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

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I just wanted to drop a line here and let you all know about my life these past weeks.I felt it was neccessary since I'm going thru a very stressfull season in my life.
Somebody we love dearly is on life support.He's been on life support since last week when he coded at 300Am one nite...It is our pastor.He is more than a brother to us.He is part of our family and is like a father to us.He is only 47 and was diagnosed with colon cancer in october.We are still believing for a miracle,because we dont believe it is his time to go yet.So Ive been on the phone a lot,writting emails a lot,praying and fasting a lot,and trying to gon on with my life and rest in the midst of all this.Ive been trying to update my blogs everyday.Some days were more challenging than others.On top of that this coming week is what I call my "performing week"where you play as a soloist in front of real people that you dont know,and you get scored.Ive been doing pretty well but Im discouraged and sad.I just pick up the violin and play but I feel Im not there.I need the Lord to help me at all times.
I was just thinking that Ive gone thru a long season of struggle,trials,losses and disease and Im ready for a season of rest and restoration.
Events worldwide are going fast...faster than I anticipated they would.And all indicates that we are moving fast in time to a time of tribulation as the world has not known.
I have been feeling a prompting to spend more time alone with God and get my soul,mind and body ready for what is coming ahead.I urge you to do the same.To be ready at all times,cause we dont know the day and the hour.I know we all have a bunch of loved ones that are not saved yet.So we need to keep believing loving and praying and sharing the Word and working while it is still day...BUT the night comes...and is coming quickly...
Ive got to go now.We're headed to the hospital,cause today my pastor was scheduled to be disconnected from the ventilator for an hour to test if he could be weaned off it...This is difficult for all us .So IF the Lord leads you to pray for this,I would appreciate it and if you want to drop a line and let me know you are praying and where you are from,that would be really encouraging.
Thank you so much,for visiting my blog.
Im humbled to know many of you come back on a regular basis for news an for the truth and thank you to all those of you that sent me kind comments about it.
God bless you all
And Keep Looking Up....!!!
1 John 3:8
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama First President To Sign A Book Deal Upon Entering Office

It’s all kosher in terms of disclosure and ethics, but there’s something a little tacky about the President having a book deal while in office.
As he empathized with recession-weary Americans, President Obama arranged in the days just before he took office to secure a $500,000 advance for a children’s book project, a disclosure report shows.The terms of the book deal were disclosed in a Senate financial disclosure report filed Tuesday. Analysts say there don’t appear to be any rules that would bar such transactions after a president takes office, but it’s unclear whether an incoming or sitting president has ever signed a book deal upon entering the White House.“I don’t recall any sitting president entering into a book deal,” said campaign finance lawyer Jan Baran, former general counsel to the Republican National Committee.“They all have historically done that after they leave office.“I recall the only ones who did sign book deals while living there were first ladies, and my recollection is they gave it to charity.”Mr. Obama approved the $500,000 advance on Jan. 15. The advance is against royalties under a deal with Crown Publishing, a division of Random House. The project calls for an abridged version of his book “Dreams From My Father” for middle-school-aged children, according to the disclosure.
What’s funny is that the reason it’s being “abridged” for school-aged kids is that the original is chock-full of swearing and other not-meant-for-children content.So saying the book is “abridged” (it’s only 480 pages, so not exactly a monster) is just a polite way of saying they’re taking out the naughty parts.
So, how soon until that’s required reading in public schools around the country?
By Rob

As in the days of Noah...

EU resists US calls for more spending

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON-The European Union resisted pressure to pump more cash into its recession-hit economies just as Washington added $5 billion more to its soaring rescue bill, throwing a lifeline to stricken auto parts makers.EU leaders are expected, however, to agree on Friday to contribute at least $75 billion to the International Monetary Fund to boost its firepower in the face of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.The IMF warned the world economy could shrink as much as 1 percent this year, in its first contraction since World War Two. It said more swift action to purge banks of toxic assets was necessary to make a gradual recovery next year possible.The European leaders also backed a proposal to double to 50 billion euros ($67.5 billion) an EU crisis fund for eastern European nations outside the euro currency zone.But they defended the stimulus packages they have already launched, despite calls led by Washington for Europe to spend more and after the Federal Reserve's dramatic decision on Wednesday to pump a further $1 trillion into the limping economy."You can't think you can solve everything with taxpayers' money. Stimulus packages are already in place and taking us through this challenging time. We already have done a lot," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said at a summit of the 27-nation bloc.On Thursday, the U.S. government promised $5 billion to auto parts suppliers crucial to the survival of U.S. car makers, in the latest effort to buttress an economy now in its 15th month of recession. As rich countries dish out billions to save jobs and companies, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said he would appeal to world leaders at next month's G20 financial summit to keep their pledges of aid to the poor, defenceless in the face of the crisis.
"As the situation is deteriorating ... I am concerned that this may inevitably affect the political will and available resources for the developing countries," the U.N. secretary general told Reuters in an interview.
By Darren Ennis and David Lawder
As in the days of Noah...

OBAMA-BIDEN DAILY GAFFE WATCH:Top 10 gaffes by Obama and Joe Biden...

