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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Powers wield sanction threat after Iran stalemate

GENEVA-Major powers gave Iran two weeks to answer calls to rein in its nuclear programme on Saturday or face tougher sanctions after talks ended in stalemate despite unprecedented U.S. participation.A U.S. State Department spokesman said Washington hoped Iran now understood that it had a choice between cooperation and "confrontation, which can only lead to further isolation".But prospects of ending a row that has triggered regional tensions and rattled oil markets looked dim as Iran's top nuclear negotiator insisted Tehran would not even discuss a demand to freeze uranium enrichment at the next meeting."We still didn't get the answer we were looking for," European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after some six hours of talks in Geneva with Iran's Saeed Jalili and envoys from the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain-the so-called sextet of world powers.Solana said he hoped for a clear answer from Tehran in around two weeks to a month-old sextet offer of trade and technical incentives to halt enrichment.Asked whether Tehran would otherwise face a new round of the U.N. Security Council sanctions that analysts say are already beginning to bite on its economy, he told a news conference:"The Iranians know very well what will continue to happen if nothing happens otherwise."Diplomats said the presence of senior U.S. envoy William Burns at the talks underlined the unity of major powers in the dispute, and stressed that patience was running out with Iran.
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As in the days of Noah....

Iran rules out enrichment freeze

Iran must choose between cooperation and confrontation: US

Iranians must understand their leaders need to choose between nuclear cooperation or confrontation, which will only lead to further isolation, the US State Department warned Saturday.The statement from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack came after US Undersecretary of State William Burns joined international talks with Iran in Geneva in a bid to make Iran suspend sensitive nuclear work.Burns, it said, delivered a "clear simple message" that Washington was "serious" in backing proposed international incentives for Iran to halt uranium enrichment and that it will only engage in negotiations with Iran when it does so.The statement added: "We hope the Iranian people understand that their leaders need to make a choice between cooperation, which would bring benefits to all, and confrontation, which can only lead to further isolation."When it was his turn to speak, "Burns delivered a clear, simple message: the United States is serious in its support for the package Mr. Solana conveyed in Tehran last month, the United States is serious in its support of P5+1 unity, and the United States with its P5+1 partners are serious that Iran must suspend uranium enrichment to have negotiations involving the United States," McCormack said.The P5+1 refers to the permanent five UN Security Council members (Britain, France, Russia, China and United States) plus Germany. Burns did not meet or speak with separately any member of the Iranian delegation, the spokesman added.
As in the days of Noah....

Mexico tackles diseases after floods

Tropical storm Kalmaegi hits China

Tropical storm forms off U.S. East Coast

MIAMI-The third tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, Cristobal, formed off the U.S. East Coast on Saturday and gale-force winds and heavy rains were expected to lash the Carolinas as the storm grazed the shoreline on a northeasterly path.Hurricane Bertha, meanwhile, defied cool Atlantic waters to cling to hurricane strength while a strong tropical wave south of Jamaica was expected to develop into a depression-the precursor to a storm-as it headed toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the oil rigs of the Gulf of Mexico beyond. Cristobal was over marginally warm waters and while it was expected to strengthen over the coming days it was not seen becoming a hurricane, which requires winds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.It was about 100 miles east of Charleston, South Carolina, by 2 p.m. EDT and moving to the northeast parallel to the coastline at 7 mph (11 kph) with 40 mph (65 kph) winds, the Miami-based hurricane center said.A tropical storm warning was in effect from South Santee River in South Carolina to the North Carolina/Virginia border and rainfall of up to 5 inches could be expected in coastal areas, the center said.Bertha, far to the east in the open Atlantic, continued to display an ominous resilience as it raced over chilly waters in the direction of distant Iceland.The first hurricane of the season-now on its way to becoming one of the longest-lived Atlantic storms on record-Bertha formed on July 3 near the Cape Verde islands off the coast of Africa, signaling an early start to what might turn out to be an active six-month hurricane season.
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To monitor these tropical storms and potential hurricanes go to:
As in the days of Noah.....

ABC News: Is McCain Subliminally Linking Obama To Al Qaeda In His Campaign Ad?

Allegedly this screen capture above from McCain’s latest campaign commercial is proof of a subliminal message the nefarious McCain advertising people put in to make people link Obama with al Qaeda.Here’s the explanation from ABC News:
At the very beginning, the title—“The Obama Iraq Documentary”—flashes into place in a blaze of orange. And for a single frame—a tiny fraction of a second—Obama’s face is framed by the following prominent letters: “a l q D.”
Some caveats: “al qD” is meaningless by itself. The “l” is actually the capital “I” in “Iraq,” though in the typeface used in the video, it looks like a lowercase “L.” Other letters—at either end of the title—are simultaneously on the screen. And many editing programs do allow randomized letter placement.
But still. . . . For a brief moment, Obama’s face is framed by letters that the brain may want to play with and spell something that does make sense. If you type “al qD” into Google, you get this response: “Did you mean: al qaeda.”
Here’s the campaign ad played at full speed.

Stupid controversy ever? You betcha. But that won’t stop ABC News from using the hysteria over that now-infamous New Yorker cover to question why the McCain campaign let this “subliminal message” slip by them.
A McCain aide told ABC that it was primarily put together by an editor who had about 48 hours to throw it together in advance of Obama’s foreign trip.
Still, in this era of hyper-analysis — and in the very week that a non-subtle New Yorker cover was blasted as beyond the bounds of satire — should something like this have slipped by Team McCain?
Maybe it slipped by them because it’s just a random arrangement of letters that a) don’t even spell out al Qaeda direction and b) are on the screen for less than a second.I guess that explanation makes too much sense or something.
by Rob
As in the days of Noah....

Obama takes campaign abroad

What awaits Obama in Iraq

Obama meets U.S. commander in Afghanistan

KABUL-U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama met the commander of U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday to talk about the war he says is not getting enough attention from the Bush administration((sigh...)).Obama made Afghanistan the first stop on an overseas trip aimed at proving his foreign policy credentials.(((ROL))) He will also visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain."I want to, obviously, talk to the commanders and get a sense, both in Afghanistan and in Baghdad of ... what ... their biggest concerns are," he told reporters before boarding a military flight from the United States. "And I want to thank our troops for the heroic work that they've been doing."Obama wants to send two more brigades, or about 7,000 U.S. troops, to Afghanistan to shift emphasis from what he calls the Bush administration's "single-minded" focus on Iraq. He has called for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months.The United States has about four times more troops in Iraq than the 36,000 it has in Afghanistan. But more of its soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in both May and June than in Iraq.It is more than six years since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban for sheltering al Qaeda leaders behind the September 11 attacks, but violence has risen sharply in recent months and there are few signs the insurgency is weakening.Obama and fellow senators Jack Reid and Chuck Hagel got a briefing from U.S. General Jeffrey Schloesser, the commander of NATO-led forces in the east and U.S.-led coalition forces across the country at Bagram airfield, close to the capital Kabul."Following the briefing, the senators were able to meet service members from their respective states at Bagram, and also at Jalalabad Air Field," the U.S. military said in a statement.
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As in the days of Noah....

