SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – US President Barack Obama has taken his anti-gun campaign to Minneapolis, Minnesota, saying people’s actions are “the only way” to stop the rising gun violence in the country.
“The only way we can reduce gun violence in this county is if the American people decide it's important, if you decide it's important - parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, hunters and sportsmen, Americans of every background stand up and say, 'This time, it's got to be different," Obama said on Monday.
Obama gave a brief speech to build support for a ban on assault weapons and a limit of 10-bullets per magazine that Democratic lawmakers in the White House say has little chance of passing in Congress.
"We should restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines," Obama said.
Lawmakers and gun lobbyists say the most likely proposal to pass in Congress is to increase background checks and prohibitions against gun trafficking.
Lobbyists say a potential measure to succeed in Congress is to improve record keeping on gun sales that would make access to guns harder for mentally-ill people.
Obama said he understands that lawmakers may not “agree on everything” on the proposed measures, but wants to “do something” to change gun control laws.
Since December 14, when a man used an assault weapon to kill 20 children and six school staff in Connecticut, Obama has discussed the renewal of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, which had banned the domestic manufacture for civilian use of 19 types of semi-automatic firearms until it expired in 2004.
Obama’s stance against gun crime took a step back on Saturday, after White House officials released a photo of him firing a shotgun he owned.
A new report in February says every month since 2009 there has been a mass shooting taking place in the US.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – France will vote in favour of Palestinian "non-member status" at the United Nations.
"This Thursday or Friday, when the question is asked, France will vote yes," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in the lower house of parliament.
The move recognises efforts made by Palestinian officials to establish a statehood bid for the occupied territory.
With Tuesday's announcement, France - a permanent member of the Security Council - becomes the first major European country to come out in favour of potential Palestinian statehood.
Portugal and Spain are also supporting plans for the Palestinians to get non-member status.
Although European support for the Palestinians to get non-member status is on the rise, Australia has decided to abstain.
Saying that he government is divided on the issue, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would not be casting a ballot.
The Palestinians say the assembly is likely to vote on Thursday on a resolution raising their status at the United Nations from an observer to a non-member observer "state", a move they believe is an important step toward a two-state solution with Israel.
The draft seeking the status upgrade also calls on the UN Security Council to "consider favourably" the Palestinian request for full membership made one year ago. The US has been blocking that move at the 15-nation council.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An upcoming UN-organized conference on global communications aims to hammer out a treaty to safeguard "the free flow of information around the world.” Google is fighting back, saying the treaty threatens the “free and open Internet.”
Representatives from UN member-states will gather in Dubai from December 3 through 14 with the explicit aim of working out a new universal information and communication treaty that would regulate the Internet.
The conference, organized by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) has reignited a fierce debate over who should control the Web.
Google has remained unequivocal in its stance that the closed-door meeting a power grab aimed at ending public control of the Internet and strangling free speech:
“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice,” Google said on its ‘Take Action’ advocacy website.
Google, which has consistently taken a self-regulatory approach to the Internet, called the Dubai conference the “wrong place" to make decisions on the future of the Internet.
The Internet giant argued that the 42 countries set to decide the future of the Net have already moved to censor it, and that the number of regulations is only growing.
"Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech – or even allow them to cut off Internet access,” Take Action explained. "Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information – particularly in emerging markets."
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure attempted to allay fears by vowing that any decisions made at the conference would have to pass in a unanimous vote.
Toure previously vowed that a majority vote on Internet-related issues would not be enough to establish a universal rule set. "Whatever one single country does not accept will not pass,” he told the BBC in July.
Free Internet = American Internet?
Supporters of a new treaty say that the growth of Web and the subsequent worldwide explosion of the mobile phone market have antiquated the initial Internet treaty signed in 1998.
The ITU argues that a new treaty would not only bolster the free flow of information, but promote affordable and equitable access for all and lay the foundation for ongoing innovation and market growth.
With the elimination of revenue once generated from international landline calls, governments in the developing world have been starved of the necessary funds “to bring down the cost of Internet connectivity in developing countries,” Secretary-General Toure said in June.
“The current international regulatory framework is simply not equipped to deal with these challenges – challenges which will affect the development of a fully-inclusive information society over the next decade; a society that ensures all the world's citizens have equitable, affordable and secure access to voice, video and data,” he said.
Another issue raised by the current treaty debate is whether a US-centric Internet is a fundamentally more democratic one.
China, India and Russia are expected to try to shift control of the Internet’s tech specs and domain name system from American IT companies, which control most of the web, to an international organization.
