"Am I therefore become your enemy,because I TELL YOU THE TRUTH...?"
(Galatians 4:16)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Muslims Force Converts in Bangladesh Back to Islam

"Villagers and foreigners haul newly baptized Christians to mosque and threaten them..."
DHAKA,Bangladesh-Local Muslims in Nilphamari district and Islamist missionaries from abroad are hauling recently converted Christians to mosques and forcing them to return to Islam, area sources said.Evangelist and pastor Sanjoy Roy said the Muslims have forced 27 recently baptized Christians to return to Islam. Another 14 recently converts are still facing incessant pressure to return to Islam from villagers and from Muslim missionaries called Tabligh Jamat.“The Muslims are still threatening us and saying that they will change our faith," Roy told Compass. "We wanted secrutiy and police protection, but the district commissioner did not accept our application. "Police provided eight officers to protect area Christians on July 28 but left on August 5. Muslims in Durbachari village then began capturing and hauling all male converts to a mosque to return to Islam, forcing them to sign or provide fingerprint signatures on written or blank papers. As nearly all the converts cannot read, area sources said, they did not understand they were signing or giving fingerprint signatures to return to Islam. Earlier, on July 26, a local source said, local Muslims and Tabligh Jamat missionaries gathered in a schoolyard near the homes of some of the Christians who had been baptized in a river on June 12. Using a microphone, the Muslims threatened violence if the converts did not come out.Fearing for their lives, the Christians emerged and gathered. The source said the Muslims asked them why they had become Christians and, furious, told them that Bangladesh was a Muslim country “where you cannot change your faith by your own will.” “They said, ‘How dare you become Christian in a Muslim country?’” the area source said. “After that incident, some believers went to the local police station seeking protection, but police did not respond.” Most of the Christians are laborers who rely on new opportunities each day to feed their families, and the Muslim villagers are withholding work from them, Christian sources said. Local Muslims are also vandalizing their homes and taking their daily essentials.“Some of them in fear of life left the village,” said one Christian source. “They cannot catch fish in the river and buy or sell anything in the markets under the pressure of neighbors.”
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As in the days of Noah...

High Stakes Game in Northern Iraq

Over the past week, with Iranian shells raining down on Iraqi villages in Kurdish areas along the border zone in the north, Iran’s leaders have engaged the United States in a high stakes game that has gone virtually unreported in the elite media.Iran has massed thousands of troops along its northwestern border in preparation for a ground assault against Iranian Kurdish fighters who have sought refuge in the rugged Qanbil mountains in northwestern Iraq.On Tuesday, villagers found leaflets bearing the official Islamic Republic of Iran logo, ordering them to leave the area or face the consequences.“Our enemies, mainly the Americans, are trying to plant security hurdles in our country (Iran),” the leaflets said. “They achieve this through using agents in the areas of Qandil and Khanira inside the Kurdish region. 'The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran will work on cleansing this area.”Hundreds of Iraqis from the villages of Qandoul and Qal’at Diza, close to the Iranian border in the province of Sulaymanyah, fled as a result of the Iranian shelling, according to wire service accounts.Should Iran be allowed to carry out its planned attack, it would amount to an overt aggression against its neighbor. But the potential damage is far worse, because of the deep U.S. engagement in Iraq.A successful Iranian attack against opposition Kurds from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (known as PJAK) based in Iraq, will strike a triple blow against America.Not only will the Iranians have violated Iraq’s sovereignty, guaranteed until now by the United States; they will have shown that despite the presence of 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the United States “can do nothing” against Iran, as the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, liked to say.Even worse: if the United States sits this one out, we will send a terrible message to Iranian opponents of the regime in Tehran that despite all our calls for “freedom” and “democracy” in Iran, we will not intervene to prevent them from being massacred, even when we have the opportunity and the forces in place to save them from certain death.And yet, unless Congress and the White House react immediately, that is precisely what is going to happen.An Iranian victory in northern Iraq will have far-reaching consequences, and will further embolden president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is engaged in political, military, and intelligence hardball with the United States on multiple fronts, including inside Iraq.Just last week, U.S. forces arrested another “high-priority” Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer in Baghdad, and accused him of funneling aid to Iraqi insurgents.U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver announced the arrest on August 15, and said that coalition forces “will continue their focused operations against unhelpful Iranian influence interfering in Iraq.”An unnamed U.S. official said that the Iranian Guardsman was responsible for smuggling explosively-formed penetrators, Katyusha rockets and other weapons into Iraq, and “had direct ties to senior militant leaders and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.”Another U.S. military spokesman. Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, told reporters in Iraq on Aug. 14 that Iran had recently provided 240 mm long-range rockets to insurgents in Iraq for attacks on U.S. forces."The 240 mm rocket is a large-caliber projectile that has been provided to militia extremists groups in the past along with a range of other weapons from Iranian sources," Bergner said....
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As in the days of Noah...

Pakistani court rules Sharif can return

ISLAMABAD-Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif can return home after seven years in exile in a decision he hailed as a victory against dictatorship.Sharif, a two-time prime minister overthrown by army chief General Pervez Musharraf in a 1999 coup, has vowed to oppose a bid by President Musharraf for another term in office."This is a victory for democratic struggle. Dictatorship has lost, democracy has won and the constitution of Pakistan has won," he told reporters in London."It is the beginning of the end of Musharraf," he said, adding he would return as soon as possible to contest elections.The timing of a return by Sharif could hardly be more awkward for Musharraf, who is expected to seek re-election from the national and provincial assemblies between mid-September and mid-October and hold parliamentary elections within months.After the 1999 coup, Musharraf co-opted the rump of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) to form his own political base, and analysts say that could splinter if Sharif were to return.Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry told the court in Islamabad Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz, who is also a politician and was exiled with his brother in 2000, had an "inalienable right" to come back and stay in Pakistan.The government should not obstruct their return, he said. Both brothers are in London. Hundreds of Sharif supporters chanted "go Musharraf, go!" outside the court after the ruling.The government said in comment carried by the state news agency the verdict would be respected."We will prove to the world that we abide by the law and constitution and believe in tolerance and fairness," an unidentified government spokesman told the news agency.Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, another former prime minister in exile, are both hoping to travel home and take part in the general elections that Musharraf has promised will be free and fair.
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As in the days of Noah...

GAY AGENDA:Howard to have final ruling on same-sex rights

JOHN Howard has been charged by his cabinet colleagues with deciding whether same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples after a divisive cabinet debate. Following a heated discussion in Cabinet on Monday, the Prime Minister decided to make the final ruling on whether gays and lesbians would be given equal rights under commonwealth law. The meeting was split, with conservative ministers arguing it was not a high priority for the Government and that they had been inundated by opposition to major reform.
"Concerned about expense"
Ministers were also concerned at the expense of reforms, which would cost taxpayers millions of dollars in extra social security payments. But Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Employment Minister Joe Hockey, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson and the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, supported the reforms. Mr Turnbull and Mr Hockey are understood to have argued that with high numbers of gay voters in their electorates, reform could not be put off.
Abbott, Andrew against
Health Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews both argued against the reforms, saying they were not a political priority for the Government ahead of the election. A group of moderate federal Liberal MPs - including Queenslanders Warren Entsch and Peter Lindsay and Victorian Greg Hunt - have for the past two years been conducting a strident campaign among colleagues for legal changes to end discrimination against gay couples in key areas.
Package elements
Major elements of the package include equal access to the Medicare safety net and the couples' rate threshold for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Under current laws, married or de facto heterosexual couples without children qualify for the 80 per cent rebate under the Medicare safety net after reaching $716 in out-of-pocket expenses between them. But same-sex partners are not considered a couple, which means their expenses have to be double before they qualify for the safety net. Discrimination in migration law, social security and tax could also form part of the reform plan, including the superannuation contribution rebate. The unequal treatment of gays was recently highlighted by High Court judge Michael Kirby, who wrote to Mr Ruddock to say his partner of 38 years, Johan van Vloten, would have no access to Justice Kirby's pension if the judge died before him. Under current law, if a retired judge in a heterosexual relationship dies, their partner is entitled to 62.5 per cent of the judge's pension.
As in the days of Noah...

