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

Saturday, May 24, 2008

America in Ashes?

The latest audio message from al-Qaeda, reportedly from Osama bin Laden himself, is only the most recent confirmation that the jihadist threat to the West remains real and deadly serious. But the fact that it could take the form of nuclear terrorism should be most worrying to citizens and policy makers alike. Where a nuclear attack once may have been beyond the capacities of stateless terrorists, that is no longer the case. One need only consider Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), mastermind of 9/11 and chief operating officer of al-Qaeda, who revealed under intensive interrogation-including the much-maligned tactic of waterboarding-that a nuclear attack against the United States was a top priority for al-Qaeda.According to the New York Daily News and its sources, the captive KSM told his interrogators that Osama bin Laden was planning a “nuclear hell storm” in America. Normally such a lurid claim would be disbelieved by our “inside-the-box” intelligence officers, but KSM’s recovered laptop had corroborating details.The agents learned that the chain of command for this new operation went simply: bin Laden, his terrorist doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, a mysterious scientist named “Dr. X,” and an operational coordinator. The scientist turned out to be Dr. A.Q. Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, national hero, and nuke material proliferator extraordinaire. The operations ringleader was known as “Jafer the Pilot” (Jaffer al-Tayyar). This ID was corroborated by former al-Qaeda No. 3 Abu Zubaydah when he himself was waterboarded.Dr. Khan’s input was important: One month before 9/11, according to The Washington Post, bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met around a blazing campfire with Pakistani scientists from an A.Q. Khan-affiliated group called Umma Tameer-E-Nau, to discuss how al-Qaeda could build a nuclear device themselves and ship it to a target.The night meeting went well. 'Jafer the Pilot" is the nom de guerre of U.S. citizen Adnan el-Shukrijumah. Young, intelligent, fluent in multiple languages and a trained jet pilot who had apparently been in flight schools with Mohammed Atta, Shukrijumah had studied and worked with other jihadis at the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at McMaster University in Canada. But one day all the terrorists disappeared from campus forever.John Loftus of WABC news reported on November 7, 2003, that in the immediate wake of Shukrijumah and his fellow travelers’ disappearance, 180 pounds of uranium ended up “missing” from the reactor. Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who interviewed Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11, reported bin Laden saying that one of the founders of al-Qaeda, Anas el-Liby, had helped the Pilot haul out the stash of uranium.McMaster U. has always insisted that no material was ever missing from the reactor, but instead claims that low-grade radiological material did turn up missing from their pharmacological/medical labs at the time. Paul Williams, author of The Day of Islam, published the Loftus-Mir assertions in his book and elsewhere. For his trouble, he was promptly sued by the University for $4,000,000. The suit is still pending.But the Pilot and his atomically-inclined friends had not gone to live in a cave somewhere in Waziristan like their bosses had. Shukrijumah had much work to do for his “American Hiroshima” plan, which would detonate actual nuclear bombs in seven American cities at once. Paul Williams surmises that Osama bin Laden’s increasingly messianic pronouncements over the airwaves are psychologically tied up with his expectations of the nuclear destruction of the Great Satan—with bin Laden himself as the prophesied Mahdi, the fiery culmination of 1,600 years of Islamic history.Whatever pangs of conscience remaining to the plotters as they contemplated burning millions of women and children alive was thoroughly assuaged by bin Laden’s diplomacy. The supremo had duly arranged for a compliant mullah to issue a fatwa, which expressly authorized the destruction of the United States of American in clouds of atomic ash. Entitled “A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels,” and dated May 2003, this fatwa can be read online by all the faithful. FBI chief Robert Mueller has also said that there is a “clear intent” by al-Qaeda to acquire and use nuclear weapons against the United States. As far back as 1993, said Mueller, Osama bin Laden had attempted to buy uranium from a source in the Sudan. Why should we expect him to stop in the last 15 years? One thing is certain: homicidal doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri's made a decision when KSM was captured: Cancel that planned mass cyanide gas attack in the New York subway system. He told the operational plotters to stand down because "we have something better in mind,” which would presumably suck up all the resources then available to him. What would be “better” than a mass cyanide attack in a confined urban rush-hour space? There is only one thing more murderous.Unfortunately, even in 2004, the American intelligence services tasked with protecting the country seemed about as prepared for the Pilot as they were for the Hamburg Cell of 9/11. One full year after KSM spilled his guts in a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director John Mueller issued a joint press conference that everyone should be on the lookout for five exceedingly dangerous terrorists. Adnan al-Shukrijumah, the Pilot, was first on the list. Director Mueller called him the “Next Mohammed Atta.” The American Hiroshima plan was not specifically mentioned, presumably to prevent panic in the country.It turns out that the Pilot himself need not have been panicked. Several days after the press conference naming Shukrijumah, a certain Samuel Mac, the manager of a Denny’s restaurant in Avon, Colorado, became uneasy as he served two “demanding, rude and obnoxious” patrons at his restaurant. One of them looked, for all the world, like the guy he remembered was in the Ashcroft-Mueller press conference’s first poster: Adnan the Pilot. The other one, wolfing down a health-conscious chicken sandwich and a salad, looked like the guy the FBI said was Abderraouf Jdey, the head of al-Qaeda’s cell in Toronto. They said they were traveling cross-country.From behind his counter, Mr. Mac looked at these patrons again. He figured at least Washington, D.C., would have an FBI office, so he called there. The agent who answered the phone was uninterested and referred him to the Denver office. Calling this number, Mr. Mac was left with an endless loop of voice mail. The purported al-Qaeda officials eventually strolled out of the restaurant and took off. Five hours later an agent from the Denver field office called back, took a few perfunctory notes, and said he’d pass the info along. Mr. Mac thoughtfully preserved the plates and utensils the men had eaten with, but no one ever bothered to come over and collect them for DNA evidence, or interviewed any of the restaurant’s employees. So much for the national “Be on the Lookout” alert.The Pilot quickly resurfaced in Waziristan province, Pakistan, home of Osama and Dr. Zawahiri. In April 2004, according to Paul Williams’ sources in the FBI, where Williams had worked as a consultant, this turned out to be a “pivotal planning session” for the American Hiroshima plot, much as Kuala Lumpur in 2000 was the final planning session for the 9/11 plot. Mohammed Babar, an indicted terrorist, was also present. (Babar’s Islamic Thinkers Society had held placards while demonstrating outside the Israeli consulate in 2006, helpfully saying, “The Mushroom Cloud is On Its Way.”)Thus funded and instructed, the Pilot flew to Honduras the next month, where he met with jefes of the violent street gang MS-13 (Mara Salvatruchas) and was noticed by the café owner, who had seen newspaper pictures of that Ashcroft-Mueller press conference. The Honduran security ministry confirmed Shukrijumah’s presence there, and also the Pilot’s multitude of calls then to France, the USA, and Canada.Why was the Pilot meeting with MS-13 gang leaders? The answer became painfully obvious that summer, when he was seen again in Mexico in late August 2004, near “terrorist alley” in Sonora, the main thoroughfare for illegal aliens into the United States. MS-13 was the Pilot’s new supply chain and courier of nuclear material for the bombs he was setting up. The Pilot was now moving around at will, with no hindrance, all through Latin America. U.S. intelligence got another too-late break in November, when Sharif al-Masri, an al-Qaeda official working directly with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, was snatched and questioned by interrogators.
Al-Masri told his American captors that his bosses had arranged for nuclear supplies for bombs to be shipped into Mexico and thus into the USA with the help of the MS-13 street gang. This created a new sense of urgency, because on November 1st, Mexican officials reported that a man looking very similar to Adnan al-Shukrijumah had just stolen and flown off with a Piper PA Pawnee crop duster near Mexicali, destination unknown.
Since 2005, the Pilot has vanished from sight.
To read more go to:
By Christopher S. Carson
As in the days of Noah....

