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7.08.08 Iran: Death penalty for 'online crimes'

July 8 - A new law has been passed by the Iranian parliament extending use of the death penalty to online crimes. Previously, only people charged with insulting Islam or drug trafficking had been sentenced to death. In accordance with the new law, bloggers and website editors can be sentenced to death for crimes such as promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) reported.

Blogging about subjects such as minority rights and freedom of speech and religion has already carried a risk. In 2005, blogger Mojtaba Saminejad was tried before a local court in Teheran charged with insulting the prophets, which carries the death penalty. He was eventually acquitted. Last year, two Kurdish bloggers were sentenced to death on charges of subversive activities against national security, spying and separatist propaganda. Blogging is very popular in Iran — even the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has his own blog and the Persian language is one of the most commonly used on the Internet. [More>>jpost.com]

7.08.08 Egypt summons Iran envoy over Sadat movie

CAIRO, July 8 - "Assassination of a Pharaoh" upsets Egyptian sensibilities. Egypt summoned a senior Iranian diplomat in Cairo on Monday over an Iranian documentary film on the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official and state media said. Egypt's state news agency MENA said Cairo called in the head of the Iranian interests office in Cairo over the film, which upset Egyptian sensibilities. According to the Iranian film, Sadat was killed for signing the 1978 Camp David Accords that led to a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the first by an Arab country.

The documentary, entitled "Assassination of a Pharaoh," has already been shown on Iranian television, the Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper reported. The film, broadcast "in honor of the martyrs of the Islamic renaissance," deals with "the revolutionary assassination of the treacherous Egyptian president at the hands of the martyr Khaled Islambouli," the paper said. Islamic militant Islambouli was one of the soldiers who shot Sadat dead at a military parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. He was hanged for the killing in 1982 and subsequently had a Tehran road named after him.

7.07.08 S. Korea: Inflation woes revive chills of currency crisis

SEOUL, July 7 - (South Korea is the worlds 5th largest oil importer. This story describes the effects the rising energy costs have on its economy. In terms of the world economy it is one of the canaries in the coal mine, as it were - Maravot News.) Just as consumer sentiment was about to fully recover following the 1997-98 currency fiasco and the credit-bubble burst in 2002, the current inflationary pressures have emerged as the next-worst crisis. Fueled by soaring oil prices internationally, experts say that rising inflation is pushing up the cost of food, transportation and education, threatening the livelihood of the people of Korea.

Consumer price inflation hit a 10-year high of 5.5 percent in June from a year earlier. Korea is the world's fifth-largest oil importer. Worsening inflation is cutting into people's disposable income, particularly that of low-income earners, and significantly diminishing their spending. The Lee Myung-bak administration has been hoping to boost domestic consumption, which is a key economic growth engine. Record oil prices, however, are also threatening Korea's other main growth driver — exports, which account for 40 percent of the gross domestic product. Meanwhile, the global economic slowdown threatens to curb exports...Data indicate that transportation fuel costs soared 21.7 percent in the first half of 2008 compared to a year ago. That represents almost a five-fold gain compared to the overall consumer-prices gain of 4.3 percent during the same period. Compared to the first half of 1998, transportation costs have jumped 30.6 percent. [Full story>>koreaherald.co.kr; See another "canary in the coalmine" story, timesonline.co.uk, July 7, "Britain: Manufacturing slump stokes recession fears." and:
nytimes.com, July 7, "Fannie and Freddie Shares plunge" :
Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest providers of funding for United States home mortgages, plunged Monday on concern the companies need to raise more capital amid larger-than-expected losses...

7.07.08 Government official urges Dalai Lama to respond with sincerity after recent contact

BEIJING (Xinhua) July 7 - It's the time for the Dalai Lama to respond with sincerity and prove it by deeds after the Chinese central government had communicated goodwill to him during the meeting with his private representatives, a spokesman of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said on Sunday. During the meeting with [the] Dalai Lama's representatives, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, Du Qinglin, [the] head of the department told them the Dalai Lama should openly and explicitly promise and prove it in his actions not to support activities to disturb the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, not to support plots to fan violent criminal activities, not to support and concretely curb the violent terrorist activities of the "Tibetan Youth Congress" and not to support any argument and activity to seek "Tibet independence" and split the region from the country. [More>>xinhuanet.com]

7.07.08 Indonesia facing fresh religious unrest

July 8 - Indonesia is at risk of fresh religious unrest as hardline Islamic groups gain increasing influence over the government, a new report warns. Brussels-based think-tank, the International Crisis Group (ICG), says radical Islamic groups are waging intensive campaigns to influence Indonesian government policy. And they are winning, enjoying a level of influence disproportionate to the support they have in the wider community, the ICG says.

A recent Indonesian government decree restricting the activities of the controversial minority Islamic sect Ahmadiyah was the result of five years of lobbying, it said. "We find it a matter of some concern that some of the radical groups have become so influential, out of proportion to their numbers or the support that they have in the wider Indonesian population," said ICG's South East Asia project director John Virgoe. [More>>news.com.au; See:

ICG report, July 7, "Indonesia: Implications of the Ahmadiyah Decree."
and related story,
alarabiya.net, July 6, "Canada opens massive Ahamdiyya mosque."]

7.07.08 Egypt's Coptic Christians are choosing isolation

CAIRO, July 7 - Violent Clashes With Majority Muslims and an Increase in Separate Institutions Help Sever Centuries-Old Ties. Under pressure from fundamentalist forms of Islam and bursts of sectarian violence, the most populous Christian community in the Middle East is seeking safety by turning inward, cutting day-to-day social ties that have bound Muslim to Christian in Egypt for centuries, members of both communities say. Attacks this summer on monks and shopkeepers belonging to Egypt's Coptic Christian minority, and scattered clashes between Muslims and Christians, have compelled many of Egypt's estimated 6 million to 8 million Copts to isolate themselves in a nation with more than 70 million Muslims.

To a degree, the separation will stand as the legacy of one of the longest-serving leaders in the church's history, Pope Shenouda III, some Copts say. Shenouda has strengthened the church as the center of daily Coptic life, making it a bulwark for Christians, during a papacy that has spanned 36 years. Now 85, Shenouda is facing health problems, including a broken leg last month that was repaired in the United States. Across much of Egypt, Muslims and Christians note a drawing apart of their communities, especially in the working class. [More>>washingtonpost.com]

7.07.08 40 dead in Indian embassy blast in Afghan capital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) July 7 - A car bomb ripped through the front wall of the Indian Embassy in central Kabul on Monday, killing 40 people in the deadliest attack in Afghanistan's capital since the fall of the Taliban, officials said. The massive explosion detonated by a suicide bomber damaged two embassy vehicles entering the compound, near where dozens of Afghan men line up every morning to apply for visas. President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing and said it was carried out by militants trying to rupture the friendship between Afghanistan and India.

The Afghan Interior Ministry hinted that the attack was carried out with help from Pakistan's intelligence service, saying that "terrorists have carried out this attack in coordination and consultation with some of the active intelligence circles in the region." The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said Pakistan condemned the attack and terrorism in all forms. [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org]

7.07.08 US holds navy exercise after Iran comments on Gulf

DUBAI, July 7 - The US Navy said on Monday it was carrying out an exercise in the Gulf, days after vowing that Iran will not be allowed to block the waterway which carries crude from the world's largest oil-exporting region. "The aim of Exercise Stake Net is to practise the tactics and procedures of protecting maritime infrastructure such as gas and oil installations," Commodore Peter Hudson said in a US Fifth Fleet statement.

