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

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Iraq Iran Sudan muslims finding Christ at record pace

Iran to hold three-day war games: report

TEHRAN-Iran's armed forces will begin three days of war games on Monday involving anti-aircraft defense systems, Iranian media said on Sunday.The exercises will be held amid persistent speculation about a possible U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which the West and Israel say are part of a clandestine bid to build atomic bombs, despite Tehran's denials.
The ISNA news agency said both Iran's Revolutionary Guards and its regular army would take part in the drills."Maneuvers with the participation of anti-aircraft defense systems will be held for three days starting Monday," it said, without giving further details.The English-language Iran Daily said the aim was to maintain and upgrade the combat readiness of relevant units as well as to "test new weapons and defense plans."Speculation about a possible attack on Iran's nuclear facilities has risen since Israel staged an air force exercise in June which was reported to be a simulation of a strike against Iran. Iran says it would hit back if attacked.An Iranian commander last week said the Iranian air force would hold exercises during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in Iran on September 2, but it was not immediately clear whether he was referring to the same drills as the ISNA report.Alongside the regular army, Iran has a Revolutionary Guards force viewed as guardians of the Islamic ruling system. The Guards have a separate command and their own air, sea and land units, but often work with the regular military.Iran has dismissed reports of possible U.S. or Israeli plans to strike Iran, but says it would respond by attacking U.S. interests and Israel if any such assault was made.
To read more go to:
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSDAH72079920080907
As in the days of Noah...

UK flood misery deepens

QUAKEWATCH:SAN FRANCISCO:Quake Jolts Bay Area; Centered Near Danville

ALAMO, Calif.-A 4.0 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter near Danville jolted the San Francisco Bay Area Friday evening, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, authorities said....
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Lots of Rain, Some Flooding As Hanna Moves North

Haitians Flee Gonaives Before Ike Reaches Island

Hurricane Ike Strengthens to Category 4, Raises Fears From Caribbean to Gulf

KEY WEST, Fla.-"Extremely dangerous" Hurricane Ike grew to fierce Category 4 strength Saturday as it roared on an uncertain path that forced millions from the Caribbean to Florida, and Louisiana to Mexico, to nervously wonder where it would eventually strike.Preparations stretched more than 1,000 miles as the massive, 135-mph storm took a southwesterly shift that could send it over Cuba near the Florida Keys sometime Monday before heading into the warm open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And once again, a possible target was New Orleans and the already storm-weary U.S. Gulf Coast."These storms have a mind of their own," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said after a meeting with mayors and emergency officials. "There are no rules, so what we have to do is be prepared, be smart, vigilant and alert."The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Ike's large eye punched its way late Saturday "near or over" the low-lying British territory of Turks and Caicos, already pummeled for four days this week by Tropical Storm Hanna.At the airport in Providenciales hours before Ike's approach, Patrick Munroe had hoped to catch a departing flight, but was turned away, even before the airport closed."It looks really, really serious," he said. "And I think it's going to be devastating."In Haiti, authorities tried to move thousands of people into shelters ahead of Ike, still struggling to recover from Hanna. Rescue workers feared Hanna's death toll could rise into the hundreds in the flooded city of Gonaives if Ike dumped more rain from outer storm bands as the storm rumbled nearby.Hanna did not pack the same punch Saturday while racing up the U.S. Eastern seaboard, but it did cause one traffic accident fatality on Interstate 95 in Maryland. It also brought wind and pelting rain, with some sporadic flooding, all along its trek into New England.In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Lowell formed late Saturday some 265 miles off Mexico's southwest coast and could become a hurricane by Monday, the hurricane center said. Forecasters said Lowell could unleash several inches of rain on parts of Mexico before drifting away from its coast.Ike is another matter....
To read more go to:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,418142,00.html
As in the days of Noah...

'Dangerous' Ike Aims for Turks and Caicos

Growing Ike nears Turks and Caicos, south Bahamas

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos - Hurricane Ike lashed homes with howling winds Saturday as it neared this low-lying island chain as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, prompting thousands of people to evacuate or scramble for shelter.As the massive gray wall of clouds approached from the east, people poured into the main supermarket in Providenciales, expecting that power would be knocked out and that food would suddenly become scarce.
Shopkeepers and homeowners covered windows with plywood. Boats were hauled ashore or secured with multiple anchors."I am very, very nervous," said John Moore, a fishing boat captain, as he tied down his 61-foot vessel in a Providenciales cove. "It looks like it might go right over us, so that's not a good picture."The outer-bands of the storm brought fierce, palm-bending winds and a scattering of rain. Still, a people lingered in the darkened streets or outside a couple of convenience stores that stayed open for last-minute shoppers. People began to trickle into a makeshift shelter in a vocational school in the Five Cays neighborhood, a poor area that experienced heavy flooding during Hanna."Once we get the fury of this thing, believe me, you will see this open up," said Colin Bascomb, the school's principal.Ike's eye was about 60 miles (105 kilometers) east of Grand Turk Island Saturday evening. It was moving west-southwest about 12 mph (18 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm's maximum sustained winds were 135 mph (215 kph).The governments of the Bahamas and Cuba issued hurricane warnings.The approach of the hurricane also raised alarm in Haiti, where aid officials feared it could worsen deadly flooding. And Cuba, still recovering from a devastating hit by Category 4 Hurricane Gustav last month, was directly in Ike's projected path.Forecasters said Ike was expected to reach the northern coast of eastern Cuba Sunday night or early Monday. Cuba's government warned people to be ready to take emergency action, but hotels said they had not yet started evacuating foreign guests.The storm was not expected to affect Saturday's World Cup soccer qualifier between the United States and Cuba in Havana.U.S. military commanders at the Guantanamo Bay Navy base in southeast Cuba were coordinating storm preparations and securing anything that might be carried by the wind, said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Lamb. The U.S. base holds some 255 men suspected on links to the Taliban and al-Qaida in hurricane-proof cells.Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick said his government opened shelters throughout the islands and brought in an emergency food shipment."We're still praying that the storm will make a northerly turn and we will be spared, even a little bit," Misick told The Associated Press.Turks and Caicos and the neighboring Bahamas are close to sea level and are vulnerable to flooding from rain and storm surge.To reach Haitian immigrants, many of them illegal, the government broadcast emergency messages in Creole and told law enforcement figures not to enforce immigration laws during the storm."At a time of disaster, the last thing on our mind is whether you are legal or not," Misick said. "The important thing is to save lives."The airport in Providenciales closed after thousands of tourists and longtime residents of the typically tranquil island chain evacuated.In the Bahamas, the government urged tourists to evacuate the sparsely populated southeastern islands and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force dispatched marines to bring food and water to the eastern islands of Mayaguana and San Salvador.Turks and Caicos, a British territory, was pummeled for four days by Hurricane Hanna earlier this week. It caused widespread flooding and some damage, but did far worse when it drifted toward Haiti as a tropical storm, creating floods that had killed 166 people by Saturday.
Dennis Freeburg, who lives in Providenciales, managed to get a flight out to Florida, but he plans to return to the island chain."This is just ... the bad part of living down in the Caribbean, you've got to deal with the storms," the 46-year-old said as he waited to board a flight to Miami with his miniature dachshund, Rue.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/tropical_weather
As in the days of Noah...

