January 6, 2006

News for January 6, 2006

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Secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile (January 4, 2006) - Document seen by Guardian details web of front companies and middlemen. The Iranian government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb, according to the latest western intelligence assessment of the country’s weapons programmes. Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with “import requests and acquisitions ... registered almost daily”, the report seen by the Guardian concludes. The warning came as Iran raised the stakes in its dispute with the United States and the European Union yesterday by notifying the International Atomic Energy Authority that it intended to resume nuclear fuel research next week. Tehran has refused to rule out a return to attempts at uranium enrichment, the key to the development of a nuclear weapon. The 55-page intelligence assessment, dated July 1 2005, draws upon material gathered by British, French, German and Belgian agencies, and has been used to brief European government ministers and to warn leading industrialists of the need for vigilance when exporting equipment or expertise to so-called rogue states. It concludes that Syria and Pakistan have also been buying technology and chemicals needed to develop rocket programmes and to enrich uranium. It outlines the role played by Russia in the escalating Middle East arms build-up, and examines the part that dozens of Chinese front companies have played in North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. But it is the detailed assessment of Iran’s nuclear purchasing programme that will most most alarm western leaders, who have long refused to believe Tehran’s insistence that it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons and is trying only to develop nuclear power for electricity. Governments in the west and elsewhere have also been dismayed by recent pronouncements from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has said that Holocaust denial is a “scientific debate” and that Israel should be “wiped off the map”. more...


Sharon’s Condition Remains Serious (January 5, 2006) - Doctors at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital report Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s condition as serious, stating the prime minister is fighting for his life. Sharon arrived at the hospital complaining of chest pains at 10:56pm and was immediately taken into the VIP trauma unit. At approximately 11:30pm, the decision was made to transfer the premiership authority to Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The members of the cabinet were informed. Shortly following his arrival, doctors detected significant cerebral hemorrhaging, ordering the prime minister taken into emergency surgery. Doctors report that the stroke has left Sharon paralyzed over half his body and he his speech has been severely impaired as well. Sharon’s medical team added that his chances of returning to his previous neurological state are almost non existent.


‘Rocket barrage if Sharon dies’ (January 4, 2006) - Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip are watching the news regarding Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s deteriorating health carefully and will celebrate with Qassam rocket firings at Jewish towns if Sharon dies, terror leaders told WorldNetDaily. One militant leader threatened the life of Sharon’s temporary replacement, Deputy Minister Ehud Olmert, who was installed as prime minister just hours ago. “I am ready with my candies and my rockets and praying to Allah that Sharon dies. We have prepared a celebratory barrage of rockets ready to fire into Israel on the occasion of the death of our enemy,” said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, an umbrella group of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists responsible for firing hundreds of Qassam rockets and mortars at Jewish towns. Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar told WND Sharon’s condition “plunges the Israeli political scene into chaos, which could bring about an equal response from the Palestinians.”


Israel after Sharon (January 6, 2006) - Wednesday night ushered in a new era in Israel’s political history. As we watch and worry as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dangles between life and death, one thing is absolutely clear. Sharon’s massive cerebral hemorrhage on Wednesday night spelled the end of his political career. Sharon will never return to lead the State of Israel. He will never make a full recovery. Whatever one’s views of Sharon’s policies and the quality of his leadership, no Israeli can feel anything but sorrow at Sharon’s abrupt demise. A nation’s sudden and dramatic separation from its leader is never a good thing. It is all the more debilitating when the leader in question is as popular and powerful as Sharon. There will come a proper time to inquire into the reports we received about Sharon’s health in the three weeks that passed since the premier suffered his initial stroke. Those questions will no doubt focus on statements by his spin doctors attesting to his good health and on the media’s refusal to ask hard questions about Sharon’s ability to continue in office after that first stroke. But now, as we enter the post-Sharon era, those questions are beside the point. The task that now besets our political leadership and the Israeli people as a whole is to focus on the country’s present challenges -- for they suffer no delay. Without a doubt, the greatest challenge facing the State of Israel today is Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Until Wednesday night, the rumor-mill running between Jerusalem, Washington and the capital cities of Europe was full of reports that Sharon planned to order an Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear installations just before our general elections at the end of March. There was nothing new in these rumors. Similar ones have been making the rounds for over a year now. In autumn 2004 for instance, it was whispered that Sharon would order such an attack on the day of the US presidential elections in November 2004. This past spring it was claimed that Sharon would give the order during the IDF’s withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. And now, for the past two months or so, rumors have circulated that Sharon was planning a strike to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations just ahead of the elections on March 28. more...


