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

Saturday, February 16, 2008

China urged NKorea to resume nuke talks before US

A Chinese envoy who visited North Korea last month pressed its leader Kim Jong-Il to resume a deadlocked nuclear disarmament deal before US presidential elections take place, a report said Sunday.Wang Jiarui,Director of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, told Kim he believed it was "highly likely" a Democrat would win the election in November, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in Japan reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources."If that happens, officials in charge of the talks will be replaced by new ones so that negotiations in the six-party talks will get more difficult to bring forward," Wang told Kim, prompting him to resume the talks at an early date, the report said.The North was supposed to disable its main atomic plants by December 31 and list all its nuclear programmes under the six-nation deal negotiated by the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan.North Korea said it submitted a full list in November, but the United States says it failed to meet the deadline for a full declaration, leading to an impasse.Kim told Wang in the meeting that there was no change in his nation's wish to move the talks forward, Chinese state media Xinhua news agency has said.Kim urged nations involved in the deal to fulfil their side of the bargain, saying North Korea was willing to work with China to try to push for its full implementation, Xinhua has said.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due to visit South Korea, China and Japan later this month as part of diplomatic efforts to get the deal moving again, her spokesman said Friday.
As in the days of Noah....

TERROR WATCH:Purported Al Qaeda Video Shows Prisoners Burned Alive

Al Qaeda's latest display of terror has made its way onto the Internet, showing horrifying images of what appear to be prisoners in Iraq being doused with an inflammatory liquid and then burned alive.The video, which appears to have been posted first on Google last December in an alleged anti-Al Qaeda Web film, shows five insurgents standing behind three blindfolded prisoners kneeling at the edge of a burning pit. "And now that we have captured these scums who committed this dreadful crime, we will burn them with this fire," the Al Qaeda leader says in Arabic. "The same fire which they committed their crime with."And I swear by God almighty that, I swear by God almighty that we will have no mercy on them," he continues. "Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar."As he speaks, two of the insurgents pour liquid on the blindfolded prisoners. Then they push the bound men into the pit, where they are engulfed in flames.According to the summary-in Arabic and German-included in the nearly 15-minute video posted on Google, many of the clips were found in Diyala, Iraq. The makers of the film say that the originals were "passed to us by others."

As in the days of Noah....

Texas Youth Minister Admits to Slaying as Teen, Surrenders to Police

HOUSTON-[[[A newly ordained youth minister decided he could no longer keep his secret, confessing to authorities he was 16 years old when he fatally stabbed a convenience store clerk in 1994.For his forthrightness, Calvin Wayne Inman found himself jailed Saturday, charged with capital murder.The lead pastor of the 800-member Elim Church said he persuaded Inman to surrender to police after learning about the case several weeks ago."It was a situation that was on his conscience," said Ron Nissen, pastor of the Pentecostal church, told the Houston Chronicle in Saturday editions. "He knows it's the right thing to do. His desire is to help other kids not make the same mistakes he did."]]]Nissen called Inman, now 29, a fine man who got involved with drugs at a young age.The newspaper reported Inman went to police earlier this month, voluntarily giving a statement admitting that he stabbed the store's 64-year-old clerk, Iqbal Ahmed, on Aug. 14, 1994. Ahmed died at the store. Inman and possibly another teen fled, and the case remained unsolved.Inman of suburban Pasadena was arrested Wednesday and charged with capital murder as an adult. The Harris County Jail, where Inman is held without bond, said he did not have attorney listed."It was a God thing," Inman's wife, Shelley, said of the confession.Ahmed's son-in-law, Shakir A. Rahmani, who had owned the store at the time of the stabbing, said the arrest surprised and pleased him. It was probably Ahmed's desire to help young people that led to him asking the teenagers to show identification proving they were old enough to buy cigarettes, Rahmani said."He was very strict," Rahmani said. "He didn't want any kids to go the wrong way. Maybe he was trying to teach them like he did his own kids."Police said they interviewed Inman's friend, now 28, who acknowledged being involved in the robbery but not the stabbing. Relying on 1994 juvenile laws preventing prosecution of people 13 or younger, police said they could not charge the friend.

As in the days of Noah....

Singer, 104, Who Performed for Hitler Draws Protests in Netherlands

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands-Several dozen people protested outside a theater Saturday where a 104-year-old singer who once performed for Adolf Hitler took the stage in the Netherlands for the first time in four decades.Johannes Heesters was never accused of being a propagandist or anything other than an actor who was willing to perform for the Nazis, and the Allies allowed him to continue his career after the war. But in his native country he is viewed by some as irredeemable."He kept singing for the Nazi regime, for the Wehrmacht, and he earned millions," said Piet Schouten, representative of a committee formed to protest Heesters' performance at De Flint theater in Amersfoort."Those are facts and we have a problem with that on behalf of all the victims" he told national broadcaster NOS.In 1964, Heesters was booed off the stage in Amsterdam when he tried to appear as Nazi-hating Captain von Trapp in "The Sound of Music."
No disturbances were reported during Saturday's concert in Amersfoort, where Heesters was born in 1903.Heesters, who lives in Germany, has been a popular figure in German-language cabaret since the 1930s. On Saturday, he performed "The Merry Widow," the German song that made him famous, and "There by the Windmill," a Dutch classic, among others. At times he asked his wife, on stage with him, to remind him of lines but his voice was steady.Around 50 demonstrators gathered outside. A handful of neo-Nazis also turned up-uninvited-to support Heesters, and several were detained by police after throwing eggs at the demonstrators.Concertgoers were forced to submit copies of their passports and undergo airport-style security scans before being allowed to enter the theater, which seats 800.Many of Heesters' critics focus on a visit his theater company made to Dachau in 1941. He had never disclosed the visit, but it became known when photos of him with Nazi soldiers were published in 1978.One of the protesters carried a banner reading "my grandfather was in Dachau too."Heesters says he didn't perform for the soldiers and didn't know about conditions at the concentration camp.After the war "I was ashamed of myself and I still haven't stopped feeling this way," Heesters wrote in his autobiography. "I am angry with myself for being gullible, credulous and naive."In an editorial, Dutch newspaper Trouw wrote Saturday that "the stain will always remain, but Heesters is welcome home in the Netherlands — it's nice that he's appearing here 104 years after his birth."It's all too easy for people today, most of whom grew up after the war, to pass judgment on the collaborators then," the paper wrote. "What would we do under comparable circumstances?"


As in the days of Noah....

Bolivia floods hit children hard

Army ends sectarian riots in Beirut after 14 hurt

BEIRUT-Lebanese soldiers deployed in several mixed Sunni-Shi'ite streets of Beirut on Saturday and ended sectarian riots that left at least 14 people injured and several cars and shops smashed.Security sources said followers of Sunni Muslim Saad al-Hariri's Future Trend movement battled supporters of the Shi'ite Hezbollah and Amal groups with sticks, knives and stones in Ras al-Nabei, Mazraa and Barboor areas of Beirut.It was not clear what sparked the night-time clashes but tension has been simmering for weeks. Smaller incidents have been reported almost on daily basis.Hariri's anti-Syrian ruling coalition is locked in a 15-month-old power struggle against an opposition led by Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran.The political crisis has left Lebanon without a president since November. It has spilled into deadly street clashes on several occasions over the past year. Last month seven Shi'ite protesters were shot dead, mainly by Lebanese troops.On Saturday, scores of Lebanese soldiers fired into the air to disperse rioters from both sides. At least 14 people, many with broken bones or cuts, were injured in the fights.Some media reported both sides exchanged fire in some places but security sources said most of the shooting was by troops and into the air.

As in the days of Noah....