OBAMA SUPER STAR TOUR WATCH:Berlin Gears Up for Obama Visit

Obama hopes to look presidential when he speaks in Berlin
Obama will speak at Berlin's Victory Column

Obama is expected to draw a crowd in Berlin
Barack Obama seems set to speak next to Berlin's famous Victory Column when he visits next week.The speech is expected to draw thousands and has put Obama's view on trade in the spotlight.In what is viewed as a compromise, Obama, the presumptive US Democratic presidential candidate, will not speak directly at the Brandenburg Gate as originally proposed.Instead, Obama will speak next to a 67-meter column topped with the golden image of the Roman goddess Victory. The Brandenburg Gate, an iconic symbol of Berlin's reunification, will be 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) at the opposite end of a tree-lined boulevard.Obama is expected to addresses a large crowd in Berlin on Thursday, July 24. Some have estimated that more than 10,000 Berliners could show up for the event.Berlin's Senate is expected to announce the decision on Friday, according to a report in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. Unnamed federal and Berlin government officials also confirmed the venue to the DPA news agency.
Symbolic venue
John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate in the early 1960s when it was fenced off by East-West political divisions. The gate was also the spot where Ronald Reagan issued his 1987 call to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."Chancellor Angela Merkel had expressed reservations about Obama using the Brandenburg Gate for what will essentially be a campaign speech.Social Democrat Frank-Walter Steinmeier, likely to be Merkel's opponent in next year's national elections, had supported Obama's right to use the gate as a venue. Obama himself had said that he didn't want the location of his speech to cause controversy.
Meeting with Merkel
The candidate's visit will also include a meeting with Merkel in the chancellery, her spokesman confirmed.Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm says the meeting is expected to take place on Thursday morning.Berlin will come at the end of a trip Obama is taking that will start with visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Berliners eager to hear Obama
Berliners are expected to turn up in large numbers to see him speak. A recent poll shows that 72 percent of Germans would vote for Obama if given the opportunity.With President George W. Bush deeply unpopular in Germany, many are rooting for an Obama win."People here see him almost as a political redeemer after seven years of Bush," political analyst Jan Techau of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) told DPA news agency, although he warns that sustaining the euphoria will be difficult.
Worries about trade barriers
Some of Obama's comments about reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have caused worry among Europeans. Obama recently said that he felt it was "a shame" that Belgium-based brewer, InBev NV would take over the iconic Budweiser label. Europe's top trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, called on Obama to stop "crowd-pleasing rhetoric" which could be interpreted as anti-trade.Mandelson called on both Obama and likely Republican candidate John McCain toack'nowledge the huge benefits for the American economy and the American people of continued trade growth.'' Mandelson made the comments during an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday.
As in the days of Noah....

Obama Euro Trip Big for Campaign

Obama to meet with German leader Merkel

BERLIN-Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says the German leader will welcome U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama to her office in Berlin next Thursday.Spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm says the meeting at the chancellery is expected to take place on Thursday morning. Obama's stop in Berlin is part of a tour of the Middle East and Europe aimed at burnishing the Democratic candidate's foreign policy credentials.Obama also is expected to deliver a speech in Berlin. It remains unclear where that event might take place.

OBAMA SUPER STAR WATCH:Obama Trip Could Push Rock-Star Persona to New Heights

Barack Obama’s advisers insist his coming trip abroad is not a campaign swing. Even so, the high-profile journey has all the trappings of a rock-star tour.The Illinois senator’s trip to Europe and the Middle East has generated so much interest that all three TV network news anchors are planning to accompany the candidate.Foreign media have reported daily on the impending visit. And the campaign revealed Friday that Obama intends to meet with top U.S. allies. Obama is surely looking to burnish his foreign policy credentials overseas-but on the back end of it, his superstar persona might get the biggest boost. “What you’re about to see is enormous publicity,” Democratic strategist Susan Estrich said. “He’s got three anchors coming with him. He’s got the glitterati of the press corps.”With his visit, the presumptive Democratic nominee is recreating the kind of public whirlwind that he enjoyed at the height of the Democratic primary — only on a global scale.When John McCain made a similar trip overseas in March, he was accompanied by a few dozen members of the U.S. media. No network anchors made the journey. Granted, it was his eighth visit to Iraq, but it was his first since clinching the GOP nomination, which he had done just days earlier.This time, the traveling press could dwarf McCain’s entourage. In terms of media frenzies, it’s the difference between a flea circus and the Big Top.According to the Obama camp, the 40 seats on the campaign plane have already been filled, after 200 reporters applied.Add to that the security detail that will accompany him.Unlike McCain, who traveled to Iraq when he was not under the protection of the Secret Service,Obama is going overseas under the watchful eyes of both the Secret Service and foreign law enforcement.Obama’s advisers stressed Friday that the Illinois senator is not trying to play the role of president.“The broad goals of the trip are to deepen, even further, important relationships and to exchange views with the leaders in several countries whose partnership with the United States is really critical to our national security,” foreign policy adviser Susan Rice said on a conference call with reporters.“It is important to note that it is not our intent to make policy or to negotiate. We won’t do so. There is one president of the United States at any given time and we will certainly honor and respect that.”They rattled off an itinerary that includes meetings with, among others, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.The Drudge Report reported Friday that there are elevated security concerns, particularly with his potential visits to Israel and the West Bank.But Ron Williams, a former Secret Service agent, told FOX News that ironically Obama “may be safer there than campaigning in the United States.”Williams said that so long as Obama sticks to his meetings with foreign dignitaries and avoids public appearances the crowds will be thoroughly vetted.
“Of course, it’s gonna be tense,” he said, adding that Obama, as a presumptive nominee, will get the same level of protection as President Bush.Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley would not confirm the size of Obama’s security detail or whether there were elevated concerns, but he said the fact that Obama is a presumptive nominee traveling abroad so close to the convention means “it’s certainly going to gain more attention.”He said Obama’s massive entourage shouldn’t make it more challenging to protect him.“Imagine when the president travels — he’s got a large contingent that goes with him as well. That doesn’t hamper our ability to protect him,” Wiley said.But all the hubbub raises questions about how much fact-finding will actually take place when Obama travels to war zones as part of a congressional delegation, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe with his campaign.“I’ve taken many congressional delegations overseas-You’ll learn more about a country by watching the History Channel than you will doing this,” Democratic strategist Bob Beckel told FOX News.With the intense international interest, Beckel said the pressure is high for Obama not to slip up.“He cannot afford to make a policy error or a statement error or else it will be magnified far beyond what it would otherwise be,” he said.Estrich said the trip gives him a platform to fend off McCain’s foreign policy attacks.While the networks are taking some heat for devoting so many resources to the trip, McCain aides have accused Obama of staging an overseas campaign “rally.”McCain gave a different message Thursday, saying that Obama’s trip to the two war zones is welcome and long overdue.On Friday, McCain added that Obama “would be going to a very different Iraq” if the U.S. military had listened to his advice about withdrawing troops.“There would be chaos. There would be an increase in sectarian violence. There would be widening Iranian influence, and we would be facing disaster — certainly if not disaster, a lost war,” he said.McCain also launched an attack on Obama in a new television ad accusing him of switching positions on Iraq “to help himself become president.”The 30-second ad, wich will run on national cable and in 11 battleground states, is McCain’s first negative TV ad aimed at Obama.The McCain ad’s announcer says Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan, hasn’t been to Iraq in years and opposed war funding. The announcer says these positions helped Obama win the Democratic nomination but he’s changing now to become president.Obama spokesman Bill Burton called it a “patently misleading negative ad.”“Given his calls for a civil campaign, it’s disappointing that Senator McCain has slipped so easily into the same, tired campaign tactics that have become so familiar to the American people,” Burton said.Burton also said reports Friday that the U.S. and Iraq may agree to a “general time horizon” for reductions in troop levels is a “step in the right direction.”