Perhaps Barack Obama was just trying to make Joe Biden feel better by dropping his clanger on Jay Leno.Whatever the President was thinking, 60 days into their new administration it's time for a post-election Obama-Biden Top 10, in reverse order:
10.Just after he's been sworn in by him, the newly-minted Vice President Joe Biden gets the name of Justice John Paul Stephens, "one of the great justices" of the Supreme Court, wrong by calling him "Justice Stewart":

Posted by Toby Harnden
As in the days of Noah...

White House bars press from press award ceremony

We are not making this up:Barack Obama was elected commander in chief promising to run the most transparent presidential administration in American history.This achievement and the overall promise of his historic administration caused the National Newspaper Publishers Assn. to name him "Newsmaker of the Year."The president is to receive the award from the federation of black community newspapers in a White House ceremony this afternoon.The Obama White House has closed the press award ceremony to the press.From the president's official schedule:"Later in the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will attend a reception with the National Newspaper Publisher Association in the State Dining Room, where they will be presented the Newsmaker of the Year award. This event is closed press."Maybe they'll let the newspaper people pass the award through the fence....
By Andrew Malcolm
As in the days of Noah...

White House: Special Olympics Deserves A Lot Better Than ‘Thoughtless Joke’ Obama Made

"I know that the President believes that the Special Olympics are a triumph of the human spirit."--Gibbs....

PS:One thing I can say about this Gibbs guy is that he is as specchless and clueless and void of words or thoughts as much as BHO...Good pick for BHO's spokesman...Gibbs represents BHO perfectly well,specially on the UUHHHssss...I think he could use of a teleprompter too...
As in the days of Noah..

Palin Hits Obama on 'Special Olympics' Joke

Gov. Sarah Palin responded to remarks made last night by President Obama related to the Special Olympics on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno":
“I was shocked to learn of the comment made by President Obama about Special Olympics,” Governor Palin said.“This was a degrading remark about our world’s most precious and unique people, coming from the most powerful position in the world.“These athletes overcome more challenges, discrimination and adversity than most of us ever will.By the way, these athletes can outperform many of us and we should be proud of them.I hope President Obama’s comments do not reflect how he truly feels about the special needs community.”
Well, after the way his allies went after her, he really couldn't count on a full-throated defense of a boneheaded comment. Obama used the whole "it's just a joke" excuse with his "lipstick on a pig" comment, too.
As in the days of Noah...

Gov. Palin and Baby Trig’s Address to the 2009 Special Olympics

Special Olympics bowler:"I can beat the president...!"

Kolan McConiughey bowls at Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor, Mich., Friday March 20, 2009. McConiughey, who is cognitively impaired, has bowled five perfect games since 2005. President Barack Obama made an offhand remark on 'The Tonight Show' Thursday comparing his bowling to 'the Special Olympics or something.' He quickly apologized and told the Special Olympics chairman he wants to have some Special Olympic athletes visit the White House to bowl or play basketball.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
ANN ARBOR, Mich.-So President Barack Obama thinks he bowls like a competitor in the Special Olympics?He's obviously never met Kolan McConiughey, a mentally disabled man considered one of the nation's top Special Olympics bowlers, with five perfect games to his credit.He'd like to go to the White House and show the president a thing or two about how to roll strikes."He bowled a 129.I bowl a 300.I could beat that score easily," McConiughey said Friday. His challenge to Obama followed the president's offhand remark on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" Thursday comparing his famously inept bowling to "the Special Olympics or something." Recognizing his blunder, Obama apologized to the chairman of the Special Olympics before the show aired.White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday said the president believes that the Special Olympics are "a triumph of the human spirit." Gibbs added that Obama understands that the athletes "deserve a lot better than the thoughtless joke that he made last night."During an interview with The Associated Press,the 35-year-old Mc Coniughey quickly rolled several strikes with his left-handed hook in a short demonstration of his prowess at Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor.In addition to five perfect games since 2005, McConiughey has also had an 800 series and carries a 212 average. He laughed as he joked about the popular president's apparently poor game."I'd tell him to get a new bowling ball, new shoes and bring him down to the lane," said McConiughey, who speaks with a serious stutter."Keep his body straight, his arm straight and keep his steps straight. He has to practice every single day."
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...


--Obama Apologizes for Calling Bad Bowling 'Like Special Olympics'...
PS:BHO comments are not a surprise,since he has ZERO RESPECT for the lives of the UNBORN(fetuses,embryos,born alive aborted babies,etc)and he's been FAITHFUL and consistant to what he believes...the outcome is this.All these thoughts are in the back of his mind...This is who he is...An empty suit..It is disgusting...
As in the days of Noah....

Obama Compares His Bowling Score to Special Olympics on 'Tonight Show'

President Barack Obama might have rolled a gutter ball on NBC's "The Tonight Show."Toward the end of the interview on Thursday, Obama told host Jay Leno he's been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129.Leno complimented Obama on the score,but the president quipped,"It was like the Special Olympics or something," which prompted laughter from the audience. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president's offhand remark was not meant to disparage the Special Olympics, only to poke some fun at the commander-in-chief's bowling skills."He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world," Burton told reporters flying back to Washington with Obama aboard Air Force One.A call for comment to a Special Olympics spokesman was not returned late Thursday.Despite making fun of his score, the president appears to be getting better the more he visits the White House lanes, which President Truman installed in 1947. During a campaign photo op a year ago at a bowling alley in Altoona, Pa., he rolled only a 37 in seven frames. The clip of the disastrous game was replayed on late night television shows such as Leno's-one of Obama's few campaign gaffes...