Court allows partial-birth abortion in VA

WARNING:The following story contains material not cuitable for children or any other human being.THIS IS SICK and CRIMINAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A federal court has struck down Virginia's ban on partial-birth abortions a second time, even after the legislature amended the law to comply with the first negative decision.A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Tuesday that Virginia's ban – which is nearly identical to the federal ban upheld by the Supreme Court – is unconstitutional. Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, says the reasoning of the two judges who voted to overturn the law is baffling. "This is a case where we have some judges who have read into the law that an abortionist can accidentally perform this procedure when intending to perform a 'normal' abortion," Cobb explains. The two Clinton appointees said they overturned the law because there is no exception to protect an abortionist who accidentally delivers an unborn child up to his or her neck and then punctures the child's brain to end its life. "There is no question in the minds of most people who look at this issue objectively that one cannot 'accidentally' have a partial-birth abortion," Cobb contends. The Virginia attorney general has 14 days to decide whether to appeal the decision of the three-judge panel to the full 4th Circuit. Regardless, Cobb says the battle will probably end up before the Supreme Court. She says the Virginia legislature could amend the law to include the exception -- but, she points out, "if there are judges who are going to continue to find some angle that isn't even really there to make this an unconstitutional statute, we might be writing this law from now until eternity." Cobb says the only good thing about the court battle is that even more people now know the gruesome details of the partial-birth abortion procedure that those she calls "pro-abortion extremists" continue to defend.
As in the days of Noah...

GAY AGENDA WATCH:Chicago hosts 'Queer Prom' tonight

Conservative activists are speaking out against a so-called "Queer Prom" for Latino youth tonight in Chicago.The event at the National Museum of Mexican Art is being billed as a dance for "LGBTQ youth" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning), but adults are also invited. Lambda Legal, the group Latinos Progresando, and a homosexual bathhouse known as "Steamworks" are among the sponsors. Mario Diaz of Concerned Women for America says Latino groups should be finding ways for Hispanics to pursue the American dream, not promoting homosexual activity."The fact that an adult homosexual bathhouse is sponsoring it – I mean, these are children still, young people; and this bathhouse ... is only available for homosexual adults ... is appalling," he exclaims. "As a Hispanic and Latino young man in this country, I feel very offended by it. It goes against everything my community really stands for," Diaz contends.Diaz says he has never met a Hispanic family that would want their children involved in the anonymous homosexual activity that ostensibly occurs at Steamworks. He believes homosexual adults are actively attempting to recruit Latino teens for their dangerous lifestyle. "Because homosexual activists are aware that the Hispanic community is not really on board with their agenda, they have tried to do many things that are just 'under the table' type things," Diaz laments. "They try to go to legislatures of different countries and different places, and they try to do things without making a big fuss about it because they know, in the public square, they would lose their battle." Peter LaBarbera with Americans for Truth About Homosexuality suggests that, by sponsoring the teen event, the homosexual bathhouse Steamworks is likely "marketing to future clients."

As in the days of Noah...

DROUGHT WATCH:USA's drought begins to ease

Heavy rainfall in the Southeast and record snowpack in the Rockies have eased dramatically the nation's worst drought in more than a century. Drought conditions are the least severe since January 2006. A quarter of the USA is suffering some form of drought today, down from 65% last summer, federal agencies said.In the Southeast, where drought has been most severe, the area in drought has plummeted from 86% in August to 40% today."We've had some big improvements because of heavy rainfall over the region" of the Southeast, Ed O'Lenic, senior meteorologist at the federal Climate Prediction Center, said Tuesday. "Going forward, if things are pretty normal or close to that through the growing season, we'll be OK."Much of the Southeast has received 10-20 inches of rain in the past three months, prompting Georgia's governor to permit the filling of swimming pools and hand watering of plants.The U.S. Drought Monitor, run by the federal departments of Agriculture and Commerce, reports only 8% of the region is now classified as in "extreme" drought and none in "exceptional" drought, the worst category."There has been really dramatic improvement in the interior Southeast," said Brad Rippey, agriculture meteorologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He cautioned that there remains a "very big risk" of crop failure if it turns hot and dry this summer.In Florida, where growers depend on irrigation, rain has permitted easing of emergency water restrictions though conservation measures are still in place, said Alan Peirce of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Tallahassee. "The rainfalls have helped, and they've lowered irrigation demand," he said.Dry conditions remain a concern in South Florida. The vast and shallow Lake Okeechobee, the reservoir for most the region, is below normal levels, Peirce said. Some citrus crops are smaller because of dry conditions "but people have been able to get by thus far," he said.Lake Okeechobee's average water level is at 9.84 feet, which is well below the average of 13.31 feet, and "getting close to its all-time low of 8.8 feet," said David Miskus, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Meanwhile, in much of the Rockies, this spring has seen a longer run of cold temperatures that has resulted in a late snowmelt and heavy amount of water content in the remaining snow, said Tom Perkins of the National Water and Climate Center in Portland, Ore. A late snowmelt helps give water time to saturate the ground, he said.In the upper headwaters of the Colorado River, a cold late season has put the snowpack at 155% of average, Perkins said. Runoff prognostications for the Colorado River and Lake Powell are at 120%. "In some places, we have almost three times as much snow as usual," he said.While that is bringing an end to drought in some parts of the West, dry conditions remain in California, Nevada, Southern Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, Perkins said.Mark Svoboda, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, warns drought is taking hold in northern and southern plains."It's still here. I wouldn't want to relay a false sense of security," Svoboda said.
As in the days of Noah....

