News for November 12, 2005
On Anniversary of Arafat’s Death, Abbas Vows to Raise Palestine Flag in Jerusalem (November 12, 2005) - Thousands of Palestinians gathered near Yasser Arafat’s grave in his old West Bank compound on Friday for a subdued commemoration of the first anniversary of their iconic leader’s death. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, his successor, led a rally attended by top officials from major factions and a handful of foreign diplomats in honor of Arafat, who died aged 75 having failed to realize his dream of a Palestinian state. The focus of the official commemoration was Arafat’s old headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah where he spent his final years isolated and encircled by the Israeli army. “I renew the pledge to continue on the path that he started and exert whatever efforts are needed to raise the flag of Palestine on the walls, the minarets and the churches of Jerusalem,” Abbas said in a speech at the rally. Abbas, like many in the crowd, wore the traditional Palestinian “keffiyeh” scarf that became Arafat’s trademark. Pictures of Arafat were held by many in the crowd. Abbas earlier laid the foundation stone for a new mausoleum complex while Koranic verses were broadcast over loudspeakers. Many shops in West Bank cities stayed closed, with portraits of Arafat adorning their shutters. Smaller ceremonies were held in Bethlehem and Hebron. In the Gaza Strip, a low-key memorial gathering was held on Thursday night. Arafat, a former guerrilla leader who won a Nobel Peace Prize and the deep admiration of his people only to sink into renewed conflict with Israel, left a complicated legacy. more...
Dobson blasts ‘frightening’ court ruling (November 12, 2005) - A federal appeals court’s dismissal of a lawsuit by parents outraged that a school district surveyed their elementary school-age children about sex is “frightening,” says family advocate James Dobson. “I think that's one of the most frightening examples of judicial tyranny that has come down,” said Dobson, founder and head of Focus on the Family, on his daily radio broadcast. Dobson called the 9th Circuit “the most out-of-control, imperious, unelected, unaccountable court in the country.” The court determined there is “no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children.” “What parents do not have is the right to raise their own children,” Dobson said. He noted the ruling concerned not only sex education but the whole curriculum. “I mean the parents either have the responsibility to raise their own children or they don’t,” said Dobson. The three-judge panel of the full court further ruled that parents “have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.” Six parents sued the Palmdale, Calif., School District after finding out their kids had been asked a series of sexual questions in class. They included asking the children about the frequency of:
Sharon faces collapse after Labor elects new leader (November 11, 2005) - Israel’s coalition government was on the point of collapse yesterday after the veteran politician Shimon Peres, a winner of the Nobel peace prize, was unseated as the head of the Labor party. Mr. Peres’s political future is now uncertain after decades at the forefront of Israeli and world politics, during which he earned a reputation as a dove who favors a negotiated settlement to the conflict with the Palestinians. He was defeated in a Labor leadership election by a relative unknown who had promised to withdraw the party from the coalition headed by the hawkish prime minister, Ariel Sharon, the leader of the Right-wing Likud party. Amir Peretz, a 53-year-old trade union leader, squeaked past Mr. Peres after winning the votes of 42 per cent of Labor’s 100,000 members. The poll, held on Wednesday night but lasting long into yesterday morning after the Peres camp alleged fraud, was never expected to be so close. In fact, surveys before voting suggested that Mr. Peres, 82, would breeze through. By dawn, the party committee had dismissed the claims of fraud and pronounced Mr. Peretz its first leader of Middle Eastern origin. In his acceptance speech at Labor's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Mr. Peretz repeated his pledge to withdraw from the Mr. Sharon's government. “We want to turn the Labor party into an alternative that intends to take power in the next elections,” said Mr. Peretz. A meeting between him and Mr. Sharon is scheduled for next week. If Mr. Peretz withdraws Labor, Mr. Sharon will be without a parliamentary majority, and without a suitable replacement partner to secure a majority. That will force Mr. Sharon to announce new elections within three months, or to delay the poll and continue ruling through a caretaker government. more...
West offers uranium deal to Iranians (November 11, 2005) - America and the European Union have agreed to offer Iran a “last ditch” concession in an attempt to avoid a showdown over its nuclear ambitions. The compromise would allow Iran to produce the gas used for making enriched uranium, the essential ingredient for nuclear power reactors and nuclear weapons. In return, Teheran would let the final critical stage of enrichment be made under international supervision in Russia. The proposal has been promoted by Germany, France and Britain as a face-saving compromise for Teheran. Iran has said it wants only to enrich uranium for a domestic nuclear power program. The new proposal has split the Bush administration. Washington is convinced that Iran is hell-bent on making nuclear weapons, although it is struggling to find a coherent policy to counter the threat. Hawkish officials and analysts fear they have wasted valuable time by backing the EU's diplomatic initiative.
French losing patience (November 11, 2005) - Fed up with television images of her country in flames, Paris hairdresser Vesna Djoric said it is time for the French to stop being so tolerant of immigrant troublemakers and consider replacing compassion with toughness. “It’s about time somebody said what we’re all thinking,” Djoric commented, adding that she fully supported a recent call by the hard-line interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, for France to “pump out” its rioting “scum.” After nearly two weeks of nightly riots across the country, France shows growing signs of an anti-immigrant backlash as horrified citizens demand a harsher crackdown on troublemakers. Some French are warning that the country’s current mood could damage relations with its Muslim community and bolster support for a right-wing extremist party. Police said violence around the country, occurring mainly in North African immigrant communities that ring major urban centers, diminished considerably after a new curfew went into effect late Tuesday, enforced by more than 11,000 officers. Sarkozy warned on Wednesday that any foreigners, whether here legally or illegally, who are convicted of violating the curfew would be expelled from the country “without delay.” Sarkozy is expected to challenge his rival, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, in presidential elections in 2007. In contrast to Sarkozy, the prime minister has called for measures to create jobs, reduce discrimination and address concerns among immigrants that they are being neglected. Some French criticize De Villepin as being too conciliatory. In well-to-do neighborhoods of central Paris, shopkeepers and residents offered high praise for the combative interior minister. more...
Newfound Ancient Beast Dubbed Godzilla (November 11, 2005) - A newfound ancient sea creature looks to be part crocodile, part T. rex, and 100 percent terrifying. The 13-foot long beast, Dakosaurus andiniensis, had a massive 18-inch-long jaw with interlocking 4-inch teeth. It is a long-lost relative of the crocodile yet it had fins. A digital rendering of the creature reveals the sort of thing typically reserved for horror movies. The sheer strangeness of the Dakosaurus andiniensis, found in South America and announced today, led its discoverers to call it Godzilla after the huge, amphibious, dinosaur-like movie icon. “This species was very unusual, because other marine crocodiles that were around at the same time had very delicate features – long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and mollusks,” said Ohio State University researcher Diego Pol, who determined the crocodile lineage. “But this croc was just the opposite. It had a short snout, and large teeth with serrated edges. It was definitely a predator of large sea creatures.” The fossils were found in Patagonia, in an area that was once a deep tropical bay attached to the Pacific Ocean, by paleontologists Zulma Gasparini and Luis Spalletti of the National University of La Plata in Argentina. more...
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