News for August 31, 2008

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South-west China hit by new quake BBC News (August 31, 2008) - An earthquake in south-western China has killed 22 people and injured more than 100, state media says. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck at 1630 local time (0730 GMT), close to the town of Panzhihua in Sichuan province, near the border with Yunnan. Xinhua news agency reported that attempts to assist survivors were being hampered by heavy rain. Both provinces were severely affected by a devastating earthquake in May which left almost 70,000 people dead. Xinhua reported that more than 100,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed by the latest quake and some people had been trapped in the ruins. "Locals in the county rushed out into the open. Cracks appeared on house walls and many windows were broken," said one local official. Communications were reported to be disrupted, making it difficult for authorities to accurately assess the extent of the damage. Major reconstruction efforts have been under way in Sichuan province since the 12 May earthquake, which left about five million people homeless.
| Earth Changes |

Palin electrifies conservative base Politico (August 31, 2008) - The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate has electrified conservative activists, providing a boost of energy to the GOP nominee-in-waiting from a key constituency that previously had been lukewarm — at best — about him. By tapping the anti-abortion and pro-gun Alaska governor just ahead of his convention, which is set to start here Monday, McCain hasn’t just won approval from a skeptical Republican base — he’s ignited a wave of elation and emotion that has led some grass-roots activists to weep with joy. Serious questions remain about McCain’s pick — exactly how much he knows about her and her positions, past and present, on key issues. But for the worker bee core of the party that is essential to any Republican victory, there are no doubts. “I woke up and my e-mail was just going crazy,” said Charmaine Yoest, head of the legislative arm of Americans United for Life and a former top official in Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign. “And then when it was announced — it was like you couldn’t breathe.” The media elite — as well as elite members of the GOP consulting community — have all but mocked Palin as a former small-town mayor with zero Washington experience. But that view of her totally misses the cultural resonance she carries to crucial Republican power centers and could not be more at odds with the jubilation felt among true believers that one of their own is on the ticket. Palin, say conservative activists, has instantly changed how they feel about McCain’s campaign and spurred them to go to work for the Republican ticket. First, though, they’re expressing their newfound fondness for McCain with their checkbooks. Since tapping Palin, the campaign has raised nearly $7 million online, according to McCain aides. Most importantly for McCain, the two constituencies who are most energized by Palin just happen to be the twin grassroots pillars of the GOP: anti-abortion activists and pro-Second Amendment enthusiasts and sportsmen. Without these two camps making phone calls, stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors, Republican presidential candidates would severely lack for volunteers. They are critical to the health of the conservative coalition that has dominated Republican politics for a generation. Republicans say the primary source for the passion can be found in Palin’s example and authenticity. Not only is the 44-year-old governor opposed to abortion rights — but she carried and gave birth to a child with Down syndrome earlier this year, a profound and powerful motivating force to both opponents of abortion rights and the parents and relatives of special needs children. And not only is she a supporter of the right to bear arms — but she’s a lifetime member of the NRA and an avid hunter and fisherman whose gubernatorial office couch is adorned with a massive grizzly bear pelt. “She’s lived it!” exulted Yoest. “It’s so satisfying as a conservative woman. When she walked out on that stage there was just this moment. It was really emotional for a lot of us.”
| America |

U.N. Confirms: Hizbullah Importing Weapons From Syria Israel National News (August 30, 2008) - A United Nations task force assigned to report on weapons smuggling in Lebanon said Monday that Hizbullah has been bringing arms across the Syrian-Lebanese border. This confirms Israeli allegations that the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group has been steadily rearming with Syrian assistance and Lebanese collusion. Last month, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney that "the number of missiles in the hands of Hizbullah has doubled, if not tripled, and that the range of the missiles has been extended. And this has been accomplished with the close assistance of the Syrians." In March, an anonymous source told the Associated Press that Hizbullah held new Iranian rockets capable of striking as far south as Dimona, Israel's nuclear facility in the Negev. According to the task force report, submitted to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday, neither Lebanese nor Syrian officials have done anything to end weapons transfers to Hizbullah. The task force, which has seen no improvement in the situation since it started its work in 2007, noted that weapons flow easily across the Syrian-Lebanese frontier due to lax or non-existent inspections. Even the air and sea ports into Lebanon, the report says, have been used for weapons smuggling. Earlier this month, Lebanon's cabinet voted to allow Hizbullah to maintain its weapons arsenal. The government decision specifically approves Hizbullah activities aimed at Israel.

In Violation of U.N. Resolutions

Weapons transfers to the Hizbullah such as those cited in the task force report are in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War two years ago. However, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols in southern Lebanon, far from the weapons transfer routes. Furthermore, UNIFIL has stated outright that it would not enforce Res. 1701 conditions calling for the disarming of Hizbullah. In March 2008, Hizbullah terrorists threatened and chased off UNIFIL forces after the armed international soldiers found a truck carrying illicit arms and ammunition. The incident was mentioned in a semi-yearly report submitted to the U.N. Security Council by Ban Ki-moon. In an earlier report to the U.N. Security Council, in February 2008, Ki-moon noted, "Hizbullah, by admission of its leaders on several occasions, has replenished its military capacity since the 2006 war with Israel. I therefore remain concerned that this border remains vulnerable to such [weapons transfers], which would represent serious violations of the resolution and constitute a significant threat to the stability and security of Lebanon."
| Israel | Islam | Isaiah 17 |

Report: Israel threatened to target Syria if Hezbollah attacks, taken in light of other stories of Russia and Syria as well as Turkey and Syria... Keep watching

Hamas reportedly ups ante for Schalit The Jerusalem Post (August 29, 2008) - Hamas has upped the ante for the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, and is now demanded that Israel free over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including some with very long jail terms, all women, and all children, the London-based newspaper A-Sharq al-Awsat reported on Saturday. "The list includes over 1,000 prisoners," a spokesperson for Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, told the paper. He added that whether or not Israel approves on Sunday a set of relaxed criteria regarding which Palestinians are eligible for release did not matter. "From a fundamental point of view, we are not willing to discuss any list which the occupation presents, and it is [Israel's responsibility] to implement our list," the spokesperson said. On Thursday, a source in the Gaza Strip told the Jerusalem Post that the results of a recent election held for one of Hamas's key decision-making bodies were likely to hinder efforts to free Schalit. The secret ballot was held about 12 days ago for the Shura (Consultative) Council, which is made up of Hamas's senior political and religious leadership and is tasked with discussing all important issues. The names of the Shura Council members are kept secret, although it is believed that some of them are based in a number of Arab countries. The sources told the Post the vote resulted in a major victory for representatives of the "young guard" in Hamas, most of whom are affiliated with the movement's armed wing, Izzadin Kassam. The sources described the victory as a "coup," pointing out that the newly-elected members were far more radical than those who were ousted from the council. "The Shura Council of Hamas is now dominated by warlords, thugs and militiamen," one source said. "The new members are not as educated as their predecessors. Another source described the vote as a "turning point" in the history of the Islamist organization. "From now on, the armed wing of Hamas is expected to play a bigger role in the decision-making process, he said. "The political leadership of Hamas has definitely been weakened." Given the fact that Schalit is being held by members of Izzadin Kassam, some of whom are now represented in the Shura Council, Hamas is unlikely to soften its position in the talks on a prisoner exchange agreement. more...
| Israel | Islam |