As in the days of Noah....

Obama's planned visit to Mideast raises serious security concerns:Report

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, as part of a Middle East trip that has many concerned about the candidate's safety."At approximately 3:15 a.m. (0715 GMT), I received a phone call telling me that Senator Obama had landed at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan," Robert Gibbs, a top aide to the Illinois senator, said in a written statement. Few citizens in impoverished Afghanistan were aware of Obama's unannounced visit, and few have been following the U.S. presidential race, being too busy eking out an existence amid soaring violence and with limited access to news media.But some interviewed Saturday said they would welcome an Obama presidency if he could help their country end the fighting, corruption and poverty that have crippled it for so long."Obama is a good person," said Abdul Basir, 40, a former army officer. During his campaign I heard he was saying that if I become president I will withdraw the U.S. troops from Iraq and bring them to Afghanistan and I will attack on the terror center on other side of border (in Pakistan). It is very important and I appreciated that. The Afghans expressed a readiness to see the end of George W. Bush's presidency. Obama's racial heritage also has drawn attention here. "He's welcome to our war-torn city, said Habibullah Hamdard, a 42-year-old teacher. If he has loved his children, he should love the Afghan children who are dying around the country every day. The white guy couldn't do anything, let's see what the black guy can do." Obama left the United States on Thursday and stopped first in Kuwait, where he visited troops, Gibbs said. Obama's upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank has raised serious security concerns among American officials, the U.S.-based news website Drudge Report reported Friday. Obama was scheduled to visit Israel and the West Bank in the coming days as part of a swing through the Middle East, Palestinian and Israeli officials said earlier this week.Obama will be in Israel on July 22 and 23 and hold talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, an Israeli official said.Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Obama would also meet President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah next Wednesday.The Drudge report said that security concerns were raised after a border policeman shot himself dead at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport last month, 200 meters from where French President Nicolas Sarkozy was getting ready to board a plane ending his trip to Israel. "I would prefer if he did not make the trip to Ramallah," the report cited a Washington official as saying, adding that "he must use extreme caution throughout Israel at this time, in my opinion, especially Jerusalem." Over the last four months the capital has seen three terror attacks in which 11 people had been killed and dozens had been wounded. Senior sources revealed that Obama's foot tour of the Old City had been canceled, the report added. Obama's official itinerary was not made public.
As in the days of Noah....

Obama Not Very Popular In Israel

As we all brace ourselves for the orgy of adulation and worship that will be Obama’s international campaign trip (still trying to figure out why any American politician should be campaigning overseas) it’s worth noting that Obama isn’t adored in every nation he’ll be visiting.
In the past month, one poll found 36 percent of Israelis preferred McCain, versus 27 percent for Obama, while in another, 46 percent of respondents said a McCain presidency “would be better for Israel,” compared to 20 percent who said the same about Obama.
For what it’s worth.
I, personally, think the only opinions that matter about Obama’s qualifications for office are American opinions. That being said, unlike those of us here in America the Israelis have to actually live in the middle east. They live and breathe the war on terror daily, and if they don’t think Obama is the right man for the job...well, that tells us something doesn’t it?
By Rob
As in the days of Noah....

Obama in Afghanistan

Barack Obama launched his week-long world tour with a brief stop in Kuwait and then began a longer visit to Afghanistan, ahead of planned stops in Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England. The highly anticipated trip was launched in secrecy, with Obama’s campaign refusing to confirm that he had left the country, citing security reasons. The campaign announced early Saturday morning that Obama was on the ground in Kabul, Afghanistan.The U.S. military later said Obama was greeting U.S. troops at Jalalabad airfield in eastern Afghanistan. Obama made a secret stop in Kuwait and visited U.S. service members, then flew on to Kabul.Obama and his party also met with troops and military brass at the huge Bagram Air Base, according to reporters on the ground.The stops in Afghanistan and a later visit to Iraq are part of a congressional trip that includes Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Mark Lippert, foreign policy adviser in Obama’s Senate office, was the only staff member who accompanied him on the congressional delegation trip, the campaign said. Lippert had returned in the late spring from a tour of duty in Iraq as a naval reservist. A blogger briefly posted word Friday that Obama was in Kuwait, but the campaign refused to confirm it and the post was removed. The campaign had not given the dates of the trip, insisting that the press refer to it as “upcoming.”The later two stops in the Middle East and the three stops in Western Europe are part of a separate campaign trip that will include a full plane of press and staff. The campaign said Friday that Obama will meet with a huge slate of world leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, King Abdullah of Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Ohlmert, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, Israeli Likud Party Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Robert Gibbs, the campaign’s senior strategist for communications and message, announced the beginning of the trip with a 3:24 a.m. e-mail to reporters: “At approximately 3:15 AM Eastern/2:15 AM Central, I received a phone call telling me that Sen. Obama had landed at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since leaving Washington on Thursday, Sen. Obama had stopped and visited troops in Kuwait.” That was followed by a 1,000-word pool report by the Chicago Tribune’s John McCormick that covered Obama’s movement to Washington, where he dropped the pool. Obama’s small traveling party flew from Chicago to Washington on a Gulfstream III (G-III) on Thursday, then took a military plane from Andrews Air Force Base. The G-III was hot when the party boarded, and the pool report by McCormick says Obama made a joke about the upcoming desert weather. “We’re just easing you into it,” Obama told the Secret Service agents accompanying him. Obama was accompanied on the flight to Washington by eight Secret Service agents; just one staff member, senior adviser Linda Douglass, his traveling spokesperson; and two reporters — McCormick and Glen Johnson of The Associated Press. Obama read The New York Times on the flight to Washington, then paused for the reporters to ask him what he hoped to learn on the mission. “Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the situation on the ground is,” he said. “I want to, obviously, talk to the commanders and get a sense, both in Afghanistan and in Baghdad of, you know, what the most, ah, their biggest concerns are. And I want to thank our troops for the heroic work that they’ve been doing.” McCormick says the senator then was asked whether he plans to deliver some tough talk to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about doing more to stand up as the instruments of self-governance in their own nations. “Well, you know, I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking,” Obama replied. “And I think it is very important to recognize that I’m going over there as a U.S. senator. We have one president at a time, so it’s the president’s job to deliver those messages.” Obama left Andrews at about 3:17 p.m. Thursday. The campaign said Reed and Hagel were aboard.
As in the days of Noah....

