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

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Austria's 'Jihad by Telecommute'

They translated and prepared terror videos, claims of responsibility and al-Qaida propaganda on the Internet. Austrian police have now attributed this handiwork to the Global Islamic Media Front and the leader of this network is reportedly among the arrested.It's been three weeks since the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) put out an ad for a translator to help with the growing workload in terror news. "Brothers and sisters with English language skills are especially sought," wrote a GIMF member. "We're looking for someone with time to sacrifice for Allah and thereby support the jihad." Instructions were to send an e-mail response, after which one would receive "a little job" in return."Jihad by Telecommute" could have been GIMF's business slogan. For almost two years it operated a pair of Internet sites in German, one of which used a discussion forum to publicize acts of terror committed by bin Laden & Co. No one else in the German-speaking world was more effective at this task.At least until Wednesday, when Austrian police took three people into custody believed to be connected with the site-including two men, 26 and 21, and a 21-year-old woman. They are accused of having been involved in the production of a video published on the GIMF homepage on March 11 that showed a disguised Arabic-speaking spokesperson threatening attacks in Germany and Austria if those countries did not withdraw their soldiers from Afghanistan.One line from a video asking the question, "Is it not dumb to embolden the mujahedeen to carry out attacks in your country?" proved particularly worrisome to the authorities.Austria has no troops in Iraq and only four officers serving in Afghanistan.Police did not elaborate on details of the arrests, though they did say that a fourth person was arrested but later released due to a lack of evidence.
Contact with the English-language GIMF
Not much is yet known about the three persons arrested. The woman and one of the men are married to each other. All three are Muslims and Austrian citizens, though not converts, and all were unemployed. They are second-generation immigrants from the Arab world, according to Austrian Interior Minister Günther Platter, who spoke at a hastily convened press conference on Wednesday evening.According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, one of those arrested is the presumed head of the German-language GIMF, founded in fall 2005. Its model was the international GIMF, which came into being sometime around 2002-originally only in Arabic-in order to redistribute al-Qaida material on the Internet.
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PESTILENCE WATCH:Texas doctors find skin disease moving north

DALLAS-When Dr. Kent Aftergut saw a patient with a couple of sores on his back resembling boils, the dermatologist immediately thought of an infection caused by a parasite usually found in South America, the Middle East, Mexico and South Texas.But his patient, a 58-year-old from the North Texas town of Waxahachie, hadn't recently traveled far. Tests, though, confirmed that Weldon Hatch's two sores below his left shoulder blade were indeed leishmaniasis."It's an ugly thing," Hatch said.Aftergut said the ailment-called "Baghdad Boil" by soldiers in the Middle East-is rare in the US for someone not a foreign traveler.A search by a team of doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where Aftergut is on the faculty, found nine similar cases in North Texas in the last two years.It's something that the Texas Department of State Health Services has noticed as well. After hearing about a couple of leishmaniasis cases last year in northeast Texas and southeastern Oklahoma, the health department made the condition one of the diseases that doctors must report to them when diagnosed.So far this year, the health department has confirmed four cases in people in Texas who had not traveled to places where the parasite is usually found.In North Texas, doctors say patients are likely becoming infected when a sand fly bites a burrowing wood rat, which carries the parasite, and then bites a human. The disease can't be spread by human contact.Tom Sidwa, manager of the zoonosis control branch for the health department, said they're trying to determine what could be causing the move north."It was thought that the range of the sand flies didn't extend that far," Sidwa said. "Seeing it much farther north was surprising."Aftergut said either the wood rat or sand flies could be moving, although he doesn't know why.Luckily, the leishmaniasis cases identified by the medical center's doctors have been Leishmania mexicana, a less dangerous form of the parasite that is not life-threatening. Unlike other forms, the infection doesn't spread to the whole body.In those with a normal immune system, Leishmania mexicana sores usually heal within a year and won't make the patients sick.Aftergut said that treatment can include anti-fungal medications or removing the sores, which is what Hatch had done.Hatch-an avid hunter, hiker and naturalist who spends a lot of time outdoors-first noticed the two tiny red dots on his back in February. As they began to grow to the size of a quarter, looking blistery and itching, he headed to the doctor.Since his experience with leishmaniasis, he said he's been heeding doctors' advice and spraying on a little insect repellent when he heads outside.

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BIO ATTACK WATCH:Russian Scientist May Have Tried to Smuggle Out Biological Weapons Material

MOSCOW-Security agents are investigating a Russian scientist for allegedly trying to smuggle out of Russia materials that could be used in building a biological or bacteriological weapon, the scientist and his co-workers said Friday.Oleg Mediannikov is the latest in a growing number of academics and scientists who have been targeted by Russia's main security agency, the Federal Security Service, for allegedly misusing classified information, revealing state secrets or, in some cases, espionage.Mediannikov, a biologist at Moscow's Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, told The Associated Press that he was traveling to France in December to bring vials of a non-dangerous typhoid vaccine to colleagues when he was stopped by customs officials at Sheremyetevo Airport.The samples were confiscated and sent to a government laboratory for testing, but Mediannikov said he was allowed to travel to Marseilles, then returned to Moscow without further incident.In February, as he tried to travel to Africa on a tourist trip, he said he was denied permission to leave at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport. His passport was confiscated and was returned to him two months later, he said.In June, he said he was notified he was under investigation for smuggling materials that might be used for preparing weapons of mass destruction-a charge he said could result, if convicted, in a sentence up to seven years in prison.Mediannikov said he had the necessary documentation and permits for the samples at the time they were confiscated. He also said that the directors of the Gamaleya Institute have asked him to resign, but he has refused."Logically, this shouldn't be happening at all, but it is and why it is remains a complete mystery for me," he told the AP. "I really hope that wiser heads will prevail."Anatoly Osipenko, deputy director of the Gamaleya Institute, accused Mediannikov of violating Russian customs law by not declaring the samples when he was leaving the country.A duty officer at the Federal Security Service refused to comment on the investigation, saying all questions should be submitted in writing.Didier Raoult, a French biologist with the University of the Mediterranean, said Mediannikov had been to France three times in the past without incident."We've been working with the Gamaleya Institute for 15 years and we've never had any problems. Even when we were working in communist times," Raoult said.Earlier this year, customs officials banned exports of blood samples and other biological materials from Russia; the Health Ministry, however, said the decision by customs' officials concerned only major shipments of biological materials and would not affect ordinary patients.The Health Ministry and other Russian officials gave no reason for the decision, but it appeared to reflect official suspicions about Western companies' involvement in the sensitive sphere of health care amid a deepening chill in ties and accusations of European and U.S. meddling in Russia's affairs.Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov later said that new rules governing the export of human blood and tissue would soon be set.It was not immediately clear whether the rules had been issued, or whether they would concern the samples Mediannikov was carrying.The investigation highlighted the chill that has fallen over Russian scientific research under President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer.In 2004, physicist Valentin Danilov was convicted of spying for China and sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing allegedly sensitive information that he said had been published in part in publicly available scientific magazines. The same year, arms control researcher Igor Sutyagin was convicted of treason for selling information on nuclear submarines and missile-warning systems to a British company that Russian investigators claimed was a CIA cover.Last month, the Federal Security Service said it was dropping its investigation of two physicist-brothers who published a booklet last year that outside experts determined, the service said, contained classified information "related to the development of armaments."

