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

Friday, September 28, 2007

Malaysian PM: Western nations misunderstand Islam

Badawi's problem here is that there are so many Muslim Misunderstanders of Islam, as we document here every day. If there weren't so many murders committed by Muslims who explain and justify their actions by reference to Islamic texts and teachings, maybe Western nations wouldn't have so much trouble grasping this glorious complexity. "Malaysia says Western nations misunderstand Islam," from Deutsche Presse-Agentur (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):
New York - Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called Friday for increasing dialogue to repair misunderstandings by the West about Islam.'The main cause is the misperception in the West that Islam promotes exclusively and encourages extremism,' Badawi said in an address to the UN General Assembly.He said action should be taken to generate 'greater understanding' between civilizations and cultures and dialogue to establish 'the truth that Islam is a religion which espouses universalism, not exclusivity, and tolerance, not bigotry.'

As in the days of Noah....


"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness:but is longsuffering to us-ward,not willing that any should perish,but that ALL should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing then that ALL THESE THINGS shall be dissolved,what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"
2 Peter 3:9-12

PESTILENCE WATCH:Death toll hits 12 as cholera spreads in Iraq

BAGHDAD,Iraq-A 40-year-old woman who lived in the southern Baghdad outskirts has died of cholera, the 12th death in Iraq from a recent outbreak of the disease, an Iraqi Health Ministry spokesman said Thursday. This death comes amid growing concern in war-torn Iraq about the deteriorating infrastructure, and cholera is prevalent in areas where the water quality is poor.The World Health Organization, which issued an update Tuesday on cholera, blames the outbreak on poor water quality and sewage treatment and cited a shortage of chlorine, which the agency said is "urgently needed" for water treatment. Cholera is a bacterial ailment that affects the intestinal tract and is usually contracted by consuming contaminated water. Victims are stricken with a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhea, which can cause death by severe dehydration and kidney failure.An outbreak of cholera was first reported in northern Iraq last month and has been spreading to other parts of the country, according to the WHO, which issued an update about the problem on Tuesday.The WHO said that 2,116 cases of cholera have been confirmed across the country, and that more than 30,000 people have been sickened by acute watery diarrhea. Sixty-eight percent of the lab-confirmed cases have been reported in Tameem province, where Kirkuk is located and where the ailment was first detected. It spread to the Iraqi Kurdish provinces of Sulaimaniya and Irbil, the organization said.As of Tuesday, six cases were confirmed in Tikrit, two in Mosul, and one in Duhuk, all in the north; one in Baghdad; and one in Basra in the southeast, the WHO said.The WHO said that the "case fatality rate is 0.52 percent and has remained low throughout the outbreak. The Health Ministry said that along with the Baghdad death, nine have been reported in Sulaimaniya, one in Kirkuk and one in Nineveh province.The agency said it "does not recommend any special restrictions to travel or trade to or from affected areas" in controlling the spread of the ailment.Iraq is implementing preventive measures "to reduce the risk of transmission to unaffected areas." But it cites "a severe shortage of chlorination products" and the urgent need for proper water treatment."Provision of safe water is the highest priority in controlling an outbreak of cholera," according to the WHO.The Baghdad woman, Majda Ameen, died on Monday in a hospital, where she was admitted seven days before her death. Her son was diagnosed with cholera as well, the ministry said.

As in the days of Noah...

Atheists Blast Creationists in Copyright Battle

A group of outspoken atheists has blasted a creationist ministry for allegedly false copyright claims after recent YouTube posts attacking creationism were pulled from the popular Web site."We believe that the actions of Creation Science Evangelism Ministries are meant to silence critics that can prove their unscientific statements ... well ... unscientific," said a statement on the Rational Response Squad Web site."We feel as if this act to silence us should be countered."YouTube had taken down earlier this month numerous videos containing content from the Creation Science ministry and videos criticizing the group after receiving several take down copyright notices. The popular Web site also suspended Rational Response Squad's account.DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) requests were submitted to YouTube as the creationist group claimed copyright ownership of the material that was used by the atheist group to criticize the ministry. DMCA, passed in 1998, limits Internet service providers from copyright infringement liability but requires them to promptly remove material from their Web sites that appears to constitute copyright infringement.Brian Sapient, who heads the Rational Response Squad, plans to file suit, arguing that the material they used was fair use within the boundaries of copyright law.The atheist group's account was recently reinstated and their videos were reposted along with a host of new posts where the squad and supporters denounce the ministry and claim the recent actions were attempts to silence critics."Our right to speak out about the irrationality of religion is the same right you are afforded to speak about exactly the opposite," said the atheist group.Creation Science Evangelism Ministries is led by Kent Hovind, who is well known for his creation science seminars, which are taped and widely distributed. His self-titled "Hovind Theory" which includes a literal reading of the biblical account of Noah is highly controversial among both atheists and creationists. The Rational Response Squad frequently quotes Hovind in their argument for encouraging the public to use the Creation Science content and saying "our material is not copyrighted."The atheists further use profane language while mocking Hovind in the YouTube posts.Hovind is currently serving a 10-year term in jail for failing to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes. He was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 federal counts. Hovind had argued that his ministry was tax exempt and wrote the IRS many times asking them why he was wrong if, in fact, he was wrong, according to The Conservative Voice. He did not get a response and in January was given 10 years in federal prison.Meanwhile, the Rational Response Squad is currently entangled in several other copyright disputes.The atheist group has also made a number of appearances in the media in more recent months, having this year debated Christian evangelists Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron on national television over scientific evidence for God’s existence. They also launched last year the controversial "Blasphemy Challenge" campaign which urges the irreligious to post videos of themselves on YouTube deliberately blaspheming the existence of God and the Holy Spirit – the one sin the group identifies in the Bible as unforgivable.Christians, in response, have launched counter campaigns such as the "Praise the Lord Challenge," posting public testimonies of themselves professing faith in the Bible and taking a stand for Jesus Christ.

Bahamian Christian Leaders Pray AND Work Toward Reducing Violence in Nation's Schools through "Adopt a School" Initiative

Following a spate of violent incidents at government schools in recent weeks, the largest religious body in The Bahamas has formed a 10-member committee to develop strategies to ensure that peace prevails on all campuses throughout The Bahamas."Apart from praying for the violent atmosphere around schools to change, we have developed a committee that would allow churches to adopt schools for the next three months, to offer counseling as well as spiritual instruction," said Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop John Humes yesterday.In addition to offering religious guidance to students, the newly-formed committee, headed by Dr. Victor Cooper of the New Bethany Baptist Church, will also visit the homes of students to develop relationships with their parents. The committee, upon completing its adoption program, will submit a final report with its findings to the Ministry of Education."We are hopeful that this committee can effect a positive change," Humes said. It's not a band-aid approach and we want to do something that would bring forth results."Just last week, BCC members moved from the comfort zones of their churches and visited several government schools to pray for teachers and students as several violent acts erupted on campuses shortly after the beginning of the school year. A teen at the A.F. Adderley Junior High School was stabbed and another stabbing incident was reported at the C.I. Gibson Senior High School. A biology teacher at the R.M. Bailey Senior High School was also the target of an alleged altercation with two male students, prompting teachers at that school to stage a six-day sit-out until more security was posted on the Robinson Road campus. And just earlier this week, a C.C. Sweeting Senior High School student was hospitalized after getting into an altercation near to the school's campus.But while the government has moved to post 22 former auxiliary police officers, coupled with additional security measures on the campuses of troubled schools, the BCC President believes that some youngsters are not being properly disciplined at home as well as at school. He added, however, that the moral support of the church should bring about a change in the behavior of many troublesome teens."It's not a bunch of them [who are not disciplined]. It's just a small group who just would not comply with any law and order,"Humes told The Guardian yesterday. "They want to have it their way and they don't have respect for those in authority because it is obvious that there is a breakdown in the home. What they do at home they bring on campus but we are going to work with these young men and women."

As in the days of Noah....

