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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

DECEPTION WATCH:Swedish Church Backs Gay Weddings

The Swedish Lutheran Church has declared that it is in favor of allowing homosexual couples to have weddings in church, although it recommended that the word “marriage” be used only for heterosexual unions.The Church of Sweden-the largest church in the country, claiming 7.2 million members in a country of 9.1 million people-said Wednesday that it approves of legislation that would make laws governing marriage “gender neutral.” The church, among many other bodies, had been asked to comment on the gender neutral bill which the Swedish government hopes to present to parliament early next year."Marriage and (same-sex) partnerships are equivalent forms of unions,” the Church of Sweden said in a statement. “Therefore the Church of Sweden's central board says yes to the proposal to join the legislation for marriages and partnerships into a single law," according to Agence France-Presse.While supporting the proposed changes to current legislation, the Church of Sweden’s board agreed that the word “marriage” should be used only for heterosexual relationships.The response reflected “the different theological interpretations within the Church of Sweden,” said Archbishop Anders Wejryd."There were different opinions on the board, but there was a large majority who felt that the word marriage should only be used for man/woman relationships," he said, as reported by AFP.Since 1995, civil unions for homosexual partnerships have had the same legal status as heterosexual marriages in Sweden. Still, homosexual organizations have been campaigning to remove the last remaining difference between heterosexual and homosexual unions-having their union described as a “marriage.” Currently, Swedish law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman only.The government’s new bill, however, takes gender out of the definition of marriage.The Church, while rejecting the idea of homosexual “marriage,” has nevertheless said for the first time that homosexual couples may wed in the church. Until now, homosexuals could only have their partnerships registered in civil ceremonies. Sweden introduced the new legislation earlier this year in March when a government-appointed committee proposed expanding the rights of same-sex couples.If the new law is passed, couples who have entered civil unions would automatically be considered legally “married,” and Sweden would become the first country in the world to allow homosexuals to “marry” within a major Church.The Swedish Lutheran Church has offered blessings to homosexual unions since January 2007.

As in the days of Noah....

Chief Rabbi: Britain is losing its identity

Britain is losing its identity because of over-zealous political correctness and a failure to deal with immigration, the Chief Rabbi has warned.Sir Jonathan Sacks said that the drive for a multi­cultural society had left Britain increasingly intolerant and that too many people were embarrassed about their history.In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, he stressed that the historic Union with Scotland and the concept of Britain must be preserved.Backing the Telegraph's Call Yourself British campaign, he endorsed plans for a British Day, suggested a more inclusive national anthem should be created and urged the Government to give people a "British dream".Sir Jonathan said that he was proud to call himself British. A poll conducted by this newspaper last week found that more than six out of 10 English voters shared his view, but had growing concerns about the future of the Union.The Chief Rabbi said that there was a climate of intolerance that threatened to destroy the country's identity and had pushed faith to the margins."I think we are seeing a new intolerance," he said. "There is an extravagant over-zealousness in trying not to offend anyone and little do these people realise that other faiths would like Britain to be a Christian country."Sir Jonathan added: "A tolerant society is one that ignores difference and a multi­cultural one is one that highlights them. It is confidence in your own heritage that allows you to be generous to those of another heritage."His new book, The Home We Build Together, argues that the experiment of multiculturalism has failed.Sir Jonathan predicted that ending the Union would lead to further fragmentation."I am concerned about the rise in nationalism in England and Scotland," he said. "We have so much history in common, some of it painful, but all of it contributing to this sense of being together. These bonds of belonging are so important, particularly as we have this splitting into ever smaller fragments, an increased tribalism, in this global age."He also said that the plan to set aside one day to celebrate Britishness was a good idea, suggesting it should be the equivalent of Remembrance Sunday, "but looking at the future not the past".While he likes the national anthem, the Chief Rabbi argued that it might be time to introduce something more "inclusive". He said: "We always sing God Save the Queen, but I don't think many other people do."He also expressed his concern that children were not gaining a sense of identity."What we have lost in British culture is Sunday lunch, dedicated family time. How many families sit together around the table to enjoy a meal together? We come in and stick the pizza in the microwave and eat watching television."I think that's one reason why the deregulation of Sunday was a mistake. It gave us one day in seven where who you are is not determined by how much you spend."
As in the days of Noah....

Russia to resume Cold War navy patrols

Russian warships are steaming towards the Atlantic Ocean last night at the beginning of a series of joint naval and aerial exercises designed to showcase Russia’s resurgent military prowess before the world.Against a backdrop of growing international concern over Russia’s rapid re-armament and its government’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric, naval cruisers and air-force jets will test-fire missiles in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea over the next three months.Defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov told President Vladimir Putin that the manoeuvres would help consolidate the navy’s military presence in international waters.In themselves, the exercises-which will involve an aircraft carrier, anti-submarine ships and missile cruisers-will not cause international concern.Unlike Mr Putin’s August announcement that long-range nuclear bombers would resume sorties in international airspace for the first time since the Cold War, these manoeuvres have been extensively discussed with western nations.The Russian ships are expected to visit 11 ports in 16 countries.Yet the exercises also represent a signal of intent.While many western countries have cut back on military spending-so much so that a report this week claimed that the Royal Navy could no longer fight a major war-Russia has embarked on an aggressive policy to reverse years of military decline after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia’s defence budget has almost quadrupled in the past six years and the Kremlin has announced it will spend pounds 25 billion on building new ships.In 2003, three years after Mr Putin came to power,the Russian navy resumed military exercises in earnest-though often with embarrassing consequences.With Mr Putin on board, the SSBN Arkhangelsk twice failed in its attempts to fire a dummy missile during exercises in 2004.The Russian navy announced in August that the ship launched bulava nuclear missile would be commissioned despite misfiring during most of its tests.Mr Putin has a personal stake in rebuilding the Russian navy’s reputation after the sinking of the Kursk submarine, with the loss of all 118 sailors on board, during an exercise in the Barents Sea in 2000 caused the biggest crisis of his international career.

As in the days of Noah....

More and More People See China as a Future Superpower

"Global Opinion Survey Traces China's Climb to No. 2 in the World; A Major Increase Over the Past Two Years -- 80 Percent of Chinese See the Country in the Lead"
BERLIN-More and more people in China and other leading countries expect China to have the same influence as the US in the future, according to an international opinion poll conducted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung this September with 9,000 respondents in every region of the world. On average, 50% of those surveyed would already call China a world power alongside the US. And while the US remained the undisputed leader with 81%, China gained 5 percentage points compared to a similar poll conducted two years ago. The Chinese placed even more trust in their country's future prospects. 65% of respondents already perceived their country as a global player.Within China, this figure has risen 21 percentage points in the past two years.In terms of the future, 57% of people around the globe expected China to be a superpower in 2020, while a mere 61% thought the US would still hold this position. Among Chinese respondents, 80% believed their country would play a global role, but only 59% thought the US would be a world power at that date. In 2020, the Chinese expect the leading nations of the world to also include Russia (37%), the UK (31%), the European Union (29%) and Japan (23%).Nations and organizations that should be more involved in spreading peace and stability worldwide, according to the Chinese, were their own country as well as the US (60%), the UN (49%), Russia (42%) and the EU (35%). All told, 98% of the Chinese respondents would like for China to work more closely with the European Union (EU). No other country in this survey gave such a high approval rating for EU cooperation.When asked about the process of establishing peace and stability worldwide, the Chinese proved to be multilateralists: 47% stood behind the UN; 44% were in favour of power-sharing between various regional players; only 6% supported the leadership of a single superpower.For the Chinese, the biggest challenge facing the world was environmental devastation and climate change (62%), followed by war (51%), global terrorism (49%) and resource scarcity (45%). This showed that awareness of environmental problems shot up 17 percentage points in China in the past two years. While this is a global trend, it is most pronounced in China, the US and Japan. In India and Russia, however, only a minority of respondents cite climate change as a major challenge.The most important characteristic of a global player, reported Chinese respondents, was economic power and growth (74%), followed by political stability (70%) and military strength (59%). The emphasis on military strength was especially pronounced in China. On average, military power is cited much less frequently worldwide in this context and thus came in last among all categories.Summarizing the study, Josef Janning, Head of International Relations at the Bertelsmann Stiftung, noted, "People's future expectations hold enormous sway over policymaking. All over the world, people see the US losing its dominant position in future. They perceive the emergence of a new, bipolar world order in which the US and China dominate, but where there is also room for regional power centres in Russia, the EU, India and Japan. However, the vast majority of people would like a world with an even balance of global power-one in which the UN would preferably assume a key leadership role."As yet, there is no one single perceived agenda for tackling major problems. People continue to set very different priorities.One difficulty, noted Janning, is that populations in emerging markets plan to rely on their own strength in global competition."If this attitude takes hold in global politics, we may see a resurgence of the sort of nationalistic brinkmanship between current and future global powers that we experienced so disastrously in 20th century Europe.However, the commonly perceived threat of climate change and environmental devastation may yet encourage greater political cooperation at the international level in the years to come."Gallup International/TNS-EMNID, an opinion research firm, recently polled 9,000 people in the US, Russia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Germany, France and the UK for the Bertelsmann Stiftung study. As a benchmark, the findings were compared with a similar Bertelsmann Stiftung survey from 2005. The results were recently presented at the second meeting of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Global Policy Council in Berlin. The council brings together high-calibre experts from various fields and regions to analyze the challenges and opportunities inherent in the dynamics of globalization, the rise of new powers and the emergence of new security risks. The Chinese delegation included: Ambassador Ma Zhengang, the President of the China Institute of International Studies and former Vice-Minister of the Foreign Affairs Office of the State Council, Prof. Jia Qinggua from Beijing University, Ambassador Mei Zhaorong from Fudan University in Shanghai, and Prof. Yan Xuetong from Tsinghua University.
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As in the days of Noah.....

CULTURE of DEATH:Pro-Abortion Kansas Attorney General Resigns During Sex Scandal

TOPEKA-Paul Morrison, the Kansas Attorney General who canceled a criminal investigation of his financial backer, late term abortionist George Tiller, has announced his resignation in the wake of a scandal in which he is accused of sexual harassment and an attempt to illegally gain information on investigations against his abortionist patron.Morrison made the decision after officials in Johnson County, the jurisdiction where he was accused of wrongdoing, announced that they had allocated $25,000 to hire a special prosecutor to investigate the case."I have held others accountable for their actions, and now I must be held accountable for my mistakes," said Morrison during his announcement. He later added, "Many people feel betrayed by my actions, and they have every right to feel that way."The accusations against Morrison surfaced December 9th, when the Topeka Capital-Journal revealed that Linda Carter, a staffer in the Johnson County District Attorney's office, had filed a civil rights claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Morrison had pressured her to divulge information about investigations against Tiller and had sexually harassed her in the process.Carter also alleged that Morrison urged her to write letters supporting eight staffers fired by Johnson County District Attorney Phillip Kline, who were suing for wrongful termination, according to the Capital-Journal (see recent LifeSiteNews coverage at http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/dec/07121005.html). Carter claimed that she and Morrison had had a two-year relationship beginning during his tenure as district attorney of Johnson County and which continued well after he had left office and had been replaced by his nemesis, former Kansas Attorney General Phillip Kline, who had been investigating Tiller. Kline lost the Attorney General position to Morrison after a bitter campaign waged by pro-abortion forces seeking to derail Kline's investigation of Tiller's late-term abortion practice. However, Kline was able to continue his investigation as the district attorney for Johnson County.Morrison admitted to the relationship, but denied charges of wrongdoing. The Kansas political establishment, including his Democratic allies, seemed to hope for a quick resignation.Jenn Giroux, Executive Director of Women Influencing the Nation, a pro-life organization that has opposed Morrison, was glad to see him go. "As the chief law enforcement officer of the state of Kansas, this man had intervened at the Supreme Court level, on the side of the criminal defendent Planned Parenthood against his own prosecutor Phil Kline," she told LifeSiteNews."That is telltale, that is alarming, and it's a good thing he did step down because he has blocked the criminal charges that judges have found probable cause for, he has blocked those charges and oftentimes that has not been reported in the press, just how much abortion money from across the country poured into that state to make sure he was elected to protect Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry," said Giroux.

As in the days of Noah....

New solar systems

LONDON, England-Widespread anxiety about the damaging effects of burning fossil fuels, coupled with a genuine fear that oil and gas will become scarce before the century ends are fueling a renewed interest in renewable energy and, in particular, solar power solutions.Not since the 1970's, when the energy crisis forced oil prices through the roof, have solar power solutions been so warmly received.Most people associate solar power with shiny black panels-called photovoltaic cells (PV's)-which nestle on rooftops trapping the heat from the sun and converting it into electricity.But sightings of solar panels on suburban streets remain rare, not least because of the prohibitive cost of purchase and installation.But there are other ways of capturing the power of the sun which may provide a considerable chunk of our energy needs in the years ahead. Research is increasingly focusing on 'concentrated solar power' systems-CSP for short.
CSP systems focus direct solar radiation through optical devices onto an area where a receiver is located-much like burning a hole in a piece of paper with a magnifying glass. This solar radiation is then converted into electricity.In practice, the CPS system comprises of four elements - a solar field, solar collector elements, a solar receiver and a balance of plant (the remaining systems required to operate a power plant).A range of concepts literally aimed capturing the sun's energy are currently in operation or being tested.Parabolic troughs have been in operation since the mid-1980's. Some of the most notable are the nine power plants built in the Californian desert. Still in operation today, they create 354 MW of energy in total and remain the world's largest collection of concentrating solar power plants.In Europe, a number of solar projects are being rolled out. Germany leads the way with over 10 solar power plants. Located in the Tabernas Desert in southern Spain, however, is the Platforma Solar de Almeria-a solar power research facility where new solar technologies are being tested.One of the concepts being trialed is the 'central tower' configuration which utilizes a collection of heliostats-mirrors which automatically track sunlight-which act as solar collectors. The heliostats then concentrate the solar radiation onto a central receiver located at the top of a tower.Europe's first commercial concentrated solar power plant was officially opened in Seville, Spain in March 2007. The new Planta Solar 10 (PS10) is the first commercial solar thermoelectric power plant in the world.624 large heliostats focus the sun's rays on to a single solar receiver 115 meters high.With temperatures reaching up to 250 degrees Celsius, the solar receiver then turns water into steam, which in turn powers a turbine.It has a peak capacity of 11 MW which is enough to generate 23 million kWh of electricity per year. That's enough to power 6,000 homes and save 18,000 tons of carbon emissions every year.A second tower, the PS20, is currently under construction and will produce around a peak of around 20 MW of electricity.Using troughs, dishes and towers aren't always necessary when creating solar energy.Other more rudimentary methods, first conceived over a quarter of a century ago, are once more the subject of serious consideration.Once such idea is the 'Energy Tower'. If the project ever becomes financially viable it will create some of the tallest structures on earth, dwarfing even the new 800 meter Burj Dubai tower in the United Arab Emirates.Originally patented as the 'Water Spray Down Draft Energy Tower' by Dr Philip Carlson in 1975, the project has, since 1982, been researched and promoted by Professor Dan Zaslavsky from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.The 'Energy Tower' produces electricity by pumping water up to the top of a chimney and then spraying it inside. As a consequence the hot air at the top of the chimney makes the water evaporate, thus cooling the air and making it denser. This cooler air then falls down the chimney shaft causing a downdraft which is used to power turbines..
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As in the days of Noah....

Nasa 'to support UK Moon mission'

The proposal to send a unmanned mission called Moonlite into orbit around the Moon has the backing of those planning Nasa's own return to the Moon.The US space agency's administrator, Dr Michael Griffin(picture left),has said that he is keen to use UK expertise to carry out scientific studies.In future, Britain might set up observatories on the lunar surface.
'Right boxes'
A Nasa study to be published in January has described the plan as "inspirational" and concludes that it fills just the right gap in the US agency's exploration programme.As a result of such a glowing report, it is understood that Nasa will ask the UK space community to carry out a detailed feasibility study by the end of the summer."At the moment it is extremely likely that it will happen," the project's lead researcher, Alan Smith of the Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory, told BBC News."We've got to get our ducks in order, but I think the plan ticks all the right boxes and its extremely likely that we will have the first British mission to the moon launched in 2012," Professor Smith said.If all goes as expected, Nasa will officially back the project and become involved next summer.It is thought that the Indian Space Agency will also be a partner, but Professor Smith says the project will be UK-led."The UK needs this sort of thing," he explained."It will inspire future researchers in these areas; it will inspire young people to get into physics and engineering. It will give UK industry a great lift."The idea is to send a probe to orbit the Moon, and the spacecraft would then fire four suitcase-sized darts called "penetrators".These would quite literally enable scientists to scratch below the lunar surface. These would hit the Moon at extremely high speeds, about 300m/s (1080km/h) and penetrate to a depth of two metres.Once embedded in the surface, instruments in the penetrators would listen out for "Moonquakes".Analysis of these tremors would shed more light on the chemical and physical structure of the Moon's rocky interior.
'Own astronauts'
The Moonlite concept has been developed by Mullard Space Sciences Laboratory (MSSL) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL).Nasa administrator Dr Mike Griffin said he was delighted that the UK was pushing forward with the mission."The UK may be geographically small but remains one of the world's largest economies," he told BBC News."I think for the UK to decide to step forward into space exploration, which is one of the new human frontiers, is all to the good."Dr Griffin added that he also wanted the UK to have its own astronauts in future.
"I think enormous benefit would accrue to the UK in joining what I often refer to as the world's human space flight programme," he suggested."The space station programme is approaching a point where it will behind us; it will be deployed, it will be operational. The UK chose not to join that programme."But, Dr Griffin added: "The time is now to decide if the UK wants to join the next phase of human space flight, which will involve a return to the Moon sometime in the next decade."I would very much like to bring our oldest and closest ally into that partnership."

As in the days of Noah....

Sweden denies Mogadishu conflict

Swedish authorities have ruled that failed asylum seekers from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, can be sent back as there is no "armed conflict" there.The Swedish immigration agency said that Swedish law says there is no armed conflict in Mogadishu because rebels there do not control territory.Ethiopian troops backing the interim government have been battling Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu.A Somali official has said 80% of the country is not in government hands.
One million homeless
Sweden automatically grants asylum to anyone from an area in which something "more like your traditional civil war" exists, where "rebellion forces have territorial control in a part of the city, the country or the region," senior immigration official Dan Eliasson told AFP news agency."This is not the case in Mogadishu," said Mr Eliasson, the general director of the Swedish Migration Board.Fighting between Ethiopian forces backing the interim government and Islamist insurgents has killed many hundreds of people, although no exact figure is available.At least 17 people were killed in a mortar attack on Mogadishu's main market on Thursday.The UN says one million people are living rough in Somalia - including 60% of Mogadishu's population.About 200,000 people have fled the city in the last month.A spokesman for the Swedish Migration Board told the BBC that he accepted the UN's description of Somalia as the world's worst humanitarian disaster but that asylum seekers would have to prove they are personally threatened to be accepted by Sweden.The ruling is likely to be challenged in the courts.

As in the days of Noah....

BUDDHA FASHION :Rapping monks, nuns hit catwalk

TOKYO, Japan-Japanese monks and nuns held a fashion show-with rap music and a catwalk - at a major Tokyo temple Saturday to promote Buddhism. In the "Tokyo Bouz (monk) Collection" held at Tsukiji Honganji, nearly 40 monks and nuns from eight major Buddhist sects joined in the event aimed at winning back believers.Following a rap version of a Buddhist sutra, five monks from each school walked on the runway, then chanted prayers and wrapped up in a grand finale with confetti resembling lotus petals.[[[[["We wanted to show the young people that Buddhism is cool, and temples are not a place just for funerals,"]]]]] said Koji Matsubara, a chief monk at Tsukiji.[[[[[More than 1,200 years after it first arrived from mainland Asia, Buddhism in Japan is in crisis, priests say.Almost three-quarters of Japan's population of 120 million are registered as Buddhist, but for many, the only time they enter a temple is to attend a funeral. That has sent many of the country's 75,000 temples into financial trouble."Many of us priests share the sense of crisis, and a need to do something to reach out to people," said priest Kosuke Kikkawa, 37, one of the organisers of today's event. "We won't change Buddha's teachings, but perhaps we need a different presentation that can touch the feelings of the people today."]]]]](1)The Tsukiji Honganji offers theological seminars in English for foreign visitors, and has fitted its main hall with a pipe organ for Western-style weddings to attract young couples. Some other temples have also introduced cafes, art galleries and other innovations to reach out to young people who are interested in a different lifestyle.Japan's ageing population has meant more funerals, but the declining population and birth rate means fewer young people to share the bill to keep temples afloat.Buddhist monks traditionally wear simple black robes.But to appeal to more fashion-conscious youth, the monks wore green and yellow clothes, some with gold embroidery. Others wore elaborate, multilayered robes."Their robes were gorgeous," said Sayaka Anma, one of the audience in her 20s, after the monks' show. "I was a bit surprised in the beginning, but it was very moving."

PS:Well I was thinking....if the pope has introduced some changes,like going back to latin mass and gregorian chants at churches worldwide,and some so called "christian churches"have come up with all sorts of "PROGRAMS" to WOE people,and if wiccans have started to open places where people can go and read and see wicca stuff and talk to a living witch....why not buddhist monks think about a fashion show????
The truth behind the fashion show is said in point (1)..."75000 temples are in financial trouble..." so they need to lure people in just to pay their bills and therefore eat...
The Bible says it clearly that men are drawn to God by His Spirit...

As in the days of Noah....

QUAKEWATCH:7.1 powerful quake rattles Indonesia

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As in the days of Noah....

Russia Helps Its Muslims Take the Journey to Mecca

MOSCOW-Gulsine K. Fatakhudinova, a 56-year-old Tatar Muslim, came lugging suitcases to pray at the lime-green mosque in central Moscow-one of dozens of people who arrived one recent day bundled in the weighty coats, fur hats and other winter garb they would soon cast off, at least temporarily.Barred by the Soviets for decades from carrying out Islam’s most sacred rite, such pilgrims were among the tens of thousands of Russian Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia to join the masses in Mecca for the annual pilgrimage, or hajj, to one of Islam’s holiest sites. Their numbers have swelled in the last several years thanks largely to Russia’s growing wealth and increasing stability in the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, including in Chechnya, where the effects of nearly a decade of war have begun to fade.Ms. Fatakhudinova is making the journey for the second time.“This year I am going for my mother, for my dead mother, who was unable to go on the hajj during her life,” she said. She explained that her family had always been religious, even during the Soviet era, but had neither the means nor permission from the state to make the trip before her mother died.“I am going for her,” Ms. Fatakhudinova said, “so that before God, when we are resurrected, she will feel herself a hajji.”The Soviet government allowed just 18 people a year to make the trip, said Rushan R. Abbyasov, director of international relations at the Russian Council of Muftis. Now, the only restrictions on the number of pilgrims comes from Saudi Arabia, which is host to the hajj.This year,the Saudis increased the quota for Russian pilgrims to 26,000 people from 20,000, and despite estimated costs of $2,000 to $3,000 a person for the trip, Mr. Abbyasov said all visas allotted for this year had been claimed. Chechnya is sending about 3,000 pilgrims for the five-day pilgrimage, which starts this year on Dec. 18.“This year, because of religious consciousness, the end of violence in the North Caucasus, and in Chechnya in particular, and the current growth of people’s well-being, people can just allow themselves to do this,” said Abdul-Vakhed Niyazov, president of the Islamic Cultural Center of Russia.Muslims who are financially and physically able are required to perform the hajj at least once in their lives, though many believe that a relative can complete the pilgrimage on behalf of someone who died or is chronically ill.Islam, like Orthodox Christianity, is in a state of revival here after years of confinement to the kitchens and basements of the Soviet Union, which severely restricted the open practice of all religions.Russia has about 4,000 mosques now, compared with about 90 in the waning days of the Soviet Union. In Moscow, Muslim groceries and stores selling Muslim fashions have appeared, and the first hospital catering to Muslims opened this month.Fourteen million to 23 million Muslims live in this country of about 140 million people, making Islam the largest minority religion.They live mostly in the Caucasus and in two autonomous republics, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan; there are also about two million Muslims living in Moscow.The Kremlin has worked to facilitate the pilgrimage, part of a strategy to ward off potential unrest among the country’s Muslims and monitor their activities, while also improving ties with Saudi Arabia, where Russia has budding economic interests. When President Vladimir V. Putin visited Saudi Arabia in February-the first Russian leader to do so in decades-his lobbying efforts helped persuade the Saudis to raise the quotas for Russian Muslims this year.At a meeting with Russia’s Muslim leaders in November, Mr. Putin pledged continued government assistance for the hajj.The government has created a liaison office that offers pilgrims assistance with visas and transportation, and the state airline, Aeroflot, often gives pilgrims special rates. The government has also set up a $60 million fund to support Islamic culture, science and education, part of which is designated for state-accredited Muslim schools and universities.
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As in the days of Noah....

Jihadists plead guilty to plotting attacks on US synagogues

More misunderstanders, I’m sure, who didn’t get word that jihad is supposed to be a personal, inner struggle.[[[[Two men accused of plotting behind prison walls to launch Jihad-style attacks on military sites, synagogues and other targets in 2005 pleaded guilty on Friday to conspiring to levy war against the United States.Kevin James, 31, and Levar Haley Washington, 28, entered their pleas in separate appearances before U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney.Washington also pleaded guilty to using a firearm to further the conspiracy. Prosecutors said he used a shotgun to rob a Torrance gas station on July 4, 2005.The gas station robbery was supposed to finance the jihad.Prosecutors say the plot was orchestrated by Washington, Patterson and Samana at the behest of James, a California State Prison, Sacramento, inmate who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS.Washington converted to Islam while imprisoned with James, then looked to recruit other members of the group, authorities said. Neu said Patterson and Samana were recruited in part because they had no criminal records and could acquire weapons without suspicion.Prosecutors assert that James also prepared a press release that the men planned to send out after an attack.“This incident is the first in a series of incidents to come in a plight to defend and propagate traditional Islam in its purity,” James allegedly wrote. “We are not extremists, radicals, or terrorists. We are only servants of Allah.”]]]]

As in the days of Noah....

Designer baby fear over heart gene test

A British couple have won the right to test embryos for a gene that leads to high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart attacks, The Times has learnt.The decision by the fertility watchdog will reopen controversy over the ethics of designer babies, as it allows doctors to screen embryos for a condition that is treatable with drugs and can be influenced by lifestyle as well as genes.While the procedure is designed to detect a rare version of a disease called familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), which often kills children before puberty, it will also identify a milder form that can be controlled by drugs and diet.Critics argue that the test will allow couples to destroy embryos that would have had a good chance of becoming children with fulfilling and reasonably healthy lives.The test will also create an unprecedented moral dilemma for some couples, as it could show that they have produced no embryos completely unaffected by the disease. This would force them to decide whether to implant embryos that they know have a genetic risk of premature heart disease and death, or to throw them away and deny them a chance of life.Britain’s first licence to test embryos for FH will be awarded next week to Paul Serhal, of University College Hospital in London, by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).Its decision breaks new ground because it permits Mr Serhal to screen out not only the severe form of the condition but also the milder type, which is usually treatable.
Embryo screening has previously been approved only for disorders in which a gene invariably causes a serious disease, or for conditions such as breast cancer in which mutations carry an 80 per cent lifetime risk.FH occurs in two forms. The more common version, heterozygous FH, affects 1 in 500 people. It is caused by a single mutated gene, which raises cholesterol and thus the risk of hardened arteries, heart disease and stroke. It can usually be managed with statin drugs and diet.One in 250,000 people inherits two defective copies of the gene and develops homozygous FH, which is much more serious. Sufferers show severely elevated cholesterol from the age of 5, and can suffer angina by 6 or 7. Many die in childhood, and most have suffered at least one heart attack by the end of their twenties.Mr Serhal’s patients, who are in their thirties, both have the milder heterozygous FH. They discovered their status only when they had a daughter, now 5, with the homozygous form, and they also have an unaffected son.They said yesterday that they were delighted. “We had no idea that we both carried a gene for high cholesterol until the double gene was expressed in our first child. We are very lucky that our child has responded so well to the very high-dose drug regime. We have been led to understand that other children with the same double gene may not be so lucky.”The couple, who approached Mr Serhal after learning that he was offering the pre-implantation genetic diagnosis test for a breast cancer gene, will have IVF next month, even though they are naturally fertile.A single cell will be removed from each embryo at the eight-cell stage, and be tested for defective FH genes. Any that have homozygous FH will be discarded. The test will also determine whether the remaining embryos are completely clear of FH, or whether they have the heterozygous form. There may be none that are unaffected, leaving the couple with a difficult ethical decision.Mr Serhal said: “This obnoxious disease can cause cardiovascular accidents at a very young age. Ideally, we will find embryos with no FH genes, but it is possible we will not and it will be up to the patients to choose. Some people would think twice about using embryos that they know have a risky gene, and others would say you shouldn’t screen out a condition that can be managed so people can live with it. It will be an awkward choice.”Mr Serhal said that the HFEA had also indicated that it would be prepared to sanction screening for the milder form of FH alone for couples in which one partner was a carrier and the other was not, though he was not yet proposing to do such screening.
As in the days of Noah....

Putin rival held in psychiatric ward 'to prevent him protesting against government'

A Russian opposition activist has been sent to a psychiatric hospital by authorities a day before a planned demonstration. Artem Basyrov's detention is the latest in a series of incidents suggesting a punitive Soviet-era practice is being revived under president Vladimir Putin.Mr Basyrov, 20, was ordered to be held at a hospital in the central region of Mari El on November 23, a day before planned demonstrations, said Alexander Averin of the opposition National Bolshevik Party.The party is part of the Other Russia coalition which organised the so-called Dissenters' Marches across the country this year.Mr Basyrov ran for the local legislature as an Other Russia candidate.Police who originally detained him claimed he had assaulted a girl.A local psychiatric board agreed, deciding the activist suffered from a mental illness and he was committed to the psychiatric hospital three weeks ago.He was only transferred from an isolation ward and allowed to have visitors on Thursday, said Mikhail Klyuzhev, a National Bolshevik member from the city of Yoshkar-Ola.The allegations against Mr Basyrov were "idiocy" and were "part of the hysteria" before Russia's parliamentary elections which were held on December 2, Mr Klyuzhev added.Supporters said Mr Basyrov did not appear to have been mistreated.A psychiatric board is due to review his case at the end of the month.His case is the latest example of journalists or opposition activists being involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals in Russia.During the Soviet era, dissidents were frequently committed for protesting against Soviet policies.Last week, Reporters Without Borders said Andrei Novikov, a reporter for a news service connected with Chechen separatist government, was released after nine months in a psychiatric hospital.Earlier this year Larisa Arap, an Other Russia activist and journalist, spent six weeks in a psychiatric clinic.Supporters said this was punishment for her critical reporting.The Global Initiative on Psychiatry, a Dutch watchdog, says psychiatry continues to be used for punitive, political purposes in Russia.
As in the days of Noah....

Israel: US report on Iran may spark war

JERUSALEM - Israel's public security minister warned Saturday that a U.S. intelligence report that said Iran is no longer developing nuclear arms could lead to a regional war that would threaten the Jewish state.In his remarks-Israel's harshest criticism yet of the U.S. report-Avi Dichter said the assessment also cast doubt on American intelligence in general, including information about Palestinian security forces' crackdown on militant groups. The Palestinian action is required as part of a U.S.-backed renewal of peace talks with Israel this month. Dichter cautioned that a refusal to recognize Iran's intentions to build weapons of mass destruction could lead to armed conflict in the Middle East.He compared the possibility of such fighting to a surprise attack on Israel in 1973 by its Arab neighbors, which came to be known in Israel for the Yom Kippur Jewish holy day on which it began."The American misconception concerning Iran's nuclear weapons is liable to lead to a regional Yom Kippur where Israel will be among the countries that are threatened," Dichter said in a speech in a suburb south of Tel Aviv, according to his spokesman, Mati Gil. "Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat."Dichter didn't elaborate on the potential scenario but seemed to imply that a world that let its guard down regarding Iran would be more vulnerable to attack by the Islamic regime.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had disputed the U.S. intelligence assessment this month, saying that Iran continues its efforts to obtain components necessary to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran still poses a major threat to the West and the world must stop it, Olmert said.Israel has for years been warning that Iran is working on nuclear weapons and backed the United States in its international efforts to exert pressure on Iran to stop the program. Israel considers Iran a significant threat because of its nuclear ambitions, its long-range missile program and repeated calls by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for the disappearance of Israel.Iran says its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.Israel will work to change the American intelligence agencies' view of Iran, said Dichter, a former chief of Israel's Shin Bet secret service agency."A misconception by the world's leading superpower is not just an internal American occurrence," Dichter said.Any future faulty U.S. intelligence on the actions of Palestinian security forces could damage peace efforts, Dichter said."Those same (intelligence) arms in the U.S. are apt to make a mistake and declare that the Palestinians have fulfilled their commitments, which would carry with it very serious consequences from Israel's vantage point," Dichter said.

As in the days of Noah.....

U.S. and Japan tighten missile-defense ties

WASHINGTON-The U.S. and Japanese navies have worked out common rules for their advanced warships designed to shoot down enemy ballistic missiles, the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet said on Friday ahead of a milestone test.
Underscoring growing missile-defense ties, Jon Yoshishige, a spokesman for the Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based fleet, said areas of cooperation included "operational activities."The cooperation described in the statement fell short of missile-defense integration, a thorny issue for Japanese concerned about their post-World War Two constitution's ban on collective defense.
"Operationally, the dialogue between the two navies extends from the four-star level to the ship-to-ship level as crews share common tactics, techniques and procedures for use while under way with the Aegis" anti-ballistic missile gear, Yoshishige said in an email response to questions from Reuters.Using the Aegis system built by Lockheed Martin, the Japanese destroyer JS Kongo is due to carry out next week what would be the first ballistic missile shootdown at sea by a nation other than the United States.The test could take place as soon as Monday off Kauai, Hawaii. In cooperation with the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, or MDA, and the U.S. Navy, the Kongo will fire a Standard Missile-3 interceptor to detect and track a medium-range ballistic missile target launched from a nearby U.S. range.MDA, in a statement, described the test as a "major milestone" in bilateral missile-defense cooperation, spurred after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile in August 1998.The missile's third stage flew over Japan before landing in the Pacific and highlighted Japan's vulnerability to missiles that could be tipped with chemical, nuclear or germ warheads.Japan's missile defense has two components. The Raytheon-produced Standard Missile-3 aboard the Aegis-equipped Kongo-class destroyers and the ground-based Patriot PAC-3 missiles that defend Japanese soil.If Japan's shipboard systems were being tied in with U.S. capabilities, "that would raise a serious constitutional question," said Yuki Tatsumi, an expert on Japanese security policy at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a private research group in Washington."I doubt Japanese political leaders are ready to have that kind of discussion."Japan's "Peace" Constitution is widely interpreted to ban "collective self-defense," including combat cooperation with the United States against a third country.It was imposed by the United States during its occupation of Japan following World War Two but now stands as an obstacle to U.S. efforts to deepen military cooperation with Japan.Washington has pushed missile defense "as an alliance-building program designed to integrate military capabilities," said Paul Giarra, a former Pentagon senior country director for Japan who inaugurated a U.S.-Japan missile-defense working group in the early 1990s.Mindy Kotler of Asia Policy Point, a research group that studies Japan and Northeast Asia, described the new Pacific Fleet statement as another apparent step toward "functional" Japanese-U.S. military cooperation.
As in the days of Noah....

ISLAMIC CRAZE WATCH:Algiers bomber's family blames "ignorance"

ALGIERS-The family of a suicide bomber who killed 17 U.N. staff in Algiers this week said he joined Islamist rebels after failing to get a taxi license and [[[[was motivated by "ignorance, not poverty," a newspaper reported. "We got nothing from al Qaeda, we are still very poor," Bechla Rabah's oldest son Younes told Echorouk. "Ignorance, not poverty, this is what pushed my father to blow himself up."]]]]Al Qaeda's North African wing claimed responsibility for twin car bombs on Tuesday that killed more than 30 people at the U.N. offices and a court building, saying it had targeted "the slaves of America and France."It was the deadliest assault in Algiers in years and followed a string of similar bombings after Islamist rebels in the country adopted the al Qaeda name at the start of the year.Algerian newspapers said Rabah's days were numbered as he was in a final stages of cancer. They said two of his sons were members of the Islamic Armed Group also known by its French initials GIA and were killed by security forces in the 1990s.Rabah's 82-year-old mother told Echorouk she heard of his death from the newspapers and had not seen her son in more than a decade. Rabah, who was 63, joined Islamist rebels in 1995."The police came to do a DNA analysis. They told me the results will be ready by Saturday. I continue to believe my son is innocent. I need strong evidence to change my mind," she told the national daily in an interview at the family's home in Heraoua, a poor village 20 km (12 miles) east of Algiers."He wanted to work as a taxi driver," said Rabah's daughter Asia. "But he did not get the go-ahead from the administration. That's why he decided to join the FIS in the 1990s.""I could have been one of the victims," she added.Algeria plunged into violence in 1992 after the then military-backed government scrapped legislative elections which the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), a radical Islamic party, was poised to win.The violence had subsided since the 1990s but in the past twelve months has regained some of its former intensity.Algerian officials say poverty does not produce terrorism, but local commentators often point to a bleak social background of poverty and unemployment to explain the rebels' ability to recruit suicide bombers.

As in the days of Noah...

Crisis in Bolivia as provinces threaten to break away

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia-Huge crowds seeking autonomy for eastern Bolivia rallied Saturday against leftist President Evo Morales, as tens of thousands marched to support him in the capital, La Paz.The governors in the eastern lowland and energy-rich states of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando all declared greater self-rule at celebratory rallies Saturday, a move strongly opposed by Morales, who ordered extra police deployed to the region.The four rebel provinces-out of the nine that make up Bolivia-account for around two-thirds of the total gross domestic product and are home to a more than a third of the country's population.Morales warned that the moves towards autonomy were illegal, and that the army would guarantee Bolivia's territorial integrity.In Santa Cruz, a bastion of anti-Morales opposition, the streets of the provincial capital were flooded with marchers waving green and white flags, the regional colors."This is the best for Santa Cruz," said Carlos Vargas, a taxi driver, as he followed a speech by local authorities on autonomy.University student Cesar Gonzalez blamed Bolivia's ills on [[[[Morales, who he said "is guilty of splitting the country."Morales, the country's first indigenous president, is fueling the racial divide between the darker-skinned mostly indigenous Andean residents, known as 'collas,' and the lowland residents, known as 'cambas,' ]]]]Gonzalez said.The Santa Cruz event was more of a massive street party celebrating autonomy than a rally, with live music and dancing. Many hit the streets proudly wearing large straw hats typical of the region.Similar events were held in the capitals of the other rebel provinces.Meanwhile in La Paz, in the president's Andean stronghold, members of the Constituent Assembly delivered a draft of the [new constitution] to Morales at a public ceremony."This is the moment in which all of us Bolivians are going to feel integrated into the new state!" Morales told an ecstatic crowd overflowing the main La Paz plaza.Morales also blasted the actions of the eastern regional leaders."With the pretext of autonomy they want to split the country, but we are not going to permit any division of Bolivia," he told the cheering crowd.Morales earlier said that "the armed forces, and the Bolivian people, are here to make sure that the country never disintegrates."[[[The pro-Morales majority in the assembly approved the new constitution last weekend over a boycott of opposition legislators, and after moving the meeting to the Andean city of Oruro, another Morales stronghold, to avoid street protests.The new constitution is recognized by neither the regional governments nor the right-wing opposition to Morales' leftist government.]]]The dueling Saturday celebratory rallies highlight the divide between supporters and opponents of Morales who promised to better distribute the country's wealth to benefit the people of the highlands, where most of Bolivia's 8.5 million residents live.Most of Santa Cruz's 1.5 million inhabitants are mixed-race descendants of Spanish colonists, in contrast to the indigenous population that forms the majority in the poorer mountain regions.Outside Santa Cruz city hundreds of farmers loyal to Morales blocked main land routes with heavy stones to protest the autonomy plans.In the festive environment locals largely ignored an explosive hurled at the Santa Cruz courthouse, which news reports said shattered windows and damaged some furniture, but with no injuries.Morales earlier met European diplomats about possibly mediating the escalating crisis.

PS:I wonder what Morales changed in the "new constitution".
it sounds a whole lot like Venezuela,doesn't it?Actually he is buddies with Chavez...Well...I fell for the people of BOLIVIA but it sounds to me like Comunism is there to stay.....

As in the days of Noah....

JIHAD WATCH:Radical cleric Bashir visits Bali bombers

RADICAL Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir(picture left) has visited the three Bali bombers on death row in prison. Cleric Bashir, widely believed to be the spiritual head of South East Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiah (JI), said he wanted to boost the spirits of the three before they face the firing squad.He also warned Indonesia would suffer a big disaster if it went ahead with the executions. Bali bombers Amrozi, Cl Bashir's former student Mukhlas and Imam Samudra are awaiting execution in Batu Prison on Nusakambangan Island, off central Java.The trio played key roles in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.The radical cleric visited the prison with 20 other religious figures from central and west Java, along with relatives of the trio. Cl Bashir was jailed for 30 months for conspiracy over the Bali bombings but later cleared.

As in the days of Noah....

TERROR WATCH:Plane plot suspect escapes in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A British suspect in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic jetliners escaped from police custody in Pakistan on Saturday, officials said. Rashid Rauf fled after appearing before a judge at a court in the capital, Islamabad, said Khalid Pervez, a city police official.Police teams were driving around the area in search of Rauf, who Pervez said had managed to open his handcuffs and evade two police guards who were taking him back to jail in the nearby city of Rawalpindi."We do not know how he escaped. But we do know he has escaped and the two policemen have been taken into custody for negligence," Pervez told The AP.Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said he had been informed of Rauf's disappearance, but had no details.Rauf, who is of Pakistani origin, was arrested here in August 2006 on a tip from British investigators. He has been described as a key suspect in a purported plot to blow up jetliners flying from Britain to the United States which prompted a major security alert at airports worldwide and increased restrictions on carry-on items.Rauf was arrested and charged in Pakistan with possessing chemicals that could be used in making explosives and with carrying forged travel documents.The prosecution later withdrew the case against him, though he remained in jail awaiting a decision on the British extradition request.Britain had asked Pakistan to hand him over in connection with a 2002 murder inquiry in Britain that is separate from the alleged terrorism plot. But Rauf's lawyer, Hashmat Habib, has sought to block the move, saying the two countries do not have an extradition treaty and that Rauf had already been found innocent of involvement in terrorism.Members of Rauf's family have appealed to Pakistani authorities to release him, saying he is innocent and desperate to remain with his wife and two daughters.Habib said Saturday that his client had been brought to court in connection with the extradition proceedings, but he didn't know how Rauf had escaped.Rauf's father, reached in Birmingham, 200 miles north of London, said he did not know about his son's escape."I don't know anything-I'm shocked," Abdul Rauf told The Associated Press by telephone.

As in the days of Noah...

PESTILENCE WATCH:Bird flu outbreaks kills one, infects others

PAKISTAN confirmed that a man who worked on a poultry farm with infected birds has become the country's first death from the bird flu virus.One of the man's brothers also died but he was not tested for the virus, the health ministry said in a statement. It did not say why the second man was not tested.Six people were confirmed to have been infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, all of them in North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, the ministry said."Five of them have fully recovered. One of the confirmed cases died in hospital while his brother, who could not be tested, has also died," it said.A spokesman said that the confirmed victim, Muhammad Tariq, had been involved in a cull of birds at an infected poultry farm in late October.Three of his brothers were also admitted to hospital and one, named Mohammad Illyas, also died. "We are not certain how Illyas died because we could not conduct his testing," the spokesman said.Hospital officials in the provincial capital of Peshawar said that Mr Tariq died late last month, a few days before his brother, who was admitted with similar symptoms but was not tested for the virus.The virus is usually transmitted to humans from infected birds but scientists fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions.

As in the days of Noah....

LEWDNESS WATCH:Adult shops fight Christian sect

THE adult-entertainment industry has declared war on the fundamentalist Exclusive Brethren sect for allegedly infiltrating local councils.The Canberra-based Eros Association says the conservative Christian group is bankrolling legal challenges to halt the spread of adult stores.The accusations come after a group of Exclusive Brethren business leaders offered to fund Lithgow City Council's Supreme Court fight against a development application for a sex shop.The Department of Local Government gave the offer a green light, claiming councils were allowed to "accept donations from third parties" - a clause critics say amounts to sanctioned bribery.Flirt Adult Store owner Jeff Oliver won an appeal in the Land and Environment Court after the council refused him planning permission to set up shop in Lithgow's main street. According to council and independent correspondence, local members of the Exclusive Brethren offered to fund the council's appeal against the court ruling.The council was prepared to accept the money after the Department of Local Government decreed there was no legal impediment to it "accepting a donation from a third party".It decided not to pursue the appeal, however, and the Flirt Adult Store was allowed to open.About 100 members of the Exclusive Brethren live in the Lithgow area."There is increasing evidence that the Exclusive Brethren have infiltrated other morals groups around the nation and have embarked on a national campaign to stop adult retail shops from opening," Eros co-ordinator Robbie Swan said."There is also increasing evidence that their members are secretly being elected to local councils, with moral agendas their main reason for being there."There's an urgent need for a national enquiry into just how far this 'entryism' has gone and to what extent local government decisions on moral matters have been compromised by this cult."Lithgow councillor Martin Ticehurst said he was disturbed by the fact it was perfectly legal for councils to accept money from groups such as the Brethren that wanted to influence outcomes."It's not just the involvement of religious groups that concerns me. Councils should not be allowed to accept money from any activist group," Mr Ticehurst said."It could be perceived as a form of bribery, and I think it's potentially dangerous."The sect, which does not allow its members to vote, is known for its large donations to the Liberal Party.

PS:These type of establishments should be banned...I know you may say they have the right to run their bussiness...That's alright....but their rights end where mine start.These type of "sick bussiness" are of no contribution to society other than promoting lewdness and more moral decadence among us.
Im researching who the Exclusive Elders really are,btw...

As in the days of Noah....

New York City Approves the Public Display of a Nativity Scene in Times Square During this Christmas Season

NEW YORK-New York gives permission to the Christian Defense Coalition to display a small nativity scene Saturday, December 15 from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. The location of the display will be on Broadway and 44th Street right below MTV. The Nativity Scene is part of "The Nativity Project," which is nationwide campaign that encourages citizens to set up Nativity Displays outside of public buildings, city halls, state capitols and in well traveled public places. The Christian Defense Coalition will hold a news conference to discuss this national campaign in front of the Nativity Scene at 12:00 noon. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, comments,"The Nativity Project offers an opportunity for people of faith to enter the public square with the glorious news of Christmas. And this is, the Christ-child has provided 'Peace on earth and goodwill toward man.'"Sadly, we are seeing an erosion and crushing of religious freedoms across America.This is especially true during the Christmas season where there is an open hostility toward public expressions of faith. We must constantly remind our public officials that the Constitution promises freedom 'of' religion not freedom 'from' religion."It is essential that the faith community not be intimidated into surrendering their God give First Amendment freedoms which offers to all Americans the right to publicly worship God free from government interference or harassment.That is why it is so important for this Nativity Scene to be in Times Square."

As in the days of Noah....

SHOOTINGS AFTERMATH:Murray family meets with relatives of victims

In the confines of a glass-walled room outside the sanctuary of Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, three families embraced in a powerful show of forgiveness.Just three days after a shooting rampage that left five young people dead, the families of two victims-Philip Crouse and Tiffany Johnson-put their arms around the uncle of the gunman. They shed tears, spoke, prayed and huddled in a circle, hands resting on one another's shoulders.For half an hour, they stayed inside the room, aware of cameras flashing outside the windows. Two leaders of Youth With A Mission, the missionary group with which the victims were affiliated, led them in prayer.But the families talked to one another as well. They looked one another in the eyes, held hands, comforted each other.[[[[["Both families said, 'We forgive you. We don't hold you responsible,'" said Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission's Denver chapter.Pastor Phil Abeyta, uncle of shooter Matthew Murray, "broke down in tears(picture above left crying). And they prayed for him," he said.Following that gathering, the Crouse and Johnson families left the chapel for a nearby home, where Murray's parents, Ron and Loretta, were waiting. The couple was grateful for the meeting, but they weren't ready to do it in front of cameras at the church, Warren said.Again, the families prayed and wept. During the hourlong meeting, the Johnson and Crouse families offered the Murrays and their son-who killed himself during the rampage-their prayers, love and forgiveness, according a statement from the Murray family."The entire Murray family is overwhelmed by this act of Christian love and forgiveness," Abeyta said in the statement. "Matthew's parents ... are humbled beyond words and deeply grateful to the families of God's children, Tiffany Johnson and Philip Crouse, for taking this extraordinary step to begin the process of healing and reconciliation."What an incredible example of the power of God's love."]]]]]]The dramatic reconciliation was foreshadowed Wednesday morning at a memorial service for the Youth With A Mission victims at Faith Bible Chapel. There, Andy Ronchak, Tiffany's uncle, spoke to mourners."The Murray family is hurting," Ronchak said. "They did nothing wrong. There is no place for shame and condemnation for those who love Christ Jesus."He said his niece, Tiffany, would want Murray and his family to be forgiven."I just want to say to you that we feel your pain. We know you have lost along with us," Ronchak told mourners. "We pray you could lift your head high and know that Jesus is with you."In an interview after the service, Ronchak put it this way: "I just want to give them a hug, from our family to theirs. They feel so responsible as parents, and they had nothing to do with it. I hope the whole community extends (forgiveness) to the family."The idea for the meetings originated with Andy Ronchak, who phoned Warren Tuesday night.Warren said Ronchak told him: "We believe we're to extend our forgiveness for the family of Matthew Murray. We understand what they're going through. We don't feel they've done anything wrong because this was his choice, and it really breaks our heart that they're feeling this and we just want to tell them."Warren, in turn, phoned Phil Abeyta, the pastor of a Denver church, whom he described as a friend. Abeyta, in turn, called the Murrays about the offer. "They said, 'We want this,'" Warren said.Warren said the church felt comfortable allowing cameras and reporters to observe one of the meetings from outside the glass."We felt like because the whole nation and nations are involved in this story, we wanted to try and involve the media and allow media to be able to see a 'grass-roots thing.'"It came out of the families' hearts."He added that when Phil Crouse's family heard the idea, they acknowledged "anger and frustration" over the shooting, but said, "We feel the same way," about forgiving. Tom Hallas, a YWAM leader in town from Asia who participated in the meetings, called the meeting between the families "extraordinary, a very rare event.""We were able to witness a tender love and affection with great sincerity," Hallas said. "We have witnessed today what Jesus had always hoped would be realized in the lives touched by his love."Hallas said the event illustrates what Jesus summed up to his disciples: "Now I want you to go and proclaim to the world that forgiveness is available."
PS:I really praise God for sending Jesus ,the Prince of Peace,to die in the Cross of Calvary for our sins and giving us Peace and Love and the power to forgive others the same way we have been forgiven...
When we read in the news so many acts of hatred and promises of revenge and death,it is refreshing-in the spirit of this season- to hear of things like this,that truly warm your heart and set an example and is also a witness of what true practical christianity is all about.
Some-like the shooter-choose death and hell...while others,still choose life and forgiveness.
As in the days of Noah....

LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:DRC Conflict Intensifies Forcing More Civilians to Flee

U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) chief Antonia Guterres began his five-day visit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday.Friday he visits Goma, the regional capital in the east.
An armed conflict, between the army and renegade troops loyal to former general Laurent Nkunda, has thrown eastern DRC into turmoil for almost four months.In early December the army, with support from the United Nations, launched a major offensive against the renegades, pouring around 20,000 soldiers into the region.But after initial losses, the highly-disciplined guerrilla rebels have over the last few days re-taken all the positions they lost early in the conflict.This means some towns are being fought over repeatedly in the course of only a few days. Many civilians have had to flee fighting several times, making the long walk from their villages to safety.The United Nations estimates around 800,000 civilians are currently displaced within the eastern North Kivu province, where most of the fighting has taken place.U.N. field coordinator Marie Antoinette Okimba, based in Goma, says around half those civilians are living in displacement camps. Most others, she says, stay with their families in Goma and around the region.She says those who are displaced want to return home."I think many of them are thinking about the security situation," she said. "I think when the security situation allows, people are going very, very quickly in their own village because they have land, they have cultivation, and they have food."But the conflict is right now showing no sign of slowing down.Guterres is to visit areas around Goma where those that have been displaced are sheltering, including official camps and makeshift sites that have been set up to deal with the mass onslaught of now homeless civilians.
As in the days of Noah....

Russian Army Chief Accuses West of Corroding Arms Control

Russia's top general has accused the West of turning the arms control system into a political tool, warning that a launch of a U.S. interceptor missile in Europe could trigger a Russian ballistic missile strike. Army Chief of Staff Yuri Baluyevsky Saturday sharply criticized U.S. plans to build an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe. He also accused NATO of boosting its military potential in the Baltic countries.Baluyevsky told a news conference in Moscow that Russia's moratorium on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty enables him to move Russian military forces as necessary within the country. But he added that Russia has no plans of massing troops along its borders.The U.S. says the proposed missile shield in Europe is designed to protect NATO countries from possible attacks by Iran.Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday expressed his support for Moscow. He held two days of talks with President Vladimir Putin in Minsk.Mr. Putin earlier said Russia could counter U.S. plans to deploy its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic by deploying missiles in Belarus. The former Soviet Republic is located between Russia and Poland.The Soviet Union and NATO signed the treaty limiting conventional weapons deployment in 1990. It was updated in 1999 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.Russia ratified the renewed document in 2004, but NATO has refused to ratify it until Russia fulfills its commitment to withdraw forces from former Soviet bases in Georgia and Moldova.Moscow calls those deployments peacekeeping missions and refuses to withdraw its troops.

As in the days of Noah....

ENVIRO WATCH:Ivory Coast Still Suffering from Toxic Spill

Late at night in August 2006, several hundred tons of toxic waste were dumped around Abidjan, including this suburb of Akoueko extension, which bore the brunt of the dumping. The waste had been shipped by the Dutch company Trafigura, from the Netherlands. Trafigura had contracted out its disposal to an Ivorian firm, which had no means to properly dispose of the poisonous material.Residents woke up with nausea and headaches. They formed a neighborhood activist association, one of several created around the city, to protest the dumping and demand compensation. Altogether, the spill killed at least 15 people and sickened another 100,000.Some Ivorian authorities were fired for the dumping scandal and Trafigura ultimately paid a $200 million compensation agreement to the Ivorian government. But today, Akouedo residents complain they still feel sick, and that the toxic waste has not been properly cleaned up.Olivier Dago Zate, is head of the Akouedo activist group.Zate says Akouedo citizens are worried, because they do not know the mid- and long-term consequences of the toxic waste that was dumped in their town. They do not know what kind of waste it was, and that is serious, he says.Zate and several other residents take me on a tour of the nearby dumping sites. One is surrounded by barbed wire. A sickly looking green stream flows behind it. The other sits on open ground, amid tall rushes. The area is also where Abidjan dumps its municipal waste.Zate claims nothing has been done to clean up the spill. All it takes, he says, is a hot sun for the air to smell like old garlic or rotten eggs.The French company Tredi, charged with shipping the waste back to France for treatment and disposal, disputes the association's claims. It says it has cleaned up Akouedo extension. Still, Tredi another 3,500 tons of poisonous soil remain untreated around Abidjan.The French company says that is because Tit has not yet received new orders from the Ivorian government to clean up the rest.Ivorian authorities say they want Trafigura to pay more cleanup money, but Trafigura insists it has fulfilled its agreement.Jim Puckett, of the Basel Action Network, a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization fighting against toxic waste shipment, criticizes Trafigura's response."The response to this incident has really been quite shameful," he noted. "There's been a settlement paid, the country of Cote d'Ivoire was quite desperate to get any money at that point in time. They took the settlement from Trafigura company of about $200 million, but that's not enough to pay the costs, liabilities and remediation that has to take place."Puckett is also critical of the Ivorian government and other African countries for not signing the Basel Convention banning the shipment of hazardous waste, even though these countries are the least prepared to handle its effects.The costs of last year's dumping have been damaging in other ways.A few miles around from the Akouedo dumping grounds sits the Kafango family's small house.Niece Marina Kafango, 13, is here visiting her aunt. She is a pretty girl, but she walks around with crutches.Marina's mother, Josephine, explains her daughter fell violently ill with a blood ailment after last year's toxic waste spills. She shows me a stack of letters and medical examination results. Like many Ivorians affected by the toxic waste spill, Josephine says the family has not been compensated for the medical treatment.But Gervaise Coulibaly, spokesman for Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, says there is simply not enough money to go around.Coulibaly sympathizes with the victims but says there will never be enough money to treat everyone. He says the government plans instead to use most of Trafigura's money to create health centers and pollution prevention measures to ensure similar catastrophes will not happen again.But Puckett, of Basel Action Network, is not so sure. He says Africa and other developing countries are faced with new hazards, notably old ships and computers dumped on their shores from richer nations. He says electronic waste is flooding from north to south and very little is being done to stop it.

As in the days of Noah....

US, Peru Sign Free Trade Agreement

President Bush says the agreement creates new opportunities for both Americans and Peruvians."Opening up markets to U.S. goods and services with help the Peruvian consumer," he said. "By removing barriers to U.S. services and investment, the agreement will help create a secure, predictable legal framework that will help attract U.S. investors."The deal eliminates duties on 80 percent of U.S. industrial and commercial goods sold in Peru as well as tariffs on more than two-thirds of U.S. agricultural products.Mr. Bush says it locks in access for Peruvian businesses to the world's largest market and will benefit Peruvian consumers with more choices and lower prices.Getting the deal through Congress is the result of an arrangement with the White House earlier this year to include enforceable labor and environmental protections in free trade agreements.President Bush says that approach is working. He wants Congress to approve pending deals with Colombia and Panama to show Washington is serious about expanding hemispheric trade when American influence is being challenged by Venezuela and Argentina."Those who espouse the language of false populism will use failure of these trade agreements as a way of showing America isn't committed to our friends in the hemisphere," he said. "It is vital that Congress send a strong message that the United States of America is committed to advancing freedom and prosperity in our neighborhood and approve these agreements with strong bipartisan majorities."President Garcia called it a great day for democracy and social justice and a bad day for authoritarianism and those who he says are against democracy and free trade."This is a crucial opportunity to consolidate hemispheric relations," he said. "The ties between the U.S. and Latin America have been plagued by misunderstandings, but they are also full of great prospects for reaching democracy and consensus."President Bush also used the signing ceremony to call on Congress to approve a free trade agreement with South Korea.
As in the days of Noah....

Tens of Thousands of Palestinians Rally for Hamas in Gaza

Chanting "Allah is great," tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in Gaza City to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic militant group Hamas.It was a defiant show of support, even though Gaza has plunged further into poverty under Hamas rule and there are shortages of food, raw materials and fuel. Hamas has been crippled by Israeli and international sanctions since it violently seized control of Gaza six months ago.[[[[[Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told the crowd that the group will never renounce violence or recognize Israel.Mr. Haniyeh said jihad, or holy war, is the shortest way to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem. He also condemned the Annapolis peace conference in the United States, where western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume peace talks with Israel.]]]]] Hamas routed the Fatah forces of Mr. Abbas from Gaza in June, and now he heads a more moderate government in the West Bank.Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have agreed to try and reach a final peace treaty by the end of next year, but Hamas poses a major obstacle. At Annapolis, Mr. Olmert said Israel would not agree to a Palestinian state unless it includes Gaza under the control of Palestinian moderates.By bringing a huge crowd into the streets, Hamas has shown it is a force to reckon with and that it intends to remain in power.
PS:How can you negotiate with this kind of element???
Answer:There is no negotiation....they are all for destroying Israel and the jews and also all the infidels....JIHAD is their way!!!!!They are just a bunch of thugs and murderers....I truly feel for christians and muslims that do not support this,cause they must be having a hard time living among these beasts....and also the people of Israel being pounded by Qassam rockets...

As in the days of Noah....

Musharraf Promises Free, Fair Elections after Altering Constitution

In comments televised across Pakistan Saturday night, Mr. Musharraf said the country's transition to democracy is back on track after he lifted a self-declared "state of emergency" earlier in the day.Mr. Musharraf said he was forced last month to impose emergency rule to prevent judges and others he did not name from derailing Pakistan's path to democracy.After declaring the emergency in November, Mr. Musharraf suspended the constitution, clamped down on independent media, arrested hundreds of opposition politicians, and replaced Supreme Court judges with handpicked jurists who quickly rubber stamped his controversial run for president while in uniform.In his speech Saturday, Mr. Musharraf repeated a promise not to interfere in parliamentary elections next month."It is my commitment to the entire nation of Pakistan and to its people, and to the world, that the election on the eighth of January will be held on time and will be absolutely fair and transparent," he said."We would like to invite any number of observers to come and watch the fairness of these elections."Opposition politicians and election observers have said Mr. Musharraf's moves have already rigged the election in favor of his supporters. Some small parties are boycotting the election in protest, but the two main opposition parties have said they will contest the election.Mr. Musharraf said there is no reason for a boycott and warned "political agitators" will not be tolerated.He also said he stands for independent media, but he made no commitment to lift the ban he placed on news that criticizes the head of state and government officials.The ban threatens media and reporters with heavy fines and jail time.Also, the judges who were fired in November have not been reinstated.Earlier Saturday, judges loyal to Mr. Musharraf pledged to honor the constitutional amendments legalizing his presidency, the emergency decree, and the purging of judges who opposed his decisions.In his Saturday speech, Mr. Musharraf touted his government's achievements in the eight years since he took power in a bloodless military coup. He said he has put Pakistan on the path of development and empowered women, minorities, and young people while improving security in the tribal regions.But Pakistan has experienced a growing number of terror attacks. On Saturday a suicide bomber on a bicycle killed two soldiers and three civilians near a Pakistani army camp in the northwest of the country.

As in the days of Noah....