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10.04.10 Qaeda terror plot targets French, German landmarks: US report
WASHINGTON (AFP) October 4 - Militants allegedly plotting attacks in Europe have a list of targets including Paris's Eiffel Tower and a hotel close to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Fox News reported on Sunday. The report came in the wake of a US State Department travel alert urging Americans to be vigilant against the potential for terror attacks in Europe. Attractions on the list also included the luxury Hotel Adlon near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Berlin's Central Station and its landmark Alexanderplatz TV tower, Fox said citing unnamed intelligence officials. "One official said security has also been tightened around the British royal family," the Fox report added. Fox cited a senior western intelligence official as saying that the information about the target list was provided by "a German-Pakistani national interrogated at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan." [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com; See also cnn.com, October 4, "Hamburg cell at heart of terrorist plot against Europe"
10.04.10 Biggest sealife survey: Most ocean life is unknown
LONDON, October 4 - The planet's seas and oceans are richer and more diverse than scientists suspected, the biggest survey of marine life has revealed — but many mysteries remain. The Census of Marine Life, which announced its full findings Monday, has taken 10 years to complete, employing 2,700 scientists from 80 nations. The $650 million study surveyed from the coldest waters to the warmest lagoons, from the smallest microbes to the largest cetaceans. It even looked at life 10,000 meters (6.2 miles) down in the Marianas Trench southeast of Japan. [More>>cnn.com; See also msnbc.msn.com, October 4, "Census of the seas."]
10.04.10 Hundreds of Asian activists plan to sail in new Gaza-bound flotilla
(AP) October 4 - The Turkish charity IHH, which sponsored a Gaza-bound flotilla that Israeli commandos boarded in a deadly raid last spring, said Monday that some 500 activists would take part in a new flotilla that hopes to reach Gaza by December 27. Pro-Palestinian activists from dozens of Asian countries are planning to send a convoy of ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip in a new effort to break Israel's blockade of the coastal territory. The Turkish charity IHH, which sponsored a Gaza-bound flotilla that Israeli commandos boarded in a deadly raid last spring, said Monday that some 500 activists would take part in a new flotilla that hopes to reach Gaza by December 27. The activists will set off from India by land on Dec. 2, cross Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria, then try to reach Gaza by sea, said a spokesman for the charity. IHH will organize the Turkish leg of the trip. [More>>haaretz.com]
10.04.10 Settlers set fire to West Bank mosque: Palestinians
(Reuters) October 4 - Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of setting fire to a West Bank mosque on Monday, an incident that coincided with US efforts to rescue peace talks halted by a dispute over settlement building. Fifteen Holy Qurans and the mosque's carpet were burned, said Ali Thawabti, a municipal council official in the village of Beit Fajjar. He said residents put out the fire and "settlers got into their white Peugeot and sped away." It was the fourth time since December that a mosque in the occupied West Bank had been vandalized in attacks Palestinians blamed on settlers. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]
10.04.10 Taliban attack, set ablaze NATO oil tankers; 3 killed
October 4 - Three people were killed and 28 oil tankers were set ablaze when Taliban fighters attacked a convoy ferrying fuel to NATO forces in Afghanistan in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi today, police said. A spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack on the tankers near a defence residential complex in Rawalpindi, local media reported. The vehicles were attacked when they were parked at Attock oil refinery for refuelling. The attackers, who were riding motorcycles, fired and threw petrol bombs at the tankers. The militants pulled people out of trucks and shot them dead, said truckers who survived the assault...This was the second torching of NATO supply vehicles in an urban area since last week and also the second time a supply convoy was attacked in the vicinity of Islamabad. On Friday, 28 tankers were destroyed when militants attacked a convoy at Shikarpur in southern Sindh province. Around 60 NATO supply trucks were destroyed and eight persons were killed in a major attack near Islamabad on June 9. [Full story>>indianexpress.com]
10.04.10 Five killed in Iraq violence
BAGHDAD, October 4 - Five people were killed in violence in Baghdad and central Iraq on Monday, including a roadside bomb targeting a junior minister, medical and security officials said. A convoy transporting Fuad al-Mussawi, a deputy minister of science and technology, struck a bomb along a road in the upscale neighbourhood of Jadriyah, in the centre of the capital. The minister was unharmed, but the early morning blast killed one of his guards and wounded four other people, said an interior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Also in central Baghdad, an employee of a telephone exchange was killed and another wounded by a bomb which detonated near Al-Alwiyah communications centre in Karrada. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
10.04.10 Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker challenges race trial judges
AMSTERDAM, October 4 - Dutch anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders, a key player in efforts to form a new government, accused judges trying him on charges of inciting hatred of scandalous bias and demanded they be replaced. Wilders, who has 24-hour police guard because of death threats, went on trial on Monday over comments including a comparison he made between the Islamic faith and Nazism. The prosecutor, reacting to complaints about Wilders, originally said he was protected by the right to free speech, but a court overruled him and ordered that Wilders be charged. Anti-racism group the Netherlands Admits Colour, which helped initiate the case against Wilders, has placed 100 comments by Wilders online to back its allegation that he is responsible for xenophobia and discrimination. [More>>thestar.com.my; See also foxnews.com, October 4, "Trial of anti-Islam Dutch leader Wilders adjourned until Tuesday."]
10.01.10 Ahmadinejad visit a 'provocation' : Lebanon alliance
BEIRUT (AFP) October 1 - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's expected tour of south Lebanon during his official visit to the Mediterranean country was criticized as a “provocation” on Friday by the largest bloc in parliament. On the two-day visit from October 13, Ahmadinejad is scheduled to hold talks with his counterpart Michel Sleiman, who invited the Iranian leader, as well as Prime Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri. The hardliner is also due to meet on the sidelines with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — a key ally whose powerful party is considered a proxy of Iran — and tour the south of the country, according to political officials.
