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

Saturday, March 1, 2008

U.N. chief condemns Israel after bloody day in Gaza

GAZA-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using "excessive" force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.Addressing an emergency session of the Security Council in New York after four days of fighting in which 96 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians, Ban also called on Gaza's Islamist militants to stop firing rockets.The 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into the blockaded, 45 km (30-mile) sliver of coast, enjoyed a relative respite early on Sunday from Israeli air strikes and raids. Two Israeli soldiers died in a ground assault on Saturday. An Israeli civilian was killed by a rocket in a border town on Wednesday."While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children ... I call on Israel to cease such attacks," said Ban."I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism," he said.But with public anger boiling in Israel, there was no sign the government was ready to call off an offensive that took troops deeper into Gaza on Saturday and in larger numbers than at any time since Israel ended a 38-year occupation in 2005.The Islamist Hamas movement, which seized control of Gaza last June by routing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's forces, vowed to maintain what it says is a self-defense strategy unless Israel agrees to end all military action.Areas from which Hamas has launched rockets that have killed three Israelis in the past year saw heavy clashes on the ground on Saturday and air strikes continued to pound buildings and homes that Israel said were used by militants. In some of these attacks, children as young as six months have been killed.
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As in the days of Noah....

Rwanda leadership pushing for progress; clean water key to development

Rwanda-Rwanda's president is taking a hard look at the progress made on his country's development roadmap over the last year.President Paul Kagame says a lot has been done since the civil war, but he wants to accelerate Rwanda's economic growth and socio-economic transformation. Unsafe drinking water claims over 14,000 lives a day and is responsible for 80% of sickness in the world.The "domino" effect of unsafe water comes when people fall ill after drinking it and are unable to work. In agricultural communities, this has a devastating impact on food security. For some children who fall ill, they miss out on their lessons and fall further behind in their education.For some children, it's enough to discourage them from finishing school, eventually perpetuating the cycle of poverty.Among changes that benefit Rwanda is bringing access to clean water. That's a primary purpose of Living Water International, says Melanie Dewveall. They dug a well in Rugando, a village of roughly 700 located about a half hour outside of Kigali, the capital city.On a recent visit back to the area, Dewveall said, "We talked to several of the women in the community and asked them how it's affecting their lives. And pretty much across the board they said, 'Our kids are not as sick as they were.' Therefore the kids are able to go to school more often."Close access has helped the village and surrounding areas begin to thrive.The well is attracting many people to the point now where a second will should be dug. Living Water's goal this year is to drill one well per kilometer in the Kigali region.But it's not just about relieving physical symptoms.For LWI, it's about:"Bringing God's love and His truth to them,I think it's demonstrated more than anything in our actions and in the gift of water that we're bringing to them.They are about to start doing a health and hygiene initiative. In this health and hygiene curriculum that we've established, it touches a lot on the Gospel."It's an ambitious goal they have, and they're asking not only for prayer support but for financial help, too. $1 provides water for one person for an entire year, but it also allows them to hear the Gospel.
As in the days of Noah...

Pastor Fights Fine for Pre-War Iraq Trip

TRENTON,N.J.-A New Jersey pastor who defied government restrictions and traveled to Iraq in 2003 to protest the pending U.S.-led invasion wants a judge to declare the fine he received unconstitutional.Lawyers for the Rev. Frederick Boyle, 58, were expected to ask a federal judge on Wednesday to nullify the $6,700 fine and declare the travel restrictions violate his constitutional rights.His lawyers also argue Boyle is being singled out due to his vocal opposition to the war, and was never given the opportunity to defend himself."Rev. Boyle never received an opportunity to make his case and was fined for exercising his constitutional rights," said Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer from the Brennan Center for Justice, a New York-based advocacy group, who is arguing Boyle's case."It appears as if this case is an attempt by the government to punish a religious leader for speaking out against the war."John Rankin, a Treasury Department spokesman, said the department does not discuss investigations or lawsuits.Boyle took a nine-day trip to Iraq in February and March 2003 to protest the coming war. At the time, U.S. government restrictions effectively barred American citizens from traveling to Iraq except in limited circumstances. Those restrictions have since been lifted.The Methodist minister was fined $6,700 by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control for the trip.In addition to fines, Boyle could face up to 12 years in prison, Hafetz said.Boyle sued the U.S. government in 2005, asserting violations of his First and Fifth amendment rights and international law.The pastor lost his ministry in Randolph after his Iraq trip. After being transferred to a Titusville church, Boyle began a hunger strike in 2004 to protest alleged human rights abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq. That led to his eventual transfer to another parish in Nyack, N.Y.He's currently pastor at the United Methodist Church in Linden, N.J.
As in the days of Noah....

RCC WATCH:Pope praises Americans

Vatican City-Pope Benedict, ahead of his first trip to the US, praised Americans on Friday who oppose gay marriage and abortion and called for global nuclear disarmament.In an address to new US ambassador, Mary Ann Glendon, Benedict touched on issues he will likely raise on his April 15-20 visit, during which he will meet President George W Bush in Washington and address the UN.The Vatican timed the April 10-15 visit to take place before the final phase of the US presidential campaign in order to avoid anything that could be seen as trying to influence the vote.
But in his address to Glendon, 69, a Harvard law professor who has been a consultant to various Vatican departments, Benedict touched on sensitive political issues.He said Americans' appreciation of religion's role in public life is "reflected in the efforts of so many of your fellow citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death."Benedict also spoke of safeguarding the family and "the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman."Gay marriage is a hot political issue in the US.Massachusetts is the only US state that allows same-sex marriage while several states allow civil unions for gay couples.More than 25 states have constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage.The pontiff also told Glendon, a close friend of Bush, that the world's problems extended well beyond terrorism."The progress of the human family is threatened not only by the plague of international terrorism, but also by such threats to peace as the quickening pace of the arms race and the continuance of tensions in the Middle East," the pope said.He called for "trust in, and commitment to" international organisations like the UN to foster dialogue to diffuse global tensions.His call for "patient and transparent" nuclear disarmament negotiations came as the US pushes ahead with plans to build a global missile defence shield, opposed by Russia.Washington says the shield is meant to protect it and allies from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.Glendon, a Pittsfield, Massachusetts native who in 1994 became the first woman to lead a Vatican delegation to a UN conference, said the German-born Pontiff would receive a warm welcome in Washington and New York."You will be among friends," she said, noting that Benedict's predecessor John Paul II made seven US visits that were "opportunities for a conversation on the important issues of the day".Glendon is the second woman US ambassador to the Vatican.
As in the days of Noah....

