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

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Debate explores Muslim, Christian relationships

Saying Christians and Muslims can be friends, a Muslim scholar from Canada gave 15 reasons why they should to a downtown Tulsa audience Friday night. But a Christian minister from Tulsa who used to be a Muslim questioned the tolerance of his former religion and asked whether a program such as Friday's, held at the Tulsa Convention Center, could even take place in a Muslim nation. The Rev. Reza Safa,)(picture left)pastor of Fishermen's House Church in Tulsa, and Jamal Badawi, a member of the Islamic Society of North America Fiqh Council, were the featured speakers at the event, which was sponsored by the Islamic Society of Tulsa. The debate stemmed from comments Safa made last summer at an anti-terrorism rally in Tulsa. Muslims against terrorism attended the rally and reportedly were offended when Safa said Muslims could not be friends with Christians. Badawi, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, told the crowd that members of the two religions have many reasons to be friends with each other. Among those he enumerated were a mutual belief in one universal God, a belief in the sanctity of human life, a commitment to justice, and respective
teachings of mercy for all Badawi said Muslims as a people are imperfect, "but who isn't?" He said that although some Muslims distort the words of the Quran to support their own agendas, the term "holy war" is nowhere to be found in the book. Safa countered that many Muslims apparently do not agree with Badawi's interpretation of the Quran. Evidently, he said, those people "don't understand the Quran, but Dr. Badawi does." [[[[[[Safa, who was born and raised in Iran as a Shiite Muslim before converting to Christianity as a young man, said he receives death threats on a weekly basis from Muslims around the world. He said Muslims can freely claim that Jesus was not the son of God but that everyone has to be extremely careful about what they say about Muhammad or face the consequences.]]]]]] Badawi challenged anyone to find a negative word about Jesus in the Quran. A lot of the cause for misunderstandings about what the Quran says lies in the translation of its terms, Badawi said. He also said that words in Arabic are subject to multiple meanings, which he said can add to the confusion. Badawi said passages must also be read in the context of the times in which they were written. Safa projected lengthy excerpts up on the screens inside the Convention Center's Conference Hall to support his arguments. He said he did this to counter claims that he was only "pulling verses" out of the Quran to support his claims about Islamic intolerance.[[[[[[Despite Badawi's statements about the common ground between the Bible and the Quran, Safa said he didn't see how the two can truly be reconciled-particularly on the issue of who Jesus was. He said there "is not a single Islamic nation today that treats Christians right." Safa said "religious intolerance is the official state policy" of Saudi Arabia and that for 1,500 years Christians have been persecuted-some even killed-in Muslim countries for their beliefs.]]]]]] Badawi acknowledged barriers that get in the way of friendship between members of the two religions. Among these, he said, are media stereotypes, a focus on the views and actions of extremists, and what he referred to as "post 9/11 guilt by association."He said there is no justification in Islam for aggression against innocent people.
PS:Reza is a man of God that has spoken the truth here-even tough-he still has all his family back in Iran and they can get killed at any minute for his minsitry here in the US.He spoke the truth on Friday.May God bless him....
As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Leprosy down but not out in China: state media

BEIJING-China sees 1,600 new cases of leprosy each year and greater efforts are needed to completely eradicate the disfiguring disease, state media reported on Friday.China has made great progress against the disease in recent decades, cutting the number of patients with active leprosy to just 6,300 today from around half a million in 1949, the China Daily quoted the Health Ministry as saying.But the infectious disease is still present in more remote parts of the country, it quoted Pan Chunzhi, secretary general of the China Leprosy Association as saying."Despite the progress made, leprosy has yet to be eradicated and is still a concern in 10 percent of the country, mainly the southwest," said Pan, speaking in Beijing ahead of World Leprosy Day, which falls on Monday.Leprosy is caused by a bacteria that eats away at skin, nerves and limbs. It remains prevalent worldwide in poorer countries despite the development of successful drug treatments.As in many countries, China's lepers have historically been banished to so-called leper "colonies".China now has about 210,000 former carriers of leprosy, about half of whom have suffered disfigurement, the report said.About 20,000 of those still reside in leper colonies, it added.The government plans to spend 30 million dollars this year to renovate or relocate 100 of the villages, the paper quoted a ministry disease control official as saying.

As in the days of Noah....

Tehran’s Mayor Speaks of Making Iran Less Isolated

DAVOS, Switzerland-The annual economic gathering here not only attracts those with power in business and politics but also offers a springboard for those who wish to wield it.Among the contenders in attendance this year is Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf,(picture left) the 46-year-old mayor of Tehran who is being urged by some to run for the presidency of Iran next year as an “authoritarian modernizer.”Mr. Ghalibaf, who ran for president in 2005 and comes from the hard-line Islamic Revolution tradition, was once a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards. But he is also part of an emerging group of politicians who consider President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be harming the country’s economy through his acerbic anti-Western speeches and isolationist policies.So, will he run again? The mayor was asked in an interview Friday at his hotel below the ski slopes along this Swiss village.“The most important thing is the will of the people,” he said, declining to be more specific. “It is a long time remaining to the elections. Only time will tell.”But if he were to run, he went on, he would campaign for greater openness toward the outside world to attract more foreign investment and so reduce unemployment.The idea of a Tehran mayor becoming president is not improbable.Mr. Ahmadinejad was also the capital’s mayor, and Mr. Ghalibaf suggested that his achievements since his election as mayor in 2005-improving public transportation projects and creating local councils-would help place him in good standing.In the two and a half years that he has been in office, Mr. Ghalibaf has built bridges and highways, fixed sidewalks and paved streets and has earned a reputation as someone who gets things done. As police chief, he enforced seat belt use and orderly driving regulations in a city not known for either practice.According to his official biography, Mr. Ghalibaf fought in the Iran-Iraq war for eight years and became a senior commander of the Revolutionary Guards. The biography also describes him as an airplane pilot, a former presidential contender and an academic. He denied in the interview that he was a “military man.”When Mr. Ghalibaf was Tehran’s police chief, reform-minded Iranians saw him as a hard-liner because he and other commanders of the Revolutionary Guards signed a letter threatening to intervene unless the authorities quelled a pro-democracy uprising.But, his aides said, he was the first police chief since the Islamic Revolution to hire female officers.Mr. Ghalibaf did not take issue with the description of “authoritarian modernizer.” Before making an administrative decision, he said, he consults widely but, once the decision is made, “we go forward strongly.”
As for Iranian politics, Mr. Ghalibaf did not seem prepared to criticize the government openly. “The government of President Ahmadinejad is elected by the Iranian people, and we respect it,” he said. But “we are different on some issues,” including the management of power and economic relations.“We would be more open,” an aide said.That offer of openness, however, did not extend to the United States, where Mr. Ghalibaf seemed to adhere to the Iranian orthodoxy requiring Washington to change its attitude before deep animosities could be eased.“If the United States can change its unilateral approach and replace it with a bilateral approach, then we can have dialogue,” he said. An aide explained that he meant Iran wanted the United States to treat it as a partner, not as a renegade.The deepest gulf between the two concerns Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and Mr. Ghalibaf seemed as insistent as any other Iranian official in saying that his country neither sought nuclear weapons, as Western nations say it does, nor threatened its neighbors.“If Iran needs to defend itself, it can use conventional weapons to resist any attack,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.“We don’t need any atomic weapons or unconventional weapons.In our Islamic belief, these kind of things are forbidden.”Mr. Ghalibaf said he had come to Davos to convince foreigners that “in Tehran they can find stable economic opportunities, and in Tehran we have got security.”