Food aid begins to arrive in Haiti

Death toll soars in Haiti

QUAKEWATCH:Quake rattles Afghanistan, no casualties

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan-An earthquake measuring 5.6 hit Afghanistan's Hindu Kush region on Saturday, but caused no casualties, a provincial official said...
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Rice:`Time isn't right for the Russia agreement'

ALGIERS, Algeria - Now is not the right time for the U.S. to move forward on a once-celebrated deal for civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday. Her comment increased speculation that President Bush is planning to punish Moscow for invading Georgia, a former Soviet republic, by canceling the agreement. Such a move is being planned, according to senior Bush administration officials, but is not yet final."The time isn't right for the Russia agreement," Rice told reporters while flying from Tunisia to Algeria during a visit to North Africa. "We'll be making an announcement about that later."U.S.-Russian relations have cooled considerably since last month's military standoff between Russia and Georgia. On Saturday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the war has shown the world that "Russia is a nation to be reckoned with."Traveling in Italy, Vice President Dick Cheney pushed back against Moscow, saying: "Russia's actions are an affront to civilized standards and are completely unacceptable."The nuclear deal was signed in May by U.S. and Russian officials and is now before Congress. It would give the U.S. access to modern Russian nuclear technology and clear the way for Russia to establish itself as a lucrative center for the import and storage of spent nuclear fuel from American-supplied reactors around the world.Such a deal was seen as crucial to boosting relations with Russia, and to fulfilling Bush's vision of increasing civilian nuclear energy use worldwide as a way to combat rising energy demands and climate change. Withdrawing the agreement from Capitol Hill would have little effect. The deal probably would not have been approved before Bush's term ends in January. But pulling it would send a message to Russia that its actions in Georgia are not acceptable and will not go unanswered."I am relieved the administration finally appears to be heeding calls from Congress to withdraw the ... agreement with Russia from consideration," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. "I have long believed that it is highly inappropriate to reward Russia with nuclear cooperation when it is recklessly providing Iran with sensitive technologies to protect its nuclear program." http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080906/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_russia

As in the days of Noah...

Regions back Medvedev over Caucasus

Georgia war risks derailing long-term EU-Russia ties

MOSCOW-Strains in Russia-EU relations over Russia's war in Georgia pose a long-term threat to investment flows and risk further complications when critics of Kremlin policy assume the EU presidency over the next 12 months.EU leaders said on Monday they would suspend a September 15 negotiating session on a new partnership agreement unless Russia had by then pulled back its troops to positions they held before its brief war with Georgia over a rebel Georgian region.The accord aims to create a new legally binding framework for trade and political contacts between the two, and market analysts say failure to update the current deal could damage Russia's attractiveness as a home for Western investment.
But Russia has recovered from the state of near economic collapse it was in when it signed the first deal in 1994 and, flush with dollars from high oil prices, it now sees the European Union as only one source of potential investment."It is unsettling, it's not a short-term issue but long-term investments in Russia are contingent on an understanding of Europe as a main trading partner. Over time, it will affect sentiment," said one European diplomat.European Commission figures show that while EU investment in Russia reached 18 billion euros ($26 billion) in 2007-three-quarters of the total invested in Russia that year-just 1 billion traveled the other way.But the trade balance was tilted in Russia's favor.Some 155 billion euros in goods and services, including energy, traveled westwards and 107 billion euros shifted eastwards.
To read more go to:
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL572355820080906
As in the days of Noah...

EU pins hopes on Sarkozy's trip to Moscow

Venezuela to host Russia navy exercise in Caribbean

CARACAS-Several Russian ships and 1,000 soldiers will take part in joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea later this year, exercises likely to increase diplomatic tensions with Washington, a pro-government newspaper reported on Saturday.Quoting Venezuela's naval intelligence director, Salbarore Cammarata, the newspaper Vea said four Russian boats would visit Venezuelan waters from November 10 to 14. Plans for the naval operations come at a time of heightened diplomatic tension and Cold War-style rhetoric between Moscow and the United States over the recent war in Georgia and plans for a U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland.Cammarata said it would be the first time Russia's navy carried out such exercises in Latin America.He said the Venezuelan air force would also take part.Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington, has said in recent weeks that Russian ships and planes are welcome to visit the South American country."If the Russian long-distance planes that fly around the world need to land at some Venezuelan landing strip, they are welcome, we have no problems,"he said on his weekly television show last week. Chavez, who buys billions of dollars of weapons from Russia, has criticized this year's reactivation of the U.S. Navy's Fourth Fleet, which will patrol Latin America for the first time in over 50 years.The socialist Chavez says he fears the United States will invade oil-rich Venezuela and he supports Russia's growing geopolitical presence as a counterbalance to U.S. power.Chavez has bought fighter jets and submarines from Russia to retool Venezuela's aging weapons and says he is also interested in a missile defense system. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN0633952420080907
As in the days of Noah...

China launch satellites into orbit

China to press N.Korea on nuclear dispute: U.S. envoy

BEIJING-China will "reach out" to get North Korea to accept rules to vet its nuclear disclosures, a U.S. envoy said after talks on Saturday seeking to revive momentum in the North's faltering atomic disarmament steps.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he expects China will work on its communist neighbor, which stopped disabling its Yongbyon nuclear complex because it was unhappy with nuclear verification rules demanded by other countries in six party disarmament talks."I was reassured that China's doing all it can, working very hard to address these problems and to get North Korea on track in terms of providing a verification protocol," Hill said after meeting China's top diplomat in the talks, Wu Dawei."China's won a lot of gold medals in the past weeks, and I hope that they're going to win one more in terms of resolving this issue," Hill added, referring to the Beijing Olympics.He made the comments after the talks in Beijing, aimed at shoring up steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.Envoys from Japan and South Korea also gathered for the latest talks. But top North Korea envoy Kim Kye-gwan did not.North Korea started to disable its Yongbyon nuclear facility in November, but halted that last month, angered that Washington has yet to drop it from the U.S. list of sponsors of terrorism.Hill said Pyongyang had to agree first on rules allowing inspectors to verify a declaration on its nuclear inventory submitted in June.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Iranian women battle the system

