SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - About one in four Americans suspect that President Barack Obamamight be the antichrist, more than a third believe that global warming is a hoax and more than half suspect that a secretive global elite is trying to set up a New World Order, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
The survey, which was conducted by Public Policy Polling, asked a sample of American voters about a number of conspiracy theories, phrasing the questions in eye-catching language that will have the country's educators banging their heads on their desks. The study revealed that 13% of respondents thought Obama was "the antichrist", while another 13% were "not sure" – and so were at least appeared to be open to the possibility that he might be. Some 73% of people were able to say outright that they did not think Obama was "the antichrist".
The survey also showed that 37% of Americans thought that global warming was a hoax, while 12% were not sure and a slim majority – 51% – agreed with the overwhelming majority view of the scientific establishment and thought that it was not. The survey also revealed that 28% of people believed in a sinister global New World Order conspiracy, aimed at ruling the whole world through authoritarian government. Another 25% were "not sure" and only a minority of American voters – 46% – thought such a conspiracy theory was not true.
At least some of the insane theories suggested by the poll were dismissed by large majorities. For example, only 7% of Americans in the survey believed the moon landing was faked, 14% believed in Bigfoot and 4% accepted that "shape-shifting alien reptilian people control our world by taking on human form". In other good news, Paul McCartney will be relieved that a mere 5% of respondents believed that he died in a car crash in 1966 and was replaced by a double so the Beatles could continue their careers, and just 11% embraced the concept that the US government knowingly allowed the terror attacks of 11 September 2001 to take place.
The survey was carried out in order to explore how voters' political beliefs impact on their willingness to embrace conspiracy theories – it did indeed find that the partisan divide that is blamed for many problems in Washington DC also extends to the world of paranoia, aliens and Sasquatch. For example, when it comes to thinking global warming is a hoax some 58% of Republicans agreed and 77% of Democratsdisagreed. While 20% of Republicans believed Obama is the antichrist heralding the End Times, only 13% of independents did and just 6% of Democrats.
"Even crazy conspiracy theories are subject to partisan polarization, especially when there are political overtones involved. But most Americans reject the wackier ideas out there about fake moon landings and shape-shifting lizards," said PPP president Dean Debnam.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Strong majorities of Americans say they favor stricter gun laws, including an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks for private gun sales, according to a new national Morning Joe/Marist poll.
Six in 10 respondents – including 83 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of gun owners and 37 percent of Republicans – believe that the laws covering gun sales should be stricter.
This figure is virtually unchanged from the 61 percent who backed stricter gun laws when a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked the same question in February, even though at least one other national survey has found waning support for gun-control laws months after the Dec. 2012 shootings in Newtown, Conn.
What’s more, the Morning Joe/Marist poll finds that 87 percent of Americans support background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows, and 59 percent favor legislation that would ban the sale of assault weapons.
Later this month, the U.S. Senate is set to consider Democratic-backed gun legislation that, among other provisions, contains a requirement for universal background checks. With Republican senators threatening to filibuster the legislation, its prospects for passage remain uncertain.
Democrats also are expected to offer an assault-weapons ban as an amendment to the legislation, but it has almost no chance to win passage in the Senate.
Favoring job creation over deficit reduction
Turning to the economy and the deficit, the Morning Joe/Marist survey shows that Americans – by nearly a 2-to-1 margin – want President Barack Obama and Congress to make job creation their top priority (64 percent) instead of deficit reduction (33 percent).
Those who prefer Washington’s political leaders to emphasize job creation include 76 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans; a narrow majority of Republican respondents (51 percent) want the focus to be on deficit reduction.
Also, Obama edges congressional Republicans by four percentage points, 44 percent to 40 percent, on the question of who has a better approach to deal with the federal budget deficit.
But the president’s approach to deficit reduction – calling for a combination of spending cuts and increased tax revenues – is more popular than the Republicans’ cuts-only approach.
Forty-two percent of respondents prefer a mixture of spending cuts (including to entitlement programs) and revenue increases; 35 percent pick increasing mostly revenue; and just 17 percent choose mostly cutting government spending (including to programs like Medicare and Medicaid).
