Top candidates attack but express cautious optimism about winning

Headlinenews.guru 2/1/2016 – The first major test for the 2016 presidential candidates is now just hours away with the Iowa Caucus on Monday — its outcome a likely sign of whether front-running Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump can hold their leads or if the unpredictable and often-angry electorate has other plans.

Trump and Clinton made their closing arguments Sunday, barnstorming across Iowa and battling on the political shows, in a final effort to beat back close rivals like Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, both eager for an upset in the first-in-the-nation balloting.

“Thirty six hours from now, the men and women of Iowa are going to caucus,” Cruz, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by roughly 5 percentage points, told “Fox News Sunday.” “And we have a grassroots army. We’ve got 12,000 volunteers in the state.”

Still, Cruz, who argues that he’s the true conservative in the GOP field, was, like the rest of this year’s White House candidates, steering clear of predicting a win, then having to face the fallout from a loss or even a below-expectations finish.

“Right now, this is all about turnout,” said Cruz, a Texas senator in a close race for second with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “This is all about who shows up tomorrow night at 7. … If conservatives come out, we will win.”

Sanders, a Vermont independent, told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think we have a shot to win it, if people come out.”

His populist message about the economy being “rigged” against the middle class and “billionaires buying elections” has resonated with the largely disaffected and angry electorate and has posed a clear alternative to the Clinton political dynasty.

Even the supremely confident Trump, who has a double-digit national lead over the GOP field, tamped down Iowa expectations Sunday.

“I don’t have to win it,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m doing really well with the evangelicals in Iowa. But I’m also doing tremendously well all over the country with the evangelicals. … I think we have a good chance of winning Iowa.”

Still, Trump, who has a wider lead among the more independent-minded voters of New Hampshire, who vote second, on Feb. 9, realizes the importance of a lead-off victory.

“I have a very substantial lead in New Hampshire,” he told CBS. “But I think it would be really good to win Iowa. I’d like to win Iowa.”

And at least 9 percent of potential Iowa caucus-goers remain undecided, according to a Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics poll released Saturday.

After New Hampshire, the voting continues in South Carolina and Nevada, with the outcomes of those so-called “early-state votes” expected to winnow the GOP’s 11-candidate field.

After Trump and Cruz, Rubio is the only other GOP candidate with double-digit poll numbers.

They are followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former business executive Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Santorum and Huckabee, popular among social conservatives, won Iowa in 2012 and 2008, respectively.

Though none of the candidates below Rubio is expected to make a strong Iowa finish, Kasich, Christie and even Bush could do well in New Hampshire and challenge the frontrunners — as the GOP and Democratic races head across the south and into the late spring before this summer’s nominating conventions.

Kasich was the only candidate in New Hampshire on Sunday, telling potential voters at an Elks Lodge in Salem that cutting regulations that kill small businesses would be a priority of his first 100 days, if elected president.

Trump and Cruz each attended Sunday morning church services with family members.

Trump attended services at the First Christian Orchard Campus, a nondenominational church in Council Bluffs.

Cruz went to the Lutheran Church of Hope, outside Des Moines. The sermon called on politicians to treat their opponents with love, not attack ads.

Trump has tapped into the angry electorate with plans to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out “drug dealers” and others from Mexico. And in the wake of two recent terror attacks, he proposed keeping Muslim from entering the United States until the government improves its immigrant-screening process.

Amid some public outcry, Trump’s poll numbers increased by double digits after his called for the ban, in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre in December.

Since Cruz emerged in recent weeks as Trump’s closest primary rival, Trump has called Cruz “a nasty guy” and a “liar,” particularly about whether Trump essentially supports ObamaCare.

The only other Democratic candidate is former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has single-digit poll numbers.

The front-running Clinton, who has a superior fundraising and campaign apparatus, continues to hold a roughly 25-point national lead over Sanders.

However, the former first lady has been stuck defending herself in a controversy about her use of a private server/email setup to conduct official business when secretary of state.