As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Local hospital battles whooping cough surge:Texas Children's inoculating parents in an effort to halt spread of illness

With whooping cough at its highest levels since the 1950s, Texas Children's Hospital has launched a program to protect babies from the life-threatening infection by immunizing family members.Hospital officials announced Thursday they have begun administering the "cocoon strategy"-booster shots for parents who often unknowingly spread the infection-at Houston's Ben Taub General Hospital."With this program, we can prevent whooping cough in our most vulnerable population-infants less than 6 months," said Dr. Carol Baker, executive director of Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research."Whooping cough can be difficult to diagnose in adults when it's mild, but it's just as transmissible and potentially lethal to their babies."Baker said the program is the first in the nation to implement the strategy recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006.The recommendation followed the Food and Drug Administration's 2005 approval of the booster shot for people 11 to 64.The original series of the vaccine eventually starts wearing out around age 10.More than 25,000 cases of the infection were reported in the United States in both 2004 and 2005, at least three times more than annual amounts reported in the '90s and at least six times more than in the '80s. Texas Children's officials said they're unsure what accounts for the spike but speculated waning immunity and increased crowding, travel and immigration are some of the factors.The majority of the cases in Harris County involve Hispanics, Baker said.Public health threatWhooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory system that causes 40 to 80 infant deaths a year in the U.S. It is the only common vaccine-preventable disease in the U.S. that's on the rise.Before the development of a vaccine, whooping cough was a major public health threat, particularly from the 1920s to the '40s, when it infected as many as 265,000 Americans a year and killed as many as 9,000 a year, said Dr. Mary Healy, director of the Texas Children's cocoon-strategy program.Since the vaccine, she said, its annual incidence dropped to around 30,000 in the 1950s and as low as about 1,000 in 1976. It began creeping up in the 1980s and 1990s.The Texas Children's program will administer the booster shot, Tdap, free of charge to 5,800 families the first year, a projected total of about 17,000 shots. The shot typically costs $35.Babies are especially vulnerable to the infection because they don't have full protection against it until they're 6 months old, when they receive the last of three shots.The infection, characterized in infants by episodes of rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound, is particularly hard on babies' fragile, developing lungs and can lead to failure to breathe, pneumonia and swelling of the brain.More than 75 percent of infants who get whooping cough are infected by other members in their household, often unaware they have the disease. According to the CDC, the infection is passed on by mothers 33 percent of the time, fathers 16 percent and siblings 19 percent.In the case of 4-week-old Haleigh Throgmorton, it was her father. He thought he had just picked up a cold, but it soon became apparent he had spread whooping cough to his daughter. Two weeks later, Haleigh died in an intensive care unit."We had no clue," said her mother, Jerri-Lynn Throgmorton, of Panhandle, about 30 miles northeast of Amarillo."We didn't know whooping cough was still around. It took two hospital tests-the first came back negative-to confirm it."Throgmorton, whose husband has since traveled frequently to Austin to testify for mandatory vaccination, said the Texas Children's program "sounds wonderful. I wish they'd had a program like it here when Haleigh was born."The cocoon-strategy program will be administered by the Center for Vaccine Awareness and Research, whose creation was announced simultaneously Thursday. The center's Web site, www.vaccine.texas childrens.org, provides up-to-date information about all vaccines and ongoing research.State lags in immunizationsThe cocoon-strategy program was funded by a joint grant from the Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine. The grant is part of an initiative that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott brokered in 2005 to end the acrimonious split of the one-time partners.
There are no Texas-specific figures for whooping cough vaccination, but the state generally lags behind national immunization averages. Noting that nearly one-third of Houston's children under 3 aren't vaccinated, Baker said that number is a good marker for the whooping cough vaccine specifically.Baker said Texas Children's will implement the program when it gets in the maternity business in 2010. She said she hopes other hospitals do as well."You're going to have natural cycles, waves during which disease crest and fall," said Healy, also a professor of pediatrics at Baylor. "But the take-home message from the current numbers is, we're seeing an epidemic."
As in the days of Noah....

Scientists accuse priests of spreading embryo 'lies'

Scientists have accused Roman Catholic priests of spreading lies from the pulpit in an attempt to stoke up opposition to animal-human hybrid experiments.A statement attacking the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was read out to parishioners across the country last week.The briefing, prepared by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, warned that the Bill would allow the creation of "half human, half animals" by combining eggs of women with the sperm of animals.It added: "To do this would be a radical violation of human dignity."But scientists involved in animal-human embryo experiments accused the church of "blatant inaccuracy".Dr Lyle Armstrong, of Newcastle University, said the church's statement was "a gross and irresponsible misrepresentation of our position and our intentions". Hybrid embryos were designed to provide stem cells to treat human diseases - not to create half-human, half-animals, he said.He added: "We find their example of combining the egg of a woman with animal sperm even more distasteful and we wish to make it absolutely clear that our work does not involve this. We find it surprising and saddening-that the Catholic Church should resort to such blatant inaccuracy to support its message in these matters."Under the Bill, which is going through Parliament, scientists would be allowed to create animal-human hybrids for medical research.They would take an animal egg cell, remove the blob in the centre which contains most of the animal's DNA and replace it with the nucleus from a human cell, taken from a donor.The resulting embryo is 99.9 per cent identical to the human donor - although it contains some animal DNA left over from the egg.The Catholic Church has sent every parish a pack of information including the one-page briefing document which some priests have read to congregations.Chris Shaw, Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, said:"The bishops' statement on hybrids is not a radical violation of human dignity as they claim - it is a radical violation of the truth."A spokesman for the church said: "Far from providing misinformation in our parish briefing, all we have done is draw attention to what this Bill actually allows."Clause 4 allows licences to be given for the creation of hybrid and "interspecies" embryos, defined in the Bill as "an embryo created by using human gametes and animal gametes". This means half human and half animal."

As in the days of Noah....

BLASPHEMY WATCH:Christian group demands ESPN fire 'F--- Jesus' host

A dozen protesters marched in front of ESPN headquarters in Bristol today, calling for the firing of on-air personality Dana Jacobson for comments she made at a recent roast.Jacobson, co-host of the "ESPN First Take" morning show, was disciplined by her employer after an expletive-laden speech. She was suspended one week.The protesters, some from local churches, carried placards with messages that read: "ESPN , Say No to Hate Speech," and "Fairness in the edia"Robert Muckle, 77, drove from Waterbury to Bristol to take part in the protest after reading about Jacobson's remarks in the newspaper."It's such a shame to disgrace Jesus and to take his name in vain," Muckle said.ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys confirmed Friday that Jacobson was suspended for a week. He said ESPN will not fire her."What she said was wrong and her comments were inappropriate, but we don't believe she should be fired," Soltys said. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, the director of the Christian Defense Coaltion, said that doesn't go far enough."Hate speech and religious bigotry should have no place in the workpace," said Mahoney, as he held a "Dana, We Forgive You" poster. Mahoney agrued that if Jacobson had offended Jews, African Americans, or homosexuals, ESPN would have fired her immediately. "ESPN is not using the same standard for religious hate," Mahoney said.ESPN commentators shared the stage with actors and athletes Jan. 11 in Atlantic City to celebrate the eighth anniversary of "Mike & Mike in the Morning" co-hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg. The point was to spout off edgy jokes.Asked whether the network planned to rethink its policy regarding employees taking part in such events, Soltys said, "We won't be participating in another roast anytime soon."Jacobson's speech included obscenities aimed at Notre Dame, with Irish football coach Charlie Weis in attendance.An article in The Press of Atlantic City the next day said that Jacobson "made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor as Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment." She was booed off the stage.In a statement released through ESPN, Jacobson called her comments about Notre Dame "foolish and insensitive.""My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I really am," she said. "I have personally apologized to many of the people involved. I won't make excuses for my behavior but do hope that I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment."ESPN released a statement calling her actions and comments inappropriate. Soltys said the network doesn't comment on personnel matters beyond saying she was disciplined.Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said, "While we in no way condone Ms. Jacobson's comments, we're aware of the circumstances in which they occurred, and, in the interest of forgiveness, trust that she and ESPN have addressed the matter in an appropriate way."Jacobson's remarks came just two days after another TV anchor was suspended for offensive language. Golf Channel suspended Kelly Tilghman for two weeks for saying on air that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should "lynch him in a back alley."

Protest over ESPN anchor's remarks
PS:IF F--Muhammad or F--n-- would have been said....we would be facing ritos and a blood bath+death threats to the ESPN staff+Dana Jacobson....whereas JESUS is Fair game for anybody....
She should be fired....

As in the days of Noah....