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Russian Communist Party leader accused the US in the death of the late President Hugo Chavez.
Gennady Zyuganov in an interview with Russia 24 TV Channel said: “how did the leaders of six Latin American countries, who were against the US policies, simultaneously diagnosed with one disease, cancer?”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died of cancer on Wednesday morning, after enduring a long cancer treatment at the age of 58.
Zyuganov said: “these countries are trying hard to create an independent and influential block.” He Added: “this is not a coincidence, and it should be addressed, and international
investigation regarding this issue is necessary.”
Meanwhile, according to ‘RIA Novosti’ Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President declined to comment on Zyuganov comments and said: “I cannot say anything about it.”
Chavez had speculated about involvement of enemies in his and some other Latin American leaders’ cancer disease.
Late President Chavez had said: “it is very strange that I and the leaders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are all struggling with cancer.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source:Islamic invitation turkey
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – With ads explaining the true meaning of Jihad and rival campaigns linking the term to violence, an advertising war is taking place on American streets between Muslims and Islamophobes about the spiritual concept.
“Unfortunately we have witnessed in front of our very eyes a central tenet of our faith essentially become tarnished,” Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told The New York Times.
“I was tired of hearing fathers tell their children, you know, ‘Don’t say jihad over the phone. Don’t say jihad in public.’”
The ad war began in September when anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller championed a campaign on New York subway linking jihad to savagery.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” the ad reads.
In response, CAIR launched a billboard campaign to explain the true and proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims.
The campaign, which reached Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, includes putting up public ads on buses and trains as well as social media websites as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, where users are asked to tweet what their Jihad (struggle) is using the #MyJihad hashtag.
“My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule,” says a hijab-clad woman lifting weights in an ad that started running on buses in December. “What’s yours?”
But rival ads championed by Geller appeared again on buses linking the Islamic term to violence and terrorism.
The ads quote people as Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010.
“Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” says one ad, attributing the quotation to a Hamas television station.
The ads end with the statement: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”
When CAIR’s campaign began with a website Myjihad.org, the anti-Islam blogger bought the domain name Myjihad.us.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Geller said. “If CAIR is running them longer, I will run them longer.”
Americans lament that the anti-Jihad campaigns are fuelling hatred and intolerance in the society.
“It’s a further message of intolerance, furthering the flames that are currently out there between all different communities,” Lonnie Nasatir, Midwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told The New York Times.
Heidi Beirich, who tracks hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has listed Geller’s blog since 2009, said her ads subscribe “bad motives to all Muslims.”
“It’s rejecting the idea that American Muslims can have different interpretations of their religion,” she said.
Jihad is often stereotyped by Western media as meaning “holy war”.
But Muslim scholars have repeatedly affirmed that the word Jihad, which is mentioned in the Noble Qur'an, means "struggle" to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from society.
Karen Armstrong, the prominent and prolific British writer on all three monotheistic religions, has criticized stereotyping the Arabic word "jihad" as merely meaning holy war.
US Muslims, estimated at between seven to eight million, have been sensing hostility in recent months.
A recent report by CAIR, the University of California and Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender found that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey had also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll had found that 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: ON Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Jewish Agency concerned with attracting Jews of the world to live in Palestinian occupied lands has been facilitating the arrival of group of American Indians, living on the banks of the Amazon River, claiming they have Jewish origin.
Hebrew media revealed that a group of 100 American Indians, who are currently living in the city of Iquitos located on the banks of the Amazon River, are expected to arrive to the occupied territories.
According to Israeli media claims; these people are part of a "unique" Jewish community, originated from the late nineteenth century when a group of Jews migrated from the Maghreb, and settled in this town, located in the jungles of the Amazon basin, where they worked in rubber trade - as alleged by the Hebrew source.
It said that decades ago members of this community have contacted Jewish religious organizations, which worked hard to bring them to the occupied territories. The first group of them arrived in the nineties, followed by another group. Then, 12 years ago, another group of 250 American Indians, arrived. Recently, 100 other people demanded to come to the entity.
An official at the Jewish Agency said that the members of this group hold documents that confirm their Jewish origin, adding that the agency has already approved their arrival but the Israeli Interior Ministry has required additional "complementary" measures.