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS WATCH:U.S. Orders 18 Million Anthrax Vaccine Doses

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced yesterday that it has awarded a $448 million contract for production of 18.75 million doses of anthrax vaccine, the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said (see GSN, Aug. 20).The vaccine is expected to be produced over three years and incorporated into the Strategic National Stockpile of civilian drugs and medical supplies.The department has also agreed to pay bonuses to manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions if the Maryland firm wins regulatory approval to extend the vaccine’s shelf life from three to four years, and if it moves toward having the vaccine approved for treating people already exposed to anthrax.“Today's acquisition, in addition to the current stockpile of anthrax vaccine, will allow [the Health and Human Services Department] to maintain a stockpile of at least 10 million doses of anthrax vaccine through 2011. In addition, [the department] has two current contracts for the acquisition of anthrax antitoxins, to treat individuals with advanced anthrax disease,” Health and Human Services said in a statement.The contract also provides $2.2 million to cover the expense of shipping the vaccine doses to the national stockpile overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy release, Sept. 26).Meanwhile, the United States has issued a contract of up to $13.9 million to two biopharmaceutical firms for ongoing development of an anthrax treatment, the Associated Press reported yesterday.Development of Valortim, a drug for prevention and treatment of anthrax infection, has received a total of more than $24 million in federal funding. Medarex Inc. of New Jersey and PharmAthene Inc. of Maryland are collaborating on the drug (Associated Press/Boston Globe, Sept. 26).

As in the days of Noah....

Senate Passes Dangerous Hate-Crimes Amendment

Democrats passed a hate-crimes measure today, but failed to collect enough votes to override a pledged presidential veto. The amendment, which would create a new federal class of crime based on "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity," is attached to a Defense spending bill.Five Republican senators who voted in favor of hate-crimes legislation in 2004 switched their votes today and opposed the measure. They are: Sens. Lamar Alexander, Tenn.; Robert Bennett, Utah; John Ensign, Nev.; and Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens, both of Alaska."The president is not going to agree to this social legislation on the Defense Authorization Bill," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told The Associated Press. "This bill will get vetoed."The Democrat-controlled House passed similar legislation as a stand-alone bill earlier this year, and also fell short of the needed votes to override a veto.In debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., again tried to tie hate crimes to terrorism: "This is about the morality of our country, our values of our country, and that is directly tied in to what our men and women are doing overseas in resisting terrorism and fighting for the values here at home."Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., fought back: "What are we trying to accomplish here?" he asked. "Do we want to protect the Defense policy matters in this bill that actually matter to our forces in the field, or do we want to debate political and social issues on this measure?"An alternative amendment by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also passed. It calls for study of hate crimes.

As in the days of Noah....

Superbug plans 'ignore' evidence

Government plans for tackling superbugs, such as MRSA, have been condemned by a leading medical journal for not being based on scientific fact.The Lancet said there was little evidence to support hospital "deep cleans" or short-sleeves for medical staff as recently proposed.Instead of "pandering to populism" politicians should listen to the evidence, the editorial said.
The government said the plans were part of a wide range of preventive measures.On Sunday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans to "deep clean" hospitals ward-by-ward over the next year to return hospitals to the state they were in when they were built. His comments followed proposals from Health Secretary Alan Johnson for a new dress code for NHS staff which would advise against long-sleeved coats and ties for doctors as they can become contaminated.But The Lancet said a government working group had found no conclusive evidence that uniforms or other work clothes posed a significant hazard in terms of spreading infection.And the focus should be on disinfection of high-touch surfaces rather than deep-cleaning wards to get rid of visible dirt, the journal said.The editorial said: "Brown also plans to double the number of hospital matrons, to check on ward cleaning, and accost doctors wearing long sleeves."They would be better employed making sure doctors, nurses and visitors wash their hands properly, the proven way to stop hospital acquired infections," the editorial stated.
Professor Richard James, director of the Centre for Healthcare Associated Infections at the University of Nottingham agreed the evidence on transmission of infection from clothing such as long sleeves was not clear but short sleeves may encourage staff to wash their hands properly.
He added: "The main route of transmission of MRSA is person-to-person contact and this will be affected little by deep cleaning."In contrast, Clostridium difficile is transmitted by contact with faecal contamination so it may be more effective here."He said in addition to hand washing, other useful strategies would be screening patients for MRSA on admission, regular use of hydrogen peroxide vapour generators to kill bugs in the hospital environment and educating patients and visitors on ways they can reduce risk.Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Christine Beasley said there was no single solution and the new proposals were part of a wider set of measures to reduce hospital-acquired infections.She agreed that there was no evidence that uniforms themselves pose a significant risk of transmitting infections but said long sleeves and watches "get in the way of washing and decontaminating the hands, wrists and forearms".
"Clean and tidy hospitals and staff are very important to patients," she said."We make no apology for asking hospitals to take every reasonable measure to reduce infection and increase patient confidence that this is an issue the NHS is taking seriously."Dr Mark Enright, an expert in molecular epidemiology at Imperial College, London said deep cleaning would be a waste of resources and an inconvenience to patients and staff."MRSA is a major problem in the UK because it is present, mostly unknowingly, in patients and staff."Interrupting the chain of transmission from these people to new hosts should be the main focus of infection control, not attempts at the sterilisation of floors and windows."

As in the days of Noah....

Will Hizballah Attack U.N. Troops?

Lebanon failed to elect a President Tuesday, continuing its drive along the abyss. A new parliamentary session is set for October 23, with the hope that a two-thirds quorum can finally be assembled by then to choose a successor to outgoing President Emile Lahoud. But his term runs out on November 24, and the chances of finding a compromise candidate, sources in Hizballah tell me, are nil. The same sources tell me that Hizballah will never compromise with the March 14 movement, which it considers an American puppet. The March 14 movement is a political bloc that has promised to disarm Hizballah and take to trial the murderers of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The same Hizballah sources told me that an interim administration that shares any part of the March 14 agenda is also not acceptable to Hizballah, which controls a third of the seats in the parliament.How determined is Hizballah to block the election of a President? "We will do whatever it takes to keep a pro-American President from coming to office," Hizballah said.What that means is that aside from refusing the two-thirds quorum needed to elect a President in parliament, Hizballah is considering an attack on the French U.N. contingent in southern Lebanon. The aim of such a move would no only be to convince the French to stop meddling in Lebanon, but also to serve as a response to France's implicit threat to bomb Iran if Iran does not stop its nuclear development.Hizballah has no obligation to tell me the truth, but I have little doubt that if provoked it would turn over the table and plunge Lebanon into another civil war. Hizballah is stronger than the Lebanese army, and its threats are not idle.During the last 25 years the indelible red line for Hizballah has been keeping its arms. It says it needs them to drive the last Israeli forces out of Lebanon-a small slice of land called the Sheba Farms-and force Israel to release its remaining Lebanese prisoners of war. But it's more than that. Hizballah's military is its raison d'etre.If Hizballah gives up its arms, it is just another party in the dog's breakfast of Lebanese politics.
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As in the days of Noah....