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FRANKESTEIN SCIENCE WATCH:Human Ovaries, Eggs Grown in Lab Mice

ITHACA, N.Y-Researchers at Cornell University have grown human ovaries complete with human eggs in laboratory mice.It's part of research aimed at discovering why humans have such a high rate of birth defects and miscarriage compared to other mammals.Researchers can't explore the issue by working directly on humans, and lab animals are of limited use unless they take on human qualities.{{{The mice are 20 days old when ""a piece of human ovary from a fetus is placed under their skin"""}}}. By last fall, the lab was able to show the ovaries could grow in the mice for up to 24 weeks and produce eggs similar to those found in adult women.Geneticist Paula Cohen noted that it would not be ethical to fertilize the human eggs produced in the Cornell mice.{{{"Humanized" }}}mice have become common in labs. At Upstate Medical Center, a researcher is studying leukemia treatment{{{ in mice that have human immune systems.}}}
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,296800,00.html
PS:This is all getting ridiculous to the point that there's no telling what they already have in labs....Where did they got the piece of human ovary from a fetus from....?huh....???yep...From a fetus....that's right....!!!!!then u go figure the rest...!!!
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Al Qaeda Offers Bounty for Murder of Swedish Cartoonist

CAIRO,Egypt-The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq offered money for the murder of a Swedish cartoonist and his editor who recently produced images deemed insulting to Islam, according to a statement carried by Islamist Web sites Saturday.In a half hour audio file entitled "They plotted yet God too was plotting," Abu Omar al-Baghdadi also named the other insurgent groups in Iraq that Al Qaeda was fighting and promised new attacks, particularly against the minority Yazidi sect."We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet, peace be upon him, and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan of $100,000 for the one who kills this criminal," the transcript on the Web site said.
The Al Qaeda leader upped the reward for Vilks' death to $150,000 if he was "slaughtered like a lamb" and offered $50,000 for the killing of the editor of Nerikes Allehanda, the Swedish paper that printed Vilks' cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog's body on Aug. 19.Vilks said from Sweden he believed the matter of his cartoons had been blown out of proportion."We have a real problem here," Vilks told The AP by telephone. "We can only hope that Muslims in Europe and in the Western world choose to distance themselves from this and support the idea of freedom of expression."Ulf Johansson, editor in chief of Nerikes Allehanda, said he took the bounty "more seriously" than other threats he had received."This is more explicit. It's not every day somebody puts a price on your head."Johansson said he had contacted the police and that they had already started work on the threat.Aside from a few scattered protests and condemnations by Muslim countries, the reaction to the cartoon has been muted, in contrast to last year's fiery protests that erupted in several Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of Muhammad that were reprinted in a range of Western media.In an attempt to defuse the tensions caused by the cartoon in both Sweden and abroad, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt last week invited 22 Sweden-based ambassadors from Muslim countries to talk about the sketch.Reinfeldt expressed regret at the hurt it may have caused, but said that according to Swedish law it is not up to politicians to punish the free press.Al-Baghdadi added in his message that if the "crusader state of Sweden" didn't apologize, his organization would also attack major companies."We know how to force you to retreat and apologize and if you don't, wait for us to strike the economy of your giant companies including Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, Ikea, and Electrolux," he said.No photo has ever appeared of al-Baghdadi, whom the U.S. describes as a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreigners.The U.S. has said that under interrogation, a top Al-Qaeda member revealed that al-Baghdadi's speeches are read by an actor.Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past has carried out operations in Jordan and may have links to militant groups in Lebanon, but is not known to have any kind of presence in Europe.

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Russia, Japan struggle to find common ground on islands

Nyet," Ivan Smutchenko answered shaking his head without hesitation when asked if Russia should give Japan back the four Kuril islands seized at the end of World War II.His father, Vladimir Smutchenko, was the first Russian born on the largest island of Iturup, or Etorofu, in 1947, helped by both Japanese and Russian midwives."This is Russian soil. This is my motherland," the 21-year-old said on a trip back to the barren island from medical school in Saint Petersburg.Since his father's birth, Russians have come to dominate, gradually exiling all 17,291 Japanese from the small islands, which are known in Japan as the Northern Territories and lie within sight of Japan's northeastern coast.Grocery stores are stocked with vodka and meat and vegetables for borscht soup.A convoy of Russian military vehicles whisked by on an unpaved road, kicking up dirt as cows trudged along.Today one of the only signs that Japanese once lived here is at the grassy hillside graveyard, where tombstones with the engraved names of deceased Japanese lie next to Russian graves with crosses.But even though diplomacy is at a stalemate on resolving the six-decade dispute, the two countries are slowly looking for a way to co-exist.Russians on the street waved and smiled as a rare group of Japanese recently were allowed on a rare visit to pay respects at their ancestors' tombs.Russian residents say most of their fellow islanders have fairly positive views about Japan. But they insist redrawing the border is a different story.A huge signboard on the front of a freshly built fish processing factory, a symbol of Russia's growing economy in this impoverished outpost, reads: "The Kurils are Russian territory....."
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SIGN of the TIMES:In America, Nonbelievers Find Strength in Numbers

A legion of the godless is rising up against the forces of religiosity in American society.
"People who were ashamed to say there is no God now say, 'Wow, there are others out there who think like me, and it feels damned good,' " said Margaret Downey, president of the Atheist Alliance International, whose membership has almost doubled in the past year to 5,200. It has a 500-person waiting list for its convention in Crystal City later this month.Focusing fresh attention on atheism in the United States was the publication last week of a book about Mother Teresa that lays out her secret struggle with her doubts about God. "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light" has led some high-profile atheists to say that her spiritual wavering was actually atheism."She couldn't bring herself to believe in God, but she wished she could," said Christopher Hitchens, a Washington-based columnist and author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," the latest atheist bestseller.In the past two years, five books touting atheism have hit the bestseller lists, outselling such religious tomes as Pope Benedict XVI's book on Jesus, and popular Christian novelist Tim LaHaye's latest book, "Kingdom Come," according to Nielsen BookScan.Representatives of atheist and humanist groups say the books probably haven't converted many religious people. But, said Lori Lipman Brown, a lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America, which represents eight atheist or humanist organizations, the books "tremendously increase the visibility of nontheist rights."Nontheist is another term for atheist, or someone who does not believe in a supreme being.A study released in June by the Barna Group, a religious polling firm, found that about 5 million adults in the United States call themselves atheists. The number rises to about 20 million-about one in every 11 Americans-if people who say they have no religious faith or are agnostic (they doubt the existence of a God or a supreme deity) are included.They tend to be more educated, more affluent and more likely to be male and unmarried than those with active faith, according to the Barna study. Only 6 percent of people over 60 have no faith in God, and one in four adults ages 18 to 22 describe themselves as having no faith.Javier Sanchez-Yoza, 21, a biology major at George Mason University, is a former born-again Christian who gave up his belief in God two years ago and is starting an atheist club at school. He turned atheist after growing skeptical of Christian friends' arguments for creationism."If they can be wrong about creationism, what else can they be wrong about?" Sanchez-Yoza said.For the younger generations, charter schools based on humanist principles have opened in New York City and Florida. CampQuest, an Albany-based group, runs five overnight camps around the country for atheist kids.The budget of the Council for Secular Humanism has climbed 40 percent in the past two years, approaching $8 million this year. The council opened a public-policy think tank in Washington last year to push leaders of both parties for policies based on the humanist principles of "science, reason and secularism" instead of religious faith, said Paul Kurtz, the council chairman.In March, Congress had its first self-avowed atheist when Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said he does not believe in a supreme being. The movement formed its first political action committee in 2005, when American Atheists, which advocates for the separation of church and state, formed the Godless Americans PAC.
Despite atheists' increased vocalism and visibility, it seems that the rest of America isn't buying in.In a nationwide poll last year by University of Minnesota researchers, Americans rated atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." They also associated atheists with everything from criminal behavior to rampant materialism. According to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, more than half would not vote for an atheist for president.Maggie Ardiente, 24, of Silver Spring faced the disapproval of her family and some friends because of her atheist beliefs. "It's hard for them even to comprehend," she said.

