Category: Europe Written by Rudi and Edited by Syarif Hidayat
London, 24 Jumadil Akhir 1435/24 April 2014 (MINA) - British police will ask Muslim women to help persuade young people not to fight in Syria, in a new campaign to halt an exodus which authorities fear could breed fighters at home.
Hundreds of Britons are thought to have flown out to join rebels fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Al Jazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Senior police officers and security chiefs have said they are worried the fighters could return and carry out attacks on British soil, the Reuters news agency reported.
Britain's counter-terrorism police said they were going to appeal to women from "affected communities".
"We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending ... to join the conflict," Helen Ball, National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, said in a statement ahead of Thursday's launch.
"We want to ensure that people, particularly women, who are concerned about their loved ones are given enough information about what they can do to prevent this from happening."
Last week a father living in the English town of Brighton, Abubaker Deghayes, revealed that three of his sons had gone to fight in Syria, one of whom was killed in a battle, the AFP news agency reported.
Abdullah Deghayes, 18, died earlier this month after leaving Britain in January, while his 20-year-old brother Amer suffered a bullet wound to the stomach in the same clash.
Police will hold meetings across Britain on Thursday with women from different community groups, charity workers and government officials involved in preventing extremism.
A leaflet has been prepared outlining the risks of travelling to Syria, which will be handed out at airports and ports.
The Charities Commission is also involved in the campaign, to advise people on how they can help send humanitarian aid to Syria without the money falling into the hands of militia.
The commission's chairman, William Shawcross, warned at the weekend that charities should be particularly vigilant about how their aid is used in countries such as Syria and Somalia.
Three charities are being investigated for Syria fundraising, while seven others are being monitored.
Andrew Parker, the Director General of MI5's domestic spy agency, said in October a growing proportion of his casework involved Syria, "mostly concerning individuals from the UK who have travelled to fight there or who aspire to do so".
Parker led MI5's response to the 2005 suicide bomb attacks on London which killed 52 civilians. Some of the bombers are thought to have received training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On Tuesday France announced a series of measures to stop its citizens from travelling to Syria to take part in the civil war and to punish those who did. (T/P09/E01).
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 16:33
Category: Europe Written by Kurnia Muhammad and Edited by Syarif Hidayat
Ankara, 24 Jumadil Akhir 1435/24 April 2014 (MINA) – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the international community over its silence on the death sentences being issued against supporters of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.
After only two brief sessions, an Egyptian court recently sentenced 529 Egyptians to death over the killing of one police officer. Rights groups have decried the sham hearing and ruling, but the international community has largely remained silent, Middle east monitor (MEMO) quoted by Mi'raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Erdogan's remarks about the case came during a parliamentary meeting of the Justice and Development Party's ruling bloc. He said: "I am addressing the world and my country, from the parliament, regarding the decision to execute 529 people [in Egypt]."
The Turkish prime minister pointed out that the international silence illustrates how there are double standards in the West regarding justice and rights, asking if: "The world stands up for Twitter, why don't you speak out about this? Is human life that cheap?"
"Within 20 minutes, the court issued a decision to execute 529 people. Although the death sentence is banned in the European Union (EU), no serious voice has been heard from the EU or other countries, such as the United States and Russia," Erdogan added.
He continued: "Why don't we hear their voices, while you are raising yours? Our hearts are breaking and our faith commits us to do so." (T/P012/E01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 16:31
Category: Middle East Written by Kurnia Muhammad and Edited by Syarif Hidayat
Damascus, 24 Jumadil Akhir 1435/24 April 2014 (MINA) – Bashar Al-Assad's plan to hold presidential elections in the current circumstances undermine efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria, the United Nations said yesterday.
The UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric quoted the UN chief as saying that "under the current circumstances, the election will damage the political process and hamper the prospect for a political solution that the country so urgently needs," Middle East Monitor (MEMO) quoted by Mi'raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Dujarric said: "The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi have warned against holding the elections under the current circumstances, in the midst of the conflict and mass displacement, as they will hurt the political process and obstruct prospects for a political solution."
Dujarric noted that "such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva communiqué."
The UN Working Group on Syria which includes the UN Security Council's five permanent members, Turkey and the Arab League reached the Geneva I agreement in June 2012.
It called to resolve the Syrian crisis politically by forming a transition government, holding parliamentary elections and amending the constitution but did not mention the fate of the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad sparking international and regional disagreements over its validity. (T/P012/E01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 16:28
Category: America Written by Syarif Hidayat and edited by Ismet Rauf
Washington, 24 Jumadil Akhir 1435/24 April 2014 (MINA) – Americans live in one of the world's wealthiest nations. Yet 14.5 percent of U.S. households—nearly 49 million Americans (33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children)—struggle to put food on the table.