Officials prepare for Gustav, Hanna The Washington Times (August 29, 2008) - Bush administration officials, sensitive to Friday's anniversary of Hurricane Katrina falling just days before the Republican National Convention, said Thursday that they will be far better prepared than they were three years ago if a pair of tropical storms turn into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. "We feel we are more ready this year than we have ever been before," said Rear Adm. Brian Salerno, Coast Guard assistant commandant for marine safety, security and stewardship. The National Hurricane Center is predicting that Tropical Storm Gustav will become a major hurricane after it enters the warm waters of the Gulf. Tropical Storm Hanna formed behind Gustav Thursday morning. Gustav is expected to reach landfall at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the second day of the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, and will serve as a reminder that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 killed more than 1,000 people in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast and that the Bush administration's response was widely criticized as inadequate and too slow.
| America | Earth Changes |

'Israel reaches strategic decision not to let Iran go nuclear' The Jerusalem Post (August 29, 2008) - Israel will not allow Iran to attain nuclear capability and if time begins to run out, Jerusalem will not hesitate to take whatever means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving its nuclear goals, the government has recently decided in a special discussion. According to the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, whether the United States and Western countries succeed in thwarting the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions diplomatically, through sanctions, or whether a US strike on Iran is eventually decided upon, Jerusalem has begun preparing for a separate, independent military strike. So far, Israel has not received American authorization to use US-controlled Iraqi airspace, nor has the defense establishment been successful in securing the purchase of advanced US-made warplanes which could facilitate an Israeli strike. The Americans have offered Israel permission to use a global early warning radar system, implying that the US is pushing Israel to settle for defensive measures only. Because of Israel's lack of strategic depth, Jerusalem has consistently warned in recent years that it will not settle for a 'wait and see' approach, merely retaliating to an attack, but will rather use preemption to prevent any risk of being hit in the first place. Ephraim Sneh a veteran Labor MK who has recently left the party, has reportedly sent a document to both US presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. The eight-point document states that "there is no government in Jerusalem that would ever reconcile itself to a nuclear Iran. When it is clear Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, an Israeli military strike to prevent this will be seriously considered." According to Ma'ariv, Sneh offered the two candidates the "sane, cheap and the only option that does not necessitate bloodshed." To prevent Iran's nuclear aspirations, Sneh wrote, "real" sanctions applied by the US and Europe were necessary. A total embargo in spare parts for the oil industry and a total boycott of Iranian banks would promptly put an end to the regime, which is already pressured by a sloping economy and would be toppled by the Iranian people if they have outside assistance, he said. The window of opportunity Sneh suggests is a year and a half to two years, until 2010. Sneh also visited Switzerland and Austria last week in an attempt to lobby them against the Iranian threat. Both countries have announced massive long-term investments in Iranian gas and oil fields for the next decade. "Talk of the Jewish Holocaust and Israel's security doesn't impress these guys," Sneh said wryly. Hearing his hosts speak of their future investments, Sneh replied quietly "it's a shame, because Ido will light all this up." He was referring to Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, the recently appointed IAF commander and the man most likely to be the one to orchestrate Israel's attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, should this become a necessity. "Investing in Iran in 2008," Sneh told his Austrian hosts, "is like investing in the Krupp steelworks in 1938, it's a high risk investment." The Austrians, according to Sneh, turned pale. In related news, a top official said Friday that Iran had increased the number of operating centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant to 4,000. Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, who visited the Natanz plant last week, said that Iran was preparing to install even more centrifuges, though he did not offer a timeframe. "Right now, nearly 4,000 centrifuges are operating at Natanz," Attar told the state news agency IRNA. "Currently, 3,000 other centrifuges are being installed." Meanwhile, the pan-Arabic Al Kuds al Arabi reported Friday that Iran had equipped Hizbullah with longer range missiles than those it possessed before the Second Lebanon War and had also improved the guerrilla group's targeting capabilities. According to the report, which The Jerusalem Post could not verify independently, Hizbullah was planning a massive rocket onslaught on targets reaching deep into Israel's civilian underbelly in case Israel launches an attack on Iran.
| Iran | Israel |

South Ossetia: Russia Intends to Absorb Georgian Region Fox News (August 29, 2008) - Officials in South Ossetia said Friday that Russia intends eventually to absorb the breakaway Georgian province. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the region's leader, Eduard Kokoity, discussed South Ossetia's future earlier this week in Moscow, South Ossetian parliamentary speaker Znaur Gassiyev said. Russia will absorb South Ossetia "in several years" or earlier, a position that was "firmly stated by both leaders," Gassiyev said. A Kremlin spokeswoman said she had no such information and declined immediate comment. Moscow has recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a second separatist region of Georgia, as independent, drawing criticism from the West. Russia found itself unable to shore up its own international support when China and four former Soviet republics in Central Asia refused a Moscow appeal to recognize the territories. Russia accuses Georgia of starting the five-day war between the two countries earlier this month by attacking South Ossetia on Aug. 7. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says the U.S. instigated the fighting by encouraging Georgia to use force to rein in the separatist region. Gassiyev's deputy, Tarzan Kokoiti, said South Ossetia has the right to reunite with North Ossetia, which is part of Russia. "We will live in one united Russian state," he said.
| Gog/Magog |

Will Turkey Abandon NATO? Wall Street Journal (August 29, 2008) - Will Turkey side with the United States, its NATO ally, and let more U.S. military ships into the Black Sea to assist Georgia? Or will it choose Russia? A Turkish refusal would seriously impair American efforts to support the beleaguered Caucasus republic. Ever since Turkey joined NATO in 1952, it has hoped to never have to make a choice between the alliance and its Russian neighbor to the North. Yet that is precisely the decision before Ankara. If Turkey does not allow the ships through, it will essentially be taking Russia's side. Whether in government or in the military, Turkish officials have for several years been expressing concern about U.S. intentions to "enter" the Black Sea. Even at the height of the Cold War, the Black Sea remained peaceful due to the fact that Turkey and Russia had clearly defined spheres of influence. But littoral countries Romania and Bulgaria have since joined NATO, and Ukraine and Georgia have drawn closer to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Ankara has expressed nervousness about a potential Russian reaction. The Turkish mantra goes something like this: "the U.S. wants to expand NATO into the Black Sea -- and as in Iraq, this will create a mess in our neighborhood, leaving us to deal with the consequences once America eventually pulls out. After all, if Russia is agitated, it won't be the Americans that will have to deal with them." Nonetheless, Ankara sided with fellow NATO members in telling Georgia and Ukraine that they would be invited to join the alliance -- albeit without any time frame. But now that Russia has waged war in part over this decision, the Turks will have to pick sides. Deputy chief of the Russian general staff Anatoly Nogoivtsyn already warned Turkey that Russia will hold Turkey responsible if the U.S. ships do not leave the Black Sea. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will travel to Ankara on Monday to make clear that Russia means it. Russia is Turkey's largest trading partner, mostly because of Turkey's dependence on Russian gas. More important, the two countries share what some call the post-imperial stress syndrome: that is, an inability to see former provinces as fellow independent states, and ultimately a wish to recreate old agreements on spheres of influence. When Mr. Putin gave a speech in Munich last year challenging the U.S.-led world order, Turks cheered. The Turkish military even posted it on its Web site. President Abdullah Gül recently suggested that "a new world order should emerge." Turkey joined Russia at the height of its war on Georgia in suggesting a five-party "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform." In other words, they want to keep the U.S. and the EU at arm's length. Both Russia and Turkey consider Georgia's American-educated president, Mikheil Saakashvili, to be crazy enough to unleash the next world war. In that view Turkey is not so far from the positions of France or Germany -- but even these two countries did not suggest that the Georgians sign up to a new regional arrangement co-chaired by Russia while the Kremlin's air force was bombing Georgian cities. Two other neighbors -- Azerbaijan and Armenia -- are watching the Turkish-Russian partnership with concern. Azeris remember how the Turks -- their ethnic and religious brethren -- left them to be annexed by the Soviets in the 1920s. Armenians already fear their giant neighbor, who they consider to have committed genocide against them. Neither wants to have to rely on Iran (once again) as a counterbalance to Russia. Oh, and of course, Iran had its own sphere-of-influence arrangements with the Soviets as well. Though Turkey and Iran are historic competitors, Turkey has broken with NATO countries recently by hosting President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on a working visit. As the rest of NATO was preoccupied with the Russian aggression in Georgia, Turkey legitimized the Iranian leader amidst chants in Istanbul of "death to Israel, death to America." A few days later, Turkey played host to Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide by the rest of NATO -- but not by Russia or Iran, or by the Muslim-majority countries who usually claim to care so much about Muslim lives. Where is Turkey headed? Turkish officials say they are using their trust-based relations with various sides to act as a mediator between various parties in the region: the U.S. and Iran; Israel and Syria; Pakistan and Afghanistan, etc. It may be so. But as more American ships steam toward the Black Sea, a time for choosing has arrived.
| Islam | Isaiah 17 | Gog/Magog |