First order for pet dog cloning

A South Korean company says it has taken its first order for the cloning of a pet dog.A woman from the United States wants her dead pitbull terrier -called Booger - re-created.RNL Bio is charging the woman, from California, $150,000 (£76,000) to clone the pitbull using tissue extracted from its ear before it died.The work will be carried out by a team from Seoul National University, where the first dog was cloned in 2005.
Commercial cloning
RNL Bio says this is the first time a dog will have been cloned commercially."There are many people who want to clone their pet dogs in Western countries even at this high price," company chief executive, Ra Jeong-chan, told the Korea Times.The cost of cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000
Cho Seong-Ryul, RNL Bio
The firm is expecting hundreds more orders for pets over the next few years and also plans to clone dogs trained to sniff out bombs or drugs.One out of every four surrogate mother dogs produces puppies, according to RNL Bio's marketing director, Cho Seong-ryul."The cost of cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000 as cloning is becoming an industry," he said.
Dog attack
The pitbull's owner, Bernann McKunney, gave the company ear tissue, which an American biotech firm preserved before the animal died 18 months ago. She is said to have been particularly attached to the dog, after it saved her life when another dog attacked her and bit off her arm.The university's team is led by Professor Lee Byeong-chun, who was previously in a team headed by the disgraced stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-suk.Mr Hwang's results on cloning human stem cells, initially hailed as a breakthrough, were found to have been falsified and he is now on trial charged with embezzlement and fake research.But the team did succeed in creating the world's first cloned dog two years ago - an Afghan hound named Snuppy.They continued with the programme, cloning more dogs and also producing clones of Korean grey wolves.
As in the days of Noah....

'Monsoon risk' to cyclone victims

More than 1.3m people affected by the Bangladesh cyclone are still living in temporary shelters as the monsoon rains approach, global charity Oxfam warns.Hundreds of thousands of families live under plastic sheeting, tarpaulin and other basic shelter that leaves them at the mercy of the elements, Oxfam says.Cyclone Sidr struck in November, killing more than 3,500 people and destroying millions of homes.Scores of villages and paddy fields were hit and power and water supplies.Oxfam says it has spent $7m on supporting 193,000 people in five of the worst-affected coastal districts."More than 1.3m people are facing terrible monsoon weather with completely inadequate shelter," says Heather Blackwell, head of Oxfam in Bangladesh."Having suffered from the elements once, they could soon suffer again. It is vital that the Bangladeshi government and the international community - including the UN - urgently devise a better plan for giving these people proper shelter."Oxfam quotes estimates by the Bangladeshi government and by aid agencies that show some 265,000 families need better temporary shelter.In December, Bangladesh's caretaker government said it needed around $2bn in foreign aid to rebuild the battered infrastructure and economy of the southern coastal region, as well as replacing destroyed crops.Aid has poured in from around the world, from students collecting coins on the streets of Dhaka's sprawling university campus to international relief agencies.The World Food Programme promised to feed 2.2m people for the next six months and the World Bank made $250m available to the government.Dozens of aid agencies have also been involved in planning for longer-term rehabilitation of the affected.

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Chuck Colson:Muslims are better theologians

Author and leading evangelical Christian Chuck Colson says radical Muslims are better theologians than believers in America.In his new book The Faith, Prison Fellowship founder [[[[[[Chuck Colson says many Christians in America are ignorant of their own faith.He says radical Muslims have a better understanding of their faith than most Christians have of Christianity. According to Colson, most Christians in America are seduced by comfort. "We're so much at peace with this culture, we're so affluent, we don't really hear the radical message of the gospel," he states. "We hear a therapy in church, we don't hear the truth; we don't hear a truth that is counter-cultural. We're not called and summoned by the church to stand courageously and boldly to defend what we believe ... most of us don't know what we believe." Colson, who served time in prison for Watergate-related crimes, says the church in America needs a return to orthodoxy-a term he says is often misunderstood. "Orthodoxy is a bad word to use because people think it means going backward-but it doesn't, it means going to the pure truth," he adds. "It's radical in the sense that it is building on the teachings of the Apostles directly given to the counsels who were writing the Bible in the first centuries."]]]] A proper biblical worldview, notes Colson, will also affect a Christian's political involvement. He says that is especially important in the current race for the White House. Colson says that dignity of human life is integral to the gospel-"and looking at that issue alone helps sort out the candidates," he adds. "To be pro-choice is to be inconsistent with the basic teaching of the gospel, that man is created in the image of God." The ministry founder says he is hopeful that his book will provide a new theological grounding for Christians.

As in the days of Noah....

PERSECUTION WATCH:Chinese stepping up religious crack down ahead of Olympics

To read these news and more updates about christian persecution worldwide,go to:
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GAY WATCH:Federal Court Rules Against Christian Student

The case began in 2004 when the student wore a T-shirt with the words, 'Homosexuality is shameful. Romans 1:27'.A federal district court judge in California has decided that statements about sexual orientation, if not “positive” in nature, can be restricted by public schools.“The message here is that Christian speech is not favored in this country, and if they do speak something that does not please the politically correct crowd, they can be punished for it,” said Bruce Hausknecht, a social research analyst for Focus on the Family Action.Administrators in the Poway School District of California objected in 2004 when they learned that a student, Chase Harper, wore a T-shirt which quoted Romans on one side and on the other said, “Be ashamed, our school has embraced what God has condemned.”Harper said one administrator told him to leave his faith in the car. Harper later sued.Tim Chandler, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said Harper’s case is worth appealing to a higher court.“It’s a classic case of viewpoint discrimination that really reflects a double-standard that's been created both in our public schools and in our legal system,” Chandler said.

As in the days of Noah....

ZIM WATCH:Zimbabwe inflation now 66,000 percent

HARARE, Zimbabwe-The official rate of annual inflation in Zimbabwe tripled in the space of one month to 66,212 percent in December, by far the highest in the world but less than half the rate calculated by independent analysts. The state Herald newspaper published the figures from the central bank Friday, showing a dramatic escalation from November's already dizzying rate of 24,470%.In early October, the state central statistical office gave official inflation at just below 8,000 percent.It then suspended its monthly updates on inflation because there was not enough in the shortage-stricken shops to calculate a regular basket of goods.The National Incomes and Prices Commission, the government's price control body, this week allowed sharp increases in the prices of the corn meal staple, sugar, bread and other basics in a bid to restore viable operations by producers and return the goods to empty shelves.But the new price of about 15 U.S. cents for about 2.2 pounds of corn meal at the dominant black market exchange was still half the price demanded on the black market and was unlikely to guarantee regular supplies to food stores.Even the Herald predicted that "in most cases, the products will be available only immediately after the price increases" and would disappear again as production costs rise.Independent analysts estimate the real annual rate of inflation is closer to 150,000 percent. They cite supermarket receipts showing the price of chicken rose more than 236,000 percent to 15 million Zimbabwe dollars, or about $2.15 for 2.2 pounds between January 2007 and January 2008.Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket, is facing acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline and most basic goods in an economic meltdown blamed on disruptions in the agriculture-based economy after the often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000.

As in the days of Noah....

END TIMES WEATHER:Harsh Afghan winter kills 1 000

Kabul - The death toll from Afghanistan's harshest winter in recent living memory has hit 926, an official said on Saturday, adding the figure could rise further as access to remote areas improves with the thawing of snow.More than 316 000 cattle had perished since the onset of winter in mid December, Noor Padshah Kohistani of the National Disaster Management Commission said."The figure for human losses stands at 926 today. It could go higher, for roads have been reopened and we will find unreported fatalities," he said.Nearly half of the victims came from western areas and where more than 90 people have had their fingers or toes amputated because of frostbite.A special hospital is dealing with frostbite victims in the western city of Herat.Apart from human losses, the deaths of cattle are regarded as a huge loss for Afghanistan, an agricultural country that largely relies on foreign aid.The United Nations World Food Programme last month appealed for extra food assistance for 2.55 million Afghans until the next harvest in June.More snow is expected in coming days in several parts of the mountainous Central Asian country which may trigger floods and avalanches.