On Friday, the State Department said it had identified 22 “top secret” emails that it would not release, as part of a court order to make public Clinton’s email correspondence.

“It’s a continuation of a story that’s been playing out for months,” Clinton told ABC News.

Clinton also said that none of the emails was marked classified at the time, and she again called for their released, in an apparent effort to help end the controversy. She also suggested that Republicans were “grabbing at straws” on the issue.

“I want to see them disclosed,” she told ABC.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pre-orders-for-the-Apple-Watch-available

Pre-orders for the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch available

The greatly anticipated Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch is available for pre-order as of April 10, 2015. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores opened all over the world to take orders and schedule appointments, for a product that is only available online and is in limited supply. The deliveries will take place on April 24, 2015 but aficionados have already made arrangements in designated countries to test the gadget out for themselves.

Also among the designated countries are UK, Australia, China, Germany and France.There are three categories of the watch available: The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport at $349, the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch at $549 and the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Edition, the price of which is $17000 and above. It’s said that there might be 38 options: 3 collections, with 6 different case types, on 18 straps, all available in 2 sizes.

A primary inspection of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Stores revealed that the reserve was severely short, and the 42mm stainless steel version and the 38 mm Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch Sport are the only versions to be shipped out on the delivery date.The Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Watch will take around 4-6 weeks for shipping. Specific boutiques in selected countries will put the products on display so that the customers can come and have a look at them.

Basically, the Watch was set to be released during the Christmas season after its announcement in September. The announcement created a lot of hype among the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)users and they have been waiting for the arrival of the Watch in the market ever since it was announced. If AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had opened up pre-orders then, it would have taken even longer for the consumers to get their watches.The SVP of AppleInc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Angela Ahrents stated the advantage of using online Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)stores to sell the watches.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)planned on issuing 25000 Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)shares to the public a few days after the orders had been places. Angela Ahrents, also known as the former CEO of Burberry, is also heading the launch of the Retina MacBook, which is easier to order and attain than the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Smartwatch.The Retina MacBook is said to be available in the following colors: silver, gold and space gray at the starting prices of $1299 and the shipping time is only three days, unlike the Smartwatch whose shipping will take around one to two months.

There is also a guide available on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)Insider to help the customers decide which watch to buy. There are three main things that will aid the choosing: size, model and bands.Each watch comes in a choice of two case sizes: 38 millimeters and 42 millimeters.

Russian-Jet-Nearly-Collides-with-US-Spy-Jet-Over-Europe

Russian Fighter Jet Nearly Collides with U.S. Spy Jet Over Europe

A Russia Su-27 jet fighter flew dangerously close and nearly collided with a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft this week in the latest aerial provocation by Moscow, defense officials revealed to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Su-27 conducted the close-in intercept of an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, said officials. The incident prompted a diplomatic protest.

“On the morning of April 7th, a U.S. RC-135U flying a routine route in international airspace was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in an unsafe and unprofessional manner,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez.

“The United States is raising this incident with Russia in the appropriate diplomatic and official channels,” she said in a statement.

A defense official said the Russian fighter jet flew within 20 feet of the unarmed reconnaissance jet in what the official called a “reckless” encounter that endangered the lives of the RC-135 crew.

No details were available regarding the mission of the RC-135, which was in a position to monitor Russian military activities in western Russia and Kaliningrad.

In Moscow, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed the incident.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman, said the intercept was carried out after the aircraft was detected by Russian radar.

“Russian air defense radars spotted an unidentified air target over the Baltic Sea making steady progress toward the national border,” he said according to several state-controlled news outlets. The report said the U.S. aircraft was operating without its signal transponder turned on.

“No emergency situation was reported during the fly-by of the American reconnaissance aircraft,” Konashenkov said.

The RC-135 is a militarized and upgraded Boeing 707 jetliner that can be configured for several types of intelligence gathering, including photo, nuclear monitoring, and electronic spying.