Ehud Olmert: Israel’s Acting Prime Minister (January 6, 2006) - Ehud Olmert became the Likud’s left-wing marker in late 2003, when he preceded Ariel Sharon’s announcement of the planned disengagement from Gaza with an about-face of his own. In what was later viewed as the flying of a trial balloon for Sharon’s new position, Olmert told the Yediot Acharonot daily that he favored a unilateral withdrawal from nearly all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, including the uprooting of almost all the Jewish communities there. Olmert all but agreed that the only differences between his approach and that of the left-wing were that it would “sear his heart” to give up parts of the Land of Israel, and that he would not give up the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. Olmert’s positions of the last two years thus contrasted strongly with his previous ideology, as he grew up in an atmosphere of love for the entire Land of Israel. His father Mordechai was an MK of the 3rd and 4th Knessets, a founder of Betar in Harbin China, a founder of two towns in the Land of Israel, and Head of the Settlement Department of the Herut Movement. Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, who also grew up in a Herut-party home, expressed disgust at Ehud Olmert’s new positions. Rivlin said at the time that Olmert reminded him of the absolute turnabout of his hareidi-turned-secular cousins: “When they became not religious, they went all the way - not only driving on the Sabbath, but also eating pig.” In November 2003, Trade Minister Olmert antagonized the nationalist camp with his decision to facilitate the European Union’s taxation of Yesha-made goods by ordering the city of manufacture to be listed on every Israeli product. more...


Iran’s Nuclear Team Fails to Keep a Date With the U.N. (January 6, 2006) - Iran threw negotiations over its nuclear program into disarray on Thursday, abruptly canceling a high-level meeting with the United Nations’ monitoring agency in Vienna. The leader of Iran’s negotiating team was said to be returning to Tehran. The unexpected turn of events stunned and frustrated officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency and foreign diplomats, who scrambled to make sense of Iran’s decision. The meeting had been scheduled so Iran could explain its decision to restart nuclear research and development on Monday. “There was no explanation,” said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the agency. “We’re still seeking clarification.” One possible explanation is that Iran has decided to defy the rest of the world and plunge ahead with nuclear activities, which risk international censure or sanctions and could shatter a 14-month agreement with France, Britain and Germany under which Iran agreed to suspend most of its nuclear work. Another explanation is that in the face of strong international criticism, Iran’s negotiating strategy is in chaos. Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took power last year in Iran, officials who were part of its national security apparatus, including its nuclear negotiating team, have been replaced with people who are driven by hard-line views. Certainly Iran’s failure to explain its intentions erodes trust in the country as a reliable negotiating partner. In its letter to the atomic energy agency two days earlier announcing its research plans, Iran gave assurances that it intended to carry out the work under the supervision of agency inspectors, and asked the agency to take the necessary steps for the research to start again. more...


Jewish groups urge: Secede from Israel (January 6, 2006) - A new movement is set to be presented next week by residents of Judea and Samaria calling for Jews there to secede from Israel and create their own autonomous Jewish entity in part to head off the possibility of further unilateral Israeli withdrawals from the area, WND has learned. The Judea Initiative, led by northern Samaria resident Yekutel Ben Yaacov, is seeking to gather signatures from Judea and Samaria’s nearly 200,000 Jews for a manifesto declaring the creation of a sovereign Jewish authority that would govern itself independently according to Jewish law and would provide its own security. Judea and Samaria are referred to by some as the West Bank, the name coined for the area after Jordan annexed it in 1948. The initiative aims to create the new Jewish authority in any part of Judea and Samaria, even a small settlement, in hopes of eventually ruling the entire territory, Ben Yaacov said, explaining his initiative was prompted by talks of possible Israeli withdrawals from the area. “We can’t sit around and wait until Israel sends the bulldozers to take down Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria before attempting to counter the next Israeli withdrawal. We are acting now so we can retain our rightful biblical heritage,” Ben Yaacov told WND. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdrew Israel’s Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip last summer in spite of fierce opposition from members of his own Likud party. He recently announced he was leaving Likud to start his own “centrist” party, Kadima, prompting new elections currently scheduled for March. Since then, multiple Kadima members have told reporters the new party is looking to change Israel’s borders with possible withdrawals from Judea and Samaria. There have been talks of disengagements from parts of Jerusalem as well. more...