10.01.10 Does the Koran advocate violence?
October 1 - Religious scholars debate interpretations of controversial Koranic passages. "One of these passages, Chapter 5, Verse 32, explicitly states that if you kill a human being, it is like killing all mankind, except if you are killing that human being as punishment for villainy in the land," said Irshad Manji, a New York University professor and director of the college's Moral Courage Project. She added, "That clause beginning with the word 'except' is a loophole. It's an escape hatch, and many would-be terrorists pounce on that to justify their violent jihads." Interviews with alleged Islamic terrorists have shown that many are ignorant about, or choose to ignore, the full teachings of their own faith. In 2005, Barbara Walters sat down with Jihad Jarrar, a Palestinian serving 22 years in an Israeli prison after a failed suicide bombing attempt. "God compensates the martyr because he lost his life and lost the world on earth. He compensates him with 72 virgins in paradise," he told Barbara Walters in a 2005 interview. When Walters asked him where the legend of the 72 virgins came from, Jarrar responded: "No, no. God created them just for the people who are in paradise." But according to scholars, the Koran makes no mention of a sexual reward for holy martyrs. [More>>abcnews.go.com with blog comments, including:
Editorial note: "News editors' poor research on the Koran" :The abcnews.go article shows confusion and a gross lack of preparation in researching whether the Koran advocates violence. However, the jwillix blog comment and link to the article is worth reading. For those wondering what the relationship the Koran has to the Bible or how Allah compares to the God of the Bible "The Allah Controversy" may be worth reading and Maravot News comment on Koran's advocacy of violence against unbelieves."
10.01.10 Abbas to Mitchell: No further talks until building halted
October 1 - PA says Israeli building in settlements equivalent to refusal to continue peace negotiations; Netanyahu tells Mitchell that Israel wants to continue direct talks; Egyptian FM says freeze not an important issue. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday told US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell that the there will be no further peace negotiations with Israel as long as building in settlements continues, Israel Radio reported. Mitchell met with Abbas in Ramallah on Friday after having met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the hopes of finding a compromise that could save the talks which have stalled following Israel's decision earlier this week not to extend the 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement building. Following Abbas's meeting with Mitchell, a Palestinian Authority spokesman said that no breakthrough to revive the talks had been made and that Israel's insistence on continuing construction in the settlements is preventing progress towards reaching a peace agreement. [More>>jpost.com]
10.01.10 Dutch ad watchdog criticizes Israeli tourism maps
October 1 - Advertising Code Committee rules Israeli Nat'l Tourism Board materials do not clearly show Israel's "international recognized borders." The Dutch advertising watchdog on Thursday alleged that Israel is publishing misleading information on its tourism website that blurs the borders between Israel and occupied Arab territories. The Advertising Code Committee stated in a nonbinding ruling that material distributed by the Dutch branch of the Israeli National Tourism Board does not "clearly show where the border lies between what is internationally recognized as Israeli territory and 'disputed' areas." Pro-Palestinian activists complained that the maps gave the impression that parts of the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem are in Israel, as well as the Golan Heights captured from Syria. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rejected the criticism. He said, that concerning the borders of Israel, "the situation is [still] ambiguous." [More>>jpost.com]
10.01.10 Gunmen torch NATO supply tankers in Pakistan
KARACHI, October 1 - Militants believed to be behind the attacks. Suspected militants in Pakistan set fire to tankers carrying fuel for NATO troops in Afghanistan on Friday, officials said, a day after three soldiers were killed in a cross-border NATO air strike. Attacks on trucks carrying supplies for US and NATO-led forces are routine. But Friday's incident came a day after Pakistan blocked the convoys following the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers blamed on cross-border NATO fire. "Around 20 attackers armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles attacked these trucks. They set ablaze 27 trucks parked there," district police chief Abdul Hameed Khoso told AFP. Senior local officials said "extremists" are believed to have carried out the attack on the tankers in the southern town of Shikarpur early on Friday. Pakistani authorities, angered by repeated incursions by NATO helicopters over the past week, have blocked a supply route for the troops in Afghanistan. [More>>alarabiya.net]
10.01.10 Al-Qaeda takes back their sons from Iraq
October 1 - Qaeda fathers take more than 50 of their infant boys. Dozens of children born to al-Qaeda militants in Iraq are now being 'kidnapped' by their fathers to be raised as the next generation al-Qaeda fighters, the UAE-based The National Reports. Mothers of these children were forced into these marriages and were presented as 'gifts' to al-Qaeda militants when pro-Qaeda and anti-US sentiments swept Iraq's Sunni heartland provinces of Anbar, Mosul and Diyala after the 2003 US-led invasion on Iraq. There are no exact figures for the number of the abducted children, but through Noor, a non-government organization that is providing help to hundreds of these women give an estimate of at least 50 missing infant boys. "We have reports that many of these children are disappearing and that al-Qaeda wants to bring them up as a new generation that will be indoctrinated from birth and will be extremely loyal to its cause," said Dr. Jamil Dawar, a Noor official. [More>>alarabiya.net]
10.01.10 Mosque, houses of Ahhmadiyah followers burned down
JAKARTA, October 1 - Hundreds of people set a mosque and five houses reportedly belonging to followers of Ahmadiyah in Ciampea village in the West Java regency of Bogor to fire on Friday night, stirring panic among the Islamic sect members. Bogor police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tomex Kurniawan said at least 150 officers and two companions of Mobile Brigade troops had been deployed to restore peace and order in the village. A number of Ahmadiyah followers were seen fleeing their village to keep themselves from the angry mass, vivanews.com reported. One of Ahmadiyah follower, Syaiful Mu'munin, said the arson attack came suddenly. He said the people vented their anger following a report that an Ahmadiyah member stabbed a relative of the attackers. The Indonesian Ulema Council has banned Ahmadiyah and its teachings, calling the sect as heretical. [>thejakartapost.com]
