February 22, 2006

News for February 22, 2006

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Quartet to keep funding interim PA government (February 22, 2006) - Financial support for the Palestinian Authority should continue while there is an interim government, Quartet principals decided during a conference call Monday, a day before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice set out for a trip to the region. Rice did not schedule a stop in Israel even though her talks are focusing on two matters critical to the country - Hamas and a nuclear Iran. Israeli officials said there was no intent by Rice to “slight” Jerusalem, and added that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was just in Washington two weeks ago. “No one here is insulted,” one official said. “Her visit is dealing with Iraq, Iran and how the outside world deals with Hamas. This is not the first time that senior administration officials have come to the region without visiting Jerusalem.” more...


Actor Gary Sinise: Positive Support for Iraq (February 22, 2006) - The following is an exclusive NewsMax interview with actor Gary Sinise. James Hirsen reports from Hollywood. “Everybody needs a good day in a war zone.” – Gary Sinise

The U.S. media present a “completely opposite” view of what is really happening with American troops in Iraq, highlighting the negative and ignoring the positive, Emmy Award-winning actor Gary Sinise tells NewsMax. With so many in Hollywood knocking American efforts in the Middle East, Sinise – star of TV’s “CSI: NY” – openly shows his support through actions as well as words. Sinise has entertained troops in Iraq and is a co-founder – along with “Seabiscuit” author Laura Hillenbrand – of Operation Iraqi Children, a program that enables ordinary Americans to provide boys and girls in Iraq with school supply kits distributed by our men and women in uniform. The actor, who played disabled Vietnam veteran Lieutenant Dan in “Forrest Gump,” is also a spokesman for the U.S. Disabled Veterans Life Memorial Foundation. He is also the co-founder of the Lt. Dan Band, a musical ensemble that entertains troops via USO tours. (Sinise plays a mean bass guitar.) Sinise recently spoke exclusively with NewsMax’s James Hirsen, revealing what prompted him to get involved with American troops and veterans, how Iraqis really feel about the U.S. presence in Iraq - and more.


Ex-Official: Russia Moved Saddam’s WMD (February 22, 2006) - A top Pentagon official who was responsible for tracking Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs before and after the 2003 liberation of Iraq, has provided the first-ever account of how Saddam Hussein “cleaned up” his weapons of mass destruction stockpiles to prevent the United States from discovering them. “The short answer to the question of where the WMD Saddam bought from the Russians went was that they went to Syria and Lebanon,” former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw told an audience Saturday at a privately sponsored “Intelligence Summit” in Alexandria, Va. (www.intelligencesummit.org). “They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) units out of uniform, that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence,” he said. Shaw has dealt with weapons-related issues and export controls as a U.S. government official for 30 years, and was serving as deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security when the events he described today occurred. He called the evacuation of Saddam’s WMD stockpiles “a well-orchestrated campaign using two neighboring client states with which the Russian leadership had a long time security relationship.” more...


Blast destroys dome of shrine (February 22, 2006) - An explosion has brought down the golden dome of one of Iraq’s most famous Shi'ite shrines, triggering a wave of protests and retaliatory attacks on Sunni mosques across the country. According to the interior ministry, four men entered the Askariya mosque in the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad, at around 6.55am local time, before detonating two bombs which caused the shrine’s golden dome and part of its northern wall to collapse. No injuries were reported. No group claimed reponsibility for the explosions, but suspicion immediately fell upon Sunni extremists such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qa’eda in Iraq organisation. Responding to the attack, Shi’ite militants attacked at least six Sunni mosques in Baghdad and two in Basra. Also in Basra, Shi’ite gunmen exchanged fire with guards at a Sunni political meeting. The army reported that around 500 soldiers had been sent to Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad to quell the violence. more...


Security fears about infiltration by terrorists (February 22, 2006) - Several Bush-administration security officials expressed concerns yesterday that terrorists could infiltrate seaports through a United Arab Emirates company that is vying to manage six U.S. ports. Intelligence and security officials opposed to the deal with Dubai Ports World said ports are vulnerable to the entry of terrorists or illicit weapons because of the large number of containers that enter U.S. territory, regardless of who manages them. A Persian Gulf state such as the United Arab Emirates could provide an infrastructure for terrorists to penetrate U.S. security as part of a major terrorist operation, the officials said. One long-term worry is that al Qaeda terrorists will attempt to smuggle a nuclear device into the United States through a port via a shipping container. Allowing a Middle Eastern company to manage key ports “would be like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” said one security official, who, like most other critics, spoke on the condition of anonymity. Another official said the problem is not the company but its location in a region rife with Islamic terrorism. “You have to be concerned about a firm from that part of the world managing the ports,” this official said. “They are more vulnerable to compromise and penetration by terrorists, even if they are just managing the port.” Company officials would be briefed on security procedures and countermeasures that, if compromised, could allow foreign terrorists to get through various screening procedures, the official said. The Coast Guard is responsible for port security, tracking ships, crews and cargo and search vessels based on intelligence. There is no cohesive hiring or screening process for port workers, however. Critics said the port deal reflects the Bush administration’s pro-business policy bias. The Treasury Department’s point man on the issue, Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt, was described by officials as a liberal Republican who in the past clashed with conservative national-security officials during interagency policy disputes. more...