Space Diamonds Exist and are "Surprisingly Common"

Diamonds may be rare on Earth, but they are surprisingly common in space-and the super-sensitive infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope are perfect for scouting them, say scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.Using computer simulations, researchers have developed a strategy for finding diamonds in space that are only a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size.These gems are about 25,000 times smaller than a grain of sand, much too small for an engagement ring. But astronomers believe that these tiny particles could provide valuable insights into how carbon-rich molecules, the basis of life on Earth, develop in the cosmos.Scientists began to seriously ponder the presence of diamonds in space in the l980s, when studies of meteorites that crashed into Earth revealed lots of tiny nanometer-sized diamonds. Astronomers determined that 3 percent of all carbon found in meteorites came in the form of nanodiamonds. If meteorites are a reflection of the dust content in outer space, calculations show that just a gram of dust and gas in a cosmic cloud could contain as many as 10,000 trillion nanodiamonds."The question that we always get asked is, if nanodiamonds are abundant in space, why haven't we seen them more often?" says Charles Bauschlicher of Ames Research Center. They have only been spotted twice. "The truth is, we just didn't know enough about their infrared and electronic properties to detect their fingerprint."To solve this dilemma, Bauschlicher and his research team used computer software to simulate conditions of the interstellar medium-the space between stars-filled with nanodiamonds.They found that these space diamonds shine brightly at infrared light ranges of 3.4 to 3.5 microns and 6 to 10 microns, where Spitzer is especially sensitive.Astronomers should be able to see celestial diamonds by looking for their unique "infrared fingerprints." When light from a nearby star zaps a molecule, its bonds stretch, twist and flex, giving off a distinctive color of infrared light. Like a prism breaking white light into a rainbow, Spitzer's infrared spectrometer instrument breaks up infrared light into its component parts, allowing scientists to see the light signature of each individual molecule.Team members suspect that more diamonds haven't been spotted in space yet because astronomers have not been looking in the right places with the right instruments. Diamonds are made of tightly bound carbon atoms, so it takes a lot of high-energy ultraviolet light to cause the diamond bonds to bend and move, producing an infrared fingerprint. Thus, the scientists concluded that the best place to see a space diamond's signature shine is right next to a hot star.Once astronomers figure out where to look for nanodiamonds, another mystery is figuring out how they form in the environment of interstellar space."Space diamonds are formed under very different conditions than diamonds are formed on Earth," says Louis Allamandola, also of Ames.He notes that diamonds on Earth form under immense pressure, deep inside the planet, where temperatures are also very high. However, space diamonds are found in cold molecular clouds where pressures are billions of times lower and temperatures are below minus 240 degrees Celsius (minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit)."Now that we know where to look for glowing nanodiamonds, infrared telescopes like Spitzer can help us learn more about their life in space," says Allamandola.Bauschlicher's paper on this topic has been accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal. Allamandola was a co-author on the paper, along with Yufei Liu, Alessandra Ricca, and Andrew L. Mattioda, also of Ames.NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology, also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.
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Spitzer Space Telescope

As in the days of Noah....

Mystery on Vegas Ricin Deepens

LAS VEGAS-As police tried to piece together how a rare, fatal poison ended up in a motel for transients, the 57-year-old man who could hold the key lay unconscious in a Las Vegas hospital room.Adding to the mystery, police said that firearms and an "anarchist-type textbook" were found in the same room the ricin was found-two days before vials of the substance were discovered Thursday.Capt. Joseph Lombardo said at a press conference late Friday that the book was tabbed at a spot with information about ricin. Police found the weapons and books on Tuesday, after a manager at the Extended Stay America motel called police upon finding weapons, he said.After authorities seized the book and weapons, tests for ricin were conducted but were negative, said Lombardo.Lombardo said a 53-year-old friend or relative of the sick man made contact with motel management on Feb. 22 to inform them about pets in the room-a dog and two cats.Earlier Friday, police Deputy Chief Kathy Suey said that the friend or relative found the vials after going to the motel to retrieve the hospitalized man's belongings, and brought them to the apartment manager. Authorities confirmed Friday the vials contained ricin.It was unclear how long the vials were in the unoccupied motel room, and whether they might have been overlooked when ricin tests were conducted on Tuesday.Lombardo did not address such questions during the brief news conference."The only positive tests was on the powder in question" in the vials, said Lombardo. Authorities have repeatedly said there was no apparent link to terrorist activity, and no indication of any spread of the deadly substance beyond the vials.The 57-year-old man was the last to stay in the room, and was in critical condition since calling an ambulance on Feb. 14 complaining of respiratory distress.Authorities offered little more about the hospitalized man's identity: he left pets in the room and was not considered a suspect. A dog was found dead but the animal had gone at least a week without food or water, Suey said."We don't know an awful lot about him," Suey said. "We don't even know that it was him that was in possession of the ricin." She said she could not say how much ricin was in the vials.Lombardo said precautionary tests were also done in a room at the Excalibur hotel-casino, on the Las Vegas Strip, where the friend or relative had been saying. He said they were negative.Authorities have also not released more information about the friend or relative.The only legal use for ricin is cancer research. A pinprick of ricin is enough to kill.Police, National Guard, homeland security and FBI officials responded when the substance was found Thursday.Seven people, including the man who found the ricin, the manager, two other motel employees and three police officers,were decontaminated at the scene and taken to hospitals for examination. None have shown any signs of being affected by ricin, Suey said. All have been released.Along with the ricin, police found castor beans possibly used to make the substance. Suey said the manufacture of ricin is a crime.Greg Evans, director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University in Missouri, said the man's respiratory illness suggested he was exposed to a powder fine enough to float in the air."If he went to the hospital with difficulty breathing,he actually inhaled it,"Evans said."For some reason he opened the vial and it must have been aerosolized."Multiple vials would probably contain enough ricin to sicken many people if it was spread, for example, around a buffet table or sprayed in a closed room."If it was aerosolized in a confined space then it certainly could harm dozens of people," he said.As little as 500 micrograms of ricin, or about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.In March 2003, a Las Vegas man committed suicide by injecting himself with liquid ricin. He was a retired gaming executive and former chemist.For the most part, however, the toxin has more of a cloak-and-dagger reputation linked more closely to spies and assassins.
As in the days of Noah....

GAY WATCH:Sydney's Mardi Gras celebrates 30th birthday in style

SYDNEY-Australia's gay and lesbian community stepped out in style to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sydney's Mardi Gras parade, lighting up the city's streets with a colorful array of costumes and characters.Heading the 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) route was a group known as the 78ers, who took part in the first Mardi Gras in 1978. On that occasion, what started out as a peaceful march ended in confrontation with the police and several arrests."The 30th anniversary makes it extra special this year," said Thomas Finnegan, 23, wearing a white mask and sequin-laden leotard and taking part in his third Mardi Gras.With a theme of "Brave New World", organizers were expecting up to 300,000 people to line the parade route.Graeme Browning, the parade's director, said that while the event's 30th birthday was cause for celebration, the fight for acceptance and equality continued."By now, people are starting to realize that being gay and lesbian is not just a phase we're going through," he said.Around 250 formidable "Dykes on Bikes" kicked off the spectacle, revving up for a lap of the parade route before the main event got under way, in recognition of their 20-year participation in the event.Members of Australia's armed services took part in the parade for the first time. A group of ministers from various religions calling themselves 100 Revs also marched to apologize for the past discrimination against gas and lesbians, a gesture similar to government's recent apology to Aborigines.Honorary Chief of Parade was American comedian Margaret Cho said she was excited to be a part of this year's events, especially with legendary singers Olivia Newton-John and Cyndi Lauper due to perform at the huge after-party....
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As in the days of Noah...