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said in remarks published late last month that Tehran would impose controls on shipping in the Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it was attacked. Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its nuclear programme has risen since a report last month said Israel had practised such a strike. Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, said last week the United States would not allow Iran to block the Gulf. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related stories:

jpost.com, July 7, " 'Israel, US wouldn't dare attack Iran' " : "...
Bernama quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that all nations should be able to use nuclear energy without any restrictions, stressing that it would provide them with a cheap alternative to crude oil...World powers fear Iran could use the uranium to build nuclear weapons, but the country insists its enrichment work is to produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Ahmadinejad said Western powers oppose Iran's quest for nuclear energy.

"They are expecting the day will come when our crude oil and gas will be finished. When that happens, they hope to sell these commodities to us at very high prices," the Bernama report quoted him as saying...."

telegraph.co.uk, July 7, "Iran has resumed A-bomb project, says West."

7.07.08 Indian Kashmir government collapses

July 7 - The government of the Indian-administered province of Jammu and Kashmir has collapsed. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the chief minister, resigned on Monday after weeks of protests over the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine trust. Thousands of Muslims in the province protested against the move, which they called an effort to alter the region's demographics. On July 1, the government revoked the land-transfer order, which defused tensions in predominantly Muslim Kashmir's capital Srinagar but led to more violent protests in Jammu, a Hindu-majority area. At least six people were killed and hundreds wounded in the protests. [More>>aljazeera.net]

7.07.08 One killed, 50 injured in series of blasts in Karachi

KARACHI, July 7 - One person was killed and 50 others injured in a series of 7 blasts that ripped through different areas of the busiest city of country on Monday. Two explosions occurred here in Banaras area. One of the blasts happened in a pile of garbage while the other one at a footpath near Banaras chowk, injuring 16 people. They were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, sources said. Enraged people took the streets and started pelting stones at moving vehicles.

The third explosion ripped through a mini truck in North Nazimabad area of Shahra-e-Noor Jehan near Sohail mosque. Five persons were injured, police sources said. However, Chhipa sources said 8 persons were taken to hospital. There are reports of the fourth blast in Hyderi area near a children's school.
[More>>thenews.com.pk; See also indianexpess: hosted.ap.org, July 7, "6 explosions wound 37 in Karachi, Pakistan."]

7.07.08 Iraq demands pullout timetable in US defence pact talks

BAGHDAD, July 7 - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that he is negotiating a deal with Washington that will provide for only a short-term US troop presence beyond this year and will also set a timetable for a full withdrawal. It was the first time that Iraq had made a pullout deadline a condition for a promised new agreement with the United States setting the basis for a troop presence into 2009. "The direction we are taking is to have a memorandum of understanding either for the departure of the forces or to have a timetable for their withdrawal," a statement from Maliki's office quoted him as telling Arab ambassadors to the United Arab Emirates. [More>>turkishpress.com]

7.07.08 Georgia's rebel region urges international groups to prevent terrorism

SUKHUMI (RIA Novosti) July 7 - The foreign ministry of Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia urged the international community to help in the fight against terrorism in the region on Monday following the death of four people in a blast. Abkhazia is claiming that Georgia is responsible for a series of explosions that have rocked the self-proclaimed region since June 30. The most recent blast hit a cafe Sunday in the town of Gali, on the Georgian-Abkhaz border killing four and injuring six.

Abkhazia's foreign ministry said in a statement, to the UN, G8 and OSCE, "Ignoring such serious provocations could lead to an irreversible escalation in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict." Abkhazia's ministry said that the international community's silence is an indication of their indirect support for terrorism and puts into question the objectivity of international mediators in finding a political settlement to the conflict in the region. The foreign ministry statement said that "the leadership of Georgia has been openly supporting terrorism" for 15 years, stating that Levan Mamasakhlisi, considered a terrorist by Abkhazia, had received awards from Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili. [More>>en.rian.ru]

7.06.08 Pakistan Islamists vow jihad year after mosque siege

ISLAMABAD, July 6 - Thousands of Pakistani Islamists vowed support for jihad, or Muslim holy war, on Sunday as they gathered at a mosque in the capital, Islamabad, to mark the first anniversary of an army raid on the complex. More than 100 people were killed when commandos stormed the Red Mosque complex, which included a madrasa or Islamic seminary, on July 10 last year, after a week-long siege that began when gunmen from the mosque clashed with police outside.

Speakers told a crowd of several thousand, most of them men, that US ally President Pervez Musharraf was to blame for the bloodshed. "Pervez Musharraf, you thought you could crush the Islamic movement by attacking the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), but we are telling you, you have failed," Shah Abdul Aziz, a cleric and former member of the parliament, told the crowd. "It was done at the behest of America and Bush. But I want to tell America jihad will continue, it will never stop," he said. The protesters, most of them religious students, shouted 'al jihad' in response. [More>>khaleejtimes.com; See related story,thenews.com.pk, July 6, "Suicide blast kills 19 including 15 policemen in Islamabad."]

7.06.08 Liel: Syria prepared to cut Iran ties

July 6 - Syria is prepared to cut its ties with Iran if the US provides it with financial and military backing, former director general of the Foreign Ministry Alon Liel told The Sunday Telegraph. According to Liel, who the paper said has been engaged in low-key "second track" discussions with Syrian representatives, Syrian President Bashar Assad was open to a deal which would weaken Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Liel said prospects of peace with Syria had increased, though a new US president may need to be elected before a deal could be reached. "They are asking not only for the Golan Heights but a change in Washington that will break the Syrian isolation internationally," said Liel. "But I also think they will not do it unless they are assured they have an alternative to Iran."..."The Golan Heights is considered our Tuscany. Israelis fell in love with the Golan - and it's a very easy conflict for us. That's why it's so difficult to convince Israel to withdraw," Liel continued. [Full story>>jpost.com]

7.06.08 Baghdad car bomb kills six, wounds 14

BAGHDAD (Reuters) July 6 - A car bomb killed six civilians and wounded 14 other people in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad on Sunday, police said. One woman was among the dead and three policemen were wounded in the attack, which targeted a police patrol. There has been a relative lull in violence in the Iraqi capital. In other violence, a roadside bomb killed up to seven family members of a senior Iraqi Kurdish official in Diyala province, police said.

The bomb hit a convoy carrying Mohammed Ramadan and his family in Jalawla, 115 km (70 miles) northeast of Baghdad. It killed his wife and two or three of his sons. Police were unclear of the number and identity of the other family members. Two of his bodyguards were also killed. Ramadan, who was wounded, is a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, one of the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq.

US and Iraqi officials say that violence in Iraq has dropped to four-year lows. US officials say a surge in US troops last year, a rebellion by Sunni Arab tribal leaders against al-Qaeda and a ceasefire by anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have helped reduce attacks. Numbers from the Health Ministry showed 448 civilians were killed in June in Iraq, from 505 May. The May figure was down from 968 civilian deaths in April, a month when fighting spiralled between Shia militias and security forces. [>khaleejtimes.com; See also aljazeera.net]

7.06.08 Ancient tablet ignites debate on Messiah and Resurrection

JERUSALEM, July 6 - A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days. If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, probably found near the Dead Sea in Jordan according to some scholars who have studied it, is a rare example of a stone with ink writings from that era — in essence, a Dead Sea Scroll on stone. It is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate. Still, its authenticity has so far faced no challenge, so its role in helping to understand the roots of Christianity in the devastating political crisis faced by the Jews of the time seems likely to increase.

Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the University of California at Berkeley, said that the stone was part of a growing body of evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day. "Some Christians will find it shocking — a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology — while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism," Mr. Boyarin said.

To make his case about the importance of the stone, Mr. Knohl focuses especially on line 80, which begins clearly with the words "L'shloshet yamin," meaning "in three days." The next word of the line was deemed partially illegible by Ms. Yardeni and Mr. Elitzur, but Mr. Knohl, who is an expert on the language of the Bible and Talmud, says the word is "hayeh," or "live" in the imperative. It has an unusual spelling, but it is one in keeping with the era. Two more hard-to-read words come later, and Mr. Knohl said he believed that he had deciphered them as well, so that the line reads, "In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you."

To whom is the archangel speaking? The next line says "Sar hasarin," or prince of princes. Since the Book of Daniel, one of the primary sources for the Gabriel text, speaks of Gabriel and of "a prince of princes," Mr. Knohl contends that the stone's writings are about the death of a leader of the Jews who will be resurrected in three days. He says further that such a suffering messiah is very different from the traditional Jewish image of the messiah as a triumphal, powerful descendant of King David.

"This should shake our basic view of Christianity," he said as he sat in his office of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem where he is a senior fellow in addition to being the Yehezkel Kaufman Professor of Biblical Studies at Hebrew University. "Resurrection after three days becomes a motif developed before Jesus, which runs contrary to nearly all scholarship. What happens in the New Testament was adopted by Jesus and his followers based on an earlier messiah story." [Full story>>nytimes.com]

Editorial note: Scholars have a tendency to leave out information that may not support their point. Khlol's point is that there is no evidence before the time of Jesus that suggests a suffering Messiah who is raised after three days. Also he does not describe the fact that the Jewish Oral Torah (Talmud, etc.), as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, spoke of Two Messiahs, not one Messiah. There is considerable scriptural authority for the perception of the Two Messiahs. The first authority is in Zechariah 4.14:

Zechariah 4.12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
4.13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord.
4.14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones [Messiahs], that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Then Zechariah speaks of the Two Messiahs as Two Staves, Beauty and Bands, through which "I will feed the flock of slaughter" (Zech. 11.7). Jewish Oral Torah contains midrash on the scriptures very much like that in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Specific areas of the Oral Torah, of the Talmud, such as Y.Suk.55b, B.Suk.52a, Sefer Hekhalot, BhM 5:187-88, and Mid. Lequah Tov, describe Two Messiahs, Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David. Messiah ben Joseph is the sacrificed Messiah who comes before Messiah ben David. Passages of the Bavli, such as CVI.C- CVII.J, deal with the Suffering Messiah and conclude, "...because the suffering would be so great that even the almighty would lament it, Yohanan desired to be spared the Messiah's coming," and Leviticus Rabbah XIII:V.6G cites the prophesy, "I have trodden the winepress alone," noting how the Messiah is alone in his work. Bavli LXXXVII.F then pursues this thought, wondering why the Messiah is alone in his work: "Would he then, if all the world is heretic, be also, to the the world, a heretic?"

The Dead Sea Scrolls address the Two Messiahs as a priestly and lay Messiah:

Manual of Discipline 9.8-11 Until the coming of the prophet and of both the priestly and the lay Messiah, these men are not to depart from the clear intent of the Law to walk in any way in the stubbornness of their own hearts. They shall judge by the original laws in which the members of the community were schooled from the beginning.

The Damascus Rule refers to these two staves:

The Damascus Rule VI: And they dug the well: the well which the princes dug, which the nobles of the people delved with the stave [Num. 31.18].

The well is the law, and those who dug it were the converts of Israel who went out of the Land of Judah to sojourn in the land of Damascus. God called them all princes because they sought Him, and their renown was disputed by no man. The Stave is the Interpreter of the Law of whom Isaiah said, "He makes a tool for his work [Isa. 54.16] and the nobles of the people are those who come to dig the well with the staves with which the stave ordained that they should walk in all the age of wickedness — and without them they shall find nothing — until he comes who shall teach righteousness at the end of days.

Further discussion on the Two Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls relates to a prophecy in Numbers:

The Damascus Rule VII...The star is the interpreter of the Law who shall come to Damascus; as it is written, A star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel [Num. 24.17]. The Scepter is the Prince of the whole congregation, and when he comes he shall smite all the children of Seth [Num 24.17].

The Damascus Rule VIII...until the coming of the Messiah out of Aaron and Israel...From the day of the gathering in of the Teacher of the Community until the end of all the men of war who deserted to the Liar there shall pass about forty years [Deut. 2.14].

Following this is an apocalyptic discussion on the coming of the "Age of Wrath against Israel," but all of those who hold fast to "these precepts" and "heed the voice of the Teacher and confess before God" "will prevail over all the sons of the earth." Then we have the Messianic Rule:

The Messianic Rule II [This shall be the ass]embly of the men of renown [called] to the meeting of the Council of the Community when [the Priest-] Messiah shall summon them.

He shall come [at] the head of the whole congregation of Israel with all [his brethren, the sons] of Aaron the Priests, [those called] to the assembly, the men of renown; and they shall sit [before him, each man] in the order of his dignity. And then [the Messiah of Israel shall come], and the chiefs of the [clans of Israel] shall sit before him, [each] in the order of his dignity, according to [his place] in their camps and marches...Thereafter, the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, [and] all the Congregation of the Community [shall utter a] blessing, [each man in the order] of his dignity.

The Dead Sea Scrolls not only anticipated Two Messiahs, they addressed how the reception of the Messiah of Israel (King Messiah) should be accomplished. In the description we see a ceremony remarkably similar to the ceremony held in the Last Supper, where it was Jesus who first broke the bread and passed it to the others. Also, an examination of the Gospels will reveal some confusion over Jesus — who is later believed to be the King Messiah, out of David, seen in the testimony concerning Judas — and his cousin, John the Baptist, who we learn from the historian Eusebius was a son of the high priest Zecharias, "who was murdered in the temple." Several disputations take place with Jesus as to who John the Baptist is with regard to scripture. An inquiry with Jesus asking in effect who he, as relating to John the Baptist, is is in Matthew. Before this conversation, in Matthew 16.14 we see considerable confusion among the disciples. (I paraphrase) Jesus asks, " Whom do men say the Son of man is?" They answered: "Some say that you are John the Baptist raised up, others say you are Elias, and others say you are Jeremais or one of the prophets raised up." See also Luke 8.28 and Mark 9.19 for this discussion. One may wonder how the disciples concluded that Jesus was John the Baptist raised up!

Luke 7.19 shows John the Baptist questioning Jesus: "Art thou he who should come or we look for another?" Matthew 11.13 -14 says, "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."