Hamas tells Arabs: Eliminate Israel (February 22, 2006) - Confronted by confusion in the Arab world over its stance on Israel’s right to exist, Hamas Political Bureau deputy head Musa Abu Marzouq affirmed to an Egyptian interviewer that the terrorist group that won the recent Palestinian Authority elections believes the entire Jewish state must be eliminated. In an appearance on Egypt’s Dream 2 channel, Marzouq was pressed by an interviewer who insisted Hamas says one thing in English to foreigners and another in Arabic to Palestinians. Meanwhile, the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Khaled Mash’al, reiterated the group’s views of Israel in a visit to Sudan in which he was honored with a poetry reading in a meeting with local intellectuals. Abdallah Abu Qiqa’s poem declared: “We will unite the armies, and they will cry ‘Allah Akbar’ to Tony and to Bush.” more...


Carter backs Bush’s stand on seaport-operations (February 21, 2006) - President Bush is taking a battering from fellow Republicans, even the governors of New York and Maryland, over the administration’s support for a decision that gives an Arab company control of some commercial operations at six major seaports -- including Miami-Dade’s. But he got a boost Monday from an unlikely source, frequent critic and former president Jimmy Carter, who downplayed fears that the deal poses a risk. “The overall threat to the United States and security, I don’t think it exists,” Carter said on CNN’s The Situation Room. “I’m sure the president’s done a good job with his subordinates to make sure this is not a threat.” The show of support from the Democrat, who has not hesitated to criticize Bush, underscores the odd political lines that have emerged since news broke last week that the United States gave the thumbs-up to the $6.8 billion sale of the British firm P&O Ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. Both Democrats and Republicans have called on the president to scrap the deal. On Monday Republican Govs. George Pataki of New York and Robert Ehrlich of Maryland questioned the decision. And congressional outrage persisted even as the White House signaled it’s unlikely to block it. more...


Mandatory abortion proposed in Holland (February 21, 2006) - A health official in the Netherlands has called for a debate on the idea of forced abortion and contraception to deal with what she sees as a crisis of unwanted children. Alderman Marianne van den Anker of the Leefbaar Rotterdam Party wants specifically to target communities of Antilleans and Arubans where she sees the biggest problems of unwanted children. Her comments have stirred protest by a health foundation working with those communities in Rotterdam. The group, which called the comments degrading, is asking Mayor Ivo Opstelten and other politicians to distance themselves from Van den Anker’s views. Van den Anker is a mother of two children and the official in charge of Rotterdam’s health and security portfolios. In an interview in a newspaper Saturday, she said she had tried everything to prevent child abuse. “I fail, I fail,” she told the interviewer as she outlined her controversial idea for a debate on compulsory abortion and contraception. The target groups for her program are Antillean teenage mothers; drug addicts and people with mental handicaps, she said, according to a report in Expatica. more...


500 doctoral scientists skeptical of Darwin (February 21, 2006) - More than 500 scientists with doctoral degrees have signed a statement expressing skepticism about Darwin’s theory of evolution. The statement, which includes endorsement by members of the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Russian Academy of Sciences, was first published by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute in 2001 to challenge statements about Darwinian evolution made in promoting PBS’s “Evolution” series. The PBS promotion claimed “virtually every scientist in the world believes the theory to be true.” “Darwinists continue to claim that no serious scientists doubt the theory and yet here are 500 scientists who are willing to make public their skepticism about the theory,” said John G. West, associate director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. The institute is the leading promoter of the theory of Intelligent Design, which has been at the center of challenges in federal court over the teaching of evolution in public school classes. Advocates say it draws on recent discoveries in physics, biochemistry and related disciplines that indicate some features of the natural world are best explained as the product of an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. West said Darwinist “efforts to use the courts, the media and academic tenure committees to suppress dissent and stifle discussion are in fact fueling even more dissent and inspiring more scientists to ask to be added to the list.” more...


Paris: Gang suspected of killing Jew nabbed (February 20, 2006) - The French police arrested 13 people on suspicion of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Parisian Jew. Halimi was found on Monday tied to a tree, naked and wounded, with burns covering all parts of his body. He died on the way to the hospital. Police officials said that the abduction and murder were apparently not motivated by anti-Semitism, but added that they have not yet discovered what led the group to commit the acts. The affair, which stunned France’s Jewish community, began about a month ago, when a good-looking young woman entered a cellular phone store in Paris, where Halimi worked, and began talking to him. The two exchanged telephone numbers, and after speaking on the phone a number of times, set a meeting in a suburb south of Paris. Halimi left for the meeting on January 20, and has been missing ever since. Later, the kidnappers contacted Halimi's family members and asked them for a ransom of Euro 400,000 (about USD 476,239). The family, however, was unable to collect such a large amount of money, and the kidnappers thus lowered their demand to Euro 5,000 (5,953). Then, a week and a half ago, they stopped contacting the family. The police, who had launched a secret investigation into the affair, were unable to locate the kidnappers, who had used stolen cellular phones and were photographed wearing masks. The investigation did reveal that the kidnappers had already attempted to execute similar abductions at least four times before, but had failed for various reasons. more...