China's strategic post in the Persian Gulf

If the flow of Middle East oil to China is squeezed, the Chinese economy will come to a grinding halt. Today China imports 32 percent of its oil needs. This need is expected to double by 2012. Of this oil, 58 percent comes from the Middle East-about 2 million barrels a day.It is expected that by 2012 almost 70 percent of all oil imports-about 4 million barrels a day-will come from the Middle East.Hence it is not difficult to understand why China decided to build a naval base in Gwadar in Bulochistan, a Pakistani province, not far from the Straits of Hormuz.It took five years and US$300 million to complete the base.To the Pakistani navy, its military value is great. It gives them a second home.Pakistan has always run the risk of a naval blockade at its single seaport of Karachi.To the Chinese, Gwadar is a vantage point from which to monitor naval activity in the Persian Gulf, a military port of call, a second home for China's naval fleet patrolling the Indian Ocean and, if need be, a forward base for any confrontation with Indian or U.S. naval fleets.Pakistan has been publicizing the commercial value of this port, but considering the hinterland that surrounds it, with scanty communications and sparsely populated areas, the commercial value is dubious. Also, Bulochistan province is not fully integrated into Pakistan politically or economically. An insurgency against Pakistani rule has been ongoing for the last 40 years. This will prevent any meaningful use of this port.Consider the other side of the equation: About 13 million barrels of oil per day pass through the Straits of Hormuz. Gwadar, not far from the Straits, could become a major choke point during any confrontation between big powers of the world. A well-equipped Chinese fleet anchored at Gwadar could temporarily threaten this supply and bring the world to its knees.Then the question is, why did the United States let China get away with this coup d'etat?It happened because the United States was too pre-occupied in Iraq. In 2002, when the Gwadar naval base and port construction began, it was Iraq that was on the mind of the United States. Also, very cleverly, the Pakistanis had aligned themselves with the U.S. War on Terror.Hence the United States was ready to okay anything the Pakistanis wanted as long as they stayed on the U.S. side. China made it appear that the naval base was a Pakistani initiative. As a matter of fact it was all along a Chinese initiative.Now this base is fully operational. Its deep-water port is suitable for berthing large naval vessels....
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As in the days of Noah....

Will the 12th Imam cause war with Iran?

Not since the prime minister of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada presented an address claiming that UFOs posed a mortal threat to the future of mankind has the United Nations been treated to such a bizarre spectacle.Many people believe the greatest threat to world peace concerns Iran's nuclear programme, so there was understandably great interest at this week's general assembly in New York when the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took the platform. But instead of seeking to reassure delegates that Iran's nuclear intentions were purely benign, Mr Ahmadinejad took advantage of his official visit to a country deemed – in the lexicon of the Iranian Revolution – "the Great Satan" to embark on a discourse about the wonders of the 12th Imam.For those unacquainted with the more obscure tenets of Islamic theology, the 12th Imam is held by devout Shi'ite Muslims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed who went into "occlusion" in the ninth century at the age of five and hasn't been seen since.The Hidden Imam, as he is also known by his followers, will only return after a period of cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed – what Christians call the Apocalypse – and then lead the world into an era of universal peace.Rumours abound of Mr Ahmadinejad's devotion to the 12th Imam, and last year it was reported that he had persuaded his cabinet to sign a "contract" pledging themselves to work for his return.Another example of his messianic tendencies surfaced after 108 people were killed in an aircraft crash in Teheran. Mr Ahmadinejad praised the victims, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow."For many of the hundreds of delegates who attended Mr Ahmadinejad's speech to the UN this week, his discourse on the merits of the 12th Imam finally brought home the reality of the danger his regime poses to world peace.Rather than allaying concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, Mr Ahmadinejad spoke at length about how a Muslim saviour would relieve the world's suffering.The era of Western predominance was drawing to a close, he said, and would soon be replaced by a "bright future" ushered in by the 12th Imam's return. "Without any doubt, the Promised One, who is the ultimate Saviour, will come. The pleasing aroma of justice will permeate the whole world."The really alarming aspect is that – if the world's leading intelligence agencies are to be believed – he is seriously attempting to acquire a nuclear weapons arsenal.Only yesterday, the opposition group that first revealed the existence of Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz claimed that Iran was building a new bomb-proof underground site for developing nuclear weapons.The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said the regime was near to completing a vast underground chamber that was linked by two tunnels to the existing complex at Natanz, and was protected against aerial attack.As with so many of the allegations relating to Iran's nuclear activities, the NCRI's claims are impossible to verify, not least because Iran continues to impede UN nuclear inspectors.And even if, as Mr Ahmadinejad claimed in New York, Iran has no interest in developing nuclear weapons, there is every indication that Teheran is preparing itself for war, not least because the clash with Western civilisation that the Iranian president so obviously desires will hasten, or so he believes, the arrival of the 12th Imam.Before flying to the US, Mr Ahmadinejad addressed a military parade in Teheran at which he said Iran would retaliate with missile strikes against Western targets in the event of the West launching air strikes to neutralise Iran's nuclear aspirations...
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As in the days of Noah....

Abu Mazen: Olmert Agreed to Make Jerusalem Arab Capital

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice last week - and told her that Prime Minister Olmert agrees, finally, to turn eastern Jerusalem into the capital of a future state of Palestine. So reports the PA newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadeeda, quoting an unnamed "senior Palestinian source."Abbas reportedly told Rice that Olmert had agreed to the demand in an Olmert-Abbas meeting a couple of days before. Another Olmert-Abbas meeting is planned for next week, the paper reports.Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports on another PA media article. The Palestinian Press claims that Iran has given the order to Hamas and Islamic Jihad to reduce Kassam rocket attacks against Israel during the month of Ramadan, in order to reduce the suffering of Arab citizens in Gaza during this period. Hamas chief-in-exile Khaled Mashaal reportedly told Iran that though Hamas agrees to hold fire, Islamic Jihad does not.Meanwhile, plans continue for U.S. President George Bush's international Middle East summit, scheduled for this November in Washington. Secretary Rice announced Sunday night that Syria and Lebanon will also be invited to take part, though they will have to commit themselves to help find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not happy with the summit. "Without advance preparations and without an objective," he said, "I don't see what can come of it, and I don't see any reason to convene the summit."High-level meetings of this nature are often accompanied by Arab violence and terrorism, and some fear that such violence this time will only intensify if the summit does not produce results favorable to the Arab side.

As in the days of Noah....

Gaza's place in Bible's prophecies

The Jerusalem-based Institute for Contemporary Affairs recently released a report authored by Lt. Col. Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi that concludes, to nobody's particular surprise, that the Gaza Strip has become a haven for al-Qaida terrorists.Gaza, part of the biblical "land of the Philistines" was the place where Samson toppled the Temple of Dagon on his enemies, giving his life in the process.Gaza was first conquered for Israel by King David and subsequently fell to the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, Persians and Greeks.But in the days of King David, it was part of Israel. In Jesus' day, it was part of the Hasmonean Kingdom that ended with Herod the Great. In 1967, Gaza again became part of Israel when Egypt lost it in the Six Day's War.In September 2004, Ariel Sharon announced his controversial disengagement plan under the title, "Gaza First." Sharon intended to turn Gaza completely over to Palestinian rule, hoping to accomplish two goals in the process.The first and official goal was contained within its slogan, "Gaza First." Israel would allow Gaza to govern itself, then use Gaza's success or failure as a template for future negotiations over the West Bank.Israel pulled out of Gaza Sept. 12, 2005, leaving behind 1,000 Israeli settler greenhouses to spare the jobs of the 4,000 Palestinians who worked in them.Before that day was over, the Associated Press was reporting that:
"Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip."As the Israeli settlers were being dragged from their homes, the Palestinians torched the 19 synagogues left standing. Within sight of the smoking synagogues, in a somber farewell ceremony, Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Gaza commander, expressed his hope the pullout would be a step toward peace."The gate that will close behind us is also the gate that will open," he said. "We hope it will be a gate of peace and quiet, a gate of hope and goodwill, a gate of neighborliness."As the gate closed, Kassam rockets began roaring out the abandoned settlements and into the homes and shops of the Israeli cities on the other side.Within a year, the residents of Gaza elected Hamas on their foundational platform that calls for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state.A year after that, finds the Halavi Report, "The declared policy of Hamas to provide sanctuary to any jihad fighter invites additional terrorist groups associated with al-Qaida to plant themselves in the Gaza Strip."Here's the amazing part. I believe that this is exactly what Ariel Sharon expected to happen. His only miscalculation was in thinking that, having seen a preview of what a Palestinian state would look like, the world would come to its collective senses.Sharon underestimated two things: the almost palpable fear among Western governments to do anything that might offend Islam, and the depth of nascent global anti-Semitism. The world fears Islam, but it despises Israel on a level so deep that it is defies logical explanation.Seen at that level, if Islam destroyed Israel and then went back into hibernation, it would be a fair trade. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't, but for some, especially at the U.N., it's worth the risk. All they have to lose is Israel.It is almost impossible to fathom, but, barring that explanation, how does one account for the fact the world is still clamoring for the creation of a Palestinian state?In every possible area of measurement, the Palestinians have failed the test for statehood.As a people, the formerly Egyptian residents of Gaza immediately declared independence from the government run by the formerly Jordanian residents of the West Bank and launched a civil war. They are not one people, but two.As a government, the only thing the Palestinian Authority has proved consistently efficient at is looting the national treasury.As a society, the moment they were handed a working infrastructure, they looted it out of existence. They exercised their first opportunity at self-government by electing the terrorists who walk among them as their leaders.Ariel Sharon handed them everything they demanded in Gaza, and they turned Gaza into Afghanistan. Evidently satisfied with the results, the Quartet is now pressuring Israel to allow the PA to turn the West Bank into Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem into Mecca.Even blindness can't account for such widespread ignorance of the danger. It goes beyond "blindness," skids right past "ignorance," and stops squarely in front of "delusional."Why would the world side with an openly terrorist entity – in the midst of a war on terror – at the expense of the only reliable Western allied democracy in the region, leaving it adrift in a sea of rapacious Islamic dictatorships? Try, for a moment, to substitute some other Western representative democracy instead of Israel into this scenario in your imagination.Israel is an ally to every nation fighting the war on Islamic terror. Those same allied nations are advancing a policy of granting statehood to terrorists sworn to the destruction of that ally ... never mind. The more I try to explain it, the crazier it sounds. And that's the point.This is exactly the scenario outlined by the Hebrew prophets as signs of the soon coming of Israel's Messiah.The prophet Zechariah predicted the whole world would be united against Israel over the Jerusalem Question (Zechariah 12:1-3); the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:27) predicted an agreement that seemingly settles the Temple Mount Question; and the prophet Ezekiel predicts that, in the end, Israel will still face a massive Islamic invasion reluctantly overseen by Russia and led by Persia (Iran) (Ezekiel 38:5).Think about this for a second. Since it is absolutely illogical, and yet it is also exactly the situation we find ourselves witnessing, do you really believe it was all just a really good guess?It would be amazing enough if the prophets had forecast a scenario that made sense and it came to pass. But the scenario they predicted defies all natural explanation – and yet is coming to pass as literally as it was forecast.The fact is the Bible is true, and the setup for the fulfillment of Bible prophecies for the final seven years of Tribulation are almost complete. There is only a short time left to choose where you will spend eternity.Jesus Christ purchased a pardon on your behalf with His own blood at Calvary's Cross. He extends it to you now. All you need do is accept it. Allow Jesus Christ to come into your life and He will transform it forever.The choice is yours.
by Hal Lindsey
As in the days of Noah....