How would they react if Damascus were destroyed?

Russian Navy planning greater presence in Syria (August 28, 2008) - The Russian Navy will make more use of Syrian ports as part of increased military presence in the Mediterranean, a Russian diplomat said yesterday. The announcement comes as tensions rise between Moscow and the West over Russia's role in Georgia. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria backed Russia's recent offensive on Georgia in support of a separatist province during a visit to Russia last week. "Our navy presence in the Mediterranean will increase. Russian vessels will be visiting Syria and other friendly ports more frequently," Igor Belyaev, the Russian charge d'affaires, told reporters in the Syrian capital. "The visits are continuing," he added. Russia relies on Syria's Tartous port as a main stopping point in the Mediterranean, although ties between the two countries have cooled since the collapse of Communism, when Moscow supplied Syria with billions of dollars worth of arms. Internet news sites have reported that a Russian naval unit, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, docked at Tartous earlier this month. Belyaev would not be drawn on specifics, or whether new military agreements with Syria were reached during Assad's meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia today. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week Russia was prepared to sell Syria more arms as long as this does not disturb the "regional balance of power." Lavrov was referring to the position of Israel, which has a superior military and is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. Syria, which is technically at war with the Jewish state, has embarked on a drive to upgrade its military in recent years.
| Islam | Isaiah 17 | Gog/Magog |

And why might Israel feel threatened by Syria enough to take action against Damascus? This buildup of military in the North of Israel might also explain a quick retaliation too. Russia just showed her military might in Georgia just North of Turkey, what if Turkey joined in a retaliation with Iran, who has been openly expressing the desire to wipe Israel off the map? Keep watching.

Irish seek Denmark's advice on EU treaty opt-outs: report (August 28, 2008) - Ireland has sought advice from Denmark on how Dublin could opt-out of key parts of the EU Lisbon Treaty, as a way of unblocking the Irish-triggered limbo, a report said Thursday. Ireland sent shockwaves through the European Union in June when 53 percent of Irish voters rejected the key reform treaty, in the only popular vote on the text within the 27-nation bloc. The Irish Times reported that the government was actively considering opt-outs from certain aspects of EU co-operation as a possible way of resolving the impasse created by the outcome of the June referendum. Officials from the foreign ministry and the attorney general's office visited Copenhagen to discuss the technical legal provisions of the Danish agreement from 1993, the newspaper reported. In 1992 the Danish government responded to the rejection of the Maastricht Treaty by its electorate by coming up with a proposal to opt out of four key areas of EU activity. A second Danish referendum in 1993 approved the treaty in tandem with the proposal to opt out of the euro currency as well as defence, justice and common EU citizenship arrangements established under the treaty. "If Ireland proceeds down the road of seeking opt-outs from the (Lisbon) treaty on issues like defence and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which provoked such controversy during the referendum campaign, the approval of all 26 EU partners would be required," the newspaper said. A government spokesman refused to comment on the report. The Irish government is due to receive next month a specially commissioned analysis of why people voted "No" for the treaty. Prime Minister Brian Cowen is also due to travel to Paris for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency -- on how to resolve the bloc's institutional crisis. EU leaders are set to discuss the Irish rejection again at an October summit in an effort to overcome the impasse ahead of elections next year to the European Parliament.
| EU/UN / 4th Kingdom |

Condi pulls a Solomon: Split Jerusalem in 2 WorldNet Daily (August 28, 2008) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, completing a visit to the region today, has been pressing Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would divide Jerusalem by offering the Palestinians a state in Israel's capital city as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to top diplomatic sources involved in the talks. The Israeli team, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has been negotiating the division of Jerusalem – despite claims to the contrary – but would rather conclude an agreement on paper by the end of the year that would give the Palestinians a state in the West Bank, Gaza and some Israeli territory, leaving conclusions on Jerusalem for a later date, the informed diplomatic sources told WND. The sources said the Palestinian team has been pushing to conclude a deal by January on all core issues, including Jerusalem, and has been petitioning the U.S. to pressure Israel into signing an agreement on paper that offers the Palestinians eastern Jerusalem. Rice, the sources said, has asked Israeli leaders to bend to what the U.S. refers to as a "compromise position," concluding an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of the year that guarantees sections of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. But Israel would not be required to withdraw from Jerusalem for a period of one to five years. The diplomatic sources said the plan is that once an Israeli-Palestinian deal is reached on paper by January, Bush would issue an official letter guaranteeing that the U.S. supports the conclusions of the document. Any Israeli-Palestinian paper agreement is to finalize a process that began at last November's U.S. backed Annapolis conference, which seeks to create a Palestinian state, at least on paper, before Bush leaves office. One Palestinian negotiator speaking to WND described as "crazy" the intensity and frequency of Israeli-Palestinian talks in recent weeks, saying both sides have been meeting on a daily basis, usually at the highest levels. The negotiator said Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Chief Palestinian Negotiator Ahmed Queri have been leading the talks. The negotiator said Jerusalem is being discussed by both sides and that the two teams are "closer than ever" on coming to an agreement on the status of the city. This claim was verified to WND by other diplomatic sources involved in the negotiations. The Palestinian negotiator said Jerusalem would be divided along the framework of the 2000 U.S.-brokered Camp David accords. He said the general philosophy for dividing Jerusalem would be "Arab for Arab and Jew for Jew," meaning that most Arab-majority eastern sections of Jerusalem would be granted to the Palestinian Authority while Israel would retain Western, Jewish-majority sections. Israel recaptured eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount – Judaism's holiest site – during the 1967 Six Day War. The Palestinians have claimed eastern Jerusalem as a future capital. About 244,000 Arabs live in Jerusalem, mostly in eastern neighborhoods. Jerusalem has an estimated total population of 724,000, the majority Jewish. A number of Arab-majority eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods widely regarded as slated for a Palestinian state include large numbers of Arabs who live on Jewish-owned land illegally. The Jewish National Fund, a U.S.-based nonprofit, owns hundred of acres of eastern Jerusalem land in which tens of thousands of Arabs illegally constructed homes the past few decades. Arabs are now the majority on the Jewish-owned land in question. Asked by WND whether Jerusalem is currently being negotiated, Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, simply stated, "No." Olmert has several times denied Jerusalem is being negotiated. Members of his government coalition have promised to bolt his government and precipitate new elections if Jerusalem is discussed in talks. Olmert, facing several criminal investigations described as "serious," recently announced he will resign after his Kadima party holds primaries next month to chose a new leader. That leader is widely expected to continue Israeli-Palestinian talks, especially if frontrunner Livni takes Olmert's place.