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SIGN of the TIMES:In Europe and U.S.,Nonbelievers Are Increasingly Vocal

BURGESS HILL,England-Every morning on his walk to work, high school teacher Graham Wright recited a favorite Anglican prayer and asked God for strength in the day ahead.Then two years ago, he just stopped.Wright, 59, said he was overwhelmed by a feeling that religion had become a negative influence in his life and the world. Although he once considered becoming an Anglican vicar, he suddenly found that religion represented nothing he believed in, from Muslim extremists blowing themselves up in God's name to Christians condemning gays, contraception and stem cell research."I stopped praying because I lost my faith," said Wright, 59, a thoughtful man with graying hair and clear blue eyes. "Now I truly loathe any sight or sound of religion. I blush at what I used to believe."Wright is now an avowed atheist and part of a growing number of vocal nonbelievers in Europe and the United States. On both sides of the Atlantic, membership in once-quiet groups of nonbelievers is rising, and books attempting to debunk religion have been surprise bestsellers, including "The God Delusion," by Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins.New groups of nonbelievers are sprouting on college campuses, anti-religious blogs are expanding across the Internet, and in general, more people are publicly saying they have no religious faith.More than three out of four people in the world consider themselves religious, and those with no faith are a distinct minority. But especially in richer nations, and nowhere more than in Europe, growing numbers of people are actively saying they don't believe there is a heaven or a hell or anything other than this life.Many analysts trace the rise of what some are calling the "nonreligious movement" to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The sight of religious fanatics killing 3,000 people caused many to begin questioning- and rejecting-all religion."This is overwhelmingly the topic of the moment," said Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society of Britain. "Religion in this country was very quiet until September 11, and now it is at the center of everything."Since the 2001 attacks, a string of religiously inspired bomb and murder plots has shaken Europe. Muslim radicals killed 52 people on the London public transit system in 2005 and 191 on Madrid trains in 2004.People apparently aiming for a reward in heaven were arrested in Britain last year for trying to blow up transatlantic jetliners. And earlier this month in Germany, authorities arrested converts to Islam on charges that they planned to blow up American facilities there.Many Europeans are angry at demands to use taxpayer money to accommodate Islam, Europe's fastest-growing religion, which now has as many as 20 million followers on the continent. Along with calls for prayer rooms in police stations, foot baths in public places and funding for Islamic schools and mosques, expensive legal battles have broken out over the niqab, the Muslim veil that covers all but the eyes, which some devout women seek to wear in classrooms and court.Christian fundamentalist groups who want to halt certain science research, reverse abortion and gay rights and teach creationism rather than evolution in schools are also angering people, according to Sanderson and others."There is a feeling that religion is being forced on an unwilling public, and now people are beginning to speak out against what they see as rising Islamic and Christian militancy," Sanderson said....
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18,000 Acres Burned in Big Bear Lake Fire

A wildfire in the San Bernardino Mountain northwest of Fawnskin that started Friday has now scorched more than 18,000 acres, forcing local residents out of their homes, said a fire official.The fire was reported at 1:20 p.m. Friday and its cause is still under investigation, said Jim Wilkins, fire information officer with the San Bernardino County Fire Department.Twenty seven engines, six helicopters and 628 firefighters are battling the flames, Wilkins said.Mandatory evacuations were issued for the Fawnskin and Green Valley Lake areas, said Wilkins.Evacuation centers was established at Big Bear High School, Victor Valley High School and Victor Valley Community College, said Wilkins.Los Angeles and Riverside counties have both deployed resources to assist the San Bernardino County Fire Department, Wilkins said.A staging area that gathers and transports resources was set up in Corona by the Riverside County Fire Department, said Jody Hagemann, spokeswoman for the department.Highway 18 to Big Bear was shut down. Drivers should use Highway 38 as an alternate route, Wilkins said.Aside from an injured firefighter, there were no reported injuries.

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Air New Zealand books gay-themed flight

SAN FRANCISCO-Air New Zealand is out.The carrier will delve into the gay and lesbian market with a special themed flight that will feature drag queens, pink cocktails and a cabaret performed by the flight crew.The airline's "Pink Flight" is scheduled to depart San Francisco International Airport on February 26th, is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia.
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Israelis ‘blew apart Syrian nuclear cache’:Secret raid on Korean shipment

IT was just after midnight when the 69th Squadron of Israeli F15Is crossed the Syrian coast-line. On the ground, Syria’s formidable air defences went dead. An audacious raid on a Syrian target 50 miles from the Iraqi border was under way.At a rendezvous point on the ground, a Shaldag air force commando team was waiting to direct their laser beams at the target for the approaching jets. The team had arrived a day earlier, taking up position near a large underground depot. Soon the bunkers were in flames.Ten days after the jets reached home, their mission was the focus of intense speculation this weekend amid claims that Israel believed it had destroyed a cache of nuclear materials from North Korea.The Israeli government was not saying. “The security sources and IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers are demonstrating unusual courage,” said Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. “We naturally cannot always show the public our cards.”The Syrians were also keeping mum. “I cannot reveal the details,” said Farouk al-Sharaa, the vice-president. “All I can say is the military and political echelon is looking into a series of responses as we speak. Results are forthcoming.” The official story that the target comprised weapons destined for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group, appeared to be crumbling in the face of widespread scepticism.Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.”He said a network run by AQ Khan, the disgraced creator of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, could be involved.But why would nuclear material be in Syria? Known to have chemical weapons, was it seeking to bolster its arsenal with something even more deadly?
Alternatively, could it be hiding equipment for North Korea, enabling Kim Jong-il to pretend to be giving up his nuclear programme in exchange for economic aid? Or was the material bound for Iran, as some authorities in America suggest?According to Israeli sources, preparations for the attack had been going on since late spring, when Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad, presented Olmert with evidence that Syria was seeking to buy a nuclear device from North Korea.
The Israeli spy chief apparently feared such a device could eventually be installed on North-Korean-made Scud-C missiles.“This was supposed to be a devastating Syrian surprise for Israel,” said an Israeli source. “We’ve known for a long time that Syria has deadly chemical warheads on its Scuds, but Israel can’t live with a nuclear warhead.”An expert on the Middle East, who has spoken to Israeli participants in the raid, told yesterday’s Washington Post that the timing of the raid on September 6 appeared to be linked to the arrival three days earlier of a ship carrying North Korean material labelled as cement but suspected of concealing nuclear equipment.The target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates river. Israel had been monitoring it for some time, concerned that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.According to an Israeli air force source, the Israeli satellite Ofek 7, launched in June, was diverted from Iran to Syria. It sent out high-quality images of a northeastern area every 90 minutes, making it easy for air force specialists to spot the facility.Early in the summer Ehud Barak, the defence minister, had given the order to double Israeli forces on its Golan Heights border with Syria in anticipation of possible retaliation by Damascus in the event of air strikes.Sergei Kirpichenko, the Russian ambassador to Syria, warned President Bashar al-Assad last month that Israel was planning an attack, but suggested the target was the Golan Heights.Israeli military intelligence sources claim Syrian special forces moved towards the Israeli outpost of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. Tension rose, but nobody knew why.At this point, Barak feared events could spiral out of control. The decision was taken to reduce the number of Israeli troops on the Golan Heights and tell Damascus the tension was over. Syria relaxed its guard shortly before the Israeli Defence Forces struck.Only three Israeli cabinet ministers are said to have been in the know:Olmert, Barak and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister. America was also consulted. According to Israeli sources, American air force codes were given to the Israeli air force attaché in Washington to ensure Israel’s F15Is would not mistakenly attack their US counterparts.Once the mission was under way, Israel imposed draconian military censorship and no news of the operation emerged until Syria complained that Israeli aircraft had violated its airspace. Syria claimed its air defences had engaged the planes, forcing them to drop fuel tanks to lighten their loads as they fled.But intelligence sources suggested it was a highly successful Israeli raid on nuclear material supplied by North Korea.Washington was rife with speculation last week about the precise nature of the operation. One source said the air strikes were a diversion for a daring Israeli commando raid, in which nuclear materials were intercepted en route to Iran and hauled to Israel. Others claimed they were destroyed in the attack.There is no doubt, however, that North Korea is accused of nuclear cooperation with Syria, helped by AQ Khan’s network. John Bolton, who was undersecretary for arms control at the State Department, told the United Nations in 2004 the Pakistani nuclear scientist had “several other” customers besides Iran, Libya and North Korea.Some of his evidence came from the CIA, which had reported to Congress that it viewed “Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern”.“I’ve been worried for some time about North Korea and Iran outsourcing their nuclear programmes,” Bolton said last week. Syria, he added, was a member of a “junior axis of evil”, with a well-established ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction.The links between Syria and North Korea date back to the rule of Kim Il-sung and President Hafez al-Assad in the last century. In recent months, their sons have quietly ordered an increase in military and technical cooperation.Foreign diplomats who follow North Korean affairs are taking note. There were reports of Syrian passengers on flights from Beijing to Pyongyang and sightings of Middle Eastern businessmen from sources who watch the trains from North Korea to China.On August 14, Rim Kyong Man, the North Korean foreign trade minister, was in Syria to sign a protocol on “cooperation in trade and science and technology”. No details were released, but it caught Israel’s attention.Syria possesses between 60 and 120 Scud-C missiles, which it has bought from North Korea over the past 15 years. Diplomats believe North Korean engineers have been working on extending their 300-mile range. It means they can be used in the deserts of northeastern Syria, the area of the Israeli strike.The triangular relationship between North Korea, Syria and Iran continues to perplex intelligence analysts. Syria served as a conduit for the transport to Iran of an estimated £50m of missile components and technology sent by sea from North Korea. The same route may be in use for nuclear equipment.But North Korea is at a sensitive stage of negotiations to end its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and aid, leading some diplomats to cast doubt on the likelihood that Kim would cross America’s “red line” forbidding the proliferation of nuclear materials.Christopher Hill, the State Department official representing America in the talks, said on Friday he could not confirm “intelligence-type things”, but the reports underscored the need “to make sure the North Koreans get out of the nuclear business”. By its actions, Israel showed it is not interested in waiting for diplomacy to work where nuclear weapons are at stake.As a bonus, the Israelis proved they could penetrate the Syrian air defence system, which is stronger than the one protecting Iranian nuclear sites.
This weekend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran sent Ali Akbar Mehrabian, his nephew, to Syria to assess the damage. The new “axis of evil” may have lost one of its spokes.