God Answering Prayers for Baghdad! Read this "Letter from a Soldier"

Recently the BPP sent out a letter that was written by a deployed soldier, which described the wonderful progress that has been made in Baghdad, and the answers to prayer that are so evident.We wanted to share that letter (below) with our BCN readers and prayer warriors…
Soldier's Letter to his mother:
Thank you for sharing how so many people are praying…. to Him be all glory in this, as I am continually amazed at what He is doing! I tell you what Mom, things are happening over here!!! I have said this over the phone, but I will say it again here: I CANNOT believe the difference between when I first came here in 2005 and this deployment.
Things are far from perfect, and yet there have been such improvements, especially in security and safety, that I sometimes wonder if I am actually in the same country again.
While many things have happened in terms of the efforts of our troops and on the Iraqi side too, I can only attribute these amazing changes to God's work here, and I truly believe He has responded to the prayers of saints all around the globe who are praying for this country.
I think back to last deployment, when you had that month of prayer for Iraq, and how things have changed so dramatically even since then…. all I can say is, Praise the I Am Who I Am, for He truly holds the nations in His hands and the ways of men in His palms!
Please tell all you know, rather, plead with them, to keep praying. Now is the time, I believe, that we need prayer most desperately of all times. While things have improved so much and hope can actually be seen, there is still so many problems and, without His continual grace here, I can easily see all that has been done and all the sacrifices that have been made lost into chaos and complete anarchy. Much more important than the security and stability of Iraq or the safety of the troops over here, though, is what He has been doing in men's hearts!
I am so very excited…here at the base I have been at even just for a month or two, already several men have given there lives to Christ Jesus. There are troops from many different commands, as well as many different nations, here and it has been amazing (and unexpected) to see all the different people who show up at the worship services and Bible studies.
On a personal note, I have been SO blessed to be meeting with our Chaplain and a couple of other dear Christian brothers almost every morning for prayer…. you don't know how much this means, especially after not having much fellowship last deployment, and now being able to share so deeply and honestly and to pray for one another. It is so obvious that it has been His work in bringing us together and it is His grace that is pouring down on our lives now! All praise to the One Who was and is and is to come!
Before I close, here are my promised prayer requests. Please, please, do share them with any and all who will pray. Any you know, ask them to come before the Almighty, for it only He Who can truly change men's hearts…. I have said it before and I am more convinced now than I was then, that the true battle, both here in Iraq and throughout this planet, the REAL fight, is with saints on their knees, humbly asking the Father to do what He, and He alone, is capable of doing. Human means will fail us, the things of this world will pass in time, and yet He is "my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust." (Psalm 91).
Prayer requests for my unit, 2D Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion:
-Diligence and discipline to do our jobs well, even over long months.
-Humility and wisdom both for the leaders in our Battalion, as their decisions affect the lives of many men.
-Healing and comfort for the families of those deployed, as many are hurting and it is often made much worse by the separation and anxiety of deployment.
-Prayers for our enemies… Our Father loves the terrorists and the insurgents just as much as He loves the Marines and I have heard stories, AMAZING stories, of terrorists coming to Christ Jesus… this reminds me of Paul and how God completely and radically changed his life.
-On a personal note, please pray that I might be close knit to the Father, especially that I might have good devotions, short accounts for my sin, and that I might delight in trusting and fearing Him.
Bought at great price,
Capt Rudd Olmstead, USMC
Source: Capt Rudd Olmstead - Baghdad Prayer Patrol
As in the days of Noah....

GAY AGENDA WATCH:Calif. Schools 'Indoctrinate' Children with Pro-Gay Messages, Claims Resolution

A group of Southern Baptists are lining up behind a resolution condemning the California school system for what they claim is a recent “tolerance” campaign that blatantly endorses homosexuality.The resolution, authored by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr., a preacher and lecturer in the Southern Baptist denomination, and Bruce N. Shortt, author of The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, is a response to the recent enactment of California Senate Bill 777.Baucham and Shortt claim that SB 777 indoctrinates students “to believe that the homosexual, bisexual, and other sexually deviant lifestyles are normal, acceptable, and the moral equivalent of biblical heterosexuality.”“When these schools can hide behind stealth phrases like tolerance, safe schools, multiculturalism, and safer sex, parents are often unaware of the dangers lurking beneath the surface,” Baucham said in a statement.“This resolution is an effort to shine the light of truth in the dark corners of our schools and force our brethren to take a long, hard, honest look at what we have tolerated for far too long,” he added.
In their resolution, Baucham and Shortt call for California parents to withdraw their children from public schools while pursuing safe Christian alternatives to education such as homeschooling.The resolution also urges local churches to unite against and inform their communities of the harmful effects of SB 777 while praying for the salvation of “all homosexuals and other sexual deviants from their sexual sin.”"Homosexuals and others trapped in sexual sin need our prayers and concern, but Christian parents must make sure that their children are not being endangered by false teaching in government schools,” Shortt explained."Unfortunately, most of our churches and other Christian organizations have refused to acknowledge that children in government schools are being inundated by a cascading torrent of spiritual and moral pathologies,” Shortt added, emphasizing the importance of the resolution.Baucham and Shortt have submitted their resolution for review at the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) 2008 Annual Meeting, which will be held June 10-11 in Indianapolis.

As in the days of Noah.....


"And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
So Paul departed from among them.
Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them."

Acts 17:15-34

Christian Star 'Wailing' Over Daughter

FRANKLIN, Tenn.-Steven Curtis Chapman's longtime pastor says the Christian musician and his wife are "grieving and wailing" over the death of their 5-year-old daughter Maria, who was accidentally run over Wednesday in the driveway of their home in Franklin.The Rev. Scotty Smith said he's been praying with them and assuring their 17-year-old son, Will, who was driving the vehicle, that in Christ there's"no condemnation."Smith said the Chapmans are confident that Maria-the youngest of their three adopted Chinese daughters-is now "with Jesus, having made a clear profession of faith even in recent weeks."In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Shaohannah's Hope, the charity they started to help other families pay adoption expenses.In memory of Maria, whose funeral will be held Saturday, the family also has posted a video on the Web of Steven Curtis Chapman singing and playing with her while they washed dishes about 2 months ago.
As in the days of Noah....

Pro-Adoption Community Mourns Christian Music Star's Loss

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman may be well known for his music, but many others recognize him as an advocate who has helped hundreds of couples adopt orphans from other countries. A number of adoption groups offered their prayers and sympathy to Chapman and his family Thursday, a day after his 5-year-old daughter was accidentally struck and killed by a car driven by her brother. Maria was the youngest of three daughters Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, adopted from China."The adoption community is devastated for the family," said Brenda Barker, director of the Children's Hope International's office in Tennessee. "They've given money to me personally for me to adopt two children ... thousands of families have benefited from their generosity and commitment."The little girl was hit Wednesday by an SUV driven by her 17-year-old brother, Will Franklin Chapman, in the driveway of their home in Franklin, Tenn., according to Tennessee Department of Safety spokesman Mike Browning."We're investigating and will turn it over to the D.A., but every appearance is that it was a terrible accident," Browning said.Chapman is one of the most popular contemporary gospel singers, with 16 studio albums, five Grammies and 54 Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association.After the Chapmans adopted their daughter, Shaohannah, they formed The Shaohannah's Hope Ministry in 2003 to aid other couples. The organization has awarded grants averaging about $3,000 to more than 1,600 families.During his concerts, Chapman often collects spare change from the audience and donates it to families trying to adopt. He and his wife also wrote a children's book, "Shaoey and Dot: Bug Meets Bundle.""I read it a lot to my little girl," said Rebecca Smeltzer, president of the group Families with Children from China of Middle Tennessee, who has a 6-year-old daughter from China. "Being in the adoption community, everybody I know has it. It helps to explain coming home and finding the forever family."Smeltzer said there was "extreme sympathy" for the Chapmans among the 150 or so families in her organization.A memorial service is set for Saturday. The Chapman family released a statement Thursday requesting donations to Shaohannah's Hope Ministry instead of flowers.Chapman's manager, Jim Houser, said the family celebrated the engagement of their oldest daughter, Emily Chapman, just hours before the accident and were hours away from their son Caleb Chapman's graduation party."Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out five candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago," Houser said. "And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this, and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in him we will see Maria again."