The RC-135U variant involved in Tuesday’s near collision is code-named Combat Sent and conducts technical intelligence gathering on enemy electronic signals and radar emitters.

The monitoring comes amid new worries that Russia is deploying new short-range Iskander nuclear capable missiles in Kaliningrad and Russian-occupied Crimea in the Ukraine.

A second defense official said there have been no recent Russian aerial provocations near U.S. coasts. But Moscow is expected to ramp up its training operations flights around this time of year.

“That means we’re probably due for [aerial encounters] soon,” the official said.

The most recent similar encounter took place March 24 when two Su-27s, along with two nuclear capable Tu-22 Backfire bombers, conducted flights over the Baltic. The Russian jets were flying without signal beacon transponders that permit air traffic controllers to monitor their flight paths. They were intercepted by Swedish jets.

It could not be learned if U.S. or NATO jets were sent to escort the RC-135 over the Baltic Sea.

The threatening aerial encounter followed a series of provocative Russian military aircraft encounters, mainly involving the dispatch of nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers near U.S. and European coasts.

Flights of Russian strategic aircraft near U.S. and allied airspace have sharply increased as part of a campaign of nuclear saber rattling by Moscow.

Adm. William Gortney, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, expressed his military concerns about the increase in Russian military flights and provocations during a briefing with reporters the same day of the RC-135 incident over the Baltic.

“The Russians have developed a far more capable military than the quantitative, very large military that the Soviet Union had,” Gortney said, adding that Moscow has adopted a new strategic doctrine that is being demonstrated by the provocations.

“At the same time, they are messaging us,” he told reporters at the Pentagon. “They’re messaging us that they’re a global power—we do the same sort of thing—with their long-range aviation.”

Gortney said the numbers of incidents have gone up but he did not have the percentages.

“And so we watch very carefully what they’re doing,” he said. The Russians need to adhere to “international standards that are required by all airplanes that are out there,” he said, “and everybody is flying in a professional manner on their side and our side as we watch very closely.”

Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defense for policy, said the latest incident appears to be part of a pattern of activities by Russia that began around 2007 when Russian President Vladimir Putin began protesting U.S. missile defenses in Europe. The provocative activities have taken place in both the skies and on the sea, Edelman said.

The Russians are engaged in what Edelman said is “station identification”—signaling that they remain a relevant nuclear weapons power.

“It’s part of a pattern now of very, very provocative activities, both in the air and on the sea,” Edelman said in an interview.

The Russians are signaling that “we’re still here, we’re still an important military power, your nuclear peer, and they are seeking to intimidate the Balts, Swedes, and Finns,” he said. The Baltic states are Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

A report by the European Leadership Network, “Dangerous Brinksmanship: Close Military Encounters Between Russia and the West in 2014,” states that last year NATO aircraft conducted more than 100 intercepts of Russian aircraft, three times the number of intercepts in 2013. A total of 11 encounters were described as being of a serious and “more aggressive or unusually provocative nature, bringing a higher level risk of escalation.”

“These include harassment of reconnaissance planes, close overflights over warships, and Russian ‘mock bombing raid’ missions,” the report said, noting that the intensity and gravity of the incidents coincided with the Russian annexation of Crimea.

“These events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea, simulated attack runs, and other dangerous actions happening on a regular basis over a very wide geographical area.”

The report said the Russians appear to be testing NATO and European defenses, as well as using the provocative actions to contribute to an information warfare campaign.

The Russian provocations “serve as a demonstration of Russia’s capability to effectively use force for intimidation and coercion, particularly against its immediate neighbors,” the report said.

Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said in Senate testimony in February that Russian nuclear actions are a significant problem.

“Russia’s recent behavior currently poses one of our most pressing and evolving strategic challenges—challenges felt across the strategic forces mission space,” McKeon said.