The diplomatic situation in Israel is such that many commentators believe Olmert has an interest in concluding some sort of agreement quickly. Many believe he would like his input in an Israeli-Palestinian agreement to be among his final "achievements." WND first exclusively reported Aug. 1 that Olmert told the PA he intends to accelerate negotiations to reach some understanding on paper as soon as September. Over the weekend, the Israeli media quoted officials close to Olmert stating the prime minister is working for an interim document as soon as next month to be presented to the United Nations. The document likely will not be the conclusion of negotiations but an outline of some of the breakthroughs regarding the West Bank and Gaza. One PA negotiator told WND of the planned paper: "Papers are very important. It puts limits on the new prime minister. For example, the weak point of Israeli-Syrian negotiations are papers signed by former prime ministers that now must be abided during current negotiations."

Regarding the division of Jerusalem, top diplomatic sources said both sides are close to agreements on specific issues. One PA negotiator claimed the U.S. has guaranteed the Palestinians that sensitive areas in eastern Jerusalem in which what he termed "extremist Jews" are purchasing real estate would be handed to the Palestinians. "The Israelis had no problem with this," the PA negotiator claimed. "We were also told not to worry too much about scattered Jewish properties in Arab neighborhoods, or yeshivas (Jewish seminaries) in the Old City." The PA negotiator's claim could not be verified by sources in Jerusalem. The initial stage also calls for the PA to operate Jerusalem municipal institutions, such as offices to oversee trash collection and maintenance of roads. After five years, if both sides keep specific commitments called for in a larger principal agreement, according to the U.S. plan the PA would be given full sovereignty over agreed upon eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and discussions would be held regarding an arrangement for the Temple Mount. The plan doesn't specify which parts of the Temple Mount could be forfeited to the Palestinians or whether an international force may be involved. The PA also could deploy official security forces in Jerusalem separate from a non-defined basic force after the five year period and could also open major governmental institutions, such as a president's office, and offices for the finance and foreign ministries. The U.S. plan leaves Israel and the PA to negotiate which Jerusalem neighborhoods would become Palestinian. According to diplomatic sources familiar with the plan, while specific neighborhoods were not officially listed, American officials recommended sections of Jerusalem's Old City as well as certain largely Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Jabal mukabar, Beit Hanina, Abu Dis, and Abu Tur become part of the Palestinian side. Also recommended were the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shoafat, Kfar Akev and Qalandiya. more...
| Israel | Islam | Dividing the Land | Temple Mount | America |

Remember the evacuation of Gaza in 2005, just over three years ago on the 9th of Av? This similar potential situation brings this to mind...
Zechariah 14:1,2
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Will we see civil unrest when Jews are once again wrested from their homes to be given to the PA? It looks like the division of Israel is into two pieces, meaning two parties and perhaps Jews will only be moved from half of the city.

'Hizbullah tightens hold on Venezuela' The Jerusalem Post (August 28, 2008) - Agents of Hizbullah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard have deployed special forces in Venezuela intended to kidnap Jewish businessmen and smuggle them to Lebanon, Israel Radio reported Thursday. An expert on counter-terrorism warned in an interview with The Los Angeles Times that Iranian-backed agents have managed to recruit collaborators among Venezuelan citizens living in the capital Caracas. The collaborators are supposed to observe traffic at the Caracas airport and around it in order to collect information on Jewish travelers there. Hizbullah has strengthened its grasp of Venezuela following the warm relationship that grew between Venezuela and Iran. Experts quoted by the Times warned that Venezuela might become a base out of which Hizbullah could carry out terror attacks.
| Iran | Islam |

Abbas-Olmert Meeting Sunday Amid Signs of Secret Deal Israel National News (August 28, 2008) - Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet on Sunday amid growing signs that the Israeli leader is trying to complete the outline for a new Arab state before he leaves office. PA sources said they will discuss the status of Jerusalem and the PA "right of return" demand that involves allowing millions of foreign Arabs to immigrate. Water resources also will be discussed. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted a deal is in the works during her visit to Israel this week. At her meeting with Abbas in Ramallah, she "proposed new ideas related to the peace process," Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdneh said. "The coming weeks will be very decisive," he added. Prime Minister Olmert is taking advantage of the summer vacation, when most Israelis are vacationing, the Knesset is out of session and he is free to act without worrying about keeping his coalition government together. The Prime Minister already has said he will step down from office after the Kadima party chooses a new leader in primary elections next month. He recently said that negotiations with the PA must be kept secret and not in the eye of the media. The editor of a leading PA newspaper believes that Secretary Rice, Prime Minister Olmert and Abbas are cooking up a surprise to satisfy President Bush's desire to reach a final agreement before he leaves office in January. Hafith Barghouthi, the chief editor of the daily Hayat Al-Jadidah, wrote on Wednesday, "It seems a political 'meal' is being cooked on fire behind the scenes…. The fact that Rice met with both negotiation teams separately, then together proves what she said in the press conference about both sides abstaining from negotiating in front of the media. All this indicates that the negotiations are serious," he wrote. more...
| Israel | Islam | Dividing the Land |

New Wave of Violence Against Christians in Orissa State Journal Chretien (August 27, 2008) - More than 600 churches have been demolished, 4,000 Christians forced to flee from their villages, and at least 25 killed as a result of violent persecution in the state of Orissa in eastern India. Reports from the area say Vishwa Hindu Parishad religious leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates were murdered in the Kandhamal District of Orissa on Saturday, August 23. Although a Maoist group claimed responsibility for the murders, supporters of the slain leader claim that Christians were behind the killings. Hindu fundamentalists have launched a series of attacks against Christians in retaliation. Since Sunday, August 24, churches, schools and other institutions, prayer rooms, and homes of Christians have been ransacked, burnt and destroyed. Christians have been assaulted and reportedly at least twenty-five have been killed, some of them burnt alive or cut into pieces. In an August 26 email to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), Swarupananda Patra, General Secretary of the All Orissa Baptist Churches Federation, said “All Christian villages [are] empty in Kandhamal as Christians, old and young, sick and pregnant mothers [are] hiding in forests exposed to the non-stop monsoon rains without food.” He reported that Kandhamal is the hardest hit, with at least eight Christians killed and almost all Christian homes demolished, but Christians in the districts of Balasore, Bargarh, and Kalahandi are also experiencing severe persecution. Patra also appealed for prayer. “Now we have no request except prayer from our Baptist world as we do not know how to face tomorrow.” P. Ramesh Kumar, Principal of the Balasore Technical School, reported to the BWA on August 25, “We are all under immense danger and threat from these groups.…Please continue to uphold us in your prayer particularly for the safety of Christian brothers and sisters who are now hiding themselves in jungles.” In response to the attacks, BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said, “Unfortunate events have taken place in Orissa in recent days. These began with the senseless killing of Hindu Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23. I am disappointed by the false claim that Christians have responsibility for this murder and I am saddened by the atrocities being visited on Christians in Orissa. “I appeal to the governing authorities in India to intervene to save the lives of the many who are being victimized in the current crisis,” said Callam. He added: “Respect for the principle of religious liberty and the sacredness of human life requires nothing less. I also appeal to all Baptists worldwide to pray God’s protection for our brothers and sisters in Orissa.” This is not the first time Christians in Orissa have experienced violent attacks. In December 2007, Hindu militants burned approximately 90 churches and 600 homes, killing an estimated 10 persons. There are several Baptist conventions and unions in Orissa state that are member bodies of the BWA, with total membership in Orissa of nearly 500,000 baptized believers and approximately 3,500 churches.
| Signs of the Times |

A reminder to keep the bride of Christ in your prayers around the world.