Matthew 17.9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
17.10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
17.11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
17.12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

Jesus used the term, "Son of man" to describe himself and that term is a term used in Daniel in reference to the Prince that shall come (who curiously is "one like the son of man"). Elias (Elijah) is mentioned in Malachi:

Malachi 4.5 Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
4.6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Elias is of interest in the conversation because he was known for miracles, such as feeding the widow in Phonecia and raising her son from the dead (I Kings 17.22), as well as destroying the priests of Baal and their altar by bringing fire down from heaven. Jesus appeared to be Elias. The Gospels attempt to clear up the missions of the two. Matthew 1.15 says that John (the Baptist) bare witness of him and cried, saying, "This was he of whom I spake, he that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me." Matthew 3.1 describes John fulfilling the prophecy of "one crying in the wilderness," an epithet of Elijah.

The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of the coming of the Prophet before the Day of Wrath. Jesus is confirming that perception, and he adds that both the resurrected Elijah and himself (the King Messiah) must suffer. The accounts of a Suffering Messiah are based on Isaiah 53. Again in Isaiah 41.28 we see a Messiah complaining, "For I beheld, and there was no man; even among them, and there was no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could answer a word." In another place the Messiah "treads the winepress alone." Then, in Isaiah 42 we learn of the "Light of the Gentile."

Isaiah 42.1 Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
42.2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
42.4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Luke 2.31 has a man raising up the baby Jesus, proclaiming him as "A light to lighten the Gentiles." The King Messiah is viewed as another lawgiver, like Moses, even with stammering lips. Matthew records Jesus as crediting himself as fulfilling the prophecy of the Light of the Gentile. There was a problem with his claim, however, since he had been ministering in the streets. He caused his voice to be heard in the streets. His answer to those who questioned this was:

Matthew 12.16 And charged them that they should not make him known:
12.17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (Isaiah) the prophet, saying,
12.18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
12.19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets...

Jesus really did not fulfill this prophecy, and he knew it, though he tried to cover up his oversight. At first he thought his mission was to only the Jews, as seen in his instructions to the disciples to go to "only the lost sheep of Israel" and his comment to the woman of Canaan, where he repeated his mission "to only the lost sheep of Israel" (Matt.15.24). But having spent more time among the Gentile someone must have brought to his attention the prophecy of the Light of the Gentile. His ministry — in his own mind — was based upon fulfilling prophecy. When John sent two disciples to Jesus to inquire whether he is the one or ought they wait for another, as his evidence of being the Messiah, Jesus replied by reminding him of the miracles he had done, to the blind, lame, lepers, deaf and the raising of the dead (Luke 7.27).

The precept of being raised up after three days is mentioned frequently by Jesus in the Gospels. Here is where he seems to have gotten the precept:

Matthew 12.40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

The Books of Adam and Eve — Apocryphal works not in the Bible, of questionable date — builds upon the thesis of the divinity of Christ, the Son of man, and discusses the prophesied gifts of the shepherds/kings, of myrrh, frankincense and gold, and other claimed prophesies peculiar to the Gospels. Here the "three days" appears:

Book 1, Adam and Eve, 49.8 And this sign, O Adam, will happen to me at my coming upon the earth: Satan will raise the people of the Jews to put me to death; and they will lay me in a rock, and seal a large stone upon me, and I shall remain within that rock three days and three nights.
49.9 But on the third day I shall rise again, and it shall be salvation to thee, O Adam, and to thy seed, to believe in me.

The raising up of the dead is dwelt upon in scripture. Hosea 6.1 says, "After two days He will revive us." The Book of Adam and Eve, 3.6, says "After five days and a half I will save you." The Book of Enoch says "after six days I will gather you." The gathering of the dispersed children of Israel and the resurrection were viewed by the ancient Pharisees and the Essenes as the redemption of Israel and the world, including the dead. The books of Adam and Eve and Enoch, as well as the book of the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, address these prophesies, the suffering Messiah and the Two Messiahs. We can see from the testimony from Jesus that is recorded in the Gospels many of the prophesies Jesus claimed to fulfill are recorded only in these books. These and other pseudoepigraphical works must have existed in the midrash of his time, in one form or another. It makes no sense that Jesus would be seeking to fulfill prophecy that had not yet been written.

The prophesies Jesus claims to have fulfilled from the Old Testament and other "resource" documents would have had to have been available in the first century A.D., following the death of Jesus and recording of the Gospels. It may be that the ancient tablet called "Gabriel's Revelation" was one of them. The people of the Dead Sea Scrolls certainly believed that they were in the Last Days, when the Messiahs should appear, and it is clear that Jesus viewed his presence as being in the Last Days. Then he described in Luke 21 his Second Coming which the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem, led by Saints Peter and James, believed would be in their very own day. "This generation shall not pass until all these things be accomplished," said Jesus (Matt. 24.34). But this would be apparent to the disciples, wouldn't it, that they were in the Last Days? Elijah the prophet is raised up in the Last Day before the Messiah(s) — as described in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jesus needed to establish John the Baptist as Elijah so to justify his role as the Messiah. A curious twist in scripture following Jesus' perception is that both Elijah resurrected and the Messiah must suffer and be put to death. This perception does not appear to be in the Dead Sea Scrolls or in traditional Jewish midrash, as in the suffering Messiah ben Joseph and Messiah ben David.

Following the same belief in the Last Day were the Zealots described by Josephus, one group of which was led by Simon the Zealot, who had made his base on Masada, He then entered Jerusalem when it was under siege by the Roman Caesar Titus, and his rivalry with another group of zealots led by John resulted in total chaos and the burning the Temple. Josephus, who witnessed the debacle, pointed out that Titus viewed the situation as watching the Jews destroy themselves and their city. A copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Zadokite Document — as I recall — was found at Masada. Other documents were found among the "Gnostic" Nag Hammidi scrolls in Egypt. The Jewish philosopher Philo also describes the rites of these peoples as worshipping in dawn services, like the later Christian Easter services. We address the natures of the Messiahs in more detail in our work "The Son of Man."

Mel Copeland.

7.05.08 Exclusive: secret film reveals how Mugabe stole an election

July 5 - A film that graphically shows how Robert Mugabe's supporters rigged Zimbabwe's election has been smuggled out of the country by a prison officer. It is believed to be the first footage of actual ballot-rigging and comes as Zimbabwe's president faces growing international pressure. Shepherd Yuda, 36, fled the country this week with his wife and children. He said that he hoped the film, which was made for the Guardian, would help draw further attention to the violence and corruption in Zimbabwe.

Much of the footage was shot inside the country's notorious jail system. Yuda, who has worked in the prison service for 13 years, was motivated by the intensifying violence directed towards the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the murder, two months ago, of his uncle, a MDC activist. Initially he intended to chronicle secretly what life was like inside Zimbabwe's jails but he found himself present when a war veteran and Mugabe supporter organized the vote-rigging by getting prison officers to fill in their postal ballots in his presence.

Using a hidden camera, Yuda filmed for six days prior to last Friday's run-off election in which Mugabe claimed victory with 90% of the vote. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, had earlier said his party would not be participating in the run-off because of intimidation. "I had never seen that kind of violence before," said Yuda, of the run-up to the election. "How can a government that claimed to be democratically elected kill its people, murder its people, torture its people?" [More & to view film>>guardian.co.uk]

7.05.08 Despair drives suicide attacks by Iraqi women

BAQUABA, Iraq, July 5 - Wenza Ali Mutlaq walked a bit uncertainly up the long street near the main government offices here on June 22, the hot wind stirring her heavy black abaya. She passed the concrete barricades put up to ward off suicide car bombers and made her way alone, almost haphazardly. Suddenly, a police car zoomed in. A policeman got out to talk with her. And then their lives were over — torn apart, along with 14 other people, by the huge blast of fire from her concealed explosive vest.