Iran leader’s messianic end-times mission (January 6, 2006) - Iranian President Mahmoud’s Ahmadinejad’s mystical pre-occupation with the coming of a Shiite Islamic messiah figure – the Mahdi – is raising concerns that a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic could trigger the kind of global conflagration he envisions will set the stage for the end of the world. While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been making headlines lately by questioning whether the Holocaust actually happened, by suggesting Israel should be moved to Europe and by demanding the Jewish state be wiped off the face of the earth, his apocalyptic religious zealotry has received less attention. In a videotaped meeting with Ayatollah Javadi-Amoli in Tehran, Ahmadinejad discussed candidly a strange, paranormal experience he had while addressing the United Nations in New York last September. He recounts how he found himself bathed in light throughout the speech. But this wasn’t the light directed at the podium by the U.N. and television cameras. It was, he said, a light from heaven. According to a transcript of his comments, obtained and translated by Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, Ahmadinejad wasn’t the only one who noticed the unearthly light. One of his aides brought it to his attention. The Iranian president recalled being told about it by one of his delegation: “When you began with the words ‘in the name of Allah,’ I saw a light coming, surrounding you and protecting you to the end.” Ahmadinejad agreed that he sensed the same thing. “On the last day when I was speaking, one of our group told me that when I started to say ‘Bismillah Muhammad,’ he saw a green light come from around me, and I was placed inside this aura,” he says. “I felt it myself. I felt that the atmosphere suddenly changed, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, all the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn't move an eyelid, I’m not exaggerating. They were looking as if a hand was holding them there, and had just opened their eyes – Alhamdulillah!” Ahmadinejad’s “vision” at the U.N. is strangely reminiscent and alarmingly similar to statements he has made about his personal role in ushering in the return of the Shiite Muslim messiah. He sees his main mission, as he recounted in a Nov. 16 speech in Tehran, as to “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance.” more...


Iranian President Hopes Sharon Perishes (January 5, 2006) - Iran’s president said Thursday he hoped for the death of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the latest anti-Israeli comment by a leader who has already provoked international criticism for suggesting that Israel be “wiped off the map.” “Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla has joined his ancestors is final,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency. Ahmadinejad was referring to Sharon, who as defense minister in 1982 directed Israel’s ill-fated invasion of Lebanon. An Israeli commission found him indirectly responsible for a massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps by Christian Phalangist soldiers. Iran’s official media, including state-run radio and television, did not report Ahmadinejad’s remarks about Sharon. “Hopefully, others (criminals like him) will join him too,” ISNA quoted Ahmadinejad as telling a group of clerics in Qom, a holy city 80 miles south of the capital, Tehran. He spoke a day after the 77-year-old Sharon suffered a massive stroke and underwent surgery. In the last two months, Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a “myth” and said if Europeans insist it did occur, then they should give some of their own land for a Jewish state, rather than the one in the Middle East. He also called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”


Climatic Messages from God (January 5, 2006) - C.S. Lewis, a noted scholar and excellent storyteller, somewhere once posed this interesting scenario---that of God being outside the confines of time---peering in through the window in an effort not only to see but also to get the attention of humanity. Picking up the world and holding it as if holding a small box that has people in it, God turns the box. He tilts the box. He shakes the box--- all in the effort to get the attention of those inside. I thought of this word picture as I heard the latest news of yet one more natural disaster.

Climatic Change - Natural disasters are increasing in both frequency and severity. They are worsening the conditions of underdeveloped regions where social plight abounds. The aftermath of natural disasters bears both external political and national security implications. Such devastated places become the breeding ground for transnational criminal activity and provide safe harbor for enemies of the United States. Meanwhile, here in the United States, we forget that we too are susceptible to such forms of natural calamity including the dreaded tsunami. Indeed, researchers have found that the combination of population density, natural wealth density, and aging infrastructure coupled with natural calamity yield much greater loss.

Acts of GOD - The problem is not going away. To use the all too familiar language of insurance agencies, these Acts of God create further economic ramifications for areas hit. No quick fixes are in view. Unambiguous measures of progress in the institution of standards for construction, reconstruction, and exodus for the sole purpose of maximizing the survivability of the population within respective jurisdictions are needed. This means addressing the problems caused by having contradictory goals and the political messiness of serving multiple constituencies. more...