Four more women in Iran have been sentenced to jail - six months behind bars - for campaigning for women's rights.They were accused of "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic system here - specifically for taking part in the Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights for women.One of those sentenced, Parvin Ardalan(picture left), was awarded the Olof Palme Prize this year - on her way to collect the honour, her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Teheran, and she was unable to travel.She had to accept the award by video-link.An estimated 50 women have been detained since the signatures campaign began.
Restrictions
Women in Iran have severely restricted freedom of choice, and no equality with men.A married woman must obtain her husband's permission before taking a job outside their home.A man may have up to four wives. A woman may not have up to four husbands.Women must observe the Islamic dress code - showing as little hair as possible, and their arms, their legs and their feet must be covered.There is no protection against so-called honour killings for women who are raped; a husband - or a father - who kills the rape victim cannot be prosecuted and sent to jail for murder."This is inhuman," a law professor at Tehran University, Rosa Gharachorloo, told me.Most of the people I have spoken to here agree: they believe rape victims should be comforted, not killed.Women can be stopped and inspected by Gasht-e-Ershad, Ministry of Islamic Guidance patrols.They have vehicles that look like police cars. They are often seen outside main metro stations in Teheran, checking women for hair or dress infringements.They also go to parks, to ensure that couples sitting or walking together are married, engaged or related.
Significant victory
Feminists in Iran celebrated a significant victory for their cause at the end of August.In the Majlis - the Iranian parliament - legislation that might have encouraged polygamy was sent back to committee for more discussion.Article 23 of the Family Support Bill would have allowed men to marry a second wife without the permission of the first.Although polygamy is legal in Iran, it is not widely practised and, Rosa Gharaachorloo told me, not generally accepted in Iranian culture.So, opposition to the bill was on principle, not because it is a widespread phenomenon. The same is the case with honour killings - they are not common here, but women's rights campaigners believe rape victims should nevertheless be protected by law.The polygamy article may have been shelved indefinitely - the campaign against it revealed an improbable alliance of opponents.As well as feminists, the speaker of the Majlis expressed his reservations.And Ayatollah Yusef Sanai, a leading source of what is known as "emulation" of the Prophet and his teachings, wrote on his website that a second marriage without the permission of the first wife is "harram, a sin, a religious offence... contrary to the concept of justice prescribed by the Koran".
He went on: "I pray that such a decision that is oppressive to women will not be made into law... God forbid that the Majlis should add another problem to the existing problems of women."
Women's rights campaigners welcomed that strong and unexpected acknowledgment of their complaints.

As in the days of Noah...

Iran rejects French warning it risks Israeli strike

TEHRAN-Iran dismissed on Saturday a warning by France's president that the Islamic Republic was taking a dangerous gamble over its nuclear program because one day its arch-foe Israel could strike. Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham accused Israel of threatening global peace but reiterated Tehran's publicly stated view that it was not in a position to attack Iran.Separately, a senior commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying that new long-range missiles had strengthened Iran's defensive capabilities."Today, the enemy does not dare to attack Iran, as it knows that it will receive fatal blows from Iran if it ventures into such a stupid act," Nour Ali Shoushtari said in the city of Qazvin, Iran's Press TV station reported. Western powers accuse Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, of seeking the atom bomb under the cover of a civilian nuclear program. Iran denies the charge, saying it only wants to master atomic technology in order to generate electricity.The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if the dispute cannot be settled through diplomacy.During a visit to Damascus on Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Iran was "taking a major risk in continuing the process to obtain a military nuclear capacity." He added: "One day ... we could find one morning that Israel has struck."Iran's state broadcaster IRIB quoted Elham, the government spokesman, as saying in response to Sarkozy's statement: "These threats are because of weakness ... and it reflects the reality and the war-seeking nature of the Zionist regime."
To read more go to:
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSDAH62808020080906
As in the days of Noah....

France Warns Iran: You WILL be attacked!

Iranian leader arrives in Beijing

Hu urges flexibility to break Iran nuclear impasse

BEIJING-Chinese President Hu Jintao urged world powers on Saturday to show flexibility to resolve a prolonged stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, saying there was a rare opportunity for the resumption of talks.Hu met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday after the Iranian leader arrived in the Chinese capital for a one-day visit to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics.Western powers fear Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at developing atomic weapons.Iran denies the charge and insists its nuclear programs are peaceful, and that it only wants to master atomic technology in order to generate electricity.Hu said China respected Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and called for further diplomacy, reinforcing the Communist leadership's line toward the long-festering dispute, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday."At present, the Iran nuclear issue is faced with a rare opportunity for the resumption of talks, and we hope all parties concerned could seize the opportunity and show flexibility, to push for a peaceful settlement of the issue," the agency quoted Hu as saying."China, as always, will be committed to pushing for the settlement of the issue through peaceful negotiations, and will continue to play a constructive role to this end," Hu said.China, a permanent vote-wielding member of the U.N Security Council, is among six world powers pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for power plants, or potentially, nuclear weapons.Iran faces a fourth round of sanctions after failing to respond to a sweetened offer of incentives by France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China to halt its uranium enrichment.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Rice seeks closer Maghreb counter-terror links

RABAT-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pushed for closer north African counter-terrorism cooperation on Saturday on a tour of an oil-rich region hit by attacks blamed on al Qaeda.Rice, who arrived in staunch U.S. ally Morocco late on Saturday after visiting Algeria and Tunisia and holding a historic meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, told reporters in Algiers she had been saddened by attacks in Algeria that killed scores of people."The cooperation here is good," she said after talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, adding the two countries had affirmed their "strong ties" in the discussions."But there is always more that you can do to tighten sharing of information, to make sure you have all the right channels to give technical support in terms of the terrorism threat," she said, referring to north African states generally."It is not a secret that it is a problem that has really been very salient in the Maghreb."An estimated 125 people were killed in an upsurge of political violence in Algeria in August in attacks by al Qaeda's north Africa wing and clashes between the army and militants.The periodic violence worries many in the region because the country on the southern shores of the Mediterranean is a major energy exporter to Europe and its 34 million people are still searching for stability after years of political strife.An Islamist revolt began in 1992 in Algeria after the then military-backed authorities, fearing an Iran-style revolution, scrapped an election an Islamist party was set to win. More than 150,000 people have been killed in the ensuing violence.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Rice praises India nuclear trade waiver

ALGIERS-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed a decision to lift a global ban on nuclear trade with India but said time was short to get a U.S.-India nuclear accord approved by Congress.The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), meeting in Vienna, adopted a one-off waiver proposed by the United States allowing atomic business with India even though it has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and has tested nuclear devices.The waiver was crucial for the Bush administration to seal an atomic energy deal with India before a new president enters the White House in the New Year."The India deal is landmark," Rice told reporters traveling with her on a tour of North African countries."It's a really very big step forward for the non-proliferation framework," she said, adding it was also a "huge step" for U.S.-Indian relations.The waiver follows tough negotiations in which several small NSG states agreed under heavy U.S. pressure to weaker language than they had sought to ensure India does not test atom bombs again.Rice said she had made a lot of calls in recent days to try to get the NSG to issue the waiver. A senior U.S. official said Rice had called China early on Saturday to seek to convince its government to sign on to the waiver.The U.S. Congress must now ratify the deal with India before adjourning later this month for elections, or it will be left to an uncertain fate under a new U.S. administration.Rice said she hoped Congress would approve it.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

India says nuclear suppliers' approval "momentous"

