December 28, 2005

News for December 28, 2005

| Bookmark at Delicious | Print This Page | |


Search Watchman Bible Study


Scientists Observe an Explosion on the Moon (December 26, 2005) - NASA scientists have observed an explosion on the moon. The blast, equal in energy to about 70 kg of TNT, occurred near the edge of Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) on Nov. 7, 2005, when a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27 km/s. “What a surprise,” says Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) researcher Rob Suggs, who recorded the impact’s flash. He and colleague Wes Swift were testing a new telescope and video camera they assembled to monitor the moon for meteor strikes. On their first night out, “we caught one,” says Suggs. The object that hit the moon was “probably a Taurid,” says MSFC meteor expert Bill Cooke. In other words, it was part of the same meteor shower that peppered Earth with fireballs in late October and early November 2005. The moon was peppered, too, but unlike Earth, the moon has no atmosphere to intercept meteoroids and turn them into harmless streaks of light. On the moon, meteoroids hit the ground -- and explode. more...


Norwegian county boycott of Israel ires Jewish groups (December 22, 2005) - A Norwegian county’s decision to boycott Israeli products because of its occupation of Palestinian territories has outraged Jewish groups. Soer-Trondelag became the first province in Norway to bar the purchase of Israeli goods when the provincial board voted on December 16 to impose the boycott. Torill Skaerseth, a board representative from the far-left Red Electoral Alliance, said she hopes the boycott will spread to other Norwegian provinces. “We see Israel as an occupying force that could be compared with the apartheid regime in South Africa,” she told the regional newspaper Adresseavisen. “We also want to campaign for the people of Soer Trondelag to also boycott.” Although the economic impact would be insignificant, the political signal angered Jewish groups.  more...


Mossad chief: Failing urgent outside intervention, Iran will in 3-6 months have all it needs to make a nuclear bomb (December 28, 2005) - Mossad director Meir Dagan joined the list of Israeli officials sounding the alarm on the imminence of Iran’s nuclear threat. In his briefing to the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee, Dagan stressed Tehran will not be satisfied with a single nuclear weapon but plans a stockpile. This is Israel’s working assumption. This week too, pro-Israeli Washington lobbying group AIPAC warned that Bush administration’s Iran policies are dangerous, disturbing and actually helping Tehran acquire nuclear weapons. In its first open criticism of the Bush White House, AIPAC rapped its recent decision to delay the referral of Iran’s nuclear case to the UN Security Council and instead endorse Moscow’s offer to enrich uranium in Russia. This disturbing shift in administration policy, said AIPAC, “poses a danger to the US and our allies.”


Daily Palestinian Qassam missile attacks on surrounding Israeli locations (December 28, 2005) - From 6 p.m. local time, Wednesday, Dec. 28, any person entering the buffer zone of northern Gaza will be a target. Israeli’s armed forces has formally conveyed this notice to the Palestinian Authority. It follows daily Palestinian Qassam missile attacks on surrounding Israeli locations and the failure of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to stop the shooting. Jihad Islami Wednesday rejected his appeal to cease the missile fire. Washington justifies Israel’s response to the Palestinian attacks but regrets the decision to enforce a security zone in northern Gaza.


IAF strikes militant base in Lebanon after rockets hit north - The Israel Air Forces struck a Palestinian militant training base in southern Lebanon early Wednesday, hours after Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon slammed into houses in the northern Israel town of Kiryat Shmona. Three residents of Kiryat Shmona were treated for shock in the Tuesday night Katyusha attack. One of the three houses hit was severely damaged. A dog was seriously injured. The Israeli air strike targeted a training base operated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a small, Syrian-backed group that has been waging a decades long fight against Israel. The strike was the deepest in Lebanon since June 2004. more...