Taliban beheads educator of girls (January 5, 2006) - Taliban militants beheaded a teacher in a central Afghan town while his wife and eight children watched, officials said yesterday, describing the latest in a string of attacks targeting educators at schools where girls study. Four men stabbed Malim Abdul Habib eight times late Tuesday before decapitating him in the courtyard of his home in Qalat, said Ali Khail, a spokesman for the provincial government of Zabul, where the attack occurred. The assailants made Mr. Habib’s wife, four sons and four daughters watch, Mr. Khail said. The children were between ages 2 and 22. No other family members were hurt. The insurgents killed Mr. Habib, 45, after he refused to go with them to meet their commander, said the victim’s cousin Esanullah, who goes by only one name. The attackers fled and Mr. Habib’s wife called the police, Mr. Khail said. Police are questioning three persons who were guests in the victim’s home at the time. Mr. Habib was the headmaster of Sheik Mathi Baba High School, which is attended by 1,300 boys and girls. Zabul, a remote and mountainous province populated mainly by Pashtuns and bordering Pakistan, is a hotbed of Taliban militancy. The Taliban regime, ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001, had prohibited girls from attending school as part of a widely criticized drive to establish what it considered a “pure” Islamic state. Zabul’s education director, Nabi Khushal, blamed Taliban rebels for the killing. “Only the Taliban are against girls being educated,” he said. “The Taliban often attack our teachers and beat them. But this is the first time one has been killed in this province.” Hundreds of thousands of girls have returned to school since the Taliban’s ouster. more...


Japan Struggles to Cope with Record Snowfall (January 6, 2006) - Japan was bracing for more snow on Friday after some of the heaviest snowfall on record that has left 57 people dead and paralyzed transport. Almost 4 metres (13 ft) of snow has piled up in the worst-hit areas of Niigata near the Japan Sea coast, though the snowiest season of the year is yet to come. Television pictures showed drifts burying the ground floors of houses and almost covering street lamps. A 93-year-old woman and her daughter were crushed to death in Ishikawa Prefecture, 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Tokyo, on Thursday when their house collapsed under the weight of the snow. Public broadcaster NHK said 57 people, including the latest fatalities, have died because of the inclement weather in the past few weeks, many of them elderly people trying to clear snow from their roofs. More than 1,300 people have been injured, it added. Last month, Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa promised more funds to help rural communities, where a high proportion of the population is elderly, clear snow from local roads. Akita prefecture in the north of Japan’s main island of Honshu, has been hit hard by snow in recent days. more...


Mysterious Horse Deaths Raise Theories About UFOs (January 5, 2006) - Cattle rancher Clyde Chess never learned who -- or what -- killed his heifer 11 years ago, removing its lips, tongue, ears, heart and reproductive organs with laserlike precision. But he has a theory. “I suspect, and I know it sounds farfetched, it was government testing,” he said. “They’re the only ones that have that kind of technology.” This is eastern El Paso County, where stories of mysterious black aircraft, unexplained lights in the sky and bizarre cattle experimentation aren’t considered too farfetched. Many remember a string of cattle mutilations in the 1970s. It’s been a long time since Colorado ranchers sat on their porches at night with shotguns, scanning the sky, but there’s a new mystery on the eastern plains involving the deaths of six horses and a burro in Calhan. The case has caught the attention of UFO investigators. The truth, they say, is out there. “Is this a mystery? It’s a huge mystery,” said Linda Moulton Howe of Albuquerque, N.M., author of “An Alien Harvest,” a book about cattle mutilations. “What it all means I don’t know. But do I think humans did that? Absolutely not.” The facts are sparse: On Oct. 11, six horses and a burro -- all healthy -- were found dead in a field near Calhan. Dr. John Heikkila, the veterinarian who examined the animals, ruled out a winter storm, disease, toxic plants and lightning. Officials remain puzzled by the quarter-inch puncture holes in the animals’ hides, originally thought to be gunshot wounds, but no bullets were found. Toxicology tests for common poisons were negative, and expensive testing for “unusual possibilities” was not done because of cost, Heikkila wrote in his Nov. 20 autopsy report. He concluded that an unusual toxin, delivered through a dart or pellet, caused the deaths. more...


