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

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Islam, The Solution..!? (Part II) The Bin Laden Video

It looks like Bin Laden didn't read my last post about Islam being the solution so I will repeat the question to him.First of all what form of Islam are you inviting America to endorse? If it's Sunni Islam then do you reccomend the Hanafi, Shafi'i or Salafi doctrine? And if it's Shi Islam, which hierarchy would you recommend? The Iranianone of Khamenai, the Iraqi with its four great Ayatollahs, or the Lebanese represented by Hussein Fadhlallah? Or maybe sheik Bin Laden is going to graciously leave America to choose its new faith freely!?Second, Bin Laden didn't specify how this endorsement of Islam would be enforced; should it be by an executive order from the Bush administration, a legislation from the Democratic Congress, or would it be up to the American people to answer Bin Laden's call, voluntarily?The sheik had better leave people to choose their faith as they please but of course this isn't part of the ideology of dark intolerance that sees an enemy in anyone who doesn't endorse his exact same path.This extremist path declared democracy an enemy and here although Bin Laden was referring to the Iraqi experiment he certainly doesn't limit this animosity to this case alone. I don't think he likes other democracies and that's why arguing that it was America that provoked al-Qaeda to interfere in Iraq, or that al-Qaeda didn't exist in Iraq under Saddam, is a stupid thing to say.The man clearly says that he despices democracy as well as those who believe in it whether in Iraq or elsewhere. Now if he has the right to invite others to Islam then it should be equally our right to invite others to democracy. Except only if we admit that democracy is a sinful path and that Bin Laden is right, then America and the world should retreat from Iraq, abandon the mission to support the fledgling democracy over there and sit back and wait for other democracies to have their turn on Bin Laden's death menu.America didn't bring al-Qaeda to Iraq, it's democracy in Iraq that made the extremists panic—their greatest fear is that if the once capital of the Islamic empire fell in the lap of democracy, what would "protect" other parts of the "land of Islam" from "falling" too!?The conflict is not about Bin Laden and America; it's an ideological conflict in which there are people and regimes across the world that support one side or another, meaning that the conflict was inevitable even if America hadn't taken part. Otherwise the region would have been living in peace and prosperity now!In fact, and I think many people agree with me, the American-led intervention was defensive rather than offensive when Bin Laden's ideology jumped to strike the towers in New York. At that point it became evident that such an ideology, in the presence of regimes that support it, could threaten any spot on the map with no exception from Bali to Madrid—and although the victims of this ideology have been mostly from the middle east, this could well change in the future if the extremist manage to take over the region.We shouldn’t think that such crazy messages could come only from a Salafi extremist like Bin Laden; because it actually reminds me of a similar call from Khomeini to the leaders in Moscow to convert to Islam shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The late Ayatollah also said that Islam was the solution, so the point we should realize here is that this way of thinking is not an aspect of one particular sect as much as its part of the totalitarian ideology of Islamists that is deeply rooted in the minds of those, from one sect or another, who want to revive the Caliph rule.Like we said in the previous post, regimes that follow this ideology, be it the Sunni Taliban or the Shia Mullahs, have failed to offer a civilized model of life so they chose instead to beautify and sell the idea of death under the old slogan of "Our dead are in heaven and your dead are in hell".It's even more interesting in a way that this call for converting to Islam is a big fantasy since Bin Laden and the like know very well than America or other countries in the west would never impose a certain faith on their people. This message marks a deep trouble in the way extremists think; they live in illusions with complete disregard for facts, which is a very dangerous phenomenon when it's at this magnitude. And it leaves no room to doubt that they would do anything to drag the region, and the world, to an uncalculated confrontation.It is evident from the naivety of the message that logic is completely missing in their ideology which means that dialogue with those people would be equally nonsense.

As in the days of Noah...

Afghan parliament demands apology for football 'insult'

Afghanistan's parliament demanded Saturday that US-led forces apologise for distributing footballs that carried Koranic verses and have been labelled insulting to Islam.The US-led military coalition late last month dropped toys, including soccer balls, into the eastern province of Khost as part of a goodwill gesture aimed at winning over support from the local population.
The balls showed the flags of several nations, including the Saudi standard, which bears the verses."The people's representatives want them (US-led forces) to formally apologise out of respect for public opinion and sentiment,"the conservative parliament said in a statement that was voted for by most MPs."We, representing the people of Afghanistan, want our friendly forces to respect the culture and tradition of people in their activities."About 100 people demonstrated after the balls were dropped into Khost by helicopters, saying they were an insult to their religion.The US-led coalition expressed regret for causing unhappiness.Deeply Islamic Afghanistan is sensitive to slights on Islam. Last year there were days of sometimes deadly protests about cartoons printed in Europe that were deemed to insult the Prophet Mohammed.
As in the days of Noah...

Qaeda N. Africa wing claims Algeria attacks: Jazeera

DELLYS, Algeria-Al Qaeda's north Africa wing said it was behind two suicide attacks that killed at least 50 people in Algeria in the past two days, Al Jazeera television said on Saturday.It said al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb said in an Internet statement it was behind Saturday's suicide truck bombing at a coastguards barracks east of Algiers and an attack in the town of Batna less than 48 hours earlier.The television station gave no further details.The suicide truck bomb destroyed the coastguards barracks in Algeria on Saturday, killing 30 people, the authorities said.The blast in the port of Dellys 100 km (62 miles) east of Algiers followed the suicide bombing in Batna that killed 20 people in an attack seen by the government as a bid to wreck efforts to end 15 years of political violence."I heard a big blast at about 8 this morning and I found out that it targeted the port of the city," said resident Saeed Hamdaoui, 28. "Then we heard ambulances."The interior ministry said the blast was carried out by two attackers who killed themselves in the attack. It was not immediately clear if they were included in the death toll of 30 published by the ministry. It said 47 people were wounded..
To read more go to:

As in the days of Noah...

Gabrielle Becomes a Tropical Storm

NAGS HEAD,N.C.-Gabrielle became a tropical storm Saturday as it swirled toward North Carolina's Outer Banks, where residents and beach vacationers prepared for rain and the possibility of minor flooding."It's going to get a little gnarly," said 51-year-old Sharon Peele Kennedy, a lifetime resident of the Outer Banks who works at the Hatteras Harbor Marina in Hatteras, N.C."We're securing, but not too fast,"she said."There's no evacuation issue at all. This is just a little breeze."The National Hurricane Center forecast called for Gabrielle to brush the Outer Banks on Sunday afternoon before curving back out into the Atlantic.Forecasters don't expect the storm to become a hurricane.At 5 p.m. Saturday, Gabrielle's top sustained winds had dropped to about 40 mph, and was centered about 185 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, N.C., moving northwest about 8 mph. The storm was expected to strengthen in the next 24 hours, with rain from the system reaching the coastline by Saturday night. The center was forecast to approach land by Sunday afternoon.Forecasters discontinued a tropical storm watch from Surf City south to Cape Fear.But an alert remained in force for the North Carolina coastline north of Surf City through the Outer Banks and to the Virginia border."It's not expected to get too strong. There are a lot of negative factors working against it—a lot of dry air aloft," said James Wingenroth, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Morehead City, N.C. "It's just not looking at this point that it's going to be anything more than a strong tropical storm."Officials urged residents and visitors to the Outer Banks, a popular beach vacation spot, to get ready for the storm by securing loose items outside their homes and to remain indoors as the storm blows through. The National Park Service closed all campgrounds on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.The weather service warned that storm surge flooding of up to 3 feet was possible as the storm passed by, with 1 to 3 inches of rain in most coastal areas and up to 5 inches in isolated spots."The greatest danger will be flooding in low lying areas and on roads, such as Highway 12 on the Outer Banks," said North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. "The most deaths during tropical storms occur when people drive into flood waters and drown. Rip currents will be strong in the ocean. The safest place to be will be indoors."Gabrielle formed along an old frontal boundary that stalled about midway between the Southeast coast and Bermuda, drawing the attention of coastal residents for the past few days. It finally spun into a storm late Friday evening.Gabrielle had formed as a subtropical storm, which is a hybrid system and typically weaker than hurricanes. They share the characteristics of tropical storms, which get their power from the warm ocean, as well as storms that form when warm and cold fronts collide.The rain will be welcome in the parched Carolinas. Of North Carolina's 100 counties, seven are in exceptional drought, 66 are in extreme drought, 20 are in severe drought and seven are in moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.Easley asked Friday that all of the state's local governments to immediately enact voluntary or mandatory water restrictions.
As in the days of Noah...

