agency spokesman said Saturday.
Some 350,000 people have been forced from their homes and another 4.7 million people affected by the flooding since August 22, Ahmed Kamal of the National Disaster Management Authority said.
More than 15,000 villages have been affected and many houses destroyed or damaged in the past five weeks, he said.
Pakistan has suffered a series of devastating inundations, affecting millions of people, in recent years.
Pakistan, India hit by deadly flooding
Flooding last year killed 470 people and impacted 9.1 million others, Kamal said.
In the worst-affected area of Sindh province, in southeastern Pakistan, the waters submerged more than 4.5 million acres of farming land, damaging an estimated 80% of cash crops.
Many in the country were at that point barely recovering from massive and deadly flooding in August 2010, which left a fifth of the country submerged by water, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.
Those floods lasted for weeks, affecting more than 20 million people and leaving 1,985 people dead, Kamal said.
Much of the land inundated in 2010 was in Punjab province, Pakistan's breadbasket, where many people live off the soil and their livestock. Great hardship followed for millions in the wake of the flooding.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A massive Idaho wildfire forced hundreds of people from their homes on Sunday as high winds pushed the blaze to within miles of two communities.
Managers of the 260,000-acre Mustang Complex fire, ignited by lightning in July in mountainous pine forests dissected by steep, narrow canyons in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, prepared to defend threatened houses along a strategic stretch of highway near the two towns in east-central Idaho.
Fire trucks from a number of Idaho cities took up positions near the tiny towns of North Fork and Gibbonsville, which sit within a 21-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 93, near the Montana border.
"It's going to test us," fire information officer Bill Swartley said of the wildfire. "We will defend homes. But if it becomes a safety hazard to fire personnel, we will step aside and let the fire pass."
The Mustang Complex is one of several large fires burning mostly unchecked across the U.S. West in a destructive fire season that has already seen record-breaking fires in Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon.
A cold front bringing winds predicted to gust up to 45 miles per hour sparked the latest round of Idaho evacuations, centered on an estimated 400 residences and vacation homes. Authorities last week advised some residents to leave and others to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice.
Fire engines were stationed at many properties. Houses with just one access road were to be guarded by hundreds of firefighters. Those crews were assigned to activate the gas-powered pumps of sprinkler systems when needed and then depart.
But not all were heeding the order to evacuate. Jon Cummings, co-owner of 100 Acre Wood Lodge, an upscale resort in North Fork, chose not to leave, and said he was slightly unnerved when authorities warned that emergency services may not be provided and asked him to identify his next of kin.
"It's possible that embers from the fire could rain down on us like who knows what, but we're keeping everything watered down," he said.
A firefighter was taken to a local hospital on Saturday but the extent of his injuries and his condition were unclear on Sunday. The blaze, manned by more than 1,100 fire personnel, is near a 2003 fire northwest of Salmon that overran and killed two young firefighters.
Many residents displaced by the Mustang Complex sought temporary housing with family and friends in Salmon, where the local Red Cross has opened a shelter.
On Sunday, Dorene and Bob Johnson scrambled to pack up belongings at the home north of Salmon they had been forced to flee last week. Dorene Johnson, a nurse, said the trip amid smoke and flames was harrowing.
"It was really traumatic for me to see the fire burning in our neighborhood," she said.
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Afghanistan has fired hundreds of troops as part of its investigation of insider attacks, the country announced Wednesday.
"Based on our investigations, hundreds of Afghan army soldiers have been detained and sacked from the army over the incident of insider attacks," said Gen. Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman.
The country launched investigations in coordination with international forces, he said. "This is a big concern for the Afghan president and the Afghan Defense Ministry."
U.S. Special Operations Forces have suspended the training of some police recruits while they double-check the background of the current police force, NATO's International Security Assistance Force announced Sunday.
The moves follow a growing number of attacks on NATO troops by people dressed as Afghan police or soldiers.
This year, 35 such attacks have killed 45 people, U.S. Army Maj. Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the ISAF, told CNN on Wednesday.
3 Australian troops killed in 'green-on-blue' attack
Afghan security forces kill 2 U.S., 10 Afghan troops
Since the first known attack in 2007, 114 people have been killed in a total of 76 attacks, Wojack said.
"The entire leadership of Afghanistan is seized by this and committed to stopping it, from the president on down." Lt. Gen. James Terry, commander of ISAF Joint Command, said Wednesday.
Steps are being taken to increase "our vetting and screening efforts," he added.
