April 24, 2006

News for April 24, 2006

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Osama Alive, Well, Armed With Nukes (April 21, 2006) - Rumors of Osama bin Laden’s death are greatly exaggerated and the al-Qaida leader is preparing his next video broadcast to be aired on al-Jazeera, reports an acclaimed Pakistani journalist who has interviewed him. In an exclusive interview with Paul L. Williams, author of the new book, “The Dunces of Doomsday,” and David Dastych in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, Hamid Mir says bin Laden is not only alive and well but in the process of preparing a video-taped appearance for al-Jazeera, the Qatari Arabian news network. Mir, who conducted the only post-9/11 interviews with bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, says that he remains in sporadic indirect contact with the elusive emir and other al-Qaida officials. During one of Mir's interviews, bin Laden announced that he had managed to acquire nuclear weapons for use in the great jihad against the United States. “It is not difficult [to obtain tactical nukes],” the al-Qaida chieftain said, “not if you have contacts in Russia with other militant groups. They are available for $10 million and $20 million.” more...


DEBKAfile Exclusive: All 35,000 Palestinians expelled from Baghdad, Shiite militia in drive to evict Sunnis (April 21, 2006) - The last evictions were carried out by the Shiite Wolves Brigade (picture) Thursday, April 20. According to DEBKA’s sources most of the Palestinians fled to Sunni Muslim sanctuaries in northern Iraq including Samarra and Falujja. For some weeks, 2,000-3,000 Palestinians have been stranded in tents set up in the desert on the Iraqi side of the Jordanian border. Jordan refuses to let them enter. DEBKAfile adds: The Solves Brigade is regarded as the most effective and savage of Iraqi militias. Formally it is part of the interior ministry’s security forces, but in actually fact it is an armed branch of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq –SCIRI, one of the two major Shiite parties which is led by Abdel Aziz al Hakim. Its commander goes under the nom de guerre of Abu Walid. more...


Rabbi Ariel: Paschal Sacrifice is Still Obligatory (April 20, 2006) - “It’s not a question of ‘maybe’ or ‘if’,” says the Temple Institute’s Rabbi Yisrael Ariel. “Bringing the Paschal sacrifice is a Torah obligation incumbent upon the People of Israel these very days.” Speaking with Yoel Yaakobi of the weekly B'Sheva newspaper, Rabbi Ariel said that though there are some grave Halakhic [Jewish legal] problems associated with bringing the Paschal sacrifice, “we have found the solutions, and the obligation is as strong as ever. This is [one of the only two positive Biblical commandments] that those who forsake it are liable to receive the ultimate karet [cutting off] punishment. From the moment that a Jew stands on the Temple Mount and the site of the Holy Temple is under our control, the Jewish People are immediately obligated to bring this sacrifice.” “...Over 2,000 years ago, the Jews were afraid to live in Jerusalem, yet they made it obligatory for one out of every ten men to work towards building the Holy Temple, and they started the sacrifice services amidst the ruins of the First Temple. And where are we? Should we not be ashamed?” more...


Russia will deliver air defense systems to Iran - top general (April 19, 2006) - The chief of the General Staff said Wednesday that Russia would honor its commitments on supplying military equipment to Iran. “We discussed supplies of military equipment to Iran, including the Tor M1, in the framework of bilateral cooperation, but it does not fall into the category of strategic weapons,” Army General Yury Baluyevsky said after talks in Moscow with NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe General James Jones. “And I can assure you it will be delivered under the control of the relevant organizations,” he said. At the end of 2005, Russia concluded a $700-million contract on the delivery of 29 Tor M1 air defense systems to Iran. The Tor-M1 is a fifth-generation integrated mobile air defense system designed for operation at medium, low and very low altitudes against fixed/rotary wing aircraft, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle), guided missiles and other high-precision weapons. Despite strong criticism from the United States, Russia has maintained that the systems could be used only to protect Iran’s air space. more...