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Bush setting America up for war with Iran

Senior American intelligence and defence officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, amid growing fears among serving officers that diplomatic efforts to slow Iran's nuclear weapons programme are doomed to fail.Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.Now it has emerged that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, who has been pushing for a diplomatic solution, is prepared to settle her differences with Vice-President Dick Cheney and sanction military action.In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq-arming and training militants-would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories.A prime target would be the Fajr base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in southern Iran, where Western intelligence agencies say armour-piercing projectiles used against British and US troops are manufactured.Under the theory-which is gaining credence in Washington security circles-US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities and even its armed forces.Senior officials believe Mr Bush's inner circle has decided he does not want to leave office without first ensuring that Iran is not capable of developing a nuclear weapon.The intelligence source said: "No one outside that tight circle knows what is going to happen." But he said that within the CIA "many if not most officials believe that diplomacy is failing" and that "top Pentagon brass believes the same".He said: "A strike will probably follow a gradual escalation. Over the next few weeks and months the US will build tensions and evidence around Iranian activities in Iraq."Previously, accusations that Mr Bush was set on war with Iran have come almost entirely from his critics.Many senior operatives within the CIA are highly critical of Mr Bush's handling of the Iraq war, though they themselves are considered ineffective and unreliable by hardliners close to Mr Cheney.The vice president is said to advocate the use of bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons against Iran's nuclear sites. His allies dispute this, but Mr Cheney is understood to be lobbying for air strikes if sites can be identified where Revolutionary Guard units are training Shia militias.Recent developments over Iraq appear to fit with the pattern of escalation predicted by Pentagon officials.Gen David Petraeus, Mr Bush's senior Iraq commander, denounced the Iranian "proxy war" in Iraq last week as he built support in Washington for the US military surge in Baghdad.
The US also announced the creation of a new base near the Iraqi border town of Badra, the first of what could be several locations to tackle the smuggling of weapons from Iran.A State Department source familiar with White House discussions said that Miss Rice, under pressure from senior counter-proliferation officials to acknowledge that military action may be necessary, is now working with Mr Cheney to find a way to reconcile their positions and present a united front to the President.The source said:"When you go down there and see the body language, you can see that Cheney is still The Man.Condi pushed for diplomacy but she is no dove.If it becomes necessary she will be on board."Both of them are very close to the president,and where they differ they are working together to find a way to present a position they can both live with."The official contrasted the efforts of the secretary of state to work with the vice-president with the "open warfare between Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld before the Iraq war".Miss Rice's bottom line is that if the administration is to go to war again it must build the case over a period of months and win sufficient support on Capitol Hill.The Sunday Telegraph has been told that Mr Bush has privately promised her that he would consult "meaningfully" with Congressional leaders of both parties before any military action against Iran on the understanding that Miss Rice would resign if this did not happen.The intelligence officer said that the US military has "two major contingency plans" for air strikes on Iran."One is to bomb only the nuclear facilities. The second option is for a much bigger strike that would-over two or three days-hit all of the significant military sites as well. This plan involves more than 2,000 targets."

As in the days of Noah...

Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran?

The head of Israel's airforce, Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, was visiting a base in the coastal city of Herziliya last week. For the 50-year-old general, also the head of Israel's Iran Command, which would fight a war with Tehran if ordered, it was a morale-boosting affair, a meet-and-greet with pilots and navigators who had flown during last summer's month-long war against Lebanon. The journalists who had turned out in large numbers were there for another reason: to question Shkedi about a mysterious air raid that happened this month, codenamed 'Orchard', carried out deep in Syrian territory by his pilots.Shkedi ignored all questions. It set a pattern for the days to follow as he and Israel's politicians and officials maintained a steely silence, even when the questions came from the visiting French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner. Those journalists who thought of reporting the story were discouraged by the threat of Israel's military censor.But the rumours were in circulation, not just in Israel but in Washington and elsewhere. In the days that followed, the sketchy details of the raid were accompanied by contradictory claims even as US and British officials admitted knowledge of the raid. The New York Times described the target of the raid as a nuclear site being run in collaboration with North Korean technicians. Others reported that the jets had hit either a Hizbollah convoy, a missile facility or a terrorist camp.Amid the confusion there were troubling details that chimed uncomfortably with the known facts. Two detachable tanks from an Israeli fighter were found just over the Turkish border. According to Turkish military sources, they belonged to a Raam F15I - the newest generation of Israeli long-range bomber, which has a combat range of over 2,000km when equipped with the drop tanks. This would enable them to reach targets in Iran, leading to speculation that it was an 'operation rehearsal' for a raid on Tehran's nuclear facilities.Finally, however, at the week's end, the first few tangible details were beginning to emerge about Operation Orchard from a source involved in the Israeli operation.....
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As in the days of Noah...

Bishop warns that Muslims who convert risk being killed

One of the Church of England's most senior bishops is warning that people will die unless Muslim leaders in Britain speak out in defence of the right to change faith.Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, whose father converted from Islam to Christianity in Pakistan, says he is looking to Muslim leaders in Britain to 'uphold basic civil liberties, including the right for people to believe what they wish to believe and to even change their beliefs if they wish to do so'.Some Islamic texts brand Muslims who convert to other faiths as 'apostates' and call for them to be punished. Seven of the world's 57 Islamic states - including Iran - impose the death penalty for conversion.Now Ali, who some see as a potential Archbishop of Canterbury, has told Channel 4's Dispatches programme of his fears about the safety of the estimated 3,000 Muslims who have converted to other faiths in Britain.'It is very common in the world today, including in this country, for people who have changed their faith, particularly from being Muslim to being Christian, to be ostracised, to lose their job, for their marriages to be dissolved, for children to be taken away,' Ali said. 'And this is why some leadership is necessary from Muslim leaders themselves to say that this is not what Islam teaches.'The bishop warns that Muslims who switch faiths in Britain could be killed if the current climate continues.'We have seen honour killings have happened, and there is no reason why this kind of thing cannot happen.'In 2004, Prince Charles asked British Muslim leaders to renounce laws of apostasy and the death sentence for converts in Islamic countries, but no public statement was ever made.Dispatches obtained Islamic texts sold in Britain that say the punishment for apostasy is death-according to all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence.One text called for Muslims to cut off the head of those who reject Islam.The radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which some in Britain want to see banned, states in its constitution that in countries that practise Sharia law, apostates are to be executed. Its message is disseminated on university campuses across Britain and has found a following among a minority of young Muslims.A poll of more than 1,000 British Muslims, conducted by the Policy Exchange think-tank this year, found that 36 per cent of Muslims aged between 16 and 24 believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.
Sheikh Mogra, a senior member of the Muslim Council for Britain,told Dispatches:'We live in a country where we respect people's choices.It is not right for any British Muslim to harm in any way whatsoever; to bully them, to intimidate them,to threaten them, is all against Muslim law.'
One convert interviewed for the programme told how his local Muslim community in Bradford closed ranks against him after he switched to Christianity.'They told me categorically had I been in an Islamic country-Pakistan, Middle East-that they would actually be the first to chop off my head,' he said.