Powerful Magnitude 7 Quake Rocks Siberia Fox News (August 27, 2008) - Russian emergency officials say a powerful earthquake has struck a Siberian region that includes Lake Baikal, but no casualties were immediately reported. The magnitude 7 quake occurred at around 10:35 a.m. (0135 GMT) on Wednesday. Its epicenter was the southern tip of Lake Baikal, west of the Siberian city of Irkutsk. The Russian television channel NTV reported that the quake caused thousands of frightened residents at apartment compounds and other buildings in Irkutsk to run onto the streets. A spokeswoman for the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry says the quake did not cause any casualties or major damage. Baikal is the world's largest freshwater lake by volume and a popular tourist destination.
| Earth Changes |

Ireland shoots down idea of swift Lisbon revote EU Observer (August 27, 2008) - The Irish government has insisted that no second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is in the works after Europe minister Dick Roche on the weekend told press that another vote on the text would be "appropriate." "Nothing whatsoever has been decided vis-a-vis the next step, because we're only in the process of analysis at this stage," the Irish Times quotes an unnamed government spokesperson as saying. "People who are saying 'another referendum or legislation,' they are all jumping ahead to an outcome, and the government isn't anywhere near that." Meanwhile, the UK's Financial Times reports that Irish government officials have privately conceded that any second referendum, should one take place, would not occur before next year's European Parliamentary elections, but rather in the second half of 2009. The government clarification comes after a storm of criticism attacking Mr Roche's comments from campaigners for both the Yes and No sides in the failed June referendum as well as all main opposition parties. Irish Europe minister Dick Roche had told the Irish Independent newspaper earlier this week: "A referendum is the appropriate response to the position we are in", while stressing that it was his "personal view at this stage." "The government has made it clear that no option has been ruled in or out. We cannot exclude that at some stage and in the right circumstances it may be necessary to consult the people once again." In response, the Labour Party's deputy leader, Joan Burton, described the minister's comments as "unwise and unhelpful," adding: "There can be no question of simply putting the same proposition to the people once again." "There is no basis for believing that a second referendum would produce a different outcome to the one we got on 12 June," she said, saying the government should not be "threatening to ram another referendum down people's throats". more...
| EU/UN / 4th Kingdom |

Europe into the breach International Herald Tribune (August 26, 2008) - Some diplomatic movement has returned to the Middle East. Under American supervision, Israelis and Palestinians have been negotiating again since the end of 2007. Syria and Israel have begun an indirect negotiation process with Turkey as a mediator. In Lebanon, a new government including all relevant political factions has finally been formed. This would not have been possible without a green light from Syria. And this green light would not have come had Damascus not been convinced that its own negotiations with Israel could, in the medium term at least, lead to a bilateral agreement and also bring about an improvement of Syrian-American relations. Individual European Union states have already honored this constructive about-turn of Syrian policies. For all those engaged in Middle East diplomacy - this goes for the Arab-Israeli fold as well as for the Iranian nuclear file - the U.S. political calendar is always present: No one expects the current U.S. administration to settle any of the conflicts in the region or to bring any of the ongoing diplomatic processes there to a conclusion during the rest of its term. This is explicitly so for the Syrian-Israeli negotiations: Syria has already declared that it would not move from indirect to direct talks before the inauguration of a new American administration ready to actively engage with such a process. Implicitly, however, the same applies to the Annapolis process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. President Bush has repeatedly said that he wants the two sides to reach an agreement while he is still in office. Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who lead the talks, are both aware of the contours of a possible, mutually acceptable agreement, and they seem to have come closer with regard to some of the particularly difficult so-called final-status issues. Nonetheless, even under the most positive scenario, the best one could expect is a further narrowing of the gaps. A comprehensive agreement that would sort out such complex issues as the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, future borders between Israel and Palestine, or infrastructural links between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, will not be reached within only a couple of months. And neither Israel's prime minister nor the Palestinian president would today have the authority and the necessary majorities to ratify, let alone to implement a peace agreement. All this does not speak against the process, only against exaggerated expectations. The process is extremely fragile, and it could easily break down - particularly in the absence of sustained external "care," of guidance and support from a third party both able and prepared to drive the process forward and encourage the negotiating parties to continue their efforts even in the face of domestic opposition. The current U.S. administration will cease to play its role after the November elections; many of its representatives will by then be looking for new jobs. The new U.S. president will first have to get his senior officials confirmed by Congress, and a foreign policy review, before he begins any major policy initiative. As a result, we should expect a time-out for any active American involvement in the Middle East peace process between the end of this year and at least March or April 2009. Herein lays Europe's challenge. As an active partner in the so-called Middle East Quartet with the United States, Russia and the United Nations, the EU has helped to bring about the current talks between Israelis and Palestinians.. The EU and several of its member states are contributing to the process through the support of state- and institution-building in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the security and justice sectors. But beyond that, the EU must now prepare itself to keep the process alive from the end of this year through to next spring. Considering such a task we also have to be aware of the particular structures of the Union. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has already announced a more active support for the Middle East peace process. But the French presidency ends in December 2008, and the Czech government, which takes over in January 2009, is unlikely to summon the same energy and resources for the Middle East. The EU's special representative for the Middle East, the Belgian diplomat Marc Otte, does not have enough political weight to assume a role that so far has been played by the U.S. secretary of state. Individual EU states like France, Germany or Spain would have the resources and diplomatic skills and could even be interested in temporarily guiding the process until a new American administration resumes this function. In practice, however, jealousy among EU states would make it impossible for any one of them to act for Europe in this or any other important foreign-policy field, unless this country happens to hold the EU presidency. EU states that want to promote a consensual and common European approach would therefore not even try to assume this role; others that might want to take it on would not be able to fill it. This does not make the EU incapable of acting. [Who ya gonna call?] The Union, through its Council of Foreign Ministers, should as soon as possible give a mandate to Javier Solana, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, to make himself available, with the approval of Israel, the Palestinians, and the current U.S. administration, as a temporary mediator for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from the end of the year. Solana would not take such an initiative on his own, but he can do so with a mandate from the Council. His staff is familiar with the subject matter and his diplomatic skills are beyond doubt. Any coalition of willing EU states could support him by delegating some of their own experienced diplomats to his office for the task. Solana and the EU would not be expected to make peace or to bring the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to a conclusion and to dispel any opposition to an agreement. This cannot be done by the EU, simply because, compared to the United States, it has less influence over Israel and cannot give security guarantees to either Israel or the Palestinians. The EU, however, can act as a temporary trustee for the process, thereby preventing it from breaking down and, given its knowledge of the regional situation, help the parties to find practical solutions for some of the most complicated final-status questions - for example, the political division of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states - only to hand back the process and the role of external guidance to Washington once the new administration there is ready for it. As an active trustee in this sense, the EU could not only show that it lives up to its own claim of contributing to crisis management through preventive diplomacy, it would also demonstrate to the new U.S. administration how high a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ranges on the European list of priorities, and how useful it can be for the United States to cooperate on this with its trans-Atlantic partners.
| Signs of the Times | Israel | Islam | Dividing the Land | EU/UN / 4th Kingdom | Solana | NewWorldOrder | 1st Seal | America |

I agree with Fulfilled Prophecy regarding the must-read nature of this story and thank them for their watching of the many things I would miss were it not for their diligence. I wonder what would happen if some kind of Middle East war were to break out and through it all, a particular person who helped author part of the roadmap were to actually bring the peace agreement to fruition and divide Israel? I believe he could be seen as an incredibly good diplomat and give further credibility to give him more power to bring peace in the world. Keep watching...