Anti-racist riot in Madrid

Israeli forces pound Gaza, killing 35 in fierce clashes

GAZA CITY-Israel pressed its assault against Hamas-ruled Gaza with a land operation and a surge of air strikes on Saturday,killing at least 35 Palestinians, medical officials said.Dr Muawiya Hassanein, head of Gaza emergency medical services, told AFP at least 35 people were killed as a "great number of rockets fired by Israeli planes" slammed into the northern Gaza Strip.At least seven civilians were among the dead and about 100 people were wounded, several of them critically, he said.Two Israeli soldiers were also killed on Saturday in Gaza, the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel reported, but there was no immediate confirmation from the army.Tanks supported by helicopters moved into the area in and around the crowded town and refugee camp of Jabaliya and nearby Tufah in northern Gaza just after midnight, witnesses said.By midday troops had pushed nearly three kilometres (two miles) inside the Gaza Strip, according to witnesses.The urban battlefields were littered with debris as frightened residents hid inside their homes and imams read Koranic verses over mosque loudspeakers."We are in the middle of a total war. We hear the rockets and the explosions everywhere... we cannot leave our homes," Jabaliya resident Abu Alaa, 40, told AFP by telephone as he and his children took cover."They're shooting at everything that moves."News photographers were hemmed in by the Jabaliya fighting and came under Israeli fire, a trapped AFP photographer said. A Palestinian working for the local Media Group was lightly hurt by an Israeli shell blast, his agency said.Saturday's death toll made it the deadliest raid on Gaza in well over a year and comes after a sharp four-day escalation of violence that has killed more than 60 people, including several children.Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose forces were driven from Gaza when Hamas seized power here in June, called for "international protection for the Palestinian people," from his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.[[["It is unthinkable that Israel's reaction to Palestinian rocket attacks-which we condemn-can be so terrible and frightening," Abbas said, adding that the attacks were targeting "innocent women, children and old people",]]]Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), called "for an immediate ceasefire and political negotiations to end the fighting, which is impeding our humanitarian work."Those on both sides responsible for the killing of civilians must be held accountable," he said.In Ramallah about 300 Palestinians from all the major political factions marched through the streets, carrying pictures of children killed in recent Israeli strikes.At least 12 militants were killed in Saturday's operation, 10 of them from the Islamist Hamas movement, including Abdelrahman Shihab, the son of Hamas MP Mohammed Shihab.An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops had killed at least 15 Palestinian militants, "all of them planting explosive devices or shooting." At least five Israeli soldiers were wounded, the army said.[[[[[[Gaza militants meanwhile fired at least 40 rockets and mortars at southern Israel, including six long-range rockets which crashed in and around the seaside town of Ashkelon, 11 kilometres (seven miles) north of Gaza, it said.Two children and a woman were lightly wounded in the Ashkelon strikes, it added.]]]]]]Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told public radio that Israeli forces were engaged in an "enlarged operation," but denied it was the start of a major campaign aimed at partly reoccupying Gaza.Senior Israeli political and military leaders have been mulling a major ground operation for months, as Palestinian militants have launched near-daily rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel.The spiralling violence has cast a shadow over peace talks between Israel and Abbas's West Bank Palestinian Authority relaunched at a US conference in November that have since made little progress.Since the talks were formally revived at least 268 people have been killed, the vast majority of them militants in Gaza, where Abbas no longer has any power, according to an AFP tally.The latest deaths brought to at least 6,229 the total number of people killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence since 2000, most of them Palestinians, according to an AFP count.
As in the days of Noah....

Gaza fighting intensifies

U.S. urges transparency in China military strategy

SHANGHAI-China, which has boosted defense spending at double-digit rates for a decade, should show greater transparency on military strategy to avoid potential misunderstandings, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday.In talks that ended on Friday, just days before Beijing is due to announce its 2008 military budget, U.S. officials stressed a need for greater mutual trust, said David Sedney, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia."What we're trying to achieve with the Chinese when we talk about transparency is greater mutual understanding of strategic intent, greater mutual understanding of how the specific capabilities the Chinese are acquiring are tied to Chinese strategic objectives," Sedney told reporters.Several countries, including Japan, have expressed concern about China's military build-up. It's military budget rose 17.8 percent last year to $45 billion, although this was still only a fraction of U.S. military spending.China focuses many of its navy ships, missiles and military aircraft on Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing views as part of its own territory and says must accept eventual unification."We made the point that what we're seeking to do is to have a normal level of mutual trust and understanding that will also be helpful in avoiding miscalculations and misunderstanding," Sedney said.Sino-U.S. military relations have improved in recent years, after they were severely strained over a collision between a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. spy plane in 2001.Last week's talks brought formal agreement on a long-planned hotline linking the two countries' militaries to improve communications.
As in the days of Noah....

ENVIRO CRAZE WATCH:Winter carnival activities canceled

GILFORD, N.H.-Much of this week's winter carnival in Gilford has been canceled, due to too much winter.Parks and Recreation Director Herb Greene notes that the cancellation of 2 events was due to poor road conditions and snow-filled parking lots.Of the three events originally scheduled for Wednesday, the Cardboard Box Sled Derby has been rescheduled to Friday morning.Information from: Citizen, http://www.fosters.com/citizen

As in the days of Noah....

JIHAD WATCH:Terror target Harry arrives back in Britain as Al Qaeda threatens to take revenge for 'royal aggression against Muslims'