First Goat Kids With Human Genes Born in Belarus (April 24, 2006) - The first two kids have been born into an experimental herd of goats with a transplanted human gene in Belarus, the head of a Russian-Belarussian transgenic research project said on Monday. Alexander Budevich who is also a staff member of the Belarussian Cattle Breeding Research Institute said the kids “do not show any signs of ailment or abnormal development. Yet scientists must still verify that the kids are transgenic,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. Russian genetics experts will come to the Belarussian institute on Tuesday to take samples of skin from the kid’s ear for a gene test. The test will show whether the kids are transgenic, he said. “The probability of the appearance of transgenic animals is very small. Only two or three transgenic kids may be born to 100 goats into which human genes were transplanted,” he said. Last May, proteins of human origin were transferred into the goats’ DNA. Woman’s lactoferrin was brought into the DNA of over 100 animals from an experimental herd belonging to the Belarus institute.


Islamist protest in N.Y. – ‘Mushroom cloud on way’ (April 23, 2006) - A New York rally by the Islamic Thinkers Society outside the Israeli consulate yesterday featured chants of “The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real holocaust is on its way!” The demonstration by the Queens-based group was monitored by the Investigative Project on Terrorism whose members noted signs including “Islam will Dominate” and a picture with an Islamic flag flying over the White House. The chants were in Arabic and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, headed by Steve Emerson, a former reporter for CNN. Here are some excerpts from the chants:

Leader (in Arabic): “With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa!”

[The rest also respond in Arabic:] “With our blood and our lives we will liberate al Aqsa!
Israeli Zionists What do you say? The real Holocaust is on its way”
more...


Russia Warns Against Threatening Iran (April 23, 2006) - Rather than getting Iran to stop uranium enrichment, a tougher stance could result in Tehran’s total refusal to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, said Oleg Ozerov, deputy director of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department, according to ITAR-Tass. “We firmly stand today for resolving the problems in and around Tehran diplomatically rather than militarily. Increasing international pressure on Iran has no prospects,” Ozerov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. The United States and European allies are pushing for sanctions because of Iran’s refusal to suspend its enrichment program, as demanded by the U.N. Security Council. They suspect Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons in violation of its treaty commitments. The Iranian regime insists the program has only the peaceful purpose of generating electricity. Russia, which has close ties with Iran and is building that nation’s first nuclear power plant, opposes sanctions. Despite what U.S. and Russian officials have described as increasingly close positions on the Iranian nuclear program in recent years, they appear far apart heading into the Friday deadline set by the Security Council for Iran to stop enrichment. more...


Australia, now very strong Category 5 (April 23, 2006) - This situation continue to deteriorate along the north coast of Australia. It is hard to imagine a worse situation in this area as Australian cyclones almost never reach this strength. Monica is currently much stronger than 1974’s Cyclone Tracy which is the benchmark storm for the area. As far as I can tell, Monica may be the most intense cyclone to ever impact the region or even Australia. However, records are hard to find. After striking Queensland a few days ago, Monica has crossed Gulf of Carpentaria and is strafing the coast of the Northern Territory. All of this comes as part of a recent string of cyclone strikes across the country. more...


Missile exports to Iran alarm US (April 22, 2006) - Washington has asked Moscow to reconsider selling Iran anti-aircraft missiles as the crisis over its nuclear programme continues. Russia plans to sell Tehran 29 TOR M1 mobile surface-to-air missile defence systems in a deal said to be worth about US $700 million (£392m). “This is not time for business as usual with the Iranian government,” a top US state department official said. The US also urged other states like China to review defence sales to Iran. “There are a lot of countries that allow the export of dual-use technologies, and the position of the United States is that should be prohibited,” said Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns. “All countries should refrain from military sales and arm sales.” Speaking about the Russian missiles, he said: “We hope and we trust that that deal will not go forward because this is not time for business as usual with the Iranian government.” Russia and China are both strongly resisting attempts to impose United Nations sanctions on Iran, which the US and other Western states believes is pursuing nuclear weapons. more...