To read more go to:
PS:BHO is a real embarassment...His comments show once more who he really is....A total disgrace...
As in the days of Noah....

Iranian blogger who insulted leader "dies in jail"

A young Iranian blogger jailed in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said that although there is not yet an official report about the death on Wednesday of Omid Mir Sayafi,"officials in the prison said that he committed suicide."He demanded "an immediate inquiry and an autopsy into why he died."Dadkhah said another prisoner in Evin,a Dr Hessam Firouzi, "had warned officials in the jail of the state the young blogger was in."Dr Firouzi called me from the jail to say Omid had a slowed heartbeat and he had taken him to the infirmary,but that doctors there did not take this seriously and said he was faking it,"Dadkhah said.He added Firouzi reported that Sayafi had also been very depressed.The blogger, aged around 25, was sentenced in February to 30 months in jail for insulting Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,founder of the Islamic Republic.Sayafi was first arrested in April last year and released on bail after 41 days before being detained again this year.Iran has launched a crackdown on bloggers and Internet users deemed to be hostile to the authorities and their Islamic values.
As in the days of Noah...

Sadiqa Basiri Saleem:Vital Voices honoree shares her quest to provide education for Afghan women

Source: 'Several' Missing Somali-Americans Back in U.S. After Overseas Terror Mission

Many of the Somali-American men who were recruited to join an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group overseas have returned to the United States, according to a source familiar with an FBI investigation into the matter-but the FBI still has not revealed publicly if it is pursuing arrests in the case."Some of the guys who were missing aren't missing anymore,"the source said."Some of them got blown up and some of them came back, and some of them are still there in Somalia."For several months the FBI has been investigating at least 20 Somali -American men from the Minneapolis area who traveled to war-torn Somalia, where some of them trained and fought with an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group known as al-Shabaab, according to counterterrorism officials.Asked to characterize how many of those men are now back on American soil, the source would only say that "several" have returned.Federal authorities believe the men went to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, which has been warring with the moderate Somali government since 2006.
Usama bin Laden weighed in Thursday on the battle.
In an audiotape posted online, the Al Qaeda leader urged Somalis to fight against the Somali government, insisting,"The war which has been taking place on your soil these past years is a war between Islam and the international crusade."At a Senate hearing in Washington last week, counterterrorism officials said there is no intelligence to indicate that Somali-Americans who traveled to Somalia are planning attacks inside the United States.“We do not have a credible body of reporting right now to lead us to believe that these American recruits are being trained and instructed to come back to the United States for terrorist attacks,” said Philip Mudd, a top-ranking official with the FBI’s National Security Branch.“Yet, obviously, we remain concerned about that, and watchful for it.”Minneapolis has become the hub-and the media focus-of the FBI's investigation. But the FBI is casting a wide and growing net across the country,even in places hundreds of miles away from Minneapolis. Testimony from counterterrorism officials and others at the Senate hearing last week suggested that the FBI investigation is active in Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Boston; Seattle; and San Diego.
Dan Springer contributed to this report from Seattle
By Mike Levine
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As in the days of Noah....

Iraq War 6 Years Later:Success But No "Victory"

After six years and more than 4,000 U.S. casualties, the Iraq war has at last moved-judging by its virtual disappearance from the national conversation-into America's outbox of national problems.A USA Today/Gallup poll taken March 18 finds 51 percent of Americans give a positive assessment of the Iraq war, up from 28 percent in January 2007.And 64% now believe the United States can win the war, with 42 percent believing it will do so. Both are the best assessments that Gallup has measured since June 2006.Such opinions lag behind the actual performance on the ground in Iraq. Senior U.S. officials say the Iraqi government has quietly met 17 of 18 political, economic, and security benchmarks set for it more than two years ago.And by almost any measure-U.S. and Iraqi casualties, political vibrancy, economic activity-the "surge" announced by President Bush in January 2007 has worked to produce a safer, more stable Iraq.
Nevertheless, top officials at the Pentagon will not say outright that the war has been won. Maj. Gen. John Kelly, until a month ago the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq in the western part of the country, told FOX News that victory is "right around the corner.""We are winning, for sure," he said. But Kelly also recoiled from the word "victory" because of the lopsided nature of asymmetric warfare, in which a superior armed force can be made to appear as though it is losing a conflict due to a single bloody event orchestrated by a handful of terrorists."I hesitate to use the word 'win' or 'won' against an ideology," Kelly added in an interview from his new base at Camp Pendleton."I mean, forty years from now, it's entirely possible that some extremist al-Qaeda type will set off a bomb in central Baghdad or, for that matter, fly another plane into the Sears Tower in Chicago. "But I would say you could probably declare victory-if you really felt compelled to do that-at the point at which the Iraqi security forces, army and police, are shouldering the entire burden and U.S. combat forces are out of the country because they're no longer needed," he said.
By James Rosen
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Blackwater sued in US court over alleged cover-up