North Korea shipped No Dong missile to Syria in late 2006

LONDON-Syria procured an intermediate-range missile from North Korea in a deal financed by Iran.Western intelligence sources said Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has acquired the No Dong ballistic missile from Pyongyang. The sources said the No Dong, believed to have arrived in Syria in late 2006, was financed through Iran, which also acquired the surface-to-surface weapon."Virtually every major deal has been financed by Iran," an intelligence source said. "Iran procures advanced combat systems from China, North Korea and Russia and provides Syria with some of the weapons."Iran based its Shihab-3 missile on the No Dong and later extended the Shihab's range to 2,000 kilometers, Middle East Newsline reported.The sources said Syria ordered the No Dong after a North Korean demonstration in 2006. The North Korean firing demonstrated the missile's capabilities as well as integration into command and control systems.The No Dong was said to have a range of up to 1,200 kilometers.The sources said Iran and North Korea could have established a No Dong-based missile facility in northeastern Syrian near the Iraqi border.On Sept. 6, Israeli F-15I fighter-jets were said to have struck an unidentified strategic facility outside Dair el Zor near Iraq.

As in the days of Noah....

Attack on Iran Said To Be Imminent

UN-In a sign that U.N. Security Council-based diplomacy is losing steam, a number of sources are reporting that a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities may be imminent. France and America also are pushing for tighter economic sanctions against Tehran, without U.N. approval.Yesterday's edition of Le Canard Enchaîné, a French weekly known for its investigative journalism, reported details of an alleged Israeli-American plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The frontpage headline read:"A report sent to the Elysée-Putin tells Tehran: They're going to bomb you!"The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, also expressed concerns to reporters in New York that an attack on Iran might be imminent.Like most stories in the French paper, the article was based on unnamed sources who said that in order to reduce casualties, the attack against Iran is planned for October 15, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israel would bomb the first targets while America would orchestrate a second wave of strikes, the report said.However, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who recently spoke of preparing for war with Iran, berated reporters yesterday, telling them that he had said war is the "worst option." Instead, he is now calling for "diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy."As foreign ministers representing the five permanent members of the Security Council-China, Russia, France, Britain, and America-and Germany plan to sit down Friday for a long-planned meeting to discuss ideas for addressing Iran's refusal to end uranium enrichment, Mr. Kouchner told reporters that China and Russia are likely to delay any significant decision until at least December."It would be very difficult to convince the Russians and the Chinese before" December, he said. A Russian diplomat told The New York Sun on Monday that Moscow would call on the council to await the conclusion of a new round of diplomacy conducted by the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.At a breakfast with reporters yesterday, Mr. Kouchner said he had "spent hours" with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, trying to convince him to approve council sanctions against Iran. Russia, Mr. Kouchner said, is attempting to regain its top world status, while "we treat them, they told me, like little adolescents."Meanwhile, a former American ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, indicated yesterday that President Sarkozy of France may be a more reliable ally on Iran than Prime Minister Brown of Britain."It's not at all clear where Brown is at," Mr. Bolton told the Sun. "The question is, ‘Will Britain follow in the footsteps of France?'" Either way, Mr. Bolton said he did not invest too much hope in Security Council diplomacy.Some American diplomats are saying the next phase of diplomacy with Iran may involve a separate track of sanctions that would be imposed without Security Council approval.Mr. Kouchner said yesterday that the French government is trying to lean on companies like the oil giant Total to end ties with Iran. Between 2005 and 2006, he said, French commerce with Iran was cut in half.But an unnamed German government official told Reuters yesterday, "Unlike the United States and the French, the German government is not ready to go outside the U.N. for sanctions." The official expressed doubts that Europe could reach a consensus on such sanctions. German companies such as Siemens, BASF, Mercedes, and Volkswagen maintain strong business ties with Iran. In 2006, such companies reportedly exported goods worth $5.7 billion to Iran, up from $5 billion in 2004. In Vienna, Mr. ElBaradei is preparing a report that is not expected to be ready before December. In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week, President Ahmadinejad of Iran said the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and he said Tehran would stop dealing with the Security Council and would negotiate only with the IAEA.Mr. ElBaradei recently reached an agreement with Iran that allows it to report on outstanding nuclear issues over a long period of time. The Iranians, nonetheless, are "very, very, very firm that they don't want to stop enrichment," Mr. Kouchner said yesterday.Mr. ElBaradei, who is charged with reporting on technical nuclear issues, was berated by Secretary of State Rice, who said the Tehran accords amounted to conducting private diplomacy.Before he became U.N. ambassador, Mr. Bolton sought to mount a campaign to unseat Mr. ElBaradei. A former secretary of state, Colin Powell, "was never enthusiastic about it," Mr. Bolton said yesterday. "When Rice became secretary of state, the winds came out of the sails" of the campaign to unseat the IAEA director. "Stopping him would have required a lot of effort," Mr. Bolton said, but he added that Mr. ElBaradei's current behavior on Iran "proves that it was worthwhile."

As in the days of Noah....