Wave of refugees quits Peru quake ruins

PISCO,Peru-The giant quake that wrecked this Pacific coastal town last week has set off a wave of refugees, driving up to 40 percent of its people to quit their ruined homes and move away, the Peruvian government said Wednesday."Between 30 and 40 percent of the inhabitants have been forced to leave" Pisco, which formerly had a population of 130,000 people, Social Development and Women's Affairs Minister Virginia Borra told AFP."There are no official figures that identify the scale of the problem," she said, stressing her number was an estimate. A census is under way of the towns affected by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake-of which Pisco was worst hit.The quake killed 540 people in the area, according to an official toll, and destroyed around 85 percent of Pisco, leaving residents camping amid the ruins as the threat of disease and the stench of bodies under the rubble grew."It's definitely no longer possible to find any survivors," fire chief Alberto Marticorena told AFP as teams continued combing the wreckage. At least two more bodies were pulled form the rubble of a hotel Wednesday.More bodies were believed to be under the ruins of the Embassy hotel, frequented by backpackers, which buried an unknown number of people when it collapsed.A week on from the August 15 disaster, a daily stream of families with their belongings packed into cars, trucks and tricycles heads out of town on the Panamerican highway.Many have relatives in the capital Lima some 240 kilometers (150 miles) up the coast, or in nearby towns."I can't stay here, my house is leveled. I'm off to Ayacucho where my eldest son lives," said Nilda Escobedo, a mother accompanied by two of her children."I hope to come back soon when my house is rebuilt, because I was born here and I will die here."Aid continued to arrive, but the Spanish non-government aid group K-9 accused the Peruvian government of not properly distributing the international aid including donations from Japan, Europe and elsewhere in Latin America."The Peruvian authorities are not distributing it to those affected. They are only sharing out some in the center of Pisco and storing it in military airbases," K-9 rescuer Pedro Frutas told reporters in Argentina after visiting Pisco.People living in the surrounding area have also complained that much material aid is still stacked in Pisco's air base.The head of the Civil Defense service Luis Palomino on state television said prefabricated houses had not yet been delivered because health procedures still had to be completed in the stricken areas.A roving group of specialist rescuers from Mexico known as "the moles" complained that they were forbidden from joining the search for bodies. Marticorena said that they did not respect safety norms.Another specialist relief crew was also due to set off on a mission to rescue and give first aid to dogs, cats and other animals affected in the area.
Elsewhere, there were glimmers of normal life returning. In the town if Ica, also hit by the quake, textile factories were operating again, at 30 percent capacity. Half of the 7,000 workers turned up.
As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Authorities suspect Kibbutz Grofit chickens have bird flu

Authorities suspect that chickens at Kibbutz Grofit in the Arava have been infected with bird flu. The entire kibbutz has been placed under veterinary quarantine pending test results. The Agriculture Ministry's veterinary services stressed Thursday that at this stage authorities only suspect that the chickens were infected. Some of the kibbutz's chickens were taken to a Beit Dagan veterinary laboratory for tests, the results of which will be available Friday. The tests will determine whether the chickens were infected by the deadly strain of the virus, or another, less harmful type of bird flu. Roughly six million chickens died or were put to death roughly a year and a half ago due to a bird flu outbreak in numerous communities in southern Israel. The outbreak cost tens of millions of shekels.

As in the days of Noah...

Who Is Allah?

Europeans love to mock the salience of religion in American society, but they won't be laughing for very long. The de-Christianization of Europe in the name of "tolerance" is rapidly driving the spiritually shiftless continent into the arms of Islam. And now, amidst the postmodern theological confusion that defines contemporary Europe, even Catholic clergy are jumping on the Islamomania bandwagon.The latest post-Christian theological spectacle comes to us from the Netherlands (of Ayaan Hirsi Ali fame), where the Roman Catholic Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, says he wants Christians to start calling God "Allah" because he believes such a gesture would promote "rapprochement between Christianity and Islam". Appearing on Dutch television, the 71-year-old cleric said:"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him?"
Inquiring minds want to know: If the bishop really thinks the names "God" and "Allah" are interchangeable, why doesn't he ask Muslims to start calling Allah "Yahweh", the biblical name for God? But he won't, because he knows they won't.Indeed, just because Christianity, Judaism and Islam are called "monotheistic" faiths, it does not follow that Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God. So for those pre-postmoderns who believe that words still mean something, a quick survey of archaeology, history and theology-accompanied by a dose of common sense-can answer the question of whether the Allah of Islam is really the God of the Bible.
What Archaeology Says about Allah
Muslims claim that in pre-Islamic times, "Allah" was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Indeed, the credibility of Islam as a religion stands or falls on its core claim of historical continuity with Judaism and Christianity. No wonder, then, that many Muslims get uppity when the claims of Islam are subjected to the hard science of archaeology.Because archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god. Indeed, it is an established archaeological fact that worship of the moon-god was the main religion of the ancient Middle East.But what about the Arabian Peninsula, where Mohammed (570-632) launched Islam? During the last two centuries, prominent archaeologists have unearthed thousands of inscriptions which prove beyond any doubt that the dominant religion of Arabia during Mohammed's day was the cult of the moon-god.In fact, for generations before Mohammed was born, the Arabs worshipped some 360 pagan gods housed at a stone temple in Mecca called the Kabah. According to archaeologists, the chief deity of Mecca was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. Pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave themselves: Mohammed's father (Abdallah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.
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As in the days of Noah...

Japan to Form Earthquake Warning System

TOKYO-It's still beyond the reach of science to predict exactly when an earthquake will strike, but Japan will soon get the next best thing—televised warnings that come before anyone feels the ground shake.Japan's Meteorological Agency and national broadcaster are teaming up to alert the public of earthquakes as much as 30 seconds before they hit, or at least before they can bring their full force down on populated areas.The system-the first of its kind in the world—does not predict quakes, but officials say it can give people enough time to get away from windows that could shatter, or to turn off ovens and prevent fires from razing homes. And in one of the world's most earthquake- prone countries, every second counts."If we can give people enough time to take even a few steps to protect themselves before the shaking starts, it could help reduce injuries and damage," said agency spokesman Makoto Saito.The warnings, to begin in October, will be based on data provided by the Meteorological Agency, which maintains a network of sensors deep underground that estimate the intensity of a quake as soon as the ground ruptures. Alarms can go out before the shaking starts because there is a lag between the time it takes for different seismic waves to travel to the surface.Japan, which sits atop four tectonic plates,has been hit by 83 earthquakes strong enough to cause injury since March 1996, including one last month that killed 11 people and caused a fire and small radiation leak at a nuclear power plant.The warning system works by detecting primary waves, which spread from the epicenter of a quake and travel faster than the destructive shear waves. When waves of a certain intensity are detected, the alarms are set off. The national broadcaster, NHK, will relay them almost instantaneously to its television and radio audiences.The agency started issuing warnings last August to more than 500 organizations such as power companies and train operators.The system is not perfect. Lightning or other interference can cause false alarms, for example, and early warning won't work for areas directly above the ruptured fault because the two waves would be nearly simultaneous. And residents would have to be watching TV or listening to the radio to get an alert.Still, the agency says the system helped it issue a tsunami alert for a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in northern Japan this March two minutes faster than its old early warning system would have. The agency also was able to put out a warning ahead of last month's magnitude-6.8 quake.How the public will react has been a concern."Chaos and injuries could result, for example, if an urgent earthquake warning is sent to a facility with large numbers of customers and a crush forms at the exits as people rush to get out," a meteorological agency study group said in a report last year.The warnings, it was decided, must come with explanations of what people should do—stop cars and elevators, get away from things that can fall and, most of all, protect their heads."We realized the warnings won't work if confusion is the result," said Saito. "The public needs to be educated about how and how not to react."Since early last month, NHK has begun preparing Japan for the alerts, carrying promotional spots accompanied by skits that show how to respond.Officials say the system may serve as a model for others."A lot of the injuries in an earthquake come from secondary damage, like fires started from open gas lines," said Barry Drummond, who oversees seismic monitoring for Geoscience Australia. "If you've got enough time to shut the gas valve, you're that much further ahead."
Small-scale warning systems exist in parts of Mexico, Taiwan and Turkey. In the US, commercially available, battery-powered seismic gadgets can warn a limited region, while seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, are working on a system inspired in part by Japan's."The implementation in Japan is most important to us as a test of the concept," said Richard Allen,who heads the group. "We are particularly interested to see how the public react to the information and (who) starts to make use of the information and how."
As in the days of Noah....