PERSECUTION WATCH:Court says 'gay' rights trump Christian rights

A federal appeals court dismissed a civil rights complaint by 11 Philadelphia Christians, ruling their First Amendment rights were trumped by the First Amendment rights of homosexuals at the city's taxpayer-funded "Outfest" celebration in 2004....
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Rice: No promises on Iran meeting

Friday, July 18, 2008

World powers test Iran's will to end nuclear row

GENEVA-Major world powers will sound out Iran's readiness to negotiate an end to the long dispute over its nuclear program on Saturday. The unprecedented participation of a senior U.S. official in the one-day meeting in Geneva, together with Iranian comments playing down the likelihood of an attack by the United States and Israel, have raised hopes of progress.Signs of easing tension have helped knocked the price of oil off recent record highs, but the optimism was tempered by a U.S. insistence that despite the presence of its envoy William Burns, real negotiations cannot begin until Iran has frozen sensitive nuclear work, a step Tehran has repeatedly ruled out."That remains the U.S. position and it will continue to be the U.S. position," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a news conference in Washington of the precondition.Arriving for talks with officials from the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany-the so-called sextet-chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said he had "positive intentions".Jalili has a mandate from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take any decision needed, a senior Iranian official told Reuters, adding that the meeting "will clarify the fate of the negotiations".Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, rejects suspicions that it wants the atom bomb, saying the aim of the program is to generate electricity so that it can export more crude oil and gas.
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As in the days of Noah....

TERROR WATCH:Photographer Detained After Filming Taliban Execution of Two Women in Afghanistan-(((WARNING GRAPHIC)))

A map of Afghanistan, showing Ghazni City, the capital of Ghazni province. Taliban insurgents executed two women on the outskirts of the province July 12.
Two unidentified Afghan Women chat with each other a few minutes before they were executed by Taliban in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
Local people watch two Afghan women shot and killed by Taliban in Ghazni province, Afghanistan
The Afghan journalist who filmed and photographed the July 12 execution of two women by the Taliban says he was detained and held for two days by authorities in Afghanistan for suspected ties to terrorists.The footage and photographs of the executions were distributed by the Associated Press and widely circulated on the Internet, giving rise to suspicions that the photographer, Rahmatullah Naikzad, was connected with the Taliban.In an exclusive telephone interview, Naikzad told FOXNews.com that he turned himself in to Afghan authorities early this week and was held in custody and investigated for 48 hours. He said officials "asked me why I went to the Taliban at night-how come they didn't harm me."Naikzad said he has no ties with the Taliban, and he gave the following account of why and how he became witness to the executions.He said the Taliban issued a press statement calling all media outlets in the province of Ghazni, which has a large Taliban presence, to cover them “carrying out the Shariah” on a few burglars in their custody. Naikzad said he believed the Taliban would be cutting off the limbs of their prisoners, according to strict Islamic law.He said he and other journalists were reluctant to go because of security concerns, but that an unknown person who identified himself as a member of the Taliban contacted him directly on his cell phone and assured him of his safety.“We talked for about five minutes on the phone, and he said my safety was absolutely guaranteed,” Naikzad explained.He said he checked with the Kabul office of the Associated Press, for which he works as a stringer, and then set off around sunset on his motorbike to a village on the outskirts of Ghazni City, only to find that no other journalist was there.That, he said, was when he learned it was two women — and not burglars — whom the Taliban had arrested, and that they had been charged with running a prostitution ring for coalition soldiers and local men.Naikzad interviewed and filmed the Taliban, who said on tape that the two women “took the pure girls and women” and “indulged them in immoral acts.”After the interview, he said, the Taliban picked up the two burqa-clad women from a house, put them in a white Toyota Corolla and drove off to a different location.Naikzad said he followed the Corolla on his bike, with a Taliban car following him.About a half-hour later, he said, they stopped near Arzo village, close to the Ghazni-Paktika highway, on the outskirts of the province.The women-one of whom appeared to be carrying a shopping bag-were then taken out of the car and told they would be executed.Naikzad said he tried to persuade the Taliban not to carry out the executions.“I told one of the Taliban, ‘These are women, they are harmless. Why would you want to kill them?’ But they didn’t listen to me.”When his pleas went unheeded, he said, he asked the Taliban if he could film the execution.“I wanted to show how the women were killed and have a proof of their death,” he said.He said the Taliban turned him down, but his camera was already rolling and he kept it on when he placed it on the seat of his bike.Two Taliban cocked their guns. Soon, five bullets were sprayed into the back of one woman, and six or seven pierced the head of the other. The women shouted and cried for a short moment, then went silent.Naikzad said the Taliban did not notice that his camera was still rolling.But the camera did not remain stationary. The videotape shows that it moved from left to right, apparently to capture the two executioners.“I was standing near the bike, so my body may have touched the camera,” Naikzad said, explaining the movement of the camera. He stumbled slightly and added, “I myself nudged the camera a little bit.”Naikzad said the Taliban offered him the opportunity to come with them for the night, since the road back home was dangerous. He said he declined the offer, and rode home.The next morning, he said, he consulted with the AP, because he wanted to return to the village and photograph the women’s bodies. He said the AP agreed and he rode back to the scene of the executions.Villagers stood nearby as he filmed and photographed the corpses. A stream of dried blood trailed from one body. The other woman’s shopping bag remained near her, its contents scattered.“There was a beige handbag and a comb … a mirror and some cosmetics in it,” Naikzad said.Naikzad said he was detained for two days after his video appeared on the Internet, but that he was released for three days following the death of a relative. He said he was treated well in custody, and that he is cooperating with the National Directorate of Security, the agency that interrogated him.
“Around 60 pages of investigative material were produced from my interrogation,” he said.“I am willingly going back into custody once the [three-day] period ends,” he said, adding, “I have nothing to fear.”Some bloggers who have seen the video of the executions have expressed concerns that Naikzad may be connected with the Taliban, and that the Associated Press was used as a propaganda tool.But Naikzad denied any ties with the terrorists and said he has given equal coverage to the different sides in conflict in the province. “If I have photographed Taliban casualties, I have also photographed American casualties. I have been balanced in my journalism,” he said.Paul Colford, director of media relations for the Associated Press, said in response to an inquiry: "The Associated Press has been following this case closely with some concern."
PS:This is Sharia'a Law....This is how much women are worth in Afghanistan for these criminals....
As in the days of Noah...

HONOUR KILLING WATCH:NY muslim Immigrant Stabs Sister for Being a 'Filthy American Girl'...

