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

Friday, December 12, 2008

Constitution rewrite only 2 states away:Critic: 'This is a horrible time to try such a crazy scheme'

The final vote from the 1787 Constitutional Convention
A public policy organization has issued an urgent alert stating affirmative votes are needed from only two more states before a Constitutional Convention could be assembled in which "today's corrupt politicians and judges" could formally change the U.S. Constitution's "'problematic' provisions to reflect the philosophical and social mores of our contemporary society.""Don't for one second doubt that delegates to a Con Con wouldn't revise the First Amendment into a government-controlled privilege, replace the 2nd Amendment with a 'collective' right to self-defense, and abolish the 4th, 5th, and 10th Amendments, and the rest of the Bill of Rights," said the warning from the American Policy Institute."Additions could include the non-existent separation of church and state, the 'right' to abortion and euthanasia, and much, much more," the group said.The warning comes at a time when Barack Obama, who is to be voted the next president by the Electoral College Monday, has expressed his belief the U.S. Constitution needs to be interpreted through the lens of current events.Tom DeWeese, who runs the center and its education and grassroots work, told WND the possibilities stunned him when he discovered lawmakers in Ohio are considering a call for a Constitutional Convention. He explained that 32 other states already have taken that vote, and only one more would be needed to require Congress to name convention delegates who then would have more power than Congress itself."The U.S. Constitution places no restriction on the purposes for which the states can call for a convention," the alert said. "If Ohio votes to call a Con Con, for whatever purpose, the United States will be only one state away from total destruction. And it's a safe bet that those who hate this nation, and all She stands for, are waiting to pounce upon this opportunity to re-write our Constitution."DeWeese told WND that a handful of quickly responding citizens appeared at the Ohio Legislature yesterday for the meeting at which the convention resolution was supposed to be handled.State officials suddenly decided to delay action, he said, giving those concerned by the possibilities of such a convention a little time to breathe.According to a Fox News report, Obama has stated repeatedly his desire for empathetic judges who "understand" the plight of minorities. In a 2007 speech to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, he said, "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."
Obama also committed himself to respecting the Constitution but said the founding document must be interpreted in the context of current affairs and events.Melody Barnes, a senior domestic policy adviser to the Obama campaign, said in the Fox News report, "His view is that our society isn't static and the law isn't static as well. That the Constitution is a living and breathing document and that the law and the justices who interpret it have to understand that."
Obama has criticized Justice Clarence Thomas, regarded as a conservative member of the court, as not a strong jurist or legal thinker. And Obama voted against both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, two appointees of President Bush who vote with Thomas on many issues.Further, WND also reported Obama believes the Constitution is flawed, because it fails to address wealth redistribution, and he says the Supreme Court should have intervened years ago to accomplish that.Obama said in a 2001 radio interview the Constitution is flawed in that it does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth.Obama told Chicago's public station WBEZ-FM that "redistributive change" is needed, pointing to what he regarded as a failure of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in its rulings on civil rights issues in the 1960s.
The Warren court, he said, failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth. But Obama, then an Illinois state lawmaker, said the legislative branch of government, rather than the courts, probably was the ideal avenue for accomplishing that goal.In the 2001 interview, Obama said:If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be OK .But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.And that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

By Bob Unruh
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PS:May be we WONT RECOGNIZE our country in a couple of months...I have a sense of urgency and a burden like never before for my own life,my loved ones my country and frankly for souls...I know the Lord is round the corner...
As in the days of Noah...

Welfare Cases Around The World Naming Their Kids After Obama

Cult of personality:
BUCHAREST, Romania – By his own admission, Barack Obama was “a skinny kid with a funny name,” but that isn’t stopping proud parents from Romania to Indonesia from naming their newborns after the U.S. president-elect.Romania’s downtrodden Gypsies — once enslaved, like African-Americans, yet still struggling to overcome deep-seated prejudice — seem particularly inspired.“When I saw Obama on TV, my heart swelled with joy. I thought he was one of us Gypsies because of his skin color,” said Maria Savu, whose infant grandson — Obama Sorin Ilie Scoica — was born in the central Romania village of Rusciori.
This part is fitting:
Little Obama is the third child of a poor family that barely gets by on 200 lei ($66) a month in welfare benefits.
Imagine that.Obama worship from bunch of irresponsible layabouts popping out kids despite the fact that they can’t make enough money to be self sufficient.
Kind of like all those Obama supporters here in America who voted for him so that
he’d pay their mortgages and fill their tanks with gas.
By Rob

As in the days of Noah....

Ice storm leaves hundreds of thousands without power

A paralyzing storm has coated much of Central and Western Massachusetts with an inch of ice, snapping countless limbs and power lines and knocking out electricity to more than 700,000 homes and businesses across New England. As the storm roars out to sea today after deluging the region with 2 to 4 inches of rain, it is leaving a wide swath of damage. Hardest hit was northern Worcester County, where 119,000 people are without power and some roads are impassable in communities such as Fitchburg and Leominster. "There's tons and tons of debris out there, which is impacting the utilities' ability to restore power," said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. "It's as bad as we've seen at least over the last 10 years."No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, and officials are still determining how much havoc the storm caused. Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency, which allowed him to mobilized 500 members of the National Guard to help clear roads and provide support. Power outages in Massachusetts have hit 350,000, Patrick said, and it would be "ambitious" to think power would be restored by Monday."This is not going to be a couple of hours," Patrick said in a news conference at the state's emergency management center in Framingham. "It's likely to be several days."A state of emergency has also been declared in New Hampshire, where more than 265,000 are in the dark, according to Public Service of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Electric Co-op. Central Maine Power Co. reported that 100,000 of its 590,000 customers were without electricity. Connecticut Light & Power reported that nearly 17,000 of its 1 million customers are without service.In Worcester, there have been more than 200 reports of roads blocked by fallen trees, with the Burncoat and Greendale neighborhoods especially hard-hit.“I have never seen anything like this in 30 years,” said Deputy Chief Peter Bergstrom of the Holden Fire Department, where the entire town is without power.In Western Massachusetts, the towns of Otis, Becket, and Ashfield sustained the most damage. It could take several days to restore power because downed trees are preventing repairs, said Lacey Girard, spokeswoman for Western Massachusetts Electric Company, which has 21,000 customers without power.In addition to New Hampshire, massive electricity outages have been reported in Vermont and Maine. In Massachusetts, the problems are not limited to ice. Wind gusts near 50 miles per hour are buffeting Cape Cod and the South Coast, where temperatures are in the 60s. Flooding is a major concern inside Interstate 495 with small streams swollen from the rain."This is ending. It's on its way out," said Eleanor Vallier-Talbot, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Taunton. "The heaviest stuff is pretty well over."The rain is expected to taper off and give way to cold. High temperatures are expected to creep above freezing in the portions of the state blanketed by ice, which could help thaw some cities and towns. Temperatures are expected to plummet this evening, with lows hitting the teens in the central and western part of the state. Temperatures in Boston are expected to slip into the 20s. Material from the Associated Press is included in this report.
By Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff, and Anne Baker, Globe Correspondent
As in the days of Noah...