Prince Harry arrived back in Britain this morning after having been warned that serving in Afghanistan made him a prime target for terrorists.[[[Muslim extremists say the young royal is a "legitimate target" after ten weeks secretly fighting the Taliban.]]]The prince touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire just after 11.30am where he was met by his father the Prince of Wales and brother William.[Prince Charles said he was "enormously proud" of Harry and said he now understood what the families and loved ones of soldiers endured when they were serving abroad.He said: "As you can imagine it's obviously a great relief as far as I'm concerned to see him home in one piece."Prince Charles went on: "It's a long time to be away and most people would not put up with that."]With Harry's own plane coming back just now they had to stop and drop off three badly wounded people who had been blown up by mines and it brings home just how hazardous it is and also people who are being wounded and injured all the time who we don't hear about."The third injured soldier flew all the way to Brize Norton after his two comrades had been taken off in Birmingham, the MoD said.Prince Charles added: "I've been incredibly proud of Harry and I promise you...equally proud of all the dedicated service given by all our armed forces.[[[[[["Two Al Qaeda-affiliated websites are calling on jihadists to "slaughter" the third in line to the throne.]]]]]](of course...what good can come from islamists....????ONLY DEATH.....)[[There will now be an urgent review of his security and the prince may have to curb his fondness for nightclubs.]]{{{Many UK Muslims have praised his sense of duty, however, even while condemning the war.}}}After news of his presence in Afghanistan leaked out, senior defence chiefs quickly agreed that allowing him to stay would increase the risk to his fellow soldiers.Taliban insurgents were already vowing to step up attacks on British forces.[[[The prince was said to be bitterly disappointed that his posting to Helmand had to be cut short after a U.S. website broke an international media agreement not to reveal it.(had to be US Media.....thanks a lot....!!!!)]]]Security sources said the terrorist threats against Harry were being taken seriously.The prince is guarded, even while he is on Army duties, by a team of officers from the Metropolitan Police's elite SO14 Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department.Members of the squad went with him to Afghanistan, although they stayed on an army base, leaving Harry alone in the field.These Scotland Yard bodyguards are also responsible for protecting the prince during his frequent nightclub forays, though these may now have to be cut back.{{{{{{Concerns about Harry's safety were deepened when firebrand preacher Anjem Choudhary, of the extremist Al Muhajiroun group, accused him of endorsing an "illegal war".He said: "I think it is inevitable that anyone who engages in these activities is going to draw attention to themselves. He will be seen as part of the enemy and so he is a target."For Harry to participate has absolutely no justification. For people to say he is being brave and doing his job is simply wrong."Many wiser and braver men have decided not to participate and have objected and demonstrated against these wars. They should be the ones declared as heroes."Hate preacher Omar Bakri, now in Lebanon, said: [["Harry should condemn the fact that British forces are in a strange land fighting strange people who speak a different language."(aint this statement crazy....????]]}}}}}}[[[But many worshippers arriving for Friday prayers at London's Regent's Park mosque praised the prince.Accountant Adham Adam, 42, said: "I am against the war and Britain going there but Prince Harry is just doing his duty."I hope extremists will not target him because they don't have the right.I don't believe in extremist Islam.They are not doing good things for Muslim Brits."Sheriff Folami, 65, said: "It shows he is an honourable person. It shows he is a true prince." Hussein Elazghal, 74, echoed the sentiment, adding: "It is very courageous that he is doing his duty. He is a British citizen and he is doing his service."Hotel manager Nesar Siddiqui, however, said:I would be more comfortable if Harry wasn't there.There were legitimate reasons to go to Bosnia, [[but in Afghanistan there are not those reasons."(what is he talking about that there is no reasons...????do they live in a different planet????)]]]] Catherine Heseltine of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee warned that many might find Harry's "glorification" of war offensive. She said: "It is not the way to talk about a war where so many Muslims have lost their lives - men, women and children, innocent civilians. It is not an adventure, it is not exciting."As Harry was moving out, the Queen spoke with pride of her grandson, saying he had "performed a good job in a very difficult climate".Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Harry had served with "great distinction" and the country owed him a "debt of gratitude".He also revealed that he agreed with the decision to pull the prince out, saying: "Security considerations come first."Sources close to the 23-year-old Prince said he had been devastated by the decision to bring him home so quickly after news of his frontline deployment leaked out. The news blackout agreed by many UK and worldwide media - including the Daily Mail - collapsed on Thursday after details of the top-secret posting were published on a U.S. website.One friend said: "He was absolutely loving it out there and was so proud to be doing, at long last, what he has trained for."That said, he always knew that if word leaked out the chances were he would be brought back home immediately. The last thing he wanted to do was to put his men at even greater risk, so he knew in his heart he had to go."Harry has lived in these guys' pockets for the last two and a half months and was even prepared to die alongside them, so he was sad to say such a hurried goodbye."He has already made plans to meet them when he gets back, though, and says all he wants now is a bath, a burger and to sleep." Harry had already indicated, in an interview in Afghanistan, that he did not particularly relish the prospect of returning home. He said: "I don't want to sit around in Windsor" and made the surprising admission "I generally don't like England that much and, you know, it's nice to be away from all the press and the papers."The prince, a second lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, part of the Household Cavalry, is said to now be more keen than ever to pursue a career in the army.Lance Corporal Frankie O'Leary, who was with him in Afghanistan, said: "At the minute he's got a small team to command. He wants to go on and command a squadron, maybe one day a regiment."Senior Army commanders considered several options for Harry's immediate future, with some arguing that withdrawing him from Afghanistan handed the Taliban a propaganda coup.One insider said the danger to him would have remained "modest" if he stayed at an unspecified British base for the rest of his battlegroup's tour of duty. But at a meeting yesterday morning, the chief of the armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, and the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, agreed that Harry must be withdrawn as soon as practicably possible.Just like last year, when they vetoed the prince's deployment to Iraq, they attached more importance to the safety of soldiers around him. There were fears that the Taliban would step up their activities - ambushes, roadside bombs, mortar and rocket attacks on bases - in the hope of killing the young Royal.If that led to other soldiers being killed or maimed, Harry and his commanders would be open to intense criticism.In their first public reaction, the Taliban said Harry's presence in Helmand meant the Royal Family had joined the "aggression against Muslims" and encouraged their fighters to launch more attacks.A spokesman said: "Instead of fighting and killing the innocent people, the prince should try to influence his Government to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan."The Defence Ministry said the withdrawal decision had been taken "primarily on the basis that the worldwide media coverage of Prince Harry in Afghanistan could impact on the security of those who are deployed there, as well as the risks to him as an individual".Brigadier Andrew Mackay, Commander of Task Force Helmand, paid tribute to Second Lieutenant Wales and revealed that he took part in a major operation to disrupt Taliban communications.The brigadier said: "He has shared the same risks, endured the same austerity and undergone the same moments of fear and euphoria."He has flourished in this most demanding of environments, relished the opportunity to serve his regiment and his country, and is deservedly immensely proud of his contribution."The prince is the first member of the Royal Family to fight on the front line since his uncle, the Duke of York, was involved in the Falklands War. Harry is set to receive the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan on his return to Britain.He will be able to wear it alongside his Golden Jubilee Medal, given him by the Queen in 2002. He has previously worn this on parade at Sandhurst.An MoD spokesman said he believed Harry would receive his service medal with the rest of his regiment, but could not say when that would be.
PS:I think islamist have deep mental problems....They NEVER see the ILL they cause in the rest of the world...And the so called "moderate muslims"...WHere are they...?IF they are out there why dont they speak up....?????
As in the days of Noah....