Iran's Ahmadinejad, Russia's Medvedev to hold talks Tehran Times (August 25, 2008) - Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe which begins on Thursday. Ahmadinejad and Medvedev will talk about strengthening relations between the two countries and discuss regional and international issues, the Fars News Agency reported. This is the first time that two presidents meet each other. The SCO’s eighth conference will be held on August 28 and 29. It will be attended by the presidents of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as its permanent members, the heads of state from Iran, India, Mongolia plus Pakistani foreign minister as observers, and the leaders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan as guests. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental international organization founded in Shanghai on 15 June 2001 by six countries, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its member states cover an area of about three fifths of Eurasia, with a population of 1.455 billion. Its working languages are Chinese and Russian. The organization’s main objectives include strengthening confidence among the members, increasing political, scientific, cultural, and educational as well as energy, transportation, tourism cooperation between the member states.
| Iran | Gog/Magog |

Explosion severs Azerbaijan-Georgia-Europe fuel railway link DEBKAfile (August 24, 2008) - The train hit a mine Sunday, Aug. 24 at the village of Skra, 5 km west of Gori, on the main track of the railway line linking Eastern and Western Georgia – a vital trade route for oil exports from Azerbaijan to European markets. Responsibility for the sabotage has not been determined. The blast deals a serious blow to Georgia’s efforts to recover from its ten-day war over South Ossetia in the face of the continuing Russian military presence. Georgian officials suggested Russian forces which pulled out of the area two days ago left a road mine on the railroad. Azerbaijan restored its oil consignments via Georgia only two days ago; their interruption during the fighting robbed the Saakasvhili government of valuable revenue, which the attack has suspended again. In another development Sunday, the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul docked at the Georgian port of Batumi carrying supplies such as blankets, hygiene kits and baby food. Two more US ships are due to dock later this week. The American vessels were supposed originally to put in at the Black Sea port of Poti, 80 km to the north, but changed direction to avoid meeting Russian troops who are fortifying their positions at Poti further up the coast. Russia says it entitled to keep its forces in a buffer zone around the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, citing the truce and other international agreements as covering unspecified “additional security measures,” over and above their pre-conflict positions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Moscow claims, approved the buffer zones which they organized before the ceasefire was signed (as revealed by DEBKAfile on Aug. 17) Russia acknowledges that Poti is outside the ceasefire’s terms and its peacekeeping mandate. Saturday, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva returned to its base in Ukraine. DEBKAfile reported on Aug. 20 from official Russian sources that the warship was part of a large flotilla heading for the Mediterranean port of Tartus in Syria. The defense ministry in Moscow later detached the Moskva from the contingent and sent it back to the Black Sea.
| Gog/Magog | EU/UN / 4th Kingdom | America |

Jews in the Temple Area: A "Mount"-ing Controversy Israel National News (August 24, 2008) - Several of Israel’s leading rabbis have fired the latest shot in one of modern Israel’s longest-running halachic disputes—whether a Jew may enter the Temple Mount nowadays. Rabbis Ovadia Yosef, Shalom Elyashiv and Chaim Kanievsky recently sent a letter to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall area, asking him to repeat a 40-year-old decree prohibiting Jews from entering the Temple Mount. The decree was originally signed by most leading rabbis upon the Mount’s capture by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. The Temple Mount is the area upon which both Holy Temples stood, in which the priests offered sacrifices, and where thrice-yearly convocations of the whole nation of Israel took place during the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). In the center of the Temple complex stood a Holy of Holies that guarded the Holy Ark—once containing the original Tablets of the Law given to Moses by G-d at Mt. Sinai—and the Foundation Stone for the creation of the universe. That spot is the holiest point in the world and the place that the High Priest entered only once a year to offer the most important atonement sacrifice of the year. The modern debate centers on whether or not there is enough information from classical rabbinical sources to identify the location of the Holy of Holies, as well as the layout of the Temple, which articulated specific areas accessible to different categories of Jews. The biblical prohibition against a person entering an area in the Temple complex forbidden to him carries with it the severe Divine penalty of karet. Rabbi Yosef is regarded as Israel’s foremost Sephardic authority on Torah law, Rabbi Elyashiv is considered to be the leader of the hareidi-religious community, and Rabbi Kanievsky is a world-renowned rabbi and authority on Torah law. The letter sent by the rabbis follows a firestorm of controversy that erupted last month when a prominent rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Tendler, was photographed ascending the Mount. Rabbi Tendler is the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, considered the leading halachic (Torah law) authority in America in his time. Rabbi Tendler climbed to the plaza in the center of the Mount, upon which the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock, considered by many to be the location of the Inner Temple itself. In recent years several other prominent rabbis have ascended the Mount, keeping the flames of the dispute burning. In the latest letter, the three rabbis demand a complete ban on Jews entering any part of the Temple Mount on the grounds that the ritual purity of the area might be violated. "A time passed, we have lost knowledge of the precise location of the Temple, and anyone entering the Temple Mount is liable to unwittingly enter the area of the Temple and the Holy of Holies,” the three wrote in the letter. "Entrance to the Temple Mount, and the defilement of the Holy of Holies, is more severe than any of the violations in the Torah," wrote Rabbi Kanievsky. Signs were first placed around the area in 1967 warning Jews that they would be incurring a divine decree of death if they ascended the Mount. The signs enjoyed the support of most rabbis at the time. However, with the passing decades many religious leaders, especially from the religious-Zionist mvement, began to question the validity of the decree. Among them are Kiryat Shmona’s chief rabbi Tzephania Drori, Kiryat Arba’s Dov Lior, and Rabbi Nachum Rabinovich, head of the Maaleh Adumim yeshiva, who have all called for a review of the ban. more...
| Temple Mount |

Tornado touches down south of Denver KRDO (August 24, 2008) - At least four tornadoes touched down southeast of Denver today, the eve of the Democratic National Convention. The twisters caused no substantial damage. Authorities say one twister touched down about 20 miles southeast of downtown Denver, between Castle Rock and Parker. Television footage showed a dusty twister spinning through relatively open country, with scattered houses nearby. Three more twisters touched down in the area, but the exact location of thoses weren't immediately known. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Jefferson County after the twisters. There was no immediate word of flooding damage. The storm also brought more than an inch of pea-sized hail.
| America | Earth Changes |

From a United Press International story: "I've never seen anything like it," Park County Coroner Sharon Morris told the newspaper. "And I've been here 25 years."