“We are confronted with Russia’s occupation of Crimea, continuing Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s increasingly aggressive nuclear posturing and threats, including the prospect of nuclear weapons in Crimea, and its violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.”

Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, stated in testimony to the Senate in February that Russian aerial provocations were part of a number of “troubling actions” by Moscow

Until recently, military spokesmen have sought to play down the Russian aerial provocations, frequently dismissing intrusions into U.S. and Canadian air defense identification zones as not a threat.

“It’s ‘station identification’ and a former of intimidation, and it’s dangerous,” said Edelman, a former ambassador to Finland. “Some time something bad is going to happen, particularly against the backdrop of what’s going on in the Ukraine, and it could lead to inadvertent escalation and confrontation. It’s very dangerous.”

UPDATE Saturday, April 11, 11:10 A.M.: This article has been updated with comment from a spokesman for the Russian government, who confirmed the incident.

Iran-Supreme-Leader-Khamenei-warns-no-guarantee-of-final-nuclear-deal

Iran: Supreme Leader Khamenei warns ‘no guarantee’ of final nuclear deal

His people celebrated news of an interim nuclear deal with world powers.

But Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is much less enthusiastic.

And in his first comments on the matter, apparently meant to keep hardline loyalists on side, the Islamic Republic’s most powerful figure has warned about the “devilish” intentions of the United States.

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Khamenei said he was neither for nor against last week’s framework accord.

“What has happened so far neither guarantees a deal – or talks leading to a deal, nor does it guarantee the content of a deal. ….It doesn’t even guarantee the talks will go on until the end and will lead to a deal,” he said.

The Supreme Leader, who has the last say on all state matters, repeated his faith in President Hassan Rouhani’s negotiating team who met world powers in the Swiss resort of Lausanne and are now seeking a final accord before an end of June deadline.

But, like the President, he demanded that all sanctions on Iran be lifted at the same time as any final deal to curb Tehran’s disputed nuclear work amid Western fears it is seeking to build an atomic bomb.

These include nuclear-related United Nations resolutions as well as US and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions.

“All sanctions should be removed when the deal is signed. If the sanctions removal depends on other processes, then why did we start the negotiations?” Khamenei said.

The US State Department however has reiterated its position that sanctions would be removed gradually.

“Under the agreed-upon parameters, sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said. He declined to react specifically to the Iranian leadership’s comments.

One problem is that Iran and the world powers may have different interpretations on what was agreed in the framework accord – a point Khamenei made evident.

“Americans put out a statement just a few hours after our negotiators finished their talks … this statement, which they called a ‘fact sheet’, was wrong on most of the issues.” Khamenei said.

He made the same point on Twitter.

“Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive &breach promises.” -@khamenei_ir

Khameni reiterated Iranian denials that Tehran was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

France, one of the powers to forge the interim deal, said on Thursday that many differences, including on sanctions, needed to be overcome if a final agreement was to be reached.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China will resume negotiations in the coming days to try to pave the way for a final deal.

ORGANIC-MOLECULES-FOUND-IN-AN-INFANT-STAR-SYSTEM

ORGANIC MOLECULES FOUND IN AN INFANT STAR SYSTEM

Astronomers have detected a basic ingredient of life in an infant star system. The discovery shows that Earth is not the only star system that contains life compounds.
Researchers used Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) of European Southern Observatory for this purpose. They designed a video tour of the star to display their discovery.
The star, dubbed as MWC 480, is located around 455 light years away from the Earth. It is present in the constellation of Taurus. The size of MWC 480 is nearly double the size of sun. Even sun cannot compete with its high radiance.
The gas cloud of the star contains several molecules of carbon and methyl cyanide. Cynaides is quite essential as it contain carbon-nitrogen bond that are essential for the formation of amino acids. This is the first time when scientists have discovered such compounds in dust clouds of any star. . It confirms that numerous other Earth-like planets contain complex molecules. The molecules are the basic requirement of living organisms.
Karin Oberg, a researcher at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, talked about the findings. He informs that the heavy organic compound is an evidence of cometary composition.