JIHAD WATCH:Islamists planned attacks across Europe

MADRID-Islamist extremists were planning attacks across Europe, especially against public transport, before their arrests in Barcelona last weekend, a Spanish paper reported on Saturday, citing a would-be attacker's testimony.The Al Qaeda-inspired cell planned to attack the Barcelona metro and other targets in Spain, Germany, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom, said the bomber turned police informant.In testimony that led to the arrest of 14 South Asians last Saturday, the informant told police the group had a preference for attacks on public transport, especially metro systems, El Pais newspaper reported."If we attack the metro, the emergency services can't get there," the informant said he was told by a fellow suicide bomber, El Pais reported.Two pairs with explosive-filled bags were to enter separate Barcelona subway stations and other members of the group were to detonate their bombs by remote control, said the witness.On Friday, Spain's government said the Barcelona cell was preparing to carry out the metro attack either last weekend or in the following 15 days.Two other pairs of suicide bombers had been assigned targets elsewhere in Spain, another was to attack Germany, three were given objectives in France and two more were to strike Portugal.The informant said the Barcelona cell had six suicide bombers and other members responsible for preparing explosives and planning attacks in other European states. Four of those arrested have since been released due to lack of evidence.Al Qaeda was to take responsibility for the Barcelona attacks through Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander the Pakistani government says was behind the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, El Pais said.

As in the days of Noah.....

Food and water worries are top priorities, say Davos speakers

DAVOS, Switzerland-Warnings of a water and food crisis seemed incongruous among the lavish hospitality of Davos this year, but the danger was stressed repeatedly to the assembled world elite.Scarcity of water was named by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a top priority at the World Economic Forum and he warned that conflicts lay ahead if the provision of the vital resource could not be assured."Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon," he said in a speech on Thursday.Ban reminded the gathering of the world's wealthy powerbrokers in Davos that the conflict in Darfur in Sudan was touched off by a drought. "Too often where we need water, we find guns," he said.Rising food prices are also causing problems in emerging countries, with demonstrations and violence witnessed in a host of countries including Mexico and African nations Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal.Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath warned earlier in the week that prices of some foodstuffs had doubled in his country at a time when 25 million people in India were estimated to have moved from taking one to two meals a day."What does 25 million people moving from one to two meals a day do for prices?" he asked a room of corporate bigwigs and policymakers who pay thousands of dollars to attend the exclusive get-together here.Referring to the challenge of providing food at affordable prices, he said: "Next year in Davos we'll be discussing this."Analysts forecast that world agricultural commodity prices are set to increase, particularly for cereals because of increased export taxes in many producers, strong global demand, a poor harvest in Australia this year and stepped-up speculation.World Bank president Robert Zoellick also sounded the alarm, saying the cost of the basic nutritional requirements of people in many countries, mainly in Africa, was rising sharply.
"There are fifteen countries particularly vulnerable to high food and energy prices. We need some targeted efforts towards those vulnerable populations," he said.Increased cultivation of crops for the production of biofuels, such as corn and sugar, has led to higher prices for staple foods in many countries and led to criticism of the new fuel source.Biofuels, which were initially hyped as a "green" solution to the world's energy needs, drew criticism from the chairman of the UN's Nobel Prize-winning climate change panel."Wherever the production of fuels is going to conflict with the production of food, particularly in a world in which food prices are going up... obviously we are running into difficult territory," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri told reporters."In general, I am not entirely happy with the diversion of areas for the production of food into the area of production of fuels."The chief financial officer of Brazil's state-run energy group Petrobas, Almir Barbassa, argued that market forces were at work and farmers could not be told what to grow.Brazil is the world's biggest producer of sugar cane, which can be used to make the biofuel ethanol as well as sugar."With the price of oil going up it is better to use sugar cane to produce ethanol than to use sugar cane to produce sugar," he told AFP. "Farmers have the right to do what they want with their products. It's the choice of producers, not a choice of the markets."The annual Davos gathering in the Swiss Alps drew about 2,500 delegates, including about 30 heads of state, for five days of debating and networking. It wrapped up Saturday and concludes officially on Sunday morning.

As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH: India worst bird flu outbreak spreads

KOLKATA, India-India's worst outbreak of bird flu spread as health authorities battled on Friday to stop it reaching the densely populated city of Kolkata amid heavy rain that hampered culling efforts.Authorities reported the disease had affected two more districts, bringing the number hit by avian flu to 12 out of West Bengal state's total of 19.Howra, one of the new districts reporting the disease, neighbours Kolkata. The other district was Purulia on the border with the eastern state of Bihar."We're afraid bird flu may spread to many areas-it has already spread to two more districts," said state animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman in Kolkata, which has 13.2 million people, many of whom live in congested slums. "We've yet to be able to control this disease," he told AFP, adding new outbreaks were being reported in districts affected earlier.The disease has spread to more than half of West Bengal state since the deadly H5N1 strain was first confirmed in dead chickens more than a week ago."The government has banned the smuggling of chicken to city markets from affected areas," Rahaman said. "All we can do is keep a watch on the markets."Officials at entry points to Kolkata were disinfecting cars and other vehicles entering the city.India has not had any human cases of bird flu. But Rahaman said he feared the disease would spread to humans with hundreds of people reporting flu symptoms and children "playing with chickens."The outbreak was first reported in the village of Margram, 240 kilometres (150 miles) from Kolkata, the capital of the Marxist-ruled eastern state. Elsewhere in West Bengal, state party workers were to join vets and doctors in a bid to ramp up the culling of hundreds of thousands more chickens after two days of rains slowed operations. The state says it needs to reach its target of slaughtering at least 2.2 million birds in the state of 80 million people as health authorities seek to control India's third-and worst-outbreak of the disease.Two days of unseasonal rains have turned many rural dirt roads into mud rivers, making it impossible for health teams to reach farms.Nearly one million chickens have been slaughtered but villagers complained culling teams were leaving the carcasses on roadsides to rot.Humans typically catch the disease by coming into direct contact with infected poultry, but experts fear the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus may mutate into a form easily transmissible between people.Migratory birds have been largely blamed for the global spread of the disease, which has killed more than 200 people worldwide since 2003.Meanwhile, in neighbouring Bangladesh from where the Indian outbreak is believed to have spread, health teams slaughtered nearly 4,600 birds in a border area amid a worsening bird flu situation across the country.Police and officials sealed off a one square kilometre (0.4 square miles) area at Dinajpur close to the West Bengal border after tests confirmed the H5N1 strain at a farm, government spokesman Salahuddin Khan said.The new outbreak came as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said the bird flu situation had worsened in the impoverished country of 144 million people and posed a danger to public health.Since Bangladesh's first bird flu outbreak last February, the disease has been detected in 26 out of the country's 64 districts. Officials insist the disease is under control.

As in the days of Noah....

Snow causes chaos in China as millions head home for Lunar New Year

BEIJING-The worst snowfalls in a decade caused traffic chaos across much of China Saturday as millions of people tried to head home for the important Lunar New Year holiday, state media reported.Tens of thousands of travellers were left stranded as transport in several regions across the centre, east and south of the country ground to a halt due to the bad weather.The worst-hit provinces were Anhui in the east, central Hubei and Hunan, which supply millions of migrant workers who work in the cities and return home to celebrate Lunar New Year, which this year falls on February 7.Airports in Hunan and the eastern provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi as well as highways were temporarily closed, the official Xinhua news agency said.Many trains were delayed in Hunan along the key railway line linking Beijing with the main southern city of Guangzhou, after snow and ice damaged overhead power lines for the electric trains, Xinhua said.About 40,000 passengers were stranded at various stations along the route, Xinhua said, quoting a spokesman for the Guangzhou Railway Group Corp. Another 50,000 were delayed at Guangzhou railway station.He said the company had dispatched some 10,000 workers to repair the damaged power lines and sent out more than 100 diesel locomotives to pull the electric trains and transport stranded passengers.Workers were also bringing food and water supplies to those passengers.More than 20,000 vehicles with 60,000 people were stranded in Hunan due to the closure of the expressway linking Beijing and with Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong, Xinhua reported. Nearly 10,000 vehicles were also stuck in Guangdong due to the road closure.Meanwhile, in the southwestern province of Guizhou, authorities closed several roads and a further 27,000 travellers were left waiting for buses.Many parts of the country have been hit by the heaviest snowfalls in a decade, which have claimed at least 21 lives so far, state media reported.The meteorological agency Friday warned of further snowfalls in central and western China over the weekend.At the same time, the government called for agencies to get fresh goods to markets and avoid shortages, which would fuel further inflation, a major concern for the authorities."Transportation of fresh farm products-including vegetables, fruits, livestock and poultry-faces an extraordinarily grave situation as another round of widespread, continuous rain and snow will hit the country," the government said in a statement issued late Friday.For the Chinese, Lunar New Year is the most important holiday, when hundreds of millions of people travel by road, train and plane for annual family reunions.
China is expecting more than 2.2 billion trips will be made by either rail, air or bus during the Lunar New Year travel period that runs from January 19 to March 2, state press reported.The railways ministry forecast that a record 178.6 million passengers would travel by train over the period, up from 156 million in 2007.