Look up tonight for a spectacular treat in the sky:Biggest full moon for years enhanced by shooting stars

If the full moon tonight looks unusually large, it is not your imagination-it is the biggest and brightest full moon to be seen for 15 years. Each month the Moon makes a full orbit around the Earth in a slightly oval-shaped path, and tonight it will swing by the Earth at its closest distance, or perigee. It will pass by 356,613km (221,595 miles) away, which is about 28,000km closer than average.The unusual feature of tonight is that the perigee also coincides with a full moon, which will make it appear 14 per cent bigger and some 30 per cent brighter than most full moons this year-so long as the clouds hold off from blocking the view.The next closest encounter with a full moon this large will not be until November 14, 2016.In addition to this lunar flypast, much of Britain may also be treated to a strange phenomenon known as the moon illusion. As the Moon rises in the late afternoon, it will appear even larger as it lies close to the horizon. Psychologists have tried to explain this as a trick of the eye, as the landscape on the horizon appears to make the Moon loom much larger, an effect that disappears as the Moon rises above the horizon, although viewing it through a tube, such as a toilet roll, can make it look large again.With the Moon approaching so close to the Earth, its gravity will pull a slightly higher tide than normal for a full moon. This so-called perigeal tide adds about 0.5m (1.6ft) to the high-water mark, and with freshening southwesterly winds forecast, this may cause some flooding, especially along parts of the South West coast. Tonight’s full moon is also notable for rising to its greatest height in the night sky for the entire year, lying almost overhead at midnight. This is because we are approaching the winter solstice, on December 21, and thanks to the tilt of the Earth the Moon appears at its highest, as the Sun is at its lowest.Another astronomical treat that could be seen tonight and for the next two nights is the annual Geminid meteor shower, one of the year’s best displays of shooting stars. Up to 100 meteors an hour can fly across the sky. The meteors, which are easy to spot with the naked eye, appear to shoot out from the constellation Gemini, hence their name, but they can be seen all over the sky. However, with a full moon so bright, the best place to look is away from the Moon. Meteor showers happen when the Earth passes through clouds of debris shed from comets. As the tiny fragments smash into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at about 100,000mph, they burn up in streaks of light.For reasons that are not understood, the Geminid meteor showers are tending to grow stronger each year.
By Paul Simons
As in the days of Noah...

PESTILENCE WATCH:Manila reports Ebola virus in pigs...

Philippine officials tucked into servings of lechon, the popular dish of roasted whole pig, in front of television cameras on Thursday to reassure the public of the safety of the national staple meat after the discovery among hogs near Manila of a strain of the Ebola virus.Arthur Yap, agriculture secretary, and Francisco Duque, health secretary, said the Ebola Reston virus, which had never been found in pigs before, presented a low health risk for humans and was different from the deadly African variety. The World Health Organisation was reported to be looking into whether there was any chance humans could have become infected.The outbreak could deal a blow to Philippine plans to build a pork export industry. The government halted an inaugural shipment of frozen pork to Singapore and quarantined three swine farms.Pork vendors in public markets in Manila sought to assure buyers that their products had passed government inspection and met safety standards. “December is the month when we sell the most pork at relatively higher price,” said Evelyn Reyes, who operates a small pork stall in Quezon City.“I really hope the government does a good work of calming people’s fears about the Ebola virus.”Pork accounts for more than half of the average 61g of meat consumed daily by each Filipino.The virus was first discovered in 1989 in macaque monkeys imported from the Philippines by a laboratory in Reston, Virginia. Scientists are trying to determine how the virus spread to pigs.
By Roel Landingin in Manila
As in the days of Noah...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Greek protests spread with arrests across Europe

Demonstrations against the killing were seen in cities across the continent with left-wing radicals and other sympathisers taking to the streets.In Spain, 11 protesters were arrested and several police officers injured when clashes took place in Madrid and Barcelona.In Copenhagen, 32 people were arrested when their protest in support of the Greek protests turned violent.In neighbouring Turkey, about a dozen left-wing protesters daubed red paint over the front of the Greek consulate in Istanbul.Around 150 people belonging to a Danish underground movement took to the streets, throwing bottles and paint bombs at buildings, police cars and officers. In Moscow and Rome, protesters threw petrol bombs at Greece's embassies.Journalists came under attack for the first time in the riots, with a Russian news crew assaulted by a mob of about 50 youths, some of them reportedly drunk.A correspondent and a cameraman for Russian television channel NTV were injured in the confrontation, which happened while they filmed clashes in Exarchia, a crucible of student radicalism.In Athens, around 40 youths threw stones at riot police near university buildings in the volatile Exarchia district where 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos was shot dead on Saturday.They were met with volleys of tear gas and three arrests were made, police said. Overnight, students hurling petrol bombs and stones again battled riot police in Athens, in a continuation of the worst riots to have hit Greece in more than 30 years.There were similar clashes in the northern city of Thessaloniki, where more than 80 shops and 14 banks were damaged, with students continuing to occupy university campuses.
Despite the turmoil that has rocked Greece since Grigoropoulos was killed, embattled Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said he would fly to Brussels to attend a European Union summit. His conservative government has a parliamentary majority of just one seat.Corruption scandals and attempts at economic reform have made Mr Karamanlis' administration deeply unpopular, but he has so far resisted calls to resign and call early elections.Epaminondas Korkoneas, 37, the police officer accused of shooting the teenager, has been charged with voluntary homicide and "illegal use" of his service weapon. He was ordered to remain in custody by an Athens magistrate.His partner, Vassilios Saraliotis, 31, was charged with being an accomplice and will also remain in custody. The pair have been held since Sunday.Under questioning by a magistrate, Mr Korkoneas said he had acted out of self defence when a group of youths began throwing firebombs and other objects while threatening to kill him and his partner.His lawyer said the bullet which killed Grigoropoulos showed signs of having bounced off a hard surface, indicating that the boy was killed as a result of an accidental ricochet.Greece has a history of clashes between the police and left-wing, anarchist groups.A student uprising in 1973 helped bring an end to the country's military dictatorship a year later.But the scale of this week's violence has left the country in deep shock as Greeks count the cost of the destruction.The Athens Chamber of Commerce said 435 businesses had been hit during the violence, with 37 completely gutted, estimating the damage at GBP 44 million (50 million euros).Under the headline "Greece in self-destruct mode" the conservative daily newspaper Kathimerini said in an editorial: "This is a country with a state that is in a shambles, a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds of rage instead of knowledge and a shattered health care system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin."
By Nick Squires In Athens
As in the days of Noah...