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Yemen conflict: Red Cross calls for truce as thousands flee homes amid heavy fighting

Around 100,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes as heavy fighting rages in Yemen, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF says.

The World Health Organisation says at least 550 people have died in the fighting in recent weeks, with hospitals under increasing pressure as they run short of supplies and struggle to cope with mass casualties.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) plans to fly in 48 tonnes of medical help and other supplies over the next two days.

ICRC said the crisis was catastrophic, particularly in southern city of Aden where forces loyal to exiled president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi continue to battle Houthi rebels, backed by shelling from Saudi-led warships.

ICRC spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali is calling for an immediate truce so the aid can get through.

“What’s more important today is for the medical supplies to arrive to Yemen,” she said.

“We will manage its distribution to medical facilities and clinics and hospitals through the health and housing ministries in Yemen.

“We will also transport them via the Red Cross vehicles so that they are secured.

“The humanitarian conditions are very, very bad.

“Beside the airstrikes, which we can hear a little bit right now, there are also wars and battles that are still ongoing in some of the areas and particularly in Aden.

“The hospitals are suffering a lot. They are unable to care for the large numbers of wounded and there are also the bodies that are on the streets which the families are unable to pick up and bury in a suitable manner.”

Many Yemenis and foreigners have escaped by ship to neighbouring Djibouti

Tom Kelly, US ambassador to Djibouti, told the BBC the Houthi rebels should enter peace talks.

“We are told by evacuees who we’re talking to that the situation is extremely dire,” he said.

“Clearly what needs to happen is the Houthis need to come to the bargaining table.”

But there is no sign talks are imminent, as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia continues its air strikes against the rebels.

Meanwhile, the United States is firming up support for a Saudi-led coalition and says it is speeding up the delivery of weapons to those confronting Houthi fighters in the region.

Cuba-at-Summit-US-Seeks-Renewed-Ties-With-Latin-America

With Cuba at Summit, US Seeks Renewed Ties With Latin America

The Summit of the Americas normally receives little media attention in the United States. But this year is different because Cuba, unlike previous years, is invited to the gathering in Panama, which will take place April 10-11. U.S. officials say President Obama will interact with Cuban President Raúl Castro for the first time since announcing steps to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations.

The last Summit of the Americas, in Cartagena, Colombia in 2012, is remembered for a scandal involving U.S. Secret Service agents and prostitutes.

This year’s main attraction will be Cuba. For the first time, a delegation from Havana will be at the table – something President Obama welcomes after his December announcement to end more than a half-century of isolation.

“Our shift in policy toward Cuba comes at a moment of renewed leadership in the Americas. This April, we are prepared to have Cuba join the other nations of the hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas,” said Obama.

It is by welcoming Cuba the U.S. hopes to renew its leadership role in Latin America – a role that has been waning due to what analysts say is U.S. economic weakness and the region’s increasing engagement with China and others.

U.S. isolation of communist Cuba has been an issue for Latin American governments for years. At the Cartagena summit, hemispheric leaders protested Washington’s exclusion of Havana from the gatherings.

Michael Shifter heads the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. He said the invitation of Cuba is a significant gesture.

“It has enormous symbolism over the last 50 years as the country that has been isolated by the United States, squeezed by the United States, not treated as a sovereign nation. So for Latin Americans, that’s very, very important,” said Shifter.

But opponents of the U.S. rapprochement call Cuba’s participation at the summit a setback for democratic ideals in the region – even in a grouping that includes imperfect democracies like Venezuela.

Frank Calzón of the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington said Cuba has not enacted democratic reforms and – unlike Venezuela – does not have an elected government.

“There is a difference between an imperfect democracy that violates human rights and a totalitarian regime that has laws that in fact deny, under their own law, human rights,” said Calzón.