As in the days of Noah...

South Carolina House OKs Religious License Tag

COLUMBIA, S.C.-Drivers in South Carolina may soon be able to sport a Christian license plate on their vehicles.The state House has given preliminary approval to a bill allowing drivers to buy a religious license plate with a cross on a stained glass window and the words "I Believe."The House approved the measure unanimously Wednesday. It requires another routine vote before returning to the state Senate, which approved it last month.The American Jewish Congress is asking Governor Mark Sanford to say he would veto the measure. A lawyer for the group says the bill is unconstitutional because government can't support one religion.The Florida Legislature considered allowing the same religious license plate but ultimately dropped it from a license tag bill.
As in the days of Noah...

RCC WATCH:Priest Resigns Over Past Ties to Web Site for Gay Priests

DALLAS-A longtime priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas resigned from a new parish assignment amid complaints about his past involvement with an Internet site for gay priests. The Rev. Arthur Mallinson drew brief media notice in 2002 for his connection to the Web site, which no longer exists.He told the diocese he had contributed to the site-which used his picture-when its purpose was to support gay priests in a celibate lifestyle, said Annette Gonzales Taylor, spokeswoman for the diocese. He cut off his relationship with the site in 2001 after others began posting pornographic material, Taylor said.The episode was resurrected on a widely circulated Internet posting after Mallinson's new assignment to St. Michael the Archangel Church in McKinney, north of Dallas. A "small faction" of McKinney parishioners contacted the diocese, but many more complaints came from around the country, Taylor said.Taylor said Mallinson felt resigning "was in the best interest of the parish, his family and the diocese."He had been transferred from another parish where he had served for years.Mallinson resigned in a brief letter to Bishop Kevin Farrell, Taylor said. She said Mallinson remains a priest in good standing with the diocese.
As in the days of Noah...

PESTILENCE WATCH:Disease threatens thousands fleeing South Africa

Thousands forced from their homes by anti-foreigner violence in South Africa are now reportedly threatened by disease in makeshift camps, and some immigrants said Friday they felt safer hiding in open fields.Neighboring Mozambique, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency to free government funds for citizens fleeing attacks. South African police reported sporadic violence-but no deaths-across the country Friday, leaving scores more homeless.At least 42 people have been killed and more than 25,000 foreigners displaced since attacks began earlier this month by South Africans who blame immigrants for crime and unemployment. More than 500 arrests have been made.The situation in and around Johannesburg, where the worst violence broke out, was calmer Friday. But aid workers say there are now fears about the spread of disease among the thousands who have taken shelter from the winter cold at police stations, churches and other temporary camps.Cape Town police spokesman Billy Jones said about 400 people had sought shelter on a motor racetrack after 12 people were injured in overnight attacks on an informal settlement in Cape Town."The area is quiet now but we are maintaining a visible presence," he said, adding that many of the displaced had been moved to various community centers and town halls.Bianca Tolboom, a nurse with the international aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, said camps were overcrowded and there was concern about access to clean drinking water."Some people have been staying in the open air with not sufficient blankets, so now the main medical concerns are respiratory tract infections and diarrhea," she said.In Zandspruit, a dusty township in northern Johannesburg, a group of Malawians gathered to discuss whether to flee to the nearest police station, or spend another cold night hiding in the bushes near their homes.The Malawians had heard rumors about the police station: that their belongings would be stolen, that they'd have to bribe police for protection, that they'd be deported.As a military helicopter flew overhead, they decided to spend another night muffling their babies' cries in the bushes. They put their faith in another rumor: that military troops, which they hadn't yet seen, would keep them safe.Thabo Masebe, spokesman for Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, said authorities were identifying land where tents could be erected as temporary shelters.Predicting an escalating "exodus," Mozambique Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said the state of emergency had been declared Thursday night as thousands of Mozambicans flooded across the border.Baloi said about 10,000 people had returned on their own while 620 people arrived in the Mozambican capital Thursday in buses arranged by the consulate in Johannesburg.The Mozambican government has released money and aid to help those returning. They are being assisted with transport to their home towns as well as clothes, food, blankets and basic cooking implements.
To read more go to:

As in the days of Noah...

NATO peacekeepers to stay on in Kosovo

SOFIA, Bulgaria - NATO's peacekeeping force will remain in Kosovo after the new country's constitution comes into force next month, the secretary-general said Friday.Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer(picture left) said the 16,000-strong force, known as KFOR, will remain in Kosovo after June 15, when Kosovo's authorities are to take over control of the country from U.N. administrators. A European Union policing mission will be sent in to mentor the fledgling country's leadership.NATO has not yet set a final deadline for its mission in Kosovo, and Scheffer's announcement that the force would remain was largely expected. It is also good news to Kosovo's leaders, who depend on NATO to help maintain security in Europe's newest country.Scheffer, on a brief visit to the Bulgarian capital, also told reporters that it is important that the U.N. and the European Union determine their responsibilities in Kosovo after June 15.The U.N. has run Kosovo since the war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serb troops ended in 1999. Kosovo's Parliament declared the province's independence from Serbia this year.The NATO-led force includes more than 1,000 U.S. troops, mostly National Guard members.

As in the days of Noah...