1 JOHN 3:8

"...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,that he might destroy the works of the devil"

Hamas: 50,000 gunmen are ready to defend Gaza from IDF

Fifty thousand Palestinian gunmen and hundreds of suicide bombers are ready to repel or at least impede any large-scale Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, an official from the ruling Hamas faction said on Friday.The statement came one day after 12 Palestinians were killed in separate Israel Defense Forces and Israel Air Force strikes within the coastal territory.Nizar Rayyan, a senior Hamas leader, promised Israel "a painful response" should it send troops and tanks en masse into the Gaza Strip.A Hamas-affiliated Web site quoted Rayyan as saying that "50,000 fighters, armed and brave in the battlefield" await an invasion, and that 400 would-be suicide bombers wear their explosives belts around the clock, ready to attack tank columns.Israel has threatened to mount a massive ground sweep of Gaza as a last resort against cross-border rocket fire by Palestinian militants, which has not been significantly reduced by more limited air strikes and commando incursions.But Israeli officials say such a mission in the congested territory would mean major casualties on both sides, a price Israel may not be willing to pay given the relatively low death toll exacted by the crude short-range Palestinian Qassam rockets."Hamas leaders were surprised when 200 women volunteered to carry explosives to confront Israeli tanks too," Rayyan said.Israeli intelligence assessments are that Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in violent clashes with the rival secular Fatah in June, has marshaled at least 20,000 fighters proficient with a variety of small arms.The operations by the IDF in the Gaza Strip began on Wednesday following several hours in which a hail of mortars and Qassam rockets slammed into the fence area separating Gaza from Israel. They also hit communities in the western Negev.The attacks were carried out by Hamas and other groups, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees. Hamas claimed responsibility for firing 54 mortars against Israeli targets - primarily the crossings into the Gaza Strip.At least 10 Qassam rockets were fired into towns in Israel.In response, dozens of tanks and armored carriers moved into an area near the town of Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip.The first incident in which Palestinians were killed occurred south of Beit Hanun, in the neighborhood of Zeitun, after an IDF aircraft fired a number of rockets at a vehicle carrying five militants. The militants, all armed, belonged to the Army of Islam, an organization headed by Mumtaz Durmush, and which was responsible for the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. It was also involved in the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.The five killed are Fawzi al-Ashram, Hussein Ahl, Ayman Dalul, Osama al-Sifi and Samer al-Zaim.In another incident, an IDF tank fired at a group of Palestinians trying to fire a missile against other tanks near Beit Hanun. Four militants were killed in that incident.Two of those were identified as Hayri Hamdan, a member of the PRC, and Tair al-Basiuni, of Islamic Jihad.The other two were Muhamad Adwan, 20, and Muhamad al-Basiuni, 24, neither being a known member of any organization in the Strip.Early Thursday morning, an IDF helicopter fired and killed two Hamas militants: Raji Hamdan and Mohammed Abu Rakba.Wednesday night, an IDF force fired a rocket at Palestinians trying to launch a Qassam rocket. An Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades militant, affiliated with Fatah, Hussam al-Hawihi, 21, died after suffering serious injuries in the attack.Responding to the heavy loss of life, Hamas charged the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah of remaining silent while Palestinians are being targeted."The Zionist enemy is trying to bend us to accept positions that suit it at the fall conference. That conference is doomed to fail," Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Haaretz. He was referring to the international conference sponsored by Washington and scheduled to take place in November to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently in New York attending the United Nations General Assembly, condemned Israel's attacks in Gaza and called for "an end to the massacre being carried out by the army of occupation against Palestinians in the Strip."For its part, the IDF does not consider the events in Gaza as constituting a significant change in the way it defends against indirect weapons fire, according to a source in the Southern Command.Nonetheless, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Wednesday that "we are moving closer to a major operation in Gaza," noting that at this stage all efforts are being directed at weakening Hamas' hold on Gaza.Barak warned that such an operation is not a simple matter, "neither from the point of view of forces involved or its breadth and length of time the IDF may have to stay there."According to a source close to Barak, the IDF is operating in the Gaza Strip to foil rocket attacks, and it has been granted freedom of movement. The same source said that the type of operations that have been witnessed in the past 48 hours will continue.But the idea of a broad ground operation in the Gaza Strip is not unanimously viewed as a solution in the defense establishment.For many, tensions with Syria take precedent, and Thursday at noon, Israeli jet fighters were alerted to prepare to intercept Syrian helicopters seen on radar approaching the border area.The aircraft were recalled once the helicopters were seen landing inside Syria. This is not the first time in recent days that that the air force has scrambled jets in response to air movements inside Syria, an event which also took place on Yom Kippur last week. Later it was learned that the aircraft seen on radar had crashed in Syrian territory.In another development, rockets found by security forces in a home in Beit Jala near Jerusalem were discovered to have neither explosive warheads nor were capable of flight.On Wednesday, Palestinian sources reported that two such rockets were found, aimed at Jerusalem.Experts examining the two rockets said that they only comprised tubes with attached fins, and were unable to pose a threat to Jerusalem."They were only two simple tubes that could be made at any good workshop, painted to create the shape of a missile. They were no real threat," a security source said.In addition, a number of devices believed to contain explosives were only butane gas tanks."The Palestinians are eager to show us that they are doing good security work in the area of Bethlehem, and this may be related to the benefits they are expecting to receive as a gesture for the Christmas holiday," the same security source said.

As in the days of Noah....

Abbas:Peace deal possible by May

Palestinian president says Israel, Palestinians could sign peace agreement within six months of international peace conference scheduled for November, which 'should define the principles settling the questions over the final status of the Palestinian territories'.Israel and the Palestinians could sign a peace deal within six months of an international peace conference scheduled for November, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas told AFP on Friday."The meeting in November should define the principles settling the questions over the final status (of the Palestinian territories)," Abbas said in an interview in New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly."Then we will begin negotiations on the details under a timeframe, which ought not to exceed six months, to reach a peace treaty," he added.The leader of the Palestinian Authority, who has met with several foreign leaders during his stay in New York, said that the US-sponsored talks would open in Washington on November 15.On Monday, following his meeting with US President George W. Bush, Abbas said teams of Palestinians and Israelis would negotiate so that the issues are ''ready and right'' for the conference. He said the meeting should be the precursor to ''full negotiations on the permanent status.''''We have faith and trust,'' Abbas said, emphasizing a hopeful tone about the process. ''We believe very strongly in your vision of establishing a Palestinian, independent, viable state."I also take this opportunity to reaffirm again that we strongly believe in the road map, which includes your vision, Mr. President, as well as the Arab initiative. Collectively, together, I believe they represent a strong framework that would allow us and help us to initiate the permanent status issues and reach an agreement on it," said Abbas.
US courts Arabs by inviting Syria to peace talks
The US' somewhat grudging offer to invite diplomatic adversary Syria to its Middle East peace conference is largely to provide political cover for other Arab states to take part, US officials said.The Bush administration's most high-profile attempt to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected to take place in November and the US on Sunday signaled its willingness to invite Syria.However, US officials suggested they did so with little enthusiasm because of their disagreements with Damascus over Iraq, Lebanon and its support for Hamas, the terrorist group and political party that rules the Gaza Strip.The US has long criticized Syrian influence in Lebanon, which US officials believe has continued despite the 2005 withdrawal of Syrian troops from its southern neighbor.The US also accuses Syria of fomenting violence in neighboring Iraq by allowing arms and fighters to cross its border and criticizes Damascus for supporting Hamas, the Palestinian militant group and political party that seized control of the Gaza Strip and has rejected the conference.A senior US official, who spoke on condition that he not be named, said Washington had signaled its willingness to invite Syria chiefly out of a desire to get other Arab states to come. To exclude Syria would provide "an easy excuse" for other Arab states to stay away, he said."Others have to have them there or they would feel at risk that they didn't have the appropriate cover for their own participation," he added, saying the United States would not exclude Syria but "we don't cherish their participation.""You balance the discomfort of their presence, because of these problems that we have with them, against the value of the presence of others," he said.The US disclosed its plan to include Syria indirectly, saying it would invite the members of an Arab League panel following up the group's 2002 peace initiative.
Not an easy decision
In addition to the Palestinian Authority, the group includes Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. Only the last two have full relations with Israel, while Syria and Lebanon are deeply estranged from the Jewish state.The Arab League peace initiative calls on Israel to withdraw from all Arab land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war; to reach an "agreed, just" solution for Palestinian refugees; and to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with east Jerusalem as its capital.In return, Arab states would consider the conflict over and enter a peace treaty with Israel; achieve comprehensive peace for all the states of the region; and establish normal relations with Israel.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Arab initiative would be a cornerstone of the conference, which the US hopes will provide broader Arab backing for an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace deal."So we faced a choice: Did you try and exclude a member of this committee, causing untold difficulty for others in trying to figure out whether or not they could then come...or did you just say the entire committee is invited?"Rice told Fox News in an interview on Monday. "We decided on the latter, not one of the easier decisions we've ever had to make."Rice on Sunday stressed that countries that attend should renounce violence and support Israeli-Palestinian peace.The official who asked not to be named said he did not expect Syria to change policy on Lebanon, Iraq or Hamas."If they did something different that would be great but I think we are assuming that they will continue to misbehave," he said.He also said the US reserved the right not to formally invite Syria but did not expect that to happen.Israeli and Palestinian officials said asking Syria to the conference could test its willingness to break with Palestinian militants including Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip in June and has rejected the U.S.-sponsored conference. "That could occur. I'm not sanguine it will," the official said.