Cuba’s participation at the summit in Panama will be largely symbolic. Washington still lists Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. Wayne Smith, a retired diplomat who once worked at what was the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and later at the U.S. Interests section, said that needs to change before Cuba can be a full participant.

“They can come to the summit but if we reach agreements at the summit that all the other members would be a party to, I’m not sure where that would leave Cuba and the U.S. There might be agreements that might be reached that we couldn’t be parties to with the Cubans,” said Smith.

President Obama wants Cuba off the terrorist list, but has yet to announce its removal.

Experts say having Cuba at the table in Panama is a big – if only symbolic – step in the long road to full normalization of ties.

Iran-women-can-watch-matches

Iran’s deputy minister for sports: yes, women can go to watch big matches

Iran has said it will allow female fans to attend big sporting events alongside men, overturning a long-standing ban that made international headlines when a young British-Iranian woman was jailed for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match last year.

The deputy minister for sports, Abdolhamid Ahmadi, told the state news agency on Saturday that the country’s national security council had approved a government proposal to allow women to watch games this year.

Iranian authorities detained Ghoncheh Ghavami, 26, in June for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match.

Ghavami, who spent five months in jail before being released on bail, was arrested after taking part in a protest with other activists in front of Tehran’s majestic Azadi complex, wearing a white scarf and holding a placard, demanding to be allowed to watch the match between Iran and Italy.

Now it has emerged that an appeals court has dismissed charges against her and she will not have to return to prison, although a travel ban imposed on her is still in place.

In reaction to her detention, the international volleyball federation said it would not allow Iran to host international events while women were barred from stadiums.

Speaking to the Observer, Ghavami, who is in Tehran, welcomed the news. “Although this proposal is likely to be enforced with some limitations in the beginning, fortunately the issue of women demanding to be allowed in stadiums has gained much public support in the country thanks to the efforts of women’s rights activists in the past 10 years,” she said.

“The new government has supported the ban to be lifted but we want to make sure there will be a guarantee women will be allowed to attend all sporting events in future.”

It was not clear from Ahmadi’s comments which sports women can watch, but they are likely to include basketball and volleyball. The move will pave the way for women to watch football matches. Hassan Rouhani’s vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, welcomed Saturday’s news in a tweet.

“This proposal is designed according to our cultural, social and religious sensibilities and for certain sports which are exclusive to men, families [and women] cannot attend matches,” the deputy minister said, presumably referring to swimming.

Although women in Iran engage in a variety of sports from martial arts to car rallies so long as they obey the Islamic hijab, they are not allowed to do certain sports in public where men can watch, such as swimming.

But the Iranian society is slowly, steadily changing and women are increasingly allowed greater sporting activities. Iranian women’s struggle to be allowed to enter stadiums was highlighted in a 2006 film, Offside, made by prominent Iranian director Jafar Panahi, which features a group of girls attempting to enter a stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match.

The mandatory hijab for sportswomen has caused obstacles in the past. In 2011, Iran’s women’s football team was banned from an Olympic qualifier recently after Fifa ruled that their full-body strip broke the organisations rules.

In 2013, soon after Hassan Rouhani won the election in Tehran Shirin Gerami, made history after persuading Iranian officials to allow her to compete in a world championship in London as Iran’s first female triathlete.

She was the first Iranian women to take part in triathlon, which involved swimming in public, for her country’s tricolour green, white and red flag.

Rouhani, who tweeted a picture of Gerami after the competition, has called for gender equality since taking power, but such decisions are not entirely in his hands.

Ghavami’s detention embarrassed him but Iran’s judiciary, which was behind her arrest, acts independently of government. The president has advocated women being allowed to enter sporting events, such as volleyball matches.

Efforts to allow women to watch sport started under Ahmadinejad’s rule but hit a gridlock when a group of hardline Iranian MPs and influential clerics objected. Fatemeh Alia, a female MP, was quoted as saying last year that women are for “taking care of their babies and husband – not watching volleyball”.