Friday, February 29, 2008

PERSECUTION WATCH:Judge orders homeschoolers into government education

A California court has ruled that several children in one homeschool family must be enrolled in a public school or "legally qualified" private school, and must attend, sending ripples of shock into the nation's homeschooling advocates as the family reviews its options for appeal. The ruling came in a case brought against Jonathan and Mary Long over the education being provided to two of their eight children. They are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court, because they have homeschooled all of their children, the oldest now 29, because of various anti-Christian influences in California's public schools.The decision from the 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles granted a special petition brought by lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children after the family's homeschooling was brought to the attention of child advocates. "We find no reason to strike down the Legislature's evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the 'general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence,'"the court said in the case."We agree … 'the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'"The words echo the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation's youth.Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has said "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."[[[[[[Specifically, the appeals court said, the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."]]]]]]The appeals ruling said California law requires "persons between the ages of six and 18" to be in school, "the public full-time day school," with exemptions being allowed for those in a "private full-time day school" or those "instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.[[[[[["The judges ruled in the case involving the Longs the family failed to demonstrate "that mother has a teaching credential such that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor," and that their involvement and supervision by Sunland Christian School's independent study programs was of no value.Nor did the family's religious beliefs matter to the court.Their "sincerely held religious beliefs" are "not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California's compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights.""Such sparse representations are too easily asserted by any parent who wishes to homeschool his or her child," the court concluded.]]]]]]The father, Jonathan Long, said the family is working on ways to appeal to the state Supreme Court, because he won't allow the pro-homosexual, pro-bisexual, pro-transgender agenda of California's public schools, on which WND previously has reported, to indoctrinate his children."We just don't want them teaching our children," he told WND. "They teach things that are totally contrary to what we believe. They put questions in our children's minds we don't feel they're ready for."When they are much more mature, they can deal with these issues, alternative lifestyles, and such, or whether they came from primordial slop. At the present time it's my job to teach them the correct way of thinking," he said."We're going to appeal. We have to. I don't want to put my children in a public school system that teaches ideologies I don't believe in," he said.A spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association, one of the world's premiere homeschooling advocacy organizations, said the group's experts were analyzing the impact of the decision."It's a very unfortunate decision,"he said. Randy Thomasson, of Campaign for Families and Children, said under California law parents have the legal right to create a private school in their home and enroll their own children."Children belong to the parents, not to the state," he said.But he acknowledged that there's a great deal of misinformation about the status of homeschooling in California."For years the government school establishment has been lying to parents about the law. Just this week, a Los Angeles Unified school district employee lied to a mother who wanted to homeschool, telling her you must have a license, you must be credentialed and you must follow all the state curriculum. That's three lies in one sentence.""Now we have judges going crazy and actively separating children from their parents."A legal outline for parents' homeschool rights in California, published by Family Protection Ministries, confirmed Thomasson's description.The state's legal options for home educators include establishing a private school in their home by filing a private school affidavit with state regulators or enrolling in private school satellite instruction programs or independent study programs, it said.The Long family had been involved in such a program with Sunland Christian School, but the appeals court took the extraordinary step of banning the family from being involved in that organization any longer, since it was "willing to participate in the deprivation of the children's right to a legal education."A number of groups already have assembled in California under the Rescue Your Child slogan to encourage parents to withdraw their children from the state's public school system.It's because the California Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked together to establish Senate Bill 777 and Assembly Bill 394 as law, plans that institutionalize the promotion of homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism and other alternative lifestyle choices. "First, [California] law allowed public schools to voluntarily promote homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality. Then, the law required public schools to accept homosexual, bisexual and transsexual teachers as role models for impressionable children. Now, the law has been changed to effectively require the positive portrayal of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality to 6 million children in California government-controlled schools," said Thomasson.Even insiders joined in the call for an abandonment of California's public districts. Veteran public school teacher Nadine Williams of Torrance said the sexual indoctrination laws have motivated her to keep her grandchildren out of the very public schools she used to support.The Discover Christian Schools website reports getting thousands of hits daily from parents and others seeking information about alternatives to California's public schools.WND reported leaders of the campaign called California Exodus say they hope to encourage parents of 600,000 children to withdraw them from the public districts this year.The new law itself technically bans in any school texts, events, class or activities any discriminatory bias against those who have chosen alternative sexual lifestyles, said Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for Capitol Resource Institute.There are no similar protections for students with traditional or conservative lifestyles and beliefs, however. Offenders will face the wrath of the state Department of Education, up to and including lawsuits."SB 777 will result in reverse discrimination against students with religious and traditional family values. These students have lost their voice as the direct result of Gov. Schwarzenegger's unbelievable decision. The terms 'mom and dad' or 'husband and wife' could promote discrimination against homosexuals if a same-sex couple is not also featured," she said.Karen England, chief of CRI, told WND that the law is not a list of banned words, including "mom" and "dad." But she said the requirement is that the law bans discriminatory bias and the effect will be to ban such terminology."Having 'mom' and 'dad' promotes a discriminatory bias. You have to either get rid of 'mom' and 'dad' or include everything when talking about [parental issues]," she said. "They [promoters of sexual alternative lifestyles] do consider that discriminatory."The California plan still is facing a court challenge on its constitutionality and a possible vote of the people of California if an initiative effort succeeds.

As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Feds Dispose of Final Doses of Vaccine That Eliminated Smallpox

ATLANTA-The government announced Friday that it has said goodbye to one of the world's greatest lifesavers-the oldest smallpox vaccine.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month made arrangements to dispose of the last of its 12 million doses of Dryvax,and notified other health departments and the military to do the same by Feb.29. Dryvax-produced by scraping virus off the skin of infected calves-is being replaced in federal vaccine stockpiles by a more modern product manufactured in laboratories. Dryvax was unusually dangerous for a vaccine, blamed in recent years for triggering heart attacks and a painful heart inflammation in some patients.Still, attention should be paid on the occasion of its demise, said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Vanderbilt University's department of preventive medicine.It is a "historical moment, because it's our oldest vaccine," Schaffner said. "It was a vaccine that eliminated smallpox from the United States."Smallpox is a deadly, infectious disease that plagued the world for centuries and killed nearly a third of the people it infected. Victims suffered scorching fever and body aches, then spots and blisters that would leave survivors with pitted scars.Dryvax was created in the late 1800s, by the company that became Wyeth Laboratories. Wyeth was a primary U.S. manufacturer of smallpox vaccine by the mid-1940s, and was the only company left making it by the early 1960s, said Dr. D.A. Henderson, a University of Pittsburgh vaccine expert who played a key role in international smallpox eradication efforts.The United States was able to end routine childhood vaccination against the disease by the early 1970s. World health authorities declared the disease was eradicated from nature in 1980.Wyeth stopped making the vaccine in the 1980s.But government officials kept a stockpile of about 15 million doses.The Dryvax came in handy in 2003, when it was used to help contain an outbreak of monkeypox in the United States."There are situations where one does have to have a smallpox vaccine," said Dr. Neal Halsey, director of John Hopkins University's Institute for Vaccine Safety.U.S. officials had also been worried that smallpox might resurface as a result of bioterrorism. Following the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax-containing letters that surfaced a month later, the government in 2002 ordered certain military personnel vaccinated and recommended shots for front-line health care workers.The government also pushed for manufacture of a new vaccine. It hired a company named Acambis Inc., which had produced nearly 200 million doses by the end of 2003, Henderson said.Last September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved licensure of the company's ACAM2000 vaccine. That product is now the mainstay of the CDC stockpile, Henderson said.Dryvax had problems. It was long suspected of triggering neurological complications, including encephalitis, in rare cases. Then, in 2003, three adults who received the vaccine died suddenly of heart attacks. As a precaution, health officials advised people with heart disease to skip the vaccination.A study published in 2005 suggested that Dryvax triggered a painful heart inflammation in a small number of emergency workers vaccinated after Sept. 11."Times had changed, and our awareness, sensitivity and tolerance for adverse events associated with vaccines was much greater" than during the smallpox vaccination campaigns of the 20th century,Schaffner said.ACAM2000 is created in laboratories, not on a farm, so there's much less possibility of bacterial contamination in the production process. However, it's derived from Dryvax, and it's not clear it will have fewer side effects than the old vaccine, some vaccine experts said.

As in the days of Noah...

Pastor Named to U.N. Anti-Slavery Panel

British Baptist pastor Steve Chalke was appointed special advisor to the United Nation's Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (U.N.GIFT). Chalke, chair of Stop the Traffic,a group of 1,000 organizations in 60 countries that work to stop the buying and selling of people, will work in the United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime to help foster community action against human trafficking,Associated Baptist Press reported Tuesday.
Author of more than 40 books, Chalke has long campaigned to end poverty through housing, healthcare and educational projects. He has also become a major advocate in the anti-trafficking campaign.According to a Baptist World Aid press release, Chalke said "the crime of people trafficking-or, to put it in stark terms, modern slavery-for sex, forced labor and even organ harvesting is one that shames us all."His remarks came during the first international anti-human trafficking forum, held in February in Austria.The event, planned by U.N.GIFT, drew 1,200 delegates from the 192 member countries of the United Nations.Human trafficking is "the world's fastest growing crime"and is"a great evil"that needs to be defeated,Chalke said. According to U.N. estimates, more than 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide each year. The vast majority of them are under the age of 24.
As in the days of Noah...