10.01.10 Indonesian women caned for selling food during Muslim festival of Ramadan
October 1 - This is the moment two women were publicly caned in Indonesia's staunchly Muslim Aceh province on Friday for selling food. The two women were found guilty of selling food during the fasting hours of Ramadan, thereby violating Islamic sharia law. Hundreds of people gathered to watch as Murni Amris, 27, received three lashes and Rukiah Abdullah, 22, received two at a mosque in the city of Jantho, southeast of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. "The two women were found selling rice in a stall at noon during Ramadan. The sharia forbids selling food during fasting hours at Ramadan," said Marzuki Abdullah, Aceh's sharia police head. Ms. Amris owned the food stall where Ms. Abdullah was selling the rice. Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, which took place during August and September this year, but there are exceptions in cases such as illness or pregnancy. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
10.01.10 Deadly blasts mar Nigeria independence celebrations
(Reuters) October 1 - Two explosions rocked celebrations in Nigeria's capital Friday, killing at least eight people near a parade route where government officials and foreign dignitaries were marking the 50th anniversary of the country's independence. Eight people were killed and three injured in car bomb explosions that hit Nigeria's capital on Friday near a parade marking the 50th anniversary of independence, police said. Two explosions, which also destroyed three cars, came an hour after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Nigeria's biggest rebel militia, issued an email warning saying it had planted several bombs and telling people to evacuate the area. A Reuters cameraman said security forces and firemen in the capital, Abuja, had been trying to douse a fire in a car after the first explosion when a second blast hit. "Two car bombs exploded and eight people are confirmed dead," Abuja police spokesman Jimoh Moshood told Reuters...Given its warning, the finger of blame will rest heavily on MEND, which has been fighting for years for a greater share of oil revenues from the impoverished Niger Delta, home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry. [Full story>>france24.com]
10.01.10 Osama bin Laden concerned about climate
(AFP) October 1 - Osama bin Laden has expressed concern about global climate change and flooding in Pakistan, in an audiotape aired on the internet, his first public remarks since March, a monitoring group says. "The number of victims caused by climate change is very big ... bigger than the victims of wars," said the voice, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified and made available by SITE Intelligence Group today. The tape would be the first time Bin Laden has spoken publicly since March 25. It was not clear when the tape was made, but bin Laden congratulated Muslims on the September 10 end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. "The catastrophe (in Pakistan) is very big and it is difficult to describe it," he said. "What we are facing ... calls for generous souls and brave men to take serious and prompt action to provide relief for their Muslim brothers in Pakistan." [>news.com.au]
09.30.10 FBI charges dozens in global computer virus scam
September 30 - A massive international cybercrime scheme that relied on Internet viruses to loot millions of dollars from US and foreign bank accounts has been broken, federal law enforcement officials said. Federal authorities will announce charges Thursday afternoon against 60 people worldwide in connection with the scheme, the FBI said, an expansion on the Tuesday arrest of 19 people in London accused of stealing nearly $10 million from UK banks. Federal prosecutors say the defendants are accused of using the Zeus Trojan and other Internet viruses to siphon money from bank accounts. Authorities plan to announce the charges at a news conference in New York City, where nine of the accused were arrested. Citing the FBI's New York office, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that nine people have been arrested in the New York area, while one person has been taken into custody elsewhere in the US. The US suspects appear to be primarily henchmen, while the suspects arrested earlier in the week in London were ringleaders, Richard Wang, manager of security firm SophosLabs, told FoxNews.com. [More>>foxnews.com]
09.30.10 North Korea releases photo of heir
September 30 - North Korea unveiled a portrait of its next apparent leader for the first time on its main newspaper Thursday, clearly confirming the reclusive state's plans to shift power from the ailing Kim Jong-il to his youngest son. The black-and-white photograph, printed on Pyongyang's main Rodong Sinmun and carried by the North's state media monitored in Seoul, showed a somewhat chubby Kim Jong-un, who closely resembles his father as previously stated by a sushi chef who formerly served the Kims. Jong-un, who is believed to be in his late 20s, was crowned with important political posts during the North's ruling Workers’ Party convention earlier this week, signaling a power transition that could affect the future policies of the nuclear-armed state. The third son of the North Korean dictator, who has become noticeably thinner since suffering a stroke two years ago, was also made a four-star general, a major appointment that will empower the Swiss-educated heir to eventually take the reins of power after his ailing father. The photograph made public Thursday was taken during the party convention, according to Rodong Sinmun, with the heir-apparent posing alongside his father and other party delegates. [More>>koreaherald.com]
09.30.10 Pakistan detains 'facilitator' of NY bomb plotter
ISLAMABAD (AFP) September 30 - Pakistani police have arrested a an employee of a state Islamic body who allegedly helped New York bomb plot suspect Faisal Shahzad visit the nation's tribal belt, security officials said Thursday. "Faisal Abbasi was arrested while returning from Bannu last week," a security official said, referring to the northwestern town which borders Pakistan's tribal area — a hub for Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants. He is believed to have facilitated Shahzad's visit to the tribal district of South Waziristan, the official speaking on condition of anonymity said. He is being interrogated by security agencies.