Fresh riots grip Athens

Greek violence flares for sixth day

ATHENS (Reuters) - Protesters hurled fire bombs at riot police, who answered with teargas, as 4,000 Greek students marched on Thursday in a sixth straight day of anti-government violence.Riots across Greece, triggered by the police shooting of a teenager but fueled by deep popular anger over corruption and economic hardship, have shaken the conservative government."Down with the government of murderers,"read demonstrators' banners. Marchers chanted "Cops, Pigs, Murderers" in the latest spasm of Greece's worst unrest since the aftermath of its 1967-1974 military rule.Helicopters hovered overhead as the protesters set fire to piles of garbage in the middle of deserted Athens avenues.The violence was less intense then in previous days, but more protests were planned for Friday and Monday and some Greeks asked how much longer the government could remain in power."The government has shown it cannot handle this. If police start imposing the law, everyone will say the military junta is back," said Yannis Kalaitzakis, 49, an electrician."The government is stuck between a rock and a hard place."Earlier in the day, gangs of Greek high school students hurled stones and fire bombs at police stations in Athens suburbs. Violence has hit at least 10 cities and caused damage worth hundreds of millions of euros.Data released on Thursday showed that economic hardship is hitting more Greeks. Unemployment, especially high among young people and women, rose to 7.4 percent in September from 7.1 in August, reversing four years of decline, and economists said it would keep climbing as the global crisis reached Greece."Our priority is to help social groups that are most in need and protect jobs," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in Brussels, where he is attending an EU summit....
By Dina Kyriakidou
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As in the days of Noah...

Who will stop Somali pirates?

The Russian Navy is to maintain a regular presence near Somali waters in 2009. The news comes as representatives of 40 countries hold a UN-sponsored conference to discuss more measures to crack down on piracy in the area. Meanwhile, vessels are being hijacked almost every week.

Super-warship may fight pirates

The nuclear rocket cruiser Peter the Great may join a group of ships fighting piracy off the Somali coast. The super-ship has just completed joint drills with the Venezuelan navy in the Caribbean.

Somali pirates set up "agencies" on three continents

From Tuesday, Dec. 9, at least four British, French and Greek warships, two reconnaissance planes and 150 marines will escort merchant ships sailing through the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa waters.This force will expand to 6 naval vessels, 3 aircraft and 1,000 marines.But meanwhile, DEBKAfile's military and counter-terrors sources report, the pirates have set up a land-based intelligence-financial-logistic logistic network in the Persian Gulf, East Africa and… northern Europe.Royal Navy Rear Adm. Phillip Jones will oversee the EU mission from the RAF Northwood base in the UK, while Greek Commodore Antonios Papaioannou will be on-the-spot commander.The EU force will coordinate its operations with US, Russian, Indian and Malaysian naval units in the region, although their rules of engagement are not uniform.DEBKA-Net-Weekly 373, revealed on Nov. 21, information turned up by the US Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet intelligence that the Somali pirates had organized their traffic on business lines by establishing a sort of "back office" in Abu Dhabi.It is run by money changers earning a rake-off on ransom payments as the pirates' agents. They have since established similar "agencies" in Mombasa, Kenya; Piraeus, Greece; Naples, Italy; and Rotterdam, Netherlands, which work through spies at shipping and marine insurance firms.Here is how the system works, according to DEBKAfile's exclusive sources: The pirates' undercover agents gather information from their shipping contacts in Gulf, East African and European ports on the merchant vessels heading for the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and the cargoes. They brief the pirates on the presence of security guards and weapons available for the crew aboard the vessel.The pirates are always on the lookout for “special cargoes”, meaning smuggled goods or merchandise exported illegally or contrary to international law, such as clandestine weapons shipments.Such consignments, like that of the Ukrainian MV Faina, which carried a large unregistered cargo of 33 T-72 tanks and other armaments - and is still held - increase the ransom value of the vessel and pay more than routine freights.The pirates also use their proxies to negotiate ransoms and terms for releasing the hijacked vessels, rather than exposing themselves and their locations. These front men also go shopping for the latest word in speed boats, navigation equipment, GPS, communications gear, food, fuel and other supplies.DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources report that the pirates' logistics and intelligence are far superior to that of the European counter-terror operation. This gap seriously detracts from the international patrol fleet's prospects of getting to grips with the pirates, who have attacked more than 90 vessels this year and successfully seized more than 36 on the world's busiest shipping lanes.

As in the days of Noah...

Military sources: 100 million Israeli shekels Barak approved for Gaza will feed Hamas war chest

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak ordered the 100 million Israeli shekels in currency bills (equivalent to $25.6 million) to be transferred by Israeli armored cars to the Gaza Strip via the West Bank Wednesday, Dec. 10. He bowed to appeals from Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayad and the governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer. The latter was concerned by complaints from the World Bank that Gaza's banks were closing their doors for lack of cash and the Hamas administration was unable to cover its payroll.Military sources told DEBKAfile: This is a repeat performance of Hamas' fuel scam.This is how it works: Hamas hoards high-quality fuel from Israel in secret emergency stores ready for use by its military units against an Israeli incursion of the Gaza Strip.Israeli fuel supplies thus support Hamas' war against Israel.Meanwhile, Hamas tunnels from Egyptian Sinai are used to smuggle low quality diesel fuel, estimated at 1 million liters a week, which is sold to the population at top prices for cash.Neither the Egyptian nor the Israeli authorities lift a finger to stop this nefarious traffic.When Palestinian missile attacks escalate and Israel suspends its fuel supplies through the Gaza crossings, Hamas stages power outages for the benefit of the world media to show how Israel is starving the Palestinians of the energy needed for running Gaza's hospitals and power stations.The shekel shortage is another piece of theater directed by Hamas in the certainty that Israel's defense leaders will bow to outside pressure and deliver.By the same token, the Palestinian extremists were certain that nothing would come of the special discussion held Wednesday by prime minister Ehud Olmert, foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Barak, military officials and intelligence directors on whether to extend the six-month "ceasefire" when it expires on Dec. 16. The conference was planned as a serious review of the options for dealing with the incessant Palestinian missile blitz – more than 200 fired in less than a month, including four Grad Katyusha rockets – and the state of play between Gaza and the West Bank.The defense minister chose to wave the missile assault aside and wave through a resupply of cash for Hamas' war chest on the same day as this critical discussion.DEBKAfile's political sources report that Barak's purpose was to humiliate Livni – as Labor and Kadima leaders they head rival parties facing a general election. Livni has taken the position that passivity is no answer for the Hamas offensive and a substantial Israeli military response can no longer be avoided.
As in the days of Noah...