The new group may come to the occupied territories very soon, after the completion of the procedures.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Given American students an opportunity to know more about Islam and Islamic culture, Muslim students at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan launched Monday, February 25, an awareness week to dispel common misconceptions about the faith.
“This week is a great tool to reach out to the community and tell them about a group of students that represent the largest religion in the world,” Sebastian Maisel, adviser of the Muslim Students’ Association and professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at GVSU, told Lanthorn student newspaper.
“It’s interesting to know that the MSA students come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, the United States, you name it.”
The week includes events that aim to raise fellow students’ awareness about Islam, including poetic readings and lectures about women’s rights in Islam.
A comedian will be invited to lighten up the topic.
“All major Muslim countries have students at GVSU working together peacefully and collaborating on these events and activities,” Maisel said.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
A US survey had revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll had also found that more than half Americans already hold negative views about the faith.
Yet, a Gallup survey found that the majority of American Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
A special lecture will also be organized as part of the week to inform students about the basic pillars of Islam.
“I hope people walk away with something new,” MSA president Zeana Khodor said.
“If they had a bad idea of what Islam really is before, I hope these events can change their minds.”
Maisel, the MSA adviser, sees the week as an opportunity to introduce the true Islamic teachings to American students.
“When students or the community listen to the news on any form of media, it is a very distorted picture of Islam, with violence, fighting and bombing highlighted,” he said.
He said that the Islam awareness week would also show the diversity on campus.
“It seems that in West Michigan, we have an understanding that our society is so homogenous, and students are usually surprised to realize how many different beliefs are represented on campus.”
American Muslims have launched several campaigns to promote the true image of Islam among Americans.
Muslim activists have launched a campaign in Chicago to reclaim the true meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims. The campaign has later expanded to San Francisco and Washington D.C.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The boards of American Airlines and US Airways have approved a merger to create the largest US airline once
American exits bankruptcy court, sources close to the negotiations said.
The merger will be formally announced Thursday morning, sources told AFP news agency.
The newly-formed company, keeping the name American Airlines, will be headquartered in American's Dallas-Fort Worth base in Texas.
The deal comes on the heels of a series of other recent airline mergers that have remade the US airline industry and better positioned the sector for profit.
One of the sources close to the talks said the bigger scale of the company would enhance American's value after bankruptcy better than a free-standing American Airlines.
"Adding onto the strength of American, you have a robust network with nine hubs and opportunities for 100,000 employees," the source said.
Antitrust regulators and a US bankruptcy court must first give their approval before the merger can go forward, as American has been under bankruptcy protection since November 2011.
Under the all-stock deal's terms, American's creditors would own 72 percent of the combined airlines and US Airways the remainder, people familiar with the matter said.
The idea of an American-US Airways tie-up has been floated since American went into bankruptcy protection in November 2011.
Under the transaction, US Airways chief executive Doug Parker will become chief executive of the newly formed company while American chief executive Tom Horton will serve as chairman of the board through the middle of 2014 before stepping down, sources familiar with the matter said.
The deal follows a series of other US airline mergers that analysts say have left the US airline industry better positioned for long-term profitability.
Projections for 2013 show that the US airline industry in terms of absolute profit would be the healthiest worldwide, said John Thomas, airlines specialist at LEK Consulting.
However, aviation consultant George Hamlin said a merger of American Airlines and US Airways may not necessarily improve profits.
"It's not entirely clear that mere size is a guarantee of success," he told Al Jazeera. "The most profitable carrier in the world and also in the US is Southwest Airlines. It's not the largest in the field."
A merger would assemble a powerful fleet of about 1,530 mainline and regional aircraft flying some 6,428 daily flights. Combined revenues of $38.7bn in 2012 would put them slightly ahead of United and Delta Airlines.