Appeals court upholds ban on Bible distribution to fifth-graders

ST. LOUIS-A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that prohibited the distribution of Bibles to grade school students in a southern Missouri school district.At issue was a long-held practice at South Iron Elementary School in Annapolis, 120 miles southwest of St. Louis, in which Gideons International representatives came to fifth-grade classrooms and gave away Bibles. A U.S. district judge issued a temporary injunction, and a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis agreed the classroom distribution should be prohibited.Parents of some students first raised concerns about the Bible distribution in 2005. That fall, the school board voted 4-3 to allow the distribution to continue, even though then-Superintendent Homer Lewis, at the urging of the district’s insurance carrier and attorney, suggested an end to the practice. A day after the vote, the Gideons came to the school and distributed Bibles to both fifth-grade classrooms.The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in February 2006 on behalf of four sets of parents, asking that the district be stopped “from further endorsement of religion.”All four sets of parents are Christian, said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU office in St. Louis.“Their objection is they don’t want the school telling their children what their religious beliefs should be,” Rothert said. “They believe that should be done at home with the family.”Rothert said the ACLU is asking the district court to issue a permanent injunction banning the Bible distribution program.Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, a conservative law group based in Florida that represented the school district, said the appeals court ruling concerned a practice no longer in place.Staver said the district’s current policy allows people or groups to distribute literature — with approval from the district — before or after school or during lunch break, but not in the classrooms. The new policy is open to religious groups beyond the Gideons, he said, and is the subject of a pending court ruling at the district court level.“That policy we will vigorously defend because we believe it’s a constitutionally sound policy,” Staver said. “It will provide for others, including the Gideons, the right to distribute literature.”The district in Iron County has fewer than 500 students and just two schools — the grade school and South Iron High School. The rural county sits in the heart of the nation’s so-called Bible Belt and includes dozens of churches.Gideons International, based in Nashville, Tenn., distributes more than 63 million Bibles worldwide each year, according to the organization’s Web site. A spokesman did not return a phone call seeking comment.

On the Net:
ACLU of Eastern Missouri: http://www.aclu-em.org/
Gideons International: http://www.gideons.org/
Liberty Counsel: http://www.lc.org/

PS:The worst part of this story is the mention that the parents of these kids are "CHRISTIANS"....When I read it first it troubled me BUT then,reading it again I thought,well IF the parents were TRUE CHRISTIANS they wouldn't be BOTHEREd by the Bible distribution at school,especially when it has been a practice like a tradition at this school for so many years...
I think the parents ARE NOT CHRISTIANS....That's the problem we have in America nowadays:You ask somebody about their beliefs and they tell you they are christians,but you look at their lives and you can tell BY THEIR FRUITS that they ARE NOT.
Lots of people in our country are so SELF DECEIVED into thinking that they are something that they are not....!!!!
Definitely these parents -can call themselves whatever they want- ARE NOT CHRISTIANS....Sad the spiritual future of all these kids involved....!!!!

As in the days of Noah...

'Convert or die,' Christians told:Muslims flood neighborhoods with threats

Christian residents of several neighborhoods in northern Pakistan have been sent letters "inviting" them to abandon Christianity and join Islam-or be killed, according to a new report from Voice of the Martyrs, the ministry to persecuted Christians around the world."There have been numerous threats sent to Peshawar's Kohati area," sources for VOM reported this week. "The letters say if we don't become Muslim we will be killed."The unsigned threats began several weeks ago, when residents of Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province, reported receiving the letters threatening suicide bombings if they did not convert. The letters went to Christian residents of the Tailgodom, Sandagodom and Goalgodom neighborhoods, according to a report from Assist News Service."These letters sent a wave of fear and uncertainty among the Christian residents of these … areas," Kamran George, a Peshawar government member, told the news service.Each of the districts houses an estimated 2,000 Christians."Through this open letter you are openly invited to convert to Islam and quit Christianity, the religion of infidels," the letter said. Readers could "ensure your place in heaven" by adopting Islam."We will wipe out your slum on next Friday, August, 10th, 2007. And you, yourself would be responsible for the destruction of your men and material. Get ready! This is not a mere threat, our suicide bombers are ready to wipe out your name and signs from the face of earth. Consider it be the Knock of Death," it said.Although that deadline has passed, Christians still fear the threat, a government official told Assist. He noted that a man dressed in Pakistan's national dress managed to get inside a recent meeting at St. John Catholic Church in Peshawar, but fled immediately when he saw police.George said the threats were prompted by the suggestion from U.S. presidential candidate Tom Tancredo that the U.S. threaten to bomb Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in retaliation if there would be a terrorist nuclear attack on the United States."We would be pleased to send those to Hell who dared casting malicious eye on Khana Kaba (Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and Prophet's Mosque (Medina, Saudi Arabia). There is death here (in Pakistan) for the agents and followers of the religion of Americans (Christians)," said the letter, written in Urdu, Pakiston's national language, Assist reported."We would wipe out the Churches from the face of the earth because our mosques, seminaries and children are being martyred on the directions of United States. We would write a new history with the blood of Infidels. Our suicide bombers, lovers of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) are ready to strike churches, to protect the sanctity of Mecca and Medina, and pride of Islam."These suicide bombers would strike at any time or day. It is our first and foremost Jihad (Islamic Holy war) to assassinate and eradicate the infidels from the face of earth," the letter said.Additional police have been assigned in the region, the same area where a surge of violence followed the recent occupation and storming of the nation's Red Mosque. There, as WND reported, radical leaders faced off against Pakistani forces and said the 1,800 children in the compound had taken oaths on the Quran to fight to the death....
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PS:Once more for you all that still believe that Islam is a religion of peace....ISLAM is a RELIGION of SWORD....
As in the days of Noah....

CULTURE of DEATH:California Company:We'll Turn Your Child's Sibling Embryos Into Extra Body Parts

A California-based biotechnology company, StemLifeLine, is making a special offer to parents of children conceived through in vitro fertilisation techniques: "We'll turn your spare embryos into embryonic stem cell lines tailored to your child's potential future medical needs." StemCellLifeLine's website calls it "a novel service for individuals who have undergone in vitro fertilization, fulfilled their childbearing needs and now have to decide what to do with their remaining stored embryos. We can help transform these embryos into individual stem cell lines that our clients may one day use to create personalized therapies for themselves and their families.""Until now, there have been only three options for embryos remaining after individual childbearing needs have been fulfilled. They could be donated to research, given up for 'adoption' to other couples or discarded. We provide a fourth option for these embryos which is to generate personal stem cell lines that can one day be used to create personal therapies."The fact that no therapeutic application of embryonic stem cells has yet to be found by researchers anywhere in the world, has not dampened the company's money-making enthusiasm for the project. The company's website mentions "hundreds of published studies" that it claims show the potential of embryonic stem cells, but actually cites only seven. In the meantime, others are calling the company's claims a "gimmick". Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania was quoted by ABC saying that StemLifeLine's claim was not unique, "In fact any clinic can do it, just like any clinic can freeze embryos. The problem is no one has made anything useful out of stem cells."Other voices have decried as "hype"- the sort of media publicity that will likely create sales for the company. In some cases embryonic and other types of early cells are being promoted as beauty cures at internationally patronised spas. In 2005, the UK's Independent Online revealed that some Britons are going to Barbados, Ecuador, Russia and Ukraine to receive injections of stem cells derived from aborted children. Some British women have paid as much as ₤15,000 for the "treatments."The same year, one of the UK's most prominent fertility experts, Professor Robert Winston, called on researchers to be more realistic in their claims for treatments from stem cells. Winston told delegates at a British Association for the Advancement of Science event in Dublin, "I view the current wave of optimism about embryonic stem cells with growing suspicion. Embryonic stem cells replicate very slowly in culture, and it may well be that in the culture systems where you want to grow them the selective pressure is in favour of the faster growing cells, the ones of course which are most likely to be genetically abnormal."

