October 19, 2005

News for October 19, 2005

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Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake Hits Japan (October 19, 2005) - A strong earthquake rocked eastern Japan late Wednesday, the meteorological agency said. There were no immediate reports of injuries, damage, or a risk of tsunami from the quake. The magnitude-6.2 quake, centered off the coast of Ibaraki, shook buildings in Tokyo and nearby areas, including Ibaraki, Chiba and Fukushima prefectures. more...


Bush vows to oust ‘every single’ illegal (October 19, 2005) - President Bush said yesterday that his goal is eventually to expel “every single” illegal alien from the United States as his administration pressed Congress to pass a guest-worker program. Although conceding that the administration cannot immediately deport the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who are here, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao told Congress that a temporary-worker program would give aliens an incentive to come out of hiding and let them work legally for six years before being forced to return home. As Mr. Bush signed the homeland security spending bill yesterday, he said Congress should couple a guest-worker plan with increased border security. “We’re going to get control of our borders,” he said during the signing ceremony in the East Room. “Our goal is clear -- to return every single illegal entrant, with no exceptions.” It was a far cry from the president’s usual rhetoric on illegal immigration, which focuses on the need to reunite families and provide labor for companies. Since taking office, Mr. Bush has called for relaxing rules so that illegals from Mexico can remain in the U.S. to take unpopular jobs. The sudden hard line comes as Mr. Bush is trying to assuage his conservative political base, much of which is upset over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Bush said the government has to stop illegal entrance in the first place, needs to improve its ability to catch illegal aliens who have crossed, and must ensure that those who are caught are deported. more...


Hurricane Wilma swells into Category 5 (October 19, 2005) - Hurricane Wilma strengthened into a Category 5 monster early Wednesday with 175 mph (282 kph) winds, and forecasters said a key reading of the storm’s pressure showed it to be the most powerful of the year. Wilma was dumping rain on Central America and Mexico, and forecasters warned of a “significant threat” to Florida by the weekend. The storm’s power multiplied greatly over the last day. It was only Tuesday morning that Wilma grew from a tropical storm into a weak hurricane with 80 mph (129 kph) winds. At 2:30 a.m., US Air Force reconnaissance planes measured Wilma’s top sustained winds at 175 mph (282 kph), making it a Category 5 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Just two hours earlier, Wilma had been declared a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 kph). Wilma’s pressure readings Wednesday morning indicated that it was the strongest hurricane of the season, said Trisha Wallace, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Wilma had a reading of 892 millibars, the same reading as a devastating unnamed hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935. more...


Aftershocks shake Pakistani Kashmir (October 19, 2005) - A strong aftershock has shaken Pakistan-administered Kashmir anew, unleashing landslides and alarming survivors as well as the aid workers toiling to get them supplies and medical help. Despite brisk flights of helicopters delivering aid to quake victims in recent days, an estimated half a million survivors in Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir have yet to receive help since the 7.6-magnitude quake struck on 8 October, levelling villages and killing more than 54,000 people. Thousands desperately need medical care. The problem is worst in the estimated 1000 settlements outside the main cities and towns, said regional UN disaster coordinator Rob Holden. “Many people out there we are not going to get to in time,” Holden said. “Some people who have injuries don’t have a chance of survival.” Many of the 250 injured people flown by helicopter into the regional hub of Muzaffarabad on Tuesday were being attended by a qualified medic for the first time since the quake, Holden said. Rates of infection and gangrene are rising, leaving amputation the only option in an increasing number of cases. more...


Minor Earthquake Hits Near San Francisco (October 19, 2005) - A small earthquake struck Tuesday evening about 80 miles north of San Francisco. The 4.3-magnitude quake was recorded at 5:05 p.m. about 5 miles northwest of The Geysers in northern Sonoma County, according to preliminary reports from the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no reports of injuries or damage, a sheriff’s department staffer said. The Geysers is located near a volcanic field where subterranean steam builds up and helps make the area seismically active, according to the USGS.


Annan: Israel Must allow Hamas to Run in Palestinian Elections (October 19, 2005) - Annan said, however, that it was important that no armed militia sit in the Palestinian parliament. He also said that the demand that Hamas disarm itself before the general elections would only strengthen the radical Islamic group on the account of other moderate movements. Report: Palestinian factions vow to honor PLC election results. Twelve Palestinian factions, but not Hamas, signed an agreement Monday night to honor the results of the January 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, media reports said Tuesday. The factions also agreed that they would not carry weapons while campaigning, Israel Radio reported. The Voice of Palestine radio station said that Hamas did not sign the agreement under instructions from its leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, who objected to a clause in the agreement banning campaigning in mosques. Meanwile, the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, which is printed in London, reported Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority security forces are taking up position in the Gaza Strip, in particular around the main command centers, fearing an attack on them by Hamas. Last week, the Palestinian Authority asked Israel not to meddle in the elections, and not to attempt to prevent the participation of Hamas, lest this serve only to strengthen the organization. more...