Report: Iran, Russia Reach Enrichment Deal (April 22, 2006) - Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Saturday the Islamic republic had reached a “basic deal” with the Kremlin to form a joint uranium enrichment venture on Russian territory, state-run television reported. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, “spoke of a basic agreement between Iran and Russia to set up a joint uranium enrichment firm on Russian soil,” Iranian state television reported. It remained unclear, though, whether Iran would entirely give up enrichment at home, a top demand of the West, or whether the joint venture would complement Iran’s existing enrichment program. Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear reactors that generate electricity or to make atomic bombs. “Only issues regarding technical, legal and financial matters remain to be resolved which need more deliberation and exchange of views,” the television quoted Soltanieh as saying Saturday in Moscow. more...


Quake jolts eastern Japan (April 21, 2006) - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale rocked eastern Japan early Friday but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The quake jolted the Izu Peninsula and Tokyo at 2.50am (1750 GMT Thursday), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Its focus was about 10 kilometers (six miles) below the Pacific Ocean, east of the peninsula, Kyodo News reported the agency as saying. A weaker tremor with a preliminary magnitude of 3.9 occurred in the same area 16 minutes later. No tsunami warnings were issued. Japan, which lies at the junction of four tectonic plates, has about 20 percent of the world's powerful earthquakes, frequently jolting Tokyo and other major cities. On Thursday a moderate earthquake measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale occurred in the central prefecture of Tochigi, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Tokyo.


Brazil quietly pursues own nuclear path (April 21, 2006) - As Iran faces international pressure over developing the raw material for nuclear weapons, Brazil is quietly preparing to open its own uranium-enrichment center, capable of producing exactly the same fuel. Brazil - like Iran - has signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and Brazil’s constitution bans the military use of nuclear energy. Also like Iran, Brazil has cloaked key aspects of its nuclear technology in secrecy while insisting the program is for peaceful purposes, claims nuclear weapons experts have debunked. While Brazil is more cooperative than Iran on international inspections, some worry its new enrichment capability - which eventually will create more fuel than is needed for its two nuclear plants - suggests that South America's biggest nation may be rethinking its commitment to nonproliferation. more...


Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union (April 21, 2006) - The Kremlin may be reclaiming a dominant role in its former Soviet backyard. In Belarus, Moscow-allied strongman Alexander Lukashenko just won re-election by a landslide — at least by the official count. And President Vladimir Putin’s allies could return to government in Sunday’s Ukrainian parliamentary election, just over a year after the Orange Revolution. Such developments set back Western hopes of a democratic tidal wave in the former Soviet sphere and could further tarnish Putin’s democratic credentials as he tries to cast himself as a statesman capable of brokering deals with Iran and Hamas. For Putin, however, asserting dominance over Belarus and Ukraine appears to be part of his strategy to re-establish Moscow as a global player during his year of the G-8 presidency. “Russia wants to restore its superpower status, and that includes putting these countries back into its orbit,” said Yevgeny Volk, Moscow director of the conservative U.S think tank Heritage Foundation. “It is seeking to reclaim its influence over the former Soviet Union, and remove that of the United States and European Union,” he added. more... 


Al-Aqsa: Rockets on Tel Aviv in 48 Hours (April 24, 2006) - Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander promises quick, painful response following killing of two group members by Border Guard in Bethlehem; ‘upcoming attacks on Tel Aviv, using Grad rockets and other methods, will be beginning of our wave of retaliation,’ he says. Abu Udai, an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commander, told Ynet on Sunday that his group “will fire a barrage of Grad rockets at Tel Aviv within 48 hours.” more...


Dollar Falls After Sweden Echoes Global Switch to Euros (April 24, 2006) - Sweden has slashed its holding of dollars in the latest sign that central banks across the world are starting to shun US paper. Traders were already skittish after warnings from Bundesbank chief Axel Weber that financial markets were at risk of “significant negative consequences” from a possible slide in the dollar and a sharp rise in US bond prices as capital inflows dried up. more...