Infuriated because his younger sister was going to clubs, wearing immodest clothing and planning to leave her family for a new life in New York City, Waheed Allah Mohammad stabbed her outside their Henrietta home, prosecutors allege.Afterward, he told Monroe County sheriff's investigators that he attacked his sister because she had disgraced their family and was a "bad Muslim girl," according to court documents.Mohammad, 22, is scheduled to appear Friday in Monroe County Court on charges of attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 8 attack on Fauzia A. Mohammad, 19.The case is the second in four years in Monroe County in which an immigrant from South Asia is alleged to have killed or tried to kill a family member over the perceived loss of family honor — an occurrence that is not uncommon in South Asia but is rare in the United States.Although the defendants in both cases are Muslims, resorting to homicide to restore family honor in mostly Muslim South Asia is a custom that predates Islam, said Aly Nahas, a retired professor of pharmacology at the University of Rochester who is a student of Islamic tradition."In my belief, it has nothing to do with Islam," said Nahas, a practicing Muslim. "I know Islam well, and I do not believe it is Islamic. There is nothing in Islam that talks about honor killing."Nahas said, however, that many Westerners don't accept his assertion."And they will not because it occurs in countries that have been Muslim for 1,000 years," he said. "People will ask, 'Why isn't it stopped?' I can't answer that."According to the United Nations Population Fund, up to 5,000 women are killed each year in South Asia for allegedly disgracing their families. Some of the women are killed after becoming rape victims or rejecting arranged marriages.Assistant District Attorney Joseph Waldorf, who is prosecuting Mohammad, declined to characterize the case as an "honor attack" or otherwise.Fauzia Mohammad is recovering from her wounds, Waldorf said.During Friday's proceeding, Mohammad's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender John Bradley, will ask Judge John J. Connell to schedule a hearing to consider whether Mohammad voluntarily waived his right to a lawyer before making the alleged confession.A bigger question than Mohammad's purported motive, Bradley said, is whether Mohammad, who emigrated to the United States with his family from war-ravaged Afghanistan, is suffering from a stress-inflicted mental disorder that could explain or mitigate the alleged attack on his sister."Apparently the whole family was on the sidewalk, arguing with her, not wanting her to leave," Bradley said. "It was getting to be quite a heated argument. I suspect that at least some element of this triggered something in him related to his past."Mental illness became a defense in the first case involving an honor attack in Monroe County.On April 15, 2004, Ismail Peltek, an immigrant from Turkey, stabbed and beat his wife to death and wounded two daughters at their home in Scottsville. He told investigators that he was attempting to restore family honor that had been lost when his wife and one daughter were sexually assaulted by a relative and the other daughter was "sullied" by a medical exam.Peltek was allowed to plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and is being held in a psychiatric center.Mohammad was charged after his sister was stabbed outside their family's apartment on Linhome Drive, west of East River Road and south of Jefferson Road.According to court documents, a female friend of Fauzia Mohammad had arranged to pick her up outside the apartment to take her to New York.During a family argument that spilled outside, Waheed Mohammad is accused of retrieving a knife from his car and chasing his sister. He allegedly lunged at her with the knife and stabbed her multiple times."He described her as a 'bad Muslim girl' and (said) that he did not approve of her clothing," a sheriff's investigator said in court documents. "They argued and he got angry."After the stabbing, Mohammad allegedly threw the knife into a pond behind the apartment and fled in his car. Deputies stopped Mohammad minutes later at East River and Jefferson roads. Divers recovered the knife later.Mohammad's mother, two sisters and a younger brother came to the United States in 2002 and Mohammad followed in 2005. He worked as a bus boy in a restaurant and has no criminal record, Bradley said.Mohammad is being held in the Monroe County Jail in lieu of $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond,set in Henrietta Town Court after his arrest. Bradley said he intends to ask Connell to reduce bail to a level Mohammad's family can afford. "His family doesn't have very many resources," Bradley said. "There are people being held on even more serious crimes that are out on less bail than that."

As in the days of Noah...

Taiwan storm death toll rises to 15

Thousands of workers continued search and rescue operations on Saturday after Tropical Storm Kalmaegi wreaked havoc across Taiwan, leaving 15 people dead and 10 missing, officials said.The casualties from floods and mudslides were reported in worst-hit central and southern Taiwan, where up to 950 millimetres (37 inches) of rain fell in less than two days, said the National Fire Agency.A baby girl and her teenage uncle were killed when their house tumbled under a mudslide while her pregnant mother was rescued with minor injuries.An army captain drowned after falling into a gutter in his barracks amid bad weather while one couple died when the boat they were being rescued in capsized.Nearly 60,000 government and civilian rescuers have been mobilised to combat floods and conduct rescue missions, with 87 people evacuated to safety, the agency said.But 10 people, believed to have been washed away by floods or buried alive, remained missing while eight others were injured, it said.The Central Weather Bureau has come under criticism from victims, the media and even President Ma Ying-jeou for underestimating the impact of Kalmaegi, for downgrading it from a typhoon to a tropical storm late Thursday. "The forecast predicted the storm to be weakening but the downpours it generated caught everyone off guard," Ma said when asking the bureau to review its system late Friday.However, the bureau denied it was to blame."In a weather forecast the margin of error is inevitable," its weather forecast centre director Wu Teh-rung told reporters.The bureau urged residents in central and southern Taiwan to guard against further downpours although the storm was moving towards the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian.Kalmaegi also ravaged fields and farms, causing an estimated 316 million Taiwan dollars (10 million US) in damage, the government said.Television footage showed swollen rivers and flooded streets in various parts of the island as the storm disrupted traffic, electricity and water services.
As in the days of Noah....

QUAKEWATCH:MAG.6.6 Quake Hits East Coast of Japan

TOKYO - A strong earthquake with a preliminary 6.6 magnitude struck off of Japan's eastern coast Saturday, the country's meteorological agency said....
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DOMES AND MINARETS?:Not in My Backyard, Say an Increasing Number of Germans