As in the days of Noah...

Army records first UAV-drone kills

When Army scouts in Iraq spotted two men planting a roadside bomb Sept. 1, they called in a nearby Hunter unmanned aircraft, which dropped a laser-guided bomb and killed the two men.“We had the first confirmed use of an Army weaponized UAV,” said Col. Don Hazelwood, project manager for Army Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.The Army is mounting precision-guided weapons on hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hazelwood said.The MQ-5B Hunter will carry the laser-guided GBU-44/B Viper Strike, a 42-pound glide bomb with a one-yard wingspan that can strike within one meter of its aim point.The Army intends to increase the number of Viper Strike bombs it intends to buy, but declined to give specific numbers, said Tim Owings, the Army’s deputy project manager for UAVs.AGM-114 Hellfire missiles are going on the Warrior AlphaUAV, a prototype version of the MQ-1C Warrior Extended-Range Multi-purpose UAV to be ready by 2009. Eventually, the Warrior may also carry Viper Strikes.Both UAV types will carry laser designators that can be used to guide munitions dropped from UAVs or manned aircraft, said Owings.He said the Army has a human in the loop who decides when to fire a UAV’s weapons.“The ground control stations are like a cockpit which does not need to be in the aircraft. The video goes into the brigade TOC [tactical operations center], so the same rules of engagement that any of our pilots would follow is followed by our pilots in the TOC,” Owings said.The number of UAVs in combat is rising, from about 1,000 last year to 1,350 expected by the end of this year. Flight hours have soared from 60,000 last year to 140,000 so far this year, Hazelwood said.The number of video terminals that display live imagery beamed from UAVs has jumped to 1,000, up from 200 six months ago, he said. They are installed in Stryker vehicles on their way to Iraq, and should be in Apache cockpits by next summer, said Kim Henry, a spokeswoman at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal, Ala.“These terminals receive video from any of our platforms. You can see where you are located and see what UAV operators are seeing as well. Now the Apache pilot is able to see before he gets to a target,” Owings said.The terminals allow soldiers to see around corners, over hills and buildings, and into neighboring areas during combat, said one senior Army leader who recently returned from Iraq.He said more surveillance, communications and reconnaissance technologies are changing things.“Now all of our [avionics and sensor] payloads are digital, and that has opened up a whole new bunch of capability,” Hazelwood said.UAVs beam voice communications to convoys as far as 100 kilometers away, Hazelwood said.The Hunter has been improved several times since it made the combat debut for Army UAVs in Kosovo in 1999. The latest model, the 1,940-pound, $2 million MQ-5B, has a bigger fuel tank so it can fly for 21 hours at altitudes up to 15,000 ft, diesel engines, and a modern avionics suite.“Now we have an EOIR [electro-optical infrared] sensor on a ball sitting below the middle of the airplane, that allows soldiers to identify things with great clarity from a great distance away,” said Northrop Grumman engineer Mike Howell.“Right now, they are at 53,000 hours of operation, 20,000 hours of combat in OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom]. They are easy to maintain and they stay in the air,” said David Apt, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Technical Services.The Army is upgrading its A-model Hunters to the B specification, said Henry, who declined to say how many of each type the Army owns.The Army plans to buy 132 MQ-1C Warriors in the first batch, taking delivery of the first prototype in December and beginning testing in May. Initial production is scheduled for July, with delivery of operational Warriors to the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Ky., in August 2009, the senior Army official said.The Warrior, which will fly 36-hour missions at altitudes up to 25,000 feet, will carry an 800-pound payload, which includes four Hellfire missiles, Hazelwood said.“We like the Hellfire, but we don’t like using it downtown or in built-up areas. It can blow out windows. We are there to not disrupt the population and we are very sensitive to it, so we have to be very sensitive to the munitions we use,” Hazelwood said. “The Viper Strike can still take out the same type of targets but does not have the same explosive effects.”

As in the days of Noah....

Prodi assures UN of Sudan's cooperation with Darfur force

Sudanese President Omar el-Beshir has promised "total cooperation" with a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, Italy's prime minister has told the UN chief, officials said Saturday.In a telephone call late Friday after talks with Beshir in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi also informed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the Khartoum government's commitment to a ceasefire in the war-torn region.He told Ban that the Sudanese leader had offered him "the assurance of total cooperation for the deployment" of the hybrid force in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, according to a statement from Prodi's office.Beshir also offered a "commitment to a unilateral ceasefire with rebel groups who did not sign the Abuja peace deal" in 2006, it said.This agreement was only signed by one rebel group, but the others met in UN- and African Union-mediated talks in Tanzania last month to establish a common platform for negotiations with Khartoum.Talks between the government and rebels are due in Tripoli from October 27.Prodi also said he had told Beshir about "the concerns of Europe and the international community" about the humanitarian and human rights situation in Darfur.The UN estimates that at least 200,000 people have been killed and two million displaced in Darfur since 2003, when Beshir's government enlisted Janjaweed Arab militia allies to help put down an ethnic minority rebellion.In a press conference in Rome late Friday, Beshir said he would like the coming negotiations to be "final", adding that he believed "a number of factions are not ready for peace".The Sudanese leader also held talks with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Italy, which was due to end Saturday.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070915103432.j9ejf65x&show_article=1&catnum=0
As in the days of Noah...

LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:Iraqi al-Qaida Group Threatens Sunnis

BAGHDAD-An al-Qaida front group warned it will hunt down and kill Sunni Arab tribal leaders who cooperate with the U.S. and its Iraqi partners, saying the assassination of the leader of the revolt against the terror movement was just a beginning.In a separate statement, the Islamic State of Iraq announced a new offensive in Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting that began this week. The statement said the offensive was in honor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in June 2006.The statements were posted Friday and Saturday on Islamist Web sites and among other things claimed responsibility for the assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who spearheaded the uprising against al-Qaida in Anbar province west of the capital.In claiming responsibility for Abu Risha's death Thursday, the Islamic State said it had formed "special security committees" to track down and "assassinate the tribal figures, the traitors, who stained the reputations of the real tribes by submitting to the soldiers of the Crusade" and the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki."We will publish lists of names of the tribal figures to scandalize them in front of our blessed tribes," the statement added.In a second statement posted Saturday, the purported head of the Islamic State, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, said he was "honored to announce" the new offensive in memory of al-Zarqawi."Today we witness the fallacy of the Western civilization and the renaissance of the Islamic giant," al-Baghdadi said in a half-hour audio file.U.S. officials hope Abu Risha's death will not reverse the tide against al-Qaida, which began last year when he organized Sunni clans to fight the terror movement, producing a dramatic turnaround in Ramadi and other parts of Anbar province.The revolt has spread to Sunni insurgent groups in Baghdad, Diyala province and elsewhere. Some insurgents who were ambushing U.S. troops a few months ago are now working alongside the Americans to rid their communities of al-Qaida.Abu Risha's brother Ahmed was elected head of the Anbar Awakening movement soon after the bombing at the family's heavily guarded compound on the outskirts of Ramadi.The national Interior Ministry announced that a police brigade would be named after the slain tribal leader and a statue would be erected in Ramadi in his honor.Iraqi officials said the roadside bomb was just outside Abu Risha's walled compound in view of a guard shack and an Iraqi police checkpoint.Some 1,500 mourners called for revenge as they buried Abu Risha on Friday.Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the second-highest ranking U.S. officer in Iraq, and several high-ranking government officials attended the funeral, including Iraq's interior and defense ministers and National Security Adviser Mouwaffak al-Rubaie."We condemn the killing of Abu Risha, but this will not deter us from helping the people of Anbar-we will support them more than before," al-Rubaie declared. "It is a national disaster and a great loss for the Iraqi people—Abu Risha was the only person to confront al-Qaida in Anbar."Abu Risha's assassination clouded President Bush's claims of progress in Iraq, especially in Anbar, which had been the center of the Sunni insurgency until the dramatic turnaround by the local sheiks. Bush met with Abu Risha during a visit to Anbar on Sept. 3.In a televised address Thursday, Bush ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq but rejected calls to end the war. More than 130,000 U.S. troops will remain after the withdrawals are completed in July.Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday raised the possibility of cutting U.S. troop levels to 100,000 or so by the end of 2008, if conditions improve enough."It was encouraging to see the president's comments to Americans to reinforce support for us," said U.S. Lt. Col. Mike Donnelly, 42, based at Tikrit with the 25th Infantry Division.U.S. Capt. Bryan Greening, 25, said he found no surprises in Bush's speech."I think the drawdown is a good idea," said Greening, assigned to Tikrit with the 1st Cavalry Division."The surge has done whatever it can and now it's time to allow soldiers to go home and get some rest."1st. Lt. Larry Pitts, 33, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in north Baghdad, said soldiers are aware of the political debate in the U.S. but "we don't have the time to worry about the big picture."In violence Saturday, an Iraqi soldier was killed when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Baqouba, capital of Diyala province, Iraqi army said. Police and army officials said eight civilians also were killed and five others wounded in attacks in and around the volatile city, which had been a stronghold of the Islamic State until U.S. soldiers overran it in July.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8RLUFJ00&show_article=1&catnum=0
As in the days of Noah....