Strong Earthquake Shakes Izmir, No Casualties (October 18, 2005) - A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 on Richter’s scale shook western city of Izmir at 08.45 a.m. on Monday. Officials at Kandilli Observatory Center said that the epicenter of the quake was Aegean Sea. There were no immediate reports of any casualties after the quake which was felt in Izmir and surrounding cities and towns. Izmir Governor Oguz Kagan Koksal told reporters that according to preliminary reports, there were no casualties or damage. Meanwhile, Kandilli Observatory Center stated that aftershocks continue in the region.


Old Europe votes for its decline (October 18, 2005) - AFTER last week’s creation of a German government in which Angela Merkel will not even control the finance and foreign ministries, all three of the great European nations that have dominated the continent's history for 2000 years - Germany, France and Italy - are effectively leaderless. They will almost certainly remain politically paralysed at least until the French presidential election of 2007. The power vacuum now covering the whole of continental Europe is almost unprecedented, at least since the disastrous period between the two world wars. But is the inability of German, French and Italian voters to choose effective political leaders and then to decide on clear programs of social and economic reform -- or more precisely the unwillingness to do so -- a cause for worry? Or should we instead regard it as a natural product of the prosperous and comfortable societies that Europeans have created and simply want to preserve? Before I try to answer these questions, let me consider the main premise: that the German elections, along with the French referendum, really do represent an important punctuation mark in the history of Europe -- the point when the ambitious market-oriented economic reform program that started in the 1950s but really accelerated in the 1990s was brought to a full stop. This is the clear message from the composition of the new Government -- with all the key “reform” ministries, including finance, labour, health, environment, transport and social services, ceded to the Social Democrats, who only last month were denouncing the modern market economy as a biblical plague of locusts, laying waste to Germany's traditional welfare state. more...


U.S. Urges Israel to Ease Up on Palestinians (October 18, 2005) - In a message also delivered privately by Lt. Gen. William Ward, the U.S. security envoy in the region, the State Department said that it condemned the attacks but continued to ask the Israeli government “to take steps to ease the daily plight of the Palestinian people.” The State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said “the Palestinian side” has an obligation to fight terror and to dismantle terror networks. “It’s important to see action,” he said, in sounding a now-familiar call for Abbas and other leaders of the Authority. Israel, like the United States, is a victim of terror attacks, McCormack said, and “it is an important duty and responsibility of any government to protect its own people.” However, he said, “at the same time we urge them, in whatever steps that they do take and keep their eye on the ultimate objective which we all know and all sides share - two states living together side by side in peace and security.” On the eve of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, security officials raised the alert level Monday evening after receiving dozens of terror warnings, none place-specific. The move followed Sunday’s drive-by shooting attack. more...


First Results Show Victory for Iraqi Constitution (October 17, 2005) - If approval is confirmed the constitution will be ratified and elections in December will replace the transitional administration with a four-year parliament and the first permanent government since the 2003 invasion. Sunnis ended a political boycott by voting in their millions to kill the document, ushering in a strategy of using the ballot box as well as the bullet to register protest. The show of strength appeared to have failed in its immediate aim but it shifted the political landscape, creating opportunities and dangers for the Iraqi government and US involvement in the country. “The key here is the Sunnis have voted in large numbers. One way or another, the Iraqis will be in a position to move forward,” said the US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice. “You defeat an insurgency politically as well as militarily.” The high turnout in three of the four largely Sunni provinces exposed a serious split in the insurgency and marked the community's first attempt to use peaceful means to challenge the hegemony of Shias and Kurds. Failure to kill the charter could produce a violent backlash by making Sunnis, resentful at losing power since Saddam Hussein's fall, feel even more marginalized. more...


Israel weighs unilateral pullout from 90 percent of West Bank (October 16, 2005) - The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is examining plans for a multi-stage unilateral withdrawal from as much as 90 percent of the West Bank. Officials said the Israeli withdrawal plans have been discussed with the United States. On Oct. 20, President George Bush was scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and last week Bush assured a Palestinian delegation that Israel would withdraw from additional areas of the West Bank. Officials said the Defense Ministry and military have been reviewing a range of options for unilateral withdrawal in the West Bank by 2007, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the National Security Council has drafted options for the removal of between 10,000 and 100,000 Jews from the area. “Only unilateral [withdrawal] can work in this era,” [Res.] Brig. Gen. Eyval Giladi, a senior adviser to Sharon, said. “Israel determines where, when and how it withdraws.” more...


Wilma Becomes Strongest Hurricane Ever Recorded in Atlantic (October 19, 2005) - As of the 11AM EDT Advisory, Wilma is holding at 882mb and 175mph. Some tracks have shifted more towards New England and they maintain hurricane strength after moving across the Florida peninsula. At this point all we can do is wait and watch for eyewall cycles and wait for her to hit the relatively cooler waters of the Gulf, where Wilma should weaken a bit before hitting Florida as a major hurricane (category 3 or above).