As in the days of Noah...

U.S. missile shield is provocation: Austrian minister

VIENNA-Austrian Defense Minister Norbert Darabos has called U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe a "provocation" reviving Cold War debates."That the United States are installing a defense shield in eastern Europe is a provocation in my view," Darabos was quoted as saying in an interview with daily Die Presse on Thursday."The U.S. has chosen the wrong path in my opinion. There is no point in building up a missile defense shield in Europe. That only unnecessarily rekindles old Cold War debates."The remarks drew a swift reaction from Washington."We view the Cold War as being over. Such comments are not helpful and we now face a new strategic environment that requires us to move beyond Cold War thinking," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said."We've been open and transparent with all E.U. and NATO allies on this, and we'll continue to do so. We're discussing missile defense with the Russians," Gallegos said at a news briefing.The United States plans to deploy elements of its shield,designed to intercept and destroy missiles from "rogue states" like Iran and North Korea,in Poland and the Czech Republic.Russia sees the initiative near its borders as a threat to its own security. On Tuesday Russia's military chief told the Czech Republic that hosting the shield would be a "big mistake".Darabos said he saw no danger from Iranian long range missiles and the United States should try for a different solution.

As in the days of Noah...

Hollywood charter school refuses to end Hebrew lessons

HOLLYWOOD-Hebrew lessons learned Wednesday at the Ben Gamla Charter School seemed pretty straightforward. Read from right to left. There are no vowels in formal Hebrew.But one lesson not learned on the taxpayer-funded campus, according to Broward County schools: Hebrew is not to be taught, at least for now.The command not to teach the language came from the School Board on Tuesday, out of concern the charter school violates the federally established separation between religion and government. There has been months of debate between the school system and Ben Gamla over whether Hebrew can be taught without also promoting a religion."I thought it was pretty evident: They are to suspend teaching of the language," Superintendent James Notter said Wednesday before sending the school a letter ordering them to stop teaching Hebrew pending more review by the county. "They heard the discussion."The school founder, former U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch, nevertheless said Ben Gamla will not stop what it was established to do: Teach Hebrew. He argues the School Board is overstepping its bounds.Charter schools are privately run public schools that must have a contract with a county school system, giving the district limited oversight. They have more freedom over curriculum than a traditional public school but, like those schools, must not teach religion."The whole point of charter schools is that they're not supposed to be micromanaged schools," said Ben Gamla's attorney, Eric Rassbach. "And that's what's happening here."Deutsch and Rassbach said the School Board did not have the authority to shelve the language curriculum. The charter school was approved in May, and debate has mounted since. Charter school representatives were at Tuesday's meeting to amend its curriculum for the third time to satisfy the School Board.But the board put off approving the new language program until it could be scrutinized by a Hebrew professor hired to help monitor the school. With the backing of the full board, Beverly Gallagher, the board's chairwoman, suggested Ben Gamla teach only reading, writing and arithmetic until a Hebrew curriculum could be found that both sides agree on. Rassbach said the board's deferment meant lessons previously approved must now be used to teach the 400 students attending the kindergarten through eighth-grade school.Even though board members complained, they approved language programs in May and again in July saying they had few other options. The board didn't like the two previous programs, which were based in part on traditional Jewish texts and translating phrases such as "The Torah teaches us that every son has to honor his parents.""The charter agreement says you have to teach Hebrew," Rassbach said Wednesday.In public discussions, it has been unclear whether the school system could revoke Ben Gamla's charter.And so, on the third day of the new school year, the students' bilingual education continued. Teachers started sentences in English and then finished in Hebrew. Students practiced the alphabet. Homework was assigned.Ella Rav-On spent part of Wednesday teaching a class of seventh-graders interrogative phrases in Hebrew. The Israeli native wrote the Hebrew program criticized by the board the previous day. She emulated the district's Japanese and French programs to create the proposed Ben Gamla program.The School Board is nitpicking and missing the big picture, she said. There is a difference between language and religion, Rav-on said, using a moment from one of Tuesday's classes as an example. She was teaching the days of the week. Shabat, she told the class, was Saturday. A hand went in the air. Shabat, the student said, starts Friday evening. Not Saturday. "If you're religious, you welcome the Shabat on Friday," she explained. "But, I'm teaching you language. And in the days of the week, Shabat is Saturday."

As in the days of Noah...

CNN airs 'one of the most distorted programs' ever:Documentary compares Jews, Christians to Muslim terrorists

JERUSALEM-A CNN special series airing this week entitled "God's Warriors"-produced and anchored by the network's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour-is "one of the most grossly distorted programs" ever aired on mainstream American television, according to a media watchdog report."God's Warriors" takes up six prime-time hours on CNN this week, airing in three parts at 9 p.m. EST. It started Tuesday and concludes tonight.The first part of the series, "God's Jewish Warriors,"compared Jewish and Christian "radicals" to Muslim supporters of suicide terror, presented anti-Israel commentators with no counterbalance, falsely labeled the West Bank as Palestinian land, and minimized Jewish rights to the Temple Mount – Judaism's holiest site, the critics said.During Tuesday's program, Amanpour also conducted a friendly interview about Israel with former President Jimmy Carter, whose most recent book, "Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid," criticized the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians. The book was slammed for a series of falsehoods and was widely labeled anti-Israeli by multiple media critics. "[The CNN series] is false in its basic premise, established in the opening scene in which Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency is equated with that of Muslims heard endorsing 'martyrdom,' or suicide-murder. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns under way across the globe," stated the report by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.Amanpour's CNN documentary "God's Warriors" describes itself as focusing on religious fundamentalism among Christians, Muslims and Jews.Tuesday's segment started off comparing "Jewish terrorists" to that of Muslims, specifically focusing on the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously motivated Jews against Muslims. It told the story of Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed 29 Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Goldstein's actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel.States the CAMERA report: "While in reality Jewish 'terrorism' is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of [Jewish] violence" comparing it to "violent jihadist Muslim campaigns" when indeed there is no such comparison "either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought."
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PS:Christiane Amanpour is so confused,that there's no wonder about this documentary being so "grossly distorted....!As we approach the end of the end of times we are gonna see a much more biased and hateful view of christians.It's gonna get worse folks...!!!
As in the days of Noah...

TERROR WATCH:Iraqi terrorists caught along Mexico border

President Bush's top intelligence aide has confirmed that Iraqi terrorists have been captured coming into the United States from Mexico.The confirmation comes from National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who talked about the situation in an interview with the El Paso Times recently."Coming up through the Mexican border is a path," McConnell said. "Now, are they doing it in great numbers? No, because we're finding them and we're identifying them and we've got watch lists and we're keeping them at bay."But, he said, "There are numerous situations where people are alive today because we caught them (terrorists)." Intelligence officials say the numbers and details of such situations are classified, but McConnell pointed as an example to Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, who entered the United States through Tijuana, Mexico, in 2001, and later pleaded guilty to helping raise money for Hezbollah, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.The goal, McConnell said, is for terrorists to gain admittance to the United States, and then produce "mass casualties.""You've got committed leadership. You've got a place to train. They've got trainers, and they've got recruits," McConnell told the newspaper. "The key now is getting recruits in. So if your key is getting recruits in, how would you do that?"McConnell's office did reveal some numbers, during fiscal 2006, there were 14 Iraqi nationals caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally, while so far in 2007, that number is 16."Now some we caught, some we didn't," McConnell told the newspaper. "The ones that get in – what are they going to do? They're going to write home. So it's not rocket science; word will move around."Also revealed was that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted 60 Iraqis crossing the nation's southwestern border in 2006 who were seeking asylum in the U.S., while that number so far in 2007 is 178.The Times report said a U.S. intelligence analyst said there's been evidence that human smugglers, or coyotes, are telling Iraqis to ask for amnesty if they are caught.The typical scenario is this: Forged documents are used to get an Iraqi into a country in South or Central America. Since travel from country to country is allowed without vises in many locations there, they work their way north to the U.S. border.McConnell told the newspaper the numbers are classified, but there have been a relatively small number of people with known links to terrorist groups who have been caught at that point.Kourani, for example, apparently paid a Mexican Consulate official in Lebanon $3,000 for a Mexican visa and then was smuggled into the United States in the trunk of a car.He was sentenced to more than four years in prison after admitting he helped raise funds for Hezbollah.When the newspaper asked U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, about the situation, he said, "It's not something we would talk about."
"We have had intelligence about al-Qaida identifying Latin America as a potential or prospective area where they could come through, but frankly, I'm surprised that the director would make definitive statements like that because, even if it were true, you wouldn't want to publicize that," Reyes told the Times.McConnell was senior vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton, focusing on intelligence and national security, before being appointed to his current post by Bush in February.He previously was the director of the National Security Agency and served as a member of the Director of Central Intelligence senior leadership team before then.