It is not clear if the new announcement will meet any sabotage by the conservative-dominated parliament.

UN-demands-aid-to-Yarmuk-camp-in-Syria

UN Security Council demands aid access to Yarmuk camp in Syria

The UN Security Council has demanded access for life-saving humanitarian aid to reach refugees trapped in Syria’s Yarmuk camp after it was partly seized by the Islamic State group.

Islamic State fighters have captured large swaths of the Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus in an offensive launched on April 1 and hundreds of families have been evacuated.

The 15-member council yesterday called “for the protection of civilians in the camp for ensuring a humanitarian access to the area including by providing life-saving assistance,” said Jordan’s Ambassador Dina Kawar, who chairs the council this month.

Kawar told reporters after a closed-door council meeting that there was deep concern over the “grave situation” for the 18,000 refugees in the camp and demanded safe passage for the evacuation of civilians.

The council is ready to consider “further measures to provide necessary assistance,” said Kawar, but she did not provide details.

The council received a report from Pierre Krahenbuhl, of the Palestinian UNRWA relief agency, who described the situation in the camp as “more desperate than ever.”

Krahenbuhl told reporters that he appealed to countries with influence in Syria to act “for civilian lives to be spared and for humanitarian access to be given.”

The UNRWA chief said he was unable to verify that IS had carried out beheadings in the camp.

Jihadists from IS first attacked the camp, just seven kilometres (four miles) from central Damascus, on Wednesday.

The camp is encircled by government forces and was under a tight siege for more than a year.

The UNRWA chief said refugees were living on rations of some 400 calories per day, well below the minimum average of 2,000 set by the World Health Organisation.

“What civilians in Yarmuk are most concerned about right now is bare survival,” he said.

Palestinian refugees who leave Yarmouk will face relocation to some other area of Syria, Krahenbuhl said.

Doctor-says-Moscow-should-nuke-Yellowstone-if-tensions-boil-over

A Russian ‘Doctor of Military Sciences’ says Moscow should just nuke Yellowstone if tensions boil over

Earlier this week, the Russian president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems outlined two geophysically weak US regions to attack in order to combat NATO’s aggression toward Russia.

In his article, Konstantin Sivkov justifies the option of “complete destruction of the enemy” because NATO has been “moving to the borders or Russia.”

Sivkov, listed as a “Docter of Military Sciences,” described scenarios that involved dropping a nuclear weapon near Yellowstone’s supervolcano or the San Andreas Fault.

In the past 2.1 million years, Yellowstone’s volcano has violently erupted three times and “blanketed parts of the North American continent with ash and debris,” according to the US Geological Survey.
Some scientists argue that Yellowstone’s active supervolcano is long overdue for a colossal eruption.

“Geologists believe that the Yellowstone supervolcano could explode at any moment. There are signs of growing activity there. Therefore it suffices to push the relatively small, for example the impact of the munition megaton class to initiate an eruption. The consequences will be catastrophic for the United States, a country just disappears,” he said, according to a translation by Sydney Morning Herald.

According to a Discovery Channel documentary, an eruption of this magnitude would bury North America, drape the atmosphere in a sulfur haze, dim sunlight, and plunge the world into a volcanic winter.

Another option would be to drop a nuclear bomb near California’s San Andreas Fault. “A detonation of a nuclear weapon there can trigger catastrophic events like a coast-scale tsunami which can completely destroy the infrastructure of the United States,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s translation.
Since last year’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to international criticism and economic sanctions placed on his country by flexing his nation’s military muscle around the world.

The crisis in Ukraine reflects a turning point in NATO’s stance on Putin and emphasizes a growing concern stemming from the origins of NATO, which was formed for collective territorial defense.

“He wants to restore the Russian empire … I don’t know where he’ll stop,” Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said of Putin earlier this month during a speech at the Center for Strategic International Studies.