Floods leave 100 000 homeless

Kampala - Uganda appealed on Friday for relief aid for more than 100 000 people left homeless by floods which have nearly cut off five districts in the north-eastern region of the country.Authorities are desperately trying to move the homeless, who are crammed in schools, hospitals and government installations, to higher grounds as diseases such malaria and diarrhoea spread among the displaced, mostly children, government officials told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.The floods amid heavy rains have submerged the homes, fields and roads, cutting some districts off completely.Although the estimated number of people displaced is 100 000, the number is far higher, the state minister for relief and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru told dpa by telephone.The Ugandan government is appealing for urgent assistance in the form of food, tarpaulins, blankets, medicine and mosquito nets, the minister said.The floods have been caused by persistent and heavy rains in the generally flat region since the middle of the year and the most affected districts include Soroti, Katakwi, Amuria, Kumi and Bukedeya.United Nations agencies and other charities started to provide help in the region in August when the floods began swelling, flushing about 50 000 people from their homes.Now the Ugandan government says there is no cash nor material to handle the tens of thousands of more people whose homes have been flooded and are at risk of water-borne diseases.

As in the days of Noah...

Russian scientists discover radiation- absorbing mineral

Russian scientists in the Khibinsky Mountains in the Arctic Circle have made an important scientific discovery. They've found a new mineral which absorbs radiation.It does not yet have an official name and is known only as number 27-4. It can absorb radioactivity from liquid nuclear waste. "It can extract radioactive substances from any water-based solution and so has a very important practical significance," said Yakov Pakhomovsky, the head of the Kolsky Research Institute.After coming into contact with the mineral, radioactive water becomes completely safe. Had this mineral been available to physicists after the Chernobyl or Three Mile Island disasters, the consequences might have been very different, as both accidents resulted in contamination from radioactive water. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. Scientists say they need tonnes of it and so far they have only discovered a few grammes. But they are confident that they can chemically reproduce it on a much larger scale. "We need to learn its properties and so that chemists can reproduce it on an unlimited scale," said Grigory Ivanyuk, from the Kolsky Research Institute. Every year ten new minerals are discovered in the Arctic Circle, and one third of all worldwide mineral discoveries are on the Kolsky Peninsula. The latest find may prove to be extremely significant for the nuclear industry.

As in the days of Noah...

Oregon coast awash with dead sharks

NEWPORT,Ore.-A number of young sharks are washing up dead on Oregon's beaches this summer but researchers are unsure why.The dead-shark reports started in mid-August, said Bill Hanshumaker, public marine education specialist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
"I've had more reports this summer than I've had since 1993," Hanshumaker told The (Portland) Oregonian.But researchers have more questions than answers.One theory is that warmer water this summer lured tuna and other baitfish closer to shore, and the sharks followed. When the sharks die farther offshore, their remains are usually consumed. But when they die close in, they are more likely to wash up.There have been reports from California of dead sharks testing positive for encephalitis, which can be caused by viral, bacterial or protozoan infections, said Jim Burke, director of animal husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.Two salmon shark carcasses washed ashore this week, said Keith Chandler, general manager of the Seaside Aquarium, bringing the count there to seven. Two soupfin sharks also were found in the area.The sharks are usually reported as baby great whites but almost always turn out to be young salmon sharks, which have a similar body but not serrated teeth.Also, a whale believed to be a humpback that had been dead for weeks washed up on Del Rey Beach north of Gearhart, Ore., this week."It's much too early to speculate,"Burke said. "Salmon sharks give live birth right along the coastal area so we often see newborn juvenile sharks wash up.This year there definitely have been quite a few more than usual. It's hard to tell if there have been more born or if there is something gone wrong. "

As in the days of Noah...

SIGN of the TIMES:Cops:Mom Warned About Leaving Kid in Car

A woman whose 2-year-old daughter died in an overheated car last month had left the girl unattended before and had been warned about the danger that created, according to a police report.Brenda Nesselroad-Slaby had been told by a former administrator at her 5-year-old daughter's preschool that the younger sister shouldn't be left in the car by herself, the Union Township police report said. A parent had complained about seeing the toddler left in a car during the winter. The former administrator told police that the event prompted the school to warn parents in its newsletter that no child should be left in a car unattended.The Clermont County prosecutor said Tuesday that no charges would be filed against Nesselroad-Slaby, 40, in the Aug. 23 death of her daughter, Cecilia.The woman forgot she left the toddler strapped in a car seat when she went to work as an assistant principal at Glen Este Middle School, about 20 miles east of Cincinnati, authorities said. The child's body was discovered more than seven hours later, after outside temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees.Nesselroad-Slaby lives in Hamilton County, where the Department of Job and Family Services is investigating to determine whether Cecilia's sister might be at risk.Agency spokesman Brian Gregg confirmed agency workers have met with the family but he would not say more, citing confidentiality laws.
The Hamilton County agency was alerted on Aug. 28 by Clermont County Children's Protective Services, Gregg said.
PS:How can this happen I don't know....Yes,you can forget your child IF for example you have some type of brain injury...Even my mom-with a growing brain tumor-remembered my birthday and tried to fix me a cake to celebrate the ocassion,bright before she passed away...Even though sometimes she couldn't talk she knew me and tried to take care of me till the end...
What is going on in America...???Well I think more and more women have their priorities all messed up,and many don't really want to have children,don;t really want to "mother" and raise their children.Carreers and feeling good about yourself have become number one.None of them are wrong.It is wrong when women want to do a zillion things while they have babies at home to take care for...Yes,I know...probably she needs the money and all that...I knwo many women that really need the money and have made better choices to try to stick around their kids while they are growing up.
This woman had been warned before.She should go to jail,and her children removed from her and placed with somebody that really cares...
A sad sign of our times....

As in the days of Noah...