As in the days of Noah.....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Cholera in DRC 'satanic'

Lubumbashi - A cholera outbreak has claimed about 100 lives in the mineral-rich Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where health workers and affected residents agree it is hard to stop."This disease is satanic!" said Annie Masengo, a mother who has just lost one of her six children to cholera in the poor Kenya district of Katanga's capital Lubumbashi, adding she could "only pray all the time"."There's no tap water here. We drink rainwater. The government distributed chlorine on February 7, but it has already run out and I have no money to buy any" to purify infected water, Masengo said.Her son of three died because he arrived too late to be saved in one of the treatment centres set up in Lubumbashi by the international aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors without Borders)."On average, we're taking in about 60 new cases each day in Lubumbashi and in Likasi," the second most badly affected town, MSF emergency team co-ordinator Bertrand Perrochet said."We can cope with the patients arriving when it comes to medical treatment," Perrochet explained. "But the problem is to bring the disease under control by dealing with its root causes."
No toilets
In Lubumbashi and Likasi, the foyers of the highly contagious intestinal disease are in the working-class neighbourhoods, where most people have to put up with the appalling hygienic conditions that promote cholera, which kills without treatment.The homes in the Kenya district, made of dried mud bricks, have no toilets and swiftly built urinals serve plots of land for four or five households.In one courtyard, a water supply pipe is holed and dirtied by the run-off from collective toilets, which are also just next to a well.In one house nearby, Christin Mulage lives with his two wives and 14 children. He presents himself as a "survivor" in his 50s, having just got out of hospital determined in the future to treat his family's water with chlorine."We've pointed out that an effort must be made by the national water distribution company (Regideso) to supply the affected areas," said Dr Vital Mundunge, who is the Health Ministry official in charge of fighting the outbreak."This is a big investment and a long-term one. In the meantime, our teams have been reinforced on the ground, launched health awareness campaigns and are distributing water and chlorinated disinfectants for water," Mundunge said.
Unfair distributions
Albertine Mwambuyu, a 42-year-old trader who comes from neighbouring Kasai Oriental province, complained that these distributions are unfair in the Kenya neighbourhood, where some residents appear to benefit from "connections" with local authorities."Me, I don't know anyone. So where's a distribution, I never get anything,"Mwambuyu said, adding that she regretted that no records were kept of who got supplied.Kenya's residents said they have pleaded for a renovation of their water supply for years.
As in the days of Noah....

UN troops 'trapped' in Eritrea

The United Nations has condemned Eritrea, accusing it of preventing hundreds of peacekeepers from crossing from Eritrea into Ethiopia. The UN ordered its regional force to withdraw to Ethiopia after the Eritrean government cut off its fuel supplies.But the UN says only six vehicles have been allowed to leave, some troops have been threatened at gunpoint and now their rations have been stopped.Eritrea denied blocking their departure saying its supplies had simply run out.In an emergency session on Friday, the 15-member UN Security Council expressed "deep concern about the impediments and logistical constraints" faced by the force.Jean-Marie Guehenno, head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters: "It's a very serious situation.We're running out of fuel, we're running out of food."
Losing patience
The UN peacekeepers were sent eight years ago to monitor a border security zone after the war which killed tens of thousands of people between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the late 1990s.The Eritreans are angry about Ethiopia's failure to hand over the disputed town of Badme - which a boundary commission set up after the war awarded to Eritrea - and want the international community to put pressure on Ethiopia to withdraw.Having lost patience with the UN, Eritrea cut off fuel supplies to the UN's 1,400 troops and 200 military observers.The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Ethiopia says Eritrea may be hoping the UN force will abandon some vehicles and communication equipment.But the Eritrean ambassador to the UN, Araya Desta, told the BBC his country simply did not have any more supplies to spare.He added that the Security Council's reaction had been "outrageous"."To victimise the victim is ridiculous and shameful for the council," Mr Desta said.The government in Addis Ababa said it would co-operate in letting the troops relocate to northern Ethiopia.

As in the days of Noah....

American Defense Contractors Visit New Delhi in Hopes of Snagging Contracts

The biggest defense fair in South Asia began on Saturday with arms makers from 30 countries displaying their wares.They are hoping supply the world's fourth largest military.India is expected to spend tens of billions of dollars in the next several years on fighter jets, helicopters, submarines, artillery and related state-of-the-art technology, purchased abroad.All of the major American military contractors are here in New Delhi for the four-day Defense Expo 2008.Their timing is fortuitous as India weans itself from its traditional weapons supplier,Russia. The U.S. delegation is being led by former Defense Secretary William Cohen.He downplays concerns that an Indian military with the capability to support New Delhi's strategic and diplomatic objectives will alarm Pakistan and China, two nuclear-armed countries with which India has previously clashed on the battlefield."Perhaps it'll persuade China that India is a strong country, a great country and one that is capable of its own defense," he said."That promotes peace, that promotes stability, rather than the other way around."China and Pakistan are not present at the exposition.Some American arms manufacturers are looking to establish a permanent presence here. They are setting up offices in India and seeking partnerships with Indian companies that have entered the field since 1991 when India first allowed the private sector to supply components to the armed forces.Among those meeting with prospective partners during the defense exhibition, is retired U.S. navy admiral Walter Doran, now president of Raytheon Asia. "All of us are looking for strategic partners at various levels as we come into India, and we're looking for those businesses that can provide quality, that have the manufacturing capability but also that have the ethical standards that we can work with," he said.Lockheed Martin has announced it is establishing an Indian subsidiary,headed by Douglas Hartwick, former U.S. ambassador to Laos.The company recently was awarded a $1 billion contract by India to supply six (C-130J) military transport planes.Lockheed and another U.S. airplane manufacturer, Boeing, are in the competition, along with European and Russian companies, to supply India with more than 100 new fighter jets. The $10 billion tender is expected to be issued next month.

As in the days of Noah....

Hizbullah Blames Hamas for Breach That Led To Mughniyeh Killing

Hizbullah blames Syrian-based Hamas leaders for causing a security breach that allowed Western elements to kill arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. So reported a Lebanese source close to Hizbullah to a Jordanian media outlet.It was also reported that Mughniyeh's purpose in being in Damascus was to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Mughniyeh, one of Hizbullah's top terrorists, was assassinated in a car-bombing in Damascus late Tuesday night, causing shock at the breach of the intense precautions he took to preserve his safety.The Hizbullah source said that Mughniyeh's car was blown up shortly after he visited a Hamas military base in Damascus. The source further noted that an American itelligence officer of the CIA in Damascus was connected with the killing.The killing of Mughniyeh has thus branched out, causing not only accusations against Israel and the US, but inter-Arab tensions and finger-pointing as well.Hizbullah ThreatensHizbullah leader arch-terrorist Hassan Nasrallah, still in hiding for fear of an Israeli liquidation attempt, says that Hizbullah will retaliate for Mughniyeh's death - and not necessarily inside Israel. As a result, Israel's Anti-Terrorism Task Force released a warning to Israelis traveling abroad to keep away from large concentrations of other Israelis and beware of kidnapping attempts.This applies especially to businessmen who deal with Arab nations.Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well, has ordered the IDF to raise its level of alert for possible terrorist attempts against themselves or against citizens.Meanwhile, Mughniyeh's mother said in Lebanon that she regrets not having other sons follow in the arch-terrorist's footsteps.
by Hillel Fendel

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JIHAD WATCH:Muslims destroy YMCA,Christian books:'We don't need any of these missionary institutions'