Sudan oil region fighting could displace 90,000: UN

ABYEI, Sudan-Up to 90,000 people could be displaced by fighting in Sudan's contested oil region of Abyei where the United Nations is racing against time to provide aid relief and prevent a return to civil war.Two rounds of fighting between government soldiers and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have largely obliterated Abyei's once bustling main town of mud huts that was home to 30,000 people two weeks ago.The market is charred and flattened. Buildings have been reduced to skeletons and burnt-out vehicles are abandoned to the dust.On the horizon, smoke coils into the air from isolated fires. In the eery silence of the ghost town, handfuls of people loot what they can with apparent impunity as government troops look on.Viewing the centre of town from the back of a UN armoured personnel carrier under heavy protection from Zambian peacekeepers, Ashraf Qazi, the special representative of the UN chief to Sudan, likened Abyei to hell."It doesn't exist any more. It's totally charred. It's totally devastated.And it's an absolute human tragedy and it is something that must never happen again," he told reporters on Friday.Casualty figures are unclear.The army says 22 of its soldiers were killed and 45 wounded on Tuesday, in fighting that broke a UN-brokered ceasefire after clashes last week.Further south in Agok, where aid workers are concentrating relief efforts in punishing heat and battling shortages of equipment, medics said they treated 135 wounded-all but one from the SPLA.The fighting is the worst crisis to beset the three-year peace accord that ended Africa's longest-running civil war between north and south Sudan, since the south walked out of the national unity government for two months last year.UN-chaired committees grouping northern and southern leaders, tasked with smoothing over difficulties in implementing the peace agreement, have not met since the latest fighting, although calm has now returned."That's what we're resolved in right now. Trying to ensure that this situation doesn't deteriorate further and doesn't spark off something much bigger," Qazi said. "That is a risk."After a civil war that killed more than 1.5 million people, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) gave the south six years of regional autonomy and participation in a national government until a 2011 referendum on independence.Abyei, on the border between north and south, was accorded special status. But half-way through the six-year transition period, the region has still never been governed by a functioning joint administration as stipulated.Tensions are likely to increase in the run-up to 2011, when the zone settled by Ngok Dinka and used by nomadic Arab tribesmen for grazing, will also vote on whether to retain its special status in the Arab north or join the Christian and animist south."We can see that with any one issue, with Abyei in particular, if violence flares up it could easily spread to other areas and easily threaten the whole CPA," said Qazi in Abyei."We are working intensively with the two sides to overcome this crisis."Aid workers fear that further deterioration in Abyei-where the estimated half-a-billion dollar oil wealth is at the heart of the north-south dispute-could displace many more people than initially feared."We could have up to 90,000 people on the move," Abyei UN resident coordinator Jason Matus, now in Agok, briefed Qazi."We are in a race against time," said Andy Pendleton, the head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in southern Sudan.Heavy rains are scheduled to start in around two weeks. Water-borne diseases could then spread unless people have adequate shelter, food and properly dug latrines.Sudan's military has controlled Abyei since the latest fighting saw the SPLA redeploy south. The town is supposed to be patrolled jointly and the expulsion of the SPLA has sparked fears of renewed violence."If we are out of Abyei and they (the Arabs) are in, then we know there will be fighting," said Mam Thuc, a widow with 10 children who fled to Agok.Her husband was killed when the family's dream of coming home was shattered by renewed violence."We were IDPs (internally displaced people) from Khartoum. We came back and within six months this happened," said Thuc.Although any such decision is likely to a political one, asked whether the army would allow the SPLA back into Abyei, local commander Brigadier General Muntasir Sabil, told AFP: "Of course, no. They would come back and attack us."

As in the days of Noah...


"Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.

And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still."

Acts 17:1-14

Colombian government says top FARC commander dead

BOGOTA-Colombia said on Saturday the top commander of the FARC rebel group Manuel Marulanda, known as "Sureshot," was dead.Navy Admiral David Moreno made the announcement to reporters.Rumors about the aging rebel's death or serious illness had surfaced before, but had never been confirmed. Marulanda organized the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in the 1960s as a left-wing insurgency.

As in the days of Noah....

North Sea oil platform leak under control: operator

OSLO-More than 150 workers were evacuated from a North Sea oil platform Saturday amid fears that a leak would spark an explosion, but by mid-afternoon the rig's operator said the situation was under control. "The leak from the tank on (the) Statfjord A (platform) has been stopped, and the pumping of oil-containing water to sea has also been stopped,"Norwegian energy giant StatoilHydro said in a statement.Two helicopters had been used to evacuate 156 of the 217 people working on the platform, located some 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the Norwegian coast, to nearby rigs after an oil leak was discovered at around 6:00 am (0400 GMT).A storage cell had begun leaking oil into one of the platform's three shafts as work was being performed on a pipe, StatoilHydro said.Due to a danger the oil would evaporate and create gas which could easily ignite, the company had decided to pump around 1,200 cubic metres (42,380 cubic feet) of water containing oil out of the shaft and into the sea, creating a "thin film" on the water surrounding the platform."This pumping has now been stopped. The oil concentration in the water is limited," the company said, adding that oil protection equipment had been deployed. "With the worst case scenario in mind, in which there could be an explosion, we are taking the necessary security precautions," StatoilHydro spokesman Ole Morten Aanestad told AFP earlier, adding that 61 people had remained on the platform to help stop the leak.By early evening, the company said: "The personnel on Statfjord A are now being transported back to the platform and the activity is being normalised." "The oil spill response action continues this evening," it added.No people were seriously injured in the accident. Two people had, however, been "slightly exposed to gas, but they are both feeling fine and have been given medical attention," the statement added.A total of three rigs work in the Statfjord field, which produces 150,000 barrels of oil a day.Production on the affected platform had been suspended to deal with the leak and would remain down for several days, StatoilHydro said.Other rigs are also connected to Statfjord: around six million cubic metres of natural gas and between 470,000 and 480,000 barrels of oil transit the field every day, according to statistics provided by the Norwegian oil authorities.The Statfjord A platform was last in trouble when more than 4,000 cubic metres of oil poured into the sea as it was being piped from the rig to a loading buoy last December, creating the second largest oil spill in Norway's history.The Scandinavian country is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and the third largest exporter of gas.
As in the days of Noah...