TA artist takes on Iranian cartoons (February 18, 2006) - While riots over the cartoon depiction of Muhammad continue to rage worldwide and controversy surrounds an Iranian newspaper’s decision to hold a Holocaust cartoon competition, an Israeli cartoonist has come up with his own ironic - some say misguided - response. And it’s attracting a wide audience. Amitai Sandy, 29, a Tel Aviv graphic artist, has launched the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest, a challenge, led by Jews, to find the best cartoons, caricatures and short comic strips that demonize the Jewish people. “We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew-hating cartoons ever published!” wrote Sandy on his Web site. “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!” Sandy told The Jerusalem Post that his intention was to challenge bigotry by using humor - an approach that officials at Yad Vashem are not convinced is the best idea. “We’re not sure this is the best way to respond,” said spokeswoman Esti Ya’ari. Ephraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, was more emphatic. He pointed out that the initial response of many Jews to Hitler was one of ridicule. “It might have been funny at the time, but it wasn’t an effective response,” Zuroff said. But the contest, launched on Tuesday, is getting lots of attention among Jewish bloggers - at sites like www.Jewschool.com, which receives thousands of visitors a day. Bloggers are playing up news of the contest and directing Web surfers to Sandy’s site at www.boomka.org. more...


Nuke Nightmare (February 22, 2006) - Now a new threat looms. At their facility near Natanz, Iranian scientists earlier this month successfully restarted four centrifuges necessary to produce weapons-grade uranium. Iranian officials blocked international inspectors’ access to the site and disabled security cameras set up by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 13 years ago when Iran admitted to violating the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. This new buzz comes at the end of two years of French, German, and British negotiations with Iran and protracted investigative work by the IAEA. That agency on Feb. 4 reported Iran to the UN Security Council as out of compliance—once again—with nuclear nonproliferation norms. With 27 IAEA countries approving the resolution and only three (Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela) voting against it, the report is likely to precipitate further sanctions against Tehran. Iran’s leaders could light their crumbling cities with nuclear power, but few now doubt that they are intent on building a nuclear arsenal. Full-scale production of nuclear weapons is years away, but Iran right now has its own uranium ore and all the infrastructure needed for weapons-grade plutonium production. The radical Islamic regime will be able to export nuclear packages to any of the many terror organizations with which it maintains ties. more...


Is There Life After Death? An Emminent International Cardiologist Believes He Can PROVE IT! (February 22, 2006) - Clinically dead people have been brought back to life and have recounted in great detail what had been done to them in the hospital ... Whilst they were dead! A leading cardiologist — who has become convinced of the existence of life after death after hearing his patients’ experiences — is talking about his research and beliefs at a major conference in London in March. Dr Pim van Lommel was so inspired by the stories related by his patients of their Near Death Experiences (NDEs) that he became the first medical practitioner to risk his reputation with a full, systematic trial into the phenomenon. He interviewed 344 heart patients at his hospital in Arnhem, Netherlands who had all clinically died, some for five minutes or longer, before being resuscitated. Of these, 62 — or 18 per cent — reported some ongoing experience after the medical monitors had pronounced them to be dead. Half were aware they were ‘dead’, and 15 had out-of-body experiences where they were aware of the actions of the hospital staff around the body. One patient was able to tell staff who were looking for his dentures that a blond nurse had removed them, and had been put them on a tray on the other side of the room. more...


Mad Mullahs Issue Fatwa to Use Nuclear Weapons (February 21, 2006) - An Iranian fatwa (holy edict) permitting the use of nuclear weapons has been issued for the first time. Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, has stated that using nuclear weapons as a counter-measure is acceptable in terms of sharia (Islamic law), depending upon the goal for which the weapons are used. Up until now, the religious leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have publicly declared that the use of nuclear weapons are opposed to sharia, maintaining this position to buttress the argument that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Gharavian, a lecturer at the religious schools of Qom, stated that: One must say that when the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is only natural that, as a counter-measure, it is necessary to be able to use these weapons. However, what is important is the goal they may be used for. more...


Chief Rabbi Asks Dalai Lama to Help Set up Religious UN in Jerusalem (February 21, 2006) - Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yonah Metzger, meeting with the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist monk who is the leader of Tibet, suggested that representatives of the world’s religions establish a United Nations in Jerusalem, representing religions instead of nations, like the UN currently based in New York. “Instead of planning for nuclear war and buying tanks and fighter jets, it will invest in peace,” Metzger said. He later reported that the Tibetan leader was very excited about the idea and offered to help advance it. Also at the meeting was Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee (who is on good terms with the Roman Catholic Church), Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa, kadis (Ethiopian rabbis) and various Islamic sheikhs.