South Asia stands "in the eye of a storm of terror" – Indian home minister

Speaking in parliament Thursday, Dec. 11, Indian home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram announced measures to fix the intelligence lapses and "logistical weakness" which were exposed by the Islamist terrorist siege of Mumbai which cost 172 lives. He promised wide-reaching reforms of security laws and the national terror preventive infrastructure, including 20 new counter-insurgency schools for training commandoes. "We cannot go back to business as usual," said the minister. "The finger of suspicion points unmistakably to the territory of our neighbor Pakistan." South Asia stood "in the eye of a storm of terror."The sole surviving terrorist of the bloody attack was remanded in custody Thursday and accused of making war on India. DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources point to preparations in New Delhi for a military response to the Mumbai attack, which is expected to come in the form of targeted cross-border raids on terrorist targets. Indian officials have confirmed that that the ten terrorists accounted for, all from Pakistani Punjab, were only part of a 30-member team. Twenty are missing and India is therefore geared for more Islamist terrorist attacks. The counter-terror center in Jerusalem Thursday repeated its strong warning to Israelis to stay clear of Goa over the December-January holiday season, where Westerners, including Americans and Europeans, may be targeted for another Islamist assault, possibly by the missing terrorists.Our New Delhi sources attach low credibility to Islamabad's raids of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist bases and arrests. For one thing, Islamabad refuses to turn over suspected ringleaders of the Mumbai outrage to India or allow Indian investigators to question him. For another, Western as well as Indian counter-terror sources hold that Lashkar e-Taiba was only one part of the Mumbai conspiracy. They point at a coalition led by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Taliban, elements of al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups.Without ISI's tactical and logistical organization, a terrorist attack on the Mumbai scale would have been inconceivable.
As in the days of Noah...

Pakistan Places 3rd Mumbai Terror Suspect Under House Arrest

Are Pakistan's Nukes Safe...?

Pakistan acts against charity tied to attacks

MURIDKE, Pakistan-Pakistan moved aggressively Thursday against an Islamic charity with links to militants suspected in the Mumbai attacks, freezing the group's assets, putting its leaders under house arrest and padlocking its offices.The moves against Jamat-ud-Dawa could help convince India and the United States that Pakistan is cracking down on militants blamed for the Nov. 26-29 assaults, but it also risks igniting Muslim anger at its already shaky, secular government.The action came a day after the United Nations listed Jamat-ud-Dawa as a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for the strikes. The U.N. also subjected Jamat-ud-Dawa to sanctions as a terrorist group, including an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.Pakistan has already announced the arrests of 20 militants-including two alleged by India to have masterminded the attacks-and has vowed to cooperate with its neighbor.India, which says the attacks were carried by Pakistanis as well as plotted and directed by militants in Pakistan, remains skeptical of the response so far.Elements in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence agencies are believed to retain links with militants, which they have used as proxy fighters against Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, raising questions about their willingness and ability to crack down on them.Islamabad has targeted Lashkar-e-Taiba and other militants before, detaining leaders-including one picked up Thursday-only to release them later. That has bolstered critics who allege the government is not serious about fighting the extremists...
By BABAR DOGAR and ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press Writers
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As in the days of Noah...

Portugal Offers to Take Guantanamo Detainees

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico-An offer by Portugal to take in detainees released from Guantanamo Bay will bring the U.S. closer to its goal of closing the offshore military prison, an American diplomat said Thursday.Clint Williamson, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war-crimes issues, said the gesture marks a breakthrough in efforts to find new homes for detainees who would risk persecution or torture in their native countries."We certainly welcome this initiative," Williamson said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have approached over 70 countries at this point, and I personally visited a number of those capitals, raising this with other governments."As many as 50 of the roughly 250 inmates remaining at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba would risk mistreatment if sent back to countries such as China, Algeria and Syria, according to human rights groups. The U.S. has described a lack of resettlement options for them as an obstacle to emptying the prison. Portugal's offer was included in a letter that Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado sent to his European Union counterparts.The EU "should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the U.S. government resolve this problem, namely by taking in the detainees," the letter said.Thus far, Albania is the only country that has accepted Guantanamo detainees on humanitarian grounds, taking in five members of China's Uighur ethnic minority in 2006.Human rights groups also urged European countries to follow Portugal's lead and help the U.S. close the detention center, as President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to do soon after taking office on Jan. 20."At the change of administration, we hope there will be a number of countries that come forward and realize this is a critical opportunity to turn the page on Guantanamo," said Emi MacLean, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.The U.N.'s torture investigator, Manfred Nowak, recommended last month that European countries take in Guantanamo inmates who cannot be sent home....
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As in the days of Noah...

Muslim Scientists Prepare for Battle With Creationists

The next major battle over evolutionary theory is likely to occur not in the United States but in the Islamic world or in countries with large Muslim populations because of rising levels of education and Internet access there, as well as the rising importance of biology, a scientist now says.As with Christians and Jews, there is no consensus or "official"opinion on evolution among Muslims. However, some of them say that the theory is a cultural threat that acts as a force in favor of atheism, says Hampshire College’s Salman Hameed in an essay in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal Science. This is the same beef that some Christians have with evolution.A general respect for science in the Islamic world means scientists have an opportunity to counter anti-evolution efforts, such as the "Atlas of Creation," a glossy 850-page color volume produced by Muslim creationist Adnan Oktar who goes by the name of Harun Yahya.Numerous university scientists and members of the media received copies of this book as an unsolicited gift in 2007."There is a standard narrative that science and Islam are compatible, but evolution is one thought that challenges this assumption," Hameed told LiveScience. "It's interesting to see how people respond to it and create their world view in response to that challenge."Better education, the spread of Internet access and news about U.S. controversies over evolution are provoking some Muslims worldwide to start to ask whether Islam is compatible with evolutionary theory, Hameed said."Now is the time that these ideas are going to be solidified. We can shape it. There are positive ways to shape these ideas in which we can avert a mass rejection of evolution," Hameed said.
General confusion
Christian creationists believe God created animals, humanity, Earth and the universe in their original form in six days about 6,000 years ago, a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible.Muslim creationists have similar beliefs, based on the Quran, though they tend to be open to a wider range of interpretations.Scientists say, however, that evolutionary theory (the idea that all organisms evolved from a common ancestor) and the mechanism of natural selection explain the diversity of life on the planet.The theory is well-supported by evidence from multiple fields of study. Evolution not only explains how early primates evolved to become human, but how one species of bird becomes two, and how viruses morph over time to resist drugs.Scientists can only speculate on where and exactly how life began on Earth, but fossil evidence dates the earliest life to about 3.7 billion years ago.Hameed’s essay, meanwhile, comes on the heels of an ABC "Nightline" interview this week with President Bush during which Bush said that he doesn't think that his belief that God created the world is "incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution," as well as a Philadelphia Inquirer story quoting EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson as saying he does not think there's a "clean-cut division" between evolution and creationism.Now, three years after the end of the Dover trial (the upshot: U.S. District Judge John E. Jones barred a Pennsylvanian public school district from teaching "intelligent design" in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise), U.S. residents remain divided on evolution.A Harris poll conducted in November found 47 percent of Americans accept Darwin’s theory of evolution while 40 percent believe instead in creationism.
Scientists worry that those who ignore or dismiss the strong evidence for evolution might also be prone to a worrisome lack of critical thinking, and that over time, support for science and medicine in general could erode....
By Robin Lloyd
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As in the days of Noah...