As in the days of Noah....

Iran says surprised at sanctions plan, urges patience

DAVOS, Switzerland-Iran said on Saturday it was surprised by proposed new sanctions over its nuclear program and said major powers should have waited for the verdict of a United Nations watchdog in March.Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said there had been an understanding between Iran and the major powers-Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China-to give inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency time to resolve questions over Tehran's program."This cooperation started five months ago and we have reached a milestone in that process. Now we are on the brink of the finalization of that cooperation," Mottaki told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland."Therefore we advise them to exercise restraint. There is not much time left until the final report of the IAEA comes out," Mottaki said, speaking through an interpreter.Western countries say Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium supports their suspicion that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and has ignored repeated U.N. demands that it cease enrichment. Foreign ministers of the six powers agreed on an outline in Berlin on Tuesday and the text of their proposed third round of sanctions was circulated on Friday to the 10 nonpermanent council members.The text will be the basis of a resolution intended for the Security Council to pass in the next few weeks.The new measures proposed against Tehran call for mandatory travel bans and asset freezes for specific Iranian officials and vigilance on all banks in Iran, according to a draft text.
"In March the (IAEA) board of governors will meet to receive the report by Director General (Mohamed) ElBaradei and there is not much time until then," Mottaki said. "I'm not going to make a prejudgment about the view of the IAEA. I say everyone should wait until the final report comes out," he added.Western diplomats said they would not try to rush a resolution-the first on Iran in more than 10 months-through the security council, because they wanted unanimity.Western powers had to soften some proposed measures to meet Chinese and Russian demands. But European Union and U.S. diplomats said they were the latest step in a gradual expansion of sanctions against Iran and would almost certainly be followed by further penalties if Tehran remained defiant.The proposal says the resolution will demand again that Iran halt enrichment immediately and will include a list of specific new individuals whose travel should be restricted and assets frozen.Iran received a seventh batch of nuclear fuel on Saturday from Russia for its first atomic power plant, leaving just one more to complete the total assignment, the official IRNA news agency said.Russia has urged Iran to scrap its own program for making nuclear fuel, but Tehran has says it also wants to make its own fuel so that it will have secure supplies in the future.
As in the days of Noah....

PAGAN WATCH:Weather stalls most New Orleans parades

NEW ORLEANS - This city's Carnival season got off to a rough start when thunderstorms and chilly temperatures canceled or postponed most of Friday's parades.About 50 other parades are scheduled to roll over the next 12 days, culminating with Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the raucous pre-Lenten climax that falls on Feb. 5 this year.Friday's New Orleans parades were being staged by the clubs (known as "krewes") of Oshun and Pygmalion. Oshun rolled despite the rain, but Pygmalion rescheduled its romp through the streets for Wednesday.Parades scheduled in suburban Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes also were postponed.The Krewe of Cork's annual foot parade through the French Quarter was held before the rain fell. The krewe's members don wine- and grape-related costumes and culminate their day of "wine, food and fun" with a King and Queen's party, krewe officials said.The biggest parades — Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, Rex and Zulu — will take place during the season's final four days. Some will feature celebrity riders, including movie star Kevin Costner, who is scheduled to ride in Endymion on Friday, Feb. 2.About 800,000 people participated in Carnival last year, up from an estimated 350,000 in 2006, New Orleans' first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina.


PS:You would have thought that after the devastation of Katrina,people would have truly repented and genuinely turn to God....but this shows you once more how the SINFUL nature of man is....it hasn't changed since garden.....
Sinners cry when tragedy hits.....but then when things get better they forget about God and go back to their wicked ways.....
How much we need a Saviour!!!!
May the Lord has mercy on these people blind and in darkness.....!!!!

As in the days of Noah....

Pakistan says nuclear assets are safe

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan is increasingly alert to the possible threat of Islamic extremists seeking control of its nuclear weapons, but its security system is fail-safe despite the rising militancy in the country, a top official said Saturday.Some 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to secure the U.S.-ally's nuclear facilities as part of a command and control system headed by President Pervez Musharraf and other top officials, said Khalid Kidwai, head of the Strategic Plans Division which handles Pakistan's nuclear arsenal."There's no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to extremists of the al-Qaida or Taliban type," the retired general said at a briefing for foreign journalists. "Pakistan's nuclear weapons, fissile material and infrastructure are absolutely safe and secure."Kidwai said his division still planned for any contingency and has reassessed the militant threat in light of escalating attacks on security forces and intelligence personnel, although it had received no intelligence of a terrorist plot against the nuclear facilities."You are always responding to threats, the last six months is no exception," he said. "The state of alertness has gone up."Pakistan, which acquired its nuclear technology secretly and outside international oversight, tested its atom bomb in 1998 in response to a test by its historical rival and neighbor, India.Fears over the security of its nuclear assets grew after the chief scientist behind its uranium enrichment program, A. Q. Khan, was exposed in early 2004 as having sold sensitive technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. Pakistan has since instituted its command and control system to prevent a repeat.But the upsurge in militant violence and U.S. concerns that al-Qaida has regrouped along Pakistan's volatile border with Afghanistan have reignited international concerns. Media reports have said the Pentagon has contingency plans for seizing Pakistan's nuclear facilities if they ever fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.Kidwai described that as "irresponsible talk" and said the United States would not be able to succeed in such an operation.The wide-ranging media briefing covered the safeguards Pakistan has put in place to prevent accidental use of a bomb and nuclear proliferation, and even an overview of the procedure for launching a nuclear strike. Foreign diplomats received a similar briefing earlier this month.Kidwai said that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. had offered to share its "best practices" in nuclear security, and as a result, Pakistan had accepted $8-10 million dollars in U.S. aid to enhance physical security of its nuclear assets and for training.He said Pakistan had insisted that no outsiders, including Americans, would come to Pakistan as a condition for acceptance of the aid. The U.S. was supporting the establishment of an academy for Pakistani nuclear personnel that he hoped would be up and running in 18 to 24 months.Kidwai said any decision on using a nuclear weapon would rest with the 10-member National Command Authority chaired by the president, "hopefully by consensus but at least by majority." The decision would be conveyed to the Strategic Plans Division and then through the military chain of command.Having given the order, the National Command Authority could still call off a nuclear strike at the last minute, even if a pilot had left Pakistani airspace. An authorization code was needed by a pilot or officer commanding a missile-launch from the ground to finally press the button.He said that of about 10,000 scientists involved in the nuclear program, some 2,000 working in particularly sensitive areas were subject to intense scrutiny throughout their lives. This included regular reports on their political, financial and moral background, and their medical and psychological fitness.Kidwai acknowledged that two Pakistani nuclear scientists had met with Osama bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan, during the rule of the Taliban regime. But a three-month investigation held after the Sept. 11 attacks on America had cleared the two men and established "nothing dangerous had happened." Otherwise, Kidwai said there had only been "minor incidents" of personnel in the nuclear program stepping out of line. He cited the case of one scientist who had made a speech against the United States and Musharraf at a mosque and was consequently removed from his job.Khan, the scientist who became a national hero for developing Pakistan's atomic bomb, remains under house arrest in a villa in a residential part of Islamabad for his role in selling nuclear secrets.Pakistan's government insists it was unaware of his dealings, but refuses to allow foreign investigators to question him.