Ms. Mutlaq, who was in her 30s and whose attack was captured on a security video, was the 18th female suicide bomber of the war to strike in Diyala Province, which has been hit by female attackers much more frequently than any other province of Iraq, according to Iraqi police records and the American military. So far, 11 of the 20 suicide bombings carried out by women in Iraq this year have occurred in Diyala.

Why so many women? Why now? In a particularly painful twist, the phenomenon seems to have arisen at least in part because of successes in detaining and killing local members of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence officials say is led by foreigners. The women who become suicide bombers often have lost close male relatives — a husband, a brother, a son — in fighting, because they became suicide bombers themselves or because they were detained by American or Iraqi security forces. Ms. Mutlaq was no exception: her older brother had already taken the same path, detonating a suicide vest on June 10 during a shootout with Iraqi government forces.
[More>>nytimes.com; See related Iraq story, indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org, July 5, "Gunmen assassinate Shiite official in Iraq."]

7.05.08 16 civilians said killed in US-led strike, Afghan MP shot dead

ASADABAD, Afghanistan (AFP) July 5 - An Afghan provincial governor said Saturday 16 civilians including women, children and doctors were killed in US-led coalition air strikes but the force insisted the dead were militants. In other violence, gunmen killed a legislator while 10 militants were blown up by their own bomb in troubled southern Afghanistan, authorities said.

The air strikes were carried out on Friday in the remote district of Waygal in the mountainous northeast province of Nuristan, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Pakistan. Provincial governor Tamim Nuristani told AFP 16 civilians were killed as they were travelling out of the area after being told by security forces to leave ahead of an operation against Islamic insurgents. [More>>turkishpress.com; See also japantoday.com, July 5, "22 civilians die, parliamentarian killed in Afghan attacks."]

7.05.08 Saudi king to launch inter-faith forum in Madrid

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) July 5 - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whose country is home to Islam's holiest shrines, will launch an inter-faith conference in Spain later this month, the palace said on Saturday. The Saudi monarch "will inaugurate the international dialogue conference which will be held under his auspices in Madrid on July 16-18," a statement carried by the official SPA news agency said. [More>>khaleejtimes.com]

7.05.08 Study finds Indonesian oranguatan populations declining sharply

BANGKOK (AP) July 5 - Serge Wich, a scientist at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa, says the orangutan population on Sumatra island dropped almost 14 percent since 2004 because of shrinking habitat, and fell about 10 percent on Borneo island from deforestation. His group's study is one of the most comprehensive on the endangered apes and appears in this month's peer reviewed, science journal Oryx. But Wich, in an interview Saturday, insists there is reason for optimism. He says government commitments in Indonesia to protect forest and increasing conservation programs could help save the remaining 61,600 apes. [>thejakartapost.com]

7.04.08 'US fears Israel preparting Iran strike'

July 4 - This week's warnings from US President George W. Bush and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of America's Joint Chiefs of Staff, against an IDF strike on Iran are a sign that Washington is concerned that Jerusalem may indeed attack the Islamic Republic, Israeli government officials said Thursday. Also on Thursday, Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya'ari reported that Iran had expressed readiness to freeze its uranium enrichment program in return for the lifting of the international sanctions imposed on it. Citing unnamed Western officials, he said the Iranians had conveyed messages indicating they could accept the latest incentive package offered by the West in return for halting its enrichment program.

Meanwhile, a State Department spokesman said the US was sticking to its demand that Iran halt uranium enrichment as a precondition for US participation in negotiations with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program. He added, however, that the US would not rule out early consultations with Iran before official talks begin on resolving its standoff with the West. [More>>jpost.com]

7.04.08 Sikh group joins protest against ban on use of word "Allah" in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) July 4 - A Sikh group in Muslim-majority Malaysia is demanding the right to use the world "Allah" as a synonym for God and has joined a legal battle by Christians against a government order banning non-Muslims from using it, an official said Friday. The Malaysian Gurdwaras Council filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday seeking to join a suit by The Herald, a Roman Catholic newspaper, against the government over use of the word "Allah," said council President Sardar Jagir Singh.

The Home Ministry previously ordered the newspaper not to use the word "Allah" in its Malay-language publication as a translation for God, saying using the word would confuse Muslims. The Herald then filed suit, claiming it had a right to use the word. Jagir said his council, representing more than 100,000 Sikhs, wanted to join the suit because the ruling would affect them. The word Allah appears on "numerous occasions" in the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, he told The Associated Press. "Not a word can be altered. It's our holiest book ... it will mean we can't practice our own religion."

Jagir said so far he has not received a court date. The High Court is scheduled next Wednesday to hear the applications of several Islamic institutions that have applied to intervene in the suit to defend the ban. The Herald — which publishes in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil — says "Allah" is an Arabic word that predates Islam and has been used for centuries to mean "God" in Malay. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

Editorial note: According to many verses of the Koran, the Koran intended to confirm the Jewish Scriptures, (the Torah and prophets, i.e., the Old Testament) and the Gospel of Christ (New Testament). The confirmation presumes that the god of the Koran is the God of the Bible. For details on this confirmation See our editorial note to story, Maravot News 12.21.07 Malaysian Catholic weekly told to drop use of 'Allah.'

In reconciling the conflicts Islam has with other cultures, my thesis has to do with the Koran's representations of confirming the Bible. If you confirm something as true, then you cannot turn around and contradict it. The introduction of the Sikh argument into this lawsuit in Malaysia makes the case stronger, that one cannot contradict something one represents as being true. This, in fact, is a complaint Mohammed had to the Jewish scribes who refused to accept the Koran's confirmation of their very own scriptures. In the West we have a saying, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander," and this is precisely the situation present in the Catholic and Sikh arguments justifying the use of "Allah." For if "Allah" is the same God of the Bible, recognizing that God is infinite, unmeasurable, even among Jewish Midrash believed to have unlimited names — as many as 70 are listed, and "70" is used to describe an infinite number — then the entire issue in this interesting lawsuit has to do with the "true name of God." Since the Koran says it confirms the Bible it must agree with the Bible's presentation that the name of God is unknowable, unmeasurable. Those who attach names to him and try to describe his being will never be able to see God in his entirety. Buddhist scriptures refer to this process in the parable of the Great White Elephant and the blind men who are asked to describe the elephant. One describes a bulk with big floppy ears, another a bulk with a long trunk, etc., but not one of them can describe the entire elephant. The Guru of the Sikh holy scriptures refers to this process like one attempting to describe in detail the universe, and God is greater than the universe.

This happens to be the argument of the Guru Granth Sahib and in its argument we discover that while one may never know all of the wisdom in the name of God, through the Koran or the Bible, one should contemplate on the name to gain greater understanding and the path to virtue. In reading the first part of the 1,400 page Sikh holy book we see these informative verses (I placed in bold some relevant texts):

Japni Sahib, Page 4 (verse 20): ...The Pandits, the religious scholars, cannot find that time, even if it is written in the Puraanas. That time is not known to the Qazis, who study the Koran. The day and the date are not known to the Yogis, nor is the month or the season. The Creator who created this creation-only He Himself knows. How can we speak of Him? How can we praise Him?