Iran irate after Sarkozy rules out shaking Ahmadinejad's hand

The Iranian foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador to Tehran over remarks this week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy about his Iranian counterpart,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian media and France's foreign ministry said Thursday. According to Iran's state television, Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari expressed strong objections to recent "interventionist comments" by Sarkozy. The report said Safari summoned the French ambassador,Bernard Poletti, on Wednesday. During the meeting, the Iranian official warned about the impact Sarkozy's remarks could have on the two countries' bilateral relations, the report added. In a speech about human rights Monday, Sarkozy said he had told former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that "it is impossible for me to shake hands with someone who dared to say that Israel should be wiped off the map." Sarkozy also reportedly said that Ahmadinejad doesn't represent all Iranians. "I know perfectly well the Iranian president does not represent all the power in Iran, and even less ... the Iranian population," Sarkozy said, according to the text of his speech posted on the French president's Web site. Sarkozy was addressing former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was one of the guests attending a ceremony in Paris celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "We can not solve this crisis without talking to Iranian leaders," he said, but added: "I know perfectly well that the Iranian president does not represent Iran, much less the Iranian people." "The Iranian people are one of the greatest people of the world, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, cultured and open, but they have the misfortune to be represented today by some of their leaders." In Paris, the French ministry said Thursday that its ambassador reiterated France's opinion that Ahmadinejad's statement regarding Israel was "unacceptable." In 2005, Ahmadinejad prompted international criticism when he said the Jewish state should be "wiped off the map."

Report: Israeli envoy to U.K. accuses church service of being anti-Semitic

Ron Prosor, Israel's Ambassador in Britain lashed out against the Church of England on Wednesday for having approved an anti-Israel carol that was sung as part of a service, according to the Times of London. The carol was part of an "alternative" event called 'Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols' that took place at the end of November in the Wren church of St James's in Central London, and was organized by anti-Israel campaigners, including one liberal Jewish group. The carol Twelve Days of Christmas was sung as: "Twelve assassinations/Eleven homes demolished/Ten wells obstructed/Nine sniper towers/Eight gunships firing/Seven checkpoints blocking/Six tanks a-rolling/Five settlement rings. Four falling bombs/Three trench guns/Two trampled doves/And an uprooted olive tree.""It was appalling to see a church allow one of its most endearing seasonal traditions to be hijacked by hatred," Prosor told the Times, accusing the Church of having failed to condemn such a carol which provokes anti-Semitism and disregards years of efforts to bridge gaps between the two religions. "Unfortunately, the criticism from within the Church of England, that should have echoed with bold moral clarity, has instead sounded like a silent night, but far from holy," he said. Referring to the carol service, Prosor said: "Such actions strengthen an anti-Israeli agenda, trivialize the political issues and nourish an anti-Semitic culture. This is not because it is wrong to criticize Israeli policy but because such campaigns single out Israel alone for particular opprobrium and censure it above regimes elsewhere in the world which are genocidal in intent and oppressive to the extreme." The repercussions of the event are already affecting interfaith relations and is threatening to spur disputes within the diplomatic row. One of the few Christian leaders to denounce the event was former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, who said that anti-Semitism and hostility to Jews still lurks beneath the surface in Christian circles in Britain. "For 2000 years, the Jewish people suffered persecution because of the accusation of responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. The carol service deliberately attempted to make a linkage between this notion of deicide and Israel's relations with the Palestinians. It thus perpetuated an anti-Semitic canard that has no place in modern Britain," Prosor added
By Haaretz Service

As in the days of Noah...

Educating young children to deny Israel's right to exist

Illegal forced weddings still a reality in India

REPORT : In the western Indian state of Rajasthan, forced weddings are frequent - with the brides sometimes as young as five. It's been an illegal practice since 2006, but families struggling to feed their children see little alternative.

Hajj pilgrims not hopeful of Obama

After pelting a symbol of the devil with stones, the Iraqi pilgrim knelt and prayed that one day soon all sorts of devils will be removed from his homeland - among them, that American forces will soon leave.Hatim Mohammed al-Sakr said he hoped President-elect Barack Obama will carry out that promise."We have to wait and see if Obama will do that, but I'm optimistic about it," al-Sakr said Tuesday.But he and many others among pilgrims conducting the annual hajj pilgrimage this year were skeptical Obama will bring deeper changes to American policies that have angered many across the Islamic world, such as US support for Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians and Arab nations.Faith, not politics, is naturally at the center of the hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime journey for the faithful who hope to purify their souls of sin with the rites at Islam's holiest sites around the city of Mecca. On Tuesday, for a second day, pilgrims filed past three walls symbolizing Satan, stoning each with seven pebbles in a symbolic ritual of rejecting temptation and evil.But the hajj is also the biggest gathering of Muslims - nearly 3 million this year, from across the world - so it also becomes for many pilgrims a moment of unity and a chance to assess the problems of the Islamic world and pray for change.Many Muslims have seen the United States as a cause of many of those problems under the administration of President George W. Bush. They have viewed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the tensions with Iran and abuses of prisoners in the war on terror as signs of American enmity toward Arabs and Muslims.They're hopeful for at least some improvement under Obama but doubt the changes will go deep."I expect him not to follow a confrontational approach like Bush," said Ezlan Benbasar, a pilgrim from Malaysia. "But at the same time, I don't expect deep changes in U.S. policy or changes in favor of Muslims."Most had little expectation Obama will change what Arabs and Muslims widely see as a bias toward Israel in the Middle East, which they see as blocking progress in the Mideast peace process."Obama is circled by many pro-Israel advisers. Reforms under Obama, if any, won't go beyond cosmetic changes," said another Malaysian pilgrim, Mohammed Yousri."But I do expect Obama will fulfill his promise of shutting down Guantanamo prison," he added, referring to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.The hajj, which began Saturday, will close on Wednesday, when pilgrims return to Mecca for a "farewell" circling of the Kaaba - a cube-shaped stone structure draped in black cloth that Muslims around the world face during their five daily prayers.

As in the days of Noah....