Israeli Doctor Exposes Nazi Abortion Program:Reveals Chilling Parallels with the Ideas of Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger

An Israeli doctor has recently published an account of the Nazi use of abortion, euthanasia, and sterilization to eliminate groups they deemed "inferior stock", especially Jewish and Slavic people.Dr. Tessa Chelouche writes that "Abortion was used as a weapon of mass destruction in Eastern Europe," where "it has been estimated that tens of thousands of Polish and Russian women were compelled to abort not because of health reasons, but because of Nazi dogma." She goes on to quote Hitler's 1942 policy statement on the application of abortion to Slavic people, which is chillingly similar to modern Planned Parenthood propaganda:"In view of the large families of the Slav native population, it could only suit us if girls and women there had as many abortions as possible. We are not interested in seeing the non-German population multiply…We must use every means to install in the population the idea that it is harmful to have several children, the expenses that they cause and the dangerous effect on woman's health… It will be necessary to open special institutions for abortions and doctors must be able to help out there in case there is any question of this being a breach of their professional ethics." Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, expressed a similar objective about eliminating US colored people in a letter she wrote only months after Hitler's invasion of Poland: "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." Today, Planned Parenthood and other international promoters of abortion, sterilization, and contraception, often claim that the availability of such services is a "health issue" and is necessary to fight poverty, echoing Hitler's slogans.The article, "Doctors, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Abortion during the Third Reich," which appeared in the March issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal, shows that Hitler facilitated and promoted abortion and sterilization for "inferior genetic stock" while simultaneously practicing "positive eugenics" by prohibiting most abortions and sterilizations of "Aryan" German women. This practice reflected the same reasoning behind Margaret Sanger's famous slogan "more from the fit, less from the unfit".In 1942 and 1943, the Nazis implemented mandatory abortion programs in some ghettos. "The punishment for giving birth and for delivering the infant was death for the whole family and for the Jewish doctor or midwife," writes Chelouche. In the concentration camps, however, "pregnant women were usually sent to their immediate deaths upon arrival just because they were pregnant."Chelouche's also notes that the German sterilization program led easily to a program of mass murder of unwanted groups. "During the five and a half years preceding the outbreak of the Second World War, about 320,000 German persons with 'lives unworthy of life' were sterilized under the terms of the sterilization law," she writes. "The victims of this sterilization program were asylum inmates, ethnic majorities, servants, prostitutes, unmarried mothers, unskilled workers and others. This sterilization campaign was a direct prelude to mass murder: the prohibition against bearing 'unworthy children' was expanded into the 'euthanasia' programs, beginning with the murder of some 5000 children, and then into the infamous T4 'euthanasia' program in which some 350,000 German adults were killed under the disguise of euthanasia." Chelouche concludes with a profound question: "Who can confront the Holocaust and not be put on alert to evaluate scientific paradigms and the implications for public policy that flow from them, so that what we, as medical professionals and as human beings, want and identify as good, will be for the sake of respecting and saving human life? They too asked and answered the question: who shall live and who shall die? Then and now the subject at hand is killing, letting die, helping to die, and using the dead. Then and now the goal is to produce healthier human beings." Dr. Tessa Chelouche is a physician with Clalit Health Services, in the Shomron District in Israel, and is affiliated with the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel.
Read the Full Article Online:Doctors, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Abortion during the Third Reich.

As in the days of Noah...

SIGN of the TIMES:Drug-alcohol test kits offered to Jeannette parents

Jeannette's police department is the first in Pennsylvania to offer parents a Michigan company's urine and saliva tests to check their children at home for drug or alcohol use."The parents can come into a location and purchase drug testing kits at a reasonable price," said Jeannette police Chief Jeff Stahl. "We're not looking for arrests, we're just trying to give the parents another tool to protect their kids."The drug test costs $12 and the alcohol kit is $3. A $4 nicotine test may be stocked in the future.A simple urine test, which takes three to eight minutes, can indicate traces of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Stahl said the tests have an accuracy rate of 98 percent. The tests for alcohol and nicotine are based on a saliva swab. The test kits were developed by TDS Inc., of Livonia, Mich., which has clients in 17 states. This is the company's first foray into Pennsylvania."If you get them early and they don't do drugs, they're probably going to be drug-free and alcohol-free; at least they'll avoid addiction," said Dave Prichard, president of TDS. "This gives parents the ability in the privacy and safety of their own home to test kids if they felt there was a need."The police department will have no part in the administration or enforcement of the tests, which will be sold on condition of anonymity."We're making it available to the parents that feel they need it," Stahl said."They see a problem with their child and they don't want to make it known to the public. They don't know what to do. We're not taking anybody's names. We're not asking any questions. We don't care who purchases this or for what reason."Drug and alcohol testing kits also are available over the counter at some drug stores.Having a test kit in the home also can give a child the power to say no to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, Prichard said. "That's a huge relief where there's peer pressure," he said. "It gives that child an out."Other area agencies were intrigued by the program."You're hearing more and more about how parents need to talk to their children," said Colleen Hughes, executive director of the Westmoreland Alcohol and Drug Commission."If parents do start talking to their children and do not believe children are being honest, this could be a way children can be more honest. They may admit to it even before it gets to the point of testing."North Huntingdon Township police Chief Michael Daugherty contacted Stahl."It sounds like a great idea," Daugherty said. "We've tried some programs with the kids like DARE and haven't seen the success rate we'd like to.We're going to go to the parents.We're taking a different approach, and this will fit in right with it."Jeannette police will provide information on community resources that are available if parents get a positive result.Literature about signs and symptoms of tobacco, alcohol and drug use are included in the kit."If we help one family out, it's worth the time and effort," Stahl said.Jeannette City Council allotted $750 for the police department to start the program. Money from the sale of kits will be used to purchase additional test kits as needed.The test kits may be purchased at the Jeannette police department Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

As in the days of Noah...

Pope Vigorously Defends Catholicism in Austria and Raises Concerns on Europe’s Future

VIENNA-Pope Benedict XVI confronted Friday the shadows of Europe’s past, praying at a Holocaust memorial here, as he spoke with worry about its future. Europe, he said, may extinguish itself, in numbers and spirit, if it embraces abortion and rejects Christianity, which he said “profoundly shaped the continent.” “It should be everyone’s concern to ensure that the day will never come when only its stones speak of Christianity,” the pope said, at the start of a three-day visit here.“An Austria without a vibrant Christian faith would no longer be Austria.”But the 80-year-old pope’s vigorous defense of Catholicism-delivered in a slightly hoarse voice because of what the Vatican said was a sore throat-may not be, at the moment, a popular stand in Austria.Benedict arrived here, in the chill and rain on his seventh trip outside of Italy, at a time of deep and lingering anger at the once-powerful Austrian church, with tens of thousands leaving the faith after two high-profile sex scandals. More broadly, the faith has steadily declined in a Europe often at odds with church positions on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.Still, he struck real and sensitive themes in Austria and around Europe. He spoke of low birthrates and an aging population, amid rising fear about immigrants, many of them Muslim, representing a larger percentage of the population. That fear is fueling anti-immigrant politics here, where centuries-old battles in Vienna against the Ottoman Turks remain central to history, and in other parts of Europe.Benedict stressed demographics as he repeated, in a strong multifront attack, the Vatican’s long-held opposition to abortion.“I appeal, then, to political leaders not to allow children to be considered as a form of illness,” he said in his native German to a gathering of diplomats. “I say this out of concern for humanity. But that is only one side of this disturbing problem.“The other is the need to do everything possible to make European countries once again open to welcoming children,” he added, in this nation with a low birthrate. “Encourage young married couples to establish new families and to become mothers and fathers! You will not only assist them, but you will benefit society as a whole.”Even as he spoke about the Christian roots of Europe, he acknowledged the role-and suffering-of Jews on the Continent.He told reporters in Italian on his plane before leaving Rome that his trip was aimed partly at showing “our sadness, our repentance and also our friendship with our Jewish brothers.”He said a short and silent prayer at the spare Holocaust memorial at Judenplatz here, constructed in part from the excavated ruins of a medieval synagogue destroyed in a pogrom in the 1420s. The memorial is to the 65,000 Austrian Jews killed during World War II.Benedict met with the chief rabbi of Vienna, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, and other leaders of the city’s 7,000 remaining Jews. In 1938, the city was one of the thriving Jewish centers of Europe. Some 185,000 Jews lived in the city then.Despite the broad themes he touched on, the pope’s trip was brief-only two nights-and centered on a visit on Saturday to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the shrine to the Virgin Mary at Mariazell, 60 miles from Vienna.Clearly, though, there were other facets to the trip, among them the sentimental. Before he was elected as the current pope in 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a German from nearby Bavaria, often came here for work and vacation.“You know how close I feel to your native land and to many of the people and places in your country,” he said at a welcoming ceremony at the airport that was forced into a hangar by rain.It was hard to gauge Friday how much Austria might return that affection. Several groups, Catholic and not, protested the trip, and the Austrian news media questioned how excited the nation was about it.But the rain was heavy, and while the crowd at the central Am Hoff plaza was relatively small when the pope spoke there early in the afternoon, it was enthusiastic, and wet, amid songs and chanting of his name in Italian.“Your visit honors us and makes us happy,” the nation’s president, Heinz Fischer, told the pope at the welcoming ceremony at the airport.The pope wanted to reach out to Austria’s ailing church, specifically acknowledging the pain caused by the sex scandals.“I want to say thank you to everyone who has suffered in these recent years,” the pope told reporters on the plane. “I know that the church in Austria has lived through difficult times, and so I am grateful to everyone-laity, the religious, priests-who remained faithful in all these difficulties for the church.”“I would not say all these difficulties have been overcome,” he added.“But I hope I can be of some help in healing the wounds.”