On November 17, Russia submitted a proposal to the ITU to ensure “equal rights to manage the Internet” for all members of the organization, including “allotment, assignment and reclamation of Internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic Internet infrastructure.”
The move, earlier supported by China and India, would shrink America’s share of Internet ownership. Washington currently regulates nonprofit organizations tasked with the previously noted Internet functions through the Department of Commerce.– www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Meshaal has thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for helping the Gaza Strip in its victory against the Israeli regime’s attack.
Mashal made the remarks in a press conference in Cairo on Tuesday, adding Iran "had a role in arming” and financing Gazans during the war.
Hamas chief stated that Israel has failed to achieve any of its goals noting, “After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance.”
He warned Tel Aviv against violating the cease-fire agreement between the Palestinian resistance movement and the Israeli regime.
He also thanked ceasefire mediator Egypt, stating that the African country “acted responsibly and understood the demands of the resistance and the Palestinian people.”
Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah also said in a televised speech that the truce between Hamas and the Israeli regime is a victory for Palestine.
“We should learn from this great experience to benefit from it and reinforce our power,” Nasrallah said.
Earlier in the day, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr announced during a joint press conference with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Israeli regime and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas have reached a ceasefire agreement.
Following the truce agreement, Gazans poured into the street to celebrate the victory by chanting “God is great,” and "The resistance is victorious."
Under the deal, Palestinians and Israelis agreed to end all hostilities against each other. Israel also agreed to open all crossings and facilitate the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip, but it did not accept to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli regime’s deadly offensive on the blockaded Gaza Strip killed 162 Palestinians since November 14.
In retaliation, Palestinian resistance fighters continued to pour rockets and missiles into the Israeli cities, killing at least five Israelis, including one soldier.
Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unrelenting poverty, and unprecedented unemployment rate among the population of about 1.7 million Palestinians.– www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has criticized the United States for its unconditional support for Zionist regime.
According to IRIB, speaking during a televised speech in southern Beirut on Saturday, Nasrallah said US President Barack Obama is not doing enough to end Zionists’ aggression against Gaza.
He noted “Obama can put an end to the assaults by a single phone call. Nevertheless, he is still supporting what Zionist regime is doing.”
Nasrallah also warned Tel Aviv not to underestimate the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas. He said Hamas has significantly improved its military capabilities over the past years.
Nasrallah pointed out “Hamas resistance movement is now able to bomb Tel Aviv, al-Quds and other places.”
He cautioned Zionists against launching a ground operation into Gaza, saying it would be a grave and deadly mistake.
Nasrallah said “Zionists will commit a folly if they decide to carry out a ground operation in Gaza.”
Nasrallah also criticized Arab and Islamic countries for failing to take real and genuine steps to make Tel Aviv end its attacks on Gaza. He stressed that Zionist regime has no option but to accept the rightful demands of Palestinians.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Support worth about £200m ($319m) will be phased out between now and 2015 and the UK's focus will then shift to offering technical assistance.
Ms Greening said the move, which will be popular with Tory MPs, reflected India's economic progress and status.
Giving his reaction, India's foreign minister Salman Khurshid said: "Aid is the past and trade is the future."
Until last year, when it was overtaken by Ethiopia, India was the biggest recipient of bilateral aid from the UK, receiving an average of £227m a year in direct financial support over the past three years.
But the UK's support for India, one of the world's fastest-growing economies, has been a cause of concern among Conservative MPs, many of whom believed that the UK should not be giving money to a country which has a multi-million pound space programme.
Ministers have defended the level of financial help in the past on the basis of the extreme poverty that remains in rural areas and historical colonial ties between the two countries.
Ms Greening has been conducting a review of all financial aid budgets since taking over the role in September and visited India earlier in the week to discuss existing arrangements.
She said the visit confirmed the "tremendous progress" that India was making and reinforced her view that the basis of the UK's support needed to shift from direct aid to technical assistance in future.
The announcement that the UK is scrapping aid to India has been long expected and will not have come as a surprise to the Indian government.
UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening was in India early this week to meet senior Indian government officials who were briefed on the move.
India has long held the position that while it welcomes financial aid from overseas from those who choose to give it, it will never actively seek it.
The move is also a recognition of India's economic transformation.
It's now the third largest investor in the UK and the largest market for British goods outside the EU.
But much of the UK aid money was used to fund projects in some of India's poorest areas and some will worry that those at the receiving end could suffer.
"After reviewing the programme and holding discussions with the government of India, we agreed that now is the time to move to a relationship focusing on skillsharing rather than aid," she said.
"India is successfully developing and our own bilateral relationship has to keep up with 21st Century India.