It would also cap a round of major airline deals that has remade the US airline business into a handful of giant carriers such as Delta and United, which acquired Northwest Airlines and Continental respectively.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- A 16-page memo from the United States Justice Department exposes details of how the U.S. government can legally order the murder of American citizens if they are considered “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or an “associated group.” The detailed document (PDF) says the killing of an American can be ordered even in the absence of an “active plot” to attack the United States. The finding sheds new light on the Obama administration’s aggressive use of drones in targeting al Qaeda. The employment of drones—considered by many to be redefining the front lines in the war on terror—is likely be a major topic of discussion in the upcoming hearing to confirm new CIA Director John Brennan.
Los Angeles Police said that an elementary school teacher who worked for nearly four decades in the Unified School District was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually abusing 20 students and one adult.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Los Angeles Police said that an elementary school teacher who worked for nearly four decades in the Unified School District was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually abusing 20 students and one adult. The arrest came after a 10 month investigation of continual sexual abuse against Robert Pimentel of Newport Beach for abuse that took place at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary in the Wilmington area, Police told The Associated Press.
Pimentel, 57, left his fourth-grade teaching position last March when allegations started coming in from several girls who told their parents he inappropriately touched them during school and police opened an investigation and removed him from campus. Before the official dismissal process with the Board of Education could begin, Pimentel, who had worked for the district since 1974, retired.
Court records show the allegations covered a period between September 2011 to March 2012. There have been several high profile recent cases of Los Angeles teachers accused of sexually abusing students. More than 225 parents and students are involved in various claims for damages against the district after Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested a year ago and has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct.
In December, a jury ordered the district to pay a boy molested by an elementary school teacher $6.9 million - among the largest awards in the history of the school system. The jury found the district liable for the repeated molestation of the 10-year-old student in 2008 and 2009 by teacher Forrest Stobbe at Queen Anne Elementary School in the city's mid-Wilshire district.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Al Jazeera’s hefty investment in a flagging U.S. television network has left many stuck for the answer to a simple question: Why?
The immediate reaction of many observers who have written about this was that it goes in line with general Qatari preoccupation with “buying influence” and exposure.
As such, if a non-profit state-backed organization such as Qatar Foundation was happy to throw away 150 million Euros to sponsor a Spanish soccer team (Barcelona FC) back in 2010 (with no real benefit from the exposure for the non-profit organization); it was certainly not a surprise to many when the Qatari state-funded broadcaster said earlier this month that it would buy Current TV, which was cofounded by former American vice-president Al Gore in 2005, for a whopping $500 million.
That price tag left many commentators aghast, not least because the left-leaning U.S. network had for some time struggled with low ratings, boasting a prime-time audience of just 42,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Content was not exactly king for Current TV, which had been in search of a buyer for some time. When it first launched, the network made a name for itself by airing a disparate array of clips submitted by independent producers, and then voted on by viewers.
In an apparent change of strategy, Current TV later made a big-money gamble in hiring U.S. anchor Keith Olbermann. That deal came to an abrupt and messy end when Current TV sacked the firebrand host, resulting in a wave of negative publicity for the network.
None of this seems to justify Al Jazeera’s massive investment, which reportedly saw Al Gore and his co-founders walk away with an estimated profit of $440 million.
“42,000 prime-time viewers is nothing in a country which has a population that has more than 300 million and where you are competing with the likes of Fox News which has a daily average prime-time viewership of 2 million,” said one veteran television journalist who is an expert on the history of Al Jazeera.
Yet Al Jazeera’s interest in Current TV is said to have nothing to do with the station itself. For the Qatari broadcaster plans to scrap the U.S. station and replace it with a channel called Al Jazeera America, which will be based in New Year and begin broadcasting in April.
What was of real interest to Al Jazeera was Current TV’s distribution network. This will allow Al Jazeera to boost its potential reach in the U.S. to about 40 million homes, a vast increase on the 4.7 million it had access to previously.
The Qatari broadcaster has never made a secret of its ambitions to expand in North America, having for years campaigned for wider distribution of its Al Jazeera English news station. However, the question remains if this is actually attainable.
“Since they let go of the old guard, Al Jazeera network has been run by a group of amateurs who are only good at throwing money away into ventures that are unlikely to have any real potential return on investment,” elaborated the analyst Al Arabiya English spoke to.