In the latest attack on Christians in Gaza, 16 Palestinians forced their way into the YMCA library, stole everything but Christian books and then burned down the building.According to Palestinian terrorist sources in Gaza, the attack was carried out by Hamas and its ally, the Popular Resistance Committees. Israeli security sources said Hamas knows exactly who was behind the attack.Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Jihadia Salafiya, an Islamic outreach movement that recently announced the opening of a "military wing" to enforce Muslim law in Gaza, told WND the YMCA had Muslim children in its nursery program."Gaza is Muslim, more than 99 percent are Muslim," he said. "We don't need any of these missionary institutions. They have only one goal-to convert our sons and daughter to Christianity."Abu Saqer said that while he feels some sympathy for parents who can no longer send their children to the program, "Let them send their children only to sharia Islamic nurseries where they will teach the principles of the Quran."Sources say that in previous attacks against Christians in Gaza, gunmen have worn masks, but in this instance, just four of the 16 shielded their identities, indicating an increased boldness.Israel Radio said the fire, which destroyed thousands of books, was started with an explosive device.A second explosive device laid near a computer in the library failed to detonate. Two security guards were taken by the intruders and later released in the northern Gaza Strip, Israel Radio said.
Imposing 'Islamic rule'
Hamas in June seized complete control of the Gaza Strip from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction amid widespread fears it would impose hard-line Islamic rule in the territory and that life for Christians might deteriorate.The Christian population in Gaza and the West Bank has continued to dwindle, down from an estimated 15 percent 50 years ago to about 1.5 percent today. An estimated 3,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.Among the slew of recent alleged anti-Christian attacks in Gaza was the murder in October of a Christian bookstore owner whose beaten, bullet-ridden body was found after his shop had been repeatedly targeted by Islamists.Abu Saqer's Jihadia Salafiya, the army of Islam, is suspected of carrying out anti-Christian attacks in Gaza, including firebombing the bookstore in April and lobbing of grenades at a church in September.Abu Saqer told WND in an interview last year that all Christians in Gaza who engage in missionary activity will be "dealt with harshly.Jihadia Salafiya also is suspected of firebombing Internet cafes and a United Nations school in Gaza that allowed boys and girls to participate together in a sporting event. One person was killed in the attack.Now that Hamas is in power, "the situation has changed 180 degrees in Gaza," said Abu Saqer."Jihadia Salafiya and other Islamic movements will ensure Christian schools and institutions show publicly what they are teaching to be sure they are not carrying out missionary activity," he said.Abu Saqer accused the leadership of the Gaza Christian community of "proselytizing and trying to convert Muslims with funding from American evangelicals.""This missionary activity is endangering the entire Christian community in Gaza," he said.Abu Saqer claimed there was "no need" for the thousands of Christians in Gaza to maintain a large number of institutions in the territory.He said Hamas "must work to impose an Islamic rule or it will lose the authority it has and the will of the people."As WND reported in November, Christian leaders in the Gaza Strip were intimidated into attending and expressing support for a speech in which the territory's Hamas leader urged the worldwide spread of Islam.

As in the days of Noah....

President of Sierra Leone welcomes ministry

Sierra Leone-As Sierra Leone seeks outside help in its recovery from a long and vicious civil war, the new President, His Excellency Ernest Koroma,recently welcomed World Hope International to his country. The meeting highlighted the work of the ministry and how their projects dovetail with Koroma's plan for development. WHI will play an important role in continued development in Sierra Leone to meet those goals.Founder and CEO of WHI Jo Anne Lyon gave the president a brief address detailing some of the work WHI has been involved with. Some of those efforts include the more than 20,000 clients served through WHI's Microfinance program.Hope Micro boasts a 98% payback rate.The agency is also active in fighting human trafficking by helping to enact laws, educating, training, and developing service providers to bring an end to the practice. A community-development program produced many wells and has plans to drill 50-75 new wells in 2008.In addition to animal husbandry and agricultural work, the villages are also being trained in health prevention and sanitation.WHI's Hope for Children program has facilitated sponsorship for over 500 children in Sierra Leone.Not only have they been able to give hope for a future, the program's growth has required the team to build new schools and rehabilitate old ones.Teacher mentoring teams are another key part of the education aspect of WHI's ministry.President Koroma responded by outlining his goals for the next 36 months.WHI will play an important role in continued development in Sierra Leone to meet those goals.Through their various projects, transformation takes place as the power of Jesus works in and through the local faith community.Pray that the doors would be open to the hope of Christ as expressed through the team members.Pray, too, for enough funding to sustain the programs as the country recovers from civil war.

As in the days of Noah....

Colorado Town Fears Avalanche of Water

DENVER-More than 1 billion gallons of contaminated water-enough to fill 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools-is trapped in a tunnel in the mountains above the historic town of Leadville and threatening to blow.Lake County Commissioners have declared a local state of emergency for fear that this winter's above-average snowpack will melt and cause a catastrophic tidal wave. The water is backed up in abandoned mine shafts and a 2.1-mile drainage tunnel that is partially collapsed, creating the pooling of water contaminated with heavy metals.County officials have been nervously monitoring the rising water pressure inside the mine shafts for about two years. An explosion could inundate Leadville and contaminate the Arkansas River."It could come out, we just don't know where," county Commissioner Carl Schaefer said. "We're seeing changes and we're very concerned. We're not crying `Chicken Little' here."State and federal officials agreed Thursday to conduct a risk assessment before taking any action. Critics said something should be done immediately to ease the pressure.Peter Soeth, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, which acquired the drainage tunnel in 1959, said there was no immediate threat to Leadville's 2,700 residents.Officials point out that a speaker system to broadcast evacuation notices has already been installed near a mobile home park that has 300 residents near the tunnel's portal.The tunnel normally drains water that seeps into some of the hundreds of abandoned mine shafts and other mine workings in the mountains east and south of Leadville and deposits it into the East Fork of the Arkansas River about a mile north of town.The Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns about the situation in letters sent to the Bureau of Reclamation, which has been assessing the concerns."Due to the unknown condition of the tunnel blockage and the large volume of water behind the blockages, we are concerned that an uncontrolled, potentially-catastrophic release of water to the Arkansas River from (the tunnel) is likely at some point," said one EPA letter sent in November.Stan Christensen, an EPA expert on the tunnel, said the likelihood that something catastrophic can happen increases the longer nothing is done.A water treatment plant at the foot of the tunnel removes toxins and heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium and manganese before discharging the water into the Arkansas River. The mobile home park is near the treatment plant.New springs and seepages have appeared at California Gulch, which sits below the plant. Tests have shown high levels of heavy metals typically found in mine discharge, leading officials to conclude the trapped water is finding ways out."No one can tell us what it means," said Jeffrey Foley, Lake County's emergency management director. "It's finding fault lines and it's pouring mine-contaminated water into the Arkansas."The EPA's Christensen said the water table is rising regionwide and that his agency can't immediately reach the same conclusion.Leadville, which sits at 10,200 feet of elevation and some 100 miles west of Denver, rose to national prominence and attracted thousands of people after a gold rush in 1859. After the gold ran out, silver became the dominant mining industry.Later, a mine that sits beneath 13,000-foot mountain peaks began shipping molybdenum ore in 1915. Miners have recovered 946,000 tons of molybdenum, used to harden steel, worth about $4 billion. The Climax mine closed in 1995.