WASHINGTON (AFP)-The widow of a 32-year-old Iraqi has filed suit in a federal court against private security firm Xe, formerly Blackwater, for allegedly trying to hide that her husband was killed by one of its security agents who was drunk.According to the suit filed in federal court in San Diego, California, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, "on Christmas eve 2006, a highly intoxicated and heavily armed Xe-Blackwater employee named Andrew Moonen, shot and killed a man named Raheem Khalaf Sa'adoon,for no reason." "Although Xe-Blackwater has learned of their employee's crime short after it occurred, Xe-Blackwater acted, and continues to act, in conspiracy with Moonen to evade any accountability whatsoever," the suit charges.The lawsuit also alleges the company rushed to get the agent out of Iraq, and destroyed documents in the case.It also charges that Xe, which until recently was a contractor for the Department of State in Iraq, does not punish employees found guilty of wrongdoing, but "instead, Xe-Blackwater continued to rehire and deploy mercenaries known to have killed innocents."The company, which made hundreds of millions of dollars protecting State Department officials in war zones, was banned from working in Iraq two months ago because of a 2007 incident in which 17 civilians were killed by Blackwater guards.An Iraqi investigation found that 17 civilians were killed and 20 wounded when Blackwater guards opened fire with automatic weapons in Baghdad while escorting an American diplomatic convoy.US prosecutors say 14 civilians were killed in the incident. Five former Blackwater guards pleaded not guilty in January to manslaughter charges.
"From Mr. Sa'adoon's death to the litany of other civilian shootings by Xe-Blackwater personnel, the company has created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability," said a statement from Susan Burke, an attorney for Sa'adoon's widow.
As in the days of Noah...

Russian planes fly over U.S. naval ships

A Russian Ilyushin IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft flies over the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in the Sea of Japan on March 16, 2009. (UPI Photo/Department of Defense)
WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI)Two Russian planes flew within 500 feet of U.S. Navy ships participating in military drills with South Korea, military officials said.After trying unsuccessfully to contact the pilots, U.S. fighter jets met up with the Russian planes and flew with them until they left the area, CNN reported.One incident occurred Monday, when Russian Ilyushin IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft flew over the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis while it was in international waters in the Sea of Japan. The Russian aircraft flew within 500 feet of the carrier, which was lower than other Russian flyovers in the past year, military officials said.On Tuesday, two Russian long-range bombers overflew the Stennis and the USS Blue Ridge several times at about 2,000 feet, U.S. military officials told CNN.Military officials said U.S. aircraft tried contacting the Russian planes on international air frequency radio channels on both days but the Russian pilots didn't respond.
As in the days of Noah...

US to attend Shanghai group meet with Iran

WASHINGTON (AFP)The United States said Thursday that a top US diplomat will travel to Moscow for a meeting this month on Afghanistan sponsored by the Shanghai group and he could meet Iranian delegates there.Iran usually sends an observer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional grouping set up in 1996 as an alternative to NATO that would allow Russia and China to counter US influence in Asia."Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Patrick Moon is planning to attend this Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Moscow on the 27th of March," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.
"It's a conference about Afghanistan and its neighbors," the spokesman told the daily news media briefing in Washington.The meeting comes days before the Dutch government hosts a similar United Nations-sponsored meeting in The Hague on March 31 that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to attend.Clinton said Afghan and Pakistani officials would be invited, with NATO allies, donors, international organizations and "key regional and strategic" nations like Iran.The administration of President Barack Obama has offered to engage longstanding US foes like Iran.Wood said it was important for Moon to attend the conference in Moscow because "it's about Afghanistan and how...the international community can try to...better the situation on the ground."Even though we're not a member (of the Shanghai group), we're not an observer, we think it's important.We're glad we were invited, and we look forward to attending,"he said."And hopefully we can get something constructive out of this conference," said Wood.Asked if Moon would meet his Iranian counterparts at the meeting, Wood replied:"There are no plans for any substantive meetings with Iran"But he added:"It's not unusual for US and Iranian officials to...cross paths during a multilateral meeting. So I'm not going to rule anything in or rule anything out."It is a conference about Afghanistan and its neighbors. Iran is certainly a neighbor of Afghanistan's.And so...we'll see," he said.
As in the days of Noah....