NEW DELHI-India hailed as "momentous" a global atomic cartel's decision on Saturday to lift a 34-year-old ban on nuclear trade with New Delhi, a crucial step to sealing a controversial U.S.-India civilian nuclear accord."This is a forward-looking and momentous decision," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who spoke to U.S. President George W. Bush after the decision, said in a statement."It marks the end of India's decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology denial regime."The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), meeting in Vienna, adopted a one-off waiver proposed by the United States, allowing atomic business with India even though it has not signed the non-proliferation treaty and has tested nuclear devices.This followed tough negotiations in which several small NSG states agreed under heavy U.S. pressure to weaker language than they had sought to ensure India does not test atom bombs again."I thank the United States and other member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the role they have played in ensuring this outcome," Singh said."The opening of full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the international community will be good for India and for the world."The U.S.-India deal still has one hurdle to clear.The U.S. Congress must ratify it before adjourning later this month for elections, or it will be left to an uncertain fate under a new U.S. administration.The fuel and technology deal would help India meet exploding energy demand in an environmentally sound way and open a nuclear market worth billions of dollars.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

HONOUR KILLING WATCH:Pakistan police urged to probe 'honor killings'

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-Police say they have opened an investigation into the "honor killings" of five women in southwestern Pakistan.The women were allegedly shot and then buried alive one month ago in Baluchistan province after several insisted on marrying men of their own choosing.
The brutality of the crime and foot-dragging by police sparked outrage in Pakistan, especially after a lawmaker defended the killings in Parliament last week as part of tribal traditions.A provincial court official, Amanullah Kinrani, said Monday that the police have been told to investigate the crime and that their work has already begun.About 60 human rights activists, meanwhile, have protested outside Parliament.Some shouted "Burying women alive is no honor!" Others denounced lawmakers who have defended the practice.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/09/01/pakistan.honor.killings.ap/

http://www.abcnews.com

As in the days of Noah...

Zardari Pakistan's new president

At least six killed by car-bomb in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan-A car-bomb went off by a police post in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Saturday killing at least six people and wounding about 40, police and hospital staff said.There was no immediate claim of responsibility but al Qaeda-linked militants have set off numerous bombs in Pakistan over the past year, many of them in the northwest and aimed at security forces.The blast came as members of parliament and the country's four provincial assemblies were voting for a new president to replace Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month."A vehicle laden with explosives went off near the police post which has been totally destroyed," said senior police official Garanullah.He said the toll could rise as a building had collapsed because of the blast. A witness said he saw 10 bodies being taken away.Elsewhere in the northwest, villagers battled Taliban militants after the Taliban tried to kidnap a Muslim holy man, and 20 villagers and six militants have been killed, police said.The clash in the Swat Valley, about 140 km (85 miles) northwest of the capital, Islamabad, was a rare show of defiance by civilians in the northwest where militants have been extending their influence from strongholds on the Afghan border.The fighting broke out on Friday between militants and residents of Matta district in valley.
To read more go to:
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSSP9924120080906
As in the days of Noah...

Indian Army Protect its Borders From Pakistani Terrorists

QUAKEWATCH:Quake in Pakistan, no word on damage

ISLAMABAD-An earthquake shook the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and other cities on Saturday but there was no immediate word on damage or casualties....
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Zardari;'Democracy is vindicated'

Rice Sees 'Good Way Forward' After Pakistan Election

ALGIERS, Algeria-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Pakistan's election of a new president Saturday was a positive sign for the civilian government of the U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former leader Benazir Bhutto, won a landslide victory to take over from Pervez Musharraf as head of state."I'm looking forward to working with him," Rice told reporters as he flew from Tunisia to Algeria during a trop to North Africa.Zardari, already head of the main ruling party, helped lead the coalition that forced Musharraf to quit as head of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of more than 160 million people. Musharraf, a former general and army head, had seized power nine years ago in a military coup.
"Obviously the civilian government of Pakistan is something we have welcomed after the free and fair election and now with a new president I think we have a good way forward," Rice said. "I've been impressed by some of the things he has said about the challenges that Pakistan faces, about the centrality of fighting terrorism, about the fact that the terrorism fight is Pakistan's fight and also his very strong words of friendship and alliance with the United States."Zardari comes into office at a time when the Bush administration is pressuring Pakistan to eradicate Taliban and al-Qaida havens near its border with Afghanistan. Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said President Bush looks forward to working with Zardari, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other government officials on bilateral issues, including counterterrorism and making sure Pakistan has a stable and secure economy.Zardari wed Bhutto in an arranged marriage in 1987. Many Pakistanis call him "Mr. 10 Percent," a reference to accusations he pocketed commissions on government contracts during her two terms as prime minister. After Bhutto was killed last year, Zardari returned from exile, took control of her party and led it to victory in the February elections
As in the days of Noah...

Bhutto's widower goes from prison to presidency

ISLAMABAD-Asif Ali Zardari has completed a traumatic journey from prison to the presidency of Pakistan.Regarded as a polo-playing playboy in his youth, the catalyst for Zardari's rise was the assassination last December of his wife, the two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto.After leading Bhutto's grieving party to a general election victory in February, Zardari played a deft hand to force former president Pervez Musharraf from office in August, nine years after the then army chief came to power in a military coup.The presidency caps a remarkable transformation for Zardari, who spent 11 years in prison on charges of corruption and murder, although he denied all accusations and was never convicted. He was released on bail in 2004.Despite Zardari's easy win on Saturday, in a vote involving legislators from parliament and four provincial assemblies, there are fears his rule will mark a new phase of instability in a nuclear-armed Muslim state rife with anti-Western sentiment.Writing in the Washington Post on Thursday, Zardari, who is 53, said his election would "seal the victory of democracy over dictatorship".However, doubts over the five-month-old civilian coalition's durability intensified last month after Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister overthrown by Musharraf, pulled his party out due to mistrust of Zardari.The economy needs billions of dollars of foreign loans to avoid meltdown, while Pakistani Taliban fighters enraged by increasing U.S. attacks from bases in Afghanistan have caused mayhem across the northwest.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah....

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scientists Nearly Spot Milky Way's Massive Black Hole

If it looks like a black hole, and acts like a black hole, it's probably a black hole.For a while now scientists have thought a dense, massive object lurking at the center of our galaxy is likely a giant black hole, but they haven't been able to prove it.New observations offering the closest view yet of the heart of the Milky Way present strong evidence for the black hole theory, and even hope of finally settling the question soon.By linking a series of radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created a virtual telescope with the resolving power of a single dish the size of the distance between the various sites (about 2,800 miles, or 4,500 kilometers).This instrument grabbed an intimate image that probed nearly to the Milky Way's black hole's event horizon — the point beyond which nothing, including light, could ever escape.
Blessing and a curse
Since our own galaxy's apparent supermassive black hole is the closest of its kind to us, it offers a unique chance to study how these objects behave and affect galaxies."This is the best black hole candidate that we have anywhere in the universe, the best chance we have to observe the kind of signatures we would expect around the immediate vicinity of a black hole," said study leader Sheperd Doeleman of MIT. "One of the problems with looking at this particular source is that we have to look through our galaxy. It's a blessing that it's this close, but it's a curse because it's obscured by gas and dust."In order to bypass the Milky Way's shroud of gas and dust, the researchers looked at 1.3 mm radio light, which escapes the fog better than longer-wavelength light.They combined observations taken from observatories in Hawaii, Arizona and California in a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) to observe the galactic center with some of the highest resolution ever achieved in astronomy — the equivalent of a baseball seen on the surface of the moon, 240,000 miles away.The researchers observed a bright source of light known as Sagittarius A* ("A-star"), thought to mark a black hole roughly 4 million times the mass of the sun.The mass is determined by looking at the effect of the colossal object on stars that orbit near to the galactic center.The team found that Sagittarius A* has a diameter equal to about one-third the distance between Earth and the sun, or about 30 million miles (50 million km).This small size indicates the mass in the galactic center is even denser than previous measurements found, which supports the idea that the object hidden there must be a black hole, because current theories have no other reasonable explanation for describing so much mass packed into such a small space.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

