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  • Reuters.com/ Recharge your phone in 30 seconds? Israeli firm says it can


    SHAFAQNA - An Israeli company says it has developed technology that can charge a mobile phone in a few seconds and an electric car in minutes, advances that could transform two of the world's most dynamic consumer industries.

    Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.

    While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone, the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day's power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds.

    "These are new materials, they have never been developed before," said Doron Myersdorf, the founder and chief executive of StoreDot, whose investors include Russian billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich.

    The  innovation is based around the creation of "nanodots", which StoreDot describes as bio-organic peptide molecules. Nanodots alter the way a battery behaves to allow the rapid absorption and, critically, the retention of power.

    The company has raised $48 million from two rounds of funding, including backing from a leading mobile phone maker. Myersdorf declined to name the company, but said it was Asian.

    With the number of smartphone users forecast to reach 1.75 billion this year, StoreDot sees a big market, and some ...

    thetimes.co.uk/ Bahrain rocked by violence as election turns to chaos


    SHAFAQNA - Violent clashes and a boycott by opposition parties marred elections in Bahrain at the weekend, the first held in the gulf kingdom since protests at the height of the Arab Spring.

    Nearly four years on from the 2011 uprising that rocked Bahrain and prompted a crackdown in which dozens were killed, the parliamentary vote on Saturday underscored the sectarian rift that still divides this western ally.

    While Downing Street has thrown its weight behind the ruling family, meeting persistent allegations of human rights abuses with only mild criticism, the kingdom’s lack of reform is an embarrassment to the UK. Britain has been quick to defend Bahrain despite the fact that it imprisoned doctors who treated protesters for bullet wounds sustained during demonstrations. The West relies on the kingdom for hosting the US navy’s Fifth fleet. The UK is also bidding to sell Typhoon fighter jets to the kingdom and has held talks about a £100 million expansion to the Royal Navy’s facilities in Manama.

    Bahrain’s mainly Shia opposition dismissed the election as a “farce”, boycotting the poll in protest at the Sunni royal family’s failure to implement political reform after the 2011 crisis. The walkout wrecked any chance that the vote could ease the political deadlock.

    Dozens were killed and thousands more thrown in jail when the government sent in troops to crush the Shia-led uprising in 2011. Hundreds of people, including opposition leaders, are still behind bars. Efforts at dialogue between the sides have collapsed.

    thetimes.co.uk/ French far-right signs up to take Putin’s shilling


    SHAFAQNA - France’s far-right National Front has admitted receiving a big Russian loan amid growing evidence of a secret Kremlin campaign to buy influence in European politics.

    Marine Le Pen, leader of the populist anti-EU party, confirmed after a media leak that it had borrowed €9 million (£7 million) in September from the Russian-owned First Czech-Russian Bank. She said that French and other western banks had refused finance for the National Front, which is France’s most popular party, according to the opinion polls.

    “We signed with the First [bank] who agreed and we’re very happy about it,” she said. She insisted that it was “ridiculous to suggest that gaining a loan would determine our international position”.

    “These insinuations are outrageous and offensive,” Ms Le Pen said. She added that her party had long held strong pro-Russian views.

    Nevertheless, Wallerand de Saint Just, the National Front’s treasurer, hinted at embarrassment over the loan. “I would prefer a French bank. It would be more comfortable,” he said. The party said that it needed the money to prepare for the coming elections, leading up to the presidential campaign of 2017 in which Ms Le Pen is to run.

    Ms Le Pen’s words drew a sceptical reception from politicians and experts who have been tracking President Putin’s charm offensive with the National Front and other populist, anti-EU parties of both hard right and left across the continent.

    “You are always under obligation to ...

    Baghdad car bomb kills 8 people, fighting west of capital


    SHAFAQNA - A car bomb exploded in a market in northern Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood on Monday, killing eight people and wounding 22, police and medics said.

    Another bomb in the capital's southeast killed two people, sources said.

    They were the latest explosions to shake the mainly Shi'ite city. Many of the bombings have been claimed by radical Sunni Islamic State fighters who have seized control of large parts of north and west  Iraq , as well as a belt of land around Baghdad.

