Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hawaii and Palestine are the same

Activists to launch Aloha Palestine! and provide regular ferry service to Gaza

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Members of the original Free Gaza ships have announced the establishment of Aloha Palestine, a passenger shipping service running between Palestine and Cyprus on a regularly scheduled route. Original crew members Lauren Booth and Ken O’Keefe have spearheaded the project.

Designed as a not-for-profit company, Aloha Palestine will seek to repeat and build upon the success of the Free Gaza campaign, which landed the first international vessels in the Gaza City port in 41 years. According to the first press release from Aloha Palestine, the mission statement of the new organization will be to “reflect the common values of hospitality, generosity and desire for a just peace that are found both in Hawaii and Palestine…the exceptional spirit of welcome, of ‘Fadal’...

It is an invitation to all who come in peace, to become not just friends, but family. ”The organization will offer a passenger service between Gaza and Cyprus, as well as helping to ensure the safe passage of students and patients out of the area, and medications into the Strip. As with the first voyage, the priority of each journey will be humanitarian. The project is currently fundraising and hopes to secure 750,000 British pounds in order to purchase a ferry to run the service. The boat will have the capacity to carry 200-250 individuals. The group is looking to raise additional funds to provide service and a crew for the vessel, as well as registration feels and legal costs. The group has stated that after the initial start-up costs that they hope the ship will be able to pay for its self after a few years.

Once the service becomes regular non-humanitarian passengers will be asked to pay a fee for their ticket in order to subsidize the travel of in-need Gazans. Aloha Palestine will also transport impartial, professionally trained international observers to Gaza who will document abuses of Palestinian human rights whilst working hard to see that these are once again respected. As an “act of good faith," Aloha Palestine proposed that international observers are also sent into Israel, to document the affect of the ongoing crisis in Israeli areas. In order to be registered as a ferry service in Cyprus the organization pledged to the government to comply with rules of territorial and international law. In their statement Aloha Palestine indicated that they “fully respect this position.” Their statement also added that no weapons will ever be allowed onto their vessels, and that they will not “transport any persons without lawful verification of their identity including the correct travel documents as required by foreign governments.”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nasrallah denies reports of being poisoned

Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:44:24 GMT

Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah has denied reports that he was poisoned, calling them 'psychological war' against the resistance.

In an interview with Al-Manar TV, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the reports were broadcast by Iraqi Internet website Almalaf and "unfortunately some local and Arab media outlets contributed in circulating this baseless information."

"This information is totally unfounded," Nasrallah said." I am sitting here in front of you... There was no poisoning. It is pure fabrication."

Hezbollah Secretary General added that the report is "part of the psychological war" against Hezbollah.

He told Al-Manar that "if you make a research about internet sites that spread such baseless information you will find that they are all run by the same black room to serve US-Israeli interests."

On Wednesday the Iraqi Internet website Almalaf reported that Nasrallah had survived an assassination bid in which he was poisoned with a 'highly toxic chemical substance'. PressTV

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chechnya inaugurates the largest mosque in Europe

The mosque capable of holding 10,000 worshippers will be the largest in Europe. RIA Novosti, Alexey Nikolsky

Its construction began in 2006. The mosque is going to form part of an Islamic center, complete with a Muslim religious board, an Islamic institute, a madrasah, a religious library, a hotel and a dormitory for students. RIA Novosti, Said GutsiyevPrime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya visiting the Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque in Grozny on October 16. RIA Novosti, Alexey Nikolsky

On October 17, the largest mosque in Europe, The Heart of Chechnya, named after the first president of the republic Akhmad Kadyrov, is to be inaugurated in the capital of Chechnya, Grozny. RIA Novosti, Said Gutsiyev

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya visiting the Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque in Grozny on October 16. RIA Novosti, Alexey Nikolsky

Source: RIA Novosti

Russia and Abkhazia to sign agreement on dual citizenship

Russia and Abkhazia will soon sign an agreement on dual citizenship, said the Foreign Minister of Abkhazia Sergei Shamba.

"We are now preparing an agreement on dual citizenship. In Russia, in the near future, I will be able to travel with the Abkhazian passport" - said to Vesti Channel the Abkhaz Foreign Minister.

Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 26 August, 2008. KP

Putin's dog gets satellite tracking collar

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin's black Labrador, Connie, has been given a tracking collar linked to the Russian navigation satellite system Glonass, the government website said on Friday.

Glonass (Global Navigation Satellite System), Russia's equivalent of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), is designed for both military and civilian use and allows users to identify their positions in real time.

"I have to say that I am a touch late, as I promised [in March] to give Connie the collar this summer. In the interests of fairness, however, I should point out that it was ready - I just didn't have the chance to meet with you and Connie. The collar is ready, and we are ready to demonstrate it, fit it, and test it," Deputy First Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told Putin at a meeting to discuss the development of Glonass.