Hundreds of thousands rally in Taiwan over UN bid

Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese took to the streets on Saturday in support of the island's latest bid for United Nations membership, which has been criticised by China and the United States.The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said half a million people attended a rally in the southern city of Kaohsiung to promote a referendum on the UN bid under the name "Taiwan."Police put the numbers at up to 150,000."We will (apply to) join the UN under the name 'Taiwan' and we will let the world hear Taiwan's voice via the referendum,"President Chen Shui-bian told supporters in Kaohsiung and outside the UN headquarters in New York via a videolink."China says Taiwan is part of it but I believe we definitely cannot agree with that. Taiwan is an independent sovereign country...UN for Taiwan,"Chen said."Join the UN, referendum protects Taiwan," supporters shouted, punching the air and waving placards and flags as they gathered in front of an arch with a huge "UN" sign on it.The independence-leaning Chen has repeatedly vowed to press ahead with the planned vote despite fresh warnings from Beijing and Washington.After talks in Sydney last week, US President George W. Bush and China's Hu Jintao voiced concerns over Taipei's plan, with Hu warning it could propel the region into a "possibly dangerous period."Names and titles are highly sensitive in the row between Taiwan and China, which split after the end of a civil war in 1949.The island, under its official name the Republic of China,lost its UN seat to China in 1971.Its efforts to rejoin the world body using its official name have been repeatedly blocked by Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.Meanwhile the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party said some 100,000 people joined a rally in the central city of Taichung headed by its presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou. Police estimated a turnout of 50,000.The KMT is proposing its own referendum on whether the island should push to join international organisations as the "Republic of China," its official title, or "Taiwan.""We are seeking to return to the UN with a pragmatic and flexible approach. The DPP's proposal to join the UN under the name 'Taiwan' is unfeasible and it is an election ploy," Ma told the crowd.Ma also vowed to improve the sluggish economy if the KMT regains power.In contrast to the carnival atmosphere in central and southern Taiwan, dozens of people scuffled with police outside the Presidential Office in Taipei, where they were gathered to oppose the planned referendum.Protestors sprayed red paint on photographs of the president and on government banners promoting the UN bid in a show of anger.Some 15 of Taiwan's 24 allies have proposed the island's membership application to the General Assembly, which will decide whether to discuss it when the annual session opens on September 18.
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070915141830.383ub3xe&show_article=1&catnum=0
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Imminency And The Any-Moment Rapture

We believe that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ could come in the clouds at any-moment and take His church to be with Him to His Father's house (John 14:1-3). What a great hope, that while you are reading this article; our Lord could return and rapture His church. We have come to call this any-moment hope of the rapture an imminent event.The English word "imminent" (of Latin derivation) can be used in many ways, it is used to note the New Testament teaching that Christ could return and rapture His church at any-moment, without prior signs or warning. Use of the term "imminency" entered the lexicon of American Evangelicalism around the end of the last century in contrast to the dominate, but waning, postmillennialism which taught that Christ's coming was not imminent. Postmillennialism held that Christ's return must first await the Christianization of the world by the Church. By the 1930s, it was common to pack into one theological expression-imminency-all of the many New Testament ways in which Christ's coming for His Church is said to be possible at any-moment. Thus, imminency and the any-moment return of Christ became synonyms for the pretribulational rapture of the church.In fact, imminency is such a powerful argument for pretribulationism that it is one of the most frequent and fiercely attacked doctrines by our opponents. Non-pretribulationists sense that if the New Testament teaches imminency, then pretribulationism is virtually assured.
DEFINITION OF IMMINENCY
What is the biblical definition of imminency? Four important elements contribute to a pretribulational understanding of imminency. First, imminency means that the rapture could take place at any moment. While other events may take place before the rapture, no event must precede it. If prior events are required before the rapture, then the rapture could not be described as imminent. Thus, if any event were required to occur before the rapture, then the concept of imminency would be destroyed.Second, since the rapture is imminent and could happen at any moment, then it follows that one must be prepared for it to occur at any time, without sign or warning.Third, imminency eliminates any attempt at date setting. Date setting is impossible since the rapture is signless (i.e., providing no basis for date setting) and if imminency is really true, the moment a date was fixed then Christ could not come at any moment, destroying imminency. Fourth, Renold Showers says, "A person cannot legitimately say that an imminent event will happen soon. The term 'soon' implies that an event must take place 'within a short time (after a particular point of time specified or implied).' By contrast, an imminent event may take place within a short time, but it does not have to do so in order to be imminent. As I hope you can see by now, "imminent" is not equal to 'soon.'"1 A. T. Pierson has noted that, "Imminence is the combination of two conditions, viz.,: certainty and uncertainty. By an imminent event we mean one which is certain to occur at some time, uncertain at what time."2
IMMINENCY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The fact that Christ could return, but may not soon, at any moment, yet without the necessity of signs preceding His return, requires the kind of imminence taught by pretribulationism.
What New Testament passages teach this truth? Those verses stating that Christ could return at any moment, without warning and those instructing believers to wait and look for the Lord's coming teach the doctrine of imminence. Note the following New Testament passages:
• 1 Corinthians 1:7-"awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
• 1 Corinthians 16:22-"Maranatha."
• Philippians 3:20-"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;"
• Philippians 4:5-"The Lord is near."
• 1 Thessalonians 1:10-"to wait for His Son from heaven,"
• 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18-"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
• 1 Thessalonians 5:6-"so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober."
• 1 Timothy 6:14-"that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
• Titus 2:13-"looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;"
• Hebrews 9:28-"so Christ . . . shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
• James 5:7-9-"Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. . . . for the coming of the Lord is at hand. . . . behold, the Judge is standing right at the door."
• 1 Peter 1:13 -"fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
• Jude 21-"waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."
• Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20-"'I am coming quickly!'"
• Revelation 22:17, 20-"And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.'"
"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."
It is significant that all of the above passages relate to the rapture and speak of the Lord's coming as something that could occur at any-moment, that it is imminent. This is why believers are waiting for a person-Jesus Christ-not just an event or series of events such as those related to the tribulation leading up to Christ's second advent in which He returns to the earth and remains for His millennial reign.
IMMINENCE AND PRETRIBULATIONISM
Contemplation of the above passages indicate that Christ may come at any moment so that the rapture is actually imminent. Only pretribulationism can give a full, literal meaning to such an any-moment event. Other rapture views must redefine imminence more loosely than the New Testament would allow. Dr. Walvoord declares, "The exhortation to look for 'the glorious appearing' of Christ to His own (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if the Tribulation must intervene first. Believers in that case should look for signs."3 If the pretribulational view of imminence is not accepted, then it would make sense to look for signs related to events of the tribulation (i.e., the anti-Christ, the two witnesses, etc.) and not for Christ Himself. But the New Testament, as demonstrated above, uniformly instructs the church to look for the coming of Christ, while tribulation saints are told to look for signs.
The New Testament exhortation to be comforted by the Lord's coming (John 14:1; 1 Thess. 4:18) would no longer have meaning if believers first had to pass through any part of the tribulation. Instead, comfort would have to await passage through the events of the tribulation. No, the church has been given a "Blessed Hope," in part, because our Lord's return is truly imminent.
MARANATHA!
The early church had a special greeting for one another, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 16:22, which was "Maranatha!" Maranatha consists of three Aramaic words: "Mar" ("Lord"), "ana" ("our"), and "tha" ("come"), meaning "our Lord, come." As with other New Testament passages, Maranatha only makes sense if an any-moment or imminent coming is understood. Such an understanding supports the pretribulationism.
No wonder these ancient Christians coined such a unique greeting which reflects an eager expectation of the Blessed Hope as a very real presence in their everyday lives providing a motivation for godly living, evangelism, and world wide evangelism. The life of the church today could only be improved if "Maranatha" were to return as a sincere greeting on the lips of an expectant people. Maranatha!
Written by: Dr. Thomas Ice


ENDNOTES
1 Renald Showers, Maranatha Our Lord, Come! A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church (Bellmawr, N.J.: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1995), pp. 127-28.
2Arthur T. Pierson, Our Lord's Second Coming as a Motive to World-Wide Evangelism (published by John Wanamaker, n.d., cited in Showers, Maranatha, p. 127.
3 John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question: Revised and Enlarged Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), p. 273.

