Ammon News, Panorama

Man stuck in airport for 7 months to Al Arabiya: Syrians are paying price of war


[12/9/2018 3:04:09 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Hassan Kontar, the Syrian refugee who spent several months in limbo in a budget terminal at a Malaysian airport, now lives in Canada, and tells Al Arabiya English that Syrians are paying the price of war. “I have a moral stance against war, which is not the solution,” Kontar said. “It is the war of others on our soil. Syrian people are paying the price of these conflicts while everyone has abandoned them.” Kontar, 37, was not a refugee who fled the war. He has been working in insurance companies in the UAE since 2006, but with the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in mid-March of 2011, he was unable to renew his passport, therefore couldn’t also renew his residency visa in the UAE. Because of this, and as a result of his refusal to join the Syrian army and pay the Assad government in return for his exemption from service to be able to return to his country, Kontar lived in Kuala Lumpur Airport for seven months, and was rejected refuge by many. His first attempt to leave the Malaysian airport was when he bought a ticket to Ecuador. Yet, Turkish Airlines, the carrier operating the flight to the south American country, denied him from boarding. “I lost a non-refundable $2,300,” said Kontar. Trial two was a trip to Cambodia, but it only added salt to injury, Kontar’s passport was “confiscated upon arrival.” “Because I had spent an extra month there before, I was refused entry to Malaysia and was prevented from leaving for another country except to Syria because I was expelled from Cambodia,” Kontar told Al Arabiya English. Kontar adapted to life in the terminal, and his story turned into a widely covered one, reminiscent of the movie “The Terminal”. “I was bathing in the special-needs bathrooms last night. The airline provided me with three meals a day. I slept under the drawers or on the chairs, while my clothes were washed by a cleaner at the airport for money,” he said. “Life in the transit area is difficult, and I've never been in touch with others, especially after I met lawyers and Canadians, to find a way out,” he says. He began to narrate social media videos that he produced in both Arabic and English, which led to more publicity for him, and a vast number of supporters. Of them, was the Canadian woman activist who helped sponsor him and bring him to Canada, ending his days of isolation. “Only the real and financially supported offer was made by Canadians,” he said. Kontar described his arrival in Canada as “the permanent solution I have been looking for for eight years.” *Al Arabiya

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NASA’s InSight lander ‘hears’ wind on Mars


[12/9/2018 2:59:38 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Humans can now hear the haunting, low rumble of wind on Mars for the first time, after NASA’s InSight lander captured vibrations from the breeze on the Red Planet, the US space agency said Friday. The strong gusts of wind, blowing between 10 to 15 mph (five to seven meters a second), were captured as they moved over the solar panels on InSight, an unmanned lander that touched down on Earth’s dusty, desolate neighbor November 26. Two sensors picked up the vibrations: an air pressure sensor inside the lander and a seismometer on the lander’s deck, awaiting to be deployed to the surface by InSight’s robotic arm. “This is the very first fifteen minutes of data that have come from the short period seismometer,” said Thomas Pike, lead investigator at Imperial College London, during a conference call with reporters. “It’s a little like a flag waving in the wind,” he added. “It really sounds otherworldly, and that is exactly what it is.” InSight is designed to study the interior of Mars like never before, using seismology instruments to detect quakes and a self-hammering mole to measure heat escape from the planet’s crust. Sensing the wind, which moved from northwest to southeast at around 5 pm local time, was “an unplanned treat,” said Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA’s Viking 1 and 2 landers also picked up signals of the Martian wind when they landed in 1976. They were measuring it at lower sampling rates, however, not frequencies that would be audible, and did not return sounds that people could listen to. “Personally, listening to the sounds form the pressure sensor, reminds me of sitting outside on a windy summer afternoon, listening to the turbulent gusts come and go and whistle through your ears,” said Don Banfield, a researcher at Cornell University. “In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the Insight lander on Mars.” *AFP

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NASA spacecraft arrives at ancient asteroid, its 1st visitor in billions of years