As in the days of Noah...

LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:Bomb at Algeria Barracks Is Said to Kill Several

ALGIERS-A booby-trapped car exploded at a barracks housing coast guard officials Saturday, killing at least 17 people and injuring about 30, the country's official news agency reported, citing hospital authorities.The bomb went off in the northern coastal town of Dellys, about 30 miles from Algiers. In the confusion, security officials initially gave a lower death toll before the APS agency announced that at least 17 people had died, based on an official hospital count. Some of those injured were in serious condition.The attack came just two days after another bombing killed at least 20 in a crowd of people in eastern Algeria who were waiting to see visiting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has devoted his eight years in office to ending to country's Islamic insurgency.There was widespread speculation that Bouteflika was the intended target of that attack, though Algerian officials kept silent on that question. Police said the bomber was killed by security services after he dropped the explosives and tried to escape.There was no immediate claim of responsibility in either attack. However, an al-Qaida affiliate calling itself al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa has been active in Algeria lately.Algeria's insurgency broke out in 1992, after the army canceled legislative elections that a now-banned Islamic fundamentalist party was poised to win. Up to 200,000 people-Islamic fighters, security forces and civilians- have been killed over the years, according to estimates.Widespread killing was on the wane until recently, but violence resurfaced this year after Algeria's Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, officially linked with al-Qaida, taking the name al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.The group claimed responsibility for other attacks this year, including an April suicide bombing outside the prime minister's office in Algiers and a simultaneous attack on a police station that killed 32 people.Al-Qaida's Algerian branch also said it was responsible for another attack in July, when a suicide bomber blew up a refrigerated truck inside a military encampment southeast of the Algerian capital, killing 10 soldiers.

As in the days of Noah...

Saudi Arabia urges ex-Pakistani PM to stay in exile

ISLAMABAD-Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif should honour an agreement to stay in exile for 10 years and should not return on Monday, a Saudi official said on Saturday, citing concern about Pakistani stability.Sharif, the prime minister army chief and president Pervez Musharraf ousted in 1999 and sent into exile the following year, is due to return home from London on Monday.He has vowed to launch a campaign to end Musharraf's rule.The return of Sharif is a serious challenge for Musharraf, who has lost much public support since trying to dismiss the country's top judge in March.The government has been trying to block Sharif's return, at least until after Musharraf tries to secure another term in a presidential election by the national and provincial assemblies some time between September 15 and October 15.Adding to the political tension has been a string of militant attacks in recent weeks. A car bomb in the northwestern city of Peshawar wounded 18 people on Saturday.Musharraf sent Sharif to Saudi Arabia in 2000 as part of what the government says was an agreement that Sharif would stay in exile for 10 years. In return, he avoided a life sentence on hijacking and corruption charges.

As in the days of Noah...

Japan, Russia agree to speed up peace treaty talks

SYDNEY-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Saturday to instruct their officials to expedite efforts toward resolving a long-standing territorial dispute and concluding a bilateral peace treaty, Japanese officials said.Meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Sydney, Abe and Putin also agreed to work together to create a post-Kyoto Protocol framework as well as to speed up negotiations on a nuclear cooperation pact.In relation to the territorial row, Abe was quoted as saying that Japan attaches importance to strengthening Japan-Russia ties and in order to elevate the relationship to a higher level, concluding a peace treaty is indispensable.Putin told Abe that he is interested in finding a resolution that is mutually acceptable to both sides, the officials said. Japan and Russia remain at odds over the sovereignty of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils. The dispute over the Russian-held islands has prevented the two sides from concluding a postwar peace treaty.Tokyo and Moscow have already agreed to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial row, but it remains uncertain how and when a compromise will be reached.The two leaders agreed to concretize a joint development initiative put on the table by Abe during their talks on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. It involves cooperation in eight fields to develop the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia.Abe and Putin also agreed to cooperate over the Eastern Siberia- Pacific Ocean pipeline, the officials said.To promote dialogue and negotiations, they agreed on diplomatic schedules including a foreign ministers' meeting in Tokyo in late October, a visit to Japan by Russia's deputy premier in early November and a strategic dialogue involving vice foreign ministers within this year in Moscow.On climate change, Abe and Putin agreed that the two countries should cooperate in creating a framework to deal with global warming beyond 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires, the officials said.The international community is stepping up efforts to build a post- Kyoto framework that will be effective and include all major greenhouse gas emitters notably China, India and the United States.Abe and Putin did not take up international affairs such as North Korea and Iran due to the time constraints of their one-hour meeting.
As in the days of Noah...

Setback for Islamists in Morocco elections

Morocco's main opposition Islamist party failed to make its hoped-for breakthrough in Friday's legislative elections, marked by an historic low turnout of only 41 percent, early results showed Saturday.The Justice and Development Party (PJD), which had big ambitions to become the largest single party in parliament, saw its hopes dashed at dawn on Saturday and immediately accused its rivals of electoral corruption."We will have a maximum of 56 seats (in the 325-seat chamber) because money was changing hands all over the place. But we still think we will be the biggest party, and if we are not it really will be the wrong way round," the party's number-two Lahcen Daoudi said after being re-elected in Fes.The party's leader Saad Eddine Othmani, who was expected to win in a constituency in Casablanca, was less confident. "We are certain to have at least 40 seats but we are having trouble in counting up exactly because the authorities don't give out all the figures," he told AFP."The results are too incomplete to be able to say whether or not we will be the biggest party," he added, looking visibly worn out.Partial results were due to be announced by the interior ministry on Saturday evening and the final results on Sunday. International observers, scrutinising a Moroccan election for the first time, were due to report their preliminary findings late Saturday.During the campaign Daoudi had predicted the PJD would get 80 seats against 42 in the outgoing parliament, making it the largest party, while Othmani had forecast 70.The competing parties mostly fall under three main headings: the left and centre-right parties that are part of the current governing coalition; Islamist formations, including the PJD, which is currently the main opposition; and leftist groups that are part of an alliance.The PJD won 42 seats in 2002 but was kept out of the five-party governing coalition led by Driss Jettou, then a non-politician appointed by the king.Voters cast their ballots for 295 deputies in 95 constituencies and 30 deputies on a separate national list to ensure a quota of women.Turnout slumped to its lowest ever figure in the history of this north African kingdom. Only two voters in five bothered to cast their ballots in the second legislative elections since Mohammed VI acceded to the throne in 1999.According to interior ministry estimates, turnout was 41 percent, against 52 percent in 2002. Voter disaffection has been steadily increasing over the years. In 1984 turnout was officially 67.43 percent, although there were many irregularities. Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa admitted the turnout was disappointing."The challenge today is to think of the best way of mobilising the electorate in support of political action. That is everybody's responsiblity: officials, political parties and civil society," he said.Some voters had difficulties in understanding procedure.Each competing group of candidates chose a symbol so illiterate voters would recognise the party, as nearly half of the population cannot read.
In Ain el Aouda, a rural community 25 kilometres (15 miles) outside Rabat, 44-year-old labourer Mouamar Jaouadi regretted that no information campaign was organised in his village.
"The majority of people here are illiterate country people and one will find among them men and women who had difficulty in understanding how to vote," he said, as he waited in front of the voting centre in the midday sun on Saturday.
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Bush, Roh Have Testy Exchange at Summit