ESA spacecraft completes flyby of Steins asteroid

DARMSTADT, Germany - The Rosetta deep space probe successfully passed close to an asteroid 250 million miles from Earth, the European Space Agency said Friday night.In a mission that may bring man closer to solving the mystery of the solar system's birth, the craft completed its flyby of the Steins asteroid, also known as Asteroid 2867-now in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter-at around 3:15 p.m. EDT.As planned, the spacecraft's signal was lost for about 90 minutes as engineers turned it away from the sun and because the craft was moving too fast for its antennas to transmit.The resumption of the craft's signal transmission was greeted with cheers from ESA engineers and technicians."We're extremely happy that it worked," mission manager Gerhard Schwehm said, sipping a glass of champagne after the announcement from the control room. "It's a big relief. People can relax a bit now and everything seems fine."Schwehm said the agency would work to get images and other data collected by the probe processed as soon as possible. He said the first images should be released to the public Saturday."The operation went very well," Paolo Ferri, the head of the solar and planetary missions division and Rosetta flight operations director, said in a short speech after the announcement."The spacecraft is in exactly the condition we expected, which is good. All indications are that everything was super successful. "The timing of the flyby meant the asteroid was illuminated by the sun, making it likely the transmitted images will be clear and sharp for scientists working on the origins of the solar system."Dead rocks can say a lot," Schwehm said.Astronomers have had to work with limited data from previous passes of asteroids, such as when ESA's Giotto probe swept by Halley's Comet in 1986, photographing long canyons, broad craters and 3,000-foot hills.Steins was Rosetta's first scientific target as flies in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter en route to its main destination, the comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is scheduled for 2014. The probe was launched in March 2004.The European Space Agency is supported by 17 countries, including Germany, France, Ireland and the Netherlands. It cooperates with NASA, the European Union, European national space agencies and international partners.
On the Net:
European Space Agency: http://www.esa.int/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080905/ap_on_sc/sci_asteroid_flyby
As in the days of Noah...

2 big storms head for US East Coast

Tropical Storm Hanna Charges for Carolinas

Hanna Closing in on the Carolinas

Tropical Storm Hanna is less than 150 miles south of Cape Romain, S.C. early Friday evening. The storm is moving at 20 mph but is expected to pick up and possibly double the speed by tomorrow. Hanna will make landfall overnight along the Grand Strand of South Carolina before racing up the Interstate 95 corridor on Saturday. Hurricane Ike is close behind, expected to reach the Bahamas by Sunday. Hanna is close to hurricane strength, with maximum sustained winds near 70 mph. The storm is expected to weaken after landfall. The storm is forecast to make landfall Saturday morning between 12 A.M. to 3 A.M. (EDT) near the South Carolina - North Carolina border.Isolated tornadoes are possible tonight over the coastal areas. The Severe Weather Center lists the hurricane and tropical storm-related watches and warnings in effect from Florida to southern New England.Wind gusts above 40 mph Friday have buffeted Fla., with a 61 mph gust recorded at Leesburg. Many areas of the Sunshine State have already received 2 to 3 inches of rain, with 3.72 inches recorded in Pompano Beach through Friday 5:00 p.m. EDT. The South Regional News story has an up-to-date list of rain and wind data in the Southeast. Once over land, Hanna will speed up the Interstate 95 corridor, bringing heavy rain and damaging winds to the major cities from Richmond, Va. to Boston, Mass. According to AccuWeather.com, Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet, "This storm will do some damage, much like winter nor'easters that are even more powerful." All interests along the Eastern Seaboard should be making preparations for heavy rain and powerful winds that could cause significant damage. The fast forward speed will limit rain amounts along the East Coast. Up to 8 inches will fall over eastern North Carolina and southeastern Va., while 2 to 4 inches is forecast from eastern South Carolina to southern New England. With the heaviest rain and strongest winds near and east of the eye of the storm, areas to the west of I-95 could experience significantly lower rain totals and weaker winds. The rain will spark localized flooding and flash flooding, while wind gusts between 40 to 60 mph could topple trees and power lines along the Interstate 95 corridor. Hurricane-force wind gusts are possible from coastal North Carolina and southeast Virginia through Cape Cod, Mass. The combination of wind and rain will cause problems for motorists and could lead to flight delays at the major airports along the Eastern Seaboard.


The storm surge of 3 to 6 feet above normal tides could cause coastal flooding and beach erosion, especially along the Outer Banks, Long Island and Cape Cod. North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine have declared states of emergency. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford urged people in two northern counties to leave flood-prone areas and mobile homes by this afternoon. Associated Press reports preparations are underway in New England. Workers from Washington D.C. to Providence, R.I., cleared storm drains and stocked up on sandbags, while officials urged residents to stock up on supplies. "If nothing else it's a good dress rehearsal for Ike if Ike were to come," said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
To read more go to:
http://www.accuweather.com/news-top-headline.asp?partner=accuweather&traveler=0&date=2008-09-05_16:25
As in the days of Noah...

Helping Haitian Flood Victims

Nearly 500 dead in flooded Haitian town: police

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti-Haitian police found 495 corpses when muddy floodwaters began to recede on Friday from the port city of Gonaives following days of heavy rain from Tropical Storm Hanna, the town's police commissioner said on Friday."The weather is calm now and we are discovering more bodies. We have found 495 bodies so far and there are 13 people missing," commissioner Ernst Dorfeuille told Reuters."The smell of the dead is very unpleasant in Gonaives. The death toll could be even higher." http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSN0530952620080906
As in the days of Noah...