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POLICE STATE WATCH:Mandatory 'integration' of children pursued

A government bureaucrat in Germany says that [[[nation demands all children attend government-approved schools because they all must be "integrated" into society the same way.
"This is one of the great developments of the 19th century towards emancipation and democracy," a recently dated letter to a homeschool advocate said.WND has reported a number of times on Germany's aggressive enforcement of its Hitler-era ban on homeschooling, and even when parents decided they would flee to Iran to seek a less-oppressive educational environment for their child.One German student, Melissa Busekros, at one point simply was taken into custody by members of a team of police officers and confined to a mental institution for her crime of being homeschooled. ]]]{{{{Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government "has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole."Drautz said homeschool students' test results may be as good as for those in school, but "school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens."}}}}(1)Now comes the newest response to an inquiry from a homeschooling advocacy organization, Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, whose officials had asked the government to reconsider the ban on homeschooling.An English translation of the response, which was in German, was provided to WND, and in it, the government stated plainly its right to educate children trumps any parental or religious rights others can suggest."State Secretary Siegfried Schneider and State Undersecretary Bernd Siebler have asked the responsible legal department to respond to your e-mail of Jan. 2nd, 2008. Our response to your concerns is as follows:," the letter said. "Mandatory school attendance in Bavaria is regulated by Articles 35ff of the Bavarian Law for Education. Those meeting the age requirements and being residents of Bavaria are subject to mandatory school attendance according to Art. 35, part 1 BayEUG. To comply with the mandatory school attendance law it is imperative that a public or private school is attended. Homeschooling is only allowed when strict conditions (involving an illness) are met. Accordingly homeschooling is only possible for the long term sick children or students with health conditions, which prevent them from attending school," the letter, identified as having come from an education "ministry," said."Concerning the question of mandatory school attendance, in 2002 the Bavarian Constitutional (Supreme) Court decided on the basis of the Bavarian Constitution, and in 2003 the German Federal Supreme Court decided on the basis of the German Constitution that homeschooling does not meet the constitutional requirement of mandatory school attendance. These court decisions were again confirmed by the Federal Supreme Court on 31 May 2006. The state's responsibility to educate is the basis for mandatory school attendance and – according to the courts – takes precedence over parent's rights and freedom of religion," the letter said.The letter noted the Federal Supreme Court decision even "upheld the partial withdrawal of custody rights and the right to determine where children will stay" if a parent refuses to order their children into public schools because such failure "constitutes an abuse of parental custody rights, which adversely affects the well-being of a child and which require actions by the family courts…"Educators have been told to notify authorities if any such cases develop so they can be prosecuted, the letter said."The general mandatory school attendance law is considered an indispensable condition to warrant a free and democratic system and at the same time an indispensable prerequisite to safeguard the economic and social welfare of society. The purpose of mandatory school attendance is not only to convey knowledge, but particularly also to teach social competence to children," the education officials said. "Besides supporting social competence, the school also fulfills the function of looking out for the well-being of a child during class.""The Bavarian Constitution wants to integrate all children the same and comprehensively into society by way of mandatory school attendance. This is one of the great developments of the 19th century towards emancipation and democracy," the letter said.The homeschool advocates called it "not a day of good news.""There is an attitude of refusal and ignorance towards the concerns of homeschooling families," a Germany organization spokesman said in an e-mail to a U.S. organization, the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has worked actively in trying to help the homeschoolers of Germany."It looks not good here in Germany," the spokesman said.WND has reported that even Americans who are in Germany for various assignments, including that of a special ministry, have been targeted with legal action for homeschooling."German officials appear to be more determined than ever to rid their country of influences that may contribute to the rise of what they call 'Parallelgesellschaften,' parallel societies," the HSLDA said in a statement earlier. "Never mind that Germany has hundreds of thousands of genuinely truant youth hanging around street corners; school officials have determined that parents diligently educating their children at home are a greater danger to German society.""The German education system is very hostile to devout Christian faith," said Joel Thornton, of the International Human Rights Group. "Their health education in public middle schools is very explicit regarding human reproduction. It is often nothing short of pornographic, even in the lower grades. Their science curriculum is very heavily weighted in its discussions of evolution. Also, there is a lot of teaching on occult practices."

PS:(1)that statement is a bunch of garbage....They always tell everywhere the same about homeschooled children...about "socializing and meet with other peoples of different beliefs,blah,blah,blah....That statement is so ridiculous,because chidren that are homeschooled are BETTER ADJUSTED overall in my experience than any other kid out there that I know.
They not only score much higher when it comes to school,but most of them also pursue other interests as music,art,sports,etc,etc.and they seem to always do it with excellence.They are better prepared and adjusted for the world out there than what these "homeschooling haters"want to believe and acknowledge.
The problem is the socialist idea of "integration trash' that they have.These atheists,can't stand that parents that are christian,-especially- decide over the schooling and academinc future of their children adn actually take a real active part in it,deciding to pull the kids from public schooling that has proven here in the US at less-to be far from good,cause the kids get not only the bad schooling,they also get all the other garbage with it,that christian(and other non religious parents)have the right to choose NOT to expose their children to.
I have friends who homeschool their children-christian and non christian alike- and all of these kids are far more better adjusted to reality than kids that go to public schools.Even their manners are better...Most of them that I deal with is thru music...
This is a growing concern in Germany for christian families that homeschool children...
Let's pray for these families,whose rights to raise their children the way they want seems to be in an increase danger as days go by and times get more evil!!!

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Bush pushes for deal to end Kenya crisis

DAR ES SALAAM-President George W. Bush on Saturday threw his weight behind a power-sharing deal to end a bloody political crisis in Kenya as he flew into neighboring Tanzania on an African tour.Bush arrived from Benin to begin the second and longest leg of a five-nation journey that will also take him to Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia.He will not visit Kenya, which is torn by the worst crisis in its history following a disputed December election, but is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice there on Monday to back mediation by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.Bush was greeted by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who has been lauded by U.S. officials for democratic and economic progress in the east African country, which will be the centerpiece of the U.S. leader's tour of the continent.During his brief stop in Benin, Bush stepped up the pressure on Kenyan government and opposition leaders to end a post-election crisis that has killed around 1,000 people and left 300,000 homeless.Rice's mission was "aimed at having a clear message that there be no violence and that there ought to be a power-sharing agreement," Bush told reporters after holding talks with Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi.U.S. officials said the United States was ready to sanction any individuals who sought to obstruct Kenyan peace moves.Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, was welcomed by a marching band of soldiers in red tunics and traditional dancers and drummers wearing shirts and skirts decorated with his image. He smiled broadly and bobbed his head to the drumming.
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Russia says U.S. may use satellite blast as test

MOSCOW-Russia's Defence Ministry said on Saturday a U.S. plan to shoot down an ailing spy satellite could be used as a cover to test a new space weapon.The ministry said there was insufficient proof that Washington's decision to fire a missile at the disabled satellite was to prevent a potentially deadly leak of toxic gas as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere."In our opinion, the decision to destroy the U.S. satellite is not as harmless as it is being presented. Especially as the United States has been avoiding talks on restricting a space arms race for quite a long time," the ministry's information department said in a statement."Under cover of discussions about the danger posed by the satellite,preparation is going ahead for tests of an anti-satellite weapon. Such tests mean in essence the creation of a new strategic weapon."U.S. officials said on Thursday that President George W. Bush had decided to have the Navy shoot the 5,000-pound (2,270 kg) satellite with a modified tactical missile after security advisers suggested its re-entry could lead to a loss of life.Some space and security experts have said they did not believe Washington's justification for the plans and argued the Pentagon was more likely testing its ability to target other states' satellites.This suggestion is rejected by U.S. officials.It will be the first time the United States has conducted an anti-satellite operation since the 1980s. Russia also has not conducted anti-satellite activities in 20 years.