Responding to public pressure, architects reduced the size of a controversial mega-mosque planned for the city of Cologne
Resized after protests:The planners of this mega-mosque in Cologne were forced to scale back their blueprints as a result of public protest.
Opponents of Islam: Members of the extreme right-wing Pro Cologne movement protest against the construction of a mega-mosque in Cologne's Ehrenfeld district.
The planned construction of over 180 mosques in Germany is mobilizing right-wing xenophobes but also an increasing number of leftist critics.They fear the Muslim places of worship will facilitate the establishment of a completely parallel society...
The issue at hand wasn't the construction of a missile base or a new nuclear power plant. Yet the media reported "turmoil" and an "enraged" audience in a school auditorium in Ehrenfeld, a district of the German city of Cologne.The mood was almost comparable to that of the protest gatherings once held against nuclear missiles or reactors.Instead the outrage was directed at a huge mosque planned for the area. Still, the words used by the project's opponents called to mind the protests of earlier times. "The minarets even look like missiles," railed one woman. A man said the mosque's dome reminded him "of a nuclear plant."Ill will over mosques like the one being built in Cologne is spreading rapidly throughout Germany, often to the surprise of local politicians. For a long time the establishment of Muslim prayer rooms provoked little protest, housed as they were mostly in residential buildings, shops and back courtyards. Recently, though, there has been an increasing number of acts of protest, some violent. Molotov cocktails were thrown through mosque windows in the Bavarian town of Lauingen; Christians set protest crosses inscribed with "Terra christiana est," or this is Christian land, on the grounds of a mosque in Hanover; and construction trailers went up in flames in the Berlin district of Pankow. The anti-Islam protest movement has also begun to spill over into city politics. In Cologne, for example, the extreme right anti-mosque initiative Pro Cologne captured five local government seats in recent elections. Now the group is aspiring to enter the national scene as Pro Germany, together with other like-minded organizations, some from the far-right fringe. Their approach follows the example of populist Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, whose anti-immigration party garnered a surprising degree of support before he was murdered in 2002.In Germany there is also a market for these "single-issue parties," suggests trend researcher Adjiedj Bakas, who himself emigrated from Surinam to the Netherlands. In the populous Ruhr Valley region of western Germany the Voter Initiative Recklinghausen (whose acronym "WIR" is the German word for "we") has found resonance with its message. The group claims it is fighting against "creeping Islamization," and is allied in the local government with the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), one of Germany's major political parties. WIR members say they aren't alone in their opposition to Islam and their concern "that in 20 years in Recklinghausen, as in all large German cities, the majority of the residents under the age of 40 will be Muslims." "Discomfort is already spreading in some parts of the city," says Georg Schliehe, a WIR representative on the local city council, "but policy, public authorities and scholars downplay the problem."This burgeoning sentiment against mosques has no doubt been strengthened by the Islamist murders and suicide attacks that have also afflicted European cities in recent years. Some Muslims like Imran Sagir, director of a property development company specializing in mosques, say they can understand German citizens' fears. When you hear on the news about crimes committed in the name of Islam," he says, "who can blame people who don't want a mosque in the neighborhood?"Wolfgang Huber, the head of Germany's Protestant Church and bishop for the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, names what he sees as one important cause for the increasing unease. He says there is an "obviously large-scale initiative" on the part of Islamic organizations to show their presence in as high-profile a way as possible and in as many places as possible. No fewer than 184 new mosques, some with domes and minarets, are currently being built or planned throughout Germany. That's considerably more than the 163 existing traditional mosques (along with around 2,600 prayer rooms mostly hidden within secular buildings).And that appears to be only the start of an expected wider European mosque-building boom. One organization alone-Ahmadiyya, a movement seen as an outsider community within Islam that the respected German weekly Die Zeit described as "something like the Jehovah's Witnesses among Muslims"-has introduced a "100 mosque plan" for Germany.Currently 25 percent of these projects have been completed.More often than in the past, Muslim communities nowadays are trying to include Middle Eastern style minarets in their building projects. It's an addition that is rousing greater protest-no matter where the mosque is getting built in Germany. "As soon as the foreignness is cemented in a structure like a mosque, the problems just multiply," says Christoph Dahling-Sander, the Protestant church's representative in the city of Hanover for matters concerning Islam.There have been some notable exceptions, though. Residents in the far northern town of Rendsburg in the state of Schleswig-Holstein kept their famous northern German composure and a majority accepted the construction of a large mosque. But as a rule, when building plans for mosques become public, neighbors immediately mobilize with a laundry list of concerns about why they will be bad for the neighborhood. They fear parking shortages, plunging property values and noise pollution. Hoping to maintain a veneer of political correctness, local politicians with the traditional parties play down these concerns. But by doing so, they just create even greater opportunity for grassroots groups like the citizens' movement Pro Germany."Where this kind of gaudy Middle Eastern building goes up, with a dome and minarets, the next thing will be an application to the authorities for permission to do the call to prayer," a passage on the Pro Germany Web site reads. It's visions like this that are leading more and more Germans to see the construction of mosques as the expression of a "kind of land grab," observes Claus Leggewie, a political science professor at the University of Giessen in the western state of Hesse.This impression is aggravated not only by right-wing agitators but also, according to Leggewie, by careless or sometimes even deliberately provocative statements by Muslim builders. Many seem to think like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In words spoken in 1997, Erdogan made mosque construction seem like part of a strategy of Islamization: "The minarets are our lances, the domes our helmets, the believers our army."The names of some of the newly built mosques aren't exaclty in harmony with the reassuring "Islam is peace" slogan. Religious scholar Ursula Spuler-Stegemann at Germany's University of Marburg, among others, criticizes the fact that mosques are named after warlords like Fatih Sultan Mehmet, conqueror of Constantinople. "That can only be an agenda," she believes. "These Muslims don't just want to show their presence here, but also to strengthen and expand it."Statements made by intellectuals like Spuler-Stegemann, who has also said that, "Islam has a problem with violence," underscore the fact that criticism of mosque construction is no longer exclusively the domain of mindless xenophobes.And it would be a mistake, offical representatives on immigration issues from Germany's states warned a recent joint convention, to sweepingly dismiss mosque critics as being right-wing extremists.In the case of the controversy over the mosque planned for Cologne's Ehrenfeld neighborhood, the right-wing Pro protesters have indeed been pushed into the margins. Their complaints have been drowned out by more high-profile statements coming from prominent leftists and liberals including German Jewish journalist Ralph Giordano, women's rights activist Alice Schwarzer and investigative reporter Günter Wallraff, who have all spoken out against the mosque.Representatives of Germany's large churches have increasingly added their voices to the criticism as well. The "dishonest dialogue" with Islam described in SPIEGEL's pages in December 2001-in which church representatives simply ignored scandalous and unbearable aspects like persecution of Christians, discrimination against women, toleration of terror and "honor" killings for the sake of harmony-is now a thing of the past.In place of the "fairy tale that we're all 'children of Abraham'," in the words of Leggewie, the churches are now making an effort not to entangle themselves in finding contrived common ground with Islam. Instead they are trying to find areas in which they differ-and this applies particularly to the construction of mosques.
By Jochen Bölsche
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ISLAMIC INVASION WATCH:State Dept. promotes 'Mosques in America':Publishes '09 calendar featuring worship sites for only 1 religion

