October 12, 2005

News for October 12, 2005

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Al Qaeda exploits ‘blue-eyed’ Muslim converts (October 12, 2005) - What prompts someone to convert to Islam and to sign up for global “holy war” in the name of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda? Security agencies are asking that question with increasing urgency as they confront a growing catalogue of actual or attempted attacks in which Muslim converts are suspected of playing prominent roles. Richard Reid, the convicted British “shoebomber” who tried to set off explosives in his footwear on a 2001 trans-Atlantic flight, was a petty criminal who first turned to Islam during a spell in prison. Christian Ganczarski, a German suspected of involvement in a 2002 bombing in Tunisia, converted at 20 before embarking on a jihadist career in which, investigators believe, he became a close associate of bin Laden’s. Other high-profile militant converts include Jamaican-born Germaine Lindsay, one of four suicide bombers who killed 52 people in London in July, and Briton Andrew Rowe, jailed for 15 years last month for possessing terrorist materials. Frenchman Lionel Dumont, a suspected Rowe associate and another convert, will go on trial in December accused of a series of attacks in the 1990s, including an attempt to bomb a Group of Seven summit in Lille. more...


Vatican ‘must let priests wed’ (October 11, 2005) - LEADING bishops gathered at the Vatican have suggested that Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry as a way of overcoming the shortage of priests. The question of celibacy, which was suppressed under Pope John Paul II, has come to dominate a three-week synod of more than 250 cardinals and bishops.Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch of Venice, who is seen as a potential future Pope and is chairing the discussion, raised the issue in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Scola said that some bishops had “put forward the request to ordain married faithful of proven faith and virtue, the so-called viri probati,” while maintaining his own support for celibacy. There is a shortage of priests, and reformers believe that allowing married priests would help to attract newcomers. There is one priest for every 2,677 Catholics, compared with one for every 1,797 thirty years ago. In the United States, where the Church has been hit hard by the crisis involving sexual abuse by clergy, the number of priests has fallen from 58,909 to 42,528. Meanwhile, the number of American Catholics has risen from 48 million to 65 million. After the synod, the first under the new papacy, a papal document will be released banning even celibate homosexuals from seminaries, a move that could worsen the shortage of priests. The issue has been taken up by several members of the gathering. Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, of the Philippines, said: “In the absence of a priest, there is no Eucharist. We have to face the shortage of priests squarely.” more...


Schroeder Won’t Be Part of New German Government (October 12, 2005) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told a trade union conference in his hometown Wednesday he will “definitely” not participate in Germany’s new coalition government. Schroeder’s Social Democrats lost last month’s parliamentary elections to conservative Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, and Merkel struck a power-sharing deal Monday to become Germany’s first female chancellor. “I will not belong to the next government, definitely not,” Schroeder said to loud applause. He thanked union members for their support during his seven years of government and urged the new leadership to push through economic reforms while maintaining the nation’s social welfare programs. The chancellor gave no indication of what he planned to do in the future, although he has said he would participate in upcoming formal coalition talks “so that they turn out well.” Schroeder hinted Tuesday evening he did not want to take a Cabinet post in the new government. Eight posts in Merkel’s government will go to Schroeder’s party. Although Schroeder’s governing coalition with the Greens was voted out of power last month, voters failed to give any party a clear majority, forcing the formation of a “grand coalition” between the parties of Schroeder and Merkel.


Pakistan rocked by new earthquake as weather hampers relief efforts (October 12, 2005) - A FRESH earthquake hit Pakistan last night as stormy weather hampered the efforts of rescuers searching for survivors from the original shock. No casualties were reported from the new quake, which measured 5.1 on the Richter scale and hit the south-west of the country, but the death toll from Saturday's earthquake in the north has risen above 30,000 and there were suggestions that as many as 40,000 may have died. The United Nations has launched a “flash appeal” for £151 million for Pakistan in response to the devastation across the country. The UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) also formally launched its Asia Quake Appeal. The British government has doubled its commitment to the relief effort to £2.1 million and hundreds of Britons have been granted emergency visas so they can fly to the affected areas. One, Jamil Ahmed, from London, was yesterday reported to have lost 150 relatives in the quake and feared 100 more may be dead. The bad weather hindered the continuing rescue efforts but there were occasional successes. British rescuers pulled a 75-year-old grandmother and her daughter from the wreckage of an Islamabad apartment block more than three days after the quake struck. It took 16 hours to free Maha Bibi and her daughter Khalida Begum, 55. “I’m so sorry to put you through all this trouble,” Mrs Begum told her rescuer, John Holland of Rapid-UK. The first relief flight chartered by the Department for International Development left for Islamabad from Nottingham East Midlands Airport yesterday afternoon, carrying 800 winter tents for Oxfam and 19,000 blankets for Islamic Relief. more...