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PESTILENCE WATCH:Whole new flu vaccine needed next year: WHO

WASHINGTON-The three most common influenza viruses circulating globally have changed significantly and next year's flu vaccines should be updated, the World Health Organization recommended.A flu epidemic is well under way in the United States, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had clear indications that the viruses have mutated, making the current vaccine less effective.WHO said similar reports were coming in globally and it appears next year's vaccine will have to be completely new."Forty-four states reported widespread influenza activity," the CDC said in its weekly flu report on Friday. Ten American children have died of flu this season, the CDC said.About one third of people tested for flu because of their symptoms actually had influenza, the CDC said. Other viruses cause similar symptoms to flu, marked by a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches and weakness.Influenza viruses mutate constantly. Because of this, experts meet throughout the year to monitor the flu seasons and consider how to formulate the vaccine.Flu vaccines contain the three most common circulating strains, usually two "A" strains and one "B" strain."As in previous years, national control authorities should approve the specific vaccine viruses used in each country," the WHO said.Even if the flu vaccine is not a perfect match, it can protect people against the most serious effects of the infection. In an average year flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people globally.
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JIHAD WATCH:Somali leader unhurt in mortar attack on residence

MOGADISHU-Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf escaped unhurt from a mortar attack by Islamist insurgents on his official residence in Mogadishu, his spokesman said.The interim government and its Ethiopian allies are battling gunmen loyal to an Islamist movement that ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia for six months in 2006 before being ousted by the allied forces. "The president was at the palace when several mortars landed near the house. The president is safe," said spokesman Hussein Mohamud Hubsired."Al-Shabab, which is linked to al Qaeda, was responsible for this attack targeting the president," he told Reuters.Al-Shabab, which opposes the presence of foreign troops on Somali soil, has been waging an Iraq-style insurgency.The attack took place hours after Yusuf arrived in the coastal capital from a trip abroad for medical treatment.The 73-year-old, who had a liver transplant nearly 14 years ago, left Somalia on January 4, a month after a chest illness sparked a health scare.Spokesman Hubsired said Yusuf's main priority was to "hasten the government's works" and to continue reconciliation efforts to establish lasting peace.
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QUAKEWATCH:Magnitude 6.0 quake hits Bolivia-Chile border

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Iran plays down Paris meeting it attended with USA

TEHRAN-Iran played down on Saturday the significance of an international anti-money laundering meeting in Paris that both the Islamic Republic and its old foe the United States attended.U.S. officials said on Friday that a senior U.S. Treasury official met Iranian representatives in Paris on January 24 as part of a gathering to discuss "terror financing", in a departure from Washington's usual policy.
Senior Treasury Department official Daniel Glaser was given permission by the Bush administration to attend the meeting, as required by U.S. policy because contacts with Iran are usually forbidden, said a senior U.S. official in Washington.Iranian Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari(picture left) told Reuters Iranian officials had been invited to the meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 34-nation group set up to fight money laundering and terrorist financing."They invited Iranian officials to see what is being done in Iran in regards to this issue (money laundering)...There was an exchange of views about this issue," he told reporters on the sidelines of an Islamic banking conference in Tehran.Two Iranian officials attended the gathering, one from the central bank and one from his ministry, Danesh-Jafari said.It had "not been a special meeting ... the meeting was not at a senior level," he added."There is supposed to be another seminar in the next one or two months and we will probably take part in that," Danesh-Jafari said. Iran is not a member of the FATF.
He did not mention the presence of U.S. officials.
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U.S. to shoot down satellite

U.S. to blast satellite after space shuttle leaves

WASHINGTON-The United States will have the chance to shoot down a disabled U.S. spy satellite from next Wednesday, after the space shuttle Atlantis ends its current mission, a U.S. general said on Friday."The window will open when the shuttle is on the ground," said Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations for the Pentagon's Joint Staff."All those who have a vested interest in this will then apply their best judgment as to when the best opportunity is to intercept the satellite," he told reporters.The Pentagon said on Thursday the Navy would try to shoot down the satellite before it enters the atmosphere, using a modified tactical missile from a ship in the Pacific, to avert a potentially deadly leak of toxic gas from its fuel tank.Each missile costs about $10 million but the U.S. government did not yet have an estimate of the cost of the shootdown operation, Ham said.The space shuttle is scheduled to land on Wednesday at 9:06 a.m EST at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.Ham said the opportunity to shoot down the satellite would last until early March.Some space experts have criticized the decision to shoot down the satellite, saying the risk of it causing any damage on the ground was remote...
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RCC WATCH:Italian bishops condemned for urging actors to shun sex scenes

A row has erupted over “Vatican interference” after the Italian Synod of Bishops appealed to actors to exercise their consciences and refuse to take part in “vulgar and destructive” erotic scenes in films.The appeal follows public condemnation by the bishops of an explicit sex scene in Caos Calmo, starring the Italian actor and director Nanni Moretti, which has just been released. In the film, directed by Antonello Grimaldi, Moretti plays a television executive who experiences a mid-life crisis after the death of his wife in the course of which he has a torrid affair with a woman he saves from drowning. Father Nicolò Anselmi, head of the youth section of the Italian Bishops Conference, said that Moretti was normally noted for his “idealistic and sensitive” films. But the “gratuitous” sex scene with Isabella Ferrari, his co-star, would have an undesirable effect on the “impressionable young” since it was shown without any context involving love or tenderness.Franco Zeffirelli, the film and opera director, said: “The Church is full of pedants who have lost all sense of proportion.” It was a “fourth-rate” film that did not merit the publicity generated by the bishops' intervention.The row comes amid charges that the Centre Right, led by Silvio Berlusconi, is playing the Catholic card by making abortion an issue in the run-up to the general election in April. Mr Berlusconi has asked the United Nations to pass a moratorium on abortion and the death penalty.He said that there was a human “right to life from conception until natural death”.He added, however, that the abortion issue should be left to the individual conscience of citizens, and disassociated himself from Giuliano Ferrara, his former spokesman and editor of the newspaper Il Foglio, who has announced that he will stand for parliament on an exclusively anti-abortion platform.

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Oil prices approach 100 dollars per barrel

World oil prices advanced on Friday towards 100 dollars per barrel, briefly topping 96 dollars, as geopolitical jitters stemming from Nigeria and Venezuela stoked global supply concerns, traders said.Those market fears overshadowed a gloomy warning from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who predicted "a period of sluggish growth" ahead for the energy-hungry US economy.New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, won 43 cents to 95.89 dollars a barrel, after rising as high as 96.05 dollars-which was last seen on January 9.Brent North Sea crude for March delivery gained 19 cents to 95.35 dollars."Oil prices have continued their upwards march," said Barclays Capital analyst Kevin Norrish."Frequent supply disruptions ... and a broader sense of supply-insecurity brought about by tense relationships between producers and consumers are factors explaining the remarkable strength in oil prices," he added.Crude futures began surging at the start of the week after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to halt oil deliveries to the United States.The market bounced even higher after Venezuela's state petroleum company PDVSA suspended oil supplies to ExxonMobil in retaliation for the US energy giant's effort to freeze billions of dollars in global PDVSA assets.The move came after ExxonMobil, the world's biggest energy company, secured international court orders freezing up to 12 billion dollars in PDVSA assets."The ongoing saga between Venezuela and Exxon continued to support oil prices" on Friday, said Sucden analyst Nimit Khamar."This situation has increased the geopolitical risk premium and reminded the market that there are plenty of ongoing factors that could trigger a sharp spike higher."In Nigeria, meanwhile, ongoing unrest has rekindled market worries over production from Africa's largest crude oil producer.Instability and violence resulted in Nigeria's oil output being slashed by a quarter in 2007.Despite this week's bounce higher for prices, the International Energy Agency has forecast that the world oil market could be set for a lengthy slowdown after striking a record high 100.09 dollars at the start of January.And in Vienna on Friday, the OPEC oil cartel lowered its projections for growth of oil demand this year in response to a slowdown in world economic momentum.The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its February report said demand would likely grow by 1.43 percent this year rather than its previously estimated 1.52 percent.
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SIGN of the TIMES:Gunman's friendly exterior masked past