Greek pensioners protest food costs

In Horn of Africa, Djibouti and Eritrea in Face-Off Over Border

ON THE DJIBOUTIAN-ERITREAN BORDER-The distance between the rival armies is shorter than the barrel of a gun. Hundreds of opposing troops are lined up on the border, staring each other down, from just inches away. On one side are the Djiboutians, a relatively well-equipped African military with combat boots, CamelBak strap-on water bottles and the occasional buttery croissant in the field.On the other side are skinny Eritrean soldiers, covered in dust and wearing plastic sandals, camped out in thatch-roofed huts that look like fortified tropical bungalows. There is no buffer zone between the soldiers, as there usually is along a contested frontier. Instead, the heavily armed fighters, who are becoming increasingly tense and irritable, are squeezed together on a sweltering hilltop, watching each others’ every move.“It’s a very confusing situation,” said Maj. Youssouf Abdallah, of the Djiboutian Army.A David versus David battle is shaping up here, with two of Africa’s tiniest nations squaring off over a few piles of uninhabited sand.The problem is, that sand happens to lie in a very strategic spot, at the mouth of the Red Sea. A war here could imperil some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and alter the precarious balance of power in the Horn of Africa, a conflict-prone, drought-prone region that already is on the cusp of famine.Djibouti, a country of about 700,000 people, is backed up by France and the United States, both of which have big military bases here. Eritrea, which has a population of five million, is already in a border standoff with Ethiopia and is accused of fueling chaos in Somalia.The Djiboutians say the Eritreans invaded in January and point to Eritrea’s history of friction with just about all of its neighbors. They suggest that the country either thrives on war or has gone a little border crazy.The Eritreans have not said much. Their few statements deny any wrongdoing, with Eritrean state media calling the standoff “a wild invention.”But there is no doubt about it. The Eritrean soldiers are here, hundreds of them, squinting in the sun with their rifles and head wraps. Recently, the soldiers shooed away a team of journalists who came up to the disputed area for a look.“No pictures, no pictures,” one Eritrean soldier yelled. When asked what he and his men were doing here, he just shook his head, “No English."The disputed zone includes a hill called Gabla, or Ras Doumeira, and a small island called Doumeira, deserted except for the occasional fishermen who use it as a pit stop. It is all sand out here — miles of it, trimming a Windex-colored sea. The wind regularly whips the grit into your face, and temperatures routinely soar past 110 degrees.Despite the fact that these two countries barely register on the map, it is the map itself that is part of the problem. Scholars say that the border area was never properly demarcated, and that the best guidance as to who owns what goes back to a vague communiqué between France and Italy more than 100 years ago. They were the colonial powers at the time, with France occupying what is now Djibouti and Italy controlling what is now Eritrea.According to John Donaldson, a research associate at the International Boundaries Research Unit, a British institute that studies border disputes, France and Italy agreed in 1901 that no third country could rule the Doumeira area, and that specific border issues would be dealt with later.“It’s very complicated,” he said.“But the question was basically left up in the air.”Djiboutian officials said the Eritreans made a play for this area in the mid-1990s, producing old documents and saying that the territory was theirs. But Djiboutian officials said that their trump card is an 1897 treaty between Ethiopia and France that clearly states that the Doumeira area was French.According to the Djiboutian government, the Eritreans asked in January if they could cross the border to get some sand to build a road. Instead, they occupied a hilltop and started digging trenches.“In one word, they cheated,” said Col. Ali Soubaneh Chirdon, who commands the Djiboutian soldiers lined up on the border.
To read more go to:

As in the days of Noah...

NUCLEAR WATCH: Swiss destroy evidence in nuclear smuggling case

BERN, Switzerland - Switzerland destroyed nuclear arms plans seized as evidence in a case linking a Swiss family to Libya's now-abandoned atomic program. But President Pascal Couchepin stressed Friday it was to prevent them from falling into terrorists' hands.The documents formed part of a case against three members of the Tinner family who are suspected of involvement in the nuclear smuggling ring of Abdul Qadeer Khan, a key figure in Pakistan's atomic weapons program. Khan has admitted selling nuclear arms technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Couchepin said federal prosecutors discovered that the information contained in the files could be "explosive" for Switzerland's national security."There were detailed construction plans for nuclear weapons, for gas ultracentrifuges to enrich weapons-grade uranium as well as for guided missile delivery systems," Couchepin told reporters in the Swiss capital, speaking publicly on the matter for the first time.Couchepin said the decision to destroy them was taken to prevent the documents getting "into the hands of a terrorist organization" or a rogue state.He did not comment on the potential impact the destruction of evidence could have if the defendants are ever brought to trial, but implied only that the security and international policy risks were too great to permit its continued existence.The documents were destroyed under the observation of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, he said. The government in November ordered the files to be destroyed, but did not make the decision public at the time.
Couchepin, who holds Switzerland's yearly rotating presidency, read out a prepared statement and declined to answer questions about the case.His appearance followed a week of media reports that the files were secretly ordered destroyed by the government last year after pressure from the United States, which was concerned that its efforts to clamp down on nuclear smuggling might be compromised.The U.S. declined comment. "The embassy does not comment on intelligence issues," spokeswoman Lisbeth Keefe said.The documents were among those seized from the Tinners in the course of a government investigation that started in October 2004.Prosecutors allege that Urs Tinner, who was arrested in 2004, oversaw machine work in Malaysia on gas centrifuge parts that were intercepted by Western intelligence services. Gas centrifuges are needed to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons.Marco Tinner, whose Swiss-based company reportedly sold equipment to the Malaysian firm that manufactured the parts sent to Libya, is being held alongside Urs in investigative custody.Friedrich Tinner, their father who has admitted knowing Khan since the 1970s, was released earlier this year.All three are being investigated on suspicion of violating export laws on controlled goods and war materials. A trial date has not been set.

As in the days of Noah...

GAY WATCH:‘Totally Inappropriate’: Gay Photos in Albuquerque HS Yearbook Anger Parents

Riots over Naples rubbish crisis

Riots Break Out in Naples Over Plan for New Garbage Dumps

NAPLES, Italy-The police clashed with demonstrators in a poor quarter of Naples on Saturday over the Italian government’s attempt to end the chronic garbage problem by opening dumps against locals’ wishes.Witnesses said two police officers and two protesters were hurt when the police tried to remove a bus used as a barricade to block access to a landfill site at a quarry in the Chiaiano neighborhood, on the outskirts of Naples. The police said protesters had thrown a gasoline bomb.The government had tried to keep the location of the new dumps secret, but clashes erupted Friday night in Chiaiano after an official said the quarry there would be used to dispose of some of the trash piling up in the streets of Naples since last year. Almost all dumps were declared full then.Silvio Berlusconi, elected prime minister for the third time last month, has made the crisis a top priority. He passed a decree last week allowing new landfill sites and making them military zones, to dissuade protests.He held a cabinet meeting in Naples, Italy’s primary southern port, on Wednesday to highlight the trash crisis, which he has vowed to treat “exactly as if it were an emergency caused by an earthquake or volcano eruption.”Politicians from the right and the left said they understood locals’ sentiments but said landfills were more hygienic than leaving trash to rot or burn in plastic sacks in the street. The dumps are a temporary move while new waste incinerators are built.“The mayors of towns where dumps will be opened must make people see that more damage is done to the environment and their health by rubbish left on the street and set on fire,” said Maurizio Gasparri, from Mr. Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia Party.

As in the days of Noah...


"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:
The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.
And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Acts 16:16-40

Iran to raise domestic gas prices: senior official

Iran plans to hike domestic gas prices in order to encourage consumers to conserve and to help to free up supplies for export, officials said on Saturday."The decision is to be announced this summer or just after," said a senior government official.He was speaking at the third annual Ravand Institute conference, which brings together political and economic leaders and experts from Iran and abroad, and whose proceedings may only be reported under the cloak of anonymity.Natural gas sells for only two US cents per cubic metre (35 cubic feet) in Iran, compared with 30 cents in neighbouring countries, and the difference represents a subsidy of around 40 billion dollars a year, the official said.The plan will be to raise the price to 15 cents for industrial customers, the official said, but he did not provide a figure for individual customers.Ironically, while Iran has the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas, the country is a net importer because of a highly inefficient use of it in industry and profligate use on the part of private consumers.An official from Iran's gas sector said the country needed to economise in order to export, and that it is consuming too much.But an executive from an Iranian gas company said it was ironic that with such high reserves, Iran "could not heat its houses" and forecast that "gas shortages are going to be with us for a long time."The senior government official said the "peak of consumption went above 500 million cubic metres a day last winter but our production did not reach that level."In January, Iran announced record production of only 460 million cubic metres a day.The country has a 20-year plan aiming to hike production to 1.45 billion cubic metres a day, with 642 million earmarked for domestic consumption, 259 million for injection in oil production wells and 550 million for export.But these projects need massive investment, hampered by a US economic boycott.
As in the days of Noah...