Syria warns ‘gates of hell will open’ if U.S. attacks (October 12, 2005) - In the latest official Syrian comment on the increasing pressure on Damascus, Premier Naji Otari said “all the gates of hell will open on the U.S. if it attempts to attack Syria.” Otari was replying to a report this week in Newsweek magazine revealing that Washington had debated launching military strikes inside Syria against camps used by insurgents operating in Iraq. Citing unnamed government sources, the magazine reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had managed to block the proposal during a meeting of senior U.S. officials on October 1. Speaking to reporters in Shanon, Ireland, on a four-nation tour, Rice said: “I am not going to comment on internal deliberations in the administration.” Otari also accused Lebanese officials of being unable to make an independent decision, saying they were answerable to the French and U.S. ambassadors to Lebanon. Addressing his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora, the Syrian premier said: “Apparently Siniora forgot all of what we have discussed when he visited Damascus after his recent return from a visit to the U.S.” Siniora had held talks with several officials in Damascus to resolve a border dispute between the two countries in June. Pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported yesterday Otari had refused to answer repeated phone calls from Siniora on Monday. The paper quoted unidentified “informed Syrian sources in Damascus” as saying the Assad regime believes Siniora has reneged on promises he made to the Syrian president during a visit on July 31. more...


Iraq’s Zarqawi Urged to Prepare for Islamic Rule: US (October 12, 2005) - “We must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations, and their plans to fill the void behind them,” Zawahri told Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a July 9 letter that U.S. officials say was obtained during counterterrorism operations in Iraq. “The aftermath of collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy,” the letter said. “I stress again to you and all your brothers the need to direct the political action equally with the military action,” it said. The Pentagon disclosed the letter’s existence on October 6, telling reporters it appeared to be authentic. But military and intelligence officials have not released details of where, when, how or by whom it was obtained. Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant whose insurgent network was endorsed by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last year, has emerged as the most prominent leader of an increasingly deadly Sunni Arab insurgency. His affiliation with al Qaeda has allowed him to expand his network by incorporating indigenous Iraqi groups, intelligence officials say. But the Zawahri letter, released by the office of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte, appeared to show divisions between Zarqawi and al Qaeda’s top leaders on issues such as the killing of Shi’ite civilians and hostages. The document endorsed the formation of a Muslim state in Iraq that could grow to encompass the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt and the Levant. more...


Syrian Interior Minister Commits Suicide (October 12, 2005) - Syria’s interior minister, who ran Lebanon for many years and was one of several top officials caught up in the U.N. probe of the slaying of that nation’s former prime minister, died Wednesday. The country’s official news agency said he committed suicide in his office. The death of Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan — just days before the final U.N. investigation report is due — was a new and startling sign of turmoil in Syria, whose authoritarian regime is girding for the chance that the U.N. report might implicate high-ranking officials in the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. He was killed by a bomb in February as his convoy drove through Beirut.


New Power Cell Works For Nearly 20 Years (October 12, 2005) - University of Missouri-Columbia scientists say they’ve developed a power cell capable of providing continuous power for years. The scientists from the university’s research reactor and the Qynergy Corp. say their discovery will create new capabilities for applications that require longer power life in compact, low volume containers. The cells have the potential of continuously generating small amounts of electricity for nearly 20 years. “In our research, we were able to obtain an energy conversion efficiency of 11 percent, while the highest success to date had only been 5 percent,” said David Robertson, associate director of research and education at research reactor. The technology used in betavoltaic power cells is similar to solar power generation, but uses radioisotopes as the energy source, researchers said. The cells use isotopes that are fully contained within the power cell -- similar to the radioactive source found in many smoke detectors -- and can be used without external risk. The technology transforms beta particles into electrical power with the capacity to generate electricity for years, depending on the energy and half-life of the isotope used. The project was funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate. more...


Prepare for Avian Influenza! (October 12, 2005) - Various U.S. and U.N. agencies and the Council on Foreign Relations are spreading the word that the Avian Influenza, if it breaks out this fall or winter, could be as severe as the worldwide Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918, and they are predicting hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide. This influenza, currently isolated in China, is a hemorrhagic illness. It kills half of its victims by rapidly depleting ascorbate (vitamin C) stores in the body, inducing scurvy and collapse of the arterial blood supply, causing internal hemorrhaging of the lungs and sinus cavities. Most people today have barely enough vitamin C in their bodies (typically 60 mg per day) to prevent scurvy under normal living conditions, and are not prepared for this kind of illness. (Vitamin C deficiency is the root cause of many infant and childhood deaths worldwide, and it is the root cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome - SIDS.) The way to prepare yourself and protect your family from this influenza is not a vaccine or anti-viral drug. If vaccines and/or anti-viral drugs are offered to you, please refuse them. These actually reduce your immunity; vaccines contain many toxic components, such as aluminum and mercury, and anti-viral drugs interfere with critical body processes. Historical evidence of vaccinations has shown that they actually increase the chances of becoming severely ill. The best way to prepare for influenza is by enhancing your immune system and increasing the amount of vitamin C in your body. more...