Report:Hizbullah refuses to meet with Carter

Hizbullah officials have refused to meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter, Reuters reported Wednesday, quoting a Carter spokesman.Upon arrived in Beirut on Tuesday, Carter had said, "I understand that several leaders ofHizbullah said they were not going to meet with any president or former president of the United States, so I don't know yet."No official Hizbullah statement was reported. Carter made his comments upon arrival in Lebanon, where he will assess whether his Atlanta-based Carter Center will take part in monitoring next year's parliamentary elections.Asked whether he would meet with Hizbullah officials during his five-day visit, Carter told reporters that it was up to the group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization."I am going to meet with all of the political parties as possible," Carter said. A Hizbullah official told The Associated Press the group had no immediate comment on Carter's remarks but said it might issue a statement, most likely on Wednesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.Washington blames Hizbullah for the explosion that killed 241 US Marines at their Beirut barracks in 1983, as well as for two attacks on the US Embassy in Beirut and the 1985 TWA hijacking that killed an American serviceman on board.Hizbullah denies the accusations, and says it opposes terrorism.Carter was widely criticized in April when he met in Syria with the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal. The US also labels Hamas a terrorist organization.The Mashaal-Carter meeting led to the delivery of a handwritten letter from kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas-linked terrorists near the Gaza border in 2006, to his parents. While in Lebanon, Carter said he will meet with President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora."I will also be making an assessment on whether the Carter Center will monitor the elections that we hope will be held on time next June," Carter said.Next year's elections are expected to be fierce between US-backed groups that hold majority seats in the current parliament and those backed by Syria, including Hizbullah.Carter is also scheduled to travel to Syria during his Mideast trip to meet with President Bashar Assad.

As in the days of Noah...

The Saudi plan:100 years of dhimmitude?

The republished Saudi peace plan - or ultimatum - offers 100 years of dhimmitude, the term for the protected but inferior and vulnerable status of non-Moslem religious and ethnic groupings in Islamic society. It purports to offer normal diplomatic and political relations between Israel and the entire Islamic world if Israel goes back to its 1948 borders and accepts the principle of repatriation of the Palestinian refugees.If Israel does not accept these terms, the subtext is quite clear: The Islamic world retains the option of remaining hostile to our existence.This subtext rejects a self-evident principle: that Israel's existence and security are, as Barack Obama has declared, sacrosanct. That principle derives from the UN resolutions of 1948 and 1967, and not any decision by our neighbors. Israel is the national home of a first nation returning to its native land. Its existence and security are not negotiable.To its credit, the Saudi plan implicitly recognizes that the conflict is not between Israel and the Palestinians, but the entire Islamic world. It appears to have come a long way since the three noes of the Arab League's Khartoum summit in 1968: No recognition, no negotiation, no peace. Thirty-four years went by between Khartoum and 2002, when the document was first prepared, and another six to the presentation of the plan in full to the Israeli public. During this time, much blood has been shed in seven wars.ISRAELIS HAVE good reason to be skeptical about peace plans. While there is a cold peace with Egypt and Jordan, more Israelis have died in the 15 years following the Oslo Accords than in the two previous decades of undeclared wars. Therefore the burden of proof is on those who deny that the Saudi plan offers something between dhimmitude at best and a staged dismantling of Israel as the Jewish national home.Here are the reasons for this conclusion.The plan contains no commitment to ending incitement and hate language. The flag of Iran, now more powerful than any of the Arab countries, is one of 29 framing the PA announcement. But Iran's promotion of genocidal motifs straight out of Mein Kampf, along with its terror directed at world Jewry and Israel, goes back to 1979. Even though there is no love lost between the Saudis and the Iranians, the Saudi plan ignores the existential dangers posed by Iran's moving toward nuclear capacity, its support of terror organizations committed to Israel's destruction and its ever increasing bullying of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia itself.Yet Iranian incitement and hate language is merely one of several epicenters for state sanctioned, sponsored and supported anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism throughout the Arab and Islamic world. Since 2002, when the plan was first published, the Arab regimes, notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, seem neither able nor willing to curb this toxic incitement in their media, mosques, school texts and Internet - a precondition for preparing their publics for a new era of mutual respect, live and let live, and dignity. Because such incitement and hate language ensures the intergenerational transmission of hate, it means that diplomatic and political agreements the regimes will sign on will not be sustainable.SINCE 2002, the Arab League's and League of Islamic Countries' message to Israel refers to "normal relations between states," but the messages to its own populations are still permeated by hate and incitement. None of the Arab states have banned distribution of Mein Kampf and they continue to propagate propaganda based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. They also continue to use UN diplomatic forums for delegitmizing Israel. Arab diplomats still engage in crude public attempts at delegitimization, such as at the Annapolis "peace summit," where they refused to enter through the same door with Israeli diplomats.....
The writer has been involved in regional projects in cooperation in public health for the past 25 years, and is now investigating the effects of incitement in promoting genocide
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Army readies for Gaza border attacks

The IDF raised its level of alert along the Gaza border on Thursday amid fears that Hamas may try to launch a cross-border attack to coincide with a demonstration Sunday marking the founding of the organization, sources in Southern Command said.OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant ordered forces to prepare for a security incident targeted at Israeli civilians, or at soldiers deployed along the border.IDF officers have called for the resumption of military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip following the expiration of the cease-fire next Friday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has however called for the extension of the cease-fire despite the firing of over 200 mortars and Kassam rockets into Israel in recent weeks.On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss Israel's plans ahead of the cease-fire's expiration. However, with Barak and political rival Livni publicly disagreeing over military policy, no operative decisions were reached.Meanwhile Thursday, amid heavy public criticism, an armored truck carrying NIS 100 million arrived in Gaza from Israel to ease a cash crunch in the Strip. The money originated from Palestinian banks in the West Bank. It marks the first time Israel has allowed money into Gaza since October. Israel suspended the cash transfers after the renewal of rocket and mortar shell attacks on Israel, in violation of the truce.Yoel Marshak, the head of an organization fighting for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in Hamas captivity for 900 days, lambasted Barak's decision to transfer the funds and even tried to physically block the truck as it made its way to the Erez Crossing."We have no problem with transferring water and food, but cash-flow will directly fund terror," Marshak warned.The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel on Thursday accused the state of deliberately postponing its response to the organization's petition against the cash transfer so that it could transfer the money in the meantime and tell the court it was too late to act on the petition.The Legal Forum and another right-wing organization, Shurat Hadin, filed separate petitions earlier in the day against the transfer.Justice Elyakim Rubinstein gave the state until 4 p.m. to submit a preliminary response. The state, however, submitted the response more than an hour late and informed the court that the funds had already been transferred.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

As in the days of Noah...