SYDNEY,Australia-President Bush's talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ended on a sour note Friday not over the war in Iraq, but rather the Korean conflict that ended with a truce more than five decades ago.As Bush began to wind down his stay at the Asia-Pacific summit, Roh challenged him to make a declaration to end the Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, so the two sides technically remain at war.The awkward exchange occurred during the first in a series of sit- downs that Bush had here with leaders from Pacific Rim nations. He also spoke Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will meet on Saturday with the leaders of Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Protesters plan a march through the city on Saturday, a day after scuffles broke out between riot police and some demonstrators.Bush's talks with Roh focused on the six-nation negotiations to get North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. Soon after the mini diplomatic incident, Christopher Hill, the U.S. envoy handling the talks with Pyongyang, announced that nuclear experts from the U.S., China and Russia will travel to North Korea next week to survey nuclear facilities due to be shut down.Bush said that during his talks with Roh, he reaffirmed the U.S. position that Washington will consider the war formally over only when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il actually dismantles his nuclear program.Whatever Roh heard Bush say through his translator, it wasn't good enough."I think I did not hear President Bush mention the—a declaration to end the Korean War just now," Roh said as cameras clicked and television cameras rolled.Bush said he thought he was being clear, but obliged Roh and restated the U.S. position.That wasn't good enough either."If you could be a little bit clearer in your message," Roh said.Bush, now looking irritated, replied: "I can't make it any more clear, Mr. President. We look forward to the day when we can end the Korean War. That will end—will happen when Kim verifiably gets rid of his weapons programs and his weapons."The White House immediately downplayed the testy exchange and said the meeting went smoothly."There was clearly something lost in translation," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a rushed e-mail to reporters."I really think the interpreter must not have conveyed the president's comments entirely clearly," Johndroe said. "The president made clear in his opening remarks that he told Roh that the U.S. is committed to a peace agreement once North Korea complies."And despite Roh's challenge for Bush to make a declaration to end the war, the war was not between the United States and the North but between the North and the United Nations, and Bush alone could not end the war with a simple declaration. "As we say, `all parties involved,' " Johndroe said, when asked about the mechanics of achieving a peace treaty.
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SAUDI ARABIA:Sidewalks for women only

ABU-DHABI, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia's religious police are insisting that authorities of Medina, one of Islam's holiest cities, should build separate sidewalks for women, the Kuwaiti al-Qabas newspaper reported Friday.The country's Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, tasked with enforcing Sharia law, believes men and women should not be allowed to mix on the streets of the Islam's second holiest place, where the Prophet Muhammad is buried.The clerical police, or Mutaween, are authorized to arrest unrelated men and women caught socializing, anyone suspected of being homosexual or a prostitute, and to enforce Islamic dress codes.
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Intelligent Design rift hits Baylor again

WACO,Texas-Baylor University officials ordered the shutdown of a personal website of one of a handful of the school's distinguished professors because of anonymous concerns that the site, hosted on the university’s server, supported Intelligent DesignRobert Marks, distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor, launched a website called the Evolutionary Informatics Lab in June to examine whether Darwinian processes like random mutation and natural selection can generate new information.Marks' conclusions, as explained on the website, placed limits on the scope of Darwinism and offered scientific support for Intelligent Design.In July, a podcast interview with Marks appeared on a website run by the pro-ID Discovery Institute, and a week later Benjamin Kelley, dean of engineering at Baylor, told Marks to remove the Evolutionary Informatics website immediately."This is a big story, perhaps the biggest story yet of academic suppression relating to ID," William Dembski, a research professor in philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press."Robert Marks is a world-class expert in the field of evolutionary computing, and yet the Baylor administration, without any consideration of the actual content of Marks' work at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, decided to shut it down simply because there were anonymous complaints linking the lab to Intelligent Design," Dembski said.Dembski himself was at the center of a controversy involving Baylor and Intelligent Design in 2000 when he was removed from his post as director of the school's Michael Polanyi Center for Complexity, Information, and Design after refusing to rescind a statement supporting Intelligent Design as a legitimate form of academic inquiry.Lori Fogleman, director of media communications at Baylor, told Baptist Press Sept. 5 that the school's objection to the website involves standards by which something can or cannot attach its name to Baylor."This isn't about the content of the website. Really the issue is related to Baylor's policies and procedures of approving centers, institutes, products using the university's name," Fogleman said. "Baylor reserves the exclusive right to the use of its own name, and we're pretty jealous in the protection of that name. So it has nothing to do with the content but is all about how one goes about establishing a center, an institute, a product using the university's name."
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PERSECUTION WATCH:Radicals threaten to burn Christian pastor;

Church congregation ejected, building vandalized with 'Om' symbol.Religious radicals have threatened to burn a Christian church's pastor and his family, and the church building was vandalized with a Hindu "Om" symbol, according to the Voice of the Martyrs, the worldwide ministry to persecuted Christians.It's just the latest attack by Hindus on Christians around the world that Voice of the Martyrs has documented. Just weeks earlier, another church leader in India was attacked, beaten and kicked for being Christian. In the latest attack, VOM sources within India reported that the attackers were members of the Hindu organization Hindu Ikyavedi.Before the attack, Pastor Koshy Thomas and members of his family had been warned to stop holding worship services in their facility in Bangalore.A short time later the warnings turned into threats."Two members of the Hindu radical organization Hindu Ikyavedi threatened to burn Pastor Thomas and his family to death if they did not vacate their home and stop worship services," VOM sources reported.Only a day later the radicals "barged into a prayer meeting, abused the believers using filthy language and assaulted the pastor's wife and another believer.They snatched a Bible from another man's hand and threw it out of the building," VOM's sources reported.The Christians were ejected from the building, and then the building itself was vandalized."The radicals vandalized the church building by drawing Hindu symbols, the trishul, swastika, Sanskritic Om and slogans such as 'Jai Shri Ram and Hindu Dharma is ours, who is Yesu?'"VOM reported."They also conducted a Hindu religious rite inside the church and locked it."Thomas has been pastoring the church, which includes about 50 members, for about a year, VOM said."Pray God protects and provides for the pastor and believers in this area. Ask God to use the testimonies of Christians in India to draw non-believers into fellowship with Him," VOM said.VOM said the earlier attack involved Pastor Pabitra Kata who was hospitalized with his injuries. Voice of the Martyrs said about three dozen Hindus attacked the pastor while he was returning from the home of a convert he'd been ministering to."He was beaten with thick sticks, kicked on his jaw and face and dragged on the road," according to statements obtained by VOM from witnesses."He was screaming because of the pain and praying out loud,asking God to forgive the attackers."He was bleeding profusely from his jaw and ear, and was unable to see.In spite of his painful cries, the attackers continued striking him until the police arrived and stopped the beating,"the sources reported.He remains alive only because of that reluctant intervention, because VOM sources reported that after the attack it was discovered the extremists planned to murder him, then make a false report claiming he had died in an automobile accident.Even within the United States, there have been attacks, although verbal instead of phsycial. As WND reported, the Hindu American Foundation has attacked Christian organizations ranging from the Southern Baptists' missions board and Gospel for Asia to Olive Tree Ministries, which aims to teach Christians about their beliefs."The proliferation of websites promoting religious hatred is an unfortunate consequence of the universality of access to the Internet," said Vinay Vallabh, the lead author of a report that attacked the Christian groups for their expression of their beliefs."We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance," Vallabh said.Vallabh's report, called "Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus," expresses his hope that Internet Service Providers will start censoring Christian postings of their beliefs, "a necessary step as we continue our balancing act between free speech and licentious speech that leads to violence in the electronic age."WND also has reported on a "Christian college," St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where officials recently appointed a Hindu activist to head the school's religion department.That professor, Anantanand Rambachan, in an interview with Hinduism Today, condemned one of the principal tenets of Christianity – sharing one's faith, calling that an "obsession."WND also reported when a prominent Hindu leader in the United States led the California state Senate in a prayer to "the transcendental."