2 US Navy vessels collide in Strait of Hormuz

In this Monday, March 5, 2007, file photo released by the U.S. Navy, USS New Orleans (LPD 18) makes its way down the Mississippi River, Monday, March 5, 2007, toward New Orleans. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned in a ceremony March 10. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet says two of its vessels — a submarine, the USS Hartford and an amphibious ship, the USS New Orleans collided in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula early Friday, March 20, 2009.(AP Photo/US Navy, Kurt Eischen, File)
In this undated photo released by the U.S. Navy, the Port-side bow of the Los Angeles class nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) is seen anchored off the US Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet says two of its vessels-a submarine, the USS Hartford and an amphibious ship, the USS New Orleans collided in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the Arabian peninsula early Friday, March 20, 2009.
(AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Don S. Montgomery)
MANAMA, Bahrain-Two U.S. Navy vessels-a nuclear-powered submarine and an amphibious ship-collided before dawn Friday in the mouth of the Persian Gulf, one of the world's most important sea passages for oil supplies.There was no damage to the sub's nuclear propulsion system and no disruption to shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world's oil passes, said Navy spokesman Lt. Nate Christensen, with the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.Still, the unusual collision between members of the same navy sparked a sudden rise in oil prices-which had been declining on the day-even though the strait remained open.Benchmark crude for April delivery had traded lower for most of the morning, but then erased those losses and rose 39 cents to $52 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent prices rose 50 cents to $51.17 on the ICE Futures exchange.Still, with pressure pulling prices down in the financial crisis, the rise was nowhere near what would have been expected months ago, when such a collision would likely have sent prices skyrocketing.The incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. local time Friday (5 p.m. EDT, Thursday), when the USS Hartford, a submarine, and the USS New Orleans, an amphibious ship, collided into each other in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, the 5th Fleet said in a statement.The New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, resulting in an oil spill of approximately 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) of diesel fuel, Christensen said.According to the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, 15 sailors aboard the Hartford were slightly injured but able to return to duty. No injuries were reported aboard the New Orleans and both ships are currently operating under their own power."The spill is closely monitored," Christensen said. "The lightweight diesel, although obviously a fairly substantial amount of gasoline, likely dissipated in the ocean."Military analyst Loren Thompson of the U.S.-based Lexington Institute said a collision between two vessels in the world's most sophisticated navy is nearly unheard of. It's more common for ships of different navies to collide, or military vessels and commercial ships, he said."It's almost inevitable that people are relieved of duty pending investigation," Thomson told The Associated Press by phone. "These sort of accidents are so uncommon that you have to take it for granted that a major mistake occured by one of the vessels' captains."Both ships were heading to port and were going in the same direction when the incident occurred in the narrow Hormuz, said Christensen. He said the submarine was submerged at the time but that he could give no further details as the collision is still under investigation.Later Friday, the vessels were on their way to port for repairs and evaluation, added Christensen. Following standard security procedures he could not say where the vessels were headed.Hormuz at its narrowest is 34 miles (54 kilometers) wide but the location of the collision was not disclosed.The two ships were on regularly scheduled deployments to the region and conducting security operations, the Navy said. The Hartford is based in Groton, Conn. and the New Orleans is based in San Diego, Calif. As all U.S. submarines, the Hartford is nuclear powered. The New Orleans is an amphibious transport dock ship.As much as 17 million barrels of oil a day went through the narrow strait in the first half of 2008, or about 40 percent of all seaborne traded oil or 20 percent of all oil traded globally.

Associated Press Writers Katarina Kratovac in Cairo and George Jahn in Vienna contributed to this report.
As in the days of Noah....

Iran plays down new Obama video message

TEHRAN,Iran-Iran played down President Barack Obama's new video message to the Iranian people on Friday, saying it welcomed the overtures but warned that decades of mistrust can't easily be erased.Obama released the video to coincide with the major Iranian festival of Nowruz, a 12-day holiday that marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of the new year in Iran. In the video, which has Farsi subtitles, Obama said the U.S. is prepared to end the strained relations if Tehran tones down its combative rhetoric.But in the first government reaction to the video,Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's press adviser said "minor changes will not end the differences" between Tehran and Washington."Obama has talked of change but has taken no practical measures to address America's past mistakes in Iran. If Mr. Obama takes concrete actions and makes fundamental changes in U.S. foreign policy toward other nations including Iran, the Iranian government and people will not turn their back on him," Ali Akbar Javanfekr told the Iranian state-run English-language Press TV satellite station.It wasn't clear how many Iranians were able to see the video, which was not aired on state television in Iran on Friday.It was likely shown on Farsi-language TV stations beamed in from outside of the country, but many Iranians don't watch television in the first days of long Nowruz holiday that is normally filled with family gatherings or vacations away from home.Iranians could see the video on the White House Web site, but other popular video sharing sites like YouTube are blocked in Iran.Israel's President Shimon Peres also issued a similar message to the people of Iran on Friday. In a rare audio message broadcast on the Voice of Israel's Farsi-language radio station, Peres praised Iranians for their ancient culture but also said they would be better off without their hard-line leadership."I think the Iranian nation with topple these leaders-leaders that do not serve the people. In the end, people will understand this," The station claims it reaches millions of listeners in Iran, but it was unclear how many Iranians heard the message Friday.Obama has repeatedly signaled a willingness to engage with Iran about its nuclear program and hostility toward Israel, a key U.S. ally. At his inauguration, the president said his administration would reach out to rival states, declaring "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."But Iranian leaders have been not been as eager. Ahmadinejad has said Iran would welcome talks with the U.S.-but only if there was mutual respect. Iranian officials say that means the U.S. needs to stop accusing Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism, charges Tehran has denied.Iran and the United States broke off diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic revolution and the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by hard-line students.On Friday, Javanfekr blamed the United States' "hostile policy toward Iran" for the tense ties between the two countries. He said Iranian's "will never forget" Washington's past actions including the U.S.-backed coup that toppled the elected government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh in 1953, its backing of Saddam Hussein during Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s and the downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988 by a U.S. naval ship.But in Europe, the EU's policy chief urged Iranian officials to accept Obama's oustretched hand."It's a very constructive message," Javier Solana said at an EU summit in Brussels. "I hope that will open a new chapter in relations with Tehran."
Associated Press writer Josef Federman contributed to this report from Jerusalem.
On the Net:
Obama video
: http://www.whitehouse.gov/Nowruz
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
As in the days of Noah....

Obama's Video Message to Iran:"A New Year,A New Beginning"

President Obama released a special video message for all those celebrating Nowruz. Translated "New Day," Nowruz marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of the New Year for millions in Iran and other communities around the world.This year, the President wanted to send a special message to the people and government of Iran on Nowruz, acknowledging the strain in our relations over the last few decades."But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together," he says.After committing his administration to a future of honest and respectful diplomacy,he continues on to address Iran's leaders directly: "You, too, have a choice.The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations.You have that right-but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization.And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create."