Iran arrests blogger who visited Israel

A well-known Iranian-Canadian blogger who made trips to Israel in the past has been detained in Iran only weeks after he returned to his homeland, according to a family friend.Hossein Derakhshan, who lived in Canada and helped ignite the blog boom in Iran in 2001 by posting simple instructions on how to create sites in Farsi, was arrested on Nov. 1 by six agents who came to his home in Teheran, said Nazli Kamvari, a fellow blogger who lives in Toronto. He has been held at an undisclosed location ever since, she said. Derakhshan has disappeared since that time, but Iranian authorities have not confirmed his arrest. Kamvari said she has been in contact with his family,who gave her permission to announce his detention because the brief calls they were allowed with Derakhshan in custody had stopped about two weeks ago."Multiple attempts to find out where he is being held and what his charges are have failed," Kamvari told The Associated Press by phone from Toronto. Canada's Foreign Ministry says it has asked Iranian authorities whether Derakhshan, who returned to live in Iran in October, was arrested but has not received an answer, Canada's The Globe and Mail reported earlier this week.Derakhshan traveled to Israel twice, in 2006 and early 2007, saying he wanted to break the taboo on contacts with Israel and show Israelis a different face of Iran. During his trips, he conducted interviews with Israeli media and spoke at a university. Under Iranian law, it is illegal to travel to Israel.Derakhshan, who blogs in both Farsi and English, was a controversial figure among the large community of reformist Iranian bloggers.In the past, he was critical of the Iranian government. But over the past year he expressed strong support for hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and defending Iran's nuclear program. He also criticized Iranian reformers and Israel and the United States, accusing them of seeking regime change in Iran.Derakhshan's family in Iran, contacted by the AP, refused to confirm his detention or comment further. Kamvari said they do not want to talk to the media out of fear it could hurt Derakhshan. But they decided to have Kamvari speak because Derakhshan had not contacted the family in almost two weeks, she said. Previously, he had been allowed brief phone calls to his family.Iranian authorities have arrested numerous bloggers in recent years as part of a wider attempt to clampdown the Internet and online dissent. The Islamic establishment also filters the Web through its oversight of all Iran's Internet service providers, as well as media, cinema, literature and other arts.Media watchdogs and international human rights groups have criticized Iran for its crackdown on bloggers, and Reports Without Borders has labeled Iran one of 13 "enemies of the Internet."The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran urged authorities to either release Derakhshan or charge him and provide him a fair trail."In this, as in many other cases, authorities are exercising raw power over citizens with no explanation, no accountability and no transparency," said the group's spokesman Hadi Ghaemi, who is based in New York.During Derakhshan's arrest on Nov. 1, agents also took some of his personal belongings including his computer, Kamvari said.Before arriving in Iran from Canada on Oct. 19, Derakhshan wrote in his blog that he didn't expect "anything in particular to happen to me."He acknowledged that "traveling to Israel is illegal and I'm ready to be prosecuted for it," but wrote that he could defend himself, arguing that "everything I did and said in Israel was for the benefit of Iran against the horrific and lying propaganda of Israeli and world media" about Iran.

As in the days of Noah....

IAF mulls purchase of new smart bomb

An Australian air force jet carries a payload of JDAM-ER smart bombs.
The Israel Air Force is considering purchasing a new and advanced smart bomb with an extended range that would allow fighter jets to hit targets in Damascus and Beirut without leaving Israeli airspace, The Jerusalem Post has learned.The smart bomb Israel is looking into is called the JDAM-ER(Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range)which is under development by Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force.The JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit produced by Boeing that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into precision guided"smart"weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body improvements for additional stability and lift.The ER version of the JDAM consists of an additional set of wings that are installed on the bomb and extend its range from just 15 nautical miles to 55."This would provide Israel with unprecedented stand-off capabilities," an industry source said this week."Planes would not even have to leave Israeli airspace to be able to hit targets in Syria and Lebanon."The ER version would also be helpful in a long-range strike against Iranian nuclear facilities since it would assist IAF jets in avoiding anti-aircraft defense missiles by allowing pilots to fire bombs from an extended standoff position. Israel became the first foreign customer to purchase the standard JDAM system in 2000. The kits were then added on to Mk-84, 2,000-pound bombs, turning simple iron bombs into precision, satellite guided weapons.The IAF has also recently received new shipments of JDAMs that are capable of using a laser for guidance as well as the standard GPS. It has also purchased a JDAM that is protected against electronic jamming. In addition, the IAF recently completed an upgrade of its F-15 fleet to enable all models of the aircraft to carry JDAM bombs. Until now, only the F-15I was capable of carrying the smart-bomb.During the Second Lebanon War, the IAF exhausted its stockpile of JDAM bombs and received emergency shipments of thousands of kits from the United States. The aerial shipments caused an international uproar after one of the planes carrying the kits was routed through Glasgow's Prestwick Airport and reportedly did not fly according to safety and security procedures established by the British Civil Aviation Authority.JDAM-equipped bombs receive data on the kit's target while still attached to the warplane's computer.After the jet releases it,a satellite takes over and guides it to its target.This relieves the aircraft and crew from the need to remain in enemy territory to "ride the bomb down" to its target.The system's greatest benefit is its accuracy regardless of weather conditions, day or night.The JDAM-ER was successfully tested by the Australian air force.Kevin Holt, JDAM-ER program manager for Boeing, said after the test that the JDAM-ER would enter initial production in 2010."By increasing range and accuracy, the delivery of the weapon will be more effective, allowing a single aircraft to engage multiple targets while the extended range increases the survivability of the aircrew and the aircraft launching the weapon," said Warren Snowdon, Australian minister for defense science and personnel.
As in the days of Noah.....

'Iran wants to devour the Arab world'

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke out against Iran during a meeting with members of the Egyptian ruling party, according to a report in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida on Thursday, cited by Israel Radio.Mubarak accused the Islamic Republic of trying to subsume its Muslim neighbors, telling the forum that "the Persians are trying to devour the Arab states."Mubarak's comments came after the Egyptian leader recalled the country's diplomatic envoy from the Iranian capital earlier this week following an increase in tension between the two countries.Recent strain between Cairo and Teheran has grown as several demonstrations in Iran called for the hanging of the Egyptian leader. The Iranian FARS news service reported that participants in recent student demonstrations outside the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Teheran also chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" and burned an Israeli flag.On Wednesday the Egyptian ministry was quoted as criticizing some Iranian newspapers that have repeatedly insulted Egyptian policies and leadership recently. Teheran media, for example, broadcast incitement against Cairo's policy allegedly preventing aid from reaching Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Brenda Gazzar contributed to this report
As in the days of Noah...

Obama's atomic umbrella:U.S. nuclear strike if Iran nukes Israel

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.But America's nuclear guarantee to Israel could also be interpreted as a sign the U.S. believes Iran will eventually acquire nuclear arms. Secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton had raised the idea of a nuclear guarantee to Israel during her campaign for the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency. During a debate with Obama in April, Clinton said that Israel and Arab countries must be given "deterrent backing." She added, "Iran must know that an attack on Israel will draw a massive response."Clinton also proposed that the American nuclear umbrella be extended to other countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, if they agree to relinquish their own nuclear ambitions. According to the same source, the nuclear guarantee would be backed by a new and improved Israeli anti-ballistic missile system. The Bush administration took the first step by deploying an early-warning radar system in the Negev, which hones the ability to detect Iranian ballistic missiles. Obama said this week that he would negotiate with Iran and would offer economic incentives for Tehran to relinquish its nuclear program. He warned that if Iran refused the deal, he would act to intensify sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Granting Israel a nuclear guarantee essentially suggests the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran. For its part, Israel opposes any such development and similar opposition was voiced by officials in the outgoing Bush administration. "What is the significance of such guarantee when it comes from those who hesitated to deal with a non-nuclear Iran?" asked a senior Israeli security source. "What kind of credibility would this guarantee have when Iran is nuclear-capable?" The same source noted that the fact that there is talk about the possibility of a nuclear Iran undermines efforts to prevent Tehran from acquiring such arms. A senior Bush administration source said that the proposal for an American nuclear umbrella for Israel was ridiculous and lacked credibility. "Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel's cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?"The current debate is taking place in light of the Military Intelligence assessment that Iran has passed beyond the point of no return, and has mastered the technology of uranium enrichment.The decision to proceed toward the development of nuclear arms is now purely a matter for Iran's leaders to decide. Intelligence assessments, however, suggest that the Iranians are trying to first accumulate larger quantities of fissile material, and this offers a window of opportunity for a last-ditch diplomatic effort to prevent an Iranian bomb.
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

As in the days of Noah....