More than 90,000 Muslims arrive at Temple Mount

First Friday prayer of holy month of Ramadan brings 93,000 worshippers to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City. Hundreds of Palestinians push up against police lines set up at West Bank checkpoints.Some 93,000 Muslim worshippers arrived at the Temple Mount for the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan.Hundreds of Palestinians thronged two major West Bank checkpoints, trying to reach the key Islamic shrine in Jerusalem, despite tight Israeli restrictions.Israeli troops turned back many of the West Bank faithful. Only men above the age of 45 and women above the age of 35, who had also obtained special permits, were allowed to enter Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine of Islam, said police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby.Later Friday, several tens of thousands of Palestinians, many of them Jerusalem residents not affected by the restrictions, participated in the al-Aqsa service, and the crowd dispersed peacefully.This year, the start of Ramadan, a month of fasting and religious observance, coincided with the Jewish New Year. As customary, Israel imposed a blanket closure on the West Bank during the Jewish holiday, barring virtually all Palestinians from entering Israel.Hundreds of Israeli police, including Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen, were deployed in streets and alleys in and around Jerusalem's walled Old City where the al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.Troops also took up positions at two major West Bank checkpoints, one to the south of Jerusalem and one to the north. The checkpoints are built into Israel's West Bank separation fence, which rings most of Jerusalem to control Palestinian movement into Israel.At the southern checkpoint, near the biblical town of Bethlehem, hundreds of Palestinians, many of them elderly, pushed up against police lines set up near the separation barrier, in this area a towering wall.At one point, the crowd pushed through the police line. One woman crawled on her hands and knees, another fell to the ground as people behind her surged forward. Israeli troops shouted at people to get back.At the northern Qalandiya crossing, near the city of Ramallah, hundreds of people waited to pass. Hamdi Abu Fadi, 44, was turned back because he didn't meet the age requirement. Abu Fadi said he would try to sneak into Jerusalem in another area, in hopes of reaching al-Aqsa.Prayers performed at the shrine are considered more powerful than worship in another mosque.Palestinians have long complained that Israel is violating their right to freedom of worship by restricting access to a major shrine. "It's a crime against us all year long, whether during Ramadan or any other month," said Abu Fadi.Israel says it imposes the restrictions to prevent possible attacks by Palestinian terrorists. Ramadan is a time of heightened religious fervor which security officials fear could increase the motivation for carrying out attacks.
Fatah-Hamas rift felt throughout territories
The rift between rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is deepening the month of Ramadan, which began Thursday.Jamal Bawatneh, religious affairs minister in the Abbas-appointed government based in the West Bank, has warned that any imam or preacher "promoting political, personal or partisan ideas will be sacked or replaced".Placing advertisements in newspapers, the Palestinian civil service is looking to recruit "qualified staff" to fill vacant preaching jobs. Bawatneh said his government had already budgeted for 800 such jobs, AFP reported.According to Palestinian security forces, most of the mosques in the West Bank are controlled by Hamas.Ibrahim Abdel Karim, a Gaza resident, told the al-Arabiya network, "Gaza Strip residents are afraid that West Bank residents will celebrate the month of Ramadan according to the dates it is celebrated in some Arab countries, while Gaza residents celebrate according to dates used by other Arab countries, causing a difference of one day between the Strip and the West Bank."Eventually Palestinians decided to start the holiday on Thursday, both in Gaza and the West Bank.

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Ugandan floods displace 150 000

Kampala - The heaviest rainfall in 35 years had displaced some 150 000 people in eastern Uganda since August and the rain had been "worsening by the hour", said authorities on Friday.State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru said up to 400 000 people had lost their livelihoods - and 150 000 of them had been displaced - by severe flooding in eastern Uganda. Nine people had died after being washed away by flood water or struck by lightening during violent storms. Ecweru said the death toll was expected to rise with rain still falling across large areas of the affected region.Ecweru said about 150 000 people had to move after being caught between rising flood waters.Ecweru said: "For the other 250 000 or thereabouts there is nothing in the kitchen. Their crops have been destroyed. The floods are worsening by the hour - for the last 48 hours the rain continues falling."According to the UN, rainfall since July had been the heaviest in 35 years for many parts of eastern Uganda.Ecweru said that the joint aid effort by the Ugandan government and the UN was being hampered by limited access with roads and bridges submerged in many areas.He said that three boats and four helicopters were being brought to Uganda by the UN on Monday to help deliver emergency aid including food, fresh water, tarpaulins and medication.

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Two US carrier-strike groups are bound for Persian Gulf region, bringing number back to three

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that from the third week of July, the only American strike force- carrier in the Persian Gulf-Arabian Sea region was the USS Enterprise. By the end of September, it will be joined by the USS Nimitz and the USS Truman Strike Groups. Our sources note that with their arrival, three American naval, air and marine forces will again confront Iranian shores at a time of crisis in the military and civilian leadership of Iran - signaled by the abrupt change of Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders, rising Israel-Syrian tensions and a troubled situation in Lebanon.The Nimitz left the region to take part in large-scale Malabar 2007 II exercise with five Asian nations, termed by Indian military observers “the first step towards establishing Asian NATO. Since the maneuver ended Friday, Sept. 7, the Nimitz has been on its way back to the Persian Gulf. The Truman group, made up of 12 warships and submarines, including a nuclear sub, with 7,600 sailors, air crew and marines aboard, has just completed a long series of training exercises and is preparing to set out for its new posting. It carries eight squadrons of fighters, bombers and spy planes.The Truman force’s battle cry is: “Give ‘em hell”.The combined naval strike groups include the Monterey-CG 61 guided missile cruiser, the USS Barry DDG 52 and USS Mason-DDG 87 guided missile destroyers, the USS Albuquerque-SSN 706 fast nuclear strike submarine and the combat logistical USNS Arctic T-AOE 8.In the last week of August, the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group took up position opposite the Lebanese coast amid trepidation over the September presidential election. Our military sources reported that aboard the group’s vessels are members of the 22nds Marine special operations-capable Expeditionary Unit, who are ready to execute landings on Lebanese beaches.