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Friday, September 7, 2007

RISING HEAT:Damascus says Israel has again violated Syrian air space.How the incident could affect a volatile region.

Are Israel and Syria edging closer to war? Tensions between the two longtime enemies have ratcheted up still further after Damascus alleged that Israeli Air Force planes had penetrated Syria’s northern air space earlier this week. Syrian reports say that its forces fired anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli planes after they dropped "munitions" inside the country. Israeli authorities have refused to comment officially, and Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara was quoted in The Jerusalem Post as saying that his country was not interested in being drawn into a war with Israel. This is not the first time that Israel has invaded Syrian airspace. In June 2006 Israeli warplanes flew over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's palace in what many saw as a defiant message to the Syrian people.
NEWSWEEK's Joanna Chen spoke to professor Eyal Zisser, head of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, about the possible impact of the latest developments. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Israel has penetrated Syrian airspace before, but this time the incident is being treated more seriously. What has changed?
Eyal Zisser: The political climate changed in [August] 2006, when President Bashar al-Assad declared a shift in the status quo between Israel and Syria. His speech created a new and more hostile environment, and what happened [Thursday] must be seen against this background. So what exactly happened? That's the big question. We have the Syrian report, but so far there has been no Israeli denial. Israel may have been testing Syrian radar detection facilities in the area. Is a quick military response from the Syrians at all likely? I don't expect anything dramatic right now. The incident is not something big in itself, and Syrian sources have stated this. Syria isn't interested in any deterioration in relations at this stage and is clearly not interested in war, so any further response to this incident, if any, will be diplomatic. However, I suggest following events closely, since there's clearly rising tension between Israel and Syria and it's not going to go away...
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Abuse of sanity: The truth about how a council allowed a paedophile gay couple to adopt

So politically correct has adoption become, a council allowed these gay paedophiles to foster young boys-even, as one mother reveals here, turning a blind eye when presented with evidence of their horrifying abuse. While the events unfolding in her living room were tense and awkward, the young mother did not believe that her unease augured anything more inauspicious or alarming.With the benefit of hindsight, of course, she has now had ample time to reflect on how that gnawing anxiety was justified. Miss X, as she must be known, had placed her eight-year-old twin boys into foster care in 2004 after finding herself unable to cope with life as a single parent of four boisterous youngsters.That they had been placed with a gay couple,Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey-the first homosexual couple in Yorkshire to be approved by the authorities as foster parents-was,she told friends, incidental: she was just happy that someone was taking good care of them.That sentiment changed, however, when she was shown a compromising naked photograph of her son while they were on one of their regular visits home.The photo-featuring her son urinating-was unsettling enough for Miss X to complain to the social services department of her local council in Wakefield, Yorkshire.It is the sort of serious incident that might, you imagine, herald the start of a strict set of investigative procedures.Instead, the matter was resolved-if that is the correct word-over an uncomfortable meeting in Miss X's living room in May 2004, during which, she recalls, 32-year-old Faunch declared that he had taken the photograph to embarrass her son into closing the door when he went to the toilet.The dubious explanation was enough to satisfy the social services managers present, who brought the inquiry to a swift conclusion (as well as apparently losing the incriminating photograph in the process). It was to be another eight months before another boy in their care was to raise the alarm.Eighteen months later, in June last year, both Faunch and Wathey were jailed for a total of 11 years after being convicted of a dozen offences relating to four of the boys in their care.The pair had looked after 18 children in only 15 months after being approved by the council, but under the guise of caring men offering a helping hand to disadvantaged youngsters, had sexually abused vulnerable children for their own gratification. Neither man, Leeds Crown Court was told last year, had shown any empathy or remorse.Both are now serving prison sentences for their despicable crimes....
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California launches same-sex marriage:Vote substitutes 'two persons' for 'man and wife' in state law

The California Senate has approved a plan to replace "man and woman" in state references to marriage with "two persons," establishing a same-sex marriage procedure in the state that just seven years ago voted to limit marriage to one man and one woman.The 22-15 vote came on homosexual Assemblyman Mark Leno's proposal to open marriage to any pair in the state, not just those couples made up of a man and a woman. All Republicans opposed AB43, while all but three Democratic senators supported it.The bill now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for his signature or veto. He has given ambiguous signals about his support for the latest proposal, but earlier vetoed a similar proposal.However, in Schwarzenegger's answers to questions from the state Supreme Court he suggested the "use of the words 'marry' and 'marriage' is not required by the California Constitution. Thus, the name of the legal relationship now known as 'marriage' could be changed."As WND has reported, Schwarzenegger has expressed the opinion that legally, the term "marriage" can be terminated, because registered "domestic partners" already have all of the same legal rights, benefits, duties and obligations as married couples...
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Islamic party set to win Moroccan elections

"King Mohamed VI is the latest leader to face the dilemma of whether to co-opt the adherents of political Islam, oppress them, or leave them be and run the risk that they use democratic mechanisms to carry out a hard-line agenda-and ultimately threaten democracy itself.""Islamic party set for Moroccan victory," by Angela Charlton for the Associated Press:
CASABLANCA,Morocco-The Islamic party dominating Morocco's electoral season has many faces-among them bareheaded young women in jeans, marketing students preaching the gospel of global markets and legions of the poor and disenfranchised.Impose Sharia, and everyone will get to be poor and disenfranchised.The Justice and Development Party's cross-class, antiestablishment appeal could leave it the largest party in parliament after elections Friday. And that would pose a challenge to the secular monarchy, and its Western allies.This resort-lined Muslim kingdom forms one front in the broader battle playing out between forces of moderation and extremism across the Muslim world. King Mohamed VI is the latest leader to face the dilemma of whether to co-opt the adherents of political Islam, oppress them, or leave them be and run the risk that they use democratic mechanisms to carry out a hard-line agenda-and ultimately threaten democracy itself.Such fears lay behind neighboring Algeria's decision to abort 1992 parliamentary elections that an Islamic party was poised to win. The move touched off an insurgency that still simmers."Our victory ... is nothing to worry about," said Saad Eddine Othmani, head of the Justice and Development Party. "Moderate Islam is the best rampart against extremism."And your idea of "moderation" is...?The party cites Islam as its inspiration in a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim, but where many women shun head coverings and bars are widespread. Its leadership and message are moderate, though some members may hold radical views.The Islamic party's platform-streamline bureaucracy, root corruption out of the courts and gear university education more directly toward the job market-resonates among the poor and jobless,who feel abandoned by a government widely seen as self-serving.The Justice and Development Party accepts the monarch, and wants Morocco to maintain good relations with Washington. U.S. officials say they deal with the party as they do with Morocco's other political parties.
Othmani said his party has softened its image in recent years — especially after 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca blamed on Islamic terrorists — to broaden its base. It has played down calls by hard-liners inside the party to cut off thieves' hands and require women to wear head scarves.Some fear an Islamic-minded government could nonetheless threaten Morocco's moderate reputation, which helps fuel an economy reliant on tourism."I have the impression they are hiding their real ideas. This is what worries us," said Amina Elhaja, pushing her 2-year-old son in a stroller past a Justice and Development Party rally on a dusty lot, where supporters chanted "Justice, Development!"Mustapha Ramid is the face of the party that secularists fear. A defense attorney for terror suspects, he is loudly critical of Israel and the Moroccan government."For now, the goal is to develop democracy," said Ramid. But in the long run, Ramid wants sharia, or Islamic law, established in Morocco.