Son Killed ‘for Not Changing to Islam’ (January 5, 2006) - A mother described yesterday hearing her son shot dead after he refused to convert to Islam. Ruth Marriott told an inquest into her son’s death that she heard gunshots on the day Adrian was shot five times in the head a few weeks before his 21st birthday. Mr Marriott, an accountancy student and gang member, was killed in a park near his home in Brixton, south London, in June 2004. Three members of a rival gang, known as the Muslim Boys, were cleared in September last year of conspiracy to murder Mr Marriott after the prosecution offered no evidence at the Old Bailey. His mother told the inquest at Southwark Coroners’ Court yesterday: “We heard the shooting. We heard gun fire.” “The thought did strike me that Adrian could be involved, but it was a fleeting thought. Then we heard from police the following evening what had happened. “Adrian was told on the Sunday prior to his death that he would be killed if he did not become a Muslim by the Wednesday, which was the day he died.” Asked by the coroner, John Sampson, whether her son had taken the threat seriously, Mrs Marriott said: “I do not think he did.” She said she had last seen him on the afternoon he was killed. “He was happy. He was pestering me to order something for him out of my catalogue,” she said. “Adrian was very much a family man.” The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing. Det Sgt John Stafford, who led the murder investigation, told the inquest that he was still searching for evidence to convict Mr Marriott’s killers. He said: “It does indeed remain a live matter. We are still keen to talk to witnesses.”


Gang Terrorizes Train in France (January 5, 2006) - A gang of more than 20 youths -- thought to be North African immigrants -- terrorized hundreds of train passengers in a rampage of violence, robbery and sexual assault on New Year’s Day, French officials said yesterday. The five-hour-long criminal frenzy was “totally unacceptable,” French President Jacques Chirac told reporters. “Those guilty will be found and punished, as they deserve.” The gang of between 20 and 30 youths boarded the train, heading from Nice on the French Riviera to Lyon, in eastern France, early on Jan. 1, as it carried 600 passengers home from New Year’s Eve partying overnight. Once inside, they went wild, forcing passengers to hand over mobile phones and wallets, and slashing seats and breaking windows. A 20-year-old woman cornered by several of the marauders was sexually molested. “It was a real scene of pillage on the train,” said the regional state prosecutor, Dominique Luigi, adding that the passengers were in a state of “panic.” Train staff alerted police, and the train pulled into a station to wait. The three officers who initially turned up later were joined by reinforcements. A waitress in a bar near the station said two young women from the train had come inside in tears. “They told me there had been groping. They talked about sexual assaults. They were really traumatized,” she said. The train resumed its journey with the heavy police presence on board but, just before Marseille, the youths pulled the emergency stop and many escaped. Police in Nice, meanwhile, said they had escorted the group of drunken youths and put them on the train Sunday to ensure they did not cause trouble in the city. Police said they thought the gang was part of a bigger group of 100 youths from the Marseille area who had gone to Nice and nearby seaside resorts for New Year’s Eve, taking advantage of a special $1 New Year’s Day train fare. News of the violence shocked France, which still was reeling from three weeks of rioting that flared in impoverished suburbs across the country in late October and early November last year. The opposition Socialist Party said it viewed the incident with “astonishment.” It said “such acts show a worrying lack of security” and questioned why it took so long for police to rescue the passengers and why so few arrests were made. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has championed hard-line security policies in France, partly blamed the state rail company SNCF for not communicating better with the police. “The problem is that law-enforcement services didn’t know that there was a promotional fare going,” he said.