Ivanov said the collar was the "only one of its type in the world."

Putin then put the collar, weighing 170 grams, on Connie, who was also present at the meeting.

"Come here Connie, they've brought you a present," said Putin, noting that, "She's wagging her tail, that means she likes it."
Ivanov also said that when Connie was stationary, for example, "in the forest, lying in a puddle" then the collar's battery would switch itself off, thereby conserving energy.

"My dog is not a piglet, she doesn't lie in puddles," retorted Putin.
The system, Ivanov said, may also be eventually used with dogs from the Russian emergencies ministry when they look for survivors after disasters.

The Glonass system is set to cover the whole of Russia by the end of the year, Ivanov also said at the meeting.
"Before the end of the year we are planning to launch another three [satellites], after which it will be possible to say with confidence that the entire territory of the Russian Federation will be reliably, fully, and around-the-clock covered by the Glonass signal from space," he said.

Glonass, the Russian equivalent of the GPS navigation system, was launched in 1993, although it largely fell into disrepair in the 1990s. In 2001, in partnership with India, Russia set about updating the system.

Iranian pilots show off dogfighting skills

TEHRAN, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian Air Force started on Friday large scale combat drills in the northwest of the country with simulated dogfights, the IAF press service said in a statement.
"Iranian fighters and bombers took off early on Friday from various airfields throughout the country and conducted a number of simulated dogfights. All the missions were well-organized and were performed successfully," the statement said.
Friday's war games also included missions performed by domestic Saegheh fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and reconnaissance aircraft.
The exercises are being held near Tabriz in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province to "demonstrate the might and combat readiness of Iran's Air Force."
They involve the entire range of Iran's fighter fleet, including U.S.-made F-4, F-5, F-7 and F-14 fighters and domestic Saegheh fighters. Mid-air refueling is provided by Boeing 707 aerial tankers.
The aircraft are flying simulated combat missions from air fields in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz and Hamadan.
Iran has conducted several high-profile war games this year. The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military strikes against Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Canadian terror messages worrying officials

click to enlarge

A Quebec man has posted messages on the Internet encouraging al-Qaeda to attack Canada, the latest in a series of similar sentiments that are worrying counterterrorism officials.
The author of the messages, who uses the pseudonym Altar, praised terror leader Osama bin Laden and asked why al-Qaeda was focusing its efforts only on Europe instead of Canada.
"Allah is great and may Allah bless Sheikh bin Laden. That the sword held by the hand of al-Qaeda hits not only Europe, but that is hits all our enemies. Wherever they are," he wrote in a Sept. 25 posting.
"Me, I live in Canada and the Canadian government supports the Americans. The government of Canada supports Israel. Canadian soldiers are sent to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Now it's Canada's turn."
A copy of the message, posted to a French-based Internet forum called Minbar-sos, was found by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist Web sites.
In his online biography, Altar writes that he is a Sunni Muslim who lives in Quebec and that: "I want to chase the non-Muslims from Canada. Only their deaths will make Islam triumphant. God is Great."
The message concludes: "May Allah guide us to always defend our religion. That the Crusaders whether in Iraq or in Ottawa, the sword of Islam will fall on their head. God is Great."
This kind of rhetoric has been appearing increasingly on the Internet, often the work of young radicals who join online forums that promote al-Qaeda.
"Don't forget, these al-Qaeda sites, normal people can't get onto them," said terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
"They're password protected; you have to be vouched for personally. So the access is controlled, so you have to take something like this somewhat seriously."
The RCMP in Quebec could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Canadian counter-terrorism police have already investigated several similar cases involving online activities.
The RCMP arrested a Moroccan man in Trois-Rivières, Que., last September for allegedly posting messages on the Internet threatening terrorist attacks in Germany and Austria.
In January, the National Post revealed that the RCMP was investigating a Toronto university student who had repeatedly posted messages on the Internet supporting attacks on Canadian soil.
Another young Islamist identified by the Post in April had posted messages online referring to bin Laden as a "hero" and "champion of Islam," urging people to support the Taliban and calling for the deaths of moderate Canadian Muslims.
Altar writes in French, but he is not further identified. He lists his occupation as "organizer." In an earlier posting, circulated in June, he criticized Canada for double standards in Afghanistan.
"When a government gratuitously kills women and children ... they call it an ‘operation to maintain the peace' and when the men defend themselves ... they call it terrorism. Real terrorism is the oppression of an entire state. Fighting in the path of Allah is not terrorism, it is a door to paradise."
Prof. Hoffman said it was sometimes not difficult for authorities to identify those using the Internet to incite terrorism. But extremists continue doing it anyway.
"They still believe they are cleverer than the governments operating against them are. For them, it's the thrill and the rush of taking part in this. For some of them, the possibility of being harassed is a mark of distinction, it's something that is appealing."
National Post

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Web surfing fights Alzheimer's: Amer. Journal Geriatr. Psych.

