Being jabbed with COVID-19 vaccine makes you gay? An Iranian cleric thinks so

Being jabbed with COVID-19 vaccine makes you gay? An Iranian cleric thinks so
Above, Ali Eshaghi, the head of Iran’s Razi Vaccine and Serum research Institute, during the unveiling ceremony of the locally-made ‘Razi Cov Pars’ coronavirus vaccine on Feb. 8, 2021. Iran’s COVID-19 vaccination program starts on Tuesday. (AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2021

Being jabbed with COVID-19 vaccine makes you gay? An Iranian cleric thinks so

Being jabbed with COVID-19 vaccine makes you gay? An Iranian cleric thinks so
  • ‘Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals’
  • The country’s coronavirus vaccination program begins Tuesday

DUBAI: A cleric from the Iranian city of Qom, known for his historic vitriol against Western medicine, has posted on social media against interacting with people who receive the coronavirus vaccine, with a claim these jabs have made the individuals gay.

Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian wrote this homophobic rant on his Telegram platform: “Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals.”

The radical Islamist has nearly 210,000 followers in this social media platform, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Tabrizian, whom his followers describe as the Father of Islamic Medicine, last year had a viral video of him burning a copy of the Harrison’s Manual of Medicine – considered an authority and the most trusted brand in medical content – and arguing that Islamic medicine made such books ‘irrelevant’.

 

 

“Actually, his goal of spreading nonsense is to try to scare people [out] of getting vaccinated while the leader of the regime and other officials got Pfizer and they don’t provide it for the people with the excuse that they don’t trust the West,” Iranian dissident Sheina Vojoudi said.

“Like other clerics in the regime, also Tabrizian relates all the shortages to sexuality. The clerics in Iran are suffering from lack of knowledge and humanity.”

Iran’s regime has executed 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians since its 1979 Islamic revolution, according to a 2008 WikiLeaks cable.

Iran is the Middle East region’s hotspot for the coronavirus’ worst outbreak with almost 1.5 million cases. The country’s vaccination program begins Tuesday for the population groups most at risk: frontline healthcare doctors and nurses working in contact with COVID-19 patients at intensive care units.

Iran earlier launched a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Iran’s Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute.

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region

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Queen Elizabeth marks 95th birthday, days after husband’s funeral

Queen Elizabeth marks 95th birthday, days after husband’s funeral
Updated 21 April 2021

Queen Elizabeth marks 95th birthday, days after husband’s funeral

Queen Elizabeth marks 95th birthday, days after husband’s funeral
  • Prince Philip died on April 9 at the age of 99
  • Elizabeth is the world’s longest-reigning monarch

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the world’s oldest monarch, turns 95 on Wednesday, but there will be no public celebrations just days after she bade farewell to her husband of seven decades at his funeral.
Prince Philip, whom Elizabeth married in 1947, died on April 9 at the age of 99. The royals paid their final respects to the family’s patriarch at his funeral on Saturday at Windsor Castle.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the queen sat alone during the somber service for Philip, who she had described as her “strength and stay.”
Elizabeth, who is also the world’s longest-reigning monarch, will be at the castle for her birthday, which traditionally passes off with little or no ceremony.
However, this year, with the royals marking two weeks of mourning, there will be no gun salutes at the Tower of London or the capital’s Hyde park which usually occur on the queen’s birthday.
“I was at the funeral on Saturday, her Majesty was, as always, more concerned with other people than herself, and she will be on her birthday,” Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told Reuters.
“She doesn’t do ‘I’m the most important person in the room’. She does ‘I mind about the other people more than about myself’. She is an extraordinary person.”
The queen also has an official birthday, which is usually celebrated with greater pomp on the second Saturday in June.
Philip’s death has robbed Elizabeth of her closest and most trusted confidant, who had been beside her throughout her 69-year reign.
It also came as she grappled with one of the biggest crises to hit the royal family in decades — allegations of racism and neglect against it from her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan, his American wife.
Newspapers have suggested that family members would be visiting the queen over the coming days to ensure she would not be left alone while mourning her late husband.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment, saying all family matters after the funeral would be private.
Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, in Bruton Street, central London. She ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25, and surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch in September, 2015.
Elizabeth is also queen of 15 former British colonies including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“I would like to send my warm wishes to Her Majesty The Queen on her 95th birthday,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter. “I am proud to serve as her prime minister.”


Mouth-watering snacks bring joy to Yemen during Ramadan

Mouth-watering snacks bring joy to Yemen during Ramadan
Updated 50 min 59 sec ago

Mouth-watering snacks bring joy to Yemen during Ramadan

Mouth-watering snacks bring joy to Yemen during Ramadan
  • Ramadan brings out a zeal among Muslims everywhere for particular memory-laden foods

SANAA: At the thought of breaking his Ramadan fast with a snack of sambusa, a deep-fried savoury pastry triangle popular in Yemen, Issa Al-Shabi’s face lights up with joy.

On a street in the capital Sanaa, bustling with shoppers stocking up on tasty treats for iftar, the meal observant Muslims have after sunset during the Islamic month of fasting, Shabi grins and his eyes shine in anticipation.