New Orleans Repeating Deadly Levee Mistakes Newsmax (August 23, 2008) - Signs are emerging that history is repeating itself in the Big Easy, still healing from Katrina: People have forgotten a lesson from four decades ago and believe once again that the federal government is constructing a levee system they can prosper behind. In a yearlong review of levee work here, The Associated Press has tracked a pattern of public misperception, political jockeying and legal fighting, along with economic and engineering miscalculations since Katrina, that threaten to make New Orleans the scene of another devastating flood. Dozens of interviews with engineers, historians, policymakers and flood zone residents confirmed many have not learned from public policy mistakes made after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, which set the stage for Katrina; many mistakes are being repeated. "People forget, but they cannot afford to forget," said Windell Curole, a Louisiana hurricane and levee expert. "If you believe you can't flood, that's when you increase the risk of flooding. In New Orleans, I don't think they talk about the risk." Tyrone Marshall, a 48-year-old bread vendor, is one person who doesn't believe he's going to flood again. "They've heightened the levees. They're raised up. It makes me feel safe," he said as he toiled outside his home in hard-hit Gentilly, a formerly flooded property refashioned into a California-style bungalow. Geneva Stanford, a 76-year-old health care worker, is a believer, too. She lives in a trim and tidy prefabricated house in the Lower 9th Ward, 200 feet from a rebuilt floodwall that Katrina broke. "This wall here wasn't there when we had the flood," Stanford said, radiant in a bright kanga-style dress. "When I look at it now, I say maybe if we had had it up it there then, maybe we wouldn't have flooded." They're not alone. A recent University of New Orleans survey of residents found concern about levee safety was dropping off the list of top worries, replaced by crime, incompetent leadership and corruption. This sense of security, though, may be dangerously naive. For the foreseeable future, New Orleans will be protected by levees unable to protect against another storm like Katrina. When and if the Army Corps of Engineers finishes $14.8 billion in post-Katrina work, the city will have limited protection _ what are defined as 100-year levees. more...
| America |

Obama chooses Sen. Joe Biden to be running mate CNN (August 23, 2008) - Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama introduced Sen. Joe Biden to the nation as his running mate Saturday, telling supporters that he is "a leader who is ready to step in and be president." "For months, I've searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside me and join me in making Washington work for the American people. I searched for a leader who understood the rising costs confronting working people and will always put their dreams first," Obama said. "Today, I've come back to Springfield to tell you I've found that leader," he said. The rally is the pair's first joint appearance since Obama announced that Biden, the senior U.S. senator from Delaware, would be his running mate on his Web site and in a text message to supporters early Saturday morning. Democrats hope that Biden's working-class roots and foreign policy experience will help Obama, who informed Biden of his decision Thursday. Thousands of cheering supporters gathered Saturday for the rally in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama announced his candidacy last year. It will be their only public appearance together before next week's Democratic convention in Denver. As he took to the podium at Saturday's rally, Biden invoked the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln, who was from Illinois. "President Lincoln once instructed us to be sure to put your feet in the right place and then stand firm," said Biden, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania. "Today in Springfield, I know my feet are in the right place, and I'm proud to stand firm with the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama." Obama stressed those roots, introducing 65-year-old Biden as "still that scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the odds." He noted hardships in Biden's life, including the deaths of Biden's first wife and infant daughter in a 1972 car wreck and his struggle to overcome a brain aneurysm in 1988. more...
| America |

Iran's Ahmadinejad in New Verbal Attack on Israel AFP (August 23, 2008) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his verbal attacks on arch-foe Israel on Saturday, accusing it of dragging the world into turmoil and predicting its demise. "About 2,000 organised Zionists and 7,000 to 8,000 agents of Zionism have dragged the world into turmoil," Ahmadinejad told a rally in the central Iranian city of Arak carried live on state television. He said that if the West does not restrain Zionism, "the powerful hand of the nations will clean these sources of corruption from the face of the earth," without specifying which nations. Iran does not recognise the Jewish state and Ahmadinejad has drawn international condemnation by repeatedly saying since his election in 2005 that Israel is doomed to disappear. Last month Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie triggered controversy and calls for his resignation when he said Iranians are "friends with Israelis." Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, accuses Iran of seeking atomic weapons and wants tougher sanctions against the Islamic republic to make it halt its controversial nuclear programme. Iran insists that its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful and aimed at meeting the country's growing energy needs.
| Iran | Israel |

I guess at least he's honest about his intentions.

Beirut to petition UN on Jerusalem threats The Jerusalem Post (August 22, 2008) - Lebanon's unity cabinet on Friday approved a decision to formally complain to the United Nations about what it perceived as recent Israeli threats against Lebanon. "To hear what Israeli officials say, one would think Israel was showering Lebanon with roses during its last aggression," Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said of the Second Lebanon War. Saniora was apparently referring to comments this week by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who warned that Israel would hit back harder than before if Hizbullah attacked again. Olmert said Israel did not use all its means to respond then, but "if Lebanon becomes a Hizbullah state, then we won't have any restrictions in this regard." Lebanon's new national unity government has given Hizbullah and their allies veto power over all major decisions and also upheld Hizbullah's right to retain its weapons. Also Friday, the Lebanese cabinet formally approved diplomatic ties with Syria and the opening of a Lebanese embassy in Damascus. Information Minister Tarek Mitri said following a Cabinet meeting late Thursday that Lebanon's foreign minister has been entrusted with following up on the mechanism to set up the embassy. He did not set a time frame. The move was yet another step in ending the long chill between the two estranged neighbors, who earlier this month agreed to establish full diplomatic ties for the first time since they gained their independence from France in the 1940s. The agreement on diplomatic ties came during a landmark visit last week by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad. It was the first visit by a Lebanese head of state in three years. During the visit, the two countries also agreed to negotiate the demarcation of their border, a standing Lebanese demand from its longtime dominant larger neighbor. Syria controlled Lebanon for nearly 30 years until its direct hold was broken in 2005.
| Israel | Islam | EU/UN / 4th Kingdom |

US concedes Kremlin’s first military response in Georgia was “legitimate” DEBKAfile (August 22, 2008) - The US ambassador to Moscow, endorsing Russia's initial moves in Georgia, described the Kremlin's first military response as legitimate after Russian troops came under attack. This was the first positive statement by an American official about Moscow’s first response to the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, after a string of condemnations from the heads of the Bush administration. It came from US ambassador John Beyrle, who arrived in Moscow last month, in an interview published by the Russian daily Kommersant Friday, Aug. 22. DEBKA-Net-Weekly disclosed Friday in its lead article that Washington and Moscow are working quietly and intensively to set up a summit between President George W. Bush and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin to bring crisis-ridden US-Russian relations back on an even keel. (Both Powers Push for a Bush-Putin Summit.) Ambassador Beyrle’s words were the first public departure by a US official from the critical remarks of Moscow’s conduct heard uniformly from Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates. The ambassador said Washington had not sanctioned Georgia’s initial actions when on Aug. 8, after a succession of tense skirmishes, Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia, triggering a massive Russian reaction when its peacekeepers came under fire. “We did not want to see a recourse to violence and force and we made that very, very clear,” said Beyrle. “The fact that we were trying to convince the Georgian side not to take this step is clear evidence that we did not want all this to happen,” he said. DEBKAfile: This was the first US admission that Georgia was the aggressor in South Ossetia and showed cracks in their hitherto solid support for president Mikhail Saakashvili. Beyrle said Washington still supports Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization – an official departure from implied American threats to punish Moscow by international isolation. The US ambassador’s interview was run in the same Russian paper which quoted Syrian president Bashar Assad on Wednesday, as announcing he was willing to accept Russian missile bases in his country. Beyrle’s words look like a bid to halt the deterioration in Russo-American relations before they veer out of control in a second global arena. In another telling remark, the US ambassador said: “We have seen the destruction of civilian infrastructure, as well as calls by some Russian politicians to change the democratically-elected government of Georgia. That is why we believe that Russia has gone too far.” The subtext here, say DEBKAfile’s sources, is that if Moscow continues to pull troops out of Georgia and does not threaten the country’s integrity and regime, Russian and US leaders can do business.
| Gog/Magog | America |