Siree Raag, First Mehl, Fourth house, Page 24, verse 2, ...He alone is a Qazi, who renounces selfishness and conceit, and makes the One Name his Support. The True Creator Lord is, and shall always be. He was not born; He shall not die. || 3 || You may chant your prayers five times each day; you may read the Bible and the Koran Says Nanak, the grave is calling you, and now your food and drink are finished.
Siree Raag, Third Mehl, page 36,verse 3, ...The One Lord is the Giver of all. He corrects those who make mistakes. He Himself has deceived some, and attached them to duality. Through the Guru's Teachings, the Lord is found, and one's light merges into the Light. Attuned to the Name of the Lord night and day, O Nanak, you shall be absorbed into the Name. || 4 || 25 || 58 || SIREE RAAG, THIRD MEHL: The virtuous obtain Truth; they give up their desires for evil and corruption.
page 37...|| 4 || 26 || 59 || SIREE RAAG, THIRD MEHL: The Creator Himself created the Creation; He produced the Universe, and He Himself watches over it. The One and Only Lord is pervading and permeating all. The Unseen cannot be seen. God Himself is Merciful; He Himself bestows understanding. Through the Guru's Teachings, the True One dwells forever in the mind of those who remain lovingly attached to Him.
page 39, | 4 || 31 || 64 || SIREE RAAG, FOURTH MEHL, FIRST HOUSE: Within my mind and body is the intense pain of separation; how can my Beloved come to meet me in my home? When I see my God, seeing God Himself, my pain is taken away. I go and ask my friends, "How can I meet and merge with God?" ||1 || O my True Guru, without You I have no other at all. I am foolish and ignorant; I seek Your Sanctuary. Please be Merciful and unite me with the Lord. || 1 || Pause || The True Guru is the Giver of the Name of the Lord. God Himself causes us to meet Him. The True Guru understands the Lord God. There is no other as Great as the Guru. I have come and collapsed in the Guru's Sanctuary. In His Kindness, He has united me with God. || 2 ||
page 49 || 4 || 19 || 89 || SIREE RAAG, FIFTH MEHL: ...The Guru is the Giver, the Guru is All-powerful. The Guru is All-pervading, contained amongst all. The Guru is the Transcendent Lord, the Supreme Lord God. The Guru lifts up and saves those who are drowning. || 2 || How shall I praise the Guru, the All-powerful Cause of causes? Those, upon whose foreheads the Guru has placed His Hand, remain steady and stable. The Guru has led me to drink in the Ambrosial Nectar of the Naam, the Name of the Lord; He has released me from the cycle of birth and death.
page 50 || 4 || 20 || 90 || SIREE RAAG, FIFTH MEHL: People eat what they believe to be sweet, but it turns out to be bitter in taste. They attach their affections to brothers and friends, uselessly engrossed in corruption. They vanish without a moment's delay; without God's Name, they are stunned and amazed. || 1 || O my mind, attach yourself to the service of the True Guru. Whatever is seen, shall pass away. Abandon the intellectualizations of your mind. || 1 || Pause || Like the mad dog running around in all directions, the greedy person, unaware, consumes everything, edible and non-edible alike. Engrossed in the intoxication of sexual desire and anger, people wander through reincarnation over and over again. || 2 || Maya has spread out her net, and in it, she has placed the bait. The bird of desire is caught, and cannot find any escape, O my mother. One who does not know the Lord who created him, comes and goes in reincarnation over and over again.
page 51, || 4 || 23 || 93 || SIREE RAAG, FIFTH MEHL, SIXTH HOUSE: The One Lord is the Doer, the Cause of causes, who has created the creation. Meditate on the One, O my mind, who is the Support of all. || 1 || Meditate within your mind on the Guru's Feet. Give up all your clever mental tricks, and lovingly attune yourself to the True Word of the Shabad. || 1 || Pause || Suffering, agony and fear do not cling to one whose heart is filled with the GurMantra. Trying millions of things, people have grown weary, but without the Guru, none have been saved. || 2 || Gazing upon the Blessed Vision of the Guru's Darshan, the mind is comforted and all sins depart.
page52, || 4 || 28 || 98 || SIREE RAAG, FIFTH MEHL: Worship the Guru, the Transcendent Lord, with your mind and body attuned to love. The True Guru is the Giver of the soul; He gives Support to all. Act according to the Instructions of the True Guru; this is the true philosophy. Without being attuned to the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, all attachment to Maya is just dust. || 1 || O my friend, reflect upon the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. In the Saadh Sangat, He dwells within the mind, and one's works are brought to perfect fruition. || 1 || Pause || The Guru is All-powerful, the Guru is Infinite. By great good fortune, the Blessed Vision of His Darshan is obtained. The Guru is Imperceptible, Immaculate and Pure. There is no other as great as the Guru. The Guru is the Creator, the Guru is the Doer. The Gurmukh obtains true glory. Nothing is beyond the Guru; whatever He wishes comes to pass. || 2 || The Guru is the Sacred Shrine of Pilgrimage, the Guru is the Wish-fulfilling Elysian Tree. The Guru is the Fulfiller of the desires of the mind. The Guru is the Giver of the Name of the Lord, by which all the world is saved. The Guru is All-powerful, the Guru is Formless; the Guru is Lofty, Inaccessible and Infinite. The Praise of the Guru is so sublime - what can any speaker say? || 3 || All the rewards which the mind desires are with the True Guru. One whose destiny is so pre-ordained, obtains the Wealth of the True Name. Entering the Sanctuary of the True Guru, you shall never die again.

page 53, SIREE RAAG, FIRST MEHL, FIRST HOUSE, ASHTAPADEES, 1,I speak and chant His Praises, vibrating the instrument of my mind. The more I know Him, the more I vibrate it. The One, unto whom we vibrate and sing - how great is He, and where is His Place? Those who speak of Him and praise Him - they all continue speaking of Him with love. || 1 || O Baba, the Lord Allah is Inaccessible and Infinite. Sacred is His Name, and Sacred is His Place. He is the True Cherisher. || 1 || Pause || The extent of Your Command cannot be seen; no one knows how to write it. Even if a hundred poets met together, they could not describe even a tiny bit of it. No one has found Your Value; they all merely write what they have heard again and again. || 2 || The Pirs, the Prophets, the spiritual teachers, the faithful, the innocents and the martyrs, the Shaikhs, the mystics, the Qazis, the Mullahs and the Dervishes at His Door - they are blessed all the more as they continue reading their prayers in praise to Him. || 3 || He seeks no advice when He builds; He seeks no advice when He destroys. He seeks no advice while giving or taking. He alone knows His Creative Power; He Himself does all deeds. He beholds all in His Vision. He gives to those with whom He is pleased. || 4 || His Place and His Name are not known, no one knows how great is His Name. How great is that place where my Sovereign Lord dwells? No one can reach it; whom shall I go and ask? || 5 || One class of people does not like the other, when one has been made great. Greatness is only in His Great Hands; He gives to those with whom He is pleased. By the Hukam of His Command, He Himself regenerates, without a moment's delay. || 6 || Everyone cries out, "More! More!", with the idea of receiving. How great should we call the Giver? His Gifts are beyond estimation. O Nanak, there is no deficiency; Your Storehouses are filled to overflowing, age after age.