Angry protests as Indonesia hikes fuel prices

Angry students hurled molotov cocktails at police after Indonesia hiked the cost of gasoline by 33 percent Saturday to rein in subsidies that are exploding along with world oil prices.More than 100 protesters were arrested as students burned tyres and threw homemade fire-bombs outside the National University in Jakarta in response to the midnight price hike, police said.Other rallies broke out in the second city of Surabaya, where students commandeered a fuel truck from state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina, and in Bandung where hundreds of hardline Muslims marched through the streets.The price hike took effect at midnight in response to soaring global oil prices and a ballooning subsidy bill that is straining the budget and sucking state funds away from basic services and infrastructure.Long queues formed at petrol stations ahead of the announcement Friday and 26 demonstrators were arrested at a protest at the presidential palace overnight.Millions of Indonesians live on less than two dollars a day and protesters say higher fuel prices combined with the recent surge in the cost of food will put an intolerable strain on family budgets.Indonesian motorists are now paying 33.3 percent more to fill their tanks with premium gasoline at 6,000 rupiah (65 cents) a litre, while diesel fuel for transportation has leapt 27.9 percent to 5,500 rupiah."We will fight against this abuse of power by the government. It's unacceptable," protest organiser Wardah Hafidz, of the Urban Poor Consortium, told AFP."The fuel hike will be followed by rises in the price of basic food, education and transport fares, meaning more people won't have money to educate or feed their children. This country will collapse."Vice President Jusuf Kalla defended the police, at least four of whom were injured in the protests."Police have to be firm against any anarchic protests. Protesters that block the roads must be arrested. Democracy doesn't allow any road-blocking," he was quoted as saying by Detikcom online news service.The price hike has sparked protests across the sprawling archipelago of 234 million people since it was flagged earlier this month by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.The president had promised not to raise fuel costs until after elections next year, but with oil prices smashing records above 130 dollars a barrel this week the government felt it had no choice but slash subsidies.Analysts welcomed the rises and said other Asian counties would have to follow suit or watch their budgets break under the weight of massive fuel subsidies."I think this move is positive for Indonesia in terms of its fiscal position," Royal Bank of Scotland economist Euben Paracuelles said in Singapore on Friday."It looks like that's where most governments are heading right now."Taiwan's new government has decided to end a freeze on domestic gasoline prices from June, while Malaysia is reportedly looking at making wealthy consumers pay more for fuel under a new two-tier subsidy system.
Even regional giant India is reeling from the oil price onslaught, with the petroleum secretary admitting Friday that a fuel price hike was "inevitable" to bail out state oil firms selling at hugely discounted rates.To soften the blow, Jakarta is offering direct cash transfers to the poor amounting to 14.1 trillion rupiah (1.5 billion dollars).The government was at pains to point out that even with the price hike Indonesians still enjoyed some of the cheapest fuel in the world.
But Vice President Kalla said the government was not afraid to adjust prices even higher in Southeast Asia's biggest economy if the oil markets continued to climb.The last fuel price rise in Indonesia was a whopping 126 percent in 2005, sparking mass demonstrations but no long-term unrest.

As in the days of Noah...

Russia, China condemn U.S. shield

Medvedev says Russia-China force to be reckoned with

Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev, winding up his first foreign trip, said Saturday the world could not ignore the joint voice of his country and China, and rejected criticism of the alliance.Medvedev said it was symbolic that he picked China as his first destination outside the former Soviet Union. The two countries have been increasingly assertive as their economies grow on the back of rising exports."Russian-Chinese cooperation has today emerged as a key factor in international security, without which it is impossible for the international community to take major decisions,"Medvedev said at Peking University."Maybe not everybody likes the strategic cooperation between our two countries, but we understand that this cooperation is in the interest of our people and we will boost it whether or not it pleases some people," he said, without naming critics.A day earlier, Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao in a joint statement denounced US plans to build a global missile defence shield.Russia has been outraged by US plans to build the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe. Russia and China have also been uneasy about US-Japanese cooperation on a missile shield.But Medvedev has stayed away from openly assailing the West in the style of his mentor and predecessor Vladimir Putin, who remains highly influential in the prime minister's post.China and Russia are veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, where they have coordinated positions on controversial issues such as Kosovan independence, which they both oppose, as well as the Iranian nuclear issue.The two have also established the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation with four Central Asian nations in a set-up similar to the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which has been expanding into Eastern Europe."Our activity is not directed against any other country but serves to maintain an international balance," Medvedev said of cooperation with China.Unlike most Western nations, Russia has not voiced concerns about China's human rights record or its clampdown on protests that broke out in Tibet in March against Chinese rule.Medvedev told the Chinese students that he was looking forward to the Beijing Olympics, whose worldwide torch relay was marred by protests over Tibet."I am convinced that the organisation of the Olympic Games will be at a high level," he said."When I watch the Olympic Games, of course I will support Russian athletes but also the Chinese athletes and I hope that together we will win all of the medals."But analysts note that a spate of disputes still mar ties between Russia and China, which had armed conflicts in the Soviet era.Negotiations have been bogged down on plans for a Russian oil pipeline to supply China's rapidly growing economy.They are also competing for Central Asia's oil and gas, which was exclusively Moscow's preserve in Soviet times.Hu accepted Medvedev's invitation to visit Russia next year, Chinese state media reported.
As in the days of Noah...