Dollar Too Unstable to be Reliable - Russian Minister (April 24, 2006) - Russia cannot consider the dollar as a reliable reserve currency because of its instability, the finance minister said Friday. “This currency has devalued by 40% against the euro in recent years,” Alexei Kudrin told a news conference in Washington on the occasion of the opening spring session of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the dollar accounted for 70% of Russia’s gold and currency reserves, euro for 25% and other assets for 5% in late 2005. As of April 14, 2006, the reserves were $212 billion. more...


Magnitude 7.7 Quake Rattles Remote Russia (April 21, 2006) - A major earthquake shook a sparsely populated region of Russia’s Far East on Friday, injuring more than 30 people but causing no deaths and minimal damage, officials said. The U.S. Geological Survey and Japan’s Meteorological Agency estimated the temblor on Kamchatka Peninsula to be 7.7 magnitude. It hit around 12:30 p.m. local time in the Koryak region, nearly 4,000 miles east of Moscow and 625 miles north of the largest city in the area, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, said Oleg Kotosanov, a duty officer with the regional Emergency Situations Ministry.more...


Belching volcano sparks alarm (April 21, 2006) - A volcano in southern Peru threw plumes of smoke high into the sky today, prompting authorities to declare an “orange alert” to encourage villagers to evacuate the area. Most farming families who live on the slopes of the Ubinas volcano had resisted calls to leave their homes since it rumbled back to life about two weeks ago, even though many have reported breathing problems and poisoned livestock. “Ashes fell all over the place ... in my home, even in my bed. Now my throat, my head and my eyes hurt,” resident Benita Mamani said of the volcano’s more violent activity earlier this week. Ubinas, located in the Moquegua region some 900km south of Lima, has been belching smoke and ashes sporadically for most of the month after nearly four decades of inactivity.


Quake Could Turn East Bay Shoreline to Soup (April 20, 2006) - Much of the East Bay shoreline could turn to quicksand in the next big quake, causing extensive damage to the Oakland Airport and Port of Oakland, homes, businesses and roads. Most of the man-made, filled land that makes up the shore was put in place after the 1906 earthquake and has yet to be really strongly shaken. A team of geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park predicts a 1906-sized quake could cause as much as three quarters of that land to liquefy.more...


Pakistan Taliban vow more attacks (April 20, 2006) - The head of the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas has warned that there can be no peace in Afghanistan for as long as US forces remain in that country. “We will not stop our jihad [holy war] against the Americans,” Haji Omar told the BBC News website. The Afghan government has repeatedly complained that militants in Pakistan are freely crossing the border to carry out attacks. Pakistan denies that it is helping the Taliban fighters. Haji Omar was chosen to lead the Pakistani Taliban after their first declared leader, Nek Mohammed, was killed in a US air strike in 2004. This was Haji Omar’s first face-to-face interview with a Western news organization. “We understand that Pakistan attacks us only under American pressure,” he said. more...


Vast Plumbing Network Discovered Beneath Antarctica (April 19, 2006) - An intricate network of channels beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets could allow water, and possibly life, to shuttle from one underground lake to another, a new study suggests. Using ultra-precise radar measurements taken with the European Space Agency’s ERS-2 satellite, researchers discovered small changes in the heights of surface ice overlying subglacial lakes in a region of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet known as Dome Concordia. As one region lowered by about 10 feet, two others, located some 180 miles away, rose by about 3 feet. The researchers believe this teeter-totter effect can be explained by the transfer of nearly half a cubic mile of water from one lake to two subglacial lakes over a 16-month period. more...