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Parashat Rosh Hashana: Signs of the times

Are we Jews superstitious about Rosh Hashana? Those who think we are could easily point to a colorful aspect of our Rosh Hashana pageantry, when we eat special fruits whose names, taste and/or texture conjure positive prayers for a good year.The most popular is the apple dipped in honey, which occasions our wish for a good and sweet New Year; pomegranates, when we pray for a year of merits as numerous as the pomegranate's seeds; leeks (Hebrew kartei), when we ask that God cut off (karet) our enemies; beets, silka, when we beseech God to remove (salek) our enemies; and some more modern (tongue-in-cheek) examples, like dates for the unmarried, and a mixture of raisins and celery for "a raise in da selery." We serve the head of a fish so that we may multiply like fish during the coming year, and so that Israel will be seen as the head and not the tail among the nations. All of this leads our sages to declare that "on Rosh Hashana, symbols take on a practical reality."Certainly this sounds superstitious.The Talmud (B.T. Kritut 5b) gives three examples which seem to substantiate this position:
1) "Rav Ami says, one who wishes to know whether he will live out the year ought to bring a candle into a house which is completely sealed off from any wind, and light that candle between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. If the light doesn't go out, we know he will live out the year."
2) "One who wishes to know if the business venture he wishes to get involved in will succeed or not, let him raise a hen. If she grows big and fat, we know his venture will succeed."
3) "And for one about to go on a journey who wishes to know if he will come back safely, let him enter a darkened house and remain there. If he sees that his shadow has a shadow, we know he shall return safely. But if he doesn't see the shadow, it's no proof that he won't return home; perhaps his disappointment and fear at not seeing a shadow of the shadow was responsible for a depression which led to his bad luck."
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France backs new sanctions on Iran over nuclear program

France said on Friday it wanted to reach a deal on new sanctions against Iran at the United Nations Security Council but indicated it might also push for separate European Union measures against Tehran. The shift signals France's impatience with Iran, and its desire that the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany agree quickly on a third round of UN sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program. France also struck a more hawkish tone than Germany, which diplomats say believes new sanctions may not be necessary if Iran cooperates with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "We wish to have new sanctions adopted, as a priority in the UN Security Council," foreign ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux told a regular news conference. "But we remind you that there are already measures taken outside that framework, in the framework of the European Union," he added. France has repeatedly called for fresh sanctions against Iran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Iran denies charges that it wants nuclear bombs, saying it is only interested in generating electricity. The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been ratcheting up pressure on Tehran to halt its program and cooperate more with UN inspectors. But European diplomats have told Reuters Germany wants to delay any fresh sanctions to give a chance to an Aug. 21 deal between Iran and the IAEA that is meant to bring transparency to Iran's nuclear program. Desagneaux said the deal between the IAEA and Iran was a step in the right direction but insufficient as it did not address the suspension of Iran's sensitive nuclear work that the Security Council has demanded. Describing the French position, one European diplomat said: "If the (UN) process fails or is not conclusive, we do not exclude taking measures in the European framework."The US, which is pushing for tougher sanctions, plans to hold a meeting on the next steps to take on Sept. 21.
Iran says China on side against fresh sanctions
Iran warned on Friday that tightened sanctions over its nuclear activities could undermine its cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog and claimed to have China's support against Washington's calls for added pressure. After talks with senior Chinese diplomats, Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said both sides believed sanctions would damage efforts to defuse conflict over his country's nuclear plans."If the Security Council tightens sanctions against Iran, then in the future our cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency will come to a halt," he told reporters. "In our discussions with the Chinese side, we agreed that resolving this issue through the IAEA is more effective," he said, speaking in Farsi translated into Chinese. China is generally reluctant to back UN sanctions. Iran was the country's third largest supplier of crude oil in the year through July, providing over 12 percent of China's imports and behind only Saudi Arabia and Angola. Pourmohammadi was in Beijing as a special envoy for talks about the nuclear dispute, as Washington pushes for tighter sanctions in the wake of a deal between Iran and UN inspectors that some Western nations fear could be a recipe for delay. Iran on Aug. 21 agreed to a "work plan" with the IAEA which commits Tehran to answer longstanding questions about its nuclear activities over a rough timeline of a few months, but leaves untouched the country's expanding uranium enrichment work. Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, who serves as a senior foreign policy coordinator, said his country wanted to see Iran and the IAEA cooperate, the official Xinhua news agency reported. "We hope that all sides will adopt a pragmatic and flexible attitude," Tang told Pourmohammadi, according to Xinhua. Pourmohammadi said Iran would not bow to pressure. The Iranian official also stressed Tehran's hopes for stronger economic ties with China, including energy deals and infrastructure projects. In the first seven months of this year China's goods exports to Iran leapt by 79 percent compared to the same time last year, reaching e4.1 billion, according to Chinese customs statistics. Iranian exports to China - a lot of it crude oil - grew by 31 percent to 7.4 billion euros.

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Church 'storm' of mass defections brews:Flight from biblical orthodoxy triggers exodus of 'faithful'

The Episcopal Church is on the verge of a mass exodus if it doesn't repent of its approval of homosexual relationships, warn the leaders of three diocese that signaled their intent this week to leave the 2 million-member denomination.The dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy, Ill., have stated if they don't receive assurances by Sept. 30 that the House of Bishops will not reject the consecration of bishops living in a same-sex relationship and same-sex blessings, they are prepared to cut themselves off from the Episcopal Church in the USA.The Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which, led by bishops in Africa and Asia, largely has maintained traditional doctrines."The Episcopal Church now faces potentially large numbers of departures that would make what has happened until now look like the calm before a storm," said Ralph Webb, director of Anglican Action for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a non-profit group seeking renewal in mainline denominations. Noting a trend that has developed over more than three decades, Webb said the denomination "has moved so far away from Scripture, Christian tradition and reason that many faithful Christians feel that they can no longer stay within the Episcopal Church and be faithful.""The Episcopal Church so far has downplayed the impact of the thousands of Anglicans who have left the denomination," he said.Initially, denominational leaders such as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori claimed the numbers of people leaving were so small they weren't newsworthy, Webb pointed out."Then, as more and more parishioners left, they revised their claim to emphasize parishes instead of people," he said. "They have ignored the loss of congregations with some of the largest numbers of parishioners in the denomination."The outcome of the House of Bishops fall meeting, Sept. 19-25, will "make the difference between whether thousands of Episcopalians stay within the denomination or leave it," said Webb.

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TURKEY: JUDGE PRESSURED TO WITHDRAW FROM CHRISTIANS’ TRIAL

LOS ANGELES-A Turkish judge announced his withdrawal this week from the case of two Christians charged with “insulting Turkishness.”Judge Neset Eren said at a hearing on Wednesday (September 12) that he was quitting to “distance the court’s decision from any form of indecision or doubt.”Eren’s announcement came after the plaintiffs’ ultranationalist lawyer submitted a written request on September 4 that the judge resign. Kemal Kerincsiz accused Eren of failing to deal impartially with the case.Exactly 11 months into the case, Eren had been expected to deliver a ruling at the hearing on Wednesday in Silivri’s criminal court, 45 miles west of Istanbul.In October 2006, Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal were charged with insulting Turkish identity, reviling Islam and secretly compiling files on private citizens for a local Bible correspondence course.But at their most recent hearing in July, State Prosecutor Ahmet Demirhuyuk had told the court that there was “not a single piece of credible evidence” to support the accusations against the two men, both converts from Islam to Christianity.A new state prosecutor, Adnan Ozcan, replaced Demirhuyuk at Wednesday’s hearing.The courthouse was surrounded by supporters of Kerincsiz and his three young clients, two of them minors, who have accused Tastan and Topal of slandering Turkey and Islam.“If Tastan and Topal had been acquitted, there would have been a large protest,” said the Christians’ lawyer, Gursel Meric.
Meric, who attended the hearing without Tastan and Topal, said that the prosecution attempted to prolong the case by asking for additional testimonies.A spokesperson for the nationalist Turkish Orthodox Church, a tiny splinter group from the Greek Orthodox Church after World War I, submitted a request to the court to be a complainant in the case. Sevgi Erenol’s request was rejected.Erenol, known for outspoken criticism of other Christian denominations, has accompanied lawyer Kerincsiz to all previous hearings. Meric said that Kerincsiz delivered an impromptu press conference to a number of journalists following the hearing, but major newspapers declined to report on the case yesterday.The next hearing has been set for September 26, giving a higher court in Istanbul time to deliberate on whether to accept judge Eren’s resignation.Scores of Turkish academics and writers have been charged in the past two years under article 301 of Turkey’s penal code for insulting the Turkish Republic, institutions of state or “Turkishness.”A recent European Commission report said that indictments related to non-violent expressions of opinion had doubled in Turkey in 2006, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) newspaper reported today. The report noted that more than half the incidents were raised under article 301.Under its newly elected center-right Islamist government, Turkey has begun to discuss a new constitution that could reform or abolish the controversial article.“The simple fact is that 301 has become a symbol of what ails Turkey,” Semih Idiz of TDN wrote. The columnist noted that deeper problems underlie the controversial law.“The problem is not just a question of repealing or amending this or that article, but one that concerns the quality of the judiciary in this country and the lack of sophistication when it comes to a true understanding of modern freedoms,” said Idiz.

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