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Iran’s supreme leader tacitly acknowledges that Tehran hit little in its attack on Israel

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday dismissed any discussion of whether Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel hit anything there, a tacit acknowledgment that despite launching a major assault, few projectiles actually made it through to their targets.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments before senior military leaders didn’t touch on the apparent Israeli retaliatory strike on Friday on the central city of Isfahan, even though air defenses opened fire and Iran grounded commercial flights across much of the country.

Analysts believe both Iran and Israel, regional archrivals locked in a shadow war for years, are trying to dial back tensions following a series of escalatory attacks between them as the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip rages on and inflames the wider region.

Khamenei, 85, made the comments in a meeting attended by the top ranks of Iran’s regular military, police and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, a powerful force within its Shiite theocracy.

“Debates by the other party about how many missiles were fired, how many of them hit the target and how many didn’t, these are of secondary importance,” Khamenei said in remarks aired by state television.

“The main issue is the emergence of the Iranian nation and Iranian military’s will in an important international arena. This is what matters.”

Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles that sought to overwhelm Israel’s air defenses in the April 13 attack — the first on Israel by a foreign power since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

However, Israeli air defenses and fighter jets, backed by the U.S., the United Kingdom and neighboring Jordan, shot down the vast majority of the incoming fire.

Satellite images analyzed Saturday by The Associated Press showed the Iranian attack caused only minor damage at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, including taking a chunk out of a taxiway that Israel quickly repaired.

Iran’s attack came in response to a suspected Israeli strike on April 1 targeting a consular building next to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, which killed two Guard generals and others.

“Today, thanks to the work done by our armed forces, the Revolutionary Guard, the army, the police, each in its own way, praise be to Allah the image of the country around the world has become commendable,” added Khamenei, despite Iran facing public anger over its economy and crackdowns on dissent.

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Launch of WHO’s Investment Round and announcement of winners of 5th edition of the Health For All Film Festival

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Date and Place: 26 May 2024 from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at WHO Headquarters’.

Prior to the formal opening of the World Health Assembly on Monday 27 May, on Sunday WHO will launch its Investment Round and announce the winners of the 5th edition of the Health For All Film Festival.

The event will be opened by the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and attended by High-Level Representatives of Member States. There will be statements of commitment to WHO from Member States and other supporters. The event will also feature live performances by internationally acclaimed Egyptian opera singer Farrah El Dibany and renowned Franco-American pianist ​Jeff Cohen, and the awarding of Film Festival prizes by Indian actor, filmmaker, and social advocate Nandita Das.

The event will be live-streamed

Information about WHO’s Investment Round can be found here: WHO’s Investment Round

Health for All Film Festival

The Grand Prix winners of the Health for All Film Festival will be announced by Indian actor, filmmaker and social advocate Nandita Das, who is a member of the distinguished international jury. The winners of four special film prizes, on the themes of Universal health coverage; Emergencies, refugees and migrant health; Better health and physical activity; and the very short films category, will also be announced.

More than 900 filmmakers from 110 countries submitted short films for this 5th edition of the festival, on themes ranging from climate change and refugees to tobacco use and gender-based violence.

This event will be followed by a high-level reception hosted by the Federal Republic of Germany.

This event is primarily for World Health Assembly delegates, partners, and special guests by invitation only.

Journalists wishing to attend in person are invited to register here: https://indico.un.org/event/1011840/

Programme for Sunday, 26 May 2024

17:00 – Opening of the Launch Event of WHO’s Investment Round

· Investment Round video

· Song renditions Farrah El Dibany with Jeff Cohen

Welcome remarks WHO Director-General Dr Tedros

A Director-General’s Award for Global Health will be announced; 2 additional DG Awards will be announced on Monday.

Statements by invited guests:

· H.E. Ms Mia Mottley – Prime Minister of Barbados

· Mr Gordon Brown – former UK Prime Minister, current WHO Ambassador for Global Health Financing

· H.E. Ms Nisia Trindade – Minister of Health of Brazil (video statement)

· H.E. Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari – Minister of Health of Qatar

· H.E. Mr Jan Christian Vestre – Minister of Health of Norway

· Mr Frédéric Valletoux – Minister Delegate in charge of Health and Prevention, France

· Dr Gabriel Leung – The Institute of Philanthropy

18:00 – Announcement of winners of 5th Health For All Film Festival

Opening remarks:

Actor Nandita Das announces winners:

· Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Grand Prix

· Better Health and Well-being Grand Prix

· Health Emergencies Grand Prix

Song rendition by Farrah El Dibany with Jeff Cohen

18:30: Conclusion

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NATO secretary-general says some allies have air defense systems they could give to Ukraine

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BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday pressed member countries to give more Patriot missile systems to Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy repeated Kyiv’s almost daily appeals for more Western air defense equipment.

“NATO has mapped out existing capabilities across the alliance and there are systems that can be made available to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters after an online meeting of defense ministers from the 32-nation alliance, which Zelenskyy took part in remotely.

Russia’s air force is vastly more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems provided by Kyiv’s Western partners are a major threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly push forward along the around 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in the war.

Kyiv is seeking at least seven Patriot batteries. Stoltenberg declined to say which NATO nations have air defense systems or how many might be available, saying that this is classified information, but he insisted that he expects the countries to make new announcements of support soon, not only Patriots.

“Allies must dig deep into their inventories and speed up the delivery of missiles, artillery and ammunition. Ukraine is using the weapons we provide it to destroy Russian combat capabilities. This makes us all safer,” he said.

“Support to Ukraine is not charity. It is an investment in our own security,” Stoltenberg added.

Patriot missile batteries can take two years to make, so countries that have them can be reluctant for security reasons to leave themselves exposed. Germany had a total of 12, but is supplying three to Ukraine. Poland, which borders Ukraine, has only two and needs them for its own defenses.