"It is time to recognise India's changing place in the world."
Although all existing financial grants will be honoured, the UK will not sign off any new programmes from now on.
Last year the UK gave India about £250m in bilateral aid as well as £29m in technical co-operation.
By focusing post-2015 support on trade, skills and assisting private sector anti-poverty projects which can generate a return on investment, the UK estimates its overall contribution will be one-tenth of the current figure.
In making the decision, the UK is citing the progress India has made in tackling poverty in recent years. It says 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty as a result of the doubling of spending on health and education since 2006.
India spends £70bn on its social welfare budget, compared with £2.2bn on defence and £780m on space exploration.
From 2015, development experts will continue to work alongside the Foreign Office and UK Trade and Investment but focus on sharing advice on poverty reduction, private sector projects and global partnerships in food security, climate change and disease prevention.
Save the Children said it believed the decision to end financial aid was "premature".
"Despite India's impressive economic progress, 1.6 million children died in India last year - a quarter of all global child deaths," Kitty Arie, its director of advocacy, said.
"We agree that in the longer term, aid to India should be phased out as the country continues to develop, but we believe that the poorest children will need our ongoing help."
After 2015, the UK should also support Indian non-government organisations to tackle child mortality and improve health provision, it urged.
'Hitting the vulnerable'
Labour MP Keith Vaz, a former chair of the Indian-British parliamentary group, said the government needed to reassure its Indian counterpart that their bilateral relationship was still a priority.
"Although undoubtedly India has progressed in the past 20 years, there are still an estimated 360 million people surviving on less than 35 pence per day," he said.
"In withdrawing our aid to India, which will clearly only affect the most vulnerable, we need to see the minister's plan for how she will work with other organisations to make sure the gaps we are creating will be filled."
War on Want, which campaigns to end global poverty, said aid should not just stop because India had become a middle income country.
Financial support needed to be "smarter" and geared towards supporting "progressive movements" capable of bringing about political change and tackling growing inequality, the pressure group said.
The UK government is increasing the overall overseas development budget to help meet a longstanding international commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on aid.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for support for foreign-backed insurgents in Syria to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I incite Muslims everywhere, especially in the countries that are contiguous to Syria, to rise up to support their brothers in Syria with all what they can and not to spare anything that they can offer,” Zawahiri stated in a two-hour video released on Jihadists websites.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.
Damascus blames the West and some of its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, for arming and funding the insurgents.
Despite a temporary truce that took effect in Syria on Friday, the insurgents launched attacks in several areas, killing dozens of people and injuring tens of others.
The Syrian army has said that it is fully committed to the truce, but it is responding to insurgent attacks that violate the ceasefire.
In addition to the issue of Syria, the al-Qaeda leader called for the implementation of Sharia law in Egypt, and urged President Mohamed Morsi to define his policies on the Israeli regime and Egyptian Christians.
“The battle in Egypt is very clear. It is a battle between the secular minority that is allied with the church and that is leaning on the support of the army, who are made up by [former President Hosni] Mubarak and the Americans… and the Muslim ummah in Egypt that is seeking to implement sharia.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — American students in Central Michigan University have donned Muslim headscarf over a week in an event to show solidarity with Muslim students in their campus and stress the value of hijab as a Muslim choice.
“We want to stress that for Muslim women in the United States, wearing the hijab is a choice,” Amanda Jaczkowski, Hijab Week coordinator and Clinton Township junior, told CM Life website on Thursday, October 18.
“It is an outward symbol of an inner commitment.”
Jaczkowski is one of the coordinators of the project called “Hijab Week: An Experiment in Cultural Immersion”.
The event has been put together by students in the department of religion and philosophy, as well as the CMU Honors Program.
Held for the second consecutive year, the event is a cultural experiment created to promote awareness about Islam.
According to Jaczkowski, the idea of the hijab event came as her sister attended a class about Islam and made plans for a project in the Honors Program.
The project was held later to help spread awareness about the perception of Muslims in the American public.
Welcoming the idea, 25 non-Muslim students participated in Hijab Week.
Along with donning hijab, students participating in the event also adopted other practices associated with Islam, such as modest dress and abstaining from alcohol.
Many of the students participating in Hijab Week are involved as part of their personal development projects for HON 100, the introductory class in the Honors Program.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Donning hijab in their campus over a whole week, many of the students said they gained a better understanding of what Muslims face every day in America.
“With all the stigma surrounding Islamic culture, it’s very different to see what it’s like from an inside perspective,” Bay City freshman Hannah Foley, one of the Honors students participating, said.
