December 21, 2005

News for December 21, 2005

| Bookmark at Delicious | Print This Page | |


Search Watchman Bible Study


1st Amendment ‘doesn’t create church-state wall of separation’ (December 21, 2005) - A U.S. appeals court today upheld the decision of a lower court in allowing the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse display, hammering the American Civil Liberties Union and declaring, “The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.” Attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice successfully argued the case on behalf of Mercer County, Ky., and a display of historical documents placed in the county courthouse. The panel voted 3-0 to reject the ACLU’s contention the display violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The county display the ACLU sued over included the Ten Commandments, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Star Spangled Banner, the national motto, the preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution and a picture of Lady Justice. Writing for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard Suhrheinrich said the ACLU’s “repeated reference ‘to the separation of church and state’ ... has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.” Suhrheinrich wrote: “The ACLU, an organization whose mission is ‘to ensure that ... the government [is kept] out of the religion business,’ does not embody the reasonable person.” The court said a reasonable observer of Mercer County’s display appreciates “the role religion has played in our governmental institutions, and finds it historically appropriate and traditionally acceptable for a state to include religious influences, even in the form of sacred texts, in honoring American traditions.” more...


NOW QUAKE HITS LOUISIANA... (December 21, 2005) - Magnitude 3.0 - Tuesday, December 20, 2005 at 00:52:20 (UTC) = Coordinated Universal Time Monday, December 19, 2005 at 6:52:20 PM


Syria agrees to hide Iran nukes (December 20, 2005) - Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles. The London-based Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that Iran and Syria signed a strategic accord meant to protect either country from international pressure regarding their weapons programs. The magazine, citing diplomatic sources, said Syria agreed to store Iranian materials and weapons should Teheran come under United Nations sanctions. Iran also pledged to grant haven to any Syrian intelligence officer indicted by the UN or Lebanon. Five Syrian officers have been questioned by the UN regarding the Hariri assassination, Middle East Newsline reported.

“The sensitive chapter in the accord includes Syria’s commitment to allow Iran to safely store weapons, sensitive equipment or even hazardous materials on Syrian soil should Iran need such help in a time of crisis,” Jane’s said. The accord also obligated Syria to continue to supply the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah with weapons, ammunition and communications. Iran has been the leading weapons supplier to Hizbullah, with about 15,000 missiles and rockets along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The accord, negotiations of which began in 2004, was signed on Nov. 14 and meant to prepare for economic sanctions imposed on either Iran or Syria. Under the accord, Jane’s said, Iran would relay financial aid to Syria in an effort to ease Western sanctions in wake of the UN determination that Damascus was responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Iran also pledged to supply a range of military aid to Syria. Jane’s cited technology for weapons of mass destruction as well as conventional arms, ammunition and training of Syrian military. Teheran would seek to upgrade Syrian ballistic missiles and chemical weapons systems. Under the accord, Iran would also be prepared to operate “advanced weapon systems in Syria during a military confrontation.” Jane’s said. “The new strategic accord is based on the existing military MoUs, with the addition of the sensitive chapter dealing with cooperation in times of international sanctions or military conflict,” Jane’s reported.


Netanyahu sweeps to victory in Israel’s Likud contest (December 20, 2005) - Former premier and arch hawk Benjamin Netanyahu swept to victory in the contest to succeed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as leader of Israel’s beleaguered right-wing Likud party. His closest challenger, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, conceded defeat in a speech to activists at his campaign headquarters in Tel Aviv, pledging to help take the party to victory at the country’s general election on March 28. Although official results were still to be declared, an exit poll had given Netanyahu 47 percent of the votes against 32 percent for Shalom. Ultra-nationalist candidate Moshe Feiglin won 15 percent while Agriculture Minister Israel Katz trailed in fourth place with six percent, the poll for public television showed. Candidates needed to secure more than 40 percent of the vote to avoid the contest going into a second round. “I congratulate Netanyahu on his victory and I stand ready to serve the party,” Shalom told supporters after phoning the victor. Party officials put the turnout at around 40 percent of the 130,000 members who were entitled to cast ballots. The vote was held a day after Sharon, who dramatically resigned from Likud a month ago, was admitted to hospital suffering from a mild stroke, although doctors expect the 77-year-old to be released and resume his duties on Tuesday. more...