Chicken dung used to feed fish may help spread bird flu (December 28, 2005) - Bird flu may be spread by using chicken dung as food in fish farms, a practice now routine in Asia, according to the world’s leading bird conservation organization. Fertilizing fish ponds with poultry feces, which can dramatically improve fish growth, may set up major new reservoirs of avian influenza infection if the chickens providing the manure are infected themselves, according to Bird Life International, the Cambridge-based umbrella body for bird protection groups in 100 countries. The suggestion, which has echoes of the BSE outbreak in Britain - when cattle were infected by their food - puts a question mark over a technique firmly backed by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a primary means of providing protein for mushrooming populations in developing countries. more...


65% of Palestinians Applaud Terror Attacks on US and Europe (December 27, 2005) - A poll carried out in the Palestinian Authority shows 65% support for Al Qaeda terror attacks on the United States and European countries - the biggest donors to the PA. The poll comes at a time when US and European funding of the Palestinian Authority is at an all-time high. With elections due to be held next month and the Hamas terror group gaining significantly in municipal elections and polls, the survey further illustrates the desire of a majority of PA Arabs to establish an Islamic state, similar to Iran. A whopping 79.9% of Palestinians would like the PA to follow Shari’a - Islamic religious law. Included in the figure are 11.3% of the respondents, who would like to see Shari’a supplemented by the laws of a PA Legislature. more...


Netanyahu: Sharon Plans to Withdraw From 90% of W. Bank (December 27, 2005) - “The real election is between our policies and policies ... that encourage terror,” Netanyahu said of Kadima. Netanyahu said this in his address to the Central Committee on Monday in its first formal meeting since his election to chairman of the party. As was widely expected, the Central Committee members voted to give Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom the number two spot on the party’s Knesset list. The committee members also voted to postpone the Likud internal elections until January 12, due to changes in the party constitution that are supposed to prevent Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Jewish Movement within the Likud, from competing for a spot on the list. Netanyahu also criticized the Palestinians, saying “We gave [them] everything, down to the last crumb, and they respond by firing Qassam rockets on Ashkelon,” Netanyahu said. Two Qassam rockets landed in Israeli territory on Monday afternoon and evening. He said sources in the Palestinian Authority are trying to convince Hamas to abstain from initiating terror attacks until after Israel’s general elections on March 28 in order to increase the chances that Sharon will win. more...


Full-scale terrorist attacks against Israel will resume Jan. 1 (December 26, 2005) - Unless Abbas surrenders to terms laid down by Jihad Islami, the Popular Resistance Committees and Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to withdraw the 200 Palestinian security personnel posted in the northern Gaza Strip, so frustrating the Sharon government’s no-go tactic in this region and efforts to curb Qassam attacks. This Palestinian force therefore provides the Qassam missile crews with a protective umbrella against Israeli artillery, which is forced to confine its shelling to vacant land. Taking part in the Qassam offensive now are the Jihad Islami and factions of the Al Aqsa Brigades backed and paid by the Fatah old guard, led by prime minister Ahmed Qureia, which is now at war with Mahmoud Abbas. If Abbas refuses to postpone the January 25 election - in obedience to their diktat - these groups plus the PRC will re-ignite full-scale attacks on Israel. This is designed to prompt large-scale Israeli retaliation and generate a crisis that precludes voting - and so deprive Hamas of its predicted victory. Their deadline for this ultimatum is Jan. 1. Israel has thus become a hostage to the Palestinian factional war. Earlier Monday, a Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades spokesman revealed the acquisition of new missiles of 25km range, the first able to reach to points north of Ashkelon. He spoke of creating a Palestinian buffer belt on Israeli territory north of the Gaza Strip.


Sharon orders Gaza security zone (December 26, 2005) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered the army to enforce a no-go zone for Palestinians in northern Gaza to try to end rocket attacks on Israel. It is part of a series of new measures Israel says it will take to stop Palestinians firing missiles. Palestinians have launched scores of rockets at Israel since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip this summer. A Palestinian official rejected the plan, saying security forces in Gaza had been told not to leave their posts. Interior ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu-Khusah said the Palestinian Authority (PA) would “not yield to Israeli dictates and attempts to impose the zone by fire and bombardment”, Palestinian radio reported. Mr. Sharon returned to work on Sunday after spending most of the week recovering from his stroke. He gave the order at a meeting with cabinet colleagues and security officials. “We must make sure that [Palestinian militants] won’t act against us, this is my policy and my instructions,” Israeli media quoted him as saying. The move followed talks on Thursday in which the prime minister told the army to do everything possible to stop rocket fire from the territory. more...