As in the days of Noah....

Top Russian fraud investigator shot dead in Moscow

A top Russian investigator was shot dead on Thursday as he walked out of a restaurant in central Moscow in an apparent contract killing, the Kommersant daily reported.Nazim Kaziakhmedov was shot twice in the chest and once in the head by an attacker dressed in black and wearing a baseball cap, Kommersant said on Friday, citing officials.Kaziakhmedov was working on a major fraud case involving investment group Finvest and was a member of the newly-formed investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office, Kommersant said.
Shoot-outs and contract killings are less frequent in Moscow than they were during the so-called "wild capitalism" years of the 1990s. But there has been a recent spate of incidents.In the early hours of Wednesday, a member of the Armenian parliament was stabbed and shot by two men in the casino of the swanky Metropol Hotel in the city centre, suffering serious injuries.
As in the days of Noah....

Ahmadinejad: Bush can speak at a university if he should ever travel to Iran

TEHRAN, Iran: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended an invitation to U.S. President George W. Bush to speak at an Iranian university if the American leader ever traveled to the Islamic Republic, state-run television reported Friday.As part of his controversial trip to New York, the hardline Iranian leader spoke Monday at Columbia University, where he faced hostile questioning and a combative introduction by the university's president, who said Ahmadinejad exhibited "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.""If their president plans to travel to Iran, we will allow him to make a speech" at a university, Ahmadinejad told state TV before leaving New York to travel to South America earlier this week.His comments were aired on state TV Friday and signaled an unusual readiness by Iran to receive an American president after more than a quarter century with no diplomatic ties.The harshness of Monday's introduction at the Columbia University forum prompted complaints in Iran and elsewhere that Ahmadinejad had been blind-sided by his host. Ahmadinejad complained that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's speech had contained "many insults" and amounted to "unfriendly treatment," but he otherwise appeared to take the comments in stride.Back home, Iranians also were dismayed by Bollinger's introduction and said his words only added to their image of the United States as a bully.Tensions are high between Iran and the U.S. over Washington allegations that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and supplying Shiite militias in Iraq with deadly weapons that kill U.S. troops. Iran denies both claims.Iran and the U.S cut off diplomatic relations in 1979 after Iranian militant students seized the U.S. Embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.Ahmadinejad left New York on Wednesday and traveled to friendlier ground in South America, first stopping in Bolivia — where he pledged $1 billion in investment — and then visiting Venezuela to meet his ally President Hugo Chavez on Thursday.

As in the days of Noah...

Police flood Jerusalem amid unrest fears

Israel deployed 4,000 police throughout Jerusalem on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, preparing for a possible backlash from Gaza strikes earlier in the week, police said.The heightened presence comes as tens of thousands of Muslim faithful were expected to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews were to hold a funeral for a revered rabbi who was a key figure in the religious settlers movement.The 96-year-old former Ashkenazi grand rabbi of Israel, Avraham Shapira, considered to be the spiritual mentor of the movement, died on Thursday in Jerusalem and was to be buried on the Mount of Olives east of the Old City. Police are also on heightened alert after Israeli forces killed 12 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in 24 hours earlier this week, prompting the Islamist Hamas movement to warn of retaliation.Police will be barring nearly all Palestinians from the West Bank from the city, although officials indicated they may allow men over the age of 40 and women over 35 to enter.The rules will not affect the more than 200,000 Arab residents of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following the 1967 war.The Al-Aqsa mosque, at the heart of the Old City, is the holiest site in the world for Jews and the third holiest site for Muslims, and has been a frequent flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.For Jews it is the site of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., while for Muslims it is the place where the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
As in the days of Noah....

Virginia Immigration Commissioner Resigns Over ‘Jihad Way’ Video

"You have learned the way, that you have known that the jihad way is the way to liberate your land."

Watch the video at:

As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Bluetongue outbreak is confirmed

Bluetongue virus is now circulating in the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed.A fifth case of the disease was confirmed in a cow near Burstall in Suffolk on Thursday, close to the rare breeds farm in Baylham, near Ipswich, where the disease was first confirmed on September 21.The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced measures to combat the virus.Deputy chief veterinary officer Fred Landeg said: "We can now confirm that we do have bluetongue virus circulating in this country."Although this disease is not welcome to the farming community, it is important to emphasise this is a very different disease to foot and mouth."

As in the days of Noah...

END TIMES WEATHER:Lorenzo, Karen storms weaken

MIAMI,Florida-Two tropical weather systems were rapidly losing steam Friday, but a third system was upgraded to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center said.At 11 a.m. ET, a tropical depression that started the day as Hurricane Lorenzo had winds of 35 mph (55 kph) as it moved west across east-central Mexico.Lorenzo was forecast to drop 5 to 10 inches of rain, more in some locations, before dissipating on Saturday.The storm came ashore early Friday near Tuxpan, Mexico, as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (129 kph).In the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Karen was barely hanging on with 40 mph (65 kph) winds, the hurricane center said. As of 11 a.m. ET, Karen's center was about 805 miles (1,295 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands. It was expected to continue to weaken over the next 24 hours, forecasters said.Meanwhile, farther east in the Atlantic, a tropical depression formed about 210 miles (340 kilometers) southwest of the Cape Verde Islands.At 11 a.m., its maximum sustained winds were near 35 mph (55 kph) as it moved west at 7 mph (11 kph). Some strengthening is possible within the next 24 hours, forecasters said.

As in the days of Noah....

World meets to turn up heat on Iran

NEW YORK-World powers met Friday to discuss a third U.N. Security Council resolution imposing additional sanctions against Iran for failing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met her counterparts from the "P5 plus one" the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) along with Germany.Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief who has held nuclear talks with Iran, also joined the meeting.The Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran suspend enrichment of uranium and has imposed limited sanctions on Tehran for refusing to comply. The United States has been trying to cut Iran off from the international financial system and the European Union is weighing its own unilateral sanctions.The international community has failed to get Iran to take an offer of a package of economic incentives and better relations with the West in exchange for suspending its nuclear program.Friday's meeting comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West. In addition to increased U.S. rhetoric against Iran, France's foreign minister last week said the world should be prepared for a war with Iran as a worst-case scenario if Tehran developed a nuclear weapon.This week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told world diplomats that an agreement reached last month between his country and the International Atomic Energy Agency over its disputed nuclear program has, in the Iranian view, settled the matter."Iran decided to pursue the issue through its appropriate, legal path, one that runs through the IAEA, and to disregard unlawful and political impositions by the arrogant powers," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York. "I officially announce that in our option, the nuclear issue of Iraq is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter."
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QUAKEWATCH:2 quakes hit Japan...