These selections are from the first 53 pages of the Sikh holy scriptures. Without getting into too much detail, we should highlight the fact that the teachings (of contemplation on the name of God) come out of a background steeped in Indian culture, whose foundation is in the Vedas. We note the foundation of a one, immutable, God, the father of creation and source of salvation. This foundation, voiced through Brahmin in the Upanishads, also recognized a paradise and eternal life through reincarnation. The Guru Granth Sahib also includes Buddhism as a reference work, as it uses the Koran and the Bible. As in the early foundation of Buddhism, the Guru teaches the ultimate goal of those who meditate on the one name of God the promise of unity with God, after which the seeker becomes nameless. This is how Buddha described Nirvana, the goal of all Buddhists. Buddha described his ultimate goal in Nirvana as becoming one with God and therefore ceasing to exist. In unity with God the soul no longer must experience suffering or the path of reincarnation. Following the teachings of Buddha one would skip the suffering and attain the sublime unity of God.

It appears that the Guru builds upon this thesis, pointing out a way to seek an even higher level in contemplating the one name, or unity, of God. It's through contemplation on the name, its infinite natures. The Jewish scriptures (Old Testament) and the New Testament (Gospel of Christ) dealt with the same concerns. The prophets and Jesus argued that by understanding and doing the commandments of God one will become one with God and achieve eternal life. The ultimate measure of eternal life, as taught by Jesus, is found in the "Lord's Prayer" which calls for a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven to which all of the faithful will be raised up, both the living and the dead. The rule he chose to list as an easy way to get to this promised kingdom of peace is by loving the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul and (the other commandment being like it) "doing unto others what you would have them do to you." This is the Golden Rule which incidentally was a touchstone in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The Sikh holy scriptures follow the same conclusion. Interesting relationships in Buddhism, the Upanishads, Taoism, and Confucianism are discussed in my work, "The Tapestry of One," 1990.

While it is clear that the Sikh holy scriptures not only acknowledge but advise you to read the Bible and the Koran, and copiously refers to the Vedas and Buddhist thought, the Guru argues that there is still more to learn. Through contemplation on the Guru, which is infinite and is God (another name for God!) one can attain further enlightenment. Then we see the crux of the Sikh case on the use of the word "Allah" in Malaysia and elsewhere. They claim that to forbid them to use the word "Allah" would prevent them from practicing their faith. This short reading of their scriptures confirms that they are correct in their assertion. Their scriptures acknowledge the Koran, its scriptures and the name of God, "Allah" used in it. Another form of that name, using the Sikh terminology, could be the Guru. The Jewish scriptures had a similar perception of God (one of many, as said) being in the Zedek, or Zadok, "The Teacher of Righteousness." This character is described as being like the King of Righteousness encountered by Abraham whose name was Melkizedek (King of Justice, Gen. 14, 18-20), only he is the eternal, infinite God. The New Testament book of Hebrews, 5.5-8, calls Jesus "a priest forever after the order of Melkizedek." The Old Testament Psalm 110.4 forms the basis of this claim. It says: "The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melkizedek." The Teacher of Righteousness is that priest, evidenced in midrash and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Guru of the Sikh holy scriptures reflects foundations of the Bible, as concerning the teacher of righteousness or justice and they all agree that searching the wisdom of the scriptures (called "midrash") leads one on the path to salvation. Since the Guru brings into the mix of scriptures the Vedas, the Bible, and the Koran, we can see in its argument an attempt in what might be called a unification of thought on the name of God. It argues that there is still more to see, once having studied the other scriptures. Since all of the scriptures I mentioned recognize that God is ineffable, the premise that is furthered by the Guru to search and meditate on the one name of God even more cannot be disputed. What can be disputed in any teaching is when a teaching asks one not to be charitable, not to be merciful, not to be just, to not treat others the way you would have them treat you. The Jewish and Christian argument, as well espoused in the Sikh scriptures, is to be as much like God as possible, and God is foremost merciful, charitable and just. One cannot claim to be one with God (or hope for it) whilst lying to, cheating, robbing and murdering others. Neither, in my opinion, can those who would claim to limit God by preventing people from using the name of God in the Koran, "Allah," be "just" in the eys of heaven.

Mel Copeland

7.04.08 Curfew in central Indian town over religious clash

BHOPAL, India (Reuters) July 4 - Authorities in central India imposed a curfew on Friday after two people were killed and several injured in clashes between Hindu groups and Muslim residents over the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine. Four people had been killed on Thursday in Indore, a remote town in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The violence was sparked by the transfer of nearly 100 acres of forest land in Indian Kashmir to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to erect shelters for thousands of pilgrims who annually trek to the Himalayan cave shrine.

The Kashmir government backed down after protests by Muslims who said the land transfer was aimed at changing the demography of the Muslim-majority region. The reversal of the decision, in turn, provoked an angry backlash from Hindus. On Friday, two more people were killed in Indore, and several injured when police clashed with both Hindu and Muslim mobs. "Sporadic incidents of stone-pelting by mobs were reported at many spots, and police were also targeted at a few places," Rakesh Shrivastava, a senior government official said. Authorities said they were forced to impose a curfew in the town, to avoid more riots breaking out in the evening. [>khaleejtimes.com]

7.04.08 Muslims feel like 'Jews in Europe'

July 4- Britain's first Muslim minister has attacked the growing culture of hostility against Muslims in the United Kingdom, saying that many feel targeted like "the Jews of Europe." Shahid Malik, who was appointed as a minister in the Department for International Development (Dfid) by Gordon Brown last summer, said it has become legitimate to target Muslims in the media and society at large in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority. Mr. Malik made clear that he was not equating the situation with the Holocaust but warned that many British Muslims now felt like "aliens in their own country." He said he himself had been the target of a string of racist incidents, including the firebombing of his family car and an attempt to run him down at a petrol station.

"I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe," he said. "I don't mean to equate that with the Holocaust but in the way that it was legitimate almost — and still is in some parts — to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way. "Somehow there's a message out there that it's OK to target people as long as it's Muslims. And you don't have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye."