Authorities believe only one in four of such attacks are related to the insurgency. The rest are the result of personal grievances, or the causes haven't been determined, Terry said.
It's too soon to say how significant Afghanistan's decision to fire so many troops will be, analyst Gareth Price with the think tank Chatham House said Wednesday.
"It's the first time something like this has happened," he said.
Coalition steps up fight against 'green-on-blue' attacks
After many of the attacks, investigators have found that the attackers' "documents were flawed or not adequately vetted," Price noted. So the firings could be a chance to slow down the process, he said.
Also, it may be "the Afghans showing that they're doing something" about the attacks, Price said.
U.S. and Afghan officials emphasize that the attackers are just a few among the tens of thousands of Afghan troops and soldiers working alongside international forces.
Also on Wednesday, two coalition service members died after a helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan, the ISAF said.
And in its morning operational update Wednesday, the ISAF said a Taliban leader behind an attack on a coalition base in Logar province on August 7 was killed by Afghan and coalition security forces Tuesday. The leader was identified by the name Bismullah.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Hundreds of people watched but did not intervene as a gang of Israeli youths attempted to "lynch" a group of Palestinian children in the center of Jerusalem's Zion Square, police said on Sunday. Five suspects have been arrested so far.
Four Palestinian youths were badly beaten in the incident in central Jerusalem on Friday. The attack was short and the gang fled after knocking one victim to the ground and kicking him unconscious before police arrived.
There were several dozen attackers, according to witnesses, who say that the Jewish youths were shouting “death to the Arabs” and seemed to be on the hunt for Palestinian victims.
Some witnesses described the attack as a “lynch,” while Israeli authorities claimed the attack was a typical brawl between Israeli and Palestinian young people. However, on Sunday, police called the event a “lynching,” Haaretz reports.
Hundreds of people watched the assault but did not try to help the victims, a police representative said on Sunday.
“The victim lost his consciousness and was thought to be dead until [an emergency paramedic crew] arrived and resuscitated him,” Haaretz cites Sergeant First Class Shmuel Shenhav as saying. “For several days he was anesthetized and artificially ventilated in the hospital.”
“This was an extremely severe crime,” he added. “Only a miracle saved him from death.”
Jamal Julani, a 17-year old Palestinian, still remains in serious condition in the intensive care unit at the Hadassah University Hospital. He regained consciousness but does not remember details of the event.
His two cousins, who suffered medium injuries, explained that the incident was extremely brief, as police arrived quickly and the perpetrators did not have much time to beat them or the unconscious Jamal.
Four teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 were arrested Sunday in connection with the attack. Another suspect was arrested shortly after the attack on Friday.
A special investigation team has been set up in an effort to find all the perpetrators, and police believe further arrests will follow.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Hundreds of Indian Muslims on the occasion of International Quds Day on Friday staged a rally against Israel's illegal occupation of al-Aqsa Mosque, at Jantar Mantar in Central Delhi.
Expressing solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, Indian Muslims, mainly Shia Muslims yesterday sent a clear message of condemnation to the Zionist Regime and its allies for the atrocities they have committed against the Palestinians and illegal occupation of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Demonstrators, under the banner of National Council of Shia Ulema, Majlis Ulema-e-Hind along with other organizations, raised the slogans for the liberation of holy al-Quds and chanted 'Down with Israel,' 'Down with US'' and 'Long Live Islam.'
Chanting slogans in favor of Palestinian people they demanded an end to the Zionists' illegal occupation of Arab lands.
The protestors reaffirm their support to the Palestinian people's right to establish an independent and sovereign Palestine state on all the territories occupied by Israeli Regime.
Addressing the gathering, Maulana Syed Mohsin Taqvi, Friday Prayer Leader of Shia Mosque, Kashmiri Gate at Old Delhi called for unified resistance against the Zionists and US designs.
He called on the Muslims of the world as well as on all Islamic governments to join forces to cut down this usurper and its supporters.
The Israeli regime has occupied the territories of the Palestinian people, killing innocent people and destroying the holy places of Muslim worshipers.
'Why the self-styled champions of freedom and democracy, the US and its allies are watching as mute spectator. Why the so-called pioneers of human rights and justice are not raising their voices against the heinous crimes committed by the Israeli Regime. Why the United Nations, which vigorously passed resolutions against those Muslim countries whose rulers are against the hegemonic policies of the West, is watching silenty the crimes of Israeli Regime,' asked Maulana.