As in the days of Noah....

Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in Arctic

There may be no place on the surface of Earth where germs dangerously resistant to antibiotics have not spread.Swedish researchers now find drug-resistant bacteria have infiltrated one of the last outposts of wilderness, the Arctic, hitching a ride way up north on birds.The fact that these microbes have now reached one of the most remote places on Earth sheds light on how rampant such germs have become closer to home, researchers said.The use and misuse of antibiotics over the past few decades have led to the evolution of microbes resistant to many of the most common drugs against them, rendering more and more bacterial infections difficult or impossible to treat."Escalating resistance to antibiotics over the last few years has crystallized into one of the greatest threats to well-functioning health care in the future," said researcher Jonas Bonnedahl, an infectious disease physician at Kalmar University in Sweden.
Extremely surprised
The scientists investigated bacteria from the Arctic with the assumption that germs in such distant climes would be far beyond the reach of human influence."We were extremely surprised" to find otherwise, said researcher Björn Olsen, an ornithologist and infectious disease physician at Uppsala University in Sweden.Olsen, Bonnedahl and colleagues ventured out into the Arctic aboard the icebreaker Oden.They made their way onto the shores of northeastern Siberia, northern Alaska and northern Greenland via inflatable boats and took fecal specimens or rump swabs from 97 birds.Bacteria from these samples were cultivated directly in special laboratories onboard the icebreaker and further tested against 17 different drugs at a microbiological laboratory in Sweden.The scientists found eight of the samples displayed antibiotic resistance. Four of the samples proved resistant to four to eight of the 17 drugs tested."We took samples from birds living far out on the tundra and had no contact with people," Olsen said.The fact that these samples possessed drug-resistant bacteria "further confirms that resistance to antibiotics has become a global phenomenon and that virtually no region of the Earth, with the possible exception of the Antarctic, is unaffected."
Other pole, too?
Even the Antarctic might one day get invaded by these bacteria "via human activities such as research bases," Olsen added.Scientists had known birds could host drug-resistant germs — migratory Canadian geese tested near the eastern shore of Maryland, for instance, or black-headed gulls in the Czech Republic.But "it's alarming to find that these bacteria out on the tundra," Olsen told LiveScience. "They're leaking out to all over. It's just a sign of how bad the situation with antibiotic-resistant bacteria is."The researchers note a number of bird species they studied spent the winter at warmer latitudes in up to six different continents, which is where they may have acquired the drug-resistant bacteria.The scientists detailed their findings in the January issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

As in the days of Noah....

LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:Guyana shooting claims 11 lives

GEORGETOWN, Guyana - Gunmen stormed into a coastal village early Saturday and shot dead 11 people, the president said, in escalating violence blamed on a gang leader who has threatened widespread attacks.The killings in Lusignan came hours after gunmen attacked police headquarters in the capital, firing indiscriminately and wounding two guards.Five children were among the dead.The killings prompted outrage in the South American country, which has struggled with violent crime in recent years and is best known as the site of the Jonestown mass-suicide and killings led by the American cult leader Jim Jones."(This) could not have been done by human beings but rather by animals," President Bharrat Jagdeo said as he prepared for meetings with security officials and the military. He said he would go to the village to meet with grieving relatives later in the day.An estimated 300 people in the neighboring town of Mon Repos torched tires, old refrigerators and oil drums and blocked the two main roads leading to Lusignan."We want justice!" they cried. "Government can't protect us! We want more police!"
The group, made up mostly of men, vowed to form vigilante groups and avenge the killings in the town about seven miles outside the capital, Georgetown.The area is usually a bustling marketplace on Saturdays, but everything remained closed and irate villagers yelled at arriving soldiers."It is unthinkable that gunmen will break into your house with your family, put everyone to sit in a chair and kill them," 50-year-old resident Karamchand Sukhu said.Police have not said whether the victims were relatives or if they were found sitting in chairs.On Wednesday night, suspected gang members killed a Guyanese soldier during a gunbattle in Buxton, a village located two miles from Lusignan.Police and government officials say they suspect a gang led by Rondell Rawlins is behind the violence. Rawlins has accused security forces of kidnapping his pregnant 18-year-old girlfriend days ago and police say he threatened to carry out attacks until she is found. Police said they are probing the woman's disappearance.Rawlins is accused of being a crime boss since 2002, and blame him for the April 2006 slaying of Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh-a murder that authorities said was aimed at destabilizing this former Dutch and British colony.In 1978, Jones exhorted his followers to drink cyanide-laced grape punch in Jonestown — a Guyana settlement named for him. Babies were killed by squirting it into their mouths with syringes. Most adults were poisoned, some forcibly. Some were shot by cult security guards. Hours later, 912 of Jones' followers were dead. So was Jones, found with bullet wound in his head — whether it was suicide or murder is unknown.

As in the days of Noah....

BIG BROTHER WATCH:Microchips everywhere:A future vision

"Nowhere to hide.....!!!!!!!!!!"
Here's a vision of the not-so-distant future:
_Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement to track consumer items — and, by extension, consumers — wherever they go, from a distance.
_A seamless, global network of electronic "sniffers" will scan radio tags in myriad public settings, identifying people and their tastes instantly so that customized ads, "live spam," may be beamed at them.
_In "Smart Homes," sensors built into walls, floors and appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits, monitor medicine cabinets — all the while, silently reporting data to marketers eager for a peek into the occupants' private lives.
Science fiction?
In truth, much of the radio frequency identification technology that enables objects and people to be tagged and tracked wirelessly already exists-and new and potentially intrusive uses of it are being patented, perfected and deployed.Some of the world's largest corporations are vested in the success of RFID technology, which couples highly miniaturized computers with radio antennas to broadcast information about sales and buyers to company databases.Already, microchips are turning up in some computer printers, car keys and tires, on shampoo bottles and department store clothing tags. They're also in library books and "contactless" payment cards (such as American Express' "Blue" and ExxonMobil's "Speedpass.")Companies say the RFID tags improve supply-chain efficiency, cut theft, and guarantee that brand-name products are authentic, not counterfeit. At a store, RFID doorways could scan your purchases automatically as you leave, eliminating tedious checkouts.At home, convenience is a selling point: RFID-enabled refrigerators could warn about expired milk, generate weekly shopping lists, even send signals to your interactive TV, so that you see "personalized" commercials for foods you have a history of buying. Sniffers in your microwave might read a chip-equipped TV dinner and cook it without instruction."We've seen so many different uses of the technology," says Dan Mullen, president of AIM Global, a national association of data collection businesses, including RFID, "and we're probably still just scratching the surface in terms of places RFID can be used."The problem, critics say, is that microchipped products might very well do a whole lot more.With tags in so many objects, relaying information to databases that can be linked to credit and bank cards, almost no aspect of life may soon be safe from the prying eyes of corporations and governments, says Mark Rasch, former head of the computer-crime unit of the U.S. Justice Department.By placing sniffers in strategic areas, companies can invisibly "rifle through people's pockets, purses, suitcases, briefcases, luggage-and possibly their kitchens and bedrooms-anytime of the day or night," says Rasch, now managing director of technology at FTI Consulting Inc., a Baltimore-based company.In an RFID world, "You've got the possibility of unauthorized people learning stuff about who you are, what you've bought, how and where you've bought it ... It's like saying, 'Well, who wants to look through my medicine cabinet?'"He imagines a time when anyone from police to identity thieves to stalkers might scan locked car trunks, garages or home offices from a distance. "Think of it as a high-tech form of Dumpster diving," says Rasch, who's also concerned about data gathered by "spy" appliances in the home."It's going to be used in unintended ways by third parties-not just the government, but private investigators, marketers, lawyers building a case against you ..."
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As in the days of Noah....