“The sambusa is a beautiful food, and tastes delicious,” he says, jabbing the air with his hand for emphasis. “Especially so during this blessed month.”

Ramadan brings out a zeal among Muslims everywhere for particular memory-laden foods.

Sambusa stuffed with vegetables or meat are found across the Middle East and are a cousin of the South Asian samosa. In Yemen, they are a much-loved tradition and a business opportunity for those who know how to make the best ones.

“People compete to get the best sambusa,” Shabi says, adding that shops known for their cleanliness, the skill of their staff and the quality of their ingredients fill with jostling customers.

Yemen has endured six years of war that has left millions hungry and some parts of the country facing famine-like conditions. The country does have food supplies, but a deep economic crisis has sent prices skyrocketing out of the reach of many.

For Yemenis able to spend, the joy of a crispy sambusa, spongy rawani or syrupy baklava is at the heart of the Ramadan experience.

These traditional treats, enjoyed at iftar, keep people going through the night until they resume their fast at dawn, refraining from eating or drinking throughout the day.

“You can consider them as one of the main meals. People crave them after fasting, after the fatigue, exhaustion and thirst,” says Fuad Al-Kebsi, a popular singer, sitting down with family and friends to share sweets for iftar.

For those with a sweet tooth, Ali Abd whisks a bowl of eggs into a cloud before adding flour and vanilla. Tins of his yellow rawani cake are baked in a wood-fired furnace before being cut and drenched in aromatic syrup.

The draw of sweets from one particular shop he rates highly brought Muhammad Al-Bina from his house on the edge of town into central Sanaa.

“The sweets are awesome. Trust me!” he says, beaming.


Ramadan helps Egyptian women bakers make ends meet

Ramadan helps Egyptian women bakers make ends meet
Updated 20 April 2021

Ramadan helps Egyptian women bakers make ends meet

Ramadan helps Egyptian women bakers make ends meet
  • Noura Mohammed, 58, and women in her family travel by train to Cairo to sell their home-baked bread
  • When back in Beni Suef, they distribute the earnings to other producers

BENI SUEF, EGYPT: For 58-year-old Nour Al-Sabah Mohammed and her crew of bakers, business is brisk during the holy month of Ramadan.
The women travel by train to Cairo to sell their home-baked bread, piled high on metal trays, as well as eggs, vegetables, and cheese, produced by neighbors in a farming village near the city of Beni Suef, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) to the south.
During Ramadan, when fasting Muslims indulge in large family meals after sunset and stock up on supplies well in advance, the women double their usual output.
Mohammed’s daughter and daughter-in-law make the two-and-a-half hour train trip to Cairo twice a week to sell from spots on the pavement that they’ve occupied for the last five years.
They set off at 10 p.m., leaving their children in the village and returning the following evening once they’ve sold out.
Back in Beni Suef, they distribute the earnings to other producers, each of whom made about 30 Egyptian pounds ($1.91) from the recent sale of 15 kilograms (33 lbs) of bread, along with the other products.
“This way we work hard for our living and we make each other stronger,” said Noura Hassan, Mohammed’s daughter-in-law. “It’s also a good thing that these women are helping out their husbands and their children.”


NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet
Updated 19 April 2021

NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet
  • It was a brief hop, just 39 seconds and 10 feet (3 meters), but accomplished all the major milestones
  • The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

