Sunday, February 12, 2012

Al Qaeda leader backs Syrian revolt against Assad

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in a video recording posted on the Internet on Sunday, urged Syrians not to rely on the West or Arab governments in their uprising to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
In the eight-minute video, entitled "Onwards, Lions of Syria" and posted on an Islamist website, the Egyptian-born Zawahri also urged Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of Syrian rebels confronting Assad's forces.
"Wounded Syria still bleeds day after day, while the butcher, son of the butcher Bashar bin Hafiz (Hafez al-Assad), is not deterred to stop," Zawahri, wearing his white turban and seated against a green curtain, said.
"But the resistance of our people in Syria despite all the pain, sacrifice and bloodshed escalates and grows," he added.
Zawahri took command of al Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in a raid in Pakistan last May.
A Muslim should help "his brothers in Syria with all that he can, with his life, money, opinion, as well as information," Zawahri says.
Syrian forces bombarded districts of the city of Homs on Saturday in a campaign to crush the revolt against Assad, whose ally Russia said it would not support an Arab League peace plan circulating at the United Nations.
Activists said seven people were killed in the latest attacks in a week-long government siege of Homs, which has been at the heart of the uprising which broke out 11 months ago.
"Our people in Syria, don't rely on the West or the United States or Arab governments and Turkey," Zawahri said in what is believed to be his second such message to Syrian protesters.
"You know better what they are planning against you. Our people in Syria, don't depend on the Arab League and its corrupt governments supporting it."
Arab foreign ministers will discuss a proposal next week to send a joint U.N.-Arab mission to Syria, after a uniquely Arab team failed to end Assad's crackdown on protests.
"If we want freedom, we must be liberated from this regime. If we want justice, we must retaliate against this regime," Zawahri said.
"Continue your revolt and anger, don't accept anything else apart from independent, respectful governments."
In July, Zawahri urged Syrian protesters to direct their movement also against Washington and Israel, denouncing the United States as insincere in showing solidarity with them.
Earlier this month, another video with Zawahri appeared on Islamist forums, announcing Somali militant group al Shabaab was joining its ranks in an apparent bid to boost morale and sharpen a threat to Western targets.
(Reporting by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Michael Roddy)

24/7 FrontLine Results - LPPNEWS

Has Former Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro ‘Rediscovered Jesus?’

Fidel Castro

Cuba's ailing former leader Fidel Castro, 85, is certainly no friend of the United States. But new reports have some wondering if the former president is now looking to become a comrade of...Jesus Christ. According to media reports, Castro's daughter, Alina Fernandez, is claiming that her father has become more friendly to religion as his life is nearing a close.
Now, it is important to note that Fernandez is estranged from her father, so it's unclear just how much inside information she has regarding his faith views. See, Fernandez was born to one of Castro's mistresses who fled to Spain with her daughter back in 1993 (Fernandez is now based in Miami). That being said, her words are still worth noting, especially considering news that has purportedly leaked from a Vatican source.
"He has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life," Fernandez was quoted as saying in La Repubblica, a popular Italian newspaper. The complete translation of her comments, as reported by ABC News, is as follows:
“During this last period, Fidel has come closer to religion: he has rediscovered Jesus at the end of his life. It doesn’t surprise me because dad was raised by Jesuits.”
Pope Benedict XVI
This same article goes on the quote an unnamed, high-ranking Vatican official as well -- an individual who is helping organize Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming trip to Cuba.
"Fidel is at the end of his strength. Nearly at the end of his life. His exhortations in the party paper Granma, are increasingly less frequent," the unnamed source said. "We know that in this last period he has come closer to religion and God."
This is causing some to wonder if the former leader will be seeking out forgiveness and a clean slate with the Pople next month. The Associated Press has more regarding Pope Benedict's impending trip to Cuba:
The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba has announced the dates and a partial itinerary for Pope Benedict XVI's much-anticipated visit to the island, the first by a pontiff since John Paul II's groundbreaking 1998 tour. The church said in a statement Sunday that the pontiff will be in Cuba from March 26 to 28, following a visit to Mexico.
Fidel Castro With Brother Raul, Who After Taking Control in 2008 Has Introduced A New and Once Unthinkable Push …
This trip is noteworthy for a number of reasons. To begin, Castro has a complicated history with the Catholic Church. He was excommunicated in 1962 and, considering his treatment of citizens and his nation's isolation, he hasn't always had the most favorable interactions with Christian leadership. However, since his brother, Raul, has taken over, conditions seem to be improving. NPR reports:
The origins of Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to Cuba can partly be traced back to events at the church in the spring of 2010. At that time, government-organized mobs attacked the women outside the church as foreign television cameras rolled. Cuba's church leaders intervened, and in the dialogue with Raul Castro that followed, more than 100 jailed dissidents were freed. [...]
Under Raul Castro, Cuba's Catholic Church has recovered a degree of prominence it hasn't had in 50 years. Castro said the island will welcome the pope with affection and respect, announcing he would pardon nearly 3,000 more prisoners in advance of the papal visit.
"This is a demonstration of the strength and generosity of the Cuban Revolution," Castro said in a Dec. 23 speech to Cuba's parliament.
All things considered, it is quite possible that the former dictator (Fidel) has renounced his past behaviors and is prepared to ask the Pope for forgiveness, while seeking to re-join his long-lost faith tradition.
(H/T: Miami New Times)