American woman kidnapped in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Gunmen kidnapped a burqa-clad American aid worker and her driver in southern Afghanistan's largest city early Saturday, snatching the woman from a residential neighborhood as she was on her way to work.Cyd Mizell worked in Kandahar for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation. Jeff Palmer, the aid group's international director, said the group had not been contacted by the kidnappers and that he did not know their identity or demands.Asadullah Khalid, the provincial governor, blamed the kidnappings on the "enemy of Islam and the enemy of Afghanistan." Khalid said the 49-year-old American was wearing a burqa when she was taken.Several foreigners-including 23 South Koreans, two German construction workers and two Italian journalists-have been kidnapped in Afghanistan in the last year, but kidnappings of Americans are rare.A professor at Kandahar University, Mohammad Gul, said Mizell taught English language lessons at the university and embroidery lessons at a girl's school.Gul said she speaks the local language, Pashtu, well and that if Afghans asked about her background she would say she was from the Alakozai tribe-a well known Pashtun tribe in the Kandahar region."She is a very patient and calm woman," Gul said. "She was always thinking about Afghanistan's future."Palmer said she has worked for ARLDF on income-generating women's projects in Kandahar for the last three years."It is our hope that our worker will be released safely and quickly and we are doing all that we can to resolve the situation," Palmer said. "This is a first for our organization and we're really praying for a quick resolution."Traveling around Kandahar city has turned increasingly dangerous in the last year, as the Taliban insurgency has spread throughout southern Afghanistan. Western civilians who operate there often travel with armed guards and with extreme caution. The area is rife with Taliban militants and also with criminals linked to the country's booming opium poppy trade.
A Taliban spokesman said he had no immediate information that the Islamic militia was behind the kidnappings.In a likely plea to the woman's captors, Khalid noted that Mizell respected Afghan traditions by wearing the burqa and speaking the local languages. She did not travel with armed guards, he said.Projects run by the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation are located around the city of Kandahar and include food for work, irrigation rehabilitation, health care and restoration projects, according to the group's Web site. The group also has projects in Vietnam, China, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
As in the days of Noah....

Egypt tries to control chaotic border

RAFAH, Gaza Strip - [[[Egyptian riot police and armored vehicles restricted Gaza motorists to a small border area of Egypt on Saturday, in the second attempt in two days to restore control over the chaotic frontier breached by Hamas militants.At least 38 members of the Egyptian security forces have been hospitalized, some in critical condition, because of cross-border confrontations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said. The minister complained of "provocations" at the border, a thinly veiled reprimand of Hamas, and said that while Egypt is ready to ease the suffering of Gazans, this should not endanger Egyptian lives.In the West Bank, meanwhile, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stuck to his tough conditions for resuming contacts with Gaza's Hamas rulers, dimming prospects for Egypt's proposal to have the two Palestinian rivals come to Cairo for talks on resolving the border crisis.Earlier, Hamas had accepted Egypt's proposal, and Hamas hardliner Sami Abu Zuhri accused Abbas of trying to bypass Hamas: "His statements are a rejection of the Egyptian initiative."Abbas insists he will only talk to Hamas if it retreats from its violent June takeover of Gaza, something Hamas is unlikely to do. ]]]Abbas renewed his offer of deploying his forces at the Gaza crossings, as a way of ending the closure of Gaza by Israel and Egypt.On the Gaza-Egypt border, traffic of cars and pedestrians remained heavy Saturday, four days after Hamas militants blew down the border wall, sending hundreds of thousands of Gazans rushing into Egypt.In an attempt to restore some control, Egyptian armored vehicles blocked the main street of the Egyptian border town of Rafah, causing a traffic jam of honking cars filled with Gazans shopping for fuel, food and consumer products.Earlier Saturday, dozens of riot police formed human chains to block the two passages cut through the breached border, before once again giving up and allowing the cars to cross into the Egyptian side of the divided town. Authorities were making renewed efforts, however, to keep them out of the rest of the country.Israel, meanwhile, expressed growing concern about the possible influx of Palestinian militants into areas of Egypt that border Israel. The Israeli military announced Saturday that its troops were on heightened alert along the border with Egypt, and that an Israeli road and tourism sites in the area are temporarily closed.[[[Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas were to meet in Jerusalem on Sunday.Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh said the Palestinian leader would ask Olmert to open Israel's crossings with Gaza, closed last week after a spike in rocket attacks. Abbas will tell Olmert "about the readiness of the Palestinian Authority to take responsibility of the Gaza borders,"]]]Abu Rdeneh said.[[[[[[The border breach was engineered by Hamas to pressure Egypt to negotiate new border arrangements. Both Israel and Egypt have kept Gaza largely sealed in the past two years, especially since the violent Hamas takeover of the territory in June.Egypt faces a dilemma over how to handle the border crisis. If it acts forcefully against the Gazans, it could anger its own people, who sympathize with the Palestinians' plight. But if it does nothing, it risks infiltration by Islamic militants.Early Saturday, hundreds of Gaza cars crossed into Egypt.Palestinians and Egyptians bypassed the checkpoints around Rafah, however, via dirt roads.]]]]]] In the coastal town of El Arish, about 20 miles west Gaza, the roadblocks were tighter and police were witnessed telling shopkeepers to close their stores.Hundreds of cars with Gaza license plates were seen in El Arish on Saturday, many lining up at gas stations. An elderly Gaza man, Saleh Abu Ghosheh, stood in one of the lines, hoping that a gasoline tanker would eventually arrive to refill the station.Abu Ghosheh said he was worried the tanker would not show, and that he would have wasted precious fuel getting to El Arish. Still, he said, the trip was not in vain. "It's worth it, at least I bought a goat, dairy products and some items for my children," he said.The traffic flowed in both directions. Many Egyptian cars were seen in Gaza, including a truck carrying $65,000 worth of cheese, candy bars and cleaning supplies for a Gaza City supermarket.[[[[[[[[The border breach provided a significant popularity boost to Hamas, which can claim it successfully broke through the closure that has deprived the coastal territory of normal trade and commerce.]]]]]]]]sigh.....[[[[[[Egypt has rejected any suggestion of assuming responsibility for the crowded, impoverished territory — a hot issue in light of comments this week by Israeli officials who said the border breach could relieve Israel of its burdens in Gaza.]]]]]]Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from the territory in 2005, but it still controls access to Gaza, including Gaza's airspace and coastline. Israel also provides the fuel needed to run Gaza's only power plant. It has recently withheld that fuel, causing severe power outages.

As in the days of Noah....