    In Ramadi, capital of the western province of Anbar, a local official reported heavy clashes between armed forces and Islamic State militants who have been fighting for four days to take full control of the city.

    Athal al-Fahdawi said the heaviest fighting took place in the al-Hooz neighborhood, just south of a government complex in the center of Ramadi which houses the police headquarters and the offices of the Anbar governorate.

    Four Islamic State fighters were killed as well as three men from local tribes opposed to the group. The tribesmen were killed when they sought refuge in a booby-trapped house, Fahdawi said.

    Islamic State's lightning capture of territory in June plunged  Iraq into its worst security crisis since the 2003 U.S. invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein.

    Iraqi forces including Shi'ite militia, ...

    Revealed: shocking cost of divorce for children


    SHAFAQNA - Divorce has a devastating impact on the children of divided couples, leading to poor examination results and driving them to abuse alcohol or drugs, according to a survey being made public today.

    Almost two thirds of children whose parents divorced said that the break-up affected their GCSEs. One in eight said that they had turned to drugs or alcohol to ease the stress.

    Divorce also appears to trigger eating disorders, with almost one in three children saying that they ate more, or less, after the family break-up. Each year about 100,000 under-16s experience divorce. The survey of children and young people aged 14 to 22 was commissioned by  Resolution, the 6,500-strong association of family lawyers in England and Wales. Jo Edwards, its chairman, said the findings showed the far-reaching impact of divorce.

    “Almost half of all break-ups occur when there is at least one child in the relationship, and with 230,000 people in England and Wales gong through a divorce each year, and many separating, this issue affects hundreds of thousands of families in Britain,” she said. “The findings underline just how important it is that parents going through a split manage their separation in a way that minimises the stress and impact on the entire family,” she added.

    The survey of 500 young people also showed the pressure that parents put on children during the divorce process.

    Nearly one in three said one parent had tried to turn them against the other and more than a quarter said ...

    Iran extension prompts calls for more sanctions in U.S. Congress


    SHAFAQNA - Several U.S. Republican lawmakers insisted on Monday that the extension of nuclear talks with Iran be accompanied by increased sanctions, setting the stage for a battle with the Obama administration after their party takes full control of Congress next year.

    Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, three of the party's leading foreign policy voices, said they view Iran's insistence on having any enrichment capability at all as problematic and warned that a "bad deal" would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

    "We believe this latest extension of talks should be coupled with increased sanctions and a requirement that any final deal between Iran and the United States be sent to Congress for approval," they said in a statement.

    Iran and six powers failed on Monday for a second time this year to resolve the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and gave themselves seven more months to resolve the deadlock that has prevented an historic deal.

    John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, said an extension only allows the administration to make more concessions to Iran.

    Some Republicans held off calling for immediate new sanctions, but insisted Congress must be allowed to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

    Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress must be given say on a deal and should ...

    We’re too busy for church on Sundays

    SHAFAQNA - Sunday mornings are no longer the best time to go to church because families are too busy juggling shopping, children’s activities and home improvements, the Church of England has suggested.

    The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, the Dean of Lichfield, said that pressurised lifestyles had led to more and more people opting for midweek attendance at cathedrals instead.

    The  Church of England released figures yesterday showing that the number of people attending midweek services at cathedrals had doubled over the past ten years, from 7,500 in 2003 to 15,000 in 2013. Over the same period, Sunday attendances remained roughly level, at 15,600 adults in 2003 and 15,900 in 2013.

    Mr Dorber said that for those who wanted a short snatch of peace the appeal behind midweek services was that there was a “guarantee that they’re going to be reasonably short”, at a time when “life’s run at the double”.

    “At the weekend you’ve got commitments with children doing sport, shopping, household maintenance . . . weekends are very pressurised and very committed,” he said. “Taking out half an hour or an hour during the week is much more negotiable. It comes out of much more discretionary time.”