09.30.10 Briton suspected of plotting Mumbai-style attacks killed by drone
September 30 - A Briton suspected of plotting attacks on European cities modelled on the terrorist rampage in Mumbai was killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, according to reports. A Pakistani intelligence official was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying that the man, who is believed to have been acting in concert with another Briton, was killed in a missile strike by a US unmanned aerial drone. The official named the dead man as Abdul Jabbar who, he said, had come originally from Pakistan's Jhelum district. He said that the suspects, who also included eight German nationals, had been hiding in the tribal areas of the North Waziristan region. The Britons are believed to have been tracked by the authorities for some time before the incident, which occurred on Sept. 8. News of the plot only emerged this week, after the killing of its mastermind Sheikh Fateh al-Masri, a senior al-Qaeda commander, by another US missile on Saturday.
09.30.10 Musharraf warns of another coup in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, September 30 - Pakistan is at risk of another military coup, warned its former army chief Pervez Musharraf, advocating a constitutional role for the army in the country's turbulent politics. Musharraf, who is in Britain and preparing to return to Pakistan, said that army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani could be forced to intervene against the unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari, Geo TV reported Thursday. The army should be given a constitutional role in Pakistan, which has been hit hard by rampant militancy and a crumbling economy, the former general said at a debate in London Wednesday night. He made the comments when he was asked if a new putsch was likely, following a reported crisis meeting this week between Kayani, Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
09.30.10 NATO violates air space twice; kills three FC men
PARACHINAR, Pakistan, September 30 - The allied forces in Afghanistan have stepped up provocative activities in Pakistani territorial limits, as NATO helicopters once again violated Pakistani airspace Thursday and attacked twice in Kurram Agency, killing three security personnel and injuring three others, Geo News reported. While, NATO said Thursday it was investigating reports that three of Pakistan soldiers were killed in a cross-border attack by coalition helicopters based in Afghanistan. "Early this morning, a coalition force observed what they believed was a group of insurgents attempting to fire mortars at a coalition base in the border area of Dand Patan district, Paktiya province," NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in statement. "The team reported they did not cross into Pakistan airspace and believed the insurgent location was on the Afghan side of the border." After being informed by Pakistan military officials that their border forces had been hit, ISAF said it was working with the Pakistanis "to ascertain if the two events are linked." "The matter remains under investigation," it said. According to the sources, the NATO helicopters pounded border area Pashu Kandao of Kurram Agency in second such attack by coalition forces inside Pakistan today. [More>>thenews.com.pk]
09.30.10 Pakistan blocks NATO Afghan supplies after fatal air strike
(Reuters) September 30 - Pakistan has moved to block a vital supply route for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan after blaming coalition forces for the death of three Pakistani soldiers in an air strike on a border village early on Thursday. Pakistani authorities blocked a vital supply route for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan on Thursday, angered by a cross-border NATO airstrike that killed three Pakistani soldiers, officials said. Trucks and fuel tankers for foreign forces in Afghanistan were stopped at Torkham border post in Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar, hours after the raid, the fourth reported by Pakistani authorities in recent days. "Yes, the NATO supplies have been stopped. It has been done locally," a senior security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. [More>>france24.com]
09.30.10 Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi 'to be released'
September 30 - Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be released in November just days after the first election there in two decades, officials say. The Nobel Peace laureate has been detained for most of the last 20 years since winning the country's last poll in 1990. Unnamed sources told the AFP news agency that she will be freed when her current house arrest expires on November 13. "November will be an important and busy month for us because of the election and because of Aung San Suu Kyi's release," a Burmese official said. The official noted the release would come soon after the country's November 7 vote. [More>>news.sky.com]
09.30.10 Palestinians expected to leave direct talks
September 30 - After giving Netanyahu an extension of several days to stop the renewed building in the settlements, the Palestinian leadership is expected to decide to cut off contact on Saturday. The Palestinian leadership plans to meet on Saturday and is expected to officially decide to end negotiations with Israel if the renewed West Bank settlement construction is not halted. Those expected to attend the meeting Saturday include representatives of the PLO workers committee, the Fatah central committee, and the heads of other political parties. [More>>haaretz.com]
09.30.10 Iran feeds Shiite militia in the Iraqi south
BAGHDAD (AP) September 30 - Hezbollah inspired militants grow stronger in Iraq. Nearly four minutes of shaky, hand-held video clips show roadside bombs hitting US convoys, a battery of Katyusha rockets and a soldier who appeared to be downed by sniper fire. And digitally burned into the left-hand corner is the raised-rifle emblem of a Shiite militia linked to Iran. The purported claim of responsibility by the group known as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and pledges of more violence highlight possible new muscle flexing by armed Shiite factions as US forces depart and Iraq's political leaders struggle to form a government. The jihad-style montage also underscores the unpredictable nature of armed Shiite factions eager to portray US troops as leaving under fire. [More>>alarabiya.net]
09.30.10 Wave of strikes cripples Europe as workers vent fury at budget cuts
September 30 - Series of coordinated protests hits 13 capital cities from Madrid to Brussels. Workers across Europe yesterday vented their anger against government spending cuts and tax hikes that unions said would punish the poor. Rallies were called in 13 capital cities and millions of Spanish workers went on strike in a mass action that hobbled public transport, paralysed building work and left streets littered with uncollected rubbish. Some 100,000 workers, including German miners and Polish shipbuilders, brought Brussels to a standstill to protest against savage spending cuts they claimed would make workers the biggest victims of an economic crisis that they are blaming on bankers and traders in the financial markets. The protest came as the European Commission said it would introduce measures to force EU governments to rein in their finances and reduce deficits, or face financial penalties. Unions said that 10 million people joined the general strike in Spain.