One page from the U.S. State Department's "Mosques of America" 2009 promotional calendar
Screen capture of State Department's offering of "Mosques of America" calendar
This now available from the U.S. State Department: "2009 Mosques of America Wall Calendar: Limited Edition for Ramadan.""Yep, you read that correctly. It's 'perfect for Muslim outreach efforts," according to a commentary at the Gates of Vienna blog. "Where's the ACLU on this one?" The product was being advertised by "Global Publishing Solutions," a division of the U.S. State Department, until bloggers started talking about it.Officials then apparently hid the page behind the security of a password-protected wall. However, the page is still viewable in a Google cache of the website.According to the Gates of Vienna, the government advertised:
In celebration of Ramadan, Global Publishing Solutions (GPS) is offering a limited edition of the 2009 Mosques in America Wall Calendar. This 12-month calendar is perfect for Muslim outreach efforts, as well as office and event giveaways. The wall calendar features a vibrant photograph or photomontage for each month, displaying the beauty of mosques in America. The upper half of the hanging calendar depicts mosque facades or interiors, and the lower half displays a monthly calendar grid. The 28-page calendar is saddle-stitched and measures 23 x 30 1/2 cm (9 x 12 inches) This item is on sale until August 1st, 2008 in shrink-wrapped packs of 20 pieces.
"Remember," said the Internet commentator, "This was on an official State Department (state.gov) web page. GPS describes itself this way: 'The Global Publishing Solutions, manages this site as a gateway to information and transactions for their U.S. State Department clients."
One page from the U.S. State Department's "Mosques of America" 2009 promotional calendar
On the Gates of Vienna site, a reader posted a comment recommending the State Department "adorn the calendar with equally vibrant Quranic verses and hadiths, samples of what is preached in those mosques. For example: January: Kill the infidels wherever you find them. February: Allah's Apostle said: I've been made victorious with terror – and so on and so forth."
JihadWatch.org pointed out the page was pulled after the weblog Snapped Shot posted an image of it yesterday. Snapped Shot said it seems the public servants at State "get all nervous when We, The People actually notice" what they're doing.JihadWatch also made available captured screen shots of the top half and the bottom half of the page.Gates of Vienna commented: "Since Islam is not really a religion, but a political ideology, the government's sale of an Islamocentric calendar evidently doesn't violate the separation of church and state. It's like selling photos of local Democratic Party Headquarters."The cached page reveals the prices are $44 per pack if you order from 6-10 packs of 20.
As in the days of Noah...

LAND FULL of VIOLENCE:Spiritual Guru Followers Brutally Attack Journalists

Protests against spiritual guru, Asaram Bapu, turned violent in Ahmedabad...


As in the days of Noah...

Religious row over Muslim lifestyle book ban

PERSECUTION WATCH:Kidnapped Christian girls, judge ratifies marriage and conversion

The district of Muzaffargarh rules in favour of the Muslims, rejecting the request from the family that wants to bring home the two sisters - 13 and 10 years old - kidnapped last June 26. Christian associations charge that they could end up as prostitutes...
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ISLAMIC CRAZE WATCH:Pakistan-Tension grips town over Koran burning

Hyderabad-Tension gripped a small town in Pakistan, after rumours that a Hindu child had burnt a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Koran. The incident took place in a remote mountainous area between Hyderabad and Karachi.Following the incident, people reportedly gathered in the town of Thano Ahmed Khan to pressure police to take action against the child.Later it was revealed that the child, who works in a grocery store, had mistakenly given a buyer some goods wrapped in a page from a textbook which had a Koranic verse on it.According to reports, the child was taken to a guesthouse, stripped and beaten up. Another report, denied by police, said that the boy was paraded naked in the area.The boy's father, Maharaj Jaman Das, who holds an important religious position in the community, offered an unconditional apology to the protesters and said his son did not know what was written on the paper.Police tried to verify the incident but no one in Thano Ahmed Khan could produce the paper which contained the Koranic verse.Police in Thano Bula Khan told the Pakistani daily, Dawn, that no charges had been laid as no one had given any evidence that an act of blasphemy had occurred.
PS:So we can conclude that muslims in these regions are CHILD ABUSERS....
Sad that my dog loves children more than these irrational muslims,love children of other faiths....
And my dog is "unclean" according to muslims....you know.....
As in the days of Noah....

Turkish daily's battle against Islamist army

ONE WORLD RELIGION WATCH:Pope says ecumenical movement at "critical" juncture

SYDNEY-Pope Benedict, speaking as the Anglican Church is facing one of the deepest crises in its history, said on Friday that relations between Christian religions were at a critical crossroad.The pope made his comment in an address to other Christian leaders in Australia, where he is presiding at the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations. "I think you would agree that the ecumenical movement has reached a critical juncture," he told representatives of various Christian Churches in Australia, including Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists.While he did not elaborate on his comment, the pope appeared to be referring to the crisis gripping the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican community, with which the Vatican is engaged in dialogue aimed at eventual Christian unity.The Anglican communion is deeply divided over the issue of gay bishops and women bishops.A quarter of the world's Anglican bishops have boycotted the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of Anglican leaders being staged in the English cathedral city of Canterbury, spiritual home of the Church.Liberal and conservative clergy have been brought to the brink of schism over the ordination in 2003 of Gene Robinson in New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Church's 450-year history.Conservative Anglican leaders staged their own conference in Jerusalem last month at which they pledged to form a council of bishops to provide an alternative to churches who they say are preaching a "false gospel" of sexual immorality. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL187719820080718
As in the days of Noah....

China touts Olympic readiness

China anti-terror manual to enlist Beijing residents

BEIJING-Having deployed surface-to-air missiles, readied a 100,000-strong anti-terrorism force and instituted a series of security checkpoints, Beijing is adding Chinese residents as another layer in its shield to protect Olympics venues against possible attack. Security officials are publishing a new "anti-terrorism manual" to educate Chinese about possible threats and instructing them how to respond in the event they are captured or encounter a threat, according to a Xinhua news agency report on Friday."When you notice something suspicious, you need to check it first, then listen, then smell, but try to avoid touching it," the manual says, according to Xinhua.It said the manual describes 39 different potential terrorism threats, including explosions, arson, shootings, hijacking and even chemical, biological, or nuclear attacks.The security-obsessed government has identified a possible terrorist attack as the biggest potential threat to the successful hosting of the Games, which run from August 8-24, and it has widely publicized its security preparations."You also have to hide your mobile phones if kidnapped by terrorists," an excerpt of the manual says, according to Xinhua.It was not clear how many copies of the manual would be published or when and how it might be distributed.China, eager to use the Games to showcase its rise as a modern economic power, has said that homegrown threats top security worries, including from Uighur militants campaigning for independence for Xinjiang in China's far northwest and from Tibetan independence groups.Officials said security forces had foiled five "terrorism groups" planning to attack the Beijing Olympics, with police detaining 82 people in Xinjiang.
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Chertoff: European terrorists trying to enter US

WASHINGTON-European terrorists are trying to enter the United States with European Union passports, and there is no guarantee officials will catch them every time, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Thursday.
Chertoff's comments on Capitol Hill comes as the country is entering a potentially vulnerable period with the presidential nominating conventions coming up next month; the presidential election in November; and the transition to a new administration in January - all of which may be attractive targets for terrorists.
In his last scheduled appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, Chertoff said that the more time and space al-Qaida and its allies have to recruit, train, experiment and plan, the more problems the U.S. and Europe will face down the road."The terrorists are deliberately focusing on people who have legitimate Western European passports, who don't appear to have records as terrorists," Chertoff told lawmakers. "I have a good degree of confidence we can catch people coming in. But I have to tell you ... there's no guarantee. And they are working very hard to slip by us."Chertoff and other intelligence officials have delivered similar warnings before, and he offered no new information about specific threats or an imminent attack.Chertoff reiterated his concern that terrorists could sneak radiological material into the country on small boats or private aircraft. This material could be used to create an explosive device known as a "dirty bomb."The Homeland Security Department has a strategy to protect against this small boat vulnerability and is testing radiation detection equipment in Seattle and San Diego ports.Chertoff said that getting out a regulation to prescreen and enhance security of general aviation aircraft coming to the U.S. from overseas is one of his top priorities.He also said he expects to approve new radiation detection technology this fall.Responding to a question from Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, Chertoff dismissed any rumor that he is on a list of potential running mates for Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Chertoff quipped that the only list he has for next year is a list of vacations.Chertoff's term as the country's second Homeland Security Secretary ends when a new administration takes over the White House in January.
As in the days of Noah...