As in the days of Noah...

Chinese threat needs to be taken seriously, activist warns

An anti-communist activist says the U.S. must deal with the reality that Communist China continues to build up its military -- and must be sure it can deter any threat from Beijing in the future.The incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has pledged that despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military will honor its commitments with its Asian allies. Admiral Mike Mullen says the U.S. is shifting Navy resources to the Pacific as a sign of the region's increased importance.The top Naval officer also has indicated he plans to nurture ties with China once he assumes the post as President Bush's main military advisor. But Curry Kenworthy of the China e-Lobby says the U.S. needs to understand that China is really not a friend. In fact, he notes that Chinese military leaders have said that war with the U.S. is inevitable."We need to take the China military capability seriously. We need to take what they say seriously when they make comments that are shocking; we don't need to just pass over those," he cautions. "We need to [have the mindset that] they really have the ability to do this if they choose to."For example, Kenworthy points out that the Chinese have made great technological strides in areas like space warfare. "China has the ability to knock out satellites, as it has proven now -- and the U.S. can't fight without satellites, at least not very well," he observes. "So that's another thing the U.S. military really needs to watch out about because when China [talks about] these capabilities, it needs to be taken seriously."Kenworthy says he shares the view of critics who have a problem with the U.S. providing China access to its military hardware, while Beijing continues to hide its true capabilities.

As in the days of Noah...

PERSECUTION WATCH:Freed Koreans Plead for Hostages on Al Jazeera

Two former hostages pleaded for the release of the remaining 19 Koreans still held by the Taliban during an interview with the Arab news network Al Jazeera.Kim Kyung-ja, 37, and Kim Ji-na, 32, expressed the heavy hearts and the burden they carry knowing that although they are free their friends and colleagues are still in captivity.“You probably think we are happy now, with our families. In fact, we can hardly sleep at night,” Kim Ji-na told Al Jazeera during an interview broadcasted on Thursday.“I understand that Islamic teachings give priority to life and family. Please release our co-workers as soon as possible.”The two female hostages were released by their captors on Aug. 13 after the first round of face-to-face talks between Taliban negotiators and a South Korean delegation. The rebels said they released the two hostages as a “gesture of goodwill” after negotiations were going well, although they still demanded the release of their jailed fighters for the remaining 19 hostages.“Rather than being happy, my heart was breaking,” Kim Kyung-ja said as she held back tears.“I was thinking of the remaining 19 hostages.”A government official who accompanied the two during their return to Seoul said the hostages did not know they were being released until the handover, according to Yonhap News Agency.“As they moved frequently during the captivity, they were thinking that the Taliban were taking them to another place, not noticing they would be released,” the official said.Moreover, the two were not even aware of the deaths of the church group’s leader, the Rev. Bae Hyung-kyu, and their colleague, Shim Sung-min, until they were told the day before returning to South Korea.The two were in the same group as Shim but thought he was freed when he was called out and never returned to the group.“They did not know of the deaths of Rev. Bae and Shim even when they were moved to a U.S. Air Force base in Bagram,” said the official last Friday, according to Yonhap. “They learned the fact on Thursday and were shocked. They cried about 30 minutes. They showed symptoms of anorexia, mental anxiety and have not smiled at all since then,” he said.South Korea escorted the two freed females back to their homeland on Aug. 17 where they were reunited with their families at the airport and then quickly taken to a military hospital in Bundang, south of Seoul, for medical checkups.Korean officials chose a military hospital because of fear that the hostages’ exposure to the media could adversely affect negotiations for the remaining 19 hostages.During the interview with Al Jazeera, the two also revealed the name of the Korean hostage who had chosen to stay behind so one of them could instead be freed.“We were very worried when we heard that Ji-young volunteered to be left behind,” said Kim Ji-na.Lee Ji-young was among the female hostages and had worked as one of the translator for the group of volunteers.“But the Taliban allowed Ji-young to write a letter to her family which consoled her and gave her some hope that she would come home soon,” said Kim Ji-naThe two former hostages said they were not treated badly by their captors and were provided basic needs such as food, medicine and some blankets.Both women were part of the group of 23 Christian volunteers that was kidnapped by the Taliban on July 19 – the largest abduction of foreigners in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. Since then, two male hostages have been killed – the leader of the group, Bae Hyung-kyu, who was found dead on July 25, and 29-year-old Shim Sung-min, whose body was found July 30.Negotiation since the release of the two women has become deadlocked as the rebels continue to demand the release of prisoners held by Afghan and U.S. forces while the two governments have firmly refused the Taliban’s demand.South Korea has been stuck in the middle – calling the Afghan and U.S. governments to be flexible while noting that it understands the difficulty of the situation in regards to the fight against terrorism. Korean officials have also tried to negotiate other options with the captors, repeatedly explaining that it has no control over the release of the prisoners.
Despite efforts, the Taliban renewed threats Wednesday to kill the remaining hostages if their demands were not met. Unlike several of the threats before, the militant group did not immediately set a deadline.
As in the days of Noah....

"What Happens To Us After The Rapture?"PART I

In these last days of the countdown to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, I find my heart and mind turning more and more to what lies just ahead for the believers, the born again children of God.The scripture teaches that all Christians will experience a judgment of our works and all will receive or lose a reward based on what remains following the burning of those works. Please notice, it is not the believer (spirit, soul or body) who will be burned and judged, but rather our works.The gospel of our salvation is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and that he was resurrected on the third day. Simple logic dictates that Jesus would not have died for our sins if it was not necessary, but since he did die for our sins, it was necessary that he die for our sins, therefore it is a fact that all men are sinners and that this sin incurred a death penalty. In order to be saved, man must first acknowledge the fact of his sinfulness and agree with God that he is deserving of judgment. The judgment that will be measured out to those who refuse the gospel will finally be the eternal lake of fire. We must judge ourselves guilty and admit that this is what we deserve but that we cannot pay the price ourselves, and when we do, we are saved and delivered from that same lake of fire.Why? Because we have agreed with God that his standard of righteousness is just and perfect and have accepted the remedy, the blood of Jesus, that God himself provided.It is an amazing and awesome thing that salvation could be so very simple.
The simple definition of sin is to miss the mark. The law gives us God's standard of perfection, it establishes the mark that we are to aim for, and Jas. 2:10 says to keep the whole law (which consists of six hundred thirteen separate commandments) yet to offend on one point, is to be guilty of all. Other than Jesus, no man could keep the law perfectly because all of us humans have a sin nature dwelling in us.There is one major difference between Jesus and all other humans, and that is the identity of our fathers. All of mankind has inherited a sin nature from our father Adam, but Jesus' father was God. Until the advent of DNA testing, when it is necessary to establish the paternity of a child, the doctors did not check fingerprints or skin, hair or eye color, they checked blood type. Why? Because the blood of a pregnant woman never comes in contact with the blood of her unborn baby. While a woman's body produces eggs every month, those eggs never develop into a baby, or are made alive, unless they are fertilized by the father's sperm. Lev. 17:10 states that the life of the flesh is in the blood. So the egg is not made alive until it is fertilized by the sperm, which in turn produces the blood which makes the fertilized egg (baby) alive.The blood type, then, of the developing unborn child is determined by the father.All of mankind has inherited our blood from our father Adam (Acts 17:26) but Jesus received his blood from his Father, which was God. Therefore the sin nature which all humans (including Paul - Rom. 7:15-25) struggle with is contained in our blood. In order for us to become heavenly creatures, fit to live in God's perfect, holy heaven, that sin nature, which is in our blood, will need to be destroyed.This will happen at the rapture. I Cor. 15:50 states, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and BLOOD cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. " I John 3:2-3 says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." We do know some things about Jesus' resurrection body, particularly that it does not have any blood in it. He shed his blood on the cross, and in Luke 24:39 he said, "…handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." We see here a reference to flesh and bone as opposed to the flesh and blood mentioned in I Cor. 15:50.
All living humans have a sin nature dwelling in our blood, Christians are sealed in our hearts with the Holy Spirit which counteracts but does not override this sin nature, and we are only sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession (the body of Christ) which will happen at the resurrection/ rapture (Eph. 4:30). This sin nature will have to be destroyed at the resurrection: like Jesus, our resurrection bodies will not have blood in them. I personally believe the blood will be removed by fire: fire represents judgment and fire consumes. Will it hurt? Probably about as much as having a particularly annoying splinter pulled out of your finger!...
Deborah French
Promise of His Coming
As in the days of Noah....