09.30.10 Al-Qaeda releases images of hostages kidnapped in Niger
(AP) September 30 - The North African branch of al-Qaeda publicized images on Thursday of seven hostages (pictured), including five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan, who were kidnapped in Niger on Sept. 16. The images first appeared on Islamist websites. A tape released Thursday on a jihadist forum shows the first images of a group of hostages including five French citizens since they were seized two weeks ago in Niger by an al-Qaeda offshoot and taken into the desert. The four-minute tape shows still images of the hostages sitting cross-legged in the sand with a gently sloping dune behind them. French officials believe the seven hostages are now in the bordering West African nation of Mali. [More>>france24.com]
09.30.10 Egyptian universities ban face-veiled professors
CAIRO, September 30 - Presidents said niqab hinders contact with students. One year after female university students were banned from sitting for the exam while wearing the face veil, two Egyptian universities issued a decree to ban face-veiled professors from teaching. The Cairo-based Ain Shams University and Fayoum University southwest of Cairo announced that female professors wearing the face veil, also called the "niqab," will not be allowed into the classroom unless they show their faces. Dr. Maged el-Deeb, President of Ain Shams University, denied allegations that the ban is a reflection of the persecution from which veiled professors suffer. "Fully veiled professors are not going to be banned from working at the university," he told Al Arabiya. "They will only not be allowed to teach." Deeb added that professors wearing the niqab will be involved in administrative work like proctoring during the exams. "They also have the right to do research and any other academic activities with the support of the university." [More>>alarabiya.net]
09.30.10 Scientists overcome hurdles to stem cell alternatives
September 30 - Scientists reported Thursday they had developed a technique that can quickly create safe alternatives to human embryonic stem cells, a major advance toward developing a less controversial approach for treating for a host of medical problems. The researchers published a series of experiments showing they can use laboratory-made versions of naturally occurring biological signals to quickly convert ordinary skin cells into cells that appear virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the same strategy can then coax those cells to morph into specific tissues that would be a perfect match for transplantation into patients. The work, by a team led by Derrick J. Rossi of the Children's Hospital Boston, was praised by other researchers as a breakthrough. "This paper is a major paper, in my view, in the field of regenerative medicine," said Douglas A. Melton, who co-directs the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Opponents of human embryonic stem cell research, meanwhile, seized on the advance as the most convincing evidence yet that alternatives were sufficient, rendering the morally questionable cells unnecessary. [More>>washingtonpost.com]
09.30.10 Shattered leg rebuilt using stem cells
September 30 - A ground-breaking surgical technique has been used to rebuild the leg of a woman who suffered a bad break in a hit-and-run accident. Diane Stuttard had been told she would have to have her leg amputated after 11 operations failed to fix her bones. But in a world first, surgeons used her own stem cells to repair the damage - and lengthen the shattered limb. "I was advised to have the leg amputated by the surgeon in Leeds, but thankfully I said I wanted to wait until I had exhausted all avenues," she told Sky News. "I'm glad I did because this stem cell technique has come up and now it's my chance to get it right."
09.28.10 US drone strike kills four in Wana
PESHAWAR, September 28 - A US drone strike killed four suspected militants Tuesday and destroyed a rebel compound in a tribal area along the Afghan border, local security officials said. Pakistani officials say unmanned US aircraft have significantly stepped up attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked operatives in the semi-autonomous region this month, recording at least 21 attacks in September. Tuesday's strike took place in Zeba village close to the Afghan border and west of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan. "A US drone fired two missiles which hit a suspected militant compound, killing four militants," a Pakistani security official said on condition of anonymity. [>thenews.com.pk; See related story,
09.28.10 US ready to bomb 150 Pakistan terror camps?
WASHINGTON, September 28 - The United States has a secret "retribution" plan to bomb more than 150 terror camps in Pakistan in the event of another major terrorist attack originating from that country. This startling disclosure about Washington's "all bets off" policy towards an ostensibly dubious ally in the war on terror is contained in Bob Woodward's opus " Obama's War," which details an evolving US approach in the region. The plan pre-dates the Obama presidency, going back to the Bush White House, but elements of policy, aimed at wiping out terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan, is evident in the current administration's ruthless bombing by unmanned drones of terrorist targets inside Pakistan, which far surpasses the Bush approach in terms of frequency and intensity. The US threat also places in context secretary of state Hillary Clinton's dire warning to Islamabad earlier this year that there would be severe consequences for Pakistan if another 9/11-type attack were traced back to that country. [More>>timesofindia.indiatimes.com]
09.28.10 Karzai sets up body for peace talks
September 28 - Afghan president announces 68-member 'high council for peace' for holding talks with Taliban and other armed groups. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has appointed a high-level peace council to hold talks with the Taliban. "Today we will announce the list of the high peace council members," Karzai said during a ceremony marking Afghanistan's national literacy day, on Tuesday. His office later released a list of 68 people hand-picked by Karzai to lead his efforts to broker a peace deal with Taliban and other anti-government fighters. The list includes former president and warlord Burhanuddin Rabani, warlords Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaf and Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, all key figures in the resistance during the 1996-2001 Taliban rule over the country. These commanders helped the United States and other Western allies topple the Taliban from power in late 2001. [More>>aljazeera.net]
09.28.10 Jewish activist boat docks in Ashdod after IDF takeover
September 28 - Commando 13 warship peacefully diverts yacht from Gaza after illegally enters waters; IDF spokesperson calls boat "provocation." The yacht carrying Jewish activists that intended to break the Gaza blockade docked at Ashdod Port on Tuesday afternoon. The Israeli Navy took over the Irene, headed for Gaza, on Tuesday morning. No violence was used in taking over the boat, the IDF spokesperson reported, and the activists were peaceful. The IDF intends to deliver the humanitarian aid on the yacht to the Gaza Strip. Before taking over the ship, the navy issued two warnings to the yacht, saying that they were breaking Israeli and international laws. When the captain ignored the warnings, the ship entered blockaded waters. [More>>jpost.com]
09.28.10 China refuses to release 4 Japanese amid territorial dispute
September 28 - China on Tuesday refused to release four Japanese held for "video graphing military targets" as Tokyo reasserted its sovereignty over disputed islands at the centre of a territorial spat between Asia's traditional rivals and biggest economies. The case of four Japanese men held last week for taking video pictures of "military targets" was "completely different from the incident in the (disputed) Diaoyu Islands, will be fairly handled in accordance with the law," Jiang Yu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told a media briefing here. China had informed Japan of the case and arranged for a consular visit in accordance with a China-Japan consular agreement, she said, giving no clue when they would be released. Except the allegation that they were caught video graphing military targets, China so far has not provided any information about them.