Official Egyptian Paper Denies Holocaust (December 20, 2005) - An official Egyptian government newspaper defended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, asserting, in a column, there was no massacres of the Jews during World War II, and the gas chambers were intended for disinfecting clothing. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, wrote columnist Hisham Abd Al-Rauf in the newspaper Al-Masaa, was not against Jews and had allowed Jews to immigrate to the Holy Land during his first years in power. The column, titled “Israel’s Lies,” was translated into English by the Washington, D.C.-based Middle East Media Institute, or MEMRI. “The world is truly discriminative and oppressing. Israel spreads whatever lies it wants, and the so-called ‘cultural’ world congratulates it and views these lies as absolute indisputable facts,” Al-Rauf wrote. Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a “myth,” and stepped up his rhetoric over the weekend, calling on the world’s Muslims to be on guard against the Jewish state. “The Zionist regime is today a threat to the whole Middle East region and therefore Muslims should increase their vigilance against this regime,” he said. more...


Sharon to divide Jerusalem? (December 19, 2005) - Just days after a principle adviser to Ariel Sharon told the media the Israeli prime minister will divide Jerusalem if he wins in upcoming elections, a senior minister and close Sharon ally today refused to answer whether she would support relinquishing parts of the holy city to the Palestinians. The statements follow the lauding by several senior dovish Israeli lawmakers and Palestinian leaders of Kadima, Sharon’s newly formed political party, as Israel’s “best chance” at creating a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria and the eastern sections of Jerusalem. “My parents’ friends demand that I promise to say there won’t be a Palestinian state and that I promise to fight and prevent its establishment, but I’m not saying it,” said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni at a community gathering earlier today. Livni then refused to respond to a question posed to her by a reporter for Israel’s Haaretz daily about whether she would support splitting Jerusalem to create a Palestinian state. Livni was one of the first politicians to join Sharon’s Kadima party after the Israeli leader announced he is leaving the ruling Likud Party he helped found to start his own “centrist” party, prompting new elections that will be held in March. Since Sharon's move, multiple Kadima members have stated the new party is looking to change Israel's borders. more...


EU leaders agree new budget plan (December 19, 2005) - European leaders have agreed the next seven-year EU budget after two days of tense talks ended in the early hours. The UK gives up 10.5bn euros (£7bn) of its rebate, some 20%, while the budget grows to 862.4bn euros, helping to fund the development of new member states. In return, France has agreed to a budget review in 2008-2009, which could lead to cuts in farm subsidies. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deal allowed Europe to move forward, avoiding a serious crisis. Referring to budget commitments to new, mainly east European member states, he told reporters: “If we believe in enlargement, we had to do this deal now.” Mr Blair later told the BBC that had Britain walked away from the compromise deal it “would have wrecked” London’s relations with the new EU members and the new German government. The 2007-13 budget figure agreed represents 1.045% percent of EU output, up from 1.03% in an earlier proposal but still well below the 1.24% sought by the European Commission.

Globalization

BBC Europe Editor Mark Mardell says the deal allows the EU to end the year if not exactly on a high then on at least a success, when yet another crisis was seriously on the cards. The EU was left in disarray last June when the rejection of the EU constitution in France and the Netherlands was followed by an acrimonious collapse of talks on the budget. If there had not been a deal at this summit, new member states would not have had time to plan how to use the development aid they become eligible for in 2007, and some of it would have remained beyond their reach. Tony Blair’s grand project was to give Europe a modern budget, refocusing the spending of the European Union so it can face up to the challenges of globalisation rather than subsidising farmers, says Mark Mardell. He has achieved nothing like that, our correspondent says, not even the certainty that a review will apply to this budget round. But he has ensured that the EU will return to the subject. more...


Ariel Sharon has a stroke (December 19, 2005) - Ariel Sharon undergoes further tests Monday after his admission the night before to Hadassah hospital with a stroke. He underwent a second MRI at noon. Czech PM cancels Israel visit His staff say he received his usual daily briefing after a quiet night. DEBKAfile’s political analysts: As the prime minister bids for a third four-year term at the head of a new party, Kadima, in the March 28 general election, politicians are focusing for the first time on his age, 78 next February, and state of health. This consideration will impact Monday’s Likud primary and the integrity of Kadima as a one-man show. Sharon’s aides are bending over backwards to play down the stroke as minor, release a minimum of medical data and present the prime minister as raring to go back to work. At the same time the hospital is keeping him in under scrutiny and his staff plans to set up a small provisional bureau at his bedside. Any suggestion of Sharon’s ill health drastically impacts the Kadima party he established a month ago, basically a one-man show like the government, and the general election he called for March 28. more...