For this news and more updated on quake and volcanic activity go to:
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BIG BROTHER IN THE SKY:An Electronic Concentration Camp

Short of hiding out in a cave, far removed from any trace of modern technology, it would seem that there is no longer any escaping the electronic concentration camp in which we live. Whether we're crossing the street, queuing up at the ATM or picnicking in the park, we're under constant scrutiny—our movements monitored by cameras, tracked by satellites and catalogued by a host of increasingly attentive government agencies. No longer does the idea of an omnipresent, omniscient government seem all that far-fetched. And as technology becomes ever more sophisticated, the idea of a total surveillance society moves further from the realm of George Orwell's science fiction fantasy into an accepted way of life.In fact, surveillance has become an industry in itself, with huge sectors having sprung up devoted to developing increasingly sophisticated gadgets to keep American citizens under surveillance, with or without their cooperation. The science behind the gadgetry is particularly brilliant. For example, human motion analysis, a pet project of researchers at the University of Maryland, aims to create an individual "code" for the way people walk researchers refer to it as "finding DNA in human motion." Dubbed Gait DNA, this surveillance system works by matching a person's facial image to his gait, height, weight and other elements—all captured through remote observation, thereby allowing the computer to identify someone instantly and track them, even in a crowd.Soon there really will be no place to hide. Oceanit, a Hawaii-based company that has been working with the Hawaiian National Guard in Iraq, is preparing to roll out sense-through-the-wall technology next year that can "see" through walls by picking up on sensitive radio signals emitted by the human body to determine vital signs such as breathing and heart rates. As Ian Kitajima, the marketing manager for Oceanit pointed out, in addition to telling users whether someone is dead or alive on the battlefield, the technology "will also show whether someone inside a house is looking to harm you, because if they are, their heart rate will be raised. And 10 years from now, the technology will be much smarter. We'll scan a person with one of these things and tell what they're actually thinking." The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development agency for the Department of Defense, is credited with ensuring that the U.S. remains ahead of the game when it comes to such far-reaching technology. According to a recent BBC news report, "Back in the 70s, while we were working with typewriters and carbon paper, Darpa was developing the Internet. In the 90s, while we pored over maps, Darpa invented satellite navigation that many of us now have in our cars." DARPA is currently working on technology that will enable users to understand any language spoken to them, as well as fine-tuning the prototype for an unmanned airplane with surveillance cameras that would be able to stay airborne for up to five years.And on October 1, the government will launch its latest assault on privacy by making data from U.S. satellites available to federal agents. These satellites, which orbit the earth 24 hours a day and have historically provided high-resolution photographs to track climate changes and foreign military movements, will now be used to watch for terrorist activity and drug smuggling, among other things. Yet they are a far cry from the satellite imagery many Americans have become acquainted with through Google Earth and MapQuest. These spy satellites not only take color photos, they also use more advanced technology to track heat generated by people in buildings. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal points out, "The full capabilities of these systems are unknown outside the intelligence community, because they are among the most closely held secrets in government." Moreover, the technology is expected to be made available to state and local law enforcement agencies within the year, which raises serious concerns about the deepening ties between domestic law enforcement agencies and the military.This latest citizen surveillance program comes draped in the familiar government mantra that it will keep us safe from terrorists. As Charles Allen, the chief intelligence officer for the Department of Homeland Security, explained to the Washington Post, "These systems are already used to help us respond to crises. We anticipate that we can also use it to protect Americans by preventing the entry of dangerous people and goods into the country, and by helping us examine critical infrastructure for vulnerabilities." Yet despite the government's best efforts to sell the program, it is nothing less than "Big Brother in the sky," as Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, aptly termed it. Indeed, since 9/11, the U.S. government has been building an arsenal of surveillance tools aimed directly at American citizens, largely paid for by American taxpayers and fueled by our fears.For too long now, the American people have been ruled by fear. We are afraid of terrorists, afraid of crime, even afraid of our next-door neighbors. More than anything else, Americans want to feel safe. According to the BBC News, opinion polls show that approximately 75% of Americans want more, not less, surveillance. But there is wisdom in the adage to "be careful what you wish for, lest it come true."Implemented with virtually no oversight from Congress, this particular surveillance program will be overseen by the Homeland Security Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is a little like letting the foxes guard the chicken coop. And while some might argue that we at least live in a benevolent surveillance state, one that seemingly has our best interests at heart, I beg to differ. Whether we choose our prison or have it foisted upon us, the end is still the same: a lack of freedom.
By John Whitehead

As in the days of Noah....

SIGN of the TIMES:'Sex tourism' targeting U.S. minors

WASHINGTON-Demands for commercial sex have created a growing market of sex tourism and human trafficking in the United States, with an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation, according to a new report. "DEMAND" is both a video documentary and comprehensive report on a 12-month investigation conducted by Shared Hope International. Based in Vancouver, Wash., SHI is a non-profit organization that compiled the information in an effort to understand and bring an end to human trafficking. Atlanta, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., were chosen for study in the United States because of their high tourism draw and population of troubled teens, which make them ideal destinations for sex tourists. "U.S. citizens and permanent residents under the age of 18 are increasingly being recruited into the commercial sex markets," the report says. Runaway children and underage American women are among the most common victims of human trafficking."People talk about how awful it is that in a place like Nepal, or in Thailand, you can have a people or a country who can allow their children to be sold, but the reality is it's no different in Washington, D.C.," says Derek Ellerman, co-executive director of the Polaris Project, in the documentary.The report also focuses on the market aspects of the "multi-billion dollar industry," specifically the society that generates such high volumes of buyers of commercial sex. "As the culture continues to normalize sexual images and activities, the markets grow," the study says. "The sexualized popular culture ... reduces moral barriers to accessing commercial sex." Advertisements, television and music, along with video games that "glamorize pimping and prostitution," seem to be the culprits, quickly expanding an already large industry, the study says. Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission called it "revolting that anyone would think it is acceptable to use these girls and women for their selfish sexual gratification.""I have no doubt that this is an extremely difficult problem to resolve, but we cannot let that stop us from catching and prosecuting those engaged in the modern-day slave trade," Duke told Baptist Press.The United States, the report says, presents a unique challenge to those combating the sex slave industry: Most Americans are wired. "With nearly 70 percent of Americans accessing the Internet, the accessibility to commercial sex markets on the Internet is staggering," according to the report. The web facilitates arrangements for prostitution and allows child pornography to be made easily and inexpensively. A variety of government agencies and non-governmental organizations have dedicated themselves to creating legislation that assists victims and increases enforcement. One of those laws is the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The FBI, in conjunction with the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, has also created the Lost Innocence Task Force to infiltrate and apprehend traffickers. But there is still a need for shelters that provide housing and basic needs for recovering victims of human trafficking. Only 20 percent of the organizations surveyed by SHI had the capacity to house women and children, "citing lack of resources and funding as major obstacles." SHI's commitment to reducing the number of victims who are pulled into human trafficking focuses on one area: demand. "Too often, police enforcement has focused on the prostitute, with practically no attention given at all to prosecuting the traffickers and so-called customers," said Duke, the ERLC's vice president for public policy. "As long as demand exists, there will be unscrupulous people who will be willing to traffic human beings to meet it."Awareness is one way SHI hopes to decrease the demand, by revealing the tragedy behind the sex market. "If there were no buyers, there would be no sellers, and there would be no victims," the documentary says. To watch "DEMAND," visit SHI's website at:

As in the days of Noah....


