SpaceX cargo ship arrives at space station

MIAMI: An unmanned cargo ship packed with food and supplies for astronauts arrived safely at the International Space Station Thursday, a day after SpaceX aborted the process due to a GPS problem.

This time, the Dragon cargo ship made a “perfect approach to the capture point,” a NASA commentator said, and was grabbed by the station´s robotic arm at 5:44 am (1044 GMT).

Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of France and Shane Kimbrough of the United States operated the 57-foot (18 meter) robotic arm to capture the Dragon, which will be berthed to the station and unpacked later Thursday.

“We had a great capture,” Kimbrough said. “Thomas did an awesome job.”

The gum-drop shaped Dragon vessel is packed with more than 5,000 pounds (2,267 kilograms) of food, gear and science experiments for the six astronauts living at the orbiting space station.

“Congratulations Dragon on a successful journey from Earth and welcome aboard,” said Pesquet.

The cargo launched into space Sunday aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, marking SpaceX´s 10th resupply mission under a contract with NASA.

SpaceX is currently working on another version of the Dragon that aims to ferry people to space as early as 2018.

Since the US space shuttle program ended in 2011, the world´s astronauts have paid Russia to ride to the space station aboard the Soyuz capsules. The price tag is currently $82 million per seat.


Threat alert: Sindh Home Dept names likely terrorist targets in Karachi

KARACHI: The Sindh Home Department on Thursday issued a notification that contained certain areas of Karachi which could be on the terrorists’ agenda next. 

According to details, a notification by the Sindh Home Department stated that Sindh High Court, Empress Market, Sindh Assembly, Zainab Market, markets located at M.A.Jinnah Road and the restaurants located at Do Darya, could next be targeted by militants.

The notification comes after a recent spate of terrorist atacks in the country taking place in Peshawar, Sehwan Sharif, Charsadda and Lahore. In the past ten days, more than 100 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorist attacks across the country.

On Thursday, a bomb blast in Lahore killed 8 people and injured 17 others.


Supreme Court reserves decision in Panama Leaks case

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday reserved its decision with regard to the Panama Leaks case, stating that the decision would be announced later.

Justice Khosa stated that a short order would not be issued on the matter and that the court would look at the case from all angles.

“We will take some time and look at the case in depth,” he said.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had conducted 26 proceedings of the Panama Leaks case from anew, with PTI chief Imran Khan, Sheikh Rasheed and JI filing petitions. While Naeem Bokhari had represented PTI chief Imran Khan, Makhdoom Ali Khan had represented Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. NAB and FBR heads were also summoned by the Supreme Court before it reserved its decision.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed proceedings into the Panama Leaks case on Thursday with PTI lawyer Naeem Bokhari concluding his arguments.

A five member larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa earlier resumed hearing into the Panama Leaks case petitions, as lawyer Naeem Bokhari was present in a packed courtroom filled with politicians and lawyers, to answer a couple of queries.

PTI lawyer Naeem Bokhari cited the decision given by the court in the case of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to which the bench replied that the decision had been taken in response to a contempt of court petition against the then-premier.

“This is also a petition filed against a Prime Minister who concealed his assets,” said Naeem Bokhari.

Naeem stated that the Prime Minister had made no mention of the Qatari letter before in his speech in the parliament.

Justice Ijaz Afzal stated that both sides had submitted documents which could not be confirmed through verified sources. He stated that the documents bearing the signature of Maryam Nawaz were termed fake by her while PTI claimed they were genuine.

“Should we consider ourselves above the law while operating? Can these documents be considered as evidence? The court has always taken decisions keeping in mind uncontroversial acts,” said Justice Ijaz Afzal.

Before concluding his arguments, Naeem Bokhari stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had not demonstrated honesty. He claimed that the Qatari prince had not been mentioned before in the speeches of the Prime Minister and just like the Gillani case, he was asking for a declaration from the court.

“Since 1980 to 2004, the Qatari prince was acting as a bank,” said Naeem Bokhari. “The Qatari has said that he has paid the liability. How was such a huge amount transferred without a bank?”

Eleven bloody days in Pakistan: a timeline

ISLAMABAD: At least eight people were killed in a bomb blast in Lahore Thursday, the tenth attack to strike Pakistan in just under a fortnight, with the apparently coordinated wave pointing to resurgence in militant violence.

Here is a recap of the incidents which have killed 138 people over the past 11 days:

February 23

– At least eight people are killed and 30 injured after a blast rips through a building in an upscale shopping area of the eastern city of Lahore. No group has immediately claimed the attack.

February 21

– At least seven people are killed when multiple suicide bombers attack a court complex in northern Pakistan. The attack is claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or the Pakistani Taliban.