America Plundered by Global Elite (December 21, 2005) - In 1978, this writer’s book Trilaterals Over Washington revealed the global strategy of the Trilateral Commission and it’s co-founders David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, in particular, provided the intellectual reasoning and political strategy for the “New International Economic Order”. Brzezinski was also an astute political operator. He is credited as the first person to take interest in Jimmy Carter, to mentor him in globalism starting in 1973 when Carter was chosen to be part of the Trilateral Commission. Upon Carter’s election victory in 1976, Brzezinski was appointed National Security Advisor. By the end of 1976, Carter had appointed no less than 19 members of the Trilateral Commission to high-ranking government positions. These 19 members represented just under 20% of the entire U.S. delegation of the Trilateral Commission. The stage was now set for their power to become permanently embedded. Each successive Administration has been disproportionally dominated by members of the Trilateral Commission: George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, Richard B. Cheney. Each administration filled top posts from the Trilateral Commission. Think-tanks connected to the Trilateral Commission cranked out volumes of studies that droned on and on about the New International Economic Order, interdependence and the need for political change. more...


Israel Increasingly Likely to Attack Iran (December 21, 2005) - Israel is sending increasingly clear signs that it is gearing up for a major military confrontation with the soon-to-be nuclear power of Iran. Consider that in recent weeks:

  • Israeli military intelligence chief Aharon Zeevi Farkash said Israel will have to admit the failure of diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear weapons program if Iran is not referred to the U.N. Security Council before the end of March.
  • Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declared that Israel must get ready for actions “other than diplomatic” to solve the Iranian problem.
  • And citing Iran as an “existential threat,” Likud Party Chairman candidate Benjamin Netanyahu was even more blunt, making an attack on Iran an explicit campaign promise.

These signals were amplified by a December 11 report in Britain’s Sunday Times claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already ordered the Israeli military to prepare to attack Iran with both ground troops and air strikes at the end of March. Israel’s response to the report was coy, with its Defense Ministry declaring that there were no intentions to attack Iran “at the moment,” whatever that may mean. more...


Iran’s Fanatical Regime Threatens London as Well as Israel (December 21, 2005) - Deep-cover Mossad agents in Iran have discovered the regime is rushing to complete the development of a giant missile. It has a range of 2,200 miles that would bring London and other European cities in range and a 1.2 ton nuclear payload that would leave any city a wasteland. The missile is an updated version of the North Korean Taepodong-1 rocket. Based on Russian technology and sold to North Korea in 2003 in a secret arms deal that MI6 uncovered last month, the rocket’s ballistic technology is among the most sophisticated in the world. Nuclear proliferation expert Al Venter said: “This confirms why Tony Blair issued his blunt warning of possible military action. The stakes are growing in the confrontation between Iran’s Islamic regime and the West. Britain and Europe are now in the firing line”. Last week the Mossad agents discovered that only days before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel “must be wiped off the map”, a fleet of giant flying tankers from North Korea arrived in Iran carrying liquid propellant to drive its 8 Shahab-3 missiles. The fuel came from North Korea’s state-owned Chongchengong Arms Corporation. Each rocket has a range of 800 miles, capable of hitting Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. The Mossad agents have obtained an Iranian target-selection map that shows the prime target would be Dimona, Israel’s own nuclear arsenal in the Negev desert. It stores over 200 nuclear weapons. The target map, along with details of the sites where the long range Taepodong rocket is being rushed into operation, was passed to MI6. They will form a briefing paper by John Scarlett for Tony Blair this week. Until now the Iranian sites have remained secret. But the threat they pose to Britain and Europe is so serious that Mossad has revealed the details. more...


Nuclear Pakistan Will Back Iran If Attacked by US (December 21, 2005) - Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri has said that Pakistan is strictly opposed to any U.S. attack on Iran and will stand by Tehran if this extreme step is taken by Washington. “Iranian foreign minister’s statement during his recent visit to Pakistan provides testimony to our policy towards Tehran. Pakistan aspires to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue according to the principles of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Kasuri said while talking to reporters in his hometown, Kasur. Kasuri said that neglecting defence would be a suicide in the present scenario and Pakistan would acquire the latest technology and defense equipment at all costs to maintain a balance of power in the region. The deferred purchase of F-16s has started, as this was put on hold only for coping with the situation arising out of the October 8 earthquake, he said. The foreign minister said Pakistan has categorically told the United States that only the latest version of F-16s would be accepted and has also imposed the condition of transfer of technology. Pointing out that India had signed agreements with Russia, the US and other countries to pile up weapons, Kasuri said this situation forced Pakistan to consider every option for its survival. more...