09.28.10 Suicide bomber kills deputy governor of Ghazni province
(AFP) September 28 - A suicide bombing killed the deputy Afghan governor of the troubled province of Ghazni, Mohammad Kazim Allahyar, along with five other people in the south of the country on Tuesday, said police. A suicide bombing on Tuesday destroyed the vehicle of a deputy Afghan governor, killing the official and five other people in the south of the country, police said. Mohammad Kazim Allahyar, deputy governor for the troubled province of Ghazni, was on his way to his office when the attack took place. "The deputy governor has been martyred. His son and his nephew have also been martyred. In total, six people have been martyred," provincial police chief, Delawar Zahid told AFP, describing the bombing as a "suicide attack." [>france24.com]
09.28.10 Divine ignorance: America's religious IQ lacking
(AP) September 28 - A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths. Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.
09.27.10 'Gaza-bound Jewish activist boat will be stopped by navy'
September 26 - Foreign Ministry says the 'Irene' will be rerouted to Ashdod Port; vessel expected to arrive off Gaza coast late Tuesday morning. The Foreign Ministry on Monday insisted that a boat carrying Jewish activists bound for the Gaza Strip would be stopped by the navy before reaching the blockaded territory, AFP reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that if the boat entered the illegal zone off the Gaza coast, it would be stopped and taken to the Ashdod Port. The Irene is on course to arrive in the blockaded Gaza Strip late Tuesday morning, though they consider it likely the Israeli navy will stop them, an activist on board told The Associated Press Monday. "We know that they stopped all the other boats, so there is probably a good chance that they will try to stop this one," activist Yonatan Shapira said by phone from the 33-foot (10-meter) catamaran. [More>>jpost.com]
09.27.10 Bulldozers roll out across West Bank as settlement freeze ends
September 27 - Netanyahu speaks with Clinton, Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah in attempt to salvage peace process. Building work at the West Bank settlement of Ariel restarted Monday morning after a 10-month construction ban expired at midnight on Sunday. Construction of dozens of housing units also resumed in the settlements of Ravava, Yakir and Kochav a Hashachar, where bulldozers began clearing ground for new developments, which received permits before the freeze began. Settlers currently have plans for around 2,000 new homes across the West Bank. Of these, around 600 have up-to-date paperwork and are expected to be completed in the coming months. [More>>haaretz.com]
09.27.10 NATO forces kill dozens of militants in Pakistan after cross-border pursuit
(Reuters) September 27 - NATO helicopters tracked and killed some 30 insurgents on Pakistani soil after pursuing them across the border from eastern Afghanistan following an insurgent attack on a security post in Khost province, NATO forces said on Sunday. Two NATO helicopters killed 30 insurgents on Pakistani soil after a rare manned pursuit across the border from Afghanistan, NATO forces said on Sunday. The two Apache attack helicopters from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) crossed the border from eastern Afghanistan on Friday after the insurgents attacked a remote Afghan security outpost in Khost province.
09.27.10 Iran troops cross border to kill 'terrorists'
(AP) September 27 - Iranian forces crossed into neighboring Iraq and killed 30 fighters from a group Tehran said was involved in last week's bombing of a military parade, state TV reported. General Abdolrasoul Mahmoudabadi of the elite Revolutionary Guards told the TV that the "terrorists" were killed in a clash on Saturday "beyond the border" and that his forces were still in pursuit of two men who escaped the ambush. While Iran has said in the past it would target armed groups on Iraqi soil, this is a rare case of it actually admitting to an attack. Iraqi officials complained in the past about Iranian artillery shelling its northern mountainous region where armed Kurdish opposition groups have taken refuge. An explosion during a military parade in the town of Mahabad, in Iran's northwestern Kurdish region, killed 12 women and children on Wednesday. [More>>independent.co.uk]
09.27.10 US, Afghan forces begin battle for Kandahar
KABUL (AP) September 27 - International and Afghan troops have begun a key combat phase against insurgents in southern Afghanistan and expect heavy fighting, officials said Monday, in an operation that is crucial to the US strategy to turn around the nine-year war against the Taliban. The allied forces were moving into two or three areas around Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan at once to pressure the Taliban "so they don't get the chance to run away," Shah Mohammad Ahmadi, chief of Arghandab district northwest of the city, said Monday. "Before, when we have tried to get rid of the Taliban, when we cleaned one area we found more Taliban in a different one," he said. A top NATO officer said Sunday that the alliance a few days ago had launched its "kinetic," or combat, phase of "Operation Dragon Strike," a joint military push with Afghan forces around Kandahar intended to rid the area of insurgents and interrupt their ability to move freely and stage attacks. "It is a significant ground operation with air support," German Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, a NATO spokesman, said at a news conference. "We expect heavy fighting." [More>>foxnews.com]
YITZHAR, West Bank (Reuters) - Jewish settler Avraham Binyamin says any Israeli withdrawal from occupied land would be like severing a limb from his body. As one of some 300,000 Israelis living in enclaves built on West Bank land that Palestinians seek for a state, Binyamin expresses a view held by many that the area is a Jewish biblical birthright and must never be relinquished, not even for peace. Though not all settlers object to the US-sponsored peace talks that began on Sept. 2, many are fiercely opposed and say they will do whatever is needed to keep their homes and prevent an accord. "The national being of any people, particularly the Jewish people, is like a body, you cannot give up parts of your body," said Binyamin, 25, a teacher from Yitzhar, a settlement known for its tense relations with neighboring Palestinian villages. The religiously devout father of two says the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be relocated to neighboring Arab lands. "I can sometimes very much understand their pain and their need," he says. "But from the national perspective, it's either me or them — and I prefer it to be me."