Alaska braces for possible volcanic eruption (December 24, 2005) - A restless volcano near Alaska’s most populated region is being watched by scientist and officials, who warned on Thursday of the risk of clouds of ash and a tsunami from a possible eruption. The intensifying rumblings in the past few weeks at Augustine Volcano, an island peak 175 miles southwest of Anchorage in Cook Inlet, have produced a series of steam explosions, releases of sulfur gas and signs that there may be an eruption similar to events in 1986 and 1976 which sent ash clouds as high as 40,000 feet, scientists said. There has even been an increase of 1 inch at the top of the 4,134-foot (1,260-m) volcano, a sign that seismic activity is causing the summit to bulge slightly, said John Power, a seismologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a joint office run by the U.S. Geological Survey and state agencies. “All of these things are very typical of what you would expect to see in a volcano that is reawakening,” Power said. more...


Sheik: ‘America’s nose will be rubbed in the mud’ (December 24, 2005) - An al-Qaida sheik who escaped earlier this year from Bagram prison in Afghanistan vowed in a sermon posted online that “America’s nose will be rubbed in the mud” and declared “Palestine is occupied by the offspring of apes and pigs.” An excerpt of the video, featuring Sheikh Abu Yahya Al-Libbi, was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute. It includes footage of young boys, one appearing to be as young as 8 years old, training with weapons. MEMRI points out that, according to alarabiya.net, Sheikh Yahya Al-Libbi is one of the aliases used by Muhammad Hassan Qayed. Qayed, who studied religious law in Mauritania, sent a letter last month that was published on the Internet to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq. In the video, the title on screen says: “In the name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate. We are the army of Allah.” Referring to the Holy Land, the sheik said in a sermon marking the Eid Al-Fitr holiday: “Who are those who desecrate it? Who have taken control over it? Who are those who torment its people so severely? Those who were ‘smitten with humiliation and misery,’ and ‘incurred the wrath of Allah.’ They are the offspring of the apes and the pigs. They are the ones who are tormenting our brothers there.” more...


Judge Lets Man Change Name to Jesus Christ (December 23, 2005) - A Manhattan man’s holiday spirits soared to celestial heights Friday when a judge gave him permission to change his name to Jesus Christ. Jose Luis Espinal, 42, of Washington Heights, said he was “happy” and “grateful” that the judge approved the change, effective immediately. Espinal said he was moved to seek the name change about a year ago when it dawned on him, “I am the person that is that name.” Espinal, who acted as his own lawyer, got the change approved by Manhattan Civil Court Judge Diane Lebedeff, who said she was “satisfied that this application is neither novel, nor would granting it pose practical problems.” The judge said name change applications usually are not denied just because the change might cause practical difficulties or be thought unwise, as long as a person with the same name does not object to the proposed change. She cited a 2001 Utah case in which a man legally changed his name to “Santa Claus” and a Washington, D.C., case earlier this year in which a name change applicant obtained a driver’s license and Social Security card in the name of “Jesus Christ.” more...


Putin’s Liberal Economic Adviser Resigns, Saying Russia ‘Not Free’ (December 27, 2005) - President Vladimir Putin’s outspoken liberal economic adviser Andrei Illarionov announced his resignation to protest what he said was an end to political freedom in Russia. “It is one thing to work in a partially free country, as Russia was six years ago. It’s another when the country has stopped being politically free,” Illarionov, 44, was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency on Tuesday. He said he expected Putin to accept his resignation. Illarionov, who became Putin’s economic adviser in 2000, said he did not recognise the country anymore. “In these six years the situation has radically changed and in the last year it became clear that not only the political, but economic model of the country has changed,” he was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS. “I did not go to work for such a country, or sign a contract, or swear an oath.” “As long as I could do at least something, including talking, I thought it was important to stay,” he was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. Illarionov has long been the highest profile critic within the Kremlin of the Putin administration. Just last week, in what may have been his last major press conference as adviser, he said: “Russia has ceased being a free and democratic country.” more...