Cadillac freshman Natasha Gabara agreed and recounted incidences during the week where she could notice stares from strangers.
“It’s teaching me to empathize with women in the Muslim culture,” Gabara said.
“You get a lot of awkward staring.”
Livonia freshman Ally Hermann said that reactions of the society all through the Hijab Week were different.
“I get the door held open for me more often,” Hermann said.
“I was not expecting that at all. People stare at me more, but you also get a lot of people smiling when you look their way.”
The event was welcomed by Muslim students who saw it a positive move towards understanding the true meaning of hijab, Jaczkowski said.
“A lot of my Muslim friends have been tweeting about it,” Jaczkowski said.
“They were really excited students were doing this. Some international students have even been calling their families back home to tell them about what we’re doing.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Use of cell phones has become an integral part of our lives. It is because they cater to the urge as well as the need to stay connected 24/7 with our contacts and loved ones. However, when on a flight, it is often annoying that you are simply not able to make calls using your cell phone. Boeing is prepping up to change that.
The company has plans of upgrading its modern planes such as Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental as well as Boeing 787 Dreamliners so that passengers aboard these planes will be able to make calls using their cell phones. It has stated that it intends to achieve this goal by 2013.
A leader in the aviation industry, Boeing intends to equip its modern planes with a whole host of similar other features. For instance, it plans on making Wi-Fi as well as internet access available during the flights.
By 2014, Boeing hopes, passengers aboard the aforementioned planes will be able to make use of wireless streaming media. While that remains the technical aspect of things, what remains to be seen is that how far the governments will support such a move.
The right to allow or refuse the permission to use on-board cellular calling will still remain with the governments of such countries over which the Boeing planes will be flying. So while the company’s goals sound fairly ambitious, it may also have to undergo governmental scrutiny to actually introduce them in the coming years.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — One month after the fire destroyed Joplin mosque, leaders of Missouri Muslim community are trying to start reconstruction of the worshiping center, moving forward with support from the interfaith community.
“It is the center for everything,” Imam Lahmuddin, Joplin mosque’s imam, told Washington Post.
Last August, an arson attack burnt a Joplin mosque in southeast Missouri to the ground.
The mosque’s roof was previously destroyed in a similar arson attack on July 4.
No injuries were reported in the attack, but the building of the Islamic Society of Joplin was a total loss after the blaze.
Investigations were launched by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Jasper County Sheriff's department.
The Muslim civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) urging it to investigate an incident targeting Muslims as a federal hate crime.
Immediately after the fire, Imam Lahmuddin opened up his home for prayers and gatherings for about 40 families in Joplin Muslim community.
The basic need is a worship space, but the old building also had areas for teaching and social activities.
Supported by the interfaith community, the Islamic Society of Joplin received financial backing from across the country.
An online fundraiser for a new building has raised more than $400,000, surpassing the $250,000 goal.
However, when it comes to solid procedures for the mosque construction, there is no timeline for construction yet, and no structural plans.
Another challenge is setting the location for the new mosque.
Some members think the new mosque should be at the same site — along a quite road outside the city limits.
The idea is opposed by others who think it should be built somewhere else, closer to the heart of the city.
Seeing the fire as a blow to the city, interfaith leaders supported their Muslim neighbors, extending their hands to the new mosque.
“It kind of shattered this illusion that we were this strong, unified, all-on-the-same page-kind of community,” Mark Statler, a pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Joplin, said.
Noting that the fire has destroyed the so called “we are Joplin” mentality, Statler added that the response to the fire has reinforced the sense of community which rallied together in the aftermath of the 2010 tornado.
The mosque imam, however, said that the fire did not represent what the “real Joplin” is, adding that the real Joplin is the support the Islamic community has received from people of different faiths.
Jill Michael, a pastor at South Joplin Christian Church, said many of the Christian leaders involved in the advertisement have divisive doctrinal differences, yet they came together for the Islamic community.
After the attack, Statler’s congregation members wrote encouraging notes and delivered a basket of cards to the Islamic community.
Another congregation, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, hosted an interfaith iftar for Joplin Muslims who used to organize a special iftar during Ramadan at their mosque.
At the end of the Muslim holy fasting month, about 300 people from five different churches gathered with the Muslim community at a hotel convention center to celebrate `Eid al-Fitr.
A group of religious leaders also signed a full-page advertisement of support in The Joplin Globe, the local newspaper.
Some churches posted the words “love thy neighbor” on their signs.
Sojourners, a national Christian social justice organization, threw in its support with an electronic billboard message: “Love your Muslim neighbors.”—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam