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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prophetic Words About 2009

Walking in the office of the prophetic, I am often asked each year at the beginning of the New Year what do I see happening in this next year. It is a valid question. God does reveal upcoming events to His prophets in advance of moving. (Amo 3:7) Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

• He has raised up a powerful breed to stand in this last day season that is upon us. He has had many of you waiting in the wings to be used of Him. Remember when He said He still had five thousand who had not bowed to Baal? He has so many who honor and serve Him. He has so many that keep their hearts. They have been established in His Holy Spirit and in His Word.
• This is your year to come forth and shine.
• He has had you waiting ((Isa 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.)
• This year you will realize that God has really been keeping you. (Prov 4:23),
• He has been preparing you. (Eph 6:15), and Standing for the time that He speaks for you to act (James 1:22).
• 2009 is your year. (Heb 11:1). He has called you to act right now in the face of this enemy all around you.
• This year you will know His glory in you, through you and for you. (Isa 60:1) Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
• Although a dark hour in the natural, God will be using you in 2009. His glory will be shown through you as you speak His Word. (Isa 60:2) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
• You have a special anointing of hope in 2009. It is literally an anointing of hope. Many will be drawn to the revelation of the Lord in you. You offer hope and miracles in a hopeless time. (Isa 60:3) And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
• 2009 will be your year to pay attention to those who need you to walk in your authority in their behalf. (Isa 60:4) Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
• 2009 will be known as the year that you really walked in respect of His Word and His anointing.
• Although it is impossible to see in the natural just how He will be blessing you in 2009, know
that He is doing it even as you read this Word. (Isa 60:5) Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
• You will see large supplies of finances early in this year. This quick and strong supply will be even a witness to the greater things He will do later this year. (Isa 60:6) The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
• 2009 will be known as the year of My healing anointing. The Lord is also saying that He sent His word to heal you, deliver you and keep you. There will be more and more of the miraculous healing testimonies this year in the United States and in other parts of the world. You will be used in healing more than ever before this year.
• He has called you to speak His truth and create correct circumstances all around you. Circumstances that line up with His will and His Word are happening all around you. You are to act on the Word. As the days progress in the near future, you will face more and more that the enemy has tricked so many into believing and accepting as unchangeable and hopeless. You know the truth. You have the truth in you. That is what has made you free and empowered you to make many others free. When you act on that Word that has been given to you, you will see your world changed all around you.
• Remember that you have been given power over all of the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). Remember that His Word always delivers you. Remember that when you speak His word, He is obligated to bring it into manifestation for you. When you speak His Word (inside a faith relationship), He will work with you (Mark 16:20).
• As you go forth into the New Year, be prepared. Keep your heart right. Prov 4:23) and live by faith. (Heb 10:38) Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
• Whom He justifies, He glorifies. You will see more of His glory (manifested presence of God) all around you this year of 2009 than you have ever seen before. You don’t have to “just accept things.” You can and will change your world. You have been prepared to change your world all around you. You are prepared and expected to change your world with your God given authority. Did He not tell you that what you bind on earth is bound and what you loose on earth is loosed? Certainly, you must become the doer of the Word that you know this year!
• 2009 will be a year when you are known to start immediately anytime the devil shows up to quickly put Him down. Don’t let any circumstance get a head start on you. Quickly, stand against it right now! Stand on His Word. Decree His Word.
• 2009 will be called a year of change. Your world is about to change. This is to be called a year of change. (Job 22:28) Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
• Many were struggling as the Holidays began. Many things are already done. He has already supplied you this year. He has raised up miracles in many forms to meet the needs of His children, His ministers, and His disciples this day. I decree that every bill is paid. I decree that every thing needed is supplied. I decree that they not only have plenty to meet every need, but plenty to share.
• I decree a financial miracle for you, my friends who have begun a work across the ocean this month in total faith. I call every need met, in the name of Jesus. I decree that you, Lord have gone before them bringing favor and supply financially, physically and spiritually. I call in multiplication on every seed sown.
• There will be a miraculous supply to His ministers this year. Some of you (His ministers) seem as though they had less this holiday (things) than usual. Don’t give it another thought. God is not late in your supply. It is already done. You will see it happen before you.
• 2009 will be known as a year of greater strength and health in your household. • 2009 will be known as the year of good reports. It will be a year of fulfillments.
• God has raised up some new kind Prophets this year. This new breed of prophets have been around waiting for their timing. It is like you have been preparation waiting in the wings, growing, watching as well as being used a little bit from time to time. In comparison the road of ministry that He is about to take you down, it has only been a little bit of ministry. It is about to become “great ministry.”
• 2009 will be called your year to rise and shine. (Is 60:1). Just as the anointing came on Jesus at the due season, the due season has come for you. It is your due season.
• 2009 will be known as the year of reaping the salvation of family members. Remember in the Word where He said (Mat 10:37) He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Mat 10:38) And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (Mat 10:39) He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat 10:40) He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. You have sacrificed all those that you love into my hands. My capable hands I might add. I am there for every one that you left in my care. I have so many doors opening for you. It will be so great, it will feel like your head is spinning in the natural.
• 2009 will be called a year of God’s timing. (Isa 40:31) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
• 2009 will be known as a season to receive fresh directions from the Lord daily. It is His Rhema Words of directions. He has been teaching you to hear his voice for many years. This will be a very active gift this year.
• 2009 will be called a year that you came into financial stabilization as never before. You have been given a special and fresh anointing of financial stabilization. No longer will it be feast and famine at your house. You will know more financial stability. Not only have I given you the knowledge and the anointing to receive your financial stability, so have I given you the anointing to share this anointing of financial stability. If you will notice, I have been commissioning you to give above and beyond so many times lately. It is more than the usual. This is because of this fresh anointing that has come upon you.
• 2009 will be called the year of the giver. He will be giving you more and more, because He has called you to be an anointed giver. Some of you will soon be able to give 90% to me and abundantly live on 10% that remains in your hands. You are an agent of my finances. It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
• 2009 will be known as a year of impartation. Remember when I said stir up the gift that is in you by the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands represents impartations. I have taught you to speak my word and it will be done. I have made you a decree-er. You must decree this anointing and gift of abundance upon yourself and upon other ministries as I put them before you.
• 2009 will be a year known as a year to enjoy God’s blessings. God desires for you to just enjoy the blessings that He has put before you right now, but use them to seek Him. Use them to hear His voice. His sheep hear His voice and don’t follow a stranger.
• Some political decisions are still “up in the air.” There is no decision because God gave a free
will choice to some in high authority. If they choose God’s will, it will change the whole country. If they do not choose God’s will, then the country will be in for much greater famine, war and sorrow. Intercede that this leader will choose God’s will for us.
• This year will be a year that many are drawn to God. They are drawn to the revelation of God in you. You offer hope and miracles in a hopeless time. (Isa 60:3) And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
• Pay attention to those who need you to walk in your authority on their behalf. This is your ministry. Always be a giver. (Isa 60:4) Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
• This year will be known as a year of reverence and respect for His Word and Spirit.
• This year will be known as a special year that God lays up the wealth of the sinner for the just. • This is the year of the miraculous. Miraculous things are happening even now. It is impossible to see in the natural just how He will be blessing you. You will just “know it” as you read His Word. (Isa 60:5) Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
• This year will be a year to see large supplies of God’s provision in your hands. This miracle supply itself will be a witness as to my future fulfillment that I have promised to you. (Isa 60:6) The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
• As you go forth into the New Year, be prepared. Keep your heart right. (Prov 4:23) Remember that the just will live by faith. Whom He justifies, He glorifies. You will see more of His glory all around you than you have ever seen before.
• 2009 will be called a year of decree. Decree His Word. Your world is about to change. (Job 22:28) Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.
• Some serious physical issues will be fixed so quickly and so thoroughly this year, they will be remembered like a blip on the screen in comparison.
• 2009 will be a year of great spiritual activity. You have seen some really great things since you turned to the Lord years ago, but what you are about to see is greater than you have every seen or imagined. The real question is “are you ready for it?” Have you and are you keeping your heart with diligence? (Pro 4:23) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
• 2009 will be the year of open doors. You will see open doors and personal increase while there is more and more natural financial failure in the United States. Some of you had some great changes in your personal life this past year that you had waited years for. Some of you will experience your new beginnings even early this year. You have prayed so long, and it has already begun.
• He even told you that He would open doors that no man could open. He has already gone before you this year as you go out in His name. He supplied for you when it was impossible in the natural. There has already been some increase in your ministry. Compared to what He is about to do, that was nothing.
• To begin with, He gave you miracles in December and there will be more as you begin next year in a miraculous way. This year He will guide you to so many new places and where He will guide, He will provide. He keeps saying things like this for emphasis.
• He is confirming to you that He still takes care of His own sheep. He says to remind you that just as he took care of the widow and her son in famine, He is doing it for you as well in this financial famine. He is showing the world that you don’t need the world system to be taken care of. He is your very present help (Ps 46:1) today as just as well as He was back then.
• 2009 will be known for its ministry activity. Your Ministry activity is about to increase greatly. When it does don't complain about how busy you are. God is about to renew your spirit and your body. He is about to supernaturally give you the strength and the wisdom to keep up with what He has already begun for you in 2009. Many things you will be able to do that you have never been able to do physically because of this supernatural renewal in Christ. Didn’t He tell you in (Joh 15:7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you?
In Him,
Prophetess Frances Lloyd
As in the days of Noah....

Haniyeh: If IDF stops aggression, we'll talk about all issues

Only if Israel stops its aggression unconditionally, lifts the blockade and opens the Gaza crossings will Hamas agree to "talk about all issues - and seriously," Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday night, at the end of the fifth day of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead.In a televised address, the Hamas prime minister added that only after these conditions have been met, will an internal Palestinian dialogue be launched.Haniyeh turned to Palestinians in Gaza. "The situation in Gaza before the war will be different from after the war," he assured them. "This is a war that divides two eras and, with God's help, victory will be ours, because these people stand firm, the resistance stands firm and because the occupation will fail to achieve anything."Our blessings are with all those who have fallen in battle, all the casualties and all the operatives on the ground," he said.On a satisfactory note, Hanieyeh said that the Palestinians were closely following international opinion, particularly in the Arab world."We get the feeling that Israel is standing against the Arab and Muslim free world that will never accept this crazy war against a people without proper arms in such a small area, but are a great and strong people nonetheless.""Gaza is not the only place standing against this aggression," he continued. "That's what they wanted. They sought to isolate it from the Arab world, but this storm among Arab nations has proved that the Strip is not alone and the occupation cannot do this. The Arab people have proved that the Palestinian issue is in their hearts."Choosing to steer clear of criticizing Egypt for not opening the Rafah border crossing, Haniyeh said that "the occupation alone is responsible for what is going on - for the aggression and the blockade."Earlier Wednesday night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an address broadcast on Palestinian TV that the stalled negotiating process had become useless and was not reaching any of its goals - namely the creation of a Palestinian state."Negotiation is not a goal by itself; it's a tool," Abbas said. "Unless it is a tool to achieve peace...there is no need for it to continue."Turing to Gazans, Abbas said that the Palestinian people were standing firmly with them. He described the IDF operation as a "massacre" directed at the entire Palestinian people and called it "cheap election propaganda."The PA president also appealed to the UNSC to hold an emergency session on the Gaza situation.

As in the days of Noah....

Saudi 'Israel inciting' cleric arrested

A popular radical cleric who urged Muslims to target Israeli interests around the world has been arrested, a Saudi Web site reported Wednesday. Saudi security officials were not available for comment.The site, Rasid, posts news about Saudi Arabia's Shiite community and has reliable contacts within both the Sunni and Shiite religious community.The site said Sheik Awadh al-Garni was detained Monday in connection with his recent fatwa, or religious edict.Al-Garni had called on Muslims to avenge the attacks on Gaza by targeting Israeli interests "everywhere." Fatwas are not legally binding and it is up to individual Muslims to follow them.Al-Garni is popular but not a member of the official religious establishment.
As in the days of Noah....

CHANCE of TRUCE..?:Former Palestinian Minister:"Conflict will continue as long as Gaza is Under Siege"

Onward Messianic soldier? Israeli believers weigh in on Gaza war

During these times of wars and rumors of wars, one of the hottest debates among believers in Jesus - be they Messianic Jews or Gentile Christians - is whether or not we should participate in or support the use of armed force against our physical enemies.Verses like Matthew 5:9 (blessed are the peacemakers) and Matthew 5:39 (turn the other cheek) are presented by many as evidence that as the Body of Messiah we are forbidden to use force or support its use by others.Many others insist that the opposite is true, and that the above verses are being misinterpreted and taken out of context when applied to national situations. This side points to the many instances where God Himself ordered Israel into battle against its physical enemies.And if God is unchanging (Numbers 23:19) then surely using and supporting the use of force for righteous purposes remains acceptable for believers today. Right?It is difficult to adequately speak to this issue without ever having been directly threatened by an armed and hostile enemy. Most Christians in the West have never experienced that, nor have most had to deal with loved ones being called up to defend their nation against looming and potentially existential threats.Israeli believers, however, are able to speak to the issue from a position of intimate knowledge and experience. For Israelis, the question of whether or not to use and support the use of force is perhaps more relevant than for believers anywhere else in the West. It is not merely an academic exercise in religious morality, but rather a matter of life and death.With violence flaring in and around the Gaza Strip, we asked local Messianic leaders how they view the use of force against the terrorists, considering that many of their own sons and friends may be participating in the fighting, and that unlike for most Christians in the West, the terrorists pose a direct daily threat to their lives and the lives of their loved ones.David Silver of Out of Zion Ministries in northern Israel had no qualms about supporting the war effort, and said he believes Israel "should use all force necessray to remove the Hamas leadership and destroy the [Gaza] rocket factories and the teams that fire them."Seth Ben-Haim, a Jerusalem-based Messianic leader and former executive pastor at King of Kings Assembly, said that while he supports the current action in Gaza, "unfortunately it is too little too late."He hopes that Israel will soon elect a new leadership that will consistently take the battle to "where our enemies sit, and not where our kids go to school," but insisted that even that will not go far enough."The situation became much worse after the tragic uprooting of Jews from our homeland in [the Gaza Jewish communities of] Gush Katif. This provided a fertile ground for the increase in strength of Hamas and the dramatic and qualitative increase in terror," explained Ben-Haim."Israel needs to create a change in the strategic balance of power in the area. In order to accomplish this we need to be located in all of our land."Howard Bass is pastor of the Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) congregation in the southern Israel city of Beersheva. Bass and his congregants found their city under attack by Gaza rockets for the first time ever on Wednesday morning.He voiced support for Israel waging war against its physical enemies, but stressed that the Jewish state will never obtain the peace it truly needs and desires until it likewise engages its spiritual battles."A time for war, and a time for peace. To our sorrow the time is not yet when war is no more," said Bass. "As a nation, Israel is obliged to act to defend itself against Hamas, a self-proclaimed enemy, which has armed and trained itself to wage war against Israel and her existence."On the other hand, Israel continues to resist turning back to the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God, who alone gives peace, security, healing," Bass continued, concluding that "only the righteousness of God can bring true and lasting peace to Israel and to all the other nations."In their nearly unified support for military action, Israeli Messianic leaders did not forget Jesus' command to also love Israel's enemies (Matthew 5:44).Most local ministries sent out newsletters urging their supporters to pray at this time, both for Israel's victory and for the protection and salvation of Palestinian Arabs trapped in an ideology of hate that is ultimately directed against the fulfillment of God's will.
By Ryan Jones

As in the days of Noah....

Hamas broadens rocket scope Wednesday, firing every few minutes

An improved Grad rocket landed on open ground in the Yoav Council region, location of the towns of Beersheba, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim and Netivot as well as Kiryat Gat, the only town not targeted by a Hamas rocket so far. But the Lachish region east of Kiryat Gat was.Gedera, some 35 km from the Gaza Strip, reported a hit later. On Day 5 of the Gaza conflict, Wednesday, Dec. 31, Hamas loosed a massive hail of rockets and missiles every few minutes. They claimed 9 Grad rockets had been fired ad distant communities. DEBKAfile's military sources attributed the clear signs of Hamas recovery to three causes:
1. Heavy rain and mist over the region which limited visibility and inhibited Israeli air force action against missile sites in Gaza.
2. Hamas had restored its chain of command for organizing and directing missile squads and stepping the tempo of launches. Its leaders are still hiding underground.
3. By Tuesday, Hamas had managed to transport large quantities of missiles from underground caches to firing positions near the Israeli border.
Belatedly, by Tuesday night, the Israeli war command appreciated its error in omitting to launch the IDF ground operation Monday, Day 3 of the Gaza offensive. Instead of opening up then with a limited incursion that would evolve into a broad ground operation, Israeli leaders wasted precious time in futile discussions on international demands for a ceasefire, which had no chance of holding up. Defense minister Ehud Barak, instead of running the war, spent hours on the phone with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, before he, prime minister Ehud Olmert and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, finally agreed that the French 48-hour truce proposal was unrealistic.Now, Israeli tanks and armored forces will have to wait for the weather to clear while watching Hamas broaden its swathe of attacks.Wednesday, Hamas fired 60 missiles and rockets in two and-a-half hours, striking targets in an area that stretched from relatively near locations like Sderot, Shear Hanegev and Ashkelon, to the farther 40 km-extremity of Beersheba,Ashdod, Yavne, up to the outer limits of the Yoav Council and finally Gedera.DEBKAfile's military sources report that Hamas is suspected of having acquired rockets with a range of 50-55 km, bringing them ever closer to central Israel. They estimate that Hamas is holding this weapon in reserve for the potential Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip. It is also disclosed that the Israeli air force mounted its second attack on the Philadelphi border zone's smuggling tunnels Tuesday, Dec. 30, after learning that Hamas had repaired some of the 40 tunnels first bombed Sunday.
The Air Force has revised its estimate of the quantity of Hamas missile stocks destroyed down from 50 percent to 10-15 percent. This means that their remaining stock is more like 8,000 than 6,000, including at least 100 long-range extra-punch Grad rockets. They can therefore keep up a high level of firing for around 80 days.
As in the days of Noah...

Israeli FM tells al-Jazeera to shape up

Appearing on al-Jazeera on Monday, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the Arab news network to shape up in its coverage of Israel's war against Gaza's Hamas rulers.When pressed by her interviewer over why Israeli forces are "killing women and children in Gaza," Livni fired back that only Hamas terrorists are being targeted by Israeli forces, and if civilians are killed then it is the responsibility of the Hamas terrorists who took shelter among them.Livni also pointed out that there would be no war in Gaza at all if Hamas had not fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the two weeks leading up to the Israeli assault.Livni went on to criticize al-Jazeera itself for stoking the flames of hatred with its one-sided coverage."When you show one-sided images from Gaza you're not helping peace," said the foreign minister. "I understand that pictures which create provocation lead to anger and hostility among the citizens, but we want a better future for this region."Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee, an Arab from northern Israel, took issue with the broader foreign media for failing to sufficiently report Israel's version of events surrounding the Gaza violence.Whbee told The Jerusalem Post that major foreign media outlets are doing their best to ignore the Israeli side, and so are giving the impression in their reporting that Israel's attack on Gaza was a spontaneous and unprovoked action.He was particularly upset that while nearly every news update on any foreign news network features images of children in Gaza, very few if any are broadcasting images of Israeli children cowering in fear in bomb shelters across southern Israel.In related news, Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday agreed to a request by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to join Israel's international public relations campaign. Netanyahu is widely regarded in Israel as the nation's most competent and eloquent spokesman.Despite the proximity to national elections, Netanyahu has pledged to maintain unity with the Olmert government for the duration of the Gaza war.
As in the days of Noah...

Israeli cabinet resolves to continue offensive against Hamas, MDA on highest alert

On Day 5 of the Gaza operation, prime minister Ehud Olmert said: "Israel held back for years and finally decided to try a ceasefire. But it was violated by Hamas." As the scope of the Hamas cross-border attacks widened, his office said the French 48-hour truce idea was not on the table. There are others, Olmert said, but none are realistic enough to discuss. If conditions change and a solution that guarantees a better security situation in southern Israel comes up, we will reconsider. But we are not there yet.From Wednesday night, Magen David Adom goes on highest level of preparedness in all parts of Israel in view of the widening radius of Hamas missile attacks and forecastsfor the coming weekend. For the first time in its history, MDA has enlisted hundreds of volunteers to man more than 600 ambulances, some brought out of emergency stores.Two members of the security cabinet were interviewed by TV Channel 2:Dep. Defense minister Vilnai said it was much too early to discuss a timeline for ending the Gaza operation and estimated it would take weeks. He added that the whole country was in a state of preparedness. After the cabinet meeting, finance minister Ronnie Bar-On said Israel would not agree to a ceasefire until its Gaza offensive had achieved all its goals and "the balance of life in southern Israel was brought level with that of Jerusalem.
As in the days of Noah...

CHILD MARTYRS...?:Iranian Youth Volunteering as Suicide Bombers...

Iranian Students Volunteer as Suicide Bombers to Attack Israel

Iran shuts paper for Hamas criticism

The Iranian government on Wednesday ordered shut a leading reformist daily, Kargozaran, for publishing a statement by a student group that blamed Hamas for provoking the current IAF strikes on Gaza.The paper's editor Mehran Karami said the student statement condemned the Israeli attacks but also called Hamas a terrorist organization that hides in schools and thus draws civilian casualties. Meanwhile, hard-line Iranian student groups have asked the government to authorize volunteers to go carry out suicide bombings in Israel in response to the military operation in the Gaza Strip.The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had not responded to the call by Wednesday.Five hard-line student groups and a conservative clerical group launched a registration drive on Monday, seeking volunteers to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.In an open letter to Ahmadinjead, the students said: "volunteer student suicide groups...are determined to go to Gaza. You are expected to issue orders to the relevant authorities in order to pave the way for such action." A copy of the letter was made available to The Associated Press on Wednesday.Volunteer suicide groups have made similar requests in the past and the government never responded to their calls. Some hard-liners have claimed previously they succeeded in secretly sending bombers to Israel, but their claims have never been verified, and there has not been any sign of Iranians carrying out suicide attacks in Israel - raising the likelihood the groups' activities are mainly for propaganda purposes.The hard-liners started signing up volunteers after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree Sunday saying anyone killed while defending Palestinians in Gaza would be considered a martyr.The groups claim that more than 10,000 people throughout Iran have registered as volunteer suicide bombers in the past three days. At a gathering Tuesday in Teheran, hard-liners were distributing registration forms to volunteers."How can I remain indifferent while defenseless Palestinians are being butchered," said one volunteer, Ali Reza Takrim Namini, as he filled out the registration form.Another, Mostafa Babaei, vowed, "I'm willing to sacrifice my blood in support of Islam and in defense of Palestinian Muslims."The volunteers wore white shrouds symbolizing their willingness to die and headbands with the slogan "Defenders of Gaza" and "Ready for Martyrdom." Most of those registering were members of the Basij militia, a hard-line paramilitary group that has tens of thousands of members and is often involved in drumming up popular fervor against Israel and the West.Protesters have held daily rallies outside the Egyptian interests section in Teheran, as well as the Jordanian and Saudi embassies, protesting what they call inaction by Arab nations. On Thursday, hard-line students threatened to storm the Egyptian mission unless Egypt open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, a step Cairo has refused.Late Tuesday, a branch of the Italian clothing retailer Benetton in northern Teheran was set on fire, apparently as part of a protest. The state-owned newspaper Iran reported the attack, repeating a claim often made by hard-liners that the chain is "affiliated to the Zionist network." The branch showed minor damage, with some burned clothes and scorch marks.
As in the days of Noah...

Bush, Olmert Discuss Ways to End Gaza Violence

Wounded Gaza civilians treated in Israel

A seven-year-old Gazan boy who suffered a serious head wound in Israel's retaliatory air strikes was rushed through the Erez crossing and taken to Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva on Wednesday.The boy, whose transfer was facilitated by the Peres Peace Center, was in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which favors the transfer of Gaza civilians hurt in the bombings, said the Palestinian Authority is unwilling to pay for their medical care in Israel because Hamas is responsible. The PHR-Israel has urged the PA to facilitate such transfers immediately and argue later about who would finance the treatment to save their lives.A total of three wounded civilian children have been transferred during the past two days via the Erez Crossing, with help from UNRWA, while 20 Gazans suffering from serious illnesses were allowed through on Wednesday for treatment in Israeli hospitals.Meanwhile, Magen David Adom director-general Eli Bin raised the alert level of his organization to its highest on Wednesday. MDA staffers and volunteers are now manning 600 ambulances round the clock to help wounded from Gaza rockets and missiles. Vehicles that had been in garages for emergency use were taken out of storage.The breadth of activity is unprecedented for the organization, MDA said.In addition, MDA has begun teaching first aid to teachers in shelters in the settlements and cities targeted by Hamas, as schools in the targeted areas have been closed.The basic two-hour courses teach how to stop bleeding when a person suffers external hemorrhages; how to use a shirt or sheet for bandaging; how to treat people suffering from burns, smoke inhalation and head, chest and abdominal wounds; and how to open victims' airways.Over 100 kindergarten and school teachers took the courses on Wednesday.
As in the days of Noah...

Hamas: Quran anticipates the destruction of Jews

IAF hits Gaza mosque storing rockets...

The IAF continued its assault on Gaza terrorist targets on Wednesday afternoon, bombing a Gaza City mosque and destroying a large number of rockets hidden inside.Channel 10 reported that the IAF had received high-level orders to hit the mosque after Hamas terror operatives had run there with several rockets and Grad-type missiles.The army said that the mosque, located in the western part of Gaza City, was used to store weapons and explosives and that terrorists had been using the building as cover when firing rockets at southern Israel.The most recent rocket launch from the mosque occurred on Wednesday morning, the military said in a statement.The strike set off numerous secondary explosions, caused by the munitions stockpiled in the mosque.In recent days joint IDF and ISA intelligence efforts produced information that terrorists were hoarding weapons in the mosque and carrying out rocket attacks against Israeli communities from its grounds, as well as using it as a place of hiding, the IDF said.Meanwhile, a senior IDF officer said that IAF fighter jets had carried out some 500 sorties against Hamas targets in Gaza in Operation Cast Lead and helicopters had flown hundreds more combat missions.The officer claimed 95 percent of the intended targets were hit. He said all efforts were made to avoid civilian casualties, including calling residents on their phones to warn them their buildings were about to be hit.The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.Gaza officials put the death toll at more than 390 dead and 1,600 wounded since the operation began on Saturday. Hamas said some 200 uniformed members of Hamas security forces had been killed, and the UN reported that at least 60 Palestinian civilians had died. Meanwhile, Israel said it would allow 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies to enter Gaza on Wednesday, in addition to 4,000 tons the military says have been allowed in since the offensive began. Several dozen chronically ill and wounded Gazans were also authorized to enter Israel for treatment Wednesday, the military said....
AP contributed to this report
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Video: Rocket launched before Israeli Air Force destroys others...

IAF releases footage showing rocket launchers continuously targeted...
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Gunman wounds 2 Israelis in Denmark mall shooting...

COPENHAGEN, Denmark-A gunman shot and wounded two Israelis working at a packed central Denmark shopping mall Wednesday, police said.Police spokesman Lars Thede said it was not immediately clear whether the Israelis were targeted because of their nationality.A video surveillance camera showed a swarthy man with a dark mustache and dark hair in his mid-20s pulling out a gun before opening fire."We cannot say whether he is Palestinian, Iraqi, Iranian or Bosnian, or where he is from," Thede said."It is too early to say whether this has something to do with what happens elsewhere," he said, referring to an Israeli offensive under way against Gaza's Hamas rulers in retaliation for rocket fire.The strikes have killed some 390 people so far.Poul Bjoernhold Loehde, head of the police in Odense, said the Danish Security and Intelligence Service had been informed of the shooting."Because of the present world situation,we have contacted them. To us, it is an ordinary criminal case," Bjoernhold Loehde told The Associated Press.No one at the agency was available for comment.The two wounded men are Israelis in their 20s, Thede said. One of the wounded was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, police said. The wounds are not life threatening, police said.The shooting took place at the Rosengaard mall in Odense, 170 kilometers (105 miles) west of Copenhagen. It occurred around 3.30 p.m. (1430 GMT), when the mall was filled with people doing last-minute shopping before the New Year's break.Alem Dervisevic, an eyewitness, told TV2 that he thought fireworks were going off when the shooting occurred."But then we saw gun rounds on the floor, we saw people running and shouting," Dervisevic told TV2."I saw blood and a man lying down near Kvickly (supermarket) and ambulance people picking him up."The men, who were selling hair care products, had been harassed by a group of youths in recent days, Denmark's Ritzau news agency said.The nature of the harassment was not immediately known. According to the B.T. newspaper's Web site, a man shouted something in a Middle Eastern language and opened fire. Another Israeli inside the hairdressing shop threw a chair at the gunman, the newspaper said. The shooter escaped in a dark vehicle which later was found nearby by police.
By JAN M. OLSEN--Associated Press Writer
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Church of England puts faith in Gore's investment arm; $200 Million from cash, Treasury bills...

The Church of England’s Church Commissioners have gone green, investing £150 million with former US Vice-President Al Gore’s environmentally minded investment firm, Generation Investment Management.On Nov 18 the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith reported that in late September the Commissioners had placed the funds with Gore’s boutique management firm which follows an “environmentally sustainable global equities mandate.” Funding for the investment came from “cash and Treasury bills”, he said, and not from the sale of UK equities as initially planned.In Oct 2007 Mr Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in raising awareness of the potential threats from climate change. Generation Investment Management was founded in 2004 by Mr Gore and David Blood, former head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, and had almost £5 billion under management before the market collapse.The firm invests in companies that follow “socially responsible” business model such as insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk, Swiss food conglomerate NestlĂ©, and San Francisco’s New Resource Bank-a “green” lender in the US.Speaking at a press conference last March in Geneva,Mr Gore said private industry should take the lead in creating environmentally friendly market capitalism noting that “more money is allocated by markets around the world in one hour than by all the governments on the planet in a full year.”“The principles and ways and values that have an impact on the way markets allocate resources can have an enormous effect" in tackling climate change, he said.Institutional investors in his fund are “more attracted to the strategy we follow are managing long-term assets toward long-term goals.”"Those looking for a quick hit in the market place, to skim the cream and go somewhere else, those are not the investors attracted to this strategy,” Mr Gore said, according to wire service reports.
By: George Conger
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Ukraine 'threatens to seize gas'...

Map illustrates Europe's major natural gas pipelines. Ukraine is the main route for Russia's gas exports to western Europe, with more limited amounts going via Belarus. SOURCE: Inogate (EU oil and gas transport co-operation programme)
A war of words has broken out in a gas supply row between Ukraine and Russia, amid claims that supplies to Europe could be under threat.As a midnight deadline loomed, Russian PM Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of threatening to block supplies piped through Ukraine to Western Europe.Later, Russian energy giant Gazprom said the talks had failed and it would cut gas supplies on Thursday.Ukraine denies owning Gazprom money and says it has guaranteed gas transit.A similar row between Gazprom and Ukraine in 2006 led to gas shortages in several EU countries.
'Severe consequences'
Earlier, Gazprom's chief executive, Alexei Miller, criticised Ukraine's stance during the negotiations as "unconstructive" and warned it would cut off supplies at 1000 local time (0700 GMT) on Thursday if a deal was not agreed.Mr Miller said the contract depended on the full settlement of £2bn in gas bills and late-payment fines levied by Gazprom.Ukraine's state gas firm, Naftogaz, has said it has paid $1.5bn (£1bn) in outstanding bills to RosUkrEnergo-a Switzerland-registered gas trading company which is acting as an intermediary-but not the fines.Gazprom's deputy chief executive, Alexander Medvedev, meanwhile accused Ukraine of trying to "blackmail" Russia by threatening in a letter to divert gas intended for the European Union.Mr Medvedev condemned the threat as "utterly irresponsible", saying it violated Ukraine's obligations under a previous contract, and suggested that "political intervention" might be needed.Later, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine not to disrupt the transit of gas to Europe."If our partners say that they are not intending to fulfil the conditions of a contract signed previously then that means that they are intending to annul it," he told President Dmitry Medvedev during a televised meeting."This will be a completely different story with very severe consequences for the transit country, in my opinion. Not only in its relations with Russia, as the exporter, but also with consumers in EU countries," he added.Mr Putin said Gazprom had been generous in offering Ukraine a price of $250 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas in 2009, given that the price in Europe was currently more than $500."We understand that Ukraine is in a difficult economic situation. It is much more complicated than our own situation," he said.Mr Putin put the dispute down to a "war of the clans" between the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, and President Viktor Yushchenko. In response, Ms Tymoshenko abandoned plans to fly to Moscow to take charge of the talks in person.An aide to President Yushchenko told the AFP news agency that the increased gas price was unacceptable unless his country was permitted to raise its transit fees.Ukraine is a key transit route of Russian gas to Europe, and it is feared that a supply cut could affect countries further west.Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, supplies a quarter of the European Union's gas needs, or 42% of EU's gas imports.
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Medvedev's assertiveness troubles Putin...

It was an innocuous sounding comment in what appeared to be a routine television interview. But in the six days since Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, described his feelings about taking the oath of office in May, the corridors of power have been buzzing.“The final responsibility for what happens in the country and for the important decisions taken would rest on my shoulders alone and I would not be able to share this responsibility with anyone,”Mr Medvedev told an interviewer. For a normal president in a normal country, such a remark would have been a statement of the obvious. But to a select few, it was a “dog whistle”, a message audible only to those Mr Medvedev wanted to hear.Usually when discussing such matters he stresses his “consultation” with Vladimir Putin, the prime minister and former president, who all but installed Mr Medvedev in his job and is thought to take most of the big decisions. But this time Mr Medvedev stressed that he was the single constitutionally empowered decision-maker.Kremlin watchers say this assertiveness seems to be part of a new pattern, with Mr Medvedev appearing frustrated that, in spite of his constitutional power as commander in chief, he is stuck in a subordinate role.“An apprehension is growing on both sides, particularly the Putin side,” said Dmitry Simes, head of the Nixon Centre in Washington, who spent last week in Moscow. “No one is quoting Putin as saying anything...But several of Putin’s associates are uneasy about his [Med­vedev’s] new assertiveness.”Mr Simes said Mr Medvedev had summoned cabinet members and given instructions. “Clearly it was Medvedev reaching out to members of the cabinet on economic issues which normally would be considered Putin’s prerogative.”A Putin adviser said Mr Medvedev’s remarks in the interview demonstrated a “cavalier” attitude. Mr Simes said: “Medvedev sounded very self-confident. He was not very deferential.”Personal relations between the two men are warm, but most attempts by Mr Medvedev to pursue independent policies have been thwarted. Anti-corruption measures he championed were changed by Russia’s usually supine parliament in October. According to Russian press reports, plans by Mr Medvedev to appoint independent judges were thwarted by Putin allies.Mr Medvedev’s big legislative success has been a constitutional change to lengthen the presidential term from four to six years, which has sailed through the approval process. The reason? “Everyone understood that this was Putin’s idea,” said the Russian-language version of Newsweek Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre think-tank, said: “I don’t think he [Medvedev] is amused that...he is regarded as a junior partner.”However, the economic crisis could test both men. Lilya Shevtsova of the Carnegie Centre said: “They both understand that the...system of power depends on them getting along.”

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Soothsayers: Peace and calm for 2009, but not economic recovery...

The world can look forward to peace and harmony in 2009, but Chinese soothsayers warned that the road to economic recovery will be long.The Year of the Rat, marked by an unprecedented,global financial crisis,will give way to a much more stable Year of the Ox, Chinese astrologists and feng shui masters predicted."The soil represents a garden or a green field, a feng shui symbol for harmony, relaxation, and recovery,"Raymond Lo, Hong Kong feng shui expert, told AFP.Chinese fortune-tellers study the changing balance of the five spiritual elements they believe form the core of the universe-gold, wood, water, fire, and soil.A person's element can be calculated by using the exact time and date of his birth.Each of the elements is further divided into the yin and the yang strands, the two complementary qualities representing respectively the passive and active side of nature.Coincidentally, Lo said, quite a few world leaders in 2009 were associated with "yin soil", including US President-elect Barack Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy."People belonging to the yin soil tend to be more charming and charitable. They love peace rather than war. They are usually the ones who contribute to science and humanity," he said.Examples include Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Sigmund Freud, he said.However, the feng shui master said he did not expect Obama or other state leaders to be able to turn around the global economic situation in 2009 because the element of fire-which stands for the force that motivates financial activities-is missing for most of next year."It is a year for Obama to lay the foundation for his administration, rather than achieve anything."The financial markets will go up a little in the first couple of months but this will be short-lived. Investors are bound to be disappointed in the end," he said.The prediction is similar to the forecasts of many financial analysts.Sarkozy's administration will be more stable than it was in 2008, because the strength of water will weaken in 2009, said Lo."There was a lot of water in 2008, which is not good for a yin soil leader because it will flood the soil," he said.The Chinese calendar moves in 60-year cycles, meaning the world will experience similar events in the new year to those that took place 60 years ago.In 1949, the People's Republic of China was established by communist leader Mao Zedong.Lo said that 2009's year of the Ox could similarly see a new world order being forged.Professions or events that can be associated with wood will fare well next year because the element thrives on soil, Lo said.He predicted that former US Vice President Al Gore, who has since turned himself into an environmental activist, will make big progress in his efforts to combat global warming. Next year will also be good for professions that are related to wood, paper, and energy, including fashion, news media, entertainment, oil and air travel,said Lo.Mak Ling-ling, a celebrity astrologist and feng shui master, said the financial markets would be very quiet next year and economic problems would be particularly acute in the west."Businesses will be even worse than now. Social order will be disturbed, with the number of fraud cases will rise," she said, but added that the situation would improve after next year.While many of the wealthiest and the most powerful businessmen in Hong Kong will continue to suffer in the present financial climate, Mak said some low-profile individuals would be able to seize the chance to profit from the crisis with their courage and original ideas.She warned the Hong Kong government against relying too heavily on Beijing, saying China will have its own problems to solve next year."I think it will be unwise for Hong Kong to keep hoping that it can forever rely on mainland Chinese tourists to boost the domestic economy," she said.
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Asia sees in 2009

Natural disasters 'killed over 220,000' in 2008

BERLIN-Natural disasters killed over 220,000 people in 2008, making it one of the most devastating years on record and underlining the need for a global climate deal, the world's number two reinsurer said Monday. Although the number of natural disasters was lower than in 2007, the catastrophes that occurred proved to be more destructive in terms of the number of victims and the financial cost of the damage caused, Germany-based Munich Re said in its annual assessment."This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes," Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.Most devastating in terms of human fatalities was Cyclone Nargis, which lashed Myanmar on May 2-3 to kill more than 135,000 people and leave more than one million homeless.Just days later an earthquake shook China's Sichuan province, leaving 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing and almost five million homeless, according to official figures, Munich Re said.Around 1,000 people died in a severe cold snap in January in Afghanistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan, while 635 perished in August and September in floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.Typhoon Fengshen killed 557 people in China and the Philippines in June, while earthquakes in Pakistan in October left 300 dead.Six tropical cyclones also slammed into the southern United States, including Ike which, with insured losses of 10 billion dollars, was the industry's costliest catastrophe of the year.In Europe, an intense low-pressure system called Emma caused two billion dollars worth of damage in March, while a storm dubbed Hilal in late May and early June left 1.1 billion dollars' worth.The earthquake in Sichuan province was the most expensive overall single catastrophe of 2008, causing around 85 billion dollars worth of damage, helping to make the year the third most expensive on record, Munich Re said....
by Simon Sturdee
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Africans welcome 2009

More economic pain seen in 2009

SINGAPORE-Many investors said good riddance on Wednesday to one of the worst years on record and prayed that government rescue plans will pull the global economy out of its fierce tailspin later in the new year.More pain is expected in the near-term as bleak economic reports roll in, flagging more bankruptcies, bad debts and layoffs through at least early 2009, and more sleepless nights for everyone from central bankers to consumers struggling to pay off mortgages and credit card bills.The biggest financial crisis in 80 years, sparked by a U.S. mortgage meltdown, made this year one of the worst ever for investors as recession stalked the global economy."It has been a shocking year, hardly anything was spared in the market carnage," said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser and strategist at Austock Group in Australia.The slump wiped out nearly $14 trillion in market value, according to the benchmark MSCI world index of larger companies.For all markets, the damage was probably much worse. The World Federation of Exchanges, which tracks stock markets in 53 developed and emerging economies, said some $30 trillion in market value evaporated through to the end of November. The crisis also radically changed the financial landscape, bringing down U.S. investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, saddling many other banks with huge losses and freezing the credit system that keeps the world economy humming.The U.S. S&P 500 benchmark has lost about 40 percent with just one trading day left in 2008. Its biggest yearly drop was in 1931 during the Great Depression, when it fell 47.1 percent.Victims of the crisis are still piling up, with announcements almost daily of fresh company losses, more layoffs, and slumping prices for assets from cars to homes.Oil slid below $37 as economic slowdown bit into demand. Gold was one of the few commodities to end the year higher, gaining about 4 percent, as panicky investors grabbed assets seen as safer in times of trouble.Tuesday brought news from the United States that single-family home prices were down 18 percent in the year to October and consumer confidence was at a record low.On Wednesday, data showed Finnish industrial output down over 10 percent in the year to November, the biggest drop in 17 years.
By Kim Coghill
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Celstial Show Set for New Year's Eve

A delightful display of planets and the moon will occur on New Year's Eve for anyone wishing to step outside and look up just after sunset.Venus, brighter than all other planets and stars, will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southwestern sky. It'll be visible-impossible to miss, in fact-just as the sun goes down, assuming skies are cloud-free.Soon thereafter, Mercury and Jupiter will show up hugging the south-southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and extremely close to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot; Mercury is faint and harder to see, but it'll be apparent by its location just to the left of Jupiter.Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun, so timing your viewing just after sunset is crucial. You'll also need a location with a clear view of the western horizon, unobstructed by buildings, trees or mountains.All the planets, along with the moon and sun, traverse an arc across our sky called the ecliptic, which corresponds to the plane in space that they all roughly share. For this reason, you could draw an imaginary line from the general location of Venus and the moon, down through the other two planets, and the line would point to where the sun went down. This line could also initially help you find Jupiter and Mercury.Weather permitting, you can get a preview of the sky show on Tuesday, Dec. 30. On this evening, the planets will be in nearly the same place they'll be on Dec. 31, but the moon will be midway between Venus and the Mercury-Jupiter pairing.
One last trick:
Venus is so bright you can see it during daylight if you know where to look. Given Venus' proximity to the moon on New Year's Eve, this would be an excellent moment-just before sunset-to use the moon to help you find Venus and gain bragging rights for being one of the few people to be able to claim seeing more than one planet during the daytime (Earth being the other one).
By Robert Roy Britt--Editorial Director
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Stellar Meteor Shower Jan. 3

For meteor observers, the presence of an almost-full Moon cast a bright pall on this month's performance of the Geminid Meteor Shower, normally one of the best meteor displays of the year. But for a wild card, another very good meteor shower may be right around corner. And for this one, the Moon will not play a factor at all.So, get out your 2009 calendar and put a big circle around Saturday morning, Jan. 3.That's the expected peak date for the Quadrantids, a notoriously unpredictable meteor display. In 2009, peak activity is due to occur in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 3 and will strongly favor western North America. If the "Quads" reach their full potential, observers blessed with clear, dark skies could be averaging one or two meteor sightings per minute in the hour or two prior to the break of dawn.The Quadrantid (pronounced KWA-dran-tid) meteors provides one of the most intense annual meteor displays, with a brief, sharp maximum lasting but a few hours. Adolphe Quetelet of Brussels Observatory discovered the shower in the 1830's, and shortly afterward it was noted by several other astronomers in Europe and America.The meteors are named after the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis the Mural or Wall Quadrant (an astronomical instrument), depicted in some 19th-century star atlases roughly midway between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the quadrilateral of stars marking the head of the constellation Draco. (The International Astronomical Union phased out Quadrans Muralis in 1922.)
by Joe Rao--SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist
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2008:The second least active solar year since 1900...

Climate Change: The Earth has been warming ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. But guess what: Researchers say mankind is to blame for that, too.As we've noted, 2008 has been a year of records for cold and snowfall and may indeed be the coldest year of the 21st century thus far. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October. Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all-zero-something that has not occurred since 1913.According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events-what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums-have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750).The Little Ice Age has been a problem for global warmers because it serves as a reminder of how the earth warms and cools naturally over time....
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Aussies, Kiwis Ring in 2009

Fireworks explode over Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney's Harbour Bridge in Australia as crowds celebrate 2009. Auckland was the first major world city to welcome the New Year with a pyrotechnic display

Far East Welcomes 2009

World Says Goodbye to Rocky Year

Amid jubilation and celebration, relief is felt around the world as a tumultuous 2008 comes to a close...
World bids a relieved adieu to a rocky year:
Source:Fox News,Drudgereport,My Way News
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Iran sets up court to try Israelis...

Iran's president told the Arab League, which began a meeting on Wednesday, it must act quickly to end Israeli attacks on Gaza Palestinians adding that setting up a committee or making speeches was not enough.But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not suggest specific action by Arab states, some of which non-Arab Iran has criticised for not doing enough to protect Palestinians after more than 380 deaths.Israel's attacks have prompted protests by Iran's hardline students, particularly targeting Egypt's mission. Cairo has been singled out mainly for not opening a border crossing with Gaza. Students have threatened to storm the mission.Students broke into a British diplomatic compound on Tuesday. Iran has accused Western states of bias towards Israel."If the Arab League does not want to do anything today, when does it want to act?" the president told a rally in Zahedan in southeast Iran. "Aren't these oppressed Palestinians Arabs? So when should the capacity of the Arab League be used? The Arab League should act quickly," he said in a speech broadcast on state television.He added that setting up a committee and making speeches were not adequate and would let Israel to continue its actions.Arab foreign ministers opened an emergency session at the Cairo-based Arab League on Wednesday. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Cairo would propose a way to contain the current conflict to the ministers.Ahmadinejad also criticised the U.N. Security Council, which he has often accused of being in the control of big powers such as the United States and its allies."Why don't you issue resolutions?... Why don't you even frown upon the Zionist regime (Israel)?" he said. The Islamic Republic is embroiled in a row with the United Nations over its nuclear work that has led the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran for not halting work the West says is to make atom bombs. Iran denies the charge.
An Egyptian diplomat said students had staged regular protests outside the Egyptian interests section in north Tehran since Monday, often preventing diplomats from going to work.He said police had scuffled with demonstrators and had erected barriers on the road to the mission to try to prevent them reaching the premises. Iran and Egypt do not have full diplomatic ties but have interest sections in Cairo and Tehran.Students also plan a protest on Thursday outside the Jordanian embassy, which like Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel, media reported. Two petrol bombs were thrown into the Jordanian compound on Tuesday without causing major damage.
Hardline student groups have written letters to the Jordanian ambassador and head of the Egyptian mission "giving them 48 hours to choose between clearly condemning Israel's attack on Gaza or leaving Iran's soil," a newspaper reported.Students also demanded Egypt open its border to Gaza, the daily Seda-ye Edalat said. Cairo sometimes lets wounded people and medical supplies through but Egypt's border has been closed to ordinary traffic since Hamas took control of Gaza.The newspaper said the deadline expired at noon on Thursday. It said if demands were not met students would "carry out their revolutionary duty as happened on 13th Aban, 1358," the Iranian date when students stormed the U.S. embassy in 1979.A group of students broke into a British embassy residential compound in north Tehran on Tuesday, and an Iranian news agency said they planted a Palestinian flag. Britain's Foreign Office said all staff were safe.
by Zahra Hosseinian
(Additional reporting by London bureau, writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Katie Nguyen)
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Israel All Out War against HAMAS:Day 5...

A Palestinian is seen in the area where an Israeli airstrike destroyed tunnels near the border between Gaza and Egypt, in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. Israel rejected mounting international pressure to suspend its devastating air offensive against Palestinian militants whose rocket barrages are striking ominously close to the Israeli heartland, sending warplanes Wednesday to demolish smuggling tunnels that are the lifeline of Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip-Israel rejected international pressure for a two-day cease-fire with Hamas and sent warplanes Wednesday to demolish smuggling tunnels that are the lifeline of Gaza's Islamic rulers.The diplomatic efforts to forge a truce were set in motion by the scale of destruction in Gaza since Israel unleashed an offensive Saturday against Hamas militants firing barrages of rockets that are striking closer to the Israeli heartland than previous attacks.Gaza officials say the five days of airstrikes have killed 390, including 200 uniformed members of Hamas security forces, and have wounded about 1,600. The U.N. says at least 60 Palestinian civilians are among the dead. Four Israelis have been killed by militant rocket fire, including three civilians.The offensive has touched off protests across the Islamic world. In Iran on Wednesday, fundamentalist students asked their government to authorize volunteer suicide bombers to attack Israel. The Tehran government had no immediate response....
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Sydney Welcomes 2009 With Fireworks Spectacular

AFP: A record crowd of up to 1.5 million Australians and tourists watched a massive fireworks display alongside Sydney's world-famous Opera House Thursday, kicking off global New Year celebrations. The show included never-before-seen lightning and thunder effects and was the biggest ever to be mounted in the city, costing an estimated five million dollars (3.43 million US).
Sydney welcomes New Year with fireworks spectacular

QUAKEWATCH:Earthquake Swarm Continues beneath Yellowstone....

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Israel Rejects International Pressure to Suspend Air Assault on Gaza

"Giving Hamas a respite just to regroup, rearm is a mistake. The pressure on the Hamas military machine must continue."

Turkish PM in Syria stresses 'dangerous situation'...

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday on the first stop of a regional tour focusing on Israel's deadly onslaught on Gaza. Their meeting centered on "the dangerous situation in the Gaza Strip because of the Israeli aggression," Syria's official SANA news agency reported.Before leaving Ankara the Turkish premier said he was "deeply concerned over the developments in Gaza since this ruthless operation began on Saturday. The objective of my tour is to help stop these dangerous developments."Erdogan called for an immediate halt to the Israeli attacks on Gaza, and said "a permanent ceasefire should be urgently secured to prevent irreversible developments in the region."Assad on Tuesday "underlined the necessity for halting the Israeli massacres which are being committed against the unarmed Palestinian people, lifting the unjust siege on them and opening all the crossings permanently," SANA said.Erdogan will also meet Jordan's King Abdullah II and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the Jordanian city of Aqaba later on Wednesday.On Thursday he will have talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Sharm el-Sheikh and on Saturday will be in Saudia Arabia to meet King Abdullah.Predominantly Muslim non-Arab Turkey is Israel's main regional ally but also has close ties with the Palestinians, whose plight enjoys widespread sympathy in the country.Turkey said Monday it had suspended efforts to mediate indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria, saying that the onslaught on Gaza had led to "deep disappointment" in Ankara.Diplomats worldwide have scrambled to find a way to halt one of Israel's deadliest-ever offensives on Gaza that has so far killed at least 390 Palestinians. Erdogan said in Ankara he had not scheduled meetings with Israeli leaders or representatives of the Islamist Hamas movement which controls Gaza. Rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel sparked the bombardment of the enclave.Erdogan said the offensive was also "disrespect" towards Turkey, recalling that he and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed peace prospects in the Middle East in Ankara just days before the Gaza operation began.Syria and Israel-technically still at war since the first Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948-have held four rounds of Turkish-mediated indirect talks since May.Direct negotiations were halted eight years ago over the thorny issue of the Golan Heights.
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Hundreds of Iranians storm British compound in Tehran and raise Palestinian flag...

The security breach at the Tehran compound was unprecedented in recent years(AFP/Getty)
Hundreds of Iranian radicals stormed the British compound in Tehran last night, replacing the Union flag with a Palestinian one in protest against Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.British officials will be assessing whether the security breach, unprecedented in recent years, was an isolated incident or presages further violent demonstrations.A hardline Iranian news agency said that protests against Britain and Egypt, whose embassy was also targeted, would continue. Hardline Iranian students have often staged noisy protests outside the British embassy in Tehran, hurling stones and petrol bombs at the building, but Tuesday night’s incident was the first time in decades that they have breached diplomatic territory.The Foreign Office confirmed Iranian media reports that demonstrators had “trespassed” onto the compound at Gulhak but said the situation had been resolved swiftly and all embassy staff were safe. Iranian police were reported to have intervened quickly to eject the radicals.British diplomats are maintaining a low-key public stance on the incident-which involved up to 300 people-in order to limit any repeat and robbing the Tehran regime of any satisfaction. But a strong behind-the-scenes protest from London is certain. The Gulhak compound is a lush and sprawling area several miles north of the historic British embassy in central Tehran. It provides accommodation for diplomats, houses the British Council, a school and a cemetery for the British dead from two world wars.Iran’s official news agency said: “A large group of people and students entered the Gulhak Gardens, which are occupied by the British embassy to protest at Britain’s policies in supporting the Zionist regime and put up the Palestinian flag there.”The demonstrators had torched the British, US and Israeli flags, other Iranian media reports said.There appears to be little doubt that the Iranian regime orchestrated or at least inspired the attack on Gulhak. Just days ago Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, suggested his force should facilitate “revolutionary action” similar to the capture of the “Den of Spies”-the US embassy-on November 4, 1979.The remarks, made in a speech to hardline university students from a large paramilitary vigilante organisation under his control, were seen as a thinly-veiled threat against the British embassy which has become of the main focus of ire against the West since the American embassy became defunct.Lambasting “perfidious Albion”, which is often perceived to the “little Satan” pulling America’s strings, is a common pastime in the Iranian media.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, decreed on Sunday that anyone who died in the defence of Gaza would be deemed a martyr.Hardline student groups have been urging the Government to authorise volunteer suicide bombers to leave Iran and fight against Israel in response to events in Gaza. There has been no response from the Government. Similar calls have been made in the past but there is no record of any radical ever carrying out such an attack.There has been a history of political agitation by hardliners against Britain’s ownership of the Gulhak compound, with some calling for the prime chunk of verdant real estate to be reclaimed and turned into a public park and museum for “studying and fighting colonialism”.One radical insisted two years ago that if the British wanted to keep Gulhak-“a centre of corruption and conspiracy”-then they “should exchange it for Hyde Park. The Iranian parliament declined his motion to debate the matter.
By Michael Theodoulou
As in the days of Noah...