Gadhafi son may be linked to Iraq attack

BAGHDAD-A devastating explosion in northern Iraq was spearheaded by foreign fighters under the sponsorship of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi,(picture left) son of the Libyan leader, a security chief for Sunni tribesmen who rose up against al-Qaida in Iraq said Saturday.Col. Jubair Rashid Naief, who also is a police official in Anbar province, said the Anbar Awakening Council had alerted the U.S. military to the possible arrival in the northern city of Mosul of the Seifaddin Regiment, made up of about 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters, as long as three months ago.The U.S. military did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment about Naief's claim."They crossed the Syrian border nearest to Mosul within the last two to three months. Since then, they have taken up positions in the city and begun blowing up cars and launching other terror operations," Naief told The AP.The so-called Anbar Awakening Council is a grouping of Sunni tribes in the western province that last year turned against al-Qaida and began working with U.S. forces. The council is credited with the sharp drop in violence in the former insurgent redoubt.The movement has since been spread by Americans through Baghdad and surrounding districts. That and the introduction of 30,000 additional U.S. troops by mid-2007 are seen as the main factors in the recent decline in violence in the country.Naief did not explain why the younger Gadhafi would be sponsoring the group of fighters. Seif Gadhafi, however, was quoted by the Austrian Press Agency last year as warning Europeans against more attacks by radical Islamists."The only solution to contain radicalism is the rapid departure of Western troops from Iraq as well as Afghanistan, and a solution to the Palestinian question," Gadhafi was quoted as saying.Touted as a reformer, 36-year-old Gadhafi has increasingly been sharing his father's spotlight and reaching out to the West to soften Libya's image and return it to the international mainstream. He has no official government post, but many see him as the man most likely to take power in the North African country when his father steps down or dies.
The massive explosion in Mosul on Wednesday and the suicide attack assassination of a top police official the next day have prompted obvious concern among Iraq's leaders.On Friday, the government said it would dispatch several thousand more security forces to Mosul in a "decisive" bid to drive al-Qaida in Iraq from its last major stronghold.Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave no details on troop strength or timing, but his announcement added to growing signs that Mosul could represent a pivotal showdown with insurgents chased north by U.S.-led offensives."Today, our troops started moving toward Mosul ... and the fight there will be decisive," al-Maliki said during a speech in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.The challenge, however, is whether the Iraqi forces have the firepower and training to lead an offensive into Iraq's third-largest city. The U.S. military is relatively thin across northern Iraq and has signaled no immediate plans to shift troops from key zones in and around Baghdad.Mosul is now considered the main logistical hub for al-Qaida in Iraq because of its size and location-sitting at crossroads between Baghdad, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Many extremists fled north as U.S.-led forces began gaining ground in former insurgent strongholds last year, aided by Sunni tribes that rose up against al-Qaida and its backers.Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf told The Associated Press that 3,000 police were being sent to the Mosul region to augment the understaffed force.Ninevah province, whose capital is Mosul, has about 18,000 policemen. But only about 3,000 of those operate in the city of nearly 2 million, according to police spokesman Saeed al-Jubouri.A Defense Ministry official said several thousand Iraqi soldiers would be moved from Baghdad and Anbar province. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is sensitive."We have asked the prime minister to send us fresh units because we cannot defeat the terrorists with the weak units we have now in the city," Maj. Gen. Riyad Jalal, a senior Iraqi officer in the Mosul area. "We need new equipment and stronger weapons because most of our security members have only rifles."Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has become a fulcrum on two fronts.First the United States is trying to keep Iraqi security forces in the lead as a major test of Washington's long-range plans, which seek to keep a smaller American force in Iraq as backup for local soldiers and police.Second, U.S. officials say Mosul has become the only remaining major city in Iraq where al-Qaida is able to operate with any freedom. Major centers of al-Qaida activity in the past-including the western Anbar province, Baghdad and Baqouba north of the capital-no longer offer easy refuge.Al-Maliki announced reinforcements for Mosul two days after an abandoned apartment building, believed to be used as a bomb-making factory, was blown apart as the Iraqi army was investigating tips about a weapons cache.At least 34 people were killed and 224 wounded when the blast tore through surrounding houses in the Zanjili neighborhood, a poverty-ridden district on the west bank of the Tigris River. No soldiers were reported killed.A suicide bomber then killed a police chief and two other officers Thursday as they toured the devastation. Residents taunted the chief and pelted him with rocks moments before he was killed.

As in the days of Noah.....

ENVIRO WATCH:Calif. Farmers Want to Sell Water

FRESNO, Calif.-With water becoming increasingly precious in California, a rising number of farmers figure they can make more money by selling their water than by actually growing something.Because farmers get their water at subsidized rates, some of them see financial opportunity this year in selling their allotments to Los Angeles and other desperately thirsty cities across Southern California, as well as to other farms."It just makes dollars and sense right now," said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer who grows rice, wheat and other crops in Northern California's lush Sacramento Valley.Instead of sowing in April, Rolen plans to let 100 of his 250 acres of white rice lie fallow and sell his irrigation water on the open market, where it could fetch up to three times the normal price. What effect these deals will have on produce prices remains to be seen, because the negotiations are still going on and it is not yet clear how many acres will be taken out of production. But California grows most of the nation's winter vegetables and about 80 percent of the world's almonds, and is the No. 2 rice state, behind Arkansas.[[[[Environmental restrictions, booming demand for water, and persistent drought along the Colorado River have combined to create one of the worst water shortages in California in the past decade, and prices are shooting up in response.]]]]The would-be water sellers include farmers who grow rice, cantaloupes and tomatoes around Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. Rice, in particular, requires a lot of water; the fields have to be flooded.The farmers looking to buy water are generally farther south in the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles area and grow such crops as pistachios, almonds and grapes. Because of the heavy capital investment they made in their trees and vines, these farmers cannot afford to stop irrigating their crops and let them die. In contrast, rice, melons and tomatoes are planted anew each year.Individual farmers don't actually sell their water themselves. Instead, their local water districts represent them in negotiations with other water agencies."It's been a good decade since there's been this much interest in buying and selling water on the open market," said Jack King of the California Farm Bureau Federation. "We're prepared to see significant fallowing in several key parts of the state."As for what this will mean for the cost of food at the supermarket, "it's still too premature to say where prices will settle, but I can say that virtually every agricultural district in the Sacramento Valley is thinking about selling their water this year," said Laura King Moon, assistant general manager of the State Water Contractors Association, which represents 29 water agencies.Water from Northern California rivers irrigates central California's farm fields and keeps faucets flowing in the Los Angeles area. But it must be shipped south through a network of pumps, pipes and aqueducts, and that system recently developed a kink when a federal judge ordered new restrictions on pumping to save threatened fish.At the same time, Southern California's other main source of water, the Colorado River, is in its eighth year of drought.Because of the resulting shortages, Long Beach cannot run fountains, and restaurants there are not allowed to serve customers a glass of water unless they ask for it. Near Bakersfield, in central California, almond and pistachio growers will have to perform triage of sorts and decide which of their nut trees can be saved. And cities across California are drawing down underground supplies of water rather than buying it.Water on California's open market typically sells for $50 per acre-foot in wet years.But now it is expected to go for as much as $200. Farmers, however, pay $30 to $60, rates that are set under state and federal policy. (An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre to a depth of one foot.)Because of rising costs, the huge water agency for the Los Angeles metropolitan recently proposed a rate increase for next year of 10 to 20 percent on the water it sells to cities.Some environmentalists are troubled by farmers' efforts to sell their water, and warn that such deals don't begin to address the long-term problem."Essentially these farmers are getting water for a subsidized price and selling it to taxpayers at an elevated rate," said Renee Sharp of the Environmental Working Group.

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KNOWLEDGE SHALL INCREASE:The helmet that could turn back the symptoms of Alzheimer's

An experimental helmet which scientists say could reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease within weeks of being used is to be tried out on patients.The strange-looking headgear - which has to be worn for ten minutes every day - bathes the brain with infra-red light and stimulates the growth of brain cells.Its creators believe it could reverse the symptoms of dementia - such as memory loss and anxiety - after only four weeks.Alzheimer's disease charities last night described the treatment as "potentially life- changing"-but stressed that the research was still at the very early stages.Around 700,000 Britons have dementia, with around 500,000 suffering from Alzheimer's disease.The helmet is the creation of Dr Gordon Dougal, a director of Virulite, a medical research company based in County Durham.It follows a study at the University of Sunderland which found infra-red light can reverse memory loss in mice.Dr Dougal claims that only ten minutes under the hat a day is enough to have an effect."Currently all you can do with dementia is to slow down the rate of decay - this new process will not only stop that rate of decay but partially reverse it," he said.Low level infra-red red is thought to stimulate the growth of cells of all types of tissue and encourage their repair. It is able to penetrate the skin and even get through the skull."The implications of this research at Sunderland are enormous - so much so that in the future we could be able to affect and change the rate at which our bodies age," he said."We age because our cells lose the desire to regenerate and repair themselves. This ultimately results in cell death and decline of the organ functions - for the brain resulting in memory decay and deterioration in general intellectual performance. "But what if there was a technology that told the cells to repair themselves and that technology was something as simple as a specific wavelength of light?"The study at Sunderland found that exposing middle-aged mice to infrared light for six minutes a day for ten days improved their performance in a three-dimensional maze. In the human trials, due to start this summer, the scientists will use levels of infra-red that occur naturally in sunlight. Neuroscientist Paul Chazot, who helped carry out the research, said: "The results are completely new - this has never been looked at before."An Alzheimer's Society spokesman said: "A treatment that reverses the effects of dementia rather than just temporarily halting its symptoms could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people. We look forward to further research to determine whether this technique could help improve cognition in humans."

As in the days of Noah....