Terrorists Threaten to Upgrade Missiles (December 26, 2005) - Three armed Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday threatened to continue their attacks on Israel and said they have long-range missiles capable of reaching more Israeli towns and cities. One of the groups belongs to Fatah, the ruling party headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The two others are the Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, and al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. PA officials in Ramallah expressed deep concern over the threats and said Israel was responsible for the latest cycle of violence. “Israel must stop its military offensive before the situation gets out of control,” a senior PA official told The Jerusalem Post. “Israel’s decision to set up a security zone [in the northern Gaza Strip] will only complicate matters.” Asked about the new long-range missiles, the official said he did not rule out the possibility that such weapons had been smuggled from Egypt in recent weeks. more...


Prelude to WW3: Christmas Day - the 6th Day Before New Years - and the Count Continues - to New Years (December 25, 2005) - After I sent out the newsletter last night on Christmas Eve - another group of items came to my attention - so here - hours later on Christmas Day - I am sending you an update. There is nothing magical about New Years - although 4 things do intersect on that day.

  1. It is the end of the truce.
  2. It is the middle of Hanukkah.
  3. Morale and sobriety of American soldiers lower - being away from home on New Years.
  4. It is the dark of the moon - best for attackers.

One piece of important news - being bandied about in the Middle East. This is from the Muslim News Source Al Jazeera - but it is nevertheless correct. It is not exactly a declaration of war - but perhaps close enough. The US Congress - has in effect given the green light to Israel to attack the Palestinians. US Congress (Vote 397-17) has said Israel does not need to try to negotiate with Hamas - (and certainly not with Hezbollah). The U.S. Congress passed a resolution which rejects HAMAS’ participation in the Palestinian parliamentary election, Reuters reported. The resolution, passed 397-17, states that “Hamas should not be permitted to participate in Palestinian elections until it recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, cease incitement, condemn terrorism, and permanently disarm and dismantle their terrorists infrastructure.” It also threatens that any Hamas participation in the Palestinian government “will potentially undermine the ability of the United States to have a constructive relationship with or provide further assistance to the Palestinian Authority.” more...


Take Iran Seriously (December 20, 2005) - When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” and repeatedly denied the genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis, analysts around the world rushed to explain away his fanatical statements. When he said that the State of Israel should be transplanted to Europe or Alaska, some said the new president needed to consolidate his internal power base. The statements were “without doubt an aim of domestic policy,” said Saed Leylaz, an Iranian political analyst. According to Reuters writer Paul Hughes, “Ahmadinejad's strident anti-Israel rhetoric may be part of a strategy aimed at boosting his own standing at home and Iran’s role in the region.” A number of commentators in Israel reached this same, very logical conclusion. Ahmadinejad worked hard to reverse reforms. There’s only one, very major problem with this approach: It relies on the assumption that Ahmadinejad is a rational leader, whose words and actions are guided by sane political calculations. Unfortunately, there is much evidence to suggest that the opposite is true. Ahmadinejad rushed to join the Islamic revolution of 1979 that overthrew the secular Shah who ruled Iran. He served in the Special Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards, and took part in covert raids against the Iraqi city of Kirkuk during the Iran - Iraq war. According to Iranian opposition websites, he helped coordinate a number of assassinations of “enemies of the revolution” abroad, and there are reports he helped plan an attempted killing of dissident author Salman Rusdhie. more...