Feeding America, the US national network of food banks, released its annual report on local food insecurity Thursday, showing that there are dozens of counties throughout the US where a third of children do not get enough to eat.
Forty-nine million people, or 16 percent of the population, lived in food insecure households in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available. This is up from 11.1 percent in 2007. The level of food insecurity among children is even worse, affecting a staggering 16 million children, or 21.6 percent, Press TV quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“Food insecurity is higher than at any time since the Great Depression,” said Ross Fraser, director of media relations for Feeding America, the national network of charitable food banks. “One in six Americans live at risk of hunger, as do one in five children,” he added.
Broken down by state and county, the situation is far worse in many parts of the country. For instance, in Mississippi, 22.3 percent of the population, or almost one in four, are food insecure. So are 29 percent of children in New Mexico, nearly one third of all children.
There are sixteen states—including California, the most populous state in the country—where more than one in four children are food insecure.
Food insecurity means that a household does not “always have access to adequate amounts of food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle,” Fraser explained to the WSWS. “Sometimes they’re either missing meals or fill their bellies with something that isn’t as nutritious as it should be, like a bowl of rice instead of a balanced meal.”
“When the recession hit, the number of food insecure people skyrocketed, from about 38 million people to about 50 million,” Fraser added. “Despite the proclamation that the recession is over, what this data shows is that people are having a very tough time making ends meet and securing enough food for themselves and their families.”
Los Angeles County, the New York metropolitan area, and Cook County (which includes Chicago) had the highest numbers of food insecure people in the US. There are 1.6 million food insecure people in Los Angeles, 1.4 million in New York’s five boroughs, and 0.8 million in Cook County. Twenty-one percent of residents (more than one in five) in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, were food insecure in 2012, as were 20 percent of residents in Dallas, Texas.
In the District of Columbia, home to the US capital, 28 percent of children live in food insecure households.
Rural poverty and hunger are pervasive
Four out of the five counties with the highest levels of food insecurity in the US were in rural Mississippi. Holmes County in the southern state reported 32 percent food insecurity, and Yazoo County reported a rate of 27 percent.
In Zavala County, Texas, 41 percent of children are food insecure. Two other counties in the US— Yuma County, Arizona and Starr County, Texas—have child food insecurity rates of 40 percent or more.
While hunger is most alarmingly high in inner cities and in rural America, Fraser warned that it is by no means confined to those areas. “Hunger exists in every county in America. This is a country where great wealth exists at the same time as great poverty.” He noted the example of Loudon County, an affluent suburb of Washington DC, where the local food bank reported that demand for food assistance has quadrupled.
The Feeding America report is based on the organization’s analysis of 2012 data published last year by the US Department of Agriculture. Other, less comprehensive surveys indicate that food insecurity has grown significantly since then. According to the US Conference of Mayors, demand for emergency food assistance in 25 major cities increased seven percent in 2013, following an increase of 22 percent in 2012.
In particular, Feeding America’s report does not take into account the impact of two consecutive cuts to food stamp benefits over the past six months. On November 1, 2013, Congress allowed emergency food stamps funding implemented in 2009 to expire, resulting in a reduction of $36 per month for a family of four. This was followed by $8.7 billion in cuts over 10 years signed by President Obama earlier this year.
The annual cut to food stamp benefits was $5 billion from the first cut alone, amounting to the entire operating budget of the Feeding America network. “It was like wiping out everything we do,” said Fraser.
Federal food stamp benefits now pay an average of $134 per month for individuals and $290 for families, or about $1.40 per person per meal. “Our food banks are where people go when they run out of food stamps,” Fraser said, noting that most people depleted their funds by the 21st of any given month.
Fraser also noted that a significant portion of people who visit the network’s food banks are employed, but do not make enough money to afford enough food. “They’re not able to make ends meet on low-wage jobs. You can’t even rent an apartment in the city limits of Chicago for what a minimum wage worker makes.”
The pervasive growth of poverty, hunger, and homelessness, is the result of the deliberate policies pursued by the ruling class since the 2008 economic crash. First under Bush and then Obama, trillions of dollars have been handed to Wall Street in the form of bank bailouts, followed by unending cuts in wages, benefits and social programs.
These measures have resulted in a historic redistribution of wealth, from the working class to the rich. Just last week, executive compensation research firm Equilar reported that the 100 top-earning CEOs in the US saw their median yearly pay increase by 9 percent in 2013, to $13.9 million each.
The US’s billionaires have seen their wealth double since 2009. The 400 richest individuals in the US now have a collective wealth of more than $2 trillion, or 400 times the annual budget of Feeding America and more than one billion times the average annual income for an individual on food stamps. (T/E01/IR)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 April 2014 06:58