The Approaching War With Iran (January 4, 2006) - On November 10th 2005, the Muckraker Report published an article that described one of the unspoken reasons why the United States had to invade Iraq; to liberate the U.S. dollar in Iraq so that Iraqi oil could once again be purchased with the petrodollar. See The liberation of the U.S. Dollar in Iraq. In November 2000, Iraq stopped accepting U.S. dollars for their oil. Counted as a purely political move, Saddam Hussein switched the currency required to purchase Iraqi oil to the euro. Selling oil through the U.N. Oil for Food Program, Iraq converted all of its U.S. dollars in its U.N. account to the euro. Shortly thereafter, Iraq converted $10 billion in their U.N. reserve fund to the euro. By the end of 2000, Iraq had abandoned the U.S. dollar completely. Two months after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oil for Food Program was ended, the country’s accounts were switch back to dollars, and oil began to be sold once again for U.S. dollars. No longer could the world buy oil from Iraq with the euro. Universal global dollar supremacy was restored. It is interesting to note that the latest recession that the United States endured began and ended within the same timeframe as when Iraq was trading oil for euros. Whether this is a coincidence or related, the American people may never know. In March 2006, Iran will take Iraq’s switch to the petroeuro to new heights by launching a third oil exchange. The Iranians have developed a petroeuro system for oil trade, which when enacted, will once again threaten U.S. dollar supremacy far greater than Iraq’s euro conversion. Called the Iran Oil Bourse, an exchange that only accepts the euro for oil sales would mean that the entire world could begin purchasing oil from any oil-producing nation with euros instead of dollars. The Iranian plan isn’t limited to purchasing one oil-producing country’s oil with euros. Their plan will create a global alternative to the U.S. dollar. Come March 2006, the Iran Oil Bourse will further the momentum of OPEC to create an alternate currency for oil purchases worldwide. China, Russia, and the European Union are evaluating the Iranian plan to exchange oil for euros, and giving the plan serious consideration. If you are skeptical regarding the meaning of oil being purchased with euros versus dollars, and the devastating impact it will have on the economy of the United States, consider the historic move by the Federal Reserve to begin hiding information pertaining to the U.S. dollar money supply, starting in March 2006. Since 1913, the year the abomination known as the Federal Reserve came to power, the supply of U.S. dollars was measured and publicly revealed through an index referred to as M-3. M-3 has been the main stable of money supply measurement and transparent disclosure since the Fed was founded back in 1913. According to Robert McHugh, in his report (What’s the Fed up to with the money supply?), McHugh writes, “On November 10, 2005, shortly after appointing Bernanke to replace Greenbackspan, the Fed mysteriously announced with little comment and no palatable justification that they will hide M-3 effective March 2006.” more...


Doom From the Sky (January 4, 2006) - People laugh about the story of Chicken Little who cries out that the sky is falling. But a group of astronomers has warned that something like that may very well happen before this half-century is out. They have discovered an asteroid nearly a quarter-mile wide that they think might slam into the earth 30 years from now and are urging immediate action by governments around the world to start planning programs to avert that happening. The group is made up of people who are experts in near-Earth objects, for which they make the acronym NEO. They had a conference in London recently and compared notes on their findings. The asteroid in question was identified in 2004 and studied in 2005 for its trajectory. At first they were scared enough to believe that it could hit the earth in 2029. Then they did some more fine-tuning of their computer data and decided that it would come close to the earth in 2029, but wouldn’t be on a possible collision course until 2036. They’re worried. As one of the conferees said: “It’s question of when — not if — a near-Earth object collides with Earth.” The conference pointed out that the geologic record shows that an object a half-mile or more in width has collided with the earth every few hundred thousand years. An object three miles wide, which could cause mass extinction, has hit the earth every hundred million years. more...


Winners and Losers in the Abramoff Scandal (January 4, 2006) - Forget the black hat. Everybody here is obsessed with Jack Abramoff’s gangster-like attire as he came out of the federal courthouse. But the thing that jumps out at me is the figure $20,194,000. If I read the fed’s plea-agreement papers correctly, that’s the amount of cold cash that the Republican lobbyist siphoned from Indian tribes and stashed in his secret accounts. You may not believe this, but in this city, that is an unheard of amount of money for a lobbyist to haul in — and the number itself signifies a troubling change in the nature of life in the capital of our country. The denizens of D.C. deal in trillions of dollars. But they are YOUR dollars: tax receipts and federal spending. Lawyers and lobbyists here do well. Still, they haven’t generally been in the same league as money-power types in, say, New York or Los Angeles. This was a city in which official position meant more than a plush vacation home; in which a Ph.D. or J.D. meant more than a BMW. Traditionally, the locals have been more like Vegas blackjack dealers than the greedy people sitting on the other side of the table. more...