KNOWLEDGE SHALL INCREASE:Research sheds light on out-of-body experiences

LONDON-Researchers have found a way to induce out-of-body experiences using virtual-reality goggles, helping to explain a phenomenon reported by about one in 10 people.
The illusion of watching oneself from several feet (meters) away while awake is often reported by people undergoing strokes or epileptic seizures or using drugs.In the studies published in Thursday's Science journal, two teams of researchers managed to induce the effect in healthy people by scrambling their senses of vision and touch with the aid of the goggles."We ... describe an illusion during which healthy participants experienced a virtual body as if it were their own, and localized their 'selves' outside their body borders at a different position in space," wrote Olaf Blanke, a researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland.One team, led by Henrik Ehrsson at University College London, had volunteers sit in a chair in the middle of a room wearing virtual-reality goggles showing the view from a video camera placed behind them.A researcher moved a rod up to the camera at the same time as the person's chest was touched, and then the rod disappeared from view.This created the illusion that the person was sitting a few steps back, where the camera stood.In Blanke's experiment, subjects wearing virtual-reality goggles watched an image of a mannequin representing their own body placed directly in front of them while a researcher scratched their back.Afterwards, the volunteers were blindfolded and guided backwards. When they were asked to return to their original positions, they went toward the place where they had seen their virtual body-the mannequin.
The researchers said mixing up the senses of sight and touch was key to the experiments.
"We tried to take two modalities-sight and touch-and systematically dissociate the information with those two senses, using virtual information to do this," Blanke said in a telephone interview. "It is a mismatch between the two senses."This type of experiment could help to shed light on philosophical questions surrounding the sense of self, and could also lead to more practical applications in video games or remote surgery, the researchers said.This could involve providing tactile information to a surgeon who is using video to control robot arms in a remote operating theatre, said Ehrsson, now at Sweden's Karolinska Institute."In the best case it would be the whole self transported to the operating theatre," he said. "This experiment will help to improve things like that."

As in the days of Noah....

Death toll mounts as floods, heat wave batter US

Three people at a bus stop were electrocuted in a lightning strike as the death toll mounted Thursday from storms, floods and a smothering heat wave battering the central United States.
Mudslides and murky floodwaters hampered recovery efforts in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin where at least 23 people were killed after a week of heavy rains that prompted dramatic roof-top rescues.Meanwhile, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama continued to wither under a record-breaking heat wave blamed for the death of at least 25 people. Recovery workers in Oklahoma were searching Thursday for the body of a high school student who was sucked into floodwaters while running with his cross country team.Six other people were confirmed dead in the state after the remnants of tropical storm Erin dumped heavy rain there and triggered flooding over the weekend that continued to wreak havoc on the state.It was the third major flood the state has faced this summer and the deadliest so far because of the intensity of the storm, said Michaelann Otten, a spokeswoman for the department of Emergency Management."What made this one so amazingly intense is we had an eye of a hurricane form over our state," she told AFP. "We haven't seen it flood so fast and so high in recent memory."An initial survey of three counties found 42 homes destroyed and 451 badly damaged. Damage in 21 other counties has not yet been assessed because roads are still impassable, she said.Three people were killed in Madison, Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon when lightening struck a utility pole and knocked a live wire into a deep puddle at a bus stop, police said.A woman and her toddler were electrocuted as was a man who jumped off a bus to try to help them. The bus driver was also shocked when he tried to help but was knocked back into the bus and survived, police said in a statement.The Ohio river breached its banks after days of heavy rains and swamped cities and towns across the state. A 74-year-old man died after floodwaters knocked over a gasoline can and the pilot light of a nearby water heater set the gas ablaze, the Mansfield News-Journal reported.Texas was spared the brunt of hurricane Dean's wrath but was still cleaning up from the damage wrought by tropical storm Erin and months of endless rain which caused six deaths last week.This brought the state's flash-flood deaths to 40 so far this year, tying the record set in 1989, said Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service."We've had persistent, ongoing, relentless precipitation pretty much all year," Murphy told AFP."It's our wettest year on record so far... dating back to 1895."Meanwhile, a crippling heat wave brought death and drought to the south eastern states of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.Thirteen deaths were reported in Memphis, Tennessee and a dozen were reported in Alabama, officials said."These are a hundred year-plus records that are being shattered," Murphy said.One such record was in Athens, Georgia which has had 13 days this month with temperatures at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to an average of one day a year in August."That's a tremendous climatologically extreme event," Murphy said.Birmingham, Alabama broke records with 10 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), up from the previous record of eight days in the deadly heat wave of 1980.Drought conditions are so severe that the town of Franklin has begun shutting off water service to homes which violate water restrictions and is considering banning restaurants from serving water to customers who don't specifically ask for it, the Tennessean newspaper reported.Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has made emergency funds available to buy air conditioners and fans for low-income residents.
As in the days of Noah...