In Iran, Arming for Armageddon (December 20, 2005) - Lest you get carried away with today’s good news from Iraq, consider what’s happening next door in Iran. The wild pronouncements of the new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have gotten sporadic press ever since he called for Israel to be wiped off the map. He subsequently amended himself to say that Israel should simply be extirpated from the Middle East map and moved to some German or Austrian province. Perhaps near the site of an old extermination camp?

Except that there were no such camps, indeed no Holocaust at all, says Ahmadinejad. Nothing but “myth,” a “legend” that was “fabricated . . . under the name ‘Massacre of the Jews.’ “This brought the usual reaction from European and American officials, who, with Churchillian rage and power, called these statements unacceptable. That something serious might accrue to Iran for this — say, expulsion from the United Nations for violating its most basic principle by advocating the outright eradication of a member state — is, of course, out of the question.

To be sure, Holocaust denial and calls for Israel’s destruction are commonplace in the Middle East. They can be seen every day on Hezbollah TV, in Syrian media, in Egyptian editorials appearing in semiofficial newspapers. But none of these aspiring mass murderers are on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons that could do in one afternoon what it took Hitler six years to do: destroy an entire Jewish civilization and extinguish 6 million souls. more...


US Warned Not to Ignore Chinese Military Advances (December 20, 2005) - The United States must prepare an effective strategy to face China’s rising military power and not freeze at the Asian giant “like a deer in the proverbial headlights,” a new study warned Wednesday. Beijing’s rapid technological advances mean that the United States “must plan seriously” for its development of weapons of greater complexity and power, said the study by the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based conservative think tank. The report, entitled “China’s New Great Leap Forward: High Technology and Military Power in the Next Half-Century,” warned that the US government is too preoccupied with its “war on terror” and democratization of the Middle East and Central Asia. Meanwhile, Washington is ignoring China’s emergence as a top competitor to US technological leadership. Since the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks, the United States has largely focused on the “cunning, soul-less but essentially low-tech predator: the terrorist,” the study said. “Yet those other realms of warfare that occupied us prior to 9/11 -- information, naval, and above all aerospace -- still constitute the nucleus of the new RMA (revolution in military affairs),” it said. “If we neglect the timely development of weaponry in these arenas, then China could catch America like a deer in the proverbial headlights -- precisely where we caught them after the 1991 victory in Desert Storm.” more...


Horn of Africa: 3.5 Million at Risk of Starvation (December 20, 2005) - Two and a half million people have been left at risk of starvation in Kenya due to the non-appearance of rains while in the northern neighbour, Somalia, one million are in need of urgent aid, 350,000 of these in what the UNO describes as an “acute” crisis. The UNO’s World Food Programme (WFP) gave the alert on Friday, that two and a half million people are at risk in Kenya due to the lack of rains. The situation is especially critical in the northeast, but also in the eastern region of the country, where the rains in the last quarter of the year are around 30% less than the level required. The lack of rains has been responsible for the deaths of many head of cattle, camels and donkeys. According to the Director of the WFP for Kenya, Tesema Negash, “food security is already critical” in some areas, while it will not be possible to make a final assessment until inspections have been carried out in the field in January. Describing “a rapidly deteriorating situation”, Tesema Negash added that “we need immediate action to avoid the loss of people’s assets and their lives.” more...


Bankruptcy Law Backfires on Credit Card Issuers (December 20, 2005) - The industry muscled through tough changes that were supposed to make more filers repay some of what they owe. But that isn’t happening. Credit card issuers and other lenders spent a small fortune to get bankruptcy reform legislation passed. Now the new law is costing them even more. An unprecedented spike in filings before reform took effect in fall 2005 is chewing into lenders’ bottom lines, and the subsequent lull is showing signs of being short-lived. Bankruptcy attorneys say their caseloads are starting to pick up, and credit counseling agencies -- which provide now-mandatory sessions for consumers who want to file -- say they’re seeing significantly more people than they initially predicted. All this is raising questions about whether lenders will profit as much from the new bill as they hoped. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The new law contains a “means test” that was supposed to steer higher-income filers toward repayment plans. Lenders expected a rush of consumers trying to beat the bankruptcy deadline, but nothing like the surge that actually occurred. More than 500,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the two weeks before the law took effect, compared with a normal weekly volume of 30,000 to 35,000. So far this year more than 2 million cases have been filed, 49% more than the same period last year and eclipsing all previous records.