As in the days of Noah...

Obama Reaches Out to Iran,Looks for Engagement

WASHINGTON-President Barack Obama told Iran's people and leaders that the United States wants to engage with their country and end decades of strained relationship, but not unless their officials stop making threats.Obama on Friday released a video message with Farsi subtitles that urged the two countries to resolve their long-standing differences. His video was timed to the festival of Nowruz, which means "new day." It marks the arrival of spring and is a major holiday in Iran."So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders," Obama said in the video."We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community."Obama has signaled a willingness to speak directly with Iran about its nuclear program and hostility toward Israel, a key U.S. ally. At his inauguration last month, the president said his administration would reach out to rival states, declaring"we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."It's been a rough start for Obama.Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has criticized Obama as merely a continuation of President George W. Bush's policies toward Tehran's enemy, Israel. Khamenei has called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that is on the verge of collapse and has called for its destruction.In his message Friday, Obama had a warning for Tehran:"This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect."Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran would welcome talks with the U.S.-but only if there was mutual respect. Iranian officials have said that means the U.S. needs to stop accusing Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism, charges Tehran has denied.Obama and his foreign policy team are looking for opportunities to engage Iran and help reduce tensions between the two countries, which increased during Bush's time in office."You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations," Obama said."You have that right, but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."The White House said the United States still has serious differences with Iran, particularly on the threat a nuclear-armed Tehran poses to the region. But aides said the president's message was a way to speak directly to Iranians about the U.S. commitment to work with the country.The video also was an attempt to bypass government leaders. Obama has said there are unelected leaders in Iran who could change the countries' position of hostility.The holiday Nowruz is not Islamic; Iranians of all religions celebrate the 12-day event. Traditionally, the U.S. president and secretary of state release statements for Nowruz."For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained," Obama said in his video message."But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together."
Click here to watch the video.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iran:Nation of Bloggers

IRAN: A Nation Of Bloggers from ayrakus on Vimeo.
Beliefnet:Hamid Tehrani at Global Voices Online brings the tragic news that a jailed Iranian blogger,Omid Reza Misayafi, has died.It seems that he may have committed suicide.Apart from the personal tragedy his family must now grapple with, his death is another step backwards for the universal right of free speech. Misayafi's death will have a chilling effect on Iranian voices online, who provide an essential outlet for the cause of reform and moderation.
Beliefnet: Iranian blogger Omid Reza Misayafi dies in prison
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NYT: Israel's growing international isolation as Netanyahu prepares to take power

Jerusalem-Israel, whose founding idea was branded as racism by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975 and which faced an Arab boycott for decades, is no stranger to isolation. But since its Gaza war, and as it prepares to inaugurate a hawkish right-wing government, it is facing its worst diplomatic crisis in two decades. Examples abound.Its sports teams have met hostility and violent protests in Sweden, Spain and Turkey.Mauritania has closed the Israeli Embassy. Relations with Turkey, an important Muslim ally, have suffered severely.A group of top international judges and human rights investigators recently called for an investigation into Israel's actions in Gaza."Israel Apartheid Week" drew participants in 54 cities around the world this month, twice the number of last year, according to its organizers. And even in the American Jewish community, albeit in its liberal wing, there is a chill.The issue has not gone unnoticed here, but it has generated two distinct and somewhat contradictory reactions. On one hand, there is real concern. Global opinion surveys are being closely examined, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been granted an extra $2 million to improve Israel's image through cultural and information diplomacy."We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits," said Arye Mekel, the ministry's deputy director general for cultural affairs. "This way you show Israel's prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war."But there is also a growing sense that outsiders do not understand Israel's predicament, so criticism is dismissed."People here feel that no matter what you do, you are going to be blamed for all the problems in the Middle East," said Eytan Gilboa, a professor of politics and international communication at Bar-Ilan University. "Even suicide bombings by Palestinians are seen as our fault for not establishing a Palestinian state."Of course, for Israel's critics, including those who firmly support the existence of a Jewish state, the problem is not one of image but of policy. They say that four decades of occupation, the settling of half a million Israeli Jews on land captured in 1967, the economic strangling of Gaza for the past few years and the society's growing indifference toward a Palestinian state are all reasons Israel has lost favor abroad, and that no amount of image buffing will change that.
By Ethan Bronner
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French workers strike over economy