'When the entire nation of Palestine has been illegally occupied by Israel, when the entire Palestinian civil society has been surrounded, encircled, crippled, tortured, massacred, humiliated, besieged and being systematically destroyed and assimilated, these self-styled champions of freedom and democracy, so-called pioneers of human rights and justice have turned a blind eye, this is more shameful than the crimes committed by the Israeli Regime,' he noted.
Criticizing Arab countries role, T A Rahmani, President of Muslim Political Front said: 'How painful and distressing it is that in the proximity of the Muslims and the so-called Islamic governments, the usurper Zionist Regime can so outrageously and presumptuously attack the innocent people of Palestine, and rather than rising up in their defense, which is a divine ordinance and a human duty, the governments of the Islamic countries display meekness and instead rise up to act for the vile aims of America and Zionist Regime by training their sights on Islamic Iran and Islam in Iran rather than the oppressor Israel.
Later on Maulana Syed Jalal Haider Naqvi, Joint Secretary Majlis Ulema-e-Hind, Syed Mohd Mohsin Taqvi, Friday Prayer leader of Shia Mosque at Kashmiri Gate in Delhi and other eminent religious scholars submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The memorandum while demanding evacuation of Palestinian territory from Israeli aggressors, asked government of India to revert back to its original foreign policy of panchsheel and non-alignment so as to accept the right of self-determination, sovereignty and independence of all nations in the world.
Memorandum also called on the international community and the Arab League (AL) to fulfill their commitments to the religious sites of great value to all Muslims around the world.
The last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is observed all over the world as the International Quds Day. On the day, Muslims worldwide hold demonstrations to condemn the atrocities of Zionist regime against Palestinians and the Zionists' illegal occupation of the Beit-ul-Moqaddas. —www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Building a mosque doesn’t seem to be high on some developers’ agenda as a number of new communities developed over the last few years in Dubai have either no mosques or just a makeshift arrangement which is hardly sufficient on Fridays or during Ramadan.
Ranging from popular localities like Jumeirah Beach Residence and Jumeirah Lakes Towers to Shorooq and Ghoroob communities in Mirdif, the areas have most facilities that a modern resident would want except for a mosque.
Similar is the case in other communities such as International City, Al Waha and Layan on the Dubai Bypass Road or Al Khail Gate.
Though the residents claim that the developers and real estate agents sell or rent properties claiming all facilities including mosques, the reality is different.
“When I bought the property a couple of years ago, I was told that the community will have all the facilities including a mosque. I have a letter with me from the developer that clearly says so. But when I moved here I found the situation contrary to their claims,” said Adel Shaikh, a resident of Al Waha community that has around 350 villas.
Al Waha is next to Layan community, where a makeshift arrangement has been made recently. A small port-a-cabin that can hardly accommodate a couple of dozen people serves as the only mosque for both the communities that combined have around 800 villas, with a sizeable Muslim population.
“After several complaints they have made this [port-a-cabin] arrangement, which is really inadequate. It can hardly accommodate a handful of worshippers. The mosque being in Layan community is also far away from my house which is in Al Waha,” said Mazen Bira, who has been living in his two-bedroom villa since last year.
Though a lack of mosques is a primary cause of concern for many residents, there are also other issues that bother many.
“I have been staying in Dubai for the last 17 years and apart from job opportunities my primary reason for staying here is to give my children an Islamic upbringing. When I bought the property here I was made to understand that there will be a mosque here apart from a clinic and other facilities, which are non- existent as of now,” commented an angry resident.
A spokesman for the Dubai Property Group (DPG), which developed the two communities, said that DPG is committed to developing communities and destinations and providing all the usual facilities expected by residents and visitors.
“Large scale developments such as Al Waha, Layan and Al Khail Gate take time to reach their full developmental potential and this includes establishing the necessary measures to provide a mosque. However, in all communities temporary mosques have been provided (one for Al Waha and Layan jointly, given the proximity),” said the spokesperson also alluding to the gated community in Al Quoz, whose residents are still waiting for a mosque promised last year that hasn’t materialised.
The DPG spokesperson also said that temporary arrangements have also been made in its other popular communities Shorooq and Ghoroob and that the company is in negotiations with IACAD to identify a suitable donor to establish permanent mosques in these communities.
Residents also face similar issues in International City, which is developed by Nakheel, where there are several temporary arrangements but a permanent solution is elusive despite repeated promises.—www.shafaqna.com/english
source: Gulf News