[12/4/2018 3:43:43 PM]

AMMONNEWS - After a two-year chase, a NASA spacecraft arrived Monday at the ancient asteroid Bennu, its first visitor in billions of years. The robotic explorer Osiris-Rex pulled within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the diamond-shaped space rock. It will get even closer in the days ahead and go into orbit around Bennu on Dec. 31. No spacecraft has ever orbited such a small cosmic body. It is the first US attempt to gather asteroid samples for return to Earth, something only Japan has accomplished so far. Flight controllers applauded and exchanged high-fives once confirmation came through that Osiris-Rex made it to Bennu - exactly one week after NASA landed a spacecraft on Mars. “Relieved, proud, and anxious to start exploring!” tweeted lead scientist Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. “To Bennu and back!” With Bennu some 76 million miles (122 million kilometers) away, it took seven minutes for word to get from the spacecraft to flight controllers at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado. The company built the spacecraft there. Bennu is estimated to be just over 1,600 feet (500 meters) across. Researchers will provide a more precise description at a scientific meeting next Monday in Washington. About the size of an SUV, the spacecraft will shadow the asteroid for a year, before scooping up some gravel for return to Earth in 2023. Scientists are eager to study material from a carbon-rich asteroid like dark Bennu, which could hold evidence dating back to the beginning of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago. As such, it’s an astronomical time capsule. A Japanese spacecraft, meanwhile, has been hanging out at another near-Earth asteroid since June, also for samples. It is Japan’s second asteroid mission. This latest rock is named Ryugu and about double the size of Bennu. Ryugu’s specks should be here by December 2020, but will be far less than Osiris-Rex’s promised booty. Osiris-Rex aims to collect at least 60 grams, or 2 ounces, of dust and gravel. The spacecraft won’t land, but rather use a 10-foot (3-meter) mechanical arm in 2020 to momentarily touch down and vacuum up particles. The sample container would break loose and head toward Earth in 2021. Bringing samples The collection - parachuting down to Utah - would represent the biggest cosmic haul since the Apollo astronauts hand-delivered moon rocks to Earth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. NASA has brought back comet dust and solar wind particles before, but never asteroid samples. Japan managed to return some tiny particles in 2010 from its first asteroid mission, also named Hayabusa. Both Bennu and Ryugu are considered potentially hazardous asteroids. That means they could smack Earth years from now. At worst, Bennu would carve out a crater during a projected close call 150 years from now. Contact with Bennu will not significantly change its orbit or make it more dangerous to us, Lauretta stressed. Scientists contend the more they learn about asteroids, the better equipped Earth will be in heading off a truly catastrophic strike. The $800 million Osiris-Rex mission began with a 2016 launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its odometer read 1.2 billion miles (2 billion kilometers) as of Monday. Both the spacecraft and asteroid’s names come from Egyptian mythology. Osiris is the god of the afterlife, while Bennu represents the heron and creation. Osiris-Rex is actually a NASA acronym for origins, spectral interpretation, resource identification, security-regolith explorer. *AP

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Crown Prince visits Royal Film Commission


[12/4/2018 3:37:10 PM]

AMMONNEWS - His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, the Regent, visited Tuesday the Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC), and checked on its activities and services provided to the cinema and television industry. In the presence of HRH Princess Rym Ali, member of RFC's Board of Commissioners, the Crown Prince met with a number of Jordanian filmmakers, producers and actors, who showcased their experience, accomplishments and challenges in the filmmaking field, as well as their future aspirations towards this industry in Jordan. They also commended the RFC's support to their activities. Prince Al Hussein underlined the importance of investing in Jordanian talents and the Kingdom's distinguished geographical nature to develop the filmmaking industry in Jordan and attract international TV and cinema production companies, lauding RFC' achievements in this regard. The Regent said attracting international companies specialized in filmmaking reflects positively on the Jordanian economy and has an important role in promoting tourism and heritage sites as well as the Jordanian culture. The Crown Prince toured RFC's facilities, which included the film library, the editing room and the external theater. Princess Rym briefed Prince Al Hussein on the RFC and its objectives in providing opportunities to young men and women to express themselves and refine their talents in cinema and TV. She lauded Prince Al Hussein's support the young and the filmmaking industry. HRH watched a film that included parts of Jordanian and foreign films shot in the Kingdom in addition to local and regional activities and workshops organized by the RFC.