Wave of Strikes Hits France

French unions have claimed that up to three million people have taken part in street protests amid a national strike against France's economic policies.Police gave an estimate of 1.2 million people at rallies nationwide.Schools have been closed and public transport disrupted, with demonstrations held in about 200 towns.Unions are demanding more is spent to protect workers in the recession. Unemployment has reached two million and is expected to rise further. Union members marched towards the Place de la Nation in Paris behind a banner that read:"United against the crisis, defend employment, spending power and public services." "They have a profound sense of social injustice," said Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the large Force Ouvriere union, "and that, I think, is something that neither the government nor the employers have understood."Benoit Hamon, a spokesman for the French Socialist Party spokesman said France was experiencing similar problems to other countries, but that the situation was being made worse by President Nicolas Sarkozy."We have a president who aggravates the crisis by making the wrong economic and social choices, by his deafness regarding the general dissatisfaction," said Mr Hamom."He refuses to give answers regarding layoffs, regarding the cost of living, regarding the way to objectively avoid the rise in job losses in the public sector or in the public health system."Marches were also being held in Marseille, Lyon, Grenoble and many other towns and cities.Noel Kouici, demonstrating in Marseilles, said protesters had a "grudge" against the government."Of course we are angry against the government when you see the way they serve the banks and leave the people starving and losing their jobs," he said.But the deputy mayor of Marseille, Roland Blum, told the BBC the government had done a lot to help people."Of course I understand the distress of people who've lost or are going to lose their jobs, but what I think is necessary is that we all work together," he said.There protests were largely peaceful but minor scuffles were reported in several cities later in the evening.In Paris, police used tear gas to disperse small groups of youths who were setting fire to rubbish bins and throwing bottles.It is the second time in two months that major demonstrations have been held, following a similar display in January which drew about a million protesters.
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World economy to shrink "for first time in 60 years"

The International Monetary Fund Thursday said that the world economy, reeling from financial crisis, was on track to shrink for the first time in 60 years in 2009, by as much as 1.0 percent.
In a report prepared for the Group of 20 meeting of finance chiefs last week in Britain and published Thursday, the IMF slashed forecasts from two months ago to a global contraction of between 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent.The latest IMF projections were sharply lower than those in the World Economic Outlook update published on January 28 that had put global growth at an annual rate of 0.5 percent."Global economic activity is falling-with advanced economies registering their sharpest declines in the post-war era-notwithstanding forceful policy efforts," the IMF staff report said.The revisions "reflect unrelenting financial turmoil, negative incoming data, sinking confidence, and the limited effect to date of policy responses with respect to the restoration of financial system health."The world economy was expected to gradually stage a "modest recovery" in 2010, with growth betweeen 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent, but downside risks were significant, it said.Advanced economies were expected to suffer "deep recessions" in 2009, shrinking between 3.0 and 3.5 percent, according to the IMF report.The Group of Seven major industrialized economies-Britain,Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States-were expected as a group to experience the sharpest contraction since World War II "by a significant margin."The United States, the world's largest economy, was projected to contract at an annual rate of 2.6 percent, and Japan, the second largest, by a staggering 5.8 percent.The 16-nation eurozone would contract 3.2 percent.The IMF warned that the US and Japan have "high risks" of deflation, while that risk was "moderate" in several eurozone members, including Germany, Italy and France.The Washington-based institution also sharply lowered growth projections for emerging and developing countries, to between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent.The IMF said that the G20 countries had not done enough to fight the recession and pointed out that its recommendation they implement stimulus measures amounting to 2.0 percent of output so far had largely been unheeded."Country reponses to the global crisis are in an early stage...measures are still needed to restore financial stability," the IMF said.Next year's projected recovery depends on comprehensive policy steps to stabilize financial conditions, sizeable fiscal support, a gradual improvement in credit conditions, a bottoming of the US housing market, and the cushioning effect from sharply lower oil and other major commodity prices, the IMF said.
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ONE WORLD CURRENCY WATCH:"Ditch the Dollar...??"

ONE WORLD CURRENCY WATCH:U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) -A U.N. panel will next week recommend that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency in favor of a shared basket of currencies, a member of the panel said on Wednesday, adding to pressure on the dollar. Currency specialist Avinash Persaud, a member of the panel of experts, told a Reuters Funds Summit in Luxembourg that the proposal was to create something like the old Ecu, or European currency unit, that was a hard-traded, weighted basket.Persaud, chairman of consultants Intelligence Capital and a former currency chief at JPMorgan, said the recommendation would be one of a number delivered to the United Nations on March 25 by the U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reform."It is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency," he said.Central banks hold their reserves in a variety of currencies and gold, but the dollar has dominated as the most convincing store of value-though its rate has wavered in recent years as the United States ran up huge twin budget and external deficits.Some analysts said news of the U.N. panel's recommendation extended dollar losses because it fed into concerns about the future of the greenback as the main global reserve currency, raising the chances of central bank sales of dollar holdings."Speculation that major central banks would begin rebalancing their FX reserves has risen since the intensification of the dollar's slide between 2002 and mid-2008," CMC Markets said in a note.Russia is also planning to propose the creation of a new reserve currency, to be issued by international financial institutions,at the April G20 meeting, according to the text of its proposals published on Monday.It has significantly reduced the dollar's share in its own reserves in recent years.
Persaud said that the United States was concerned that holding the reserve currency made it impossible to run policy, while the rest of world was also unhappy with the generally declining dollar."There is a moment that can be grasped for change," he said."Today the Americans complain that when the world wants to save, it means a deficit. A shared (reserve) would reduce the possibility of global imbalances."Persaud said the panel had been looking at using something like an expanded Special Drawing Right, originally created by the International Monetary Fund in 1969 but now used mainly as an accounting unit within similar organizations.The SDR and the old Ecu are essentially combinations of currencies, weighted to a constituent's economic clout, which can be valued against other currencies and indeed against those inside the basket....
By Jeremy Gaunt, European Investment Correspondent
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UN seeks tax on oil to create $750 billion "Green New Deal"