Editorial note: "Recent history of the annexed territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem." In UN Resolution 181, "Partition of Palestine," 1947, three political regions were carved out of the previous British Mandate of Palestine, (1922-23) and this territory was carved out of the previous Ottoman Empire province of Egypt (1563-1917) which included, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Before that the region has changed hands from the pharoahs of Egypt, such as Rameses II (~1297 B.C.).
After the Exodus from Egypt, the Kingdom of David (1,000 B.C.) dominated the region between Damascus and Sinai (See Maravot's UN Map of Israel & Kingdom of David); then it was overthrown by the Assyrians (721 B.C.), Babylonians (597 B.C.), Persians (539 B.C.), Greeks (332-141 B.C.), Hasmoneans /Herodians (141 B.C.-70 A.D.), Romans (70 A.D.-324 A.D.), Byzantines (324-638 A.D.— the Persians momentarily captured Jerusalem in 614 A.D.); Arabs, beginning with the Umayyed Dynasty (651-974 A.D.) followed by the Crusaders (1099-1187 A.D. and again in 1229-1244 A.D.), Arabs-Ayyubid, (1187 A.D.), the Mamluks (1250-1516 A.D.), followed by the Ottomans. (See jewishvirtuallibary.org for timeline of Jerusalem.)
This perception carried over to the Christians. Here is what Tacitus says about them:
After the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews and Christians were scattered and persecuted across the globe. These perceptions of the Jews influenced some of the ideas of the Apostle Paul who blames the Jews for crucifying Jesus. The Jewish practice of separation, particularly at meals, was a major issue conflicting his teachings with those of St. Peter and St. James who led the early Christian Apostolic Church. Also in contrast to St. Peter and St. James who honored the Laws of the Jews (Torah), Paul argued that the law was old and dead, nothing more than "types and shadows" of things to come, i.e., an Old Testament. For instance:
After Paul, Christian teachers expanded the condemnation of the Jews. St. Jerome almost repeated the comment of Tacitus:
The persecution of the Jews continued through the Inquisition and exile of the Jews from Spain in 1492 A.D. By the time of Martin Luther this perception of the Jews is recorded:
Hitler's Nazi government put in place Luther's advise and took it further, producing the Holocaust (meaning "burnt offering") of 6 million Jews and many others. Today, expressing similar anti-Semitic views is the government of Iran (particularly in repeated diatribes by President Ahmadinijad and Ayatollah Khamenei). The Palestinian Hamas faction has not only continued warring against the new state of Israel, it is committed to the destruction of Israel and believed to be supported by the government of Iran.
The Gospels describe the birth of Christ through the Virgin Mary as fulfilling this prophesy. The prophesy describes a "virgin" in the sense of a maiden, an "unmarried woman," who need not necessarily mean a virgin. Most importantly, the prophesy says that the Virgin is a sign of the scattering of the Jews. Of interest is the fact that once the nation of the Jews has been scattered, fulfilling this prophesy, the Sign of the Virgin cannot be seen again. In this context we may justifiably argue that the scattering has been accomplished, fulfilling the prophesies that refer to that event, and now the Redemption is at hand, where the prophesies relating to the Redemption come to play. Much of the prophesy of Isaiah and others deals with the restoration or redemption of the Jews from the nations whence they had been scattered. The redemption prophesies include the appearance of the Messiah during a time called the Last Days or Day of Judgment or Day of Resurrection.
Today, Muslims worship atop the mount while Jews worship at the base of the mount at a place called the western Wailing Wall, a section of the Herodian Temple destroyed in the siege of Titus in 70 A.D. Jews do not go up to the top of the mount to worship because they believe that they must await the Messiah who they believe, according to the prophets, will rebuild the temple. At the same time, Muslims believe that the Jewish Messiah is a threat to the Dome of the Rock, since all parties seem to believe that the Dome of the Rock will be destroyed by the Jewish Messiah to make room for the new temple. This aversion by Muslims of the Messiah came to a height under the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman II (1523 A.D.) when he sealed up the main gate, the Golden Gate, to the Temple Mount. He not only sealed the gate to prevent the Jewish Messiah, he planted a cemetery in front of it and, when I was in Jerusalem in 1985, there was a wrought iron fence against it. I attempted to walk over to the gate atop the mount but Muslim guards prevented me from doing so.
There is a way to provide a holy land that gives life to all of those who live on it, for the precept of a land "married to God" prevents others from claiming it as their own. Separating Jerusalem to be governed by the United Nations may be a fair solution to the dilemma of ownership. It is clear from the prophesies — if we were to place any credence in them — that the intention in the redemption is not only to redeem the Jews to the land of their inheritance but also it would involve the redemption of all men. Jewish Midrash, in fact, has always recognized this precept, that when the Jews are redeemed to the Holy Land all men will be redeemed. Now then, we cannot fathom in such a redemption how tossing the Palestinians off of the same Holy Land would constitute a fair redemption to them. They too must be redeemed. In fact those quarreling over the possession of the land must learn to live with the idea that they are given the right to live off the land, but they will not own it, for to complete the prophesy, "the land will be married [to God]."