Arab Knesset Member Goes One Step Too Far Excerpts from an article by Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva (April 21, 2006) - Three Arab Knesset Members (MKs) met with Hamas leaders, and one of the MKs now demands to visit the nuclear reactor in Dimona. His membership on the permanent Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee is now in doubt. Taleb A-Sana, now in his fourth term as a Knesset Member, was appointed earlier this week as a member of the interim Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. A-Sana’s days on the committee may now be numbered. He and two other members of his party–party leader Ibrahim Tzartzour and Abbas Zakour, both of them Knesset rookies–met yesterday [April 20] with Hamas leaders. The meeting was held in the home of Muhammed Abu Tir in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Tzur Baher. Abu Tir is famous both for his orange-dyed beard and anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist stances. He spent nearly 25 years in Israeli prisons, on and off, for directing terror activities against Israel, including the attempted poisoning in the early 1990s of Israel's water supplies. He recently said that United States. churches are secretly run by Jews who converted to Christianity with the intention of controlling religious Americans. MK Effie Eitam (NU/NRP), a former high-ranking Israel Defense Forces general and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called on Ramon to distance A-Sana from the committee. “A Knesset Member who identifies with and supports the worst of Israel's enemies,” Eitam said, “cannot be allowed to serve in a committee whose purpose is to assure Israel’s security. I am greatly concerned that A-Sana will take negative advantage of the sensitive information that is revealed in the committee, and this will be detrimental to state security.” Ramon apparently agrees. “It is very grave for any citizen, Jew or Arab, to meet with a terrorist organization such as Hamas, which just a few days ago condoned the recent murderous terrorist attack in Tel Aviv,” Ramon said today. “I believe it’s even against the law. Certainly this is true for an MK; we want the 17th Knesset to be different than the 16th. I believe that action should be taken against him, and this will be checked in the [temporary] Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.” Jumping on the bandwagon, two MKs of the Arab Balad Party also visited with the Hamas leaders in Jerusalem today. Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) asked Temporary Knesset Speaker Shimon Peres to convene a temporary Knesset Ethics Committee. Shteinitz would like the new committee to rule that MK A-Sana may not take part in future Defense Committee sessions. Though it appears that a majority of the committee is leaning towards removing A-Sana from the temporary committee, in accordance with a request from Eitam, some legal experts have said that no such sanctions can be taken.


Tel Aviv Attack Part of International Terror War On Israel Excerpts from an article by Arutz Sheva (April 17, 2006) - According to World Net Daily’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief Aaron Klein, Iran is bankrolling and providing additional support for operatives of multiple terror networks to carry out attacks on the Jewish State. “Iran is the paymaster for Hamas, as well as for Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyr’s Brigades,” Klein stated in an interview with Israel National Radio. This past week, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged to fund the Hamas led Palestinian Authority [PA] government to the tune of $50 million, amidst diplomatic efforts by the Western world to cut off PA funding. While Hamas operatives have not claimed direct responsibility for planning the attacks, Klein asserts the terrorists are merely changing their address. “The fact of the matter is that a lot of the gunmen on the ground have switched over from Hamas to Islamic Jihad in recent weeks,” said Klein. “It is the exact same terrorist carrying out the same terror attacks as before.” “I seriously doubt that this attack could have taken place without coordination with Hamas,” Klein added. In addition to funding Hamas’ rogue regime, Ahmadinejad has been continuously calling for the eradication of Israel. This week the Iranian President referred to Israel as a “rotten tree,” pledging to remove the "threat on the Islamic world" posed by Israel. Iran, the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, claims to be rapidly advancing its nuclear program. According to Klein, Iran may already possess the ability to set off a nuclear blast via rocket or suitcase bomb. Reports from Lebanon state that Iran is increasing its influence over the Hizbullah terror organization operating along Israel’s northern border. Iran has also pledged assistance to Syrian president Bashar Assad. Israeli Defense officials have also suggested that any weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) previously held by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime were transported by truck to Syria prior to the United State’s invasion three years ago. Klein believes Ahmadinejad is “the new Saddam Hussein.” Klein stated that the withdrawal from Gaza “has merely whetted the appetite of the terrorists,” and states that the terrorists themselves have vowed that the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria (commonly referred to as the West Bank) are next before the liberation of all of Israel including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”