Non-Muslim Teacher Tackles Kindergarten Class at Cincinnati Islamic School

TERROR WATCH:Al Qaeda video vows more Denmark attacks

DUBAI-Al Qaeda issued new threats against Denmark in an Internet video released on Friday, saying an attack on the Danish Embassy in Pakistan is just the start of its retaliation for perceived insults to the Prophet Mohammad. The Internet video featured senior al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was reported to have been killed last month. The compilation was dated August 2008, although it was made up of segments recorded at various dates.The video profiled a suicide bomber who it said carried out a June 2 attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad, which killed six people, in response to the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad by Danish newspapers."We have warned previously, and we warn once more, the Crusader states which insult, mock and defame our Prophet and the Koran in their media and occupy our lands, steal our treasure, and kill our brothers that we will exact revenge at the appropriate time and place," said Abu al-Yazid."The Danish embassy (attack) and prior operations is but the beginning ... if you don't end your errant ways and aggression," the Egyptian militant leader added in the video, posted on Islamist websites.A senior Pakistani security official said on August 12 that Abu al-Yazid, also known as Abu Saeed al-Masri, was killed in clashes with Pakistani forces near the Afghan border.The 54-minute video, entitled "The Word is the Word of the Swords" and styled as a documentary about attacks against Islam by Western "Crusader" nations and by corrupt Muslim leaders, was issued by al Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab."My final message to the worshippers of the cross in Denmark is that, God permitting, this is not the first nor the last act of revenge," the young suicide bomber said as he stood next to a small car presumably used in the attack."Sheikh Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen will not leave you alone," said the young man, identified as a Saudi militant. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL562398920080905
As in the days of Noah...

ISLAMIC WATCH:Thousands protest against Indian rule in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India-Thousands of Muslims staged sit-in protests in parts of Indian Kashmir on Friday, resuming demonstrations against New Delhi's rule in the disputed Himalayan region after a three-day break, witnesses said.Last month at least 35 protesters in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley were killed by government forces in some of the largest pro-independence rallies since a revolt against New Delhi's rule broke out in the region in 1989.More than 1,000 people have been injured in the protests, which were halted for three days to allow people to stock rations and prepare for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan."We want freedom," the protesters shouted after weekly Friday prayers.Earlier on Friday, police placed separatist leaders under house arrest to stop them from leading fresh protests.Those under house arrest included Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of the separatist alliance All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, and hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.Yasin Malik, another popular separatist leader and chief of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, has been under house arrest since Monday.On Thursday, hundreds of Kashmiri militants rallied on the Pakistani side of the disputed region, vowing a Muslim holy war to free their homeland from Indian rule.The protests which began last month were sparked by a decision to grant land to build shelters for Hindus making an annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan region.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

South Korea says critical moment for North nuclear deal

SEOUL-South Korea's chief nuclear envoy pressed North Korea on Friday to halt plans to rebuild a mothballed nuclear plant that makes arms-grade plutonium and to instead return to the bargaining table.Envoys from regional powers called hastily arranged meetings in Beijing from Friday to discuss the secretive North's move earlier this week to take the initial steps of restarting its ageing Soviet-era nuclear plant."This is a critical moment and we should try to break this deadlock as soon as possible so that North Korea can promptly restart nuclear disarmament and come back to the six-party talks," Kim Sook said before leaving for the Chinese capital.North Korea started to disable the Yongbyon facility in November, but halted the process last month, angered by Washington's failure to drop it from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.The United States said North Korea must first agree on a system to verify Pyongyang's disclosures about its nuclear programs.Kim later arrived in Beijing where he planned to meet the nuclear envoys from the United States and Japan on Friday and then China's envoy on Saturday.Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, the U.S. point man on North Korea, told reporters in Beijing he was not expecting to meet North Korean officials during his trip, though he will see Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei."We're prepared to complete our obligations as they meet theirs," he said of North Korea. "You can't have a declaration without a verification protocol."
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

India pledges seen inadequate for nuclear deal

VIENNA-Forty-five countries considering lifting a ban on nuclear trade with India welcomed an Indian pledge on Friday to honor non-proliferation pacts it has not signed but some felt it did not go far enough, diplomats said.India, hoping the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will clear the way for a controversial U.S.-India atomic energy deal to take effect, said it rejected any nuclear arms race and reaffirmed a voluntary moratorium on atomic bomb tests.An Indian Foreign Ministry statement also said India endorsed strict NSG rules against the spread of nuclear weapons, backed global nuclear disarmament objectives and aimed to institute broader U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities.India spoke up in support of U.S. efforts to push through a one-off waiver of NSG rules to do business with India even though it has shunned treaties against production and testing of nuclear arms and mandating their gradual phase-out.If Washington cannot secure an NSG exemption within days, the U.S. Congress may run out of time to ratify the deal before it adjourns at the end of September for elections, relegating the matter to an uncertain fate under a new president.Decisions by the nuclear export cartel must be unanimous.NSG states praised New Delhi's gesture on Friday as an important, timely step forward, diplomats said.John Rood, the acting U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said India's statement had lent "positive momentum" to efforts to hammer out an NSG waiver.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Rice set for historic Libya visit, meeting Gaddafi

LISBON-Condoleezza Rice hailed as "historic" her trip to Libya later on Friday, the first by a U.S. secretary of state to the former pariah nation in 55 years and a visit aimed at erasing decades of enmity."It is an historic moment ... that has come after a lot of difficulty and the suffering of many people, that will never be forgotten or assuaged, Americans in particular for whom I am very concerned," Rice told a news conference in Lisbon before leaving for Tripoli.The trip signals improved ties between the two countries, which began to warm after Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction program in 2003.Rice held back from visiting Libya until a compensation package was signed last month to cover legal claims involving victims of U.S. and Libyan bombings.The last secretary of state to go there was John Foster Dulles in May 1953, before Rice was even born.Rice will meet Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and share Iftar with him-the meal for breaking the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.Rice said she was looking forward to meeting Gaddafi-once called "the mad dog of the Middle East" by President Ronald Reagan-and planned to discuss, among other issues, the conflict in Sudan and Libya's "important" role there.Gaddafi has in the past expressed admiration for Rice.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah....