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Jihadists blow up 63 "CD and shoe shops" in Pakistan

Following through on an earlier threat against music shops and markets where women shopped. "Militants blow up 63 shops in Swat," by Saleem Athar for the Daily Times:
MINGORA: Suspected militants on Friday blew up 63 CD and shoe shops in the Mina Bazaar and Ali Plaza and partially damaged 21 nearby shops, but there were no casualties, witnesses said.In Ali Plaza, the explosion destroyed 19 shops selling shoes and a mobile repairing shop in the basement, while 27 CD shops and a mobile repairing shop were destroyed in the first floor of the plaza.In Mina Bazaar, the blast destroyed 15 CD shops and partially damaged nine nearby shops. Around 12 mobile repairing shops were partially damaged in Qadria Market. Offices of Daily Times, Aaj TV and Online news agency were also partially damaged due to the Mina Bazaar blasts, which also broke the windowpanes of Lalazaar Hotel, Bolan Hotel and Anwar Hotel.A few days ago, unidentified people had threatened the owners of these video and CDs shops through letters, warning them to close their “un-Islamic” business or face bomb attacks. The owners of the video centres had started negotiating with the local administration to find alternative businesses. However, the militants bombed the CD shops after the deadline expired.

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Pakistani Court Orders Arrest of Ex-Premier’s Brother

ISLAMABAD,Pakistan-A court on Friday ordered the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, as the two men planned to return to the country from exile on Monday.Their return was expected to be a catalyst in the campaign to oust the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is seeking re-election this year.Opposition leaders denounced the court’s move as politically charged and vowed to give the brothers a rousing welcome upon their expected return at the Islamabad airport.The government of Nawaz Sharif was toppled by General Musharraf in a bloodless coup in 1999. In 2000, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, his younger brother and the former chief minister of Punjab, the most populous province, were forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.Last month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that both brothers-who are currently in London-were free to return.Shahbaz Sharif returned to Pakistan in 2004, but was sent back to Saudi Arabia minutes after his arrival.On Friday, the antiterrorism court in Lahore ordered the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif, who was the chief minister of Punjab at the time of the 1999 coup, on charges of murder.The court charged Shahbaz Sharif with masterminding the killing of five men by the police in Lahore in 1998. Mr. Sharif denies the charge.Also on Friday, in Rawalpindi, an anticorruption court, known as the Accountability Court, adjourned a hearing on corruption charges against Nawaz Sharif and his family until Thursday.The charges date to 2001, but were revived by the government last month.Syed Zafar Ali Shah, a leader of Nawaz Sharif’s faction of the Pakistan Muslim League party, called the reopening of cases and the arrest order “political victimization.”“The government is in a state of panic, and that is why it has resorted to such tactics,”Mr. Shah said.
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Arrest of One Turk in Germany Brings New Scrutiny to a Society of 2.7 Million

FRANKFURT-As Germans struggle to make sense this week of reports of a foiled terrorist plot, they are questioning whether their Turkish minority-historically moderate and for the most part comfortably settled-is quite what they thought.One of the three men arrested in the plot was a Turk, and on Friday the authorities said three of the suspects still being sought, and possibly more, were also of Turkish origin.While this is not the first time Turks have come under suspicion-last summer,the police briefly detained a number of German Turks for reportedly planning to bomb a pop concert-this case involves a network of an entirely different order that is said to stretch to Istanbul and Pakistan.It bears a disquieting similarity to one of Europe’s gravest homegrown terrorist attacks, the suicide bombings in London in July 2005 by four Britons of Pakistani and West Indian backgrounds"“German officials don’t like to talk about this, because it is politically sensitive, but they are genuinely afraid,” said Guido Steinberg, who advised the previous German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, on terrorism.“We profited from the fact that most of the terrorists are Moroccans, Algerians or Kurds,” said Mr. Steinberg, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “But we’ve got about two million Turks who are a theoretical recruiting base, and that’s a critical mass.” There are, in fact, 2.7 million people of Turkish descent in Germany, 900,000 of whom are citizens, and extremism is starting to take root among them-not just in Turkish enclaves but in ordinary towns like Langen, outside Frankfurt, where Adem Yilmaz, a 28-year-old Turk who was arrested, spent his teenage years.The Yilmaz family lives in one of a stout troop of stucco apartment houses near the city library. On the gray, unadorned block sit a mix of German and Turkish names on yellowed mailbox labels. A woman who answered the door was not wearing a Muslim head scarf; she declined a request for an interview.“At first he looked like a normal boy,” Erich Rang, who lives in the apartment below the family, said of Mr. Yilmaz.“Then all of a sudden you could see him with a big beard, like the Taliban.“There was a time when you didn’t see him, and people said he was doing his military service in Turkey.”German intelligence sources say Mr. Yilmaz was at a training camp in Pakistan in March 2006, run by the Islamic Jihad Union, a splinter group of a terrorist organization from Uzbekistan.A 2006 report by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency, classified 32,150 Muslims living here as having extremist tendencies.Of the total, 27,250 were of Turkish origin. But only a tiny fraction of those Turks-fewer than 100-are viewed as truly dangerous and kept under regular surveillance.Turkish leaders expressed shock and dismay at the apparent involvement of Turks in this case.They condemned the plotters and heaped praise on the German authorities for their police work.But some said they now feared a backlash.“Now, when Germans see a young Turkish man going to evening prayer, will they say, ‘Aha, this is a sign of the radical drift of the Turkish community in Germany’?” asked Sedef Ozakin, a German Turk and member of the Munich city council.She acknowledged that there were signs of radicalism among a small number of mostly young Turks. It manifests itself in two ways, she said: in religious fervor, but also in a less well noted sense of Turkish nationalism, evident on T-shirts and hats emblazoned with the Turkish flag, which are popular among teenagers.The solution to this, Ms. Ozakin said, is for mainstream Turkish organizations in Germany to reach out to the young to prevent them from being led astray by radical or violent ideologies.The trouble is, established Turkish groups, founded in the early years of immigration, are not attractive to third- and fourth-generation immigrants.Many of these people were born in Germany or, like Mr. Yilmaz, spent much of their lives here. They have little interest in the cloistered world of tea-drinking, suit-wearing men that one finds in the courtyards at mainstream Turkish mosques.Instead, they are attracted to smaller independent mosques, which are often more radical, according to Dirk Halm, a researcher at the Center for Studies on Turkey at the University of Duisburg-Essen.Precise numbers are hard to find, but experts say the number of these mosques is rising. More than half the mosques in Berlin do not belong to traditional Turkish mosque organizations, Mr. Halm said.
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Iran Fined $2.65 Billion for Terrorism