Kenya Tragedy a Warning to Churches, Says World Reformed Head

The last few months of violence and bloodshed in Kenya should serve as a warning to churches around the world to be prophetic leaders in their communities, the president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) told Christian leaders earlier this week.The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick was addressing a joint assembly of the Caribbean and North American Area Council (CANAAC) of WARC and the Caribbean and North American Council for Mission, which met this week in the capital of Guyana, Georgetown. “Failure to be about the work of breaking chains of injustice has put things at the boiling point in Kenya,” he told assembly delegates.“Kenya is an important warning to us of the consequences of waiting too long for our churches to be about ministries of integrity, justice and reconciliation.”President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accused Kibaki of stealing the 27 December elections, signed a power-sharing agreement in Nairobi on Thursday, to the relief of Kenyans who broke out onto the streets dancing and singing. It is hoped that the deal will finally close the door on months of riots and horrific ethnic violence, which have left at least 1,000 people dead and another 300,000 displaced from their homes.Under the deal, a prime minister’s office will be created for Odinga, as well as two deputy prime ministers‘ posts, one for each of the two parties in the coalition.The 45-year-old constitution, disliked by many Kenyans because of its concentration of power in the presidency, will also come under review in the coming months.WARC head Kirkpatrick, who is also stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), said a lack of integrity in public life, the need for land reform, and a deep gap between rich and poor had all contributed to the crisis in Kenya.The fact that Kenya’s churches were divided along ethnic lines meant that they had also been part of the country’s recent problems, he asserted, a feeling also voiced by representatives of Kibaki’s and Odinga’s parties to a World Council of Churches delegation, which included Kirkpatrick, at the end of January.The delegation‘s appeal for Kenyan churches to be full partners in the mediation process met a cool response from the parties‘ representatives who complained that the churches in Kenya had “failed”the country by taking partisan positions.The churches “need to heal themselves first,” they said.Kirkpatrick commented,“This is a wake up call for Kenyan churches – and for us. It is clear for the Kenyan churches that if there is going to be a future for their people, churches must take prophetic leadership for integrity, justice and reconciliation. The same is true for us in our settings.”

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Kuwaiti Paper:Mega-Attack on Israel in March after 40-day Mughniyeh mourning

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan quoted "top Western sources" Monday saying that, "according to reliable intelligence information Hizbullah has begun planning a large-scale attack on Israel in retaliation for its alleged assassination of senior Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyah."
According to the report, translated by MEMRI, the attack is being planned in coordination with Syria and Iran, and is to take place before the Arab summit next month.It was also reported that there would be a simultaneous terrorist escalation by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other PA groups in Gaza.This was predicted by Israel’s military intelligence AMAN chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin in his briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee Tuesday, Feb. 26.In the past, Hizballah has timed its reprisals for the 40th day of mourning, in this case March 22-23,40 days after its military commander Imad Mughniyeh was blown up in Damascus.Yadlin also reported that in the month since Hamas flattened Gaza’s border wall for free Palestinian access to Egyptian Sinai, al Qaeda operatives have used the opportunity to steal into the Gaza Strip, along with scores of Palestinian terrorists returning from special courses in Iran and Syria.There, they acquired special skills in the fabrication of explosive devices and missiles.Among them were trained snipers, of the type which have begun plaguing Israel farmers till their fields close to the Gaza border.
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How close are we to a food crisis - ten weeks left of wheat

The world is only ten weeks away from running out of wheat supplies after stocks fell to their lowest levels for 50 years.The crisis has pushed prices to an all-time high and could lead to further hikes in the price of bread, beer, biscuits and other basic foods.It could also exacerbate serious food shortages in developing countries especially in Africa.The crisis comes after two successive years of disastrous wheat harvests, which saw production fall from 624m to 600m tonnes, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).Experts blame climate change as heatwaves caused a slump in harvests last year in eastern Europe, Canada, Morocco and Australia, all big wheat producers.Booming populations and a switch to a meat-rich diet in the developing world also mean that about 110m tons of the world’s annual wheat crop is being diverted to feed livestock.Short term pressures have compounded the problem. Speculative buying by investors gambling on further price rises has further pushed up prices.Though shortages are often blamed on the use of land for biofuel crops, the main biofuel cereal crop is maize, not wheat.Farmers have brought millions of acres of fallow land into production and the FAO predicts that the shortages could be eliminated within 12 months.
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New York Governor Launches Crusade to Expand Abortions:The state is already the national leader in abortions

New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, is pushing the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act, which declares that women have a "fundamental right"to abortion-including in the third trimester.The bill also takes out any reference to the preborn child as a"person."The state is already the national leader in abortions-the annual rate of 38 per 1,000 women of childbearing age is the highest of any state and twice the national average, the New York Daily News reported.New York has neither mandatory waiting periods for abortion nor parental-notice requirements.The state Medicaid program covers abortion for poor women.“Our governor wants to make sure that our state has the most strengthened law concerning abortion in the entire nation,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, assistant to the director at New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.“That bill really creates some pretty heinous provisions. It violates not only the life of the unborn child, even in the third trimester, it actually endangers the life of the woman.”

Robot dog as good as a real one...

Chicago-A friendly dog can make older people feel less isolated-and it appears to make little difference if that wagging tail belongs to a robot doggie or the real thing.Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri compared a 16 kg, floppy eared mutt named Sparky with AIBO, a far-from-lifelike robot dog, to see how residents of three US nursing homes would respond."The most surprising thing is they worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments," said Dr William Banks, a professor of geriatric medicine who worked on the study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.
Banks said pets have been shown to help older people feel less isolated. "It really improves loneliness considerably," he said in a telephone interview.But many senior citizens are too frail to care for a pet or have had to give up their own animals when they went to the nursing home. "They really miss that bond," he said.Banks and colleagues decided to see if a faux fido might offer some comfort.The researchers studied 38 nursing home residents who were divided into three groups.One got regular visits from Banks' pet Sparky, another got visits from the AIBO Entertainment Robot, a shiny robot dog formerly made by Sony Corp that used artificial intelligence to interact with its environment and express emotion.The third group got no visits from either dog.Banks said he had been sure Sparky would have the edge, but to his surprise, both dogs provided virtually equal comfort after seven weeks of visits.While AIBO has been discontinued, Banks thinks similar robots could offer companionship for older people and might even be programmed to keep tabs on their owners, alerting emergency workers of a sudden fall."Loneliness is common in nursing homes. Robots may be very useful for people who cannot for whatever reason have access to a living dog," Banks said.

As in the days of Noah....

Pardon witches, lawmakers told

Edinburgh-Lawmakers in Scotland were asked on Thursday to push for a posthumous pardon of everyone found guilty under ancient witchcraft laws, including a spiritualist who was convicted during World War II.One petition, signed online by 206 people, calls for members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to urge the executive in Edinburgh to appeal to Britain's interior minister to reconsider a previous refusal to pardon Helen Duncan.The spiritualist was convicted under the Witchcraft Act 1735 and jailed for nine months in 1944, after a séance in which a dead sailor was said to have disclosed the loss of a British battleship and most of her crew.The British authorities had kept secret the sinking to maintain morale during World War II and it was not disclosed for several months.Duncan,who died in 1956, was one of the last people convicted under the act, which was repealed and replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951. Another woman was found guilty in late 1944, although with less publicity.Duncan's family launched a bid to secure a posthumous pardon in 2006.The second petition, signed on the Scottish Parliament's website by 69 people, urges lawmakers to push the executive to posthumously pardon everyone convicted in Scotland under witchcraft laws between 1565 and 1736.Both petitions, proposed by a paranormal group, were handed into the Scottish Parliament Thursday by spiritualist Roberta Gordon, who lives at Gullane, on the coast south-east of Edinburgh.She said a pardon for Duncan would lift the stigma that her family still bears and an apology was due to those convicted of witchcraft, often on flimsy evidence."I feel that in the year 2008 we should be able to say sorry to all of these people who were tortured, strangled and burned," she added.Supporting research to the second petition said about 4 000 people, most of them women, were accused of being witches, with witch-hunting rife particularly in the region south of Edinburgh.Torture was often used to extract confessions as late as 1704 and most of those convicted were almost always strangled at the stake and their body burned.A Scottish Parliament spokesperson told AFP the public petitions committee would consider the documents on March 4 and decide whether to take further action.