Jewish-Muslim spat sours Saudi interfaith meeting

MADRID-A groundbreaking interfaith conference this week ended on a sour note, with a political spat between Muslims and Jews that Saudi organizers wanted to avoid.Hopes of a follow-up meeting appeared to be scotched.Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah had gathered followers of the world's major faiths for the Madrid conference to seek religious reconciliation and showcase a more liberal image of his kingdom's austere version of Sunni Islam.It was the first time Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims cannot practice their faith openly, had invited Jews to such a meeting and the aim was to skirt hot issues like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in order to focus on problems facing humanity.But televised exchanges between Jewish Rabbis and Muslim participants went too far, according to one Middle Eastern diplomat. "This was too much, it crossed the line," said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.Organizers played down a discussion on Zionism between Ezzeddin Ibrahim, an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, and Rabbi Marc Schneir, North American chairman of the World Jewish Congress, which drew media attention."UAE Official Attacks Zionism at Saudi Conference," said The New York Sun newspaper."People said I attacked Zionism, I did not," Ibrahim told Reuters, adding that no interfaith conference would be complete without Jews.Schneier also gave a strong defense of Israel in a debate on Thursday, after a Muslim participant referred to Zionists.
"The fact there are some discrepancies, some differences between participants, that's normal," said Abdullah Al Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League organizers.But the conference's final statement disappointed many."The Madrid declaration does not contemplate holding another conference," said Al Turki. "Whether this conference emphasizes the organization of other conferences, other symposiums in the other parts of the world, remains to be seen."Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee had said earlier the event would be little more than a photo opportunity unless it led to a follow-up in Saudi Arabia with Israeli Jews.But participants said getting people from so many faiths under one roof had been an achievement in itself, even if there were no Israeli Jews or Palestinian Muslims and Christians."There is a desire for this to continue," said Anthony Ball, an aide to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.Images on Saudi television of Abdullah meeting Buddhists and Hindus were also unsettling to most Saudi clerics, given their Wahhabi Islam considers believers in such faiths are heathens.Buddhists saw no problem."From a Buddhist point of view, if the motivation is good, then the result will be good, it is cause and effect" said Hongchih Shih, a Buddhist nun from Taiwan.

As in the days of Noah...

Iran hopes for 'constructive' US presence at nuclear talks

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili on Friday expressed optimism that weekend talks attended for the first time by the United States over their nuclear standoff would be constructive, provided Washington came with the right approach."What is important for us is with what approach they come to the talks. If it is with a constructive approach, and that they refrain from past mistakes, then for sure we will have constructive talks," he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency before leaving Tehran for Geneva.Jalili on Saturday is to meet the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss a package of incentives offered by world powers to Tehran.And in a major policy shift by Washington, US Under-secretary of State William Burns will be at the talks.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters in Washington that "the United States doesn't have any permanent enemies" and that Burns' presence in Geneva "is an affirmation of the policy that we have been pursuing with our European allies... for some time now."IRNA quoted Jalili as saying the Geneva meeting would "discuss the common points of the two packages and also both sides' ideas on continuing the talks."He was referring to the incentive package offered by the world powers and to Iran's own package which is aimed at "solving the world problems."Jalili, who heads Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is accompanied on this trip by Ali Bagheri, the council's deputy head in charge of international affairs.Iran had said that the talks are aimed at finding "a framework" for future talks by the negotiating parties.Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Friday welcomed as "positive" the US presence at the Geneva talks.The US participation is "a new positive approach," Mottaki said after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan."I hope this progress (in the format) will also reflect on the content of the talks," he said. "If the negotiations continue in this way, I hope there will be a positive outcome."Tehran's Friday prayer leader in a sermon broadcast live on state radio that Iran "will show goodwill," if it is reciprocated."From the beginning we said that we seek constructive talks, which must be without precondition and threat. We believe that if talks are done with goodwill then Islamic Iran will come forward with goodwill and the talks will have results," senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said."But if they are held under the influence of the Zionist regime or the arrogant powers, then just as before it will be fruitless,"he warned. Earlier this week, US officials said that the "new tactic" of sending a senior official to the talks amounted to sending a signal to Iran that Washington wanted a negotiated settlement to the deadlock over Iran's refusal to bow to international demands.Washington has long said it will not negotiate with Iran until it first suspends uranium enrichment and insisted on Wednesday that Burns was travelling to Geneva to listen to Iran's response and not negotiate.Nonetheless, it will be the first time that the United States, which severed relations with Iran in 1980 after the Islamic revolution, will be present in the negotiations aimed at persuading Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment.Also present will be representatives from the P5 plus one group: Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States-the five permanent members of the UN Security Council-and Germany.Western countries suspect that Iran is secretly trying to develop the atomic bomb and the United Nations has slapped several sets of sanctions on Tehran over its refusal to halt enrichment.Iran vehemently denies seeking nuclear weapons, insisting that its programme is designed to provide energy for its growing population for the time when its reserves of fossil fuels run out.On Thursday, Solana and Burns met in Brussels in preparation for the weekend talks."Mr Solana told Mr Burns that his participation could only have a positive impact," said spokeswoman Cristina Gallach. "We hope the Iranians are going to understand the importance of this decision" to attend.
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Pakistan troops kill 13 fighters in Hangu operation

KOHAT, Pakistan-A Pakistani army helicopter killed five Taliban militants on Friday in a restive northwestern town, taking the death toll in three days of fighting to 13, government and military officials said.An offensive was launched late on Wednesday in the Hangu district after militants killed 15 soldiers in an ambush last weekend and threatened to kill some 49 troops and officials being held hostage.Early Friday morning the army helicopter spotted a vehicle filled with Islamist fighters in an area close to the Orakzai tribal region, previously one of the most peaceful of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal lands."The helicopter fired at a vehicle in Zargari area, killing five militants and wounding six," a government official in the region said.After the attack, militants managed to take away their wounded comrades, while the dead were shifted to Hangu, according to officials.A military official in the region confirmed the action. He said 13 militants had been killed in the past few days.On Thursday, troops cleared two militant strongholds in Hangu district.Residents and military officials said the security forces followed up by targeting militant positions in the surrounding hills with artillery and helicopter gunships.
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