“Even with the potential reach that Current TV has, who in their right mind would expect the average American to stop watching Fox News or CNN and start watching a channel with a brand that has for long been associated as being the Osama Bin Laden official platform?” added the analyst who suggests that Al Jazeera America can’t compete with an already defined and congested cable news local market.
As such, it is no secret that the take ever has faced much political obstructions, mainly – however - due to perceptions that its Arabic news service is a vent for anti-Israel propaganda, or – as the right-wing station Fox News puts it – is an “anti-American terror mouthpiece”. In 2010, the English station’s then managing director Tony Burman blamed “very aggressive hostility” from the Bush administration for the reluctance of cable and satellite companies to carry the channel.
But the network seems to be coming in from the cold, with prominent members of the U.S. establishment – including Hillary Clinton – publicly praising Al Jazeera English’s coverage of the Arab Spring (though she and many others have not pointed out to the massive difference Al Jazeera Arabic and English have in their news agenda, focus and presentation).
Distribution deals soon followed. In August 2011, Al Jazeera English claimed a triumph when it became available to cable-TV viewers in New York for the first time. The signing of two deals with existing media firms allowed the channel access to two million homes in New York, expanding its sparse existing distribution in the United States.
Al Jazeera said at the time it was talking to “all the key cable and satellite operators” in the U.S. about further distribution deals – and the Current TV deal appears to be the culmination of that.
Yet many commentators have cast doubt over the commercial logic of the acquisition – with one saying it marks a “risky” move.
For while Current TV’s distribution network is the key attraction for Al Jazeera, that is by no means set in stone. Within hours of Al Jazeera’s acquisition being announced, Time Warner Cable announced it had dropped Current TV from its platform. While Time Warner has since said it will keep an open mind on whether to carry Al Jazeera America, the episode suggests Al Jazeera’s future in the US is by no means guaranteed.
Matthew Reed, a principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media in Dubai, said that Al Jazeera faces several challenges in its US push.
“It is quite a risky move,” Reed said of Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV. “There are some negative perceptions about Al Jazeera in some quarters of the US. It’s hard to predict how distributors will react.”
How Al Jazeera fares politically and commercially are two separate issues, Reed said.
The U.S. television market is notoriously tough, and the business of making TV news is incredibly expensive. And so it remains to be seen whether Al Jazeera can sell enough adverts to justify even a fraction of its initial investment.
“[Television news] is a costly business, and competitive. And the media landscape is also changing… The way that people consume media is changing, and broadcasters are having to adapt,” Reed told Al Arabiya in an interview.
Yet the Qatari state-financed Al Jazeera is more concerned with politics than profits, said Mr. Reed.
“There’s no guarantee they will be commercially successful. But Al Jazeera is freer of those constraints than many other companies, because it’s basically financed by the state of Qatar,” he said.
“Al Jazeera is not a regular commercial broadcaster… In a way it’s a foreign-policy tool of Qatar,” he added. “Qatar wants to increase its own regional and international influence, and I think that is part of the explanation behind this move.
And so the Current TV acquisition is a viable – albeit expensive – route for Al Jazeera to broaden its viewership in the U.S., Reed said.
“Al Jazeera aims to be global, and to do that it needs to have distribution beyond this region,” he added. “Current TV seems to offer quite an attractive route into the U.S. market. I don’t think it has been doing very well commercially, but it does have reasonable distribution.”
“I think Al Jazeera could find a market [in the U.S.], but it will be relatively modest. They’re probably going to be a small to medium-sized player. Nevertheless, they could still be successful and even influential.”
Yet other commentators expressed surprise that Al Jazeera chose to invest so much in a TV network with so few viewers, when it could instead have chosen to build up its already popular Web-streaming service in the United States.
“Congratulations, cable guys! You’re in a business that’s so valuable that even a failed network with partial distribution and no audience is worth some $500 million,” wrote media commentator Peter Kafka on the AllThingsD website. “Al Jazeera would have been a perfect candidate to bypass cable and go digital-only.”
And so the issue of why Al Jazeera spent $500 million on Current TV is not the only question. For its fate also rests on whether the U.S. public will watch Al Jazeera America on their TV screens, or whether they already get their fix of the broadcaster’s shows via the Web.-www.shfaqna.com/English