New Device Will Sense Through Concrete Walls Link Lost (January 5, 2006) - Troops conducting urban operations soon will have the capabilities of superheroes, being able to sense through 12 inches of concrete to determine if someone is inside a building. The new “Radar Scope” will give warfighters searching a building the ability to tell within seconds if someone is in the next room, Edward Baranoski from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Special Projects Office, told the American Forces Press Service. By simply holding the portable, handheld device up to a wall, users will be able to detect movements as small as breathing, he said. The Radar Scope, developed by DARPA, is expected to be fielded to troops in Iraq as soon as this spring, Baranoski said. The device is likely to be fielded to the squad level, for use by troops going door to door in search of terrorists. The Radar Scope will give warfighters the capability to sense through a foot of concrete and 50 feet beyond that into a room, Baranoski explained. It will bring to the fight what larger, commercially available motion detectors couldn’t, he said. Weighing just a pound and a half, the Radar Scope will be about the size of a telephone handset and cost just about $1,000, making it light enough for a soldier to carry and inexpensive enough to be fielded widely. The Radar Scope will be waterproof and rugged, and will run on AA batteries, he said. “It may not change how four-man stacks go into a room (during clearing operations),” Baranoski said. “But as they go into a building, it can help them prioritize what rooms they go into. It will give them an extra degree of knowledge so they know if someone is inside.” Even as the organization hurries to get the devices to combat forces, DARPA already is laying groundwork for bigger plans that build on this technology. more...


PALESTINIAN MELTDOWN By David Essing, Isracast, Jerusalem (January 2, 2006) - There has been more internal violence and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip just over three weeks before a crucial Palestinian election on January 25th. The chaos is raising questions about whether the parliamentary ballot is possible. Even Palestinian policemen have now got into the act and Joined the rioting and lawlessness that now rules the Palestinian street. Dozens of disgruntled policemen, some wearing masks and waving their weapons stormed the Palestinian Authority (PA) complex in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah. They ordered officials and authorities out of the court, the town council and the election committee that is planning the important parliamentary election set for January 25th. They smashed windows and shouted political demands. After several hours, the rioting policemen then left the buildings. There were no reports of casualties. Palestinian police chief Ala Husseini later warned: “The chaos is making it impossible to conduct the general election as planned”. He also warned of exchanges of gunfire between feuding Palestinians if the elections are held this month. Other Palestinian officials have advised that the ballot be postponed for a period of months. It is not out of the question that Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) might resign in protest over the internal violence. In recent days, Palestinian gangs have abducted and released British and Italian nationals working on behalf of the Palestinians. Today, an attempt to abduct Japanese citizens was apparently foiled at the last moment. Meanwhile, Palestinian terrorists are still launching more of their homemade Qassam rockets at Israeli towns and villages across the border as the Israel Defense Force keeps up the pressure in the new buffer zone. Analyst Dr. Dan Schueftan of Haifa University recently told IsraCast: “Palestinian society is disintegrating and whoever believed the Roadmap peace plan could work must have been very, very naïve”.


Health Breakthrough: A Natural Alternative to Ritalin (January 2, 2006) - An Israeli scientist has developed an oil compound that may prove effective in treating ADD and ADHD patients. According to reports, nearly 10 million prescriptions for Ritalin, the drug used to treat ADD and ADHD in children and adults, are filled each year in the U.S. The World Health Organization, back in 1996, warned of Ritalin overuse citing that the problem had “reached dangerous proportions.” In light of this, Israeli scientist, Dr. Nachum Vaisman has developed an alternative treatment using an “oil-based” mixture, that was shown to be effective in beginning tests. The report in Israel21c states that in one study of 90 children confirmed to be ADHD, of the group given the compound, 60 percent tested normal after three months. Vaisman reiterated the fact that more testing is needed before the alternative treatment can be recognized and marketed. “You never build on one study, so we need to repeat the study in much larger numbers,” said Vaisman. “But our substance will hopefully make a change that doesn’t depend on daily dosages like Ritalin. And it’s completely natural.” more...


Temple Mount Excavation Continues to Provide Fascinating Artifacts (January 2, 2006) - The Washington Times reports that Israeli archaeologists -- headed by Gabriel Barkai and his team of students and volunteers -- have discovered hundreds of artifacts, coins and jewelry from rubble cleared from Jerusalem’s sacred Temple Mount. The discoveries span 10,000 years, says Barkai. Most of the stones and earth originally were taken to an organic garbage dump in nearby Bethany (Al-Azariya), according to reporter Jay Bushinsky, and could not be retrieved. But a substantial portion was diverted to the Valley of Kidron, just outside the Old City's massive walls. Among the unusual finds is a “bulla,” or seal impression, thought to be used to close cloth sacks of silver. “It bears the name Gedalyahu Ben Immer Ha-Cohen, suggesting that the owner may have been a brother of Pashur Ben Immer, described in the Bible [Jeremiah 20:1] as a priest and temple official,” Mr. Barkai said. That verse says: “Pashur, the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the House of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.” “There also are beautiful objects that belong to the Crusader period,” Mr. Barkai said, noting the many Byzantine coins, which reportedly testify to large attendance at the Temple Mount during the Christian conquest and rule during the 11th to 15th centuries. more...