February 16

– At least 90 devotees are killed and hundreds wounded when a devastating bomb detonates in the popular Sufi shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalandar in Sehwan in southern Pakistan. The Islamic State group claims the attack.

– Gunmen on motorcycles kill four policemen and a civilian in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan. The attack was claimed by the umbrella TTP.

– An improvised explosive device claimed by JuA hits an army convoy in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan, killing three soldiers and wounding two others.

February 15

– A suicide bomber rides a motorcycle into a van carrying judges in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing the van´s driver in an attack claimed by the umbrella TTP.

– Two suicide bombers launch an assault on a government compound in the Mohmand tribal region in the northwest, killing five people and wounding seven, with the attack claimed by JuA. Later, a fourth suicide bomber blows himself up as police surround him.

February 13

– Fourteen people are killed and 82 injured when a powerful bomb blast tears through Lahore. The attack, apparently targeting police, is claimed by JuA.

– Two members of the bomb disposal squad are killed while defusing a device in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. No group claims responsibility for the bomb.

February 12

– A roadside bomb kills three paramilitary soldiers in a restive northwestern tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

USA: Ahead of DNC Vote, Progressives Make Final Pitch for Keith Ellison

“The answer, I think, is pretty clear. Ellison—and by extension the movements he represents—offers the party the items it lacks and needs.”

Progressives are organizing a final push to get Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) elected as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of a candidates’ debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night and the vote on Saturday.

Ellison has the support of 105 out of 240 DNC members, The Hill reports, putting him ahead of former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has the next-highest amount at 57. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar and Owen Eagan note that it’s most likely that the vote will head to multiple rounds, taking “as many ballots as needed for a candidate to cobble together a majority,” eliminating the lowest-scoring candidates one by one.

The leading candidates’ face-off exemplifies the insurgent-versus-establishment battle that has taken over the DNC since the 2016 election, as much of the party’s old guard supports Perez over Ellison, while the latter has widespread progressive backing.

Ellison, who is also beloved among younger activists, has picked up the endorsements of a slew of Democratic lawmakers, from Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois to Rep. John Lewis of Georgia to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, as well as Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Perez is endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Two major things are at stake, according to political journalist Bob Dreyfuss. “First, if Perez beats Ellison, a big chunk of Democrats on the left, including those who backed Sanders in 2016, are going to feel like the party is ignoring them,” he wrote this week. “[S]econd, the next chairman of the party will hold the balance, going forward, on the makeup of the DNC Unity Reform Commission.”

Party leaders are aware of the tension. As the Wall Street Journal wrote on Wednesday:

Whichever candidate prevails in Atlanta, he will preside over a party that is rapidly being populated by activists partial to the Sanders brand of liberal populism. “A lot of people are concerned that if Keith [Ellison] is not elected, there could be a backlash,” said Michelle Deatrick, a former Sanders campaign staffer from Michigan who last year won a seat on the DNC.

The Ellison organizing effort risks a backlash of its own. Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen was annoyed recently when a group tweeted to urge followers to call him to show support for Mr. Ellison. More than 300 calls came in, jamming his line.

“They are putting an awful lot of pressure on people; it’s over the top,” said Mr. Groen, who subsequently endorsed Mr. Perez. “It’s counterproductive.”

The passion amid the fight reflects a growing eagerness to reform the DNC, as Americans increasingly take to the streets to resist President Donald Trump—and demand their representatives put up a stronger fight.

“We don’t need the Democratic party to tell us what to think—we have vibrant and engaged movements out there that are reshaping public opinion every day,” co-founder Bill McKibben wrote at the Guardian on Tuesday. “But we may need the Democratic party for the fairly limited purpose of winning elections and hence consolidating power. What would best serve that utilitarian need?”

“The answer, I think, is pretty clear,” he wrote. “Ellison—and by extension the movements he represents—offers the party the items it lacks and needs.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also endorsed Ellison in an op-ed at the Washington Post, writing, “All over the country, millions of people are getting organized and demonstrating against the president and the broken policies of the Republican Party…The new mission of the Democratic Party must be to harness and build on this energy.”

“[B]eyond being right on the issues, Keith knows what Democrats need to do to win,” de Blasio wrote.

DNC candidates will also appear for a debate on the future of the Democratic party Wednesday night at 10:00pm EST on CNN. The network has not yet announced which candidates will be appearing.


‘Meet a Muslim’ draws people from all backgrounds

A Muslim man taking part in an initiative to erase “misunderstandings” around what it means to be Muslim said some people are surprised to discover he’s a “normal” person.

Mustenser Qamar is one of the members of the Ahmaddyia community taking part in Meet a Muslim, an initiative to allow non-Muslims to get to know a Muslim person in New Zealand.

“I’ve met around 14 people myself,” Qamar told Newstalk ZB.

“One of the reasons for the misunderstandings is people don’t know Muslims themselves.”