PAGAN WATCH:Day of the Devil

Abbas fears Olmert probe may hold up peace talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank-Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he feared a criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and looming U.S. elections could hold up Middle East peace talks.Senior Abbas aide Tayeb Abdel-Rahim reported the Palestinian president's briefing comments to his ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank city of Ramallah on the latest developments in U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel.Abdel-Rahim said Abbas "hopes that recent events, such as the obstacles facing the Israeli prime minister, and American preoccupation with elections would not obstruct the peace process desired by Palestinians".Israeli police questioned Olmert on Friday for a second time. Israel's chief prosecutor said on Monday investigators suspected Olmert had taken cash-filled envelopes from New York fundraiser Morris Talansky.Olmert, who was first questioned three weeks ago, has denied any wrongdoing but said he would resign if indicted.On Thursday, Abbas said negotiations with Israel on sensitive final status issues were continuing, but that gaps were still wide between the sides.The issues include the fate of Jerusalem, Jewish settlements, setting borders and the right of return for refugees.Western diplomats and Palestinian officials said Abbas had told them he believed Olmert was serious about reaching a final deal with the Palestinians despite his problems at home.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

JIHAD WATCH:Pakistani Taliban leader vows jihad in Afghanistan

KOTKAI, Pakistan-The leader of the Pakistani Taliban vowed on Saturday to carry on fighting NATO and U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan regardless of negotiations for a peace deal with the government of Pakistan.Baitullah Mehsud told a group of journalists, invited to his stronghold in the tribal lands of South Waziristan, that he wanted to stop fighting the Pakistan army."Fighting between the Taliban and Pakistan is harming Islam and Pakistan. This fighting should come to an end immediately," Mehsud said.But he made no commitment about halting attacks in Afghanistan, and said the jihad, or holy war, would carry on."Islam does not recognize frontiers and boundaries. Jihad in Afghanistan will continue," Mehsud said, as guards carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles looked on.
Mark Laity, NATO spokesman in Kabul, said: Such comments come as no surprise to us.Mehsud is a very dangerous man and everybody knows that."Mehsud emerged as a notorious militant commander over the past year, having been linked to a string of suicide attacks, including one that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto last December.After an offensive in January, the army succeeded in bottling up Mehsud's forces in the mountainous tribal lands of Waziristan, giving the government a stronger position from which to negotiate.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah....


"Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."

Acts 16:11-15

GAY AGENDA WATCH:Gay activists march in Romania despite opposition

BUCHAREST-Around 200 gay activists marched through Bucharest on Saturday in a heavily policed pride parade that defied efforts by religious and far-right groups to have the annual event banned.Earlier this week, anti-gay groups tried to get a court to rule against the march, Romania's fifth annual gay festival.Two counter-demonstrations were held ahead of the parade. At one, members of a far-right group chanted "Romania does not want you" in a protest they said was "against sin".Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001, but gay people often face hostility in this largely conservative country of 22 million where the powerful Orthodox church views homosexuality as a sin and a disease.Police said the gay rights march passed off without incident."It is encouraging," riot police spokesman Marius Militaru told reporters. "People are becoming aware that we are heading towards a degree of normality."Last year riot police detained dozens of protesters who tried to break up a gay rights march.About 1,200 police were deployed to protect the parade this year."I want to thank the police here today ... but we should be able to march and be ourselves without the police marching along," Michael Cashman, a British member of the European Parliament, told activists.
As in the days of Noah...

Fear among South Africa's foreigners

Thousands march against South Africa violence

JOHANNESBURG-Thousands of people marched through South Africa's biggest city on Saturday, calling for an end to the violence that has killed at least 50 African migrants and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.Demonstrators carrying placards saying "Xenophobia hurts like apartheid" and "We stand against xenophobia" brought traffic to a standstill in Johannesburg's city centre.People in the Hillbrow district, home to many African immigrants, cheered the march, which was organized by churches and labor unions.Police said townships around Johannesburg were quiet but shops were looted and burnt outside Cape Town late on Friday.The South African government has been criticized for its slow reaction to the violence, the worst since apartheid ended 14 years ago, and for not addressing the poverty that is widely blamed for the bloodshed.President Thabo Mbeki said South Africans should not turn on other Africans and pledged that his government was committed to ending the violence."Today we are faced with a disgrace, a humiliation as a nation in that we have allowed a handful of people to commit crimes against other Africans living in our country," Mbeki said on visit to a mission school in the Eastern Cape province.The violence started in Johannesburg's Alexandra township on May 11, and has spread to Cape Town and the eastern port city of Durban.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

END TIMES WEATHER:Funnel Cloud Develops in Okla., Latest in Series of Tornadoes Blamed for at Least 2 Deaths

Potentially deadly tornadoes continued to strike the country's midsection Saturday, with a slow-moving tornado touching down in Oklahoma and causing damage to barns in the rural northwestern area of the state.A helicopter crew for KWTV said the tornado was about a mile and a half away from a farmhouse and described as "serious," as the funnel could be seen sucking up dirt and debris.The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Kingfisher County and neighboring Garfield County as the storm moved into the area from the west.The latest tornado followed news from the Kansas Adjutant General's Department that two people died when a severe storm system tore through the state with more than a dozen tornadoes Friday.The man and woman, from Colorado, were found Saturday in a car in a field 13 miles east of Pratt in south central Kansas.At least 17 tornadoes ripped through western and central Kansas on Friday. At least six people were injured and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed.Meanwhile in Colorado, where a large tornado devastated the northern farm town of Windsor, residents were expected to return to their homes in an area of town that officials had earlier deemed unsafe following Thursday's twister.Natural gas leaks and the threat of explosions had kept hundreds of residents from their homes on Friday.Officials were meeting with residents to plan their return, incident management team spokesman Dan Hatlestad said. "With no power, it may be an unpleasant place to live, but it's up to the homeowners," Hatlestad said.The tornado, with wind speeds between 111 mph to 165 mph, tore through a 35-mile stretch of northern Colorado, killing one person and injuring dozens. It tipped 15 rail cars off the tracks in Windsor, about 70 miles north of Denver.In Kansas, the weather service sent out survey teams Saturday morning to determine the size of the twisters. Ed Berry, science operations officer in the Dodge City office, said many of the twisters appear to be significant in size.In Stafford County, at least seven homes suffered major damage, along with damage to several other structures, power lines and trees, Watson said Saturday.A man in Gove County suffered minor injuries after his car was blown across Interstate 70 into a ditch, according to George Lies, emergency management director for Logan and Gove Counties.Lies said two tornadoes hit in Gove County, with at least a dozen homes sustaining major damage.One twister was on the ground south of Quinter, went back into the clouds as it went over the town, then dropped back down on the other side, damaging four rural houses.Portions of Kansas also have been hit hard by flooding, with as much as 8 inches of rain falling in a 48-hour period, according to Chris Foltz, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Goodland.

BYE BYE PRIVACY:Online Sleuths Find Bizarre Images on Google Maps

It has been a boon to directionally challenged drivers as well as the focus of legal actions raising privacy concerns.It is Google Maps' Street View, a feature that captures on-the-spot images of streets and landmarks along your driving route, and some of those chance images are odd enough that they have developed a cult following of their own online.Some of the incredible and bizarre pictures, compiled on sites like Street View Gallery, include a car burning at the side of the road, a man running down the street in scuba gear, a jet flying close overhead and a bikini car wash.
Google collects the images for its Street View feature using cameras strapped to the top of vehicles, and some of the pictures uncovered by Street View sleuths even show the drivers of the Google vehicles paying tolls at interstate exits.But other images uncovered in Street View are more notable for what is going on around the car. One sequence of images detailed by the Web site Gawker purports to show the many angles of a drug deal going down.Another seems to show someone aiming a gun at a child, though the weapon reportedly is only a water pistol.
Click here for a gallery of photos compiled by news.com.au.
As in the days of Noah....