One may wonder how it is that the Muslims concluded that the Jewish Messiah is not the Messiah of all men, and one may further be concerned that Islamic clerics condemn the faith that the Koran claims it was created to confirm. There is no logic in arguments that infer that Allah is not the God of the Bible, or that believers in the Bible would be branded as "kuffars," subject to the death penalty unless they convert to Islam (Re: "The Allah Controversy"). These teachings affect Islamist points of view and at the least inhibit a reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Of course, if Jesus is the Messiah according to the Koran, his Gospel must apply in the teachings of Islam. Those teachings do not advocate violence against others, but rather tolerance, forgiveness and "turning the other cheek." When all of the parties to peace in the Middle East — Christians, Jews and Muslims — understand that their faiths derive from the same scriptural foundation, no doubt distortions of scripture to support violent ends will fade away. Perhaps the leaders should do less posturing to possess the land and more listening for the small voice of God.
09.26.10 Gas from raw sewage to power rockets
September 26 - Nitrous Oxide from processed sewage could power rockets, researchers say. Nitrous oxide is a particularly vile greenhouse gas and one of the unfortunate consequences of processing sewage. But that's not how a team at Stanford University sees it. In a novel marriage of environmental engineering and rocket science, the nitrous oxide produced at wastewater treatment plants is being used as a propellant for rockets. Rather than blasting off for space though, the idea is to fire up the motors and generate energy to run the plant. "We definitely have to think differently now. These wastewater treatment plants need to become resource recovery centers," Craig Criddle, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, told Discovery News.
09.26.10 Counter Islamophobia, Muslim nations urged
September 26 - Muslim nations must collectively resist growing Islamophobia in the US and Europe, the head of the world's largest organization of Islamic countries told ministers from the 57 member nations. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu urged members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to work with Western leaders to dispel misconceptions about their faith. They met on the edge of the UN General Assembly. Ihsanoglu said on Saturday that he would be taking this message on the road next week to Chicago, where the OIC will host a major conference on Islam and Muslims in America at the American Islamic College. Education, he said, is key in helping the West truly understand Islam.
09.26.10 Morocco fights Islamist extremism with Sufism
RABAT, Morocco, September 26 - Government organizes Sufi seminars and festivals. The rise of Jihadist trends and Salafi political parties as well as growing concerns about Islamism drove the Moroccan government to embark on a plan to support the Sufi movement in the country. By virtue of its focus on religious practices, Sufism, a type of Islamic, mysticism, is a trend that does not aim at intervening in politics or public affairs unlike other emerging Islamic parties in Morocco. Absence of political ambition among Sufi groups has made them the Moroccan government's way of choice to fight extremism. Financial support is among the government's strategies to encourage the spread of Sufism in Morocco. This is basically done through issuing royal donations in the name of King Mohamed VI to "zawyas," shrines in which Sufis perform their rituals.
09.26.10 US drone attack 'kills seven in north-western Pakistan'
September 26 - US drone aircraft have killed seven suspected militants in two missile strikes in north-western Pakistan, intelligence officials say. A house and then a vehicle were hit in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan near the Afghan border, they said. Saturday saw at least four militants reported killed in a similar attack in the same area. In the last three weeks, US drone strikes have killed about 100 suspected militants in Pakistan's tribal belt. The US military routinely does not confirm drone operations, but analysts say it has the only force capable of deploying such aircraft in the region. [>bbc.co.uk; See also thenews.com.pk, September 26, "Second predator strike kills 3 militants in NWA."]
09.26.10 Two NATO soldiers killed in bomb blast in Afghanistan
KABUL (RIA Novosti) September 26 - Two NATO servicemen were killed in a bomb blast in south Afghanistan, the military alliance said on Sunday. The servicemen were killed after their armored personnel carrier hit a roadside bomb, the military alliance said. Another two NATO servicemen were killed on Saturday, two in the south and one in the east of Afghanistan. Since the beginning of this year, a total of 536 international forces have been killed in Afghanistan compared to 521 servicemen killed in the entire year 2009. [More>>en.rian.ru]
09.26.10 British aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan
September 26 - A British female aid worker has been kidnapped by suspected insurgents in Afghanistan. The Briton was seized at gunpoint along with three fellow workers, thought to be Afghans, as they were travelling in a convoy to visit an aid project in the Narang district of Kunar. The unnamed woman was believed to be working for the American aid contracting firm Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) which has offices throughout the world, including one in London. Afghan media reported that the group were travelling between Asabad, the provincial capital and Jalalabad, in two vehicles, when they were seized by gunmen. The insurgents stopped them in the Spin Jumaat area of Sawakai district at around 11am, according to General Abdus Saboor Allahyar, the local police chief. He said the DAI workers had not informed the police of their journey. Along with the Briton, her guard, driver and another worker were also seized. A security official said the workers had wanted to attend the opening of a canal refurbishment project tin the Narang district of Kunar. [More>>telegraph.co.uk]
09.26.10 Blast near Fallujah kills 4 Iraqi police
BAGHDAD (AP) September 26 - Violence is latest sign that insurgents could be trying to win back old strongholds. A car packed with explosives blew up Sunday near the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, killing four policemen in the latest sign that insurgents could be trying to win back old strongholds, Iraqi officials said. Attacks elsewhere in the country killed at least four others. Fallujah has been the scene of several recent battles between security forces and suspected Sunni extremists. Two weeks ago, at least seven civilians were killed in a shootout between militants and Iraqi and US commandos during a failed attempt to capture a suspected leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Police and hospital officials in Fallujah, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, said the dead in Sunday's bombing included a police lieutenant colonel. A policeman and two civilians were also injured, the officials said.