French embassy in Beijing 'under cyber-attack' after Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with Dalai Lama

The authorities in Beijing issued a stern denunciation of the meeting last week, cancelled an EU-China summit and said trade with France might suffer.A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry rejected any suggestion that the Chinese government might approve of the cyber-attack, reported to have made the embassy's website inaccessible for several days."From the perspective of the Chinese government, China is against the hacking of the websites of the embassies of other nations," its spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said. "We have not seen any questions or concerns raised by France."Nevertheless, relations between China and France remain at a low.France has gone into diplomatic overdrive since the meeting to soothe China's hurt feelings.Mr Sarkozy called China "one of the greats of the world" on Monday and stressed he supported "one China".On Tuesday, his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who was appointed in part due to his work on human rights, weighed in."We did not want to cause offence to China, to the Chinese people or to Chinese leaders," he told a French parliamentary committee.The cyber-attack is believed to have taken the form of mass attempts to access the site simultaneously, largely at night, disabling the system.There are numerous informal hacking groups in China, some of which are believed to operate for nationalistic purposes, including attempts to access Pentagon and European defence ministry websites.Their relationship to the authorities and the People's Liberation Army is unclear, though any links are hotly denied by the government."We have taken note of relevant reports, but from the reports I have seen this is speculation," Mr Liu said."When reporting or covering this issue, the media should base their reports on solid proof and not target China."French businesses already fear informal boycotts of French goods, even if there is no further formal retaliation by the government. Similar boycotts after attacks on the Beijing Olympic Torch in France by pro-Tibet demonstrators in April, though, had limited effect.Chinese state newspapers have run lengthy attacks on the Dalai Lama and in support of its own record in Tibet in recent days. Mr Liu also made clear that France was not yet forgiven."We don't think the explanation is valid or is going to solve the current difficulties," he said in response to Mr Kouchner's comments."The French side should be well aware of the severity of the current situation, take seriously China's concerns and take concrete measures to make conditions for the healthy development of China-France relations."
By Richard Spencer in Beijing
As in the days of Noah....

PESTILENCE WATCH:Bird flu alert in Hong Kong

ENVIRO WATCH:China "cancer village" pays ultimate price for growth

XIDITOU COUNTY,China (Reuters)-Once an isolated haven, the Chinese village of Liukuaizhuang is now a tainted hell, surrounded by scores of low-tech factories that are poisoning its water and air, and the health of many villagers.One in fifty people there and in a neighboring hamlet have been diagnosed with cancer over the last decade, local residents say, well over ten times the national rate given in a health ministry survey earlier this year.Many fear they are paying for the country's breathtaking economic expansion with their lives, as surrounding plants making rubber, chemicals and paints pour out health-damaging waste. "They asked in the hospital whether my family had a history of cancer. I said: 'No, in the last three generations no one had it'," one villager told Reuters, pulling out his x-rays and doctor's diagnosis that he had lung cancer. "It must have a lot to do with the pollution here."Three decades of reforms and opening up since 1978 have transformed China from a rigidly ideological backwater into the world's fourth largest economy, lifting millions out of poverty, but not without a price.Nationwide there are dozens of places like Liukuaizhuang, where factories have blackened streams, poisoned farmland and choked the air.Just 120 kilometers south of Beijing, Liukuaizhuang was a quiet village before the dramatic economic boom was kicked off by a series of low-key Communist reforms on Dec 18, 1978.Twenty years later almost 100 chemical plants were scattered across what used to be farmland and thirty years on someone in almost every family is dead or dying of cancer-the youngest just seven years old-according to a local activist. Officials agree that the area, dubbed a "cancer village" in domestic media, had a huge pollution problem, although they insist cancer rates are below the national average and all the worst-offending factories are now shuttered."The factories were not far from homes and to a certain degree influenced the normal life of the villagers," said the Communist Party spokesman for the county, Huo Junwei."(But) we think figures provided by individuals exaggerate pollution problems in our area," he said. "For several years we have been looking into whether there is a link between cancer and chemical production and have not yet got a scientific answer."
By Emma Graham-Harrison and Vivi Lin
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As in the days of Noah...

Fighting hunger in Malawi

Storms drench Italy,1 dead in Rome

Sightseeing boats moored on the submerged banks of the Tiber river, in central Rome, near the Vatican's St. Peter's Basilica (in background,) Thursday Dec. 11, 2008. A violent storm flooded parts of Rome on Thursday, killing at least one person, as a wave of bad weather continued to plague Italy.(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
ROME-Violent storms flooded parts of Rome on Thursday, killing at least one person as the sea threatened to once more inundate Venice.Firefighters in the capital said they had to evacuate dozens of people trapped in cars on flooded streets and on ground floors of buildings. Civil protection officials said more rain was expected Friday, further swelling the roiling Tiber river, which runs through the city.Rescuers found one woman dead inside her car, which was submerged in an underpass as hail and rain poured down on Rome early Thursday, spokesman Gennaro Tornatore said. From midnight to 8 a.m. Thursday, 60-101 millimeters (2.36-3.98 inches) of rain fell in Rome-more than the average for the entire month of December, said Fabrizio Santori, head of the city's security commission.Aerial pictures of the capital showed the streets of entire neighborhoods submerged by brown mud.Snow has fallen in northern Italy over the last few days, and the bad weather is now reaching across the center and south of the country."The situation in Rome is critical, but the weather conditions tell us we need to keep an eye on the south too," Tornatore said.Mayor Gianni Alemanno asked authorities to declare a state of emergency, and Italy's largest union scaled back a planned general strike because of the weather. The civil protection said it was monitoring several swelling rivers, including the Tiber and Florence's Arno. Authorities urged Italians not to travel by car unless strictly necessary.The weather has been snarling traffic in cities and causing delays at train stations and airports across the country.In Venice, alarms sounded early in the morning as the high tide came in, flooding the city's lowest parts, including the landmark St. Mark's Square.The historic piazza was covered only in a few inches (centimeters) of water, far less than last week, when an unusually high tide caused one of the worst floods in the city's recorded history.However, the municipality said strong southern winds pushing water into the lagoon could increase the high tide level.
By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer
As in the days of Noah...

FAMINE WATCH:Hunger in Haiti