New Casualty Figures Push Quake Death toll to 79,000 (October 19, 2005) - Two strong aftershocks from South Asia’s deadly earthquake shook the devastated region Wednesday, unleashing landslides and setting off another wave of panic among survivors of the Oct. 8 disaster. A new tally from regional officials pushed the death toll to 79,000. The new toll would make the quake one of the deadliest in modern times. Despite brisk sorties of helicopters delivering aid to quake victims, an estimated half-million survivors, many of them in Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir, have yet to receive any help since the monster 7.6-magnitude quake leveled entire villages. Thousands need urgent medical care. The situation is the most dire in the estimated 1,000 settlements outside the main cities and towns, said regional U.N. disaster coordinator Rob Holden. “Many people out there, we are not going to get to in time,” Holden said. “Some people who have injuries don’t have a chance of survival.” On Wednesday, Asif Iqbal Daudzai, information minister for Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, said 37,958 people died in the province and at least 23,172 were injured, the vast majority of them in Mansehra district. He said the figures were based on reports from local government and hospital officials, and that the toll was likely to rise. more...


A Global Power Shift in the Making (October 19, 2005) - Summary: Global power shifts happen rarely and are even less often peaceful. Washington must take heed: Asia is rising fast, with its growing economic power translating into political and military strength. The West must adapt -- or be left behind. more...


Earthquakes, Famines and Wars by Hal Lindsey (October 18, 2005) - Last Friday, an earthquake measuring nearly 8.0 on the Richter scale flattened huge populated areas around Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad. Some estimates put the death toll from the quake as high as 50,000 people, with entire cities utterly destroyed by the temblor. The aftershocks were themselves major earthquakes. The National Geological Survey reported 13 aftershocks measuring between 5.5 and 6.3 over the weekend. Aftershocks are a normal part of earthquakes. But the number and severity following Friday’s quake are unusual. My friend Tom Ambrose of WorldNetDaily did a little research on the subject on Monday. He found the three largest-magnitude earthquakes recorded in recent history took place in this generation. The 1960 Chilean earthquake measured 9.5; the 1964 Alaskan quake and the Sumatra quake last Christmas both measured 9.0. The Sumatra temblor was so powerful it moved the island off its former GPS coordinates. It shook the entire earth like a tuning fork, making the planet wobble on its axis and actually causing time to shift slightly. Ambrose also noted, “The U.S. Geological Survey data indicate earthquake occurrences are increasing. In 2000, there were 22,256 recorded earthquakes worldwide. That number has steadily increased to 31,199 earthquakes in 2004.” more...


16,137 Murders, 94,635 Rapes a year in USA (October 18, 2005) - Murders across the United States fell for the first time in five years, while rapes increased slightly last year, the FBI reported Monday. Overall, the number of violent crimes, which also include aggravated assaults and robberies, fell by 1.2 percent last year. Property crimes _ burglaries, larceny/theft and car theft _ dropped 1.1 percent in 2004, compared to 2003. There were 16,137 murders in the United States in 2004, the last full year for which statistics are available. That was about 350 fewer than in 2003, according to the FBI data. The decrease is the first since 1999, although smaller than what the FBI reported in June. Chicago was largely responsible for the drop, recording 150 fewer murders in 2004 than in 2003. The number of rapes, however, has increased in three of the past four years, according to the FBI data. In all, rapes increased by .8 percent to 94,635 rapes, or about 750 more than in 2003. Rapes are up nearly 5 percent since 2000, while murders have increased by 3.5 percent, FBI data show. more...


Can the Temple be rebuilt without touching the Dome of the Rock? (October 18, 2005) - How long is a “cubit”? Defining that ancient measurement may seem a matter of mere Bible trivia, but in theory the answer could affect a potentially calamitous modern-day religious confrontation. The term occurs in the Bible more than 100 times. Some well-known examples:

  • God’s directive to Noah on building the ark: “The length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits” (Genesis 6:15).
  • The dimensions for the Jerusalem Temple King Solomon built: “60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high” (1 Kings 6:2).
  • The prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the restored Temple precinct: “Set apart for the Lord a portion of the land as a holy district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits broad” (Ezekiel 45:1).

Cubit, from the Latin word for “elbow,” is used in most English Bible translations when the Hebrew word for “elbow” refers to measurements. more...


Are we going to war with Iran? (October 18, 2005) - The Sunday Telegraph warned last weekend that the UN had a last chance to avert war with Iran and, at a meeting in London last week, the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, expressed his regret that any failure by the UN security council to deal with Iran would damage the security council’s relevance, implying that the US would solve the problem on its own. Only days before, the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, had dismissed military action as “inconceivable” while both the American president and his secretary of state had insisted war talk was not on the agenda. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have found that Iran has not, so far, broken its commitments under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, although it has concealed activities before. It appears that the UK and US have decided to raise the stakes in the confrontation with Iran. The two countries persuaded the IAEA board - including India - to overrule its inspectors, declare Iran in breach of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and say that Iran’s activities could be examined by the UN security council. Critics of this political process point to the fact that India itself has developed nuclear weapons and refused to join the NPT, but has still voted that Iran is acting illegitimately. On the Iranian side there is also much belligerent talk and pop music now proudly speaks of the nuclear contribution to Iranian security. more...