Enormous Hydrothermal “Megaplume” Found in Indian Ocean (December 15, 2005) - An enormous hydrothermal “megaplume” found in the Indian Ocean serves as a dramatic reminder that underwater volcanoes likely play an important role in shaping Earth’s ocean systems, scientists report. The plume, which stretches some 43.5 miles (70 kilometers) long, appears to be active on a previously unseen scale. “This thing is at least 10 times—or possibly 20 times—bigger than anything of its kind that’s been seen before,” said Bramley Murton of the British National Oceanography Centre. Scientists reported the finding last week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco . Researchers also announced newly discovered deep-sea hydrothermal fields in the Arctic Ocean and the south Atlantic. The appearance of hydrothermal vents around the world suggests that they are a far more common part of the ocean system than once believed and could be a major influence on circulation patterns and ocean chemistry. “I’d be surprised if in the next five years we didn’t experience a mini-revolution in terms of finding these [fields] in places where they are not supposed to exist,” said geophysicist Robert Reves-Sohn of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Hydrothermal vents are volcanic hotspots that emit gasses and mineral-enriched water as hot as 760°F (400°C). Megaplumes like the one found in the Indian Ocean are probably caused by undersea volcanic eruptions, though scientists aren’t yet certain. more...


Pontiff Urges World to Unite Against Terrorism and Other Blights (December 25, 2005) - Pope Benedict urged people to unite against terrorism, poverty, pandemics and environmental destruction, in his first Christmas Day address from the Vatican. He also called for a “new world order” to correct economic and ethical imbalances, and appealed for protection for people suffering from “tragic humanitarian crises” in the Darfur region of Sudan and elsewhere. Despite cold weather and drizzling rain, tens of thousands of people cheered and called out the Pope’s name as he came to a balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square at noon on Sunday. more...


Waves of Energy are Washing Across this Planet (December 24, 2005) - Some great images of cloud formations forming wave patterns that display for our eyes the invisible waves of energy that are constantly moving across the earth. There are some pictures also of wave patterns created using suspended particles and sound waves. Pretty cool and goes to show that there are invisible forces constantly at work around the world and we still don’t understand it all.


Think Away the Pain (December 21, 2005) - Pain can be mysterious, untreatable and debilitating, and its causes can be unknown. But if you could see the pain -- or, at least, your brain’s reaction to it -- you might be able to master it. A study from researchers at Stanford University and MRI technology company Omneuron suggests that’s possible, and the results could lead to better therapies for those suffering from crippling chronic pain. The researchers asked people in pain to try to control a pain-regulating region of the brain by watching activity in that area from inside a real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, machine. Initial results showed subjects could reduce their pain, some quite dramatically. It’s the first evidence that humans can take control of a specific region of the brain, and thereby decrease pain, said Stanford professor Sean Mackey, who co-wrote the paper, which was published last week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “(Similar to) going to a gym and working muscle using weights, here we’re using the real-time fMRI technology to exercise a certain brain region,” he said. more...


Yes, the Earth is Expanding (December 2005) - In this book, I have simply treated our Earth as just another cosmological entity, an insignificant microdot amongst many, amidst an unimaginably vast Universe. I then looked at modern geological, geophysical and geographical evidence to see not only what has happened to our Earth since its formation, but also to see if science has in fact got the interpretation of this evidence all wrong. To me, this evidence shows that the concept of an expanding Earth is uniquely viable and represents a demonstrable global tectonic process. Similarly all geological, geophysical and geographical information, when displayed on models of an expanding Earth, substantiates an Archaean to future Earth-expansion process and far better explains this readily available physical phenomenon. By far the single most important contribution to modern scientific understanding of the concept of global tectonics, and Earth expansion in particular, has been the completion of geological mapping and age-dating of all the continental and ocean-floor crusts. This mapping was not available to early researchers prior to the late 1980s, and has since been significantly underutilised in plate tectonic studies. In contrast to plate tectonic studies, this mapping has enabled the assemblage of all crustal plates to be accurately constrained on models of an expanding Earth, and for the first time has enabled modelling studies to be extended back to the earliest Archaean era. It has also provided a means to define Earth expansion mathematically, and a means to investigate an Earth expansion process mathematically throughout Earth history. more...