US navy ship steams into port where Russian troops stationed

A US navy flagship has steamed into a Georgian port where Russian troops are still stationed, stoking tensions once again in the tinderbox Caucasus region.A previous trip by American warships was cancelled at the last minute a week ago amid fears that an armed stand off could erupt in the Black Sea port of Poti.The arrival of the USS Mount Whitney came as Moscow accused Dick Cheney, the hawkish US vice-president, of stoking tensions during a visit to Tbilisi yesterday, in which he vowed to bring Georgia into the Nato alliance. Russia sees any such move as a blatant Western encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence.Russia’s leadership has already questioned whether previous US warships that docked at the port of Batumi, to the south, were delivering weapons to rearm the smashed Georgian military, something Washington has denied.While Russia again questioned the deployment of what it described as "the number one ship of its type in the US navy” on the Black Sea, it said it planned no military action in response. The Russian Army has kept a small number of soldiers in Poti, where local Georgian officials accuse them of looting port authority buildings.“Naval ships of that class can hardly deliver a large amount of aid,” said Andrei Nesterenko, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman. “Such ships of course have a hold for keeping provisions for the crew and items needed for sailing. How many dozens of tonnes of aid can a ship of that type deliver?"He said the presence of US warships could contravene international conventions governing shipping on the Black Sea, and - in particular - restricting the entry of naval ships from countries that do not share a Black Sea coastline.Militarily, the small Russian garrison in Poti would pose almost no threat to a vessel like the Mount Whitney, but the proximity of two hostile forces in such a fraught setting set the political temperature rising again in the Caucasus, a month after Russia’s five day war with Georgia.The American warship is too large to actually enter the port, where Russia sunk several Georgian navy vessels in its offensive last month. Instead, it is expected anchor offshore and unload its cargo of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies on to smaller boats."I can confirm it has arrived in Poti. Anchoring procedures are still ongoing but it has arrived," said a US naval official.Moscow, which followed up its crushing military defeat of Georgia by unilaterally recognising the independence of two of its breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, was fuming that Mr Cheney still insisted on Georgia’s entrance into the Atlantic alliance – something several key NATO members are wary of.“The new promises to Tbilisi relating to the speedy membership of NATO simply strengthen the Saakashvili regime’s dangerous feeling of impunity and encourages its dangerous ambitions,” said Mr Nesterenko.
Washington has also pledged one billion dollars in aid to help Georgia rebuild after Russia pounded many of its military bases to dust and targeted important infrastructure.The brief conflict has left thousands of Georgians homeless, including many driven from South Ossetia and the surrounding Russian buffer zone inside Georgia itself.Georgian officials have accused the Russian-backed Ossetian militias of “ethnically cleansing” remote villages, while Moscow has charged Tbilisi with “genocide” for its heavy handed attack on the breakaway region last month. By James Hider in Tbilisi http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4682003.ece
As in the days of Noah...

Kosovo passport opens new doors

ISRAEL of the CAUCASUS?

NATO guarantees that an attack against one member country is an attack against all are no longer what they used to be.Had Georgia been inside NATO, a number of European countries would no longer be willing to consider it an attack against their own soil.For Russia, the geopolitical stars were in perfect alignment. The U.S. was badly overstretched and had no plausible way to talk tough without coming across as empty rhetoric. American resources have been drained by the Iraq and Afghan wars, and the war on terror. The European Union is still a military dwarf that swings no weight in the Kremlin. And the ineptitude of Georgia's leadership gave Russian leaders a huge new window of opportunity.Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili evidently thought the U.S. would come to his side militarily if Russian troops pushed him back into Georgia after ordering an attack last Aug. 8 on the breakaway province of South Ossetia. And when his forces were mauled by Russia's counterattack, bitter disappointment turned to anger. Along with Abkhazia, Georgia lost two provinces.Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel that was mostly under the radar. Georgia's Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli who moved things along by facilitating Israeli arms sales with U.S. aid. "We are now in a fight against the great Russia," he was quoted as saying, "and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House because Georgia cannot survive on its own."The Jerusalem Post on Aug. 12 reported, "Georgian Prime Minister Vladimir Gurgenidze made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing from one of the Haredi community's most important rabbis and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Aaron Leib Steinman. "I want him to pray for us and our state," he was quoted.Israel began selling arms to Georgia seven years ago. U.S. grants facilitated these purchases. From Israel came former minister and former mayor of Tel Aviv Roni Milo, representing Elbit Systems, and his brother Shlomo, former director-general of Military Industries. Israeli UAV spy drones, made by Elbit Maarahot Systems, conducted recon flights over southern Russia, as well as into nearby Iran.In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter bombers in the event of preemptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) would fly over Turkey.At a Moscow news conference, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included, "eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for clearing minefields." Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army range from 100 to 1,000. There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia. Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for "Immediate Response 2008," a joint exercise with Georgian forces.Details of Israel's involvement were largely ignored by Israeli media lest they be interpreted as another blow to Israel's legendary military prowess, which took a bad hit in the Lebanese war against Hezbollah two years ago. Georgia's top diplomat in Tel Aviv complained about Israel's "lackluster" response to his country's military predicament, and called for "diplomatic pressure on Moscow." According to the Jerusalem Post, the Georgian was told "the address for that type of pressure is Washington." The daily Haaretz reported Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili - who is Jewish, the newspaper said - told Israeli Army radio that "Israel should be proud of its military, which trained Georgian soldiers" because he explained rather implausibly, "a small group of our soldiers were able to wipe out an entire Russian military division, thanks to Israeli training."The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis was agreed at the highest levels with the approval of the Bush administration. The official liaison between the two entities was Reserve Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, who commanded Israeli forces on the Lebanese border in July 2006. He resigned from the army after the Winograd commission flayed Israel's conduct of its Second Lebanon War.That Russia assessed these Israeli training missions as U.S.-approved is a given. The U.S. was also handicapped by a shortage of spy-in-the-sky satellite capability, already overextended by the Iraq and Afghan wars. Neither U.S. nor Georgian intelligence knew Russian forces were ready with an immediate and massive response to the Georgian attack Moscow knew was coming. Russian double agents ostensibly working for Georgia most probably egged on the military fantasies of the impetuous President Saakashvili's "surprise attack" plans.Mr. Saakashvili was convinced that by sending 2,000 of his soldiers to serve in Iraq (that were immediately flown home by the U.S. when Russia launched a massive counterattack into Georgia), he would be rewarded for his loyalty. He could not believe Mr. Bush, a personal friend, would leave him in the lurch. Georgia, as Mr. Saakashvili saw his country's role, was "Israel of the Caucasus."The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis appears to have been cemented at the highest levels, according to YNet, the Israeli electronic daily. But whether the IAF can still count on those air bases to launch bombing missions against Iran's nuke facilities is now in doubt.Iran comes out ahead in the wake of the Georgian crisis. Neither Russia nor China is willing to respond to a Western request for more and tougher sanctions against the mullahs. Iran's European trading partners are also loath to squeeze Iran. The Russian-built, 1,000-megawatt Iranian reactor in Bushehr is scheduled to go on line early next year.A combination of Vladimir Putin and oil has put Russia back on the geopolitical map of the world. Moscow's oil and gas revenue this year is projected at $201 billion, a 13-fold increase since Mr. Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin eight years ago.The Bush administration's global democracy crusade, as seen by the men in the Kremlin, and not an insignificant number of friends, is code for imperial hubris. The Putin-Medvedev tandem's response is a new five-point doctrine that told the U.S. to butt out of what was once the Soviet empire, not only former Soviet republics, but also former satellites and client states.Only superannuated cold warriors saw a rebirth of the Cold War's Brezhnev Doctrine, or the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other "socialist states," e.g., the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. But it does mean the Russian bear cannot be baited with impunity - a la Georgia. --Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large for The Washington Times and for United Press International.

As in the days of Noah....