As in the days of Noah....

AU welcomes Kenya deal

Addis Ababa - The African Union on Friday welcomed a power-sharing deal by Kenya's rival leaders to resolve a deadly political crisis sparked by a bitterly disputed presidential elections.The pan-African body, which initiated the mediation talks led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, called on President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to ensure the deal was implemented.In a statement, the AU Peace and Security Council "welcomed the signing...of an agreement on the principles of partnership of the coalition government".Kibaki and Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement on Thursday, which called for the creation of a prime minister's post with two deputies.The statement added: "Council encouraged the parties to fully implement the agreement including enactment of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008."
Ethnic clashes kill 1 500+ people
The agreement was also hailed in Japan, where the government hailed the deal and voiced hope that the country can again be seen as "a stronghold of stability and prosperity in Africa.""Japan strongly hopes that both parties will steadily implement the agreement, which is an important development to resolve the political crisis," a foreign ministry statement in Tokyo said.Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura cancelled a scheduled trip to Nairobi due to the political deadlock, but his country donated more than $4m to assist people displaced by the crisis in Kenya.Weeks of political rioting and ethnic clashes killed more than 1 500 people and displaced hundreds of thousands others mainly in western Kenya and Nairobi slums.Government and opposition negotiators resumed talks on Friday on long-term issues including land, constitutional and government reforms as well as economic disparities among Kenyan communities.

As in the days of Noah....

Floods hit thousands in Argentina

Heavy rain and floods in Argentina have forced thousands of people from their homes, caused power cuts and brought transport chaos.
About 2,000 people are reported to have been evacuated in the province of Buenos Aires. The capital is still on alert as more rain is expected.Thousands of small businesses lost stock as the storms took them by surprise, business leaders said.The national weather service says rains and storms are expected until Monday.
Civil Defence Director Daniel Russo told local media the situation was "not serious" for the residents of the capital, but he recommended people take precautions and try to stay at home.
Public transport has been disrupted and power cuts mean traffic lights are not working in some areas.The worst affected area is La Plata district, where about 1,500 people have had to be evacuated from their homes.Other Latin American countries have also been affected by the bad weather in recent weeks.Nearly a month of flooding has claimed at least three lives and forced thousands to flee their homes in Ecuador. In Peru, 16 have been killed in flood-related incidents since January and hundreds left homeless.
As in the days of Noah....

Evangelist Mike Silva Brings "Historic Move of God" to the Dominican Republic; 34,000 Make Public Decision for Christ

Azua,Dominican Republic-Global evangelist and author Mike Silva's recent "Festival por la Vida" in Azua, Dominican Republic, challenged his team as never before and brought an historic movement of God to a region battered by hurricanes, illiteracy and poverty.Azua,a city in the Dominican's southwest corner,has been recovering from the physical and spiritual devastation of hurricane Noel. Electricity, fresh water and hope were in short supply when the Silva team began a week of activities and celebration that would see more than 34,000 people make public decisions for Christ. A dedicated group of international and local volunteers produced a leadership conference for pastors and church leaders; gatherings for young women and pastors' wives; a business and civic leaders event; a children's celebration; and the largest two-day festival ever staged in the country with more than 160,000 people in attendance. In the spirit of Christian compassion, the team also dug a desperately needed well, distributed 4,200 bags of food and clothing, helped rebuild an historic church, and restored electricity to thousands of Azuans. The festival brought international singers Jaci Velasquez, Miss Tani, Raza for Christ, and Rescate, NFL star Leonard Weaver, and NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez to share their talents and personal stories. Speaking in both English and Spanish, Silva displayed his gifts for adapting the Gospel message to local customs when he took the stage with a goat—one of the country's most valuable commodities. As an example of God's free gift of salvation, the evangelist gave the goat to a mother of 5. More than 20,000 decisions to follow Christ were recorded that night. Azua Mayor Milciades Soto expressed the thanks of a grateful city at ceremonies dedicating the new well. Silva likened the fresh clean water to the "water of life" that comes with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The mayor and his family later joined with 34,344 Dominicans who made public decisions. Those commitments were bathed in counsel and prayer by thousands of "Friends of the Festival," many of whom were trained to work with the country's substantial illiterate population."Unquestionably, God brought us to the right place at the right time," said Silva. "The Dominican people are so welcoming and their need was so great. We were humbled by the challenges—and the harvest—God gave us all in Azua."
Source: MikeSilva.org, Christian Newswire
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Nuclear bunker on show

The Promises to Israel

If Israel has been chosen to perform a special role in the Divine plan, what promises have been given to Israel that will enable that ancient people to fulfill that role?The Apostle Paul is clear on the great privileges that God has granted Israel. He wrote in Romans 9:4: "who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises." Paul nowhere intimates that these great privileges have been annulled, forfeited, or cancelled. As a matter of fact the three chapters of which this verse is a part (Romans 9-11) have as one of their purposes to emphasize that God has not cancelled His promises to Israel or transferred them to some other people! What says Paul in Romans 11:1? "I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew."Specifically, what are those promises to Israel? Well, they ultimately are derived from those to "Father Abraham" in Genesis 12:1-3. To sum them up, they are basically the promises of a people, a land and a blessing. The Book of Deuteronomy and the later prophets unite on the affirmation of these promises to Israel. Chapters 28 and 29 of Deuteronomy clearly delineate the dire consequences if Israel disobeys the Lord–there will be drought, exile and suffering–to name only a few of the judgments. But even if the promises of judgment are fulfilled, that does not cancel the promises of Israel’s future blessings –found in Deuteronomy 30. As we will emphasize again in this brief article, to view the promises of Israel’s judgement as having been literally fulfilled while attempting to spiritualize and then transfer the promises of her blessings to the Church involves an inconsistent hermeneutic.As an example of many such illustrations of this principle, consider just the prophets Hosea and Micah. In Hosea 3:4 there is a promise of judgement on Israel which already has been literally fulfilled: "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim." If that verse has had a literal fulfillment in Israel’s history of the last two thousand years, what about the next verse embodying a promise of blessing for Israel?: "Afterward the children of Israel shall return, seek the LORD their God and David their king, and fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days." If Israel was punished literally, they will be blessed literally! Or consider the dual promises of judgment and blessing in Micah 3:12-4:2: "Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." The promise of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was literally fulfilled. Why would anyone then spiritualize the promise of restoration and blessing for Jerusalem and the Temple in the very next verses?Now, someone may say that although the Old Testament prophets may have stated that, now in the New Testament the Church is the so-called "New Israel" and the Church really spiritually receives those future promises of blessing to Israel. But this cannot be proved from the New Testament either.Already we have referred to that great chapter on Israel’s future, Romans 11.Throughout that chapter the word "Israel" refers to the Jewish people.Therefore, when Paul affirms the future blessings for Israel in 11:26-27, why would he then inject the word with a different meaning? "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins" (Romans 11:26-27).Paul actually bases his theology of literal blessings for a literal Israel on Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 59:20,21 and Jeremiah 31:33,34).Why should the plain and natural sense of a text be jettisoned? In Luke 1:31-33 seven promises were given to Mary. Five of them have already literally been fulfilled. Why is someone authorized to say that the remaining two will not also be literally fulfilled? Indeed, Christ shall receive the throne of His father David, and He shall rule over the house of Jacob forever, literally.Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to the words of a layman who understood the nature of language very well, the poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson:
I cannot understand how you theologians and preachers can apply to the Church Scripture promises, which, in their plain meaning apply to God’s chosen people, Israel; and which consequently must be future. The prophetic books are full of teachings which, if they are interpreted literally, would be inspiring, and a magnificent assurance of a great and glorious future; but which, as they are spiritualized, become farcical… as applied to the Church they are a comedy.
by Dr. William Varner


As in the days of Noah....