CAPE CANAVERAL: NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin air above the dusty red surface of Mars on Monday, achieving the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet.
The triumph was hailed as a Wright brothers moment. The mini 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) copter even carried a bit of wing fabric from the Wright Flyer that made similar history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
It was a brief hop — just 39 seconds and 10 feet (3 meters) — but accomplished all the major milestones.
“We’ve been talking so long about our Wright brothers moment, and here it is,” said project manager MiMi Aung, offering a virtual hug to her socially distanced colleagues in the control room as well as those at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California declared success after receiving the data and images via the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on Perseverance, clinging to the rover’s belly when it touched down in an ancient river delta in February.
The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward.
Scientists cheered the news from around the world and even from space.
“A whole new way to explore the alien terrain in our solar system is now at our disposal,” Nottingham Trent University astronomer Daniel Brown said from England.
This first test flight — with more to come by Ingenuity — holds great promise, Brown noted. Future helicopters could serve as otherworldly scouts for rovers, and eventually astronauts, in difficult, dangerous places.
Ground controllers had to wait more than three excruciating hours before learning whether the preprogrammed flight had succeeded more than 170 million miles (287 million kilometers) away. The first attempt had been delayed a week because of a software error.
When the news finally came, the operations center filled with applause, cheers and laughter. More followed when the first black and white photo from Ingenuity appeared, showing the helicopter’s shadow as it hovered above the surface of Mars.
“The shadow of greatness, #MarsHelicopter first flight on another world complete!” NASA astronaut Victor Glover tweeted from the International Space Station.
Next came stunning color video of the copter’s clean landing, taken by Perseverance, “the best host little Ingenuity could ever hope for,” Aung said in thanking everyone.
The helicopter hovered for 30 seconds at its intended altitude of 10 feet (3 meters), and spent 39 seconds airborne, more than three times longer than the first successful flight of the Wright Flyer, which lasted a mere 12 seconds on Dec. 17, 1903.
To accomplish all this, the helicopter’s twin, counter-rotating rotor blades needed to spin at 2,500 revolutions per minute — five times faster than on Earth. With an atmosphere just 1% the thickness of Earth’s, engineers had to build a helicopter light enough — with blades spinning fast enough — to generate this otherworldly lift.
More than six years in the making, Ingenuity is just 19 inches (49 centimeters) tall, a spindly four-legged chopper. Its fuselage, containing all the batteries, heaters and sensors, is the size of a tissue box. The carbon-fiber, foam-filled rotors are the biggest pieces: Each pair stretches 4 feet (1.2 meters) tip to tip.
Ingenuity also had to be sturdy enough to withstand the Martian wind, and is topped with a solar panel for recharging the batteries, crucial for surviving the minus-130 degree Fahrenheit (minus-90 degree-Celsius) Martian nights.
NASA chose a flat, relatively rock-free patch for Ingenuity’s airfield. Following Monday’s success, NASA named the Martian airfield for the Wright brothers.
“While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked,” NASA’s science missions Chief Thomas Zurbuchen announced.
The little chopper with a giant job attracted attention from the moment it launched with Perseverance last July. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger joined in the fun, rooting for Ingenuity over the weekend. “Get to the chopper!” he shouted in a tweeted video, a line from his 1987 sci-fi film “Predator.”
Up to five increasingly ambitious flights are planned, and they could lead the way to a fleet of Martian drones in decades to come, providing aerial views, transporting packages and serving as lookouts for human crews. On Earth, the technology could enable helicopters to reach new heights, doing things like more easily navigating the Himalayas.
Ingenuity’s team has until the beginning of May to complete the test flights so that the rover can get on with its main mission: collecting rock samples that could hold evidence of past Martian life, for return to Earth a decade from now.
The team plans to test the helicopter’s limits, possibly even wrecking the craft, leaving it to rest in place forever, having sent its data back home.
Until then, Perseverance will keep watch over Ingenuity. Flight engineers affectionately call them Percy and Ginny.
“Big sister’s watching,” said Malin Space Science Systems’ Elsa Jensen, the rover’s lead camera operator.


Masks come off as Israel vaunts virus victory

Masks come off as Israel vaunts virus victory
Updated 19 April 2021

Masks come off as Israel vaunts virus victory

Masks come off as Israel vaunts virus victory
  • The vaccination of close to 5 million people has sent Israel’s coronavirus caseload tumbling from some 10,000 new infections per day as recently as mid-January, to around 200 cases a day

JERUSALEM: Israelis stepped into the streets without masks on Sunday for the first time in a year, a key milestone as the country vaccinates its way out of a coronavirus nightmare.
“It’s very strange but it’s very nice,” said Eliana Gamulka, 26, after getting off a bus near the busy Jerusalem shopping boulevard of Jaffa Street and removing her face covering.
“You can’t pretend that you don’t know anyone any more,” she smiled.
With over half the population fully vaccinated in one of the world’s fastest anti-COVID 19 inoculation campaigns, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday that masks would no longer be required in public outdoor spaces.
For Gamulka, a project manager, the good news came at the perfect time: Just two weeks before her wedding.
It will be “very nice to celebrate with everyone, now without masks,” she said. “The pictures will be great! I’m very relieved. We can start living again.”
The vaccination of close to 5 million people has sent Israel’s coronavirus caseload tumbling from some 10,000 new infections per day as recently as mid-January, to around 200 cases a day.
That has allowed the reopening of schools, bars, restaurants and other indoor gatherings — although masks are still required in indoor public spaces.

HIGHLIGHTS

• With over half the population fully vaccinated in one of the world’s fastest anti-COVID 19 inoculation campaigns, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday that masks would no longer be required in public outdoor spaces.

• The vaccination of close to 5 million people has sent Israel’s coronavirus caseload tumbling from some 10,000 new infections per day as recently as mid-January, to around 200 cases a day. That has allowed the reopening of schools, bars, restaurants and other indoor gatherings.

Israel just months ago had the world’s highest infection rate, a coronavirus outbreak that left 6,300 people dead among 836,000 cases.
But the country sent its coronavirus caseload tumbling after striking a deal for a vast stock of Pfizer/BioNTech jabs.
In exchange, it agreed to pay above market price and share data it gathers on the recipients, using one of the world’s most sophisticated medical data systems.
Since December, some 53 percent of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received both doses of the jab, including around four-fifths of the population aged over 20.
As recently as January it was registering 10,000 cases per day.
But as the effects of mass vaccination kicked in, by March it was able to implement a gradual reopening.
“There’s no better advertisement for Pfizer,” said Shalom Yatzkan, a computer programmer who had been in quarantine after catching the virus.
“I was sick for three days, I had neck pains and felt weak,” he said as he walked through central Jerusalem. “I just hope the new variants don’t catch up with us.”
Another Sunday landmark in Israel’s exit from coronavirus restrictions was the full resumption of the country’s educational system, without restrictions on the numbers of pupils in classrooms.