    The Church of England report also suggested that the weather played a part in how often people attended cathedral services, and that Christmas attendances depended on when in the week it fell. In 2012, Christmas was on a Tuesday. Last year, when it was on ...

    Afp.com/ Saudi says attackers behind Shia killings linked to Islamic State


    SHAFAQNA- Saudi Arabia said Monday the assailants behind Shiite killings earlier this month are linked to the Islamic State jihadist group, including many jailed previously over suspected extremist ties.

    The interior ministry said it had broken up the "criminal network" behind the attack in Eastern Province, adding that the group's "head had links with Daesh," the Arabic name for IS.

    Gunmen killed seven Shiites, including children, in the eastern town of Al-Dalwa on November 3 during the commemoration of Ashura, one of the holiest occasions of their faith.

    Four men carried out the attack after killing a man from a neighbouring village and stealing his car to use it in the Al-Dalwa shootings, the interior ministry said.

    Security forces had since arrested 73 Saudis and four foreigners "linked" to the attack, it said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

    The ministry said that three of the four assailants had served jail terms over links to the "deviant group," a term usually used to refer to Al-Qaeda.

    In total, 32 of those arrested had been previously jailed, while 15 others had been on bail.

    Security forces seized during raids documents and electronic equipment that "revealed contact between this terrorist organisation and Daesh abroad," the ministry said.

    Have you ever heard about the largest religious gathering in the world?: by Seyed Mahdi Modarresi


    Shafaqna - (International Shia News Agency) - "World's Biggest Pilgrimage Now Underway, And Why You've Never Heard of it!" is the latest article published by Seyed Mahdi Modarresi, the theology lecturer and author of upcoming "Why Muslims Are Weird" on the Huffington Post website.

    According to Hauffington Post, in this article the author states "It's not the Muslim Hajj, or the Hindu Kumbh Mela.. Known as Arbaeen, it is the world's most populous gathering and you've probably never heard of it! Not only does the congregation exceed the number of visitors to Mecca (by a factor of five, in fact), it is more significant than Kumbh Mela, since the latter is only held every third year. In short, Arbaeen dwarfs every other rally on the planet, reaching twenty million last year. That is a staggering %60 of Iraq's entire population, and it is growing year after year.

    Above all, Arbaeen is unique because it takes place against the backdrop of chaotic and dangerous geopolitical scenes. Daesh (aka 'Islamic State') sees the Shia as their mortal enemy, so nothing infuriates the terror group more than the sight of Shia pilgrims gathering for their greatest show of faith.

    There's another peculiar feature of Arbaeen. While it is a distinctively Shia spiritual exercise, Sunnis, even Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and Sabians partake in both the pilgrimage as well as serving of devotees. This is remarkable given the exclusive nature of religious rituals, and it could only mean one thing: people regardless of color or creed see Hussein as a universal, borderless, and meta-religious symbol of freedom and compassion.

    Why you have never heard of it probably has to do with the fact that the press is concerned more with negative, gory, and sensationalized tabloids, than with positive, inspiring narratives, particularly when it comes ...

    Afp.com/ Iran president says nuclear deal will be done


    SHAFAQNA - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that a nuclear deal with world powers would be done despite a missed deadline in Vienna that prompted a seven-month extension in talks.

    He also pledged that Iran would not give up its nuclear programme and insisted that seeking an accord with the West had not damaged its progress.

    "This path of negotiation will reach a final agreement," Rouhani said on state television.

    "Most of the gaps have been removed," he added, referring to major differences that have so far prevented an interim deal being turned into a comprehensive settlement.

    A final agreement is aimed at ensuring Iran will never develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian activities. The Islamic republic denies such intent.

    Rouhani urged Iranians to keep faith in the talks despite the failure so far to strike a deal and solve key issues including lifting sanctions and ensuring Iran's future ability to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

    But he appeared to adopt a softer line on sanctions.

    "There is no doubt that sanctions will be lifted. The question is timing," he said.

    "We consider the sanctions to be tyrannical and have to lift them step by step," remarks a step back from demands made by top parliamentary officials that they all be removed at once.

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