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Jordan’s first nanosatellite launched


[12/3/2018 3:37:49 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Crown Prince Foundation announced Monday the launch of Jordan’s first nanosatellite, as part of its Masar initiative. "JY1-SAT", which orbits the Earth at 600km above the Earth's surface, was named in the memory of His Majesty the late King Hussein, who held the call sign of JY1. The launch of the Jordanian satellite aims firstly to achieve educational and research purposes. It will also promote tourism in the Kingdom by broadcasting images of tourist and heritage sites, as well as wireless communication with ground stations around the world. In addition, it will broadcast a message of peace recorded by His Royal Highness Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II, the Crown Prince, destined for the world to be available for reception by all terrestrial receivers in the world. "We proudly announce the launch of the first Jordanian nanosatellite designed and built by Jordanians," said Tamam Manko, Executive Director of the Crown Prince's Foundation. "The satellite is the result of a team of 18 Jordanian engineering students, as well as five academics and consultants from various engineering disciplines in Jordanian universities," Manko noted. More information about the satellite could be obtained by visiting the Masar initiative's website: masar.cpf.jo.

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Egyptian actress to face trial for wearing inappropriate dress


[12/2/2018 2:58:58 PM]

AMMONNEWS - An Egyptian actress is set to face trial in January for wearing a see-through dress at the Cairo film festival this week that showed her legs, a judicial source said Saturday. Rania Youssef appeared at the closing session Thursday of the Cairo International Film Festival wearing a revealing black lacy dress over a tight black body with her legs showing underneath. This prompted two lawyers to lodge a suit against her accusing the actress of “inciting debauchery”, a charge that could land her in jail for up to five years if she is convicted, the source said. The first lawsuit alleging obscenity was filed by lawyer Amro Abdelsalam and the second by Samir Sabri, another attorney known for taking celebrities to court. Sabri told AFP that Youssef’s appearance “did not meet societal values, traditions and morals and therefore undermined the reputation of the festival and the reputation of Egyptian women in particular”. The dress Youssef wore at the closing session of the 40th edition of the Cairo Film Festival on Thursday night sparked widespread criticism on social media. They Egyptian Actors’ Syndicate also weighed in, without naming Youssef or any other celebrity. “The appearance of some of the festival’s guests did not agree with the traditions and values of the society, and this has undermined the festival and the union which is responsible for its members behavior,” it said in a statement. Youssef, who is a member of the union, later issued an “apology” on her official Twitter account to the “many (people) angered” by her appearance. “I probably miscalculated when I chose to wear this dress. It was the first time that I wore it and I did not realize it would spark so much anger,” she said. “I reaffirm my commitment to the values upon which we were raised in Egyptian society,” she added. *AFP

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Bullied Muslim girl in US receives supporting letters from 20 states


[12/2/2018 2:57:45 PM]

AMMONNEWS - “I will kill you” and “You are a terrorist” are among the phrases highlighted in hostile messages left in a 10-year-old Muslim girl’s locker last November. The victim is a student at Hemingway Elementary School in Framingham, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts branch of the American-Islamic Relations Council stated that the young girl received letters of support from over 500 people, with different religious backgrounds, from across 20 different US states. Somaya Zama, the community support officer in Massachusetts, stated that investigations regarding the hate messages are ongoing to expose the sender. The girl’s identity is left anonymous for privacy, but the media revealed that the letters had caused her a great deal of distress. The council said that support letters would be sent to the young girl’s family shortly this week. The Muslim girl was previously harassed and bullied by her classmates. The hand-written letters found in her locker, for two consecutive days, marked an escalation in misconduct. *Al Arabiya

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