Iran: Citizens are not allowed to freely choose names for new born babies

NCRI-Mohammadreza Ayatollahi, head of the mullahs' Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) said 330,000 citizens chose the name "Abulfazel" for their male new born babies last year."In pervious years, 'Mohammad' was the most popular name for baby boys,"Aytollahi said."Fatemeh" is the most popular name for baby girls on the other hand.There is a list of "Islamic and Persian names" prepared by the local offices of the bureau for the citizens to choose a name for their new comers," Ayatollahi told the state television."However, in the case that parents prefer a different name then they should fill out a special form obtaining permission from the 'Council of Names' which is operating in the central offices of BVS in each province," Ayatollahi said.In some cases parents prefer names that are insulting to "Islamic values,"then it is the responsibility of BVS not to authorize such names,Ayatollahi added."Some parents choose names that do not sound right and are contrary to our values. Then we have to take the matter seriously and encourage the couple to refrain from doing so," Ayatollah said at the end.The mullahs' regime does not allow freedom of choice when it comes to naming babies. Interfering in the most private matters of Iranian people's lives has generated an enormous hatred toward the ruling clerics.
As in the days of Noah....

Snow in Kenya-Africa

A huge hailstorm turned parts of central Kenya white, thrilling residents most of whom had never experienced such conditions, officials said on Wednesday. Hailstorms are usual in some parts of Kenya, which straddles the equator, but the ferocity of the storm in Busara, 255 km (158 miles) northwest of the capital was unprecedented.Excited villagers pelted each other with snowballs while some ate pieces of the icy sheet that formed over an entire hillside."We thought a big white sheet had been spread, so we decided to come and see for ourselves. We thought that it was Jesus who had come back," one villager told reporters.Kenya's Meteorological Department said Tuesday's storm was caused by the convergence of cold air currents from the Indian Ocean and warm air currents from the Congo. "The hailstones falling on the ground joined together to form expansive sheets of ice or snow flakes occupying a large area, 30 acres," a statement by the meteorologists said.More than 12 hours after the storm, the forested hillside was still white despite the hot tropical sun."In fact this thing is very sweet, we have never seen anything like this. We like the ice so much because with the sun being hot, you take it and you feel satisfied," resident Simon Kimani said.The only snow to be seen in normally sunny Kenya is on top of the country's highest mountain, 5,199-metre (17,057 ft) Mount Kenya.


http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=91d_1220555596
As in the days of Noah...

FLOODS DISASTER WATCH:Don't go home yet, Indian state warns flood victims

PURNEA, India-Authorities battling a massive deluge in eastern India issued public warnings on Friday of more floods to come and asked villagers not to return home from temporary shelters yet.Water levels receded slightly this week in some parts of Bihar state, which is facing its worst flooding in 50 years, but officials warned the flooding was a long way from improving.Millions are now living on embankments, roads and in overcrowded camps in filthy conditions, making them extremely vulnerable to infections and water-borne diseases in the absence of drinking water, aid agencies say.Many people were trying to return to salvage what was left of their homes, while tens of thousands were resisting evacuation efforts because they were afraid their homes would be looted.Officials sent out radio appeals asking marooned villagers to evacuate and those in camps to stay put."The news of water receding should not be taken seriously at all," Pratyay Amrit, a senior disaster management official in Bihar, told Reuters. "We are still afraid there could be fresh flooding, so going back to the villages is not a good idea."The floods have forced more than three million people from their homes, destroyed 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of farmland and killed at least 90 people.Media reports say the toll may be much higher after the Kosi river, which originates in Nepal, burst a dam last month and unleashed huge amounts of water downstream in Bihar.
To read more go to:
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSBOM10775720080905
As in the days of Noah...

Hanna Eyes Coast, Ike Possibly Following

Aid Can’t Reach Starving Haitian City

GONAIVES, Haiti-The convoy rumbled out of the U.N. base toward a flooded, starving and seething city Thursday, carrying some of the first food aid since Tropical Storm Hanna killed 137 Haitians and drowned Gonaives in muddy water three days ago.Hungry children at three orphanages were waiting for the canvas-topped trucks, loaded with warm pots of rice and beans and towing giant tanks of drinking water.The trucks didn't make it.The convoy crept over mud-caked, semi-paved roads past closed stores, overturned buses and women wading in water up to their knees with plastic tubs on their heads.After about 45 minutes, the half-dozen trucks ground to a halt. U.N. peacekeepers wearing camouflage fatigues and bulletproof vests jumped out while others stood guard with assault rifles.Before them, a huge gouge marred the road. The floods had split the asphalt, and water ran through the 10-foot-wide (3-meter-wide) gap.The convoy turned around. And the children-like tens of thousands more in this increasingly desperate city-went another day without food.Later, Argentine U.N. troops stopped to dish out cooked rice from their own food supplies to a small crowd of hungry orphans.''I haven't eaten since Monday,'' 12-year-old Srita Omiscar said as she waited in line with about 50 others.Just a few blocks away, a woman's corpse in a floral dress floated in a submerged intersection.At least 137 people died when Hanna struck Haiti, 102 of them in Gonaives and its surroundings, officials said. Some 250,000 people are affected in the Gonaives region and 54,000 people are living shelters across the country, according to government estimates.Argentine Capt. Sergio Hoj estimated that half of Gonaives' houses remained flooded Thursday.Many houses were torn apart. Families huddled on rooftops, their possessions laid out to dry. Overturned cars were everywhere, and televisions floated in the brown water.Gonaives-a collection of concrete buildings, run-down shacks and plazas with dilapidated fountains-lies in a flat river plain between the ocean and deforested mountains that run with mud even in light rains. Hanna swirled over Haiti for four days, dumping vast amounts of water, blowing down fruit trees and ruining stores of food as it swamped tin-roofed houses.Hanna finally moved north Thursday with near hurricane-force winds on a path toward the southeastern U.S. coast. But in the chaos there was no way to know how many people might be dead, or how many had been driven from their homes. Two other storms killed 85 people in August, and forecasters warned that fearsome Hurricane Ike could hit Haiti next week.Haiti's government has few resources to help. Rescue convoys have been blocked by floodwaters, although the U.N. World Food Program said Thursday it was sending a food-laden boat to Gonaives from the capital, Port-au-Prince, and would set up a base in the stricken city.''All roads able to access Gonaives are cut either by bridges that have collapsed, by trees that have fallen down, or by waters that have washed away parts of the streets,'' U.N. food agency representative Myrta Kaulard said.She said the U.N. peacekeeping mission was also hoping that its helicopters could take more U.N. personnel along to begin handing out aid, which includes 19 tons of biscuits, 50 tons of water, and water purification tablets.In the capital, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mari Tolliver said $250,000 in relief supplies arrived in Haiti Thursday, including jugs of drinking water, and would be sent to Gonaives by boat or plane.''The idea is to get it there within the next day or two. Every effort is being made,'' she said, adding that another $100,000 will be used to buy bedding, kitchen items and other goods for victims.''The situation in Gonaives is catastrophic,'' Daniel Rouzier, Haiti chairman of Food for the Poor, wrote in an e-mail. ''We, just like the rest of the victims ... have limited mobility. You can't float a boat, drive a truck or fly anything to the victims.''Anger and frustration were growing at the inability or unwillingness of the government and the international community to help.''If they don't have food, it can be dangerous,'' warned Sen. Youri Latortue, who flew in by helicopter. ''They can't wait.''
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Haiti-Floods.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin
As in the days of Noah...