Vitamin D “Can Lower Cancer Risk” (January 1, 2006) - A recent study done at the University of California in San Diego suggests that Vitamin D may help to reduce the risk of breast, ovarian and colon cancer. Vitamin D occurs naturally in foods such as oily fish, margarine, and meat and is also produced in the skin by exposure to direct sunlight. The researchers warned that too much Vitamin D can potentially damage the liver and kidneys, but the dangerous dosages were over twice the amount recommended by the study as useful in reducing cancer risk. The scientists found that a daily dosage of 25 micrograms (1,000 IU) of Vitamin D could lower the chances of developing cancer by 50% for colon cancer and 30% for breast and ovarian cancers. more...


PA HATE TV REACHES NEW LEVELS By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, Palestinian Media Watch (December 29, 2005) - PA TV program on Jaffa (Tel Aviv): “It is time for you (Israelis) to be gone. Live wherever you like, but don’t live among us. It is time for you to be gone. Die wherever you like, but don’t die among us. We have the past here. We have the present, the present and the future. So leave our country, our land, our sea, our wheat, our salt, our wounds. Everything. And leave the memories.” These words of hate are the parting moments of yet another program on Palestinian Authority (PA) television calling for the destruction of Israel. The words, calling for the expulsion of every last Israeli from Israel, are spoken while the screen is showing Jaffa-Tel Aviv, Israelis and Israeli flags. Official PA TV has aired this twice in recent months. The program about Jaffa opens with a revision of history, by casting the ancient Canaanites as Arabs. By doing this, the more than 3,000 years of Jewish history in the area are pre-dated by a fabricated Arab history. (The Arab Conquest actually took place in the seventh century of the Common Era.) Jaffa, a part of Tel Aviv, is defined as a Palestinian city, and all of Israel’s coastal cities, Acre, Haifa, Caesarea, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Jaffa, are said to be situated in what is “known today as Palestine.” According to this PA program, Israel is already non-existent. The final words of this television program are those of Israeli-Arab poet, Mahmoud Darwish, calling for the expulsion of every Israeli: “Die wherever you like, but don’t die among us.”


Waterless Washing Machines the Wave of the Future? (December 28, 2005) - Two Singaporean design students, Gabriel Tan and Wendy Chua, have won top honors at the recent International Electrolux Design Lab awards in Stockholm for their “Airwash” washing machine. Using no water or detergents, their prototype -- which can be used in any room in the house -- cleans one piece of clothing at a time using negative ions, compressed air and anti-bacterial deodorants to clean clothes. “It’s a bit like a car wash,” Tan told CNN. “The clothing goes on a rack which is placed inside the machine. The clothing then gets a good blast. It's a substitute for taking items to the dry cleaner.” Tan also told CNN that the cleaning process was much gentler on clothes than conventional methods, and was particularly useful for expensive clothing that could lose its shape and color through washing with water and detergents. “Our dream would be to see it on the market one day, not for personal pride, but because we genuinely believe it will be good for the environment and have a positive impact on the lives of people -- be it as a consumer product or as a replacement for today’s commercial dry cleaners.” Judges at the competition reportedly said the “Airwash” won the award because of “its intuitive, ecological and beautiful design. Airwash also does away with the expensive, time-consuming task of going to the dry cleaner.” more...


Christians Not Asleep at the Wheel When it Comes to New “Anti-Christian” TV Show (December 31, 2005) - The American Family Association (AFA) says NBC has received over 400,000 emails complaining about the new show “The Book of Daniel,” scheduled to begin in January. In addition, says the group, local affiliates are being pounded with hundreds of phone calls asking them not to carry the program. So what’s the fuss about? Reportedly, NBC touts the show as a serious drama about Christian people and the Christian faith, but in reality it seems more of a Christian bashing program. According to Newsmax, the main character is Daniel Webster, a drug-addicted Episcopal priest whose wife depends heavily on her mid-day martinis. The family is “rounded out” with a homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old drug- dealing daughter and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop’s daughter. Webster’s lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law. According to an article by Religion News Service, the series is written by Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual...interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation, and unsure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. “I don’t necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true,” Kenny said at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. more...