OSLO (Reuters)Investments of $750 billion could create a "Green New Deal" to revive the world economy and protect the environment, perhaps aided by a tax on oil, the head of the U.N. environment agency said on Thursday.Achim Steiner(picture left)said spending should focus on five environmental sectors including improved energy efficiency for buildings and solar or wind power to create jobs, curb poverty and fight climate change."The opportunity must not be lost," Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), told Reuters of a UNEP study that will be put to world leaders meeting in London on April 2 to work out how to spur the ailing economy.The UNEP report said investments of one percent of global gross domestic product, or about $750 billion, could bankroll a "Global Green New Deal" inspired by the "New Deal" of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt that helped end the depression of the 1930s.Investments should be split between more energy efficient buildings, renewable energies, better transport, improved agriculture and measures to safeguard nature-such as fresh water, forests or coral reefs, it said.Thursday's study adds details of spending after UNEP called for a Green New Deal late last year.Steiner also said that the world urgently needed funds to jump start a U.N. deal to fight global warming, due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December to succeed the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.He floated the possibility of taxing oil in rich nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to help a new pact become the cornerstone of a greener economy."If, for argument's sake, you were to put a five-year levy in OECD countries of $5 a barrel, you would generate $100 billion per annum. It translates into roughly 3 cents per liter," he said.
"It would be almost, if not totally, unnoticed by the consumer,"
he said, especially since oil prices have fallen from more than $140 a barrel at mid-2008 peaks to about $40.A barrel of oil contains 158 liters and OECD consumption is about 20 billion barrels a year, he said. "This is just one example, there may be many others," of funding, he said."I am concerned about the prospect of a meaningful deal in Copenhagen if there is not a significant financial package on the table," he said. Cash would encourage poor nations to step up actions to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions."The argument that we cannot afford this does not, on any serious analysis, hold much water-especially given the cost to the global economy of failure to act on climate change," he said.Carbon markets, which could also be a source of funds to help fight climate change, were unlikely to contribute enough cash in early years of a new climate deal, he said.Steiner said there were promising signs that economic stimulus packages by many nations, ranging from the United States to China, were being tailored to help a shift toward greener growth and away from dependence on fossil fuels.The U.N. Climate Panel says that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are a prime cause of warming that will cause more heatwaves, droughts, rising sea levels and more powerful storms.
For Reuters latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/
(Editing by Jon Boyle)
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
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Oil Nears $52;Hits high for 2009

NEW YORK (AP)A weakened dollar and evidence that OPEC has significantly slowed production sent oil prices soaring to new highs for the year Thursday."I think we'll see higher oil prices for a while," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research."There's an expectation that the market has bottomed out."Benchmark crude for April delivery surged $3.47, or 7 percent, to settle at $51.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices hit $52.25 earlier in the day, a price last seen on Dec. 1.Crude prices have increased 11.6 percent since OPEC ministers met in Vienna on Sunday.The group said it would not cut production again immediately,but there is growing consensus that the millions of barrels taken off the market already each day are starting to balance a supply and demand picture that has been skewed for months.With the April contract set to expire Friday, most of the trading had shifted to the contract for May delivery, where prices jumped $3.14 to settle at $52.04 a barrel.Gas prices increased 1.3 cents a gallon overnight to a new national average of $1.933 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Pump prices are 2.7 cents a gallon cheaper than a month ago and $1.346 a gallon cheaper than last year.Analysts rushed to buy crude after the Federal Reserve announced late Wednesday it would buy long-term government bonds, a measure that's expected to jolt the economy with lower rates on mortgages and other consumer debt.The Fed also said a $1 trillion program to jump-start consumer and small business lending could be expanded to include other financial assets.The announcements sent the dollar into a tailspin. The U.S. dollar dropped against other major currencies almost immediately, at one point falling to levels not seen since January. The dollar has fallen about 5 percent against the euro over the past couple days.
Associated Press writers Ernest Scheyder in New York, George Jahn in Vienna, Austria and Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.
By Chris Kahn, Associated Press Writer
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London police fear violent protests at G-20 economic meet...

LONDON-The British police are preparing to deal with violent protests as anarchists threaten to bring chaos to the Group of 20 summit meeting in London.All leave for police officers in the capital has been called off and businesses are being advised to cancel unnecessary meetings because protesters have vowed to target the financial district as the world leaders gather to discuss the financial crisis.Previous world economic summit meetings and conferences have been targeted by anarchists, anti-globalization protesters and other groups. The police say they fear that the gathering April 2 in London, set against anger at the economic downturn, could provoke more violence.Environmentalists, antiwar campaigners and protesters have already indicated that they would demonstrate April 1 as politicians and officials begin arriving in London.A movement called "Storm the Banks" is circulating on the Internet indicating that anti-capitalist protesters are planning to focus their attention on the Bank of England during what some protesters have dubbed "Financial Fools Day."During a Group of Eight meeting in Scotland in July 2005, four British Islamists carried out suicide bombings on trains and a bus in London that killed 52 people."At the moment, we are not aware of any specific threat to this event,"a police spokeswoman said."What we will be doing is an intelligence-led deployment,so there will be officers where we are anticipating demonstrations."Businesses leaders are trying to make sure their companies are aware of what to expect during de
monstrations."There will be concern from business over the two days of protest, but the vast majority of firms will have robust security arrangements in place," said Helen Hill, policy director at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry."Canceling unnecessary meetings may have to be considered, but people shouldn't feel as though they can't travel in London to conduct important business."
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