Could this be a prelude to our "Krystallnacht"? Constance Cumbey (July 28, 2008) - See referenced article: In 1938 a crazed Jewish young man, Peter Grynspan, distraught over his parent's deportation to a Polish ghetto, walked into a Nazi office and killed a German military official. This was the incident the Nazis seized upon to rally mass violence against the Jews which culminated in the ugly Krystallnacht in which thousands of Jewish owned businesses had their glass shattered and shops destroyed. Then the already victimized storeowners and other Jews were forced to pay reparations for the cleanup. They were also forced to wear ugly yellow stars. There was an ominous parallel here in the USA yesterday. A crazed out of work man, with a media reported hatred of liberals and their churches allegedly walked into a Knoxville, Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire. At least seven were wounded. Two have so far died. Because of a note left in the car, the matter is being investigated as a "hate crime." What is ignored in the headline coverage are the statements of witnesses contained in the article: He was angry at all religion. He expressed anger two years ago at a neighbor who told him she graduated from Bible School. He said his parents had forced him to go to church as a child. His hatred of religion was certainly not confined to "liberal" ones. The emphasis in the mainstream media coverage seems to be "hate crimes" against "liberal churches" -- not Christianity and the Bible in general. I am fearful of the media spin being put upon this one. I have collected many New Age books that say when people learn what the churches are all about, they will burn them down. Edgar Cayce (A.R.E.) activist Gina Cerminara wrote one such book, Insights for the Age of Aquarius. I rather suspect the Alliance of Civilizations will seize upon this as part of their implementation agenda. They have already written at length that a greater threat than terrorism to the world was 'religious extremism' in the USA. They spelled out with great exactitude that this was more dangerous than terrorism because it was the "extremism" that would breed terrorism. Given the recent publicity characterizing Fellowship Foundation as Christian extremism and given that we know that at the very highest levels it was a New Age stalking horse with interlocking directorates with the highest leadership of powerful New Age groups such as Institute for Noetic Sciences and World Business Academy, I suspect that great hay will be made of this with little or no attention paid to the assailant's total hatred of all religion. The same tactic was tried by New Age leadership after Jim Jones and his People's Temple blew up in 1977. The New Agers promptly blamed the entire organization and final fatal episode on "Christian fundamentalism." I am happy to have played some role, albeit perhaps small, in returning Jim Jones to the New Age community of which he was always such a stalwart part. It would be very nice as the charges of "Christian extremism" advance to likewise hand them back Fellowship Foundation and the Prayer Breakfast Network. Using psychological terms, what appears to be happening is called "projection." The New Agers are busy projecting their own hateful agenda on to us, successfully using the religious subversion networks they created to marginalize and silence those of us sound the alarms! Atheist websites continue to mischaracterize Jim Jones as "Christian" seeking "righteousness." I am certain by now they know he was not, but the lie is convenient for those seeking to put down monotheism in general and Christianity in particular. We need to keep a close and wary eye on this one.
| Signs of the Times |

U.S. government: We know parenting better than you WorldNet Daily (July 28, 2008) - The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to debate two bills that could give the federal government unprecedented control over the way parents raise their children – even providing funds for state workers to come into homes and screen babies for emotional and developmental problems. The Pre-K Act (HR 3289) and the Education Begins at Home Act (HR 2343) are two bills geared toward military and families who fall below state poverty lines. The measures are said to be a way to prevent child abuse, close the achievement gap in education between poor and minority infants versus middle-class children and evaluate babies younger than 5 for medical conditions.

'Education Begins at Home Act' – HR 2343

HR 2343 is sponsored by Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and cosponsored by 55 Democrats and 11 Republicans. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that implementing the Education Begins at Home Act would cost taxpayers $190 million for state home visiting plus "such sums as may be necessary" for in-hospital parent education. While the bill may appear to be well-intentioned, Pediatrician Karen Effrem told WND government provisions in HR 2343 to evaluate children for developmental problems go too far. "The federal definition of developmental screening for special education also includes what they call socioemotional screening, which is mental health screening," Effrem said. "Mental health screening is very subjective no matter what age you do it. Obviously it is incredibly subjective when we are talking about very young children." While the program may not be mandatory for low-income and military families, there is no wording in the Education Begins at Home Act requiring parental permission for treatment or ongoing care once the family is enrolled – a point that leads some to ask where parental rights end and the government takes over. Also, critics ask how agents of the government plan to acquire private medical and financial records to offer the home visiting program. "There's no consent mentioned in the bill for any kind of screening – medical, health or developmental," Effrem said. "There are privacy concerns because when home visitors come into the home they assess everything about the family: Their financial situation, social situation, parenting practices, everything. All of that is put into a database." Effrem said it does not specify whether parents are allowed to decline evaluations, drugs or treatment for their children once they are diagnosed with developmental or medical conditions. "How free is someone who has been tagged as needing this program in the case of home visiting – like a military family or a poor family?" she asked. "How free are they to refuse? Even their refusal will be documented somewhere. There are plenty of instances where families have felt they can't refuse because they would lose benefits, be accused of not being good parents or potentially have their children taken away." When WND asked Effrem how long state-diagnosed conditions would remain in a child's permanent medical history, she responded: "Forever. As far as I know, there isn't any statute of limitations. The child's record follows them through school and potentially college, employment and military service." Effrem said conflicts could also arise when parents do not agree with parenting standards of government home visitors. "Who decides how cultural tolerance is going to be manifested?" she asked. "There's some blather in the language of the bill about having cultural awareness of the differences in parenting practices, but it seems like that never applies to Christian parents."

'Providing Resources Early for Kids'

The Pre-K Act, or HR 3289, is sponsored by Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and cosponsored by 116 Democrats and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. Estimated to cost $500 million for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2013, the bill provides funds for state-approved education. Government workers would reach mothers and fathers in the hospital after a baby has been delivered to promote Pre-K programs. "They give them information about child care Resource and Referral Network so they can get the child into a preschool or daycare that follows the state standards and get the mom working as quickly as possible," she said. "It's always that sort of thing: It's a list of resources, it's intruding on parental autonomy and authority and it's not necessarily accurate or welcome information." While parents may choose to be involved in preschool programs, Effrem said the Pre-K Act poses similar concerns about government trumping parents' rights. "Once they are involved, they don't have any say over curriculum," she said. "There's plenty of evidence of preschool curriculum that deals with issues that have nothing to do with a child's academic development – like gender, gender identity, careers, environmentalism, multiculturalism, feminism and all of that – things that don't amount to a hill of beans as far as a child learning how to read." Effrem said the Pre-K Act extends a "really messed-up K-12 system" to include even younger, more vulnerable children. "This is an expansion of the federal government into education when there really is no constitutional provision for it to do so."
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