"Then said Jesus unto them again,Verily,verily I say unto you.I am the door of the sheep.
All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers:but the sheep did not hear them.
I am the door:by me if any man enter in,he shall be saved,and shall go in and out and find pasture.
The thief comes not but for to steal,and to kill,and to destroy:I am come that they might have life,and that they might have it more abundantly.
I am the good shepherd:the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep"
John 10:7-11

Poll of Americans Finds Doubts About Islam, Mormonism

WASHINGTON - A new poll suggests that Americans have increasingly negative opinions about Islam, view Mormons as Christians but different, and approve of Pope Benedict. The survey of 3,000 adults was conducted last month for the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Its margin of error is plus or minus two percentage points.Forty-five percent of those surveyed said Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence among its followers, up from 36 percent two years ago.A slim majority, 52 percent, said Mormonism is a Christian religion. Yet among non-Mormon believers, more than six in ten said Mormonism and their own religion are very different.The poll also found that Pope Benedict has a 73 percent approval rating. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, garnered 86 percent favorable ratings in 1996.
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Disbarred Attorney Convicted of Stealing Land from Church

CHICAGO - A disbarred suburban Chicago attorney has been convicted for his involvement in a scheme that swiped four parcels of land from a South Side church.Cook County Circuit Judge Stanley Sacks today convicted Phillip Radmer of Berwyn of 8 counts of theft and two counts of forgery.Radmer had waived his right to a jury trial.He faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced November Sixth and has been held at the Cook County Jail since June 2006.
Prosecutors allege Radmer stole the land belonging to the First Presbyterian Church by setting up a bogus corporation whose fictitious board of directors approved the sale of the property to likewise fictitious buyers.Authorities say Radmer walked away with about $655,000 from the sale of the church's four properties

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China Frees American Who Helped N. Korean Refugees

China released an American citizen imprisoned for four years for the “crime” of helping starving North Korean refugees, reported the head of a North Korea freedom organization Tuesday. Steve Kim, an American from New York, was held in a Chinese jail since Sept. 23, 2003 after providing food and shelter to North Korean refugees before guiding them to freedom in South Korea, where they have automatic citizenship under the South Korean constitution.Kim’s prison sentence for helping North Korean refugees is believed to be the longest in China for a humanitarian worker.“In most civilized countries, a person of Kim’s compassion and concern for his fellow man would have been lauded and praised and admired,” wrote Suzanne Scholte, president of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, in an email.“But Kim’s compassionate actions in helping with the North Korea refugee crisis caused the government of China to hunt him down and jail him, charging him with illegally transporting aliens as he was helping North Korean refugees attempt to cross the border,” she exclaimed.Scholte, a well-known and long-time North Korea human rights activist in Washington, recently participated in a North Korean Refugee rally in front of the U.S. Capitol urging Congress to pressure China to stop repatriating refugees from North Korea back to the totalitarian state.North Korea is one of the most repressive regimes in the world and is ranked by the ministry Open Doors as the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. Citizens of the communist state are forced to adhere to a personality cult revolved around worshipping current dictator Kim Jong Il and his deceased father, Kim Il Sung.It is said that at least 500,000 North Koreans have crossed the border over to China in the past 10 years. However, China has signed an agreement with its communist ally to return refugees back to North Korea where they face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution for leaving the country – a state crime.Humanitarian worker Kim, who is not related North Korea’s family of dictators, first encountered the suffering of North Koran refugees as an American businessman who traveled frequently to China. As a Christian, he said he could not ignore nor forget the dire needs he witnessed in China. When he returned to America he raised financial support at his home church, Good Neighbor Community Church in Long Island, to help the refugees.His wife Helen, who made regular visits to her husband’s Chinese prison, noted that her husband’s faith had sustained him as well as prayers and support from his family – which includes three children – and Good Neighbor Community Church during his prison sentence.The United Nations Special Rapporteur on North Korea considers the North Koreans who flee to China “refugees” deserving of protection. China, however, claims the North Koreans are “economic migrants” and treats them as such, arresting and then ejecting them back to North Korea.

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SIGN of the TIMES:High-Tech Churches Worry Traditional Worshippers

It's no secret that churches have stepped up their technology use as more projection screens adorn the front of churches and more preachers maintain a prominent presence on the Internet. But not all are fans of high-tech churches."I feel like it's too much and it takes over the worship," said the Rev. Dorothy LaPenta, pastor of the 150-member Hope Presbyterian Church in Mitchellville, according to The Washington Post. "People will just be sitting there, their eyes fixated on the screen. They're waiting to be given something instead of participating."It's typical for worshippers who flock especially to megachurches to sing praises in tune with a full contemporary band and a high-tech sound system complete with stage lights and lyrics on jumbo screens. Pastors take the stage with camouflaged headset microphones and flash Scripture passages on the screens largely to the convenience of those who forgot their Bibles or who don't have one. At more innovative churches, a short video clip introduces the sermon.
Church leaders who implement the technology say it's all about reaching more people. And to reach people in today's culture, churches need to be at the forefront of cutting edge ideas.
"I don't think that God would want us to try to evangelize like Jesus did 2,000 years ago," said the Rev. Grainger Browning Jr., pastor of the 10,000-member Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, according to the Post.Well over half of Protestant churches use a large-screen projection system in their communication, according to a 2005 Barna study. Just five years earlier, only 39 percent were using that technology. And double the proportion of Protestant churches (61 percent) were integrating video content into their worship services in 2005 compared to 2000. Also, with the advent of big screens, fewer churches are providing Bibles in their pews – dropping from 86 percent in 2000 to 80 percent in 2005.Last year, churches spent $8.1 billion on audio and projection equipment, according to TFCinfo, an audiovisual market research firm, as reported by the Post.Too much technology, however, may take away from the message and the focus of worship, some caution."One of the problems is that with video technology, you don't watch the pastor, you watch the screen, where he appears like a movie star 20 times bigger than reality," James B. Twitchell, author of the book "Shopping for God: How Christianity Went From In Your Heart to In Your Face," told The Washington Post.And an even newer technological advance that a small but growing number of churches are picking up is the "Internet campus."LifeChurch.tv, for example, has 12 campuses scattered across the nation – one of which is an Internet campus. Launched in April, the interactive virtual campus can be found in the popular 3-D online world Second Life.LifeChurch also opened three other physical campuses within this past year and has witnessed its total attendance jump by some 2,000 since early this year. All campuses are made possible through video and satellite technology with senior pastor Craig Groeschel's messages video fed each week.The multi-site church now claims nearly 20,000 people every weekend.Despite their growth, churches such as LifeChurch have had their share of critics over the incorporation of satellite technology into worship services.Some church leaders wonder if the trend is creating churches as the Bible defines churches or if it is "wal-marting" churches."It is a substandard substitute, when you compare it to what God intended," said Michael Hall Sr., pastor of the 125-member New Beginnings Community Ministry Center in Bowie, according to the Post. "How can we break bread? We're not going to have dinner over the computer."With a passion to bring the unchurched to Jesus, Groeschel, however, says, "We have to care more about reaching people than about obeying man's stupid rules because that's what they are."In order to reach those that no one else is reaching, we will have to do things that no one else is doing," he has said.But the innovative pastor cautions, "We must become less impressed with our latest program, less impressed with our latest website, and less impressed with our own what we call creative idea and become more focused on becoming less and making Jesus more in everything that we do."The 12,000-member McLean Bible Church, one of the largest churches in the Washington, D.C.-area, plans to launch an Internet campus this year complete with chat rooms and online small groups. The megachurch has also embraced the multi-site approach in order to reach all of "secular Washington."

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Sponsored children in Honduras now have opportunity for higher education and Christian training

Honduras-Honduras is number 16 on the list of countries to offer Compassion International 's Leadership Development Program.LDP is offered to college-age students who have successfully completed the Child Sponsorship Program. These students have shown leadership characteristics and an interest in higher education. They are also students who, without a sponsor, would not be able to even consider furthering their education.Not only do they take degree classes but take extensive Christian leadership training.The LDP is dependent on sponsors from the United States who are willing to make a financial and relationship commitment until the student has completed their schooling.Once the student has graduated they return to their home towns to put their degree to use.The students who are selected for the program have a strong desire to help their own nation.They are selected for the program on the basis of their Christian character, commitment to school and community and their academic performance.Many students graduate with degrees in teaching, accounting, engineering, law or medicine.Mike Hinckfoot, Compassion's Director of Leadership Development Program, has great hopes for God's plans in the Honduras program. Hinckfoot says, "He opened this program to their country for a purpose.I know we will one day see these young people, with the help of their mentors and sponsors, rise above their circumstances becoming the men and women God had intended them to be."Within the 15 other countries where the program is already established, 1,500 young adults are enrolled.The competition for the program is fierce, and the deadline for admittance is in a month.
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