Greece, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain also possess Patriots. One major advantage of providing the U.S.-made systems, apart from their effectiveness, is that Ukrainian troops are already trained in their use.

NATO keeps track of the stocks of weapons held by its 32 member countries to ensure that they are able to execute the organization’s defense plans in times of need.

But Stoltenberg said that if dropping below the guidelines is “the only way NATO allies are able to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to defend themself, well that’s a risk we have to take.”

Beyond providing new Patriot batteries, Stoltenberg said that it’s also important for the allies to ensure that the batteries they send are well maintained, have spare parts and plenty of interceptor missiles.

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Terry Anderson, AP reporter held captive for years, has died

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Terry Anderson, the globe-trotting Associated Press correspondent who became one of America’s longest-held hostages after he was snatched from a street in war-torn Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, has died at 76.

Anderson, who chronicled his abduction and torturous imprisonment by Islamic militants in his best-selling 1993 memoir “Den of Lions,” died on Sunday in at his home in Greenwood Lake, New York, said his daughter, Sulome Anderson.

The cause of death was unknown, though his daughter said Anderson recently had heart surgery.

After returning to the United States in 1991, Anderson led a peripatetic life, giving public speeches, teaching journalism at several prominent universities and, at various times, operating a blues bar, Cajun restaurant, horse ranch and gourmet restaurant.

He also struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, won millions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets after a federal court concluded that country played a role in his capture, then lost most of it to bad investments. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Upon retiring from the University of Florida in 2015, Anderson settled on a small horse farm in a quiet, rural section of northern Virginia he had discovered while camping with friends. `

“I live in the country and it’s reasonably good weather and quiet out here and a nice place, so I’m doing all right,” he said with a chuckle during a 2018 interview with The Associated Press.

In 1985 he became one of several Westerners abducted by members of the Shiite Muslim group Hebollah during a time of war that had plunged Lebanon into chaos.

After his release, he returned to a hero’s welcome at AP’s New York headquarters.

As the AP’s chief Middle East correspondent, Anderson had been reporting for several years on the rising violence gripping Lebanon as the country fought a war with Israel, while Iran funded militant groups trying to topple its government.

On March 16, 1985, a day off, he had taken a break to play tennis with former AP photographer Don Mell and was dropping Mell off at his home when gun-toting kidnappers dragged him from his car.

He was likely targeted, he said, because he was one of the few Westerners still in Lebanon and because his role as a journalist aroused suspicion among members of Hezbollah.

“Because in their terms, people who go around asking questions in awkward and dangerous places have to be spies,“ he told the Virginia newspaper The Review of Orange County in 2018.

What followed was nearly seven years of brutality during which he was beaten, chained to a wall, threatened with death, often had guns held to his head and often was kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time.

Anderson was the longest held of several Western hostages Hezbollah abducted over the years, including Terry Waite, the former envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had arrived to try to negotiate his release.

By his and other hostages’ accounts, he was also their most hostile prisoner, constantly demanding better food and treatment, arguing religion and politics with his captors, and teaching other hostages sign language and where to hide messages so they could communicate privately.

He managed to retain a quick wit and biting sense of humor during his long ordeal. On his last day in Beirut he called the leader of his kidnappers into his room to tell him he’d just heard an erroneous radio report saying he’d been freed and was in Syria.

“I said, ‘Mahmound, listen to this, I’m not here. I’m gone, babes. I’m on my way to Damascus.’ And we both laughed,” he told Giovanna DellÓrto, author of “AP Foreign Correspondents in Action: World War II to the Present.”

He learned later his release was delayed when a third party who his kidnappers planned to turn him over to left for a tryst with his mistress and they had to find someone else.

Anderson’s humor often hid the PTSD he acknowledged suffering for years afterward.

“The AP got a couple of British experts in hostage decompression, clinical psychiatrists, to counsel my wife and myself and they were very useful,” he said in 2018. “But one of the problems I had was I did not recognize sufficiently the damage that had been done.

“So, when people ask me, you know, ‘Are you over it?’ Well, I don’t know. No, not really. It’s there. I don’t think about it much these days, it’s not central to my life. But it’s there.”

At the time of his abduction, Anderson was engaged to be married and his future wife was six months pregnant with their daughter, Sulome.

The couple married soon after his release but divorced a few years later, and although they remained on friendly terms Anderson and his daughter were estranged for years.

“I love my dad very much. My dad has always loved me. I just didn’t know that because he wasn’t able to show it to me,” Sulome Anderson told the AP in 2017.

Father and daughter reconciled after the publication of her critically acclaimed 2017 book, “The Hostage’s Daughter,” in which she told of traveling to Lebanon to confront and eventually forgive one of her father’s kidnappers.

“I think she did some extraordinary things, went on a very difficult personal journey, but also accomplished a pretty important piece of journalism doing it,” Anderson said. “She’s now a better journalist than I ever was.”

Terry Alan Anderson was born Oct. 27, 1947. He spent his early childhood years in the small Lake Erie town of Vermilion, Ohio, where his father was a police officer.

After graduating from high school, he turned down a scholarship to the University of Michigan in favor of enlisting in the Marines, where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant while seeing combat during the Vietnam War.

After returning home, he enrolled at Iowa State University where he graduated with a double major in journalism and political science and soon after went to work for the AP. He reported from Kentucky, Japan and South Africa before arriving in Lebanon in 1982, just as the country was descending into chaos.

“Actually, it was the most fascinating job I’ve ever had in my life,” he told The Review. “It was intense. War’s going on — it was very dangerous in Beirut. Vicious civil war, and I lasted about three years before I got kidnapped.”

Anderson was married and divorced three times. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Gabrielle Anderson, from his first marriage.

 

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