Wed, 15 Oct 2008

A recent study shows that surfing the internet improves brain function in middle-aged individuals and tackles later life dementia.

According to the study that will be published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, compared to reading a book, surfing the net is more effective in stimulating brain function.

Findings revealed an improved activity in the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes of the brain, responsible for language, reading, memory and visual abilities, when reading a book.

The study reported that web surfing not only stimulates the abovementioned areas but also enhances the activity in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain, which control decision-making and complex reasoning.

Scientists believe keeping the brain active can alter chemistry signals linked to age-related brain changes - atrophy, reductions in cell activity, and increases in amyloid plaques and tau tangles deposits (Alzheimer's disease) - all of which can affect ones cognitive function.

Previous studies had reported that pursuing mind-engaging activities such as crossword puzzles and memory games lower the future risk of cognitive decline. (Source)

Thailand says it's "ready for war"

Thailand has denied Cambodian claims that it's withdrawn its forces from a disputed stretch of the Cambodian border and says its ready for war.

Read also: "Thailand and Cambodia open fire" (16 Oct. 2008)

Passengers overpower hijacker aboard Turkish Airlines plane

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) Turkish media say a hijacker attempted to commandeer a Turkish Airlines plane over Belarus but he was overpowered by passengers. NTV television and Dogan news agency say the plane was on its way to St. Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday. NTV and Dogan cite unnamed Transportation Ministry sources as saying the hijack attempt was foiled.

"Middle East" to be replaced by "World of Islam"

Tehran, Oct 14, IRNA

Former Majlis speaker said here on Tuesday that `Middle East' is a term forged by Britons to replace the `world of Islam'.
"The term `Middle East' was coined by the British to replace the term `the world of Islam' so as to undermine unity of the Muslim world," Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said in an address to the one-day Conference on British Colonialism and Iran at Tehran University on Tuesday.
Haddad-Adel, who is also Head of Majlis Cultural Commission, told the meeting that Zionists' presence in the region is an instance of British colonialism.
He said that the Britons were also responsible for heavy damage Iraq inflicted on Iran in the past decades and recent years.
He said as long as the Iranian nation is vigilantly on the scene, definitely the story of British colonialism will no longer be repeated.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Russian naval task force arrives in Libya


MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky, will visit the Libyan capital October 11-13, an aide to the Navy commander said Wednesday.

Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet would call at Tripoli at the same time to replenish supplies.
He added that the frigate would then continue its tour of duty via the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

"The Neutrashimy will go to Somalia where it will ensure the safety of Russian vessels passing through this area against pirate attacks," he said.
Last Wednesday, Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said his country's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had authorized Russia's military to fight pirates off Somalia's coast and on land.

Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. The International Maritime Bureau said more than 30 incidents of piracy were registered in the region in 2007. More than 30 attacks have been committed so far this year off the coast of the East African nation.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

U.S. refuses visas to Abkhazia officials for UN visit

MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. has again refused entry visas to breakaway Abkhazian officials due to attend a UN Security Council meeting on the Georgian conflict, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
"Our repeated efforts to have Abkhazian representatives invited to an informal UN Security Council meeting have failed unfortunately over the unconstructive position of the U.S. administration, which has again denied them entry visas," Andrei Nesterenko said.
As New York is home to the United Nations headquarters, the United States is obligated, apart from in extraordinary circumstances, to allow foreign leaders to speak before the world body.
Russia proposed holding an informal UN Security Council meeting with representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian breakaway regions recognized by Moscow after a brief armed conflict with Tbilisi in August.
Russia's ambassador at the UN, Vitaly Churkin, earlier said the Council had expressed an interest in such a meeting.
Nesterenko said last month visa applications for South Ossetian and Abkhazian representatives had been submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
It is not clear whether representatives of South Ossetia, which Georgia attacked in early August to retake it under central control, will be able to travel to the U.S.
The U.S. initially refused to issue a visa to Abkhazia's foreign minister, Sergei Shamba, in April 2007. Russia accused Washington of preventing a side in the conflict from speaking before the UN. The U.S. said Russia was trying to raise "false analogies" between Abkhazia and Kosovo complicating the discussion.
The Georgia conflict further stained relations between the U.S. and Russia. Washington accused Moscow of excessive use of force and violating Georgia's territorial integrity. Moscow said the U.S. administration had encouraged Georgian aggression.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Russia and Belarus set up shield against NATO-Pavel Borodin

MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement on November 2 to set up a joint regional air defense system, the state secretary of the Union State said on Wednesday.
The Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State will hold a meeting in Moscow on November 2.
Asked if an agreement would be signed then on a regional air defense system, Pavel Borodin, Secretary of State of the Union State, said: "I have no doubt of that."
He added that the treaty was vital in the context of NATO's ongoing eastward expansion.
"Militarily speaking, it is virtually a shield against NATO," Borodin said.