Florida-Cuba ferry plans stuck in U.S. "black hole"

Raul Castro Defends Cuba's One-Party System

Yamilé Aldama has taken no shortcuts to jump from Cuba to Team GB

Younger Castro steers Cuba to a new revolution

AP IMPACT: Trip reports reveal jailed American subcontractor's USAID Internet efforts in Cuba

Students travel to Cuba, study its history

Dissident Couple Remains Imprisoned

Assad's forces intensify shelling on Syria's Homs

AMMAN (Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed at least four civilians in an intensified tank and rocket bombardment on opposition districts in the Syrian city of Homs on Saturday to put down a popular revolt demanding his removal, activists said.
"This is the most violent barrage since the attack on Homs started six days ago. The four included a 55-year old woman. They were killed by shelling that hit a building where they live in Bab Amro," opposition activist Mohammad Hassan told Reuters by satellite phone from Homs.
The account could not be independently confirmed. Syria restricts access by most foreign journalists.
Footage on YouTube showed a doctor at a field hospital in Bab Amro next to the body of the woman, who appeared to have been hit in the head.
"This is Ibtissam al-Dalati, mother of three...Shrapnel hit her in the head," the doctor says, holding the woman's fractured and bloody head. "I call upon all Syrians to take to the streets to take the pressure off Homs."
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom)

Airlines urge U.N. deal to avert carbon trade war

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Global airlines called on Sunday for a U.N.-brokered deal to prevent a row over aviation emissions between China and the European Union spilling into a damaging trade war.
The call by the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) comes amid signs that the EU may be willing to soften a unilateral stance that also risks souring efforts to resolve Europe's sovereign debt crisis with Chinese support.
In an interview, IATA Director General Tony Tyler said airlines had become wedged between conflicting domestic laws after China ordered its airlines not to join the EU's compulsory market-based system for regulating airline emissions.
"The Chinese move to prevent its airlines from taking part in the Emissions Trading Scheme is a very bold move and it pushes the Chinese carriers very much into the front line of this particular dispute," Tyler told Reuters.
"This is an intolerable situation which clearly has to be resolved; it cannot go on like this. I very much hope of course that we are not seeing the beginning of a trade war on this issue and eventually wiser counsels will prevail," he said.
China was an early opponent of the EU's cap-and-trade scheme, which has also drawn protests from the United States and India, and the escalating row threatens to hamper efforts to work out an international solution to Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
By banning its airlines last week from co-operating, China hardened its stance just ahead of a February 14 Beijing summit at which the EU will seek Chinese help to ease its debt crisis.
The EU says its scheme to charge airlines for emissions on flights into or out of Europe, which took effect on January 1, is needed as part of the fight against global climate change.
It maintains it was driven to act after more than a decade of inaction at the United Nations' aviation standards agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has yet to find a global solution to tackling airline emissions.
Tyler said ICAO's chambers were the only forum for resolving the row and he and other airline industry officials noted that the EU had indicated willingness to avoid further isolation.
"The European Commission is now much more open to an ICAO solution," he said. "I very much hope that the EU and all its member states will work hard with ICAO to come up with a global solution. It is not going to be easy."
Tyler was speaking on the eve of the Singapore Airshow.
Last week the senior EU civil servant responsible for climate action said Brussels preferred multilateral discussion.
"We have been clear that we are willing to review our legislation in the light of agreement on market-based measures being agreed in ICAO," Jos Delbeke told a conference.
A relative backwater of the United Nations responsible for industry standards, the Montreal-based ICAO has emerged as the potential bulwark against the first serious carbon trade war.
It is widely seen as a challenging task for an agency created to oversee neatly bordered airspace, but which must now try to find an urgently needed formula for tackling aircraft fumes that criss-cross international frontiers.
ICAO has already served as a back-channel for issues deemed too difficult to handle elsewhere, for example providing opportunities for contacts between Washington and Cuba, but has rarely found itself in the diplomatic foreground.
The row comes at a difficult time for airlines as the industry struggles to escape the fallout from high oil prices and the economic uncertainty surrounding Europe's debt crisis.
Tyler said airlines faced a tough year in 2012 and warned of further bankruptcies in Europe or elsewhere if the region failed to resolve its credit problems. The current quarter is traditionally the leanest time for aircraft revenues.
IATA has predicted the global airline industry will make a profit of $3.5 billion in 2012, but says this could flip to a loss of $8.3 billion in the event of deep recession in Europe.
Cargo traffic which acts as a barometer for global trade ticked 0.2 percent higher in December, but Tyler said it was too early to tell whether this signaled a turnaround.
The head of a sister organization responsible for Asian carriers said airlines risked being hurt by any trade conflict.
"The risk for airlines is that if this does degenerate into tit-for-tat trade war, then airlines will be caught in the crossfire from both sides," Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines, told Reuters.
(Writing by Tim Hepher; Editing by Ron Popeski and Erica Billingham)