DEKALB, Ill.-Steven Kazmierczak checked into a hotel near Northern Illinois University three days before his deadly shooting spree at the campus, paying cash and signing in under only his first name, the hotel manager said Saturday.
Kazmierczak was last seen at the Travelodge on Tuesday, hotel manager Jay Patel said.Cigarette butts, empty energy drink and cold medicine containers littered the room Friday.Authorities found a duffel bag, with the zippers glued shut, that Kazmierczak had left in the room, DeKalb police Lt. Gary Spangler said.A bomb squad safely opened the bag Friday, he said.The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that investigators found ammunition inside the bag, citing law enforcement sources.Spangler would not comment on what was in the bag.Kazmierczak also left a laptop computer, which was seized by investigators, Patel told The AP."It's scary," said Patel, adding that he called police when he found the laptop and clothes.The discoveries added to the puzzles surrounding Kazmierczak, a 27-year-old graduate student some called quiet, dependable and fun-loving. He returned to his alma mater on Valentine's Day and killed five people before turning a gun on himself.A former employee at a Chicago psychiatric treatment center said Kazmierczak's parents placed him there after high school. She said he used to cut himself, and had resisted taking his medications.
He had a short-lived stint as a prison guard that ended abruptly when he didn't show up for work. He also was in the Army for about six months in 2001-02, but he told a friend he'd gotten a psychological discharge.Exactly what set Kazmierczak off-and why he picked his former university and that particular lecture hall-remained a mystery.On Thursday, Kazmierczak, armed with three handguns and a pump-action shotgun, stepped from behind a screen on the lecture hall's stage and opened fire on a geology class.He killed five students before committing suicide.University Police Chief Donald Grady said Friday that Kazmierczak had become erratic in the past two weeks after he stopped taking his medication.Kazmierczak spent more than a year at the Thresholds-Mary Hill House in the late 1990s, former house manager Louise Gbadamashi told The AP. His parents placed him there after high school because he had become unruly, she said.Gbadamashi said she couldn't remember any instances of him being violent."He never wanted to identify with being mentally ill," she said. "That was part of the problem."
The attack was baffling to many who knew him."Steve was the most gentle, quiet guy in the world. ... He had a passion for helping people," said Jim Thomas, an emeritus professor of sociology and criminology at Northern Illinois who taught Kazmierczak, promoted him to a teacher's aide and became his friend.Kazmierczak once told Thomas about getting a discharge from the Army."It was no major deal, a kind of incompatibility discharge-for a state of mind, not for any behavior," Thomas said. "He was concerned that that on his record might be a stigma."
Kazmierczak enlisted in September 2001, but was discharged in February 2002 for an unspecified reason, Army spokesman Paul Boyce said.He worked from Sept. 24 to Oct. 9 as a corrections officer at the Rockville Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in Rockville, Ind. His tenure there ended when "he just didn't show up one day," Indiana prisons spokesman Doug Garrison said.On Friday, investigators interviewed Kazmierczak's father in Lakeland, Fla., and his former girlfriend in Champaign, the Chicago Tribune reported. Investigators provided no details about what they may have learned.Authorities were looking into whether Kazmierczak and the woman recently broke up, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the case is still under investigation.On Feb. 9, Kazmierczak walked into a Champaign gun store and picked up two guns-a Remington shotgun and a Glock 9mm handgun. He bought the two other handguns at the same shop-a Hi-Point .380 on Dec. 30 and a Sig Sauer on Aug. 6.All four guns were bought legally from a federally licensed firearms dealer, said Thomas Ahern, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At least one criminal background check was performed-Kazmierczak had no criminal record.Kazmierczak had a State Police-issued FOID, or firearms owners identification card, which is required in Illinois to own a gun, authorities said. Such cards are rarely issued to those with recent mental health problems.NIU President John Peters said Kazmierczak compiled "a very good academic record, no record of trouble" at the 25,000-student campus in DeKalb. He won at least two awards and served as an officer in two student groups dedicated to promoting understanding of the criminal justice system. Kazmierczak (pronounced kaz-MUR-chek) grew up in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village. He was a B student at Elk Grove High School, where school district spokeswoman Venetia Miles said he was active in band and took Japanese before graduating in 1998. He was also in the chess club.No one answered the door Saturday morning at the Urbana home of Kazmierczak's sister, Susan.But sobs could be heard through the door, where a posted statement said:"We are both shocked and saddened. In addition to the loss of innocent lives, Steven was a member of our family. We are grieving his loss as well as the loss of life resulting from his actions."At NIU, six white crosses were placed on a snow-covered hill around the center of campus, which was closed Friday. They included the names of four victims-Daniel Parmenter, Ryanne Mace, Julianna Gehant, Catalina Garcia. The two other crosses were blank, though officials have identified Kazmierczak's final victim as Gayle Dubowski.By Friday night, dozens of candles flickered in packed snow at makeshift memorials around campus as hundreds of students, mostly wearing the school colors of red and black, packed a memorial service."It's kind of overwhelming. It feels strong, it feels like we're all in this together," said Carlee Siggeman, 18, a freshman from Genoa who attended the vigil with friends.

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LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:14 killed by Maoist rebels in India

BHUBANESWAR, India=Hundreds of Maoist militants stormed six police compounds in eastern India in carefully coordinated attacks Friday night, killing 13 police personnel and one civilian, a top police official said.Eleven more policemen were injured.The attacks-on four police stations, one training academy and an armory-were scattered across the Nayagarh district, about 60 miles from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa state, said Gopal Chandra Nanda, director general of the state police.The area is about 1,100 miles southeast of capital New Delhi.Nanda said about 400 of the militants, known as Naxalites, were involved in the attacks, and that security forces were combing the area in search of them.Nanda said the attackers seized about 1,000 stolen pistols. Press Trust of India news agency reported that the rebels fled with the arms in a bus that they had hijacked earlier, but Nanda said he was unable to confirm the report.[[[[The rebels, who say they are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states, demanding land and jobs for agricultural laborers and the poor.They are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in West Bengal state where the movement was born in 1967.Over the past few years, about 2,000 people-police, militants and civilians caught in the middle-have been killed in Naxalite violence. In March last year 55 policemen and government-backed militiamen were killed when hundreds of rebels attacked an isolated police station in eastern Chhattisgarh state with gunfire, hand grenades and gasoline bombs, in one of the bloodiest attacks of the decades-long insurgency.]]]]

ISLAMIC CRAZE WATCH: Danish youths riot for sixth night

COPENHAGEN-Gangs of rioters set fire to cars and garbage trucks in northern Copenhagen on Friday, the sixth night of rioting and vandalism that has spread from the capital to other Danish cities, police said on Saturday.Five youths were arrested in the capital on Friday after 28 cars and 35 garbage trucks were burned, Copenhagen police duty officer Jakob Kristensen told Reuters.Danish media said arrests in other towns brought to 29 the number of people police were holding.Scores of cars and several schools have been vandalized or burned in the past week.Police could give no reason, but said that unusually mild weather and the closure of schools for a winter break might have contributed.
Police arrested two Tunisians and a Dane of Moroccan descent on Tuesday for planning to kill a cartoonist who drew one of the cartoons printed in a Danish newspaper two years ago that roused a storm of protest in Muslim countries.Fifteen Danish newspapers reprinted his drawing on Wednesday in protest against the alleged murder plot.Several hundred Muslims gathered in central Copenhagen on Friday to protest against publication of the cartoon. Most Muslims consider depictions of the founder of Islam offensive.Social workers said the arrests, the reprinting of the cartoon and protests against its appearance might have fuelled the riots. Publication of the cartoons two years ago led to protests and rioting in Muslim countries in which at least 50 people were killed and three Danish embassies attacked.In October police arrested more than 400 people in Copenhagen after demonstrators evicted from a youth centre earlier in the year tried to occupy a new building.