Hispanic Churches Add English Services

CHICAGO-On Sundays at La Casa del Carpintero, or the Carpenter's House, they've raised twin yellow banners for churchgoers that read "Welcome" and "Bienvenidos."As a complement to the regular 11:30 a.m. Spanish service at the independent Pentecostal church, where they've worshipped Papi for years, there's now a 9:30 a.m. English one where the faithful praise God the Father.While churches from every imaginable tradition have been adding Spanish services to meet the needs of new immigrants, an increasing number of Hispanic ethnic congregations are going the other way—starting English services.It's an effort to meet the demands of second- and third-generation Hispanics, keep families together and reach non-Latinos.In some cases, the greater English emphasis has contributed to a growing phenomenon: evangelical Protestant megachurches drawing crowds in the thousands that aren't white and suburban, but Hispanic and anchored in the inner city.Hispanic churches are part of the United States' long tradition of religious congregations bonded by common ethnicity or language. While Italian and Irish Catholic parishes and other examples have largely faded from view, Hispanic churches are poised to endure thanks to high birth rates, close proximity to Latin America and the sheer numbers of people seeking a better life here."The precedent churches are setting by preserving the Spanish language while breaking down ethnic differences and encouraging the use of English is really at the vanguard of where the United States is heading," said Anthony Stevens-Arroyo, a Brooklyn College professor emeritus and co-author of "Recognizing the Latino Resurgence in American Religion.""The definition of the United States as a great white Protestant nation is really up for grabs, and churches are doing an excellent job of preserving people's identity and at the same time helping them function in contemporary society."The glue—the thing that allows churches like the Carpenter's House to flourish as a multiethnic mosaic of Mexicans, Hondurans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Colombians—has been the Spanish language. Yet as the children of immigrants grow up, churches are recognizing that it's either bolster Spanish with English or give up on the future.A survey earlier this year by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 77 percent of first-generation, churchgoing Hispanics in the United States choose churches with Hispanic clergy, Spanish- language services and a mostly Hispanic congregation. But as Hispanics become more established in this country, the hold loosens: 53 percent of second-generation Latinos attend ethnic congregations, while the numbers drop to 42 percent for the third generation and higher.The Carpenter's House sits in a red-brick building just off a busy intersection in Humboldt Park, a northside Chicago neighborhood that is predominantly Hispanic but gentrifying.The Rev. Isaias Mercado, the son of Puerto Rican musicians, grew up in the neighborhood and founded the church four years ago in a Boys and Girls Club as a place of worship primarily in Spanish. Raised in Pentecostal churches, he began counseling at a methadone clinic and earned a master's in divinity and a doctorate in ministry from Chicago's McCormick Theological Seminary, part of the Presbyterian Church (USA).Church members proudly call their pastor "Dr. Mercado." To them, his credentials speak to the church's emphasis on self-improvement, evidence that anyone can "go to a different level," as Mercado says, with faith and hard work.Mercado, 40, added an English service three months ago, hoping the church will become not only multicultural but multiracial, drawing blacks and whites from the neighborhood.He also said he was listening to market forces—the people wanted it."It speaks to the fact that there is this Latino culture that is already having deep roots in North America," he said.Walter Rubio was born and raised in Guatemala and moved to the United States when he was 12, in awe of bologna and Doritos. Now raising his own family, Rubio attends English services at the Carpenter's House."It's simple," said the 35-year-old construction worker. "My son and my daughter, they lean more toward English. If they understand it better, they get a better blessing."Mercado acknowledges one risk to separate services in English and Spanish: a house divided. To keep the communities from splintering, he holds a joint bilingual service every three months.Some second- and third-generation Latinos prefer Spanish as their language of worship. When a group of young adults lingered after the Spanish service at the Carpenter's House, their small talk was in English, not Spanish."We grew up going to Spanish services," said Abdiel Quiles, 28. "It just feels like home."About 70 people attend the English service, while more than 200 fill the church for the Spanish one.There was one vivid contrast in the services: fervency. Unlike the relatively low-key English service, the Spanish worship ended with people crowded in the front, lifting their hands up high, reaching for tissue boxes as Mercado pressed his hands to foreheads and shouted prayers into a microphone.Regardless of language, Mercado said later, "We need to keep that Latin way of worship, that enthusiasm."Just a few blocks away, in leased space at Roberto Clemente High School, another predominantly Latino Pentecostal church that started small entered the megachurch ranks after switching to English as its dominant language.The change at New Life Covenant church was instigated by the Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus, who inherited the pulpit from his father-in-law and is more comfortable preaching in English, said administrative associate pastor Rico Altiery.A decade after attendance hit a plateau at 150, the Assemblies of God church with outreach to drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members draws 4,000 per week to four services—three in English and one in Spanish, Altiery said."The numbers don't lie," he said. "Since we changed to predominantly English, the church has blown up. But we also have to keep perspective.It's one factor, but I think it has to do more with what we do as a church."

As in the days of Noah....

Dreamy Lunar Eclipse

Close your eyes, breathe deeply, let your mind wander to a distant seashore: It's late in the day, and the western sun is sinking into the glittering waves. At your feet, damp sand reflects the twilight, while overhead, the deep blue sky fades into a cloudy mélange of sunset copper and gold, so vivid it almost takes your breath away.A breeze touches the back of your neck, and you turn to see a pale full Moon rising into the night. Hmmm. The Moon could use a dash more color. You reach out, grab a handful of sunset, and drape the Moon with phantasmic light. Much better.Too bad it's only a dream...Early Tuesday morning, August 28th, the dream will come true. There's going to be a colorful lunar eclipse visible from five continents including most of North America: map.The event begins 54 minutes past midnight PDT (0754 UT) on August 28th when the Moon enters Earth's shadow. At first, there's little change. The outskirts of Earth's shadow are as pale as the Moon itself; an onlooker might not even realize anything is happening. But as the Moon penetrates deeper, a startling metamorphosis occurs. Around 2:52 am PDT (0952 UT), the color of the Moon changes from moondust-gray to sunset-red. This is totality, and it lasts for 90 minutes.To understand why the change occurs, close your eyes and dream yourself all the way to the Moon. Once again, you're standing on a seashore—the Sea of Tranquillity. There's no water. You're surrounded by hundreds of miles of dusty, hardened lava. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the Sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.With the Sun blocked, you might expect utter darkness, but no, the ground at your feet is aglow. Why? Look back up at Earth. The rim of the planet seems to be on fire. Around Earth's circumference you see every sunrise and sunset in the world—all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, transforming the Moon into a landscape of copper moondust and golden hills.Wake up! This is really going to happen, and some planning is necessary. Start times of totality are listed in the table below. Set your alarm an hour or so in advance to gather snacks and dress warmly. (Even in August, four o'clock in the morning can be chilly.) Waking up early also allows you to catch some of the partial eclipse before totality.The eclipse will be visible from Australia, Japan, parts of Asia and most of the Americas, but not from Africa or Europe. Pacific observers are favored. On the west coast of the United States, the entire eclipse will unfold high in the post-midnight sky. On the east coast, totality will be truncated by sunrise. That's okay; even a little eclipse can be a dream.

As in the days of Noah...

Major Syrian Missile Deployment Nearly Complete

Jerusalem-Syria has almost completed a massive deployment of missiles capable of carrying non-conventional warheads as far as the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, Israel's Army Radio reported on Monday.Military officials say the deployment has enabled Syria to hit strategic installations and civilian population centers throughout northern and central Israel with a barrage of hundreds of missiles within one hour of commencing hostilities.The huge arsenal, most of it supplied by Iran, includes upgraded Scud-D missiles that can deliver payloads of over 1,000 pounds of explosive power, enough to damage entire city blocks in the densely populated Israeli coastal plain.Despite the mounting threat, Defense Minister Ehud Barak insisted he will not order the mass distribution of updated gas masks and emergency medical kits to Israeli families, the radio reported.Barak said such a move could be interpreted by Damascus as preparations for war on Israel's part and further exacerbate the situation.Israeli lawmaker Yuval Steinitz (Likud), chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee on Home Front Preparedness, responded by slamming Barak for repeating the follies of past defense ministers."The decision not to hand out masks so as not to upset the Syrians reminds me of Moshe Dayan's unfortunate decision not to call up the reserves so as not to upset the Syrians and the Egyptians on the eve of the Yom Kippur War," said Steinitz in remarks carried by The Jerusalem Post.The widely respected Steinitz continued by warning Barak that he will face a commission of inquiry far more severe than the one investigating Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's handling of last summer's war in Lebanon if he fails to adequately defend Israel against such a dire threat.In comments emailed to Cybercast News Service, Professor Steven Plaut of Haifa University said he "can't see Syria really starting trouble" as it did in 1973, but he did concede that Syria could try to spark a conflict through its Hizballah proxy in Lebanon.Reports of Hizballah land purchases indicate that just such a scenario may be in the works. The powerful terrorist organization is rapidly buying up land north of the Litani River and using the territory to regroup and retrain its military forces, according to Britain's Sunday Telegraph.Because the land is privately owned, the thousands of United Nations peacekeepers deployed in Lebanon are unable to monitor what Hizballah is doing there. Most of the sellers are Christian and Druze, which for Hizballah carries the added benefit of removing potential allies for Israel from the area."Christians and Druze are selling their land and fleeing. The Shiites are coming. There is a drastic demographic change," a former Christian Lebanese parliamentarian told the newspaper.Military analysts and army officials in Israel have been warning for months that Syria could initiate low-level against Israel, either directly or via Hizballah, with the aim of justifying a major missile strike when Israel retaliates against the initial assault as expected.The regime in Damascus is said to have learned many lessons from Hizballah's conflict with Israel last year, including that it would not need to actually win a war with the Jewish state, but merely cause enough damage to force a renewal of negotiations over control of the strategic Golan Heights.Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 Six Day War, after Syria had used it for the previous 19 years as a launch pad for almost daily minor attacks on northern Israel, as well as two full-scale invasions. Syria has demanded Israel's full withdrawal from the plateau in exchange for a peace agreement ever since, and has on more than one occasion threatened violence if those conditions are not met.