Myanmar 'arrests more activists'

BANGKOK, Thailand-Myanmar's ruling military has imprisoned nearly 100 more political activists, despite its promise to the United Nations that it would halt arrests following last September's pro-democracy demonstrations, a human rights group said Friday. Amnesty International said 1,850 political prisoners were behind bars, including 96 imprisoned since early November when the government told the United Nations they had halted all arrests."Rather than stop its unlawful arrests the Myanmar government has actually accelerated them," the London-based group said in a statement.
In an unusual joint appeal, Britain, France and the United States urged global leaders Thursday to press the Myanmar government to respect the basic rights of its people.The appeal, issued by the foreign ministers of the three countries at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said a priority for this year's meeting "is the urgent need for progress toward a transition to democracy and improved human rights in Burma," as the country is also known. Amnesty said that at least 700 people who were arrested as a result of the September protests remain in prison, while 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the protests have not been released. More than 80 others remain unaccounted for since September, the group said.The demonstrations, sparked by a sudden increase in fuel prices, swelled to mass street protests in Yangon, Myanmar's principal city, before the military crackdown.Amid worldwide condemnation following the mass arrests, the U.N. dispatched Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari to urge reforms and a dialogue between Suu Kyi and the military. He was promised that the arrests would be stopped. But to date, such international efforts have resulted in little or no apparent change in the Southeast Asian country.Those arrested since Nov. 1 include Buddhist monks, trade unionists, pro-democracy dissidents and members of the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Amnesty said.
Among the latest arrested was a popular poet, Saw Wai, who was taken into custody Jan. 15 after authorities deciphered part of a love poem that contained a hidden message attacking junta leader General Than Shwe(picture above left)

As in the days of Noah....

The real reason for the Hamas bombing of the border

For the past few days you have heard as we have here in Israel that the border between Egypt and Gaza has been not only broken down but bulldozed in order to make vehicle travel possible between Gaza and Egypt.I’ve been watching this very closely and it has occurred to that there is something not being said that we should be looking at, as usual these Islamic Terrorists create a smoke screen for something much larger to happen.The obvious and immediate problem to Israel is Egypt is making no move to restore the border and the Hamas Terrorist have a free range to drive trucks loaded with arms back into Gaza.They no longer have to craw on their bellies with weapons under the border in tunnels, with the blessings of Egypt they now simply drive across in trucks that means larger and more dangerous weapons are pouring into Gaza. Weapons like shoulder held anti aircraft missiles and Russian made anti-Tank weapons designed to kill many Israeli soldiers.It also means that the closing of the border by Israel to bring them to a place where they will desire peace more than terrorism against Israel is no longer working in Israel’s favor.But the real question we should be asking ourselves is why isn’t Egypt doing anything about the broken border, it is their border and their responsibility?The 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt dictated the amount of Egyptian Forces that could be in the Sinai Desert up next to the Israel Border.The Egyptians have tried several times in different ways to get the Israelis to allow them to at least double that number,for obvious reasons they want as many soldiers up next to the Israeli border as possible.For years I’ve been saying that the most dangerous enemy Israel has is not Syria or Iran that it is Egypt and the US has been arming their Army, Air Force and Navy to the teeth for years now. I also find it a little more than strange that right after Bush leaves Egypt on his recent Middle East Tour that the border is breached and Egypt does nothing about it, and I haven’t heard anything from the US concerning any of this.So with all this in mind it becomes easy to see that this whole episode has been planned by Egypt and Hamas and the goal is to force Israel to allow more Egyptian forces up close to its border.This tells me loud and clear that Egypt plans on leading the charge in the next war against Israel.Egypt has a long memory when it come to the 67 and 73 wars there are many others reasons but those two defeats are very fresh in their mind.They want to be the leaders in the next charge against Israel, and a lot of coordination has been put into place between Iran, Syria, Jordan, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.It’s obvious that Israel has no choice but to take over Gaza and totally destroy the Hamas infrastructure and take over the border. But the question is will this corrupt government do it in time?There are demonstrations every day now demanding Olmert resign but he says that will not happen, he knows he has Bush in his corner, in fact, it is known that Bush told several of the MK’s to take care of Olmert because he needs him.One thing is certain the near future promises to be far more exciting than any of us would like.Each of us have a calling on our lives, the fact that you are reading this report means it is knowledge God would have you to know.The calling on your life is something only you can decide to follow or not.If God has called you to bless Israel in the end days it only means that God has chosen you to touch the Apple of His Eye.This Ministry has been called to do what would seem to be impossible for someone like myself in fact I have questioned God many times in the early days of this calling, but no longer.For I have seen His Mighty hand time and time again move in ways that could not be explained in no other way than God is moving before us and with us, that this is His Ministry and He will bring His Word to pass....I know God has touched many who are still debating with themselves concerning support.I can tell you that time is short and we have little time to accomplish the task set before us.The larger boat has still not been purchased.I will be traveling again to Turkey in the near future, once again looking at possibilities or the purchase of a larger boat.Connie and I have made many trips doing research, groundwork and setting up safe houses.Trips to Europe will also be necessary and more of the right people there need to be educated in routes and safe places all this takes finances and the resources that God has given us is the Body of Yeshua (Jesus) that He has joined with us to save Jewish lives.The boat we now have is ready and in great condition but very limited in the amount of people we can bring back to Israel.We will of course do what we can when the time comes, but it may be even more important to get more groundwork done. To have a boat and not have Jews to pick up would not be very wise.In Cyprus God has put together and still putting together a group of Believers who are establishing safe houses, knowing that many Jews will be able to get there without our help.But will need our help to get from Cyprus to Israel as there will be no commercial flights.It is amazing to see how God is bringing Believers from the UK, South African and other countries to help rescue Jews when they arrive there.Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for our son Joel and all the IDF soldiers.Pray for this Ministry and your part in it.
Shalom, jerry golden

As in the days of Noah....

Friday, January 25, 2008

Gandhi grandson leaves peace center

ROCHESTER, N.Y.-A relative of Mahatma Gandhi has resigned from a peace institute after drawing condemnation for comments he made in an online forum that Israel and Jews "are the biggest players" in a global culture of violence.Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of the revered pacifist, said Friday the board of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence based at the University of Rochester had accepted his offer a day earlier to step down as president.Gandhi co-founded the institute with his wife, Sunanda, at Christian Brothers University in Memphis in 1991 and relocated it to the University of Rochester campus in June, a few months after her death.
Gandhi was on a panel of scholars, writers and clergy who discuss a new topic weekly on the Washington Post's "On Faith" page and his comments, posted Jan. 7, drew a torrent of criticism, much of it unfavorable.[[[He wrote that Jewish identity "has been locked into the holocaust experience-a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed. It is a very good example of how a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends."The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful. ... The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on, the regret turns into anger."Describing Israel as "a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs," Gandhi asked whether it would "not be better to befriend those who hate you?""Apparently, in the modern world so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept," he wrote. "You don't befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity."]]]Gandhi later apologized "for my poorly worded post," saying he shouldn't have implied that Israeli government policies reflected the views of all Jewish people."My intention was to generate a healthy discussion on the proliferation of violence," Gandhi said in a statement Friday. "Instead, unintentionally, my words have resulted in pain, anger, confusion and embarrassment. I deeply regret these consequences."Larry Fine, head of the Jewish Federation of Rochester, called the posting "reprehensible." Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called it "shameful that a peace institute would be headed up by a bigot.""One would hope that the grandson of such an illustrious human being would be more sensitive to Jewish history," Foxman said.The school's president, Joel Seligman, said in a statement that Gandhi's resignation was appropriate and his remarks "did not reflect the core values" of the university or the institute. The institute offers courses, workshops and seminars on nonviolence and will "continue its mission" at the university, Seligman said. A forum will be held later this year to allow Gandhi to discuss issues he raised with Jewish community leaders and other speakers, he said.While emphasizing that Jewish suffering, particularly in the Holocaust, "was historic in its proportions" Gandhi said that "it is also important not to forget the past, lest we fail to learn from it," he stood by his criticism of "the use of violence by recent Israeli governments.""I have criticized the governments of the U.S., India and China in much the same way," he said, adding that "I want to correct statements that I made with insufficient care, and that have inflicted unnecessary hurt and caused anger."The institute's research library contains multiple photographs, audio and videotapes, and 100 volumes of writings by Gandhi's grandfather, who led India to independence in 1947 and was assassinated by a Hindu hard-liner in January 1948.

As in the days of Noah....