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Ex-Nazi guard jailed in Italy after extradition

ROME-[[[A former Nazi guard extradited from Canada arrived in Italy on Saturday to serve a life sentence for war crimes committed there during World War Two.]]]Michael Seifert, who had lived in Canada since 1951, landed at Rome's Ciampino airport before dawn on Saturday.Italian TV footage showed the 83-year-old, wearing a baseball cap and walking slowly with the help of a cane as local police escorted him out of the airport.[[[[[[An Italian military tribunal convicted Seifert in absentia in 2000 for torturing and murdering at least 18 people while serving as a guard at a prison camp in the northern city of Bolzano between December 1944 and April 1945.A copy of the sentence, posted on the Web site of Italy's Defense Ministry, said Seifert-known at the camp as "Misha"-had tortured his victims with fire, broken bottles, clubs and ice-cold water.It said Seifert in one instance raped a pregnant woman detained in an isolation cell before killing her.In a separate episode, he left a 15-year-old Jewish prisoner to die of hunger.Seifert has acknowledged being a guard at the prison, which held Jews and political prisoners awaiting transfer to German concentration camps, but denied he had killed anyone.]]]]]]{{{Dubbed by Italian media the "Executioner of Bolzano," Seifert was turned over to Italian authorities in Toronto on Friday.After arriving in Rome, he was temporarily taken to a military prison in southern Italy. The top military prosecutor in charge of the trial, Bartolomeo Costantini, said on Saturday Seifert was fit enough to go to jail but he would not oppose allowing him to serve the sentence under house arrest because of his age."He is a man who must pay for his crimes, but he will also be 84 in a few days," Costantini said, adding that he wanted to interrogate Seifert about Otto Sein, another SS guard who served at the Bolzano prison at the same time.}}}Seifert was born in 1924 in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, and began work as a guard in the Nazi SD security service after the German occupation. He was a member of the SS by the time he served at the Bolzano camp, court documents said.He moved to Canada after the war, claiming to be from Estonia, and found employment as a mill worker in Vancouver, where he raised a family and lived until he was arrested at Italy's request in 2002. Seifert fought his extradition in Canadian court,but the Supreme Court of Canada refused last month to hear his appeal.Seifert's lawyers had argued he had been convicted unfairly in Italy and that Canadian officials were biased against him in allowing the extradition.The Canadian Jewish Congress said on Friday the extradition showed Canada was not a safe hiding place for people wanted for war crimes.The group estimates 1,000 to 3,000 people with Nazi pasts were able to get into Canada illegally between 1947 and 1956.

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EU WATCH:EU nations back police mission to Kosovo

BRUSSELS, Belgium-The European Union gave the final approval Saturday for the deployment of a 1,800-member policing and administration mission in Kosovo.The decision comes just before the province's ethnic Albanian leadership is expected to declare independence from Serbia, possibly on Sunday.No EU nations objected to the mission, which will take four months to put in place, and is designed to help build a police, justice and customs system for Kosovo free of political interference.The force will include 700 police officers for patrols and who are trained in crowd and riot control. Judges, prosecutors and other legal experts would be sent to offer training and for administrative work.Although Kosovo is technically part of Serbia, the impoverished province of two million people has been administered by the United Nations since a brief war in 1999. The EU force will replace the U.N. mission now in Kosovo.Officials said earlier this week that the EU force could grow to more than 2,000 people besides 1,000 other non-EU experts from the United States and other countries.Serbia and Russia are against the EU mission, arguing it has no legal authority from the United Nations to deploy. The two also oppose independence for Kosovo, saying international borders can only be changed with the agreement of all parties involved.Cyprus lifted its threat to block the mission last week but along with other EU nations like Spain, Romania, Greece, remains opposed to recognizing the independence of Kosovo.EU Foreign ministers will hold talks on Monday to try to forge a common stance on Kosovo. Bigger states like Britain, France and Germany are expected to move quickly alongside the United States to recognize Pristina's sovereignty.In a legal text published Saturday, the EU said the mission, EU-LEX, will "assist the Kosovo institutions, judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies in their progress toward sustainability and accountability."It added that the EU's administrative tasks would help in "further developing and strengthening an independent multiethnic justice system and multiethnic police and customs service ... free from political interference."

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Suicide attack kills 37 as Pakistan vote campaign ends

PARACHINAR, Pakistan-A suicide car bomber struck a rally by slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto's party Saturday, killing 37 people and increasing security fears with just two days until elections.The blast in the northwestern tribal town of Parachinar bordering Afghanistan came on the final day of campaigning for Monday's polls and was the bloodiest in a series of attacks since Bhutto's murder in December.Security concerns over the elections have combined with allegations of widespread rigging to suck the life out of electioneering, widely seen as decisive for the future of key US ally President Pervez Musharraf."It was a suicide attack, there were people outside the candidate's house and they were waiting for food when this man attacked," interior minister Hamid Nawaz told AFP."It is a very unfortunate incident. Maximum security measures are in place for the 17th and 18th (of February) and the campaign is going to end tonight,"he added.Thirty-seven people were killed and 93 wounded in the blast, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said, adding:"It was a vehicle-borne suicide attack."Security officials earlier told AFP that the suicide bomber attacked a Pakistan People's Party meeting outside the office of local candidate Riaz Shah. Shah's family said he was safe."A man with long hair drove a car into the crowd and blew himself up.There were bodies and blood everywhere,"witness Laiq Hussain told AFP.Parachinar is just across the border from Tora Bora, an Afghan mountain range where US-led forces were believed to have cornered Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in late 2001 before he managed to escape.In a separate incident in the nearby Bajaur tribal area militants blew up a polling station with a timebomb, police said.Police in the southern city of Hyderabad meanwhile said they had arrested a suspected militant equipped with a suicide jacket and explosives who was planning an attack during the polls.And in the southwestern city of Quetta police Saturday fired tear gas and used batons to disperse a rally by the All Parties Democratic Movement, a coalition of opposition parties boycotting the elections, police said.Saturday's attack on the PPP came as politicians launched a final push for votes before the midnight (1900 GMT) deadline after which all rallies are banned until after the landmark polls.Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, met former premier Nawaz Sharif in Lahore for new talks on possible power-sharing after the vote if the opposition wins a majority, party officials said.Opposition groups have accused Musharraf's administration of rigging the polls to head off possible impeachment if a hostile parliament is voted in.Party officials said police arrested more than 30 political activists, including 24 PPP workers, in a crackdown in North West Frontier Province on Saturday.But Musharraf was quoted as saying by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan that he was "positive the polls would be fair"."Inshallah (God willing) we will have a stable, democratically elected government ... we will ensure a successful fight against terrorism and extremism and we will ensure sustaining the economic growth of Pakistan."Some 81,000 army and paramilitary soldiers have fanned out across the country to maintain peace and security during the election, chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said.Qaiser Tareen, commander of the paramilitary Punjab Rangers, said troops have been ordered to "shoot on sight" those who try to hamper the voting or disrupt peace on election day.In Washington, a senior US senator in a Congressional team travelling to monitor the polls said late Friday that the United States should "cut off aid to Pakistan, military aid" if the vote is not fair.Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, who is head of the influential Senate foreign relations committee, also forecast riots throughout Pakistan if the elections were found to be "patently rigged."A fresh row erupted over the fairness of the polls on Friday after Human Rights Watch said it had obtained a recording of Pakistan's attorney-general predicting the vote will be "massively rigged."But Malik Qayyum, a close ally of Musharraf, denied making the comment.

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