SIGN of the TIMES:Boy, 11, forces school lockdown

SCORES of children were locked in their primary school for their own safety after threats allegedly made by an expelled 11-year-old boy.Acting principal Kathy Wesolowski kept students in their classrooms after school on Monday until police arrived. Teachers believed students' safety was threatened when Adam, his brother and a friend went to the school on Monday. Police made sure the three left the area around Whittington Primary School, near Geelong, before parents were allowed to collect their children. Yesterday Adam, 11, boasted to the Herald Sun that he caused the lockdown. "I came to pick up my sister, and they rang the dirty f---ing cops on us," he said. "It's crap, all the teachers are weak. I bash them all." Adam, who lives close to the school, was riding his bike in adjacent parkland with friends just before home-time. Ms Wesolowski defended Monday's lockdown. "I acted properly and appropriately at the time in the interest of student safety," she said. "We dealt with the situation as we thought appropriate, and we just kept children in their classroom as a precaution and just to ensure student safety. "When the police arrived we dismissed the children." Whittington Primary has a 2m steel picket fence surrounding the entire property. All gates were chained and padlocked during school time yesterday, giving it the appearance of a fortress rather than a neat and tidy school. Adam's mother, Kelly, defended her son. She said Adam had refused to attend another school since he was expelled from Whittington last year. "His two sisters and two brothers still go to that school, and yesterday his brother Brandon came home at lunch time, petrified because people had threatened to bash him," she said. "There's kids at that school abusing me, calling me a junkie and a whore, and the teachers don't do nothing to them. "He's not a bad kid. He's got a learning disorder and when he gets excited he just goes off." Another mum, Vicki Fairfield, decided to collect her son Joshua yesterday rather than let him ride his bike home as usual. She said Whittington Primary was a good school, but suffered from not having a male teacher. "The kids don't get the benefit of a male role model," she said. "Josh normally rides his bike home home, but now I'm worried for his safety." Ms Fairfield said the school couldn't take out a restraining order forcing the children to stay away from the school.

As in the days of Noah...

Courts Block Attempts to Regulate Violent Video Games

Experts say government can regulate what is deemed harmful to kids.Attempts by state lawmakers to regulate violent video games are being blocked in federal courts across the country.Judges in eight states have stopped legislation meant to protect kids in the battle between First Amendment rights and child safety.California is appealing a ruling by a federal judge who said it was unconstitutional to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, told Family News in Focus a lack of understanding among judges is harming our children."It’s usually some 70-year-old federal judge who’s never played Pong in his life," he said, "who makes the decision on these games.”If an Oklahoma judge has his way, that state will be the ninth to block video-game restrictions. Daniel Weiss, senior analyst of media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action, said it appears judges are the only people who aren’t aware of how dangerous the games can be. “The research has already shown that this kind of content is harmful to children," he said. “It really makes a lot of sense that we would try to keep this content out of the hands and away from the eyes of children.”Research shows the adverse effects of games such as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto. It includes decreased brain activity, an inability to understand complex issues and violent behavior. Weiss pointed out that government has the power to regulate what it deems harmful, such as setting age limits on alcohol and tobacco.“Judges are very concerned about protecting the First Amendment, which we all agree is very important," he said, "but they don’t adequately consider the harm of these games to children."

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UN to Israel:Open Your Borders

Hamas has set up a totalitarian Islamist government in Gaza, building stocks of weaponry and ammunition and preparing for war with Israel. Poisonous propaganda floods the airwaves of their Al Aqsa TV channel. Their goal of destroying the state of Israel has not changed. In the past two months, Hamas and their cronies from other terror gangs have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, trying to commit random murder and sow fear in the cities near the Gaza border.And the people of Gaza voted overwhelmingly to put the genocidal terrorist group in office.So naturally, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East, Michael Williams, wants Israel to open the Gaza border.Without a hint of awareness that opening the border would inevitably lead to attacks inside Israel by Palestinian terrorists. They’re reduced to using mortars and rockets only because they aren’t able to deploy the suicide bombers.
JERUSALEM - Israel must provide more freedom of movement in the West Bank and open crossings into Gaza to avoid driving even more Palestinians into poverty after Hamas seized the coastal strip two months ago, the United Nations Mideast envoy said Wednesday. Israel’s decision to shut Gaza’s borders to all but humanitarian aid in the wake of Hamas’ takeover is threatening an already badly damaged economy-and “this shows every sign of getting worse,” Michael Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press and two other media outlets. “We do not see how that can be changed short of opening additional crossing points, particularly Karni,” Williams said, referring to Gaza’s main cargo crossing with Israel.Earlier this month, the U.N. warned that Gaza soon will become entirely dependent on foreign aid and face “disastrous consequences” if the Hamas-run territory remains sealed off. A Palestinian business group warned that at least 120,000 more Gazans could lose their jobs. ...Williams praised Israel’s recent release of Palestinian prisoners and transfer of millions of dollars in frozen tax funds to Abbas’ government. But Williams said he is “concerned that we haven’t seen further steps,” and urged Israel to release more prisoners and dismantle illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank.“An elementary constituent of economic development is freedom of movement, and to a very considerable extent that does not exist in the West Bank,” he said.

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WITCHCRAFT WATCH:Raccoon Parts Left on Doorsteps in Salem

SALEM,Mass.-A self-proclaimed high priestess of Salem witches and a second person were accused of tossing raccoon parts on the doorsteps of businesses, allegedly as part of a Wiccan community feud.Sharon Graham, 46, and a fellow Wiccan, Frederick Purtz, 22, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of littering and malicious destruction of property. Graham also was charged with intimidating a witness.They were accused of putting a racoon head and entrails on the doorsteps of Angelica of the Angels and the Goddess' Treasure Chest in May.The historic seaport, famous for holding witch trials in the 17th century, has an active Wiccan community and thriving witch-related tourism.Lawyers for Graham and Purtz said the charges were "sensationalized" and argued that the malicious destruction charge wasn't valid because the storefronts weren't permanently damaged.A witness, Richard Watson,told police he accompanied Graham, Purtz and other people when they put the raccoon remains on the doorsteps. He said Graham hoped to frame a Wiccan businessman who had fired Graham from a psychic telephone business last spring.Watson also said Graham had a disagreement with the owners of the two targeted businesses over proposed regulations that would limit the number of psychics who come to the city during the Halloween season. He said he was told the group had found the raccoon dead.David Gavegnano, a lawyer for Graham, and Sean Wynne, a lawyer for Purtz, did not immediately return calls Thursday seeking further comment.Wynne told The Boston Herald said there were likely "internal issues within the Wiccan community," but the tossing of raccoon entrails may be a "bastardization" of Wiccan practice because the religion doesn't condone harming others.
As in the days of Noah...

SIGN of the TIMES:Proposed amendment would pull up sagging pants in Atlanta

Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws.The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country."Little children see it and want to adopt it, thinking it's the in thing," Martin said Wednesday. "I don't want young people thinking that half-dressing is the way to go. I want them to think about their future."The proposed ordinance would also bar women from showing the strap of a thong beneath their pants. They would also be prohibited from wearing jogging bras in public or show a bra strap, said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals.The penalty would be a fine in an amount to be determined, Martin said.But Seagraves said any legislation that creates a dress code would not survive a court challenge. She said the law could not be enforced in a nondiscriminatory way because it targets something that came out of the black youth culture."This is a racial profiling bill that promotes and establishes a framework for an additional type of racial profiling," Seagraves said.Martin, who is black, said he plans to hold public hearings and vet the proposal through churches, civil rights groups and neighborhood organizations. The proposal will get its first public airing next Tuesday in the City Council's Public Safety Committee."The purpose of the paper is to generate some conversation to see if we can find a solution," Martin said. "It will be like all the discussions we've had around the value of the hip-hop culture. We know there are First Amendment issues ... and some will say I'm just trying to put young black men in jail, but it's going to be fines."Makeda Johnson, an Atlanta mother of a 14-year-old girl, said she is glad Martin introduced the proposal. She does not want to see a law against clothing, but said she thinks teenagers are sending a message with a way of dressing that is based in jailhouse behavior.Atlanta would not be the first city to take on sagging pants.Earlier this year, the town council in Delcambre, La., passed an ordinance that carries a fine of up to $500 or six months in jail for exposing underwear in public. Several other municipalities and parish governments in Louisiana have enacted similar laws in recent months.

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