WASHINGTON-Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, a federal judge declared Friday in a ruling that left survivors and families shedding tears of joy.U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth described his ruling as the largest-ever such judgment by an American court against another country. "These individuals, whose hearts and souls were forever broken, waited patiently for nearly a quarter century for justice to be done," he said.Iran has been blamed for supporting the militant group Hezbollah, which carried out the suicide bombing in Beirut.It was the worst terrorist act against U.S. targets until the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.Hundreds of people crowded into a federal courtroom to hear Friday's ruling.Parents have grown old since their children were killed.Siblings have grown into middle-age.Children have married and started families of their own.Weeping spectators stood and erupted in applause and hugs as Lamberth left the bench.The ruling allows nearly 1,000 family members and a handful of survivors to try to collect Iranian assets from various sources around the world. Finding and seizing that money will be difficult, however, and the families are backing a law in Congress that would make it easier for terrorism victims and their families to do so.Families were encouraged by Libya's decision to ultimately accept responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Scotland. The country, once a pariah by Washington's view, agreed to compensate the families of the 270 victims.Part of the $2.7 billion has been paid. A final $2 million installment to each family is outstanding."This is a sense of victory, of winning a battle," said Paul Rivers, who was a 20-year-old enlisted Marine on the second floor of the barracks when it exploded."When we win the war is when we collect, when we make them pay for what they did."Iran has denied responsibility for the attack.The nation did not respond to the 6-year-old lawsuit and was represented only by an empty table.Family members said they hoped Friday's ruling would pressure foreign governments not to sponsor terrorism. Lynn Smith Derbyshire, whose brother, Vincent Smith, was killed in the attack, said countries won't stop until "it begins to actually cost them money to kill Americans."Some disagreed about whether that will happen.Roxanne Garcia-Bates, who was 16 when her brother,Randy Garcia, was killed, said she was surprised to find a sense of comfort being with the other families in court.She said she was pleased that Lamberth had made such a strong statement,but doubted that Iran would change anytime soon. "You can't take enough money away to get them to stop what they're doing," she said.All agreed that emotions remain raw to this day.Rivers described being one of the second floor's five survivors.All but him lost arms or legs, he said.He was buried in the rubble for two hours, he said. Debris had punctured his eardrum and "I literally had rocks inside my head."Shirley Murry of Baltimore, who was 16 years old at the time, described the tense days of waiting around the television for word of her brother, Ulysses Parker. Today, every time the news carries a story about a fallen soldier or an explosion overseas, she said it's like that first day all over again.Lamberth said the law "offers a meager attempt to make the surviving members whole."He said he hoped the judgment would alert Iran that terrorism has consequences and help in the families' healing process. Pausing, he added:"That's all I can do."
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Truck Accident Kills 85 in India

JAIPUR,India-A large truck crammed with Hindu pilgrims crashed into a gorge in northwestern India on Friday night, killing at least 85 people and injuring 46 more, police said.The truck driver lost control while taking a sharp turn in Nagbavji, a village more than 350 miles southwest of New Delhi, said Rajiv Dusot, the inspector-general of police.The truck smashed through a protective wall on the highway and hurtled 80 feet into the gorge, Dusot told The AP.It carried a total of 145 people.Rescuers recovered 85 bodies overnight, using cranes and searchlights, Dusot said Saturday.The Press Trust of India news agency earlier said the pilgrims had crammed themselves into the large paneled truck and a walled flatbed trailer. But Dusot said the pilgrims were traveling in the truck, normally used to transport containers.Its owner, Gopal Paliwal, had offered a free ride to the villagers,Dusot said.Overcrowded vehicles-both buses and trucks-are a major danger in India, and road accidents caused by reckless driving, aging vehicles and bad roads are common.The pilgrims from three adjacent villages were on their way to the Ramdev temple, revered by both Hindus and Muslims,for an annual pilgrimage. Nearly 250,000 people visit the shrine during the 10-day pilgrimage in September every year.

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Storm forms off U.S. Southeast coast,warning issued

MIAMI-Subtropical Storm Gabrielle formed on Friday off the U.S. mid-Atlantic Coast with top sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph), but was not expected to strengthen in the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.Gabrielle, the seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was about 385 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, the Miami-based hurricane center said in its first advisory on the storm at 11 p.m. (0300 GMT on Saturday)."Little change in strength is forecast during the next 24 hours," the center said. Top winds must reach at least 74 mph (119 kph) for a tropical or subtropical storm to become a hurricane.A tropical storm watch was issued for parts of the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts. Gabrielle was moving west-northwest at around 10 mph (16 kph)."Coastal residents from Onslow County north along the Outer Banks are urged to take action now to protect any property that may be threatened by tropical storm conditions," the National Weather Service said in a statement late on Friday from Newport, North Carolina."Winds will start to reach tropical storm force along the coast on Sunday morning. At this point winds are expected to reach 45 to 55 mph," it said.Increasing swells and high tides would combine to produce dangerous rip currents along area beaches this weekend, it said.Computer models indicated the weather system would most likely head northwestward toward the coast of North Carolina before looping around to the northeast and cooler waters.It was very unlikely, however, the system could reach the top-rank strength of Hurricanes Dean and Felix, which slammed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in August and Central America this week respectively as Category 5 hurricanes on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity.Sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions off the U.S. Southeast were nowhere near as favorable for tropical cyclones as in the western Caribbean, where Dean and Felix grew into monster storms, the hurricane center said earlier.
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CULTURE of DEATH:Gov wants Planned Parenthood in state budget

A Christian organization in Colorado is launching a campaign to "rally the troops" because Gov. Bill Ritter repeatedly has promised to restore state funding to Planned Parenthood, a move that could violate the state constitution's ban on "direct" or "indirect" taxpayer funding for abortions. Ritter made the promise on his 2006 campaign website, and in various speeches since, to have Colorado taxpayers pay for expenses for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, despite two votes by the people in 1984 and 1988 banning that support."We will restore the Planned Parenthood money that Gov. [Bill] Owens cut. Every woman in Colorado will have access to emergency contraception. And we will not turn women or their doctors into criminals," he said.Owens, a Republican, had eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood from the state budget because of the constitutional provision that bans taxpayer funding in Colorado for abortions, either through a "direct" route, or an "indirect" route, and a legal opinion that not even dividing Planned Parenthood into two separate corporations, one to provide abortions and another to pay other expenses, would satisfy the constitution's requirements.
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Senate approves bill to 'microstamp' pistol cartridges

California would be the first state to require that every semiautomatic handgun cartridge be stamped with an identifying mark if the governor signs a bill that has now cleared both chambers of the Legislature.The Senate approved the bill Thursday, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote on amendments. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he will sign the bill once it reaches his desk.The measure would require that, starting in 2010, every semiautomatic handgun sold in California would have to automatically "microstamp" each bullet cartridge in two locations as it is fired. The microscopic stamping would identify the gun's make, model and serial number.The bill would not affect revolvers, rifles or shotguns, but supporters say semiautomatics are the weapon used in a majority of homicides committed with firearms. Unlike revolvers, semiautomatics eject a cartridge each time they are fired, scattering evidence at a crime scene."This is something that would be helpful in identifying the gun that was used in the commission of a crime," said Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, during Thursday's debate. "It's just giving law enforcement one more tool."The measure cleared the Senate 21-17, with no votes to spare.Opponents said the technology and the bill itself are dangerously flawed.Criminals could collect cartridges from firing ranges and strew them at crime scenes, implicating innocent citizens, said Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Temecula. The firing pin that stamps the cartridge will either have to be so soft that it could be easily erased, or so brittle that it could break, he said.Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, argued that the bill will add "more cost and unnecessary harassment, quite frankly, of law-abiding citizens."Similar legislation was introduced in Massachusetts and Rhode Island this year, according to the bill's author, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles. A federal bill, modeled on California's, is being considered by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles.
On the Net:
Read AB1471 at http://www.assembly.ca.gov/

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