Qamar said he had sat down to talk with people from many different backgrounds, including Christians, atheists, and agnostics.

“We’ve had great discussions, sat down for at least two hours each,” he said.

Some people have wanted to talk about religion, others have just wanted to make friends.

“A lot of people judge Muslims according to what they hear in the media,” he said.

“Some people are surprised to see that we’re actually normal people just like everyone else.”

While Qamar believed it would quickly become apparent to those around him that he is a Muslim, due to Islam being a “way of life”, “our teachings don’t get in the way of us being loyal citizens of the country.”

Algeria: Amnesty International report highlights restrictions on peace activists, Ahmadi’s religious freedon

“According to media reports and civil society groups, as of June, the authorities targeted members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, arresting more than 50 people because of their faith.”

More than 50 Ahmadis arrested because of their faith

Algerian authorities regularly jail opposition figures and activist, even those who “peacefully” criticise the government, Amnesty International reported today.

The organisation highlighted the case of journalist and blogger Mohamed Tamalt. A British citizen, Tamalt was jailed in July 2016 for two years because he posted a poem about President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Facebook. “He accused prison guards of beating him” during his court hearing.

The report also highlighted the case of the Ahmadiyya community in Algeria. “According to media reports and civil society groups, as of June, the authorities targeted members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, arresting more than 50 people because of their faith.”

Amnesty International says that dozens of people were arrested in 2015 following the violence in the South, in the city of Ghardaïa where many “remained in detention awaiting trial” in the latter part of 2016.

“They were subject to judicial investigation for terrorism and incitement to terrorism. Among these detainees was Kamel Eddine Fekhar, a political activist, as well as other supporters of the autonomy of the region.”


USA: Americans Rate Jews Highest, Muslims Lowest On ‘Feeling Thermometer’

A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that just 28 percent of Americans hold very or somewhat favorable views of Islam, while 48 percent hold very or somewhat unfavorable views of the faith.

A new survey asked Americans to rate different religious groups on a “feeling thermometer” from zero to 100. The results revealed that Americans are warming up to people to different faiths.

The survey, released Wednesday by Pew Research Center, found that Americans rate Jews the warmest and Muslims the coolest. Pew surveyed 4,248 adults between Jan. 9 and 23, 2017, and found that Jews got an average rating of 67 degrees, while Muslims came in at just 48 degrees.

Across the board, though, Americans feel increasingly positive toward a range of religious groups. Pew compared the results of the study with those of a previous poll conducted in 2014, and almost every religious group received a higher thermometer rating in the second survey.

”One of the really interesting things was that the increasingly warm feelings we see for these groups is so broad based,” Jessica Martinez, lead researcher for the study, told The Huffington Post. “There’s increasing warmth in the way religious groups view each other and in the way Democrats and Republicans view different groups. Even though there are differences, generally both view most of the groups more warmly than they did before.”

Thermometer ratings for Jews rose from 63 degrees to 67 degrees. Muslims received a rating of 48 degrees, up from 40 degrees in 2014. Ratings for Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons and atheists also rose. The biggest increase in “temperature” occurred for atheists, whose rating rose from 41 degrees to 50 degrees.

Americans, on average, continue to treat Muslims with hostility. A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found that just 28 percent of Americans hold very or somewhat favorable views of Islam, while 48 percent hold very or somewhat unfavorable views of the faith.

Among different demographic groups, however, views of Muslims and Islam vary significantly. HuffPost’s poll revealed a 29-point gap between Republicans and Democrats who view Islam favorably ― at 15 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

UK: Muslim and Christian event in Rose Hill promotes peace and understanding

Dr Zahid Khan referred to the historic incident when a delegation of 60 Christians were welcomed to pray in the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina and emphasised the Holy Prophet’s display of tolerance.

MUSLIMS and Christians came together in Rose Hill to find out more about the respective religions and promote peace.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community invited the Cowley Team Ministry and their friends to the interfaith event entitled Peace – Need of the Time.

The two groups met at Rose Hill Community Centre in Carole’s Way, Oxford, on February 11, with guest speaker Revd Canon Dr Geoff Bayliss enthusing the audience with a message of peace.

He spoke about the healing of a broken world, when peace will rule and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth when people will leave in peace and harmony.

About 80 people listened to the talk, which was followed by a speech from Dr Zahid Khan from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Dr Khan focussed his speech on building friendship despite differences and the importance of mutual respect and understanding.

He referred to the historic incident when a delegation of 60 Christians were welcomed to pray in the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina and emphasised the Holy Prophet’s display of tolerance.

Dr Khan underscored the need to exercise justice in order to establish peace.

A question and answer session at the end allowed members of the audience to quiz both speakers, who provided answers from the viewpoint of their respective faiths.

The event ended with silent prayer and then dinner.