War of words echos Mideast rockets

Dutch PM warns of attacks due to anti-Islam film

AMSTERDAM-The Netherlands risks economic sanctions and attacks on its citizens and businesses because of a plan by a right-wing politician to broadcast an anti-Islamic film, the Dutch Prime Minister(picture left) warned on Friday.Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has called for the Koran to be banned and likened it to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, has made a film in which he presents his views about Islam's holy text."Dutch products have been rejected at an exhibition, the Taliban (in Afghanistan) announces actions against Dutch soldiers, stewardesses are afraid to work on certain air flights," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told journalists during a televised briefing.He did not rule out the possibility people could be killed.In 2006 demonstrations and rioting erupted in many Muslim countries after Danish cartoons, one showing the Prophet with a turban resembling a bomb, appeared in a Danish newspaper. At least 50 people were killed and three Danish embassies attacked.Balkenende did not call upon Wilders to stop his broadcast plan but emphasized the Dutch government does not share Wilders' views. He said the cabinet was obliged to point out the risks of transmitting the film and had talked to Wilders.Wilders said on his Web site: "Our Prime Minister is so afraid of the consequences of the film that he seems to give in to Islam instead of defending our democratic values and rights. Let me make one thing clear: the film will be broadcast."Wilders, who is the target of death treats on Islamic militant Web sites, said he had completed the film and was in negotiations with TV stations for its broadcast.
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U.N. council vote on Iran sanctions delayed again

UNITED NATIONS-France and Britain have again delayed a U.N. Security Council vote on a third round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program in an effort to win over skeptics, diplomats said on Friday.A sanctions draft resolution was being put into its final form on Friday, one diplomat said on condition of anonymity.A U.N. spokeswoman said the Security Council would meet to discuss Iran at 11 a.m. on Monday and diplomats said Britain and France would call a vote on the resolution. U.S. and British diplomats had earlier said the vote would probably be held on Saturday but had left open the possibility that it could be pushed back a few days to allow time for more negotiations with four reluctant council members.The resolution will tighten existing sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on Iran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which creates fuel for nuclear power stations but also for atomic weapons, as demanded by the council in three previous resolutions. Iran denies Western allegations that it is amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons and says its atomic ambitions are limited to peacefully generating electricity.Tehran has said the case for sanctions lacks any legal basis and that it has no intention to comply with the resolution. The five permanent council members-the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia-and Germany, which is not on the council, agreed in Berlin on January 22 on a draft text outlining a third round of sanctions against Tehran.Washington had hoped for a swift vote on the sanctions text but negotiations have dragged on for over a month, mainly due to resistance from four nonpermanent members of the 15-nation council-South Africa, Libya, Vietnam and Indonesia.
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Hamas:Israel will flounder in Gaza like it did in Lebanon

Hamas and the residents of Gaza closely followed reports of IDF forces assembling in and around the Strip ahead of a possible large-scale ground operation.An Islamist group source confirmed that the organization was gearing up for battle."The Israelis will flounder in Gaza as they did in Lebanon and at the end of the process they will once again be defeated and leave," he told Ynet on Friday."We will not play into Israel's hands.If and when the operation is launched, we will combat it with no more than 20 percent of our manpower.The remaining 80 percent will wait for the Israelis inside Palestinian territory to fight under the conditions that we are familiar with and to show that are forces are still there-in case Israel is thinking of bringing in the leadership it supports, such as (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas," he said.According to the official, Israeli forces are assembling mainly near the former Gush Katif settlement bloc and around Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.In certain areas Israeli forces have entered Palestinian territory, he added.Palestinian sources told Ynet that while the residents of Gaza are not panicking yet, they are aware of the possibility of an Israeli raid should the aerial strikes fail to contain the rocket attacks.Hamas called on Palestinians and Muslims all over the world to hold protests against Israel's aerial strikes in Gaza immediately following the Friday prayer sessions.Meanwhile it was reported that Egyptian intelligence chief Omer Suleiman cancelled his visit to Israel next week due to the escalation in the south. He was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.It is not yet clear whether he will arrive at a later date.Suleiman was expected to bring with him information about potential negotiations with the Palestinians.

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Barak:Hamas will bear consequences of Gaza escalation

Tough rhetoric from defense minister: Hamas is to blame for the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip and the organization "will bear the consequences,"Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a visit to Ashkelon Friday, a day after a massive rocket barrage hit the southern city."An Israeli response is required and forthcoming," he said, adding that "the government will make every effort to prevent additional rocket attacks on Ashkelon."Defense Minister Matan Vilnai,who accompanied Barak on his tour, urged Mayor Roni Mehatzri to hold the planned Purim holiday events as scheduled and "not panic".Barak also met with local fire fighters, police officers and Magen David Adom paramedics and visited a house hit by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. Also on Friday, more than 10 Qassams launched by Palestinians in northern Gaza landed in Israeli territory. Two of the rockets hit Sderot, lightly injuring a woman.Four people suffered from shock and a number of houses were damaged.A total of 10 Grad and Qassam rockets hit Ashkelon on Thursday, prompting Barak to order that the 'Color Red' rocket alert system be made operational. The warning system is expected to be up and running shortly.It is currently being used in the rocket-battered town of Sderot as well as other Gaza-region communities.
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Jordan's king: 2008 critical for peace

Jordan's King Abdullah called on Friday for greater US efforts to reconcile Israelis and Palestinians, saying US President George W. Bush's final year in office would be critical to Middle East peace.Speaking at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Abdullah said 2008 offered an "unprecedented opportunity" to reach a peace agreement because Arab and Muslim countries have offered to recognize Israel."At long last...we are in the best possible position to resolve 60 years of conflict between Israel and Palestine," he said. "The Arab and Muslim states have committed to an unprecedented and unanimous peace initiative."But the opportunity could be lost if it is not seized this year. The next administration would take some time to establish its new foreign policy, he said.
'Only America can do it'
Israelis and Palestinians pledged at a peace summit in Maryland last year to work for a settlement by the end of the Bush administration in January 2009.But experts on all sides are doubtful progress can be achieved between weak Israeli and Palestinian leaders and with violence escalating between Israel and the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.
"America is the only world power capable of ensuring that the parties stay on track and on time in their current negotiations,"King Abdullah said."A victory by the enemies of peace, freedom, stability and moderation cannot be an option,"he said."If we miss today's opportunities,peace will be set back, perhaps for decades."

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