The claims are made in an interview to be broadcast on Monday in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme to coincide with the third anniversary of the London bombings of 7 July. A poll to accompany the documentary highlights the growing polarisation of opinion among Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, who say they have suffered a marked increase in hostility since the London bombings. [More>>independent.co.uk]

7.04.08 Saudi cleric warns Saudis to shun militants'

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, July 4 - Saudi Arabia's top religious official warns against hiding information about militants in kingdom. Saudi Arabia's top religious official warned on Thursday Saudis and foreigners living in the kingdom to not hide information about militants in the world's largest oil exporter. The statement from Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh follows a government announcement last week that it is holding 520 suspects, arrested since January, who planned car bomb attacks against oil and security installations. "I warn citizens and residents from concealing them and giving them shelter, this would be a great sin," the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

His comments form part of an ongoing publicity campaign against militant ideology in the kingdom. "Aggressions against Muslims and occupation of land ... cannot be a justification for explosions, denouncing other Muslims as infidels and disobeying the Muslim social consensus," the government-appointed mufti said. "Obeying the Muslim ruler without sedition is as a basic principle of Muslims who follow the path of the Prophet." Militants allied to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda began a campaign to destabilize the US.-allied government in 2003 but the violence was brought to an end by security forces in a counter-insurgency campaign that won plaudits in the West. [More>>middle-east-online.com]

7.04.08 Shares, won tumble as economic woes pile up

SEOUL, Korea, July 4 - Korean shares and currency both took a dive yesterday, ending one of their weakest weeks this year amid deteriorating economic conditions. Shares fell for the seventh consecutive day, dragging the benchmark KOSPI index down 1.78 percent from a day earlier. The Korean Composite Stock Price Index closed at 1,574.99 points, just 3.5 points away from its mid-March yearly low of 1,537.53, as worries over spiraling inflation and sky-high oil prices prompted investors to dump shares. The Korean won fell 5.4 won to 1,050.4 won against the dollar yesterday, the lowest level in more than two and a half years. [More>>koreaherald.co.kr]

7.04.08 G-8 leaders face ominous economic woes this year

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) July 4 - Between surging oil prices, food inflation and a credit crunch that's depressed global growth, leaders from the Group of Eight economic powers face the gravest combination of economic woes in at least a decade when they gather next week. The outlook has darkened dramatically since last year's summit in Germany, when the leaders declared the global economy was in "good condition" and oil cost $70 a barrel — which seemed high at the time.

Since then, the US subprime mortgage crisis has erupted, roiling markets and battering financial firms. Oil has doubled to above $140 and food prices have jumped, hurting the poor in particular and raising the threat of political instability. "Things have changed for the worse across the board," said Robert Hormats, vice chairman at Goldman Sachs (International) Corp. in New York. Hormats argues that the economic problems now are more serious and widespread than during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, where the pain was largely limited to emerging markets. "Now you have a financial disorder where the epicenter is the US," he said. And fuel and food inflation "are serious matters that affect large numbers of people." [More>>indianexpress.com: hosted.ap.org; See related story, arabnews.com, July 4, "High oil prices worry Riyadh."]

7.04.08 North Korea received centrifuges from Pakistan in 2000: Dr. A. Q. Khan

ISLAMABAD, July 4 - Nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan has said that North Korea received centrifuges from Pakistan in a 2000 shipment supervised by the security forces during the rule of President Pervez Musharraf. Khan told a foreign news agency in an interview Friday that the uranium enrichment equipment was sent from Pakistan in a North Korean plane that was loaded under the supervision of Pakistani security officials. He said the security forces had "complete knowledge" of the shipment and that it must have been sent with the consent of President Pervez Musharraf. However, the government sources have completely rejected the statement, saying such reports are part of propaganda against Pakistan's atomic programme. [>thenews.com.pk]

7.04.08 Russia to lease 'deadly' nuclear attack sub to India in 2009

NEW DELHI (RIA Novosti) July 4 - Russia has begun dock trials of a nuclear submarine, which will be leased in 2009 to the Indian navy for 10 years, a prominent Indian daily reported. Financed partly by India under a secret deal signed with Russia in January 2004, the 12,000-ton Akula-II class nuclear-powered attack submarine has been built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in Russia, and will be commissioned with the Indian navy as INS Chakra. "The submarine's sea-based trials will follow after that," Times of India quoted an anonymous Indian defense source as saying. "We expect the submarine to join the Indian navy in the second half of 2009."

Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest among Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines. According to various reports, India is currently building three domestically-designed nuclear submarines under a top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program but needs to give its navy first-hand experience in nuclear submarine operations, deployment and maintenance prior to the deployment of domestic submarines. [More>>en.rian.ru]

7.04.08 Bomb injures dozens at concert

MINSK, Belarus (AFP) July 4 - A bomb packed with nuts and bolts injured dozens of people at a huge outdoor concert in Minsk attended by President Alexander Lukashenko. A large part of the Belarus capital remained cordoned off today but there was no immediate indication who was responsible for the attack at the Independence Day concert late yesterday. "Around 40 people have been injured," Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov was quoted as saying by Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency. "There are different types of injuries, some of them heavy, but no one was killed."

There were tens of thousands of people at the concert in the centre of the capital. The injured were taken to hospital in ambulances as police picked through the nuts and bolts that the bomb was apparently packed with, television images showed. It was not known whether the authoritarian Mr Lukashenko was at the concert at the exact time of the blast but he was shown in a white suit visiting the site with officials after the explosion. Health ministry officials said around 50 people had been hospitalised, Interfax news agency reported.

7.04.08 South Sumatra terrorist suspects linked to Noordin

JAKARTA, July 4 - Police said Thursday the nine terror suspects arrested in South Sumatra recently had connections to fugitive Jamaah Islamiyah figures Noordin Moh. Top and Mas Slamet Kastari. National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Abubakar Nataprawira said the police's anti-terror squad captured nine people in the South Sumatra capital of Palembang during a series of raids Tuesday and Wednesday. The raids followed the June 28 arrest of MH, who was wanted in Singapore for terrorism, in Sekayu district in the South Sumatra regency of Musi Banyuasin.

"We arrested MH following a tip-off from Singapore," Abubakar said as quoted by Antara news agency. The police flew the nine suspects, identified only by their initials, from Palembang to Jakarta on Thursday. Under tight police escort, the suspects, with their faces masked, arrived at the Mobile Brigade detention center in Depok, south of Jakarta, at about 11:10am local time. In a raid on a house in Palembang on Wednesday, police discovered and seized eight partly assembled bombs and 13 fully built bombs, along with 50 kilograms of explosive materials.

Noordin was responsible for a series of bomb attacks in the country between 2002 and 2005, along with his Malaysian partner Dr. Azahari bin Husin, who was killed in a raid in Malang, East Java, in 2006. Kastari is a Singapore-based JI leader who escaped from a maximum security prison in the country last February. Abubakar said MH admitted he had assembled the bombs and trained the other suspects to make them. [More>>thejakartapost.com]

7.04.08 French students were bound, gagged and stabbed 250 times

July 4 - Two French students were tied up, gagged and stabbed nearly 250 times before being set on fire in a flat in south London, police revealed yesterday. Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, both 23, moved to Britain two months ago to undertake a three-month placement at Imperial College London. They were tortured and brutally murdered by an intruder who broke into M. Bonomo's flat in New Cross on Sunday night as they were playing a computer game.

M. Bonomo's fiancée, Mary Bertez, had visited him frequently while he was in London. She wrote a poignant message last night on his page of the social networking site Facebook. "My love, we were always together," it read. "I will never stop thinking about you for a second. I had 10 months of a happiness I had never experienced until then. Today you are gone." Another friend, Laurent Maxence, wrote: "From where you are with Gabriel, we are thinking of you and I hope that the stars are watching over you."

...While mystery surrounds the killings, what is known is that on 29 June, Gabriel Ferez travelled from his flat in South Norwood to his friend's flat in New Cross to play a computer game. At some point on that Sunday evening the pair were confronted by an intruder who bound and gagged them in the living room of the bedsit. In the frenzied attack that followed M. Bonomo was stabbed 196 times in the head, neck and body while M. Ferez was stabbed 47 times. The intruder then doused their bodies and the flat with some sort of accelerant, possibly petrol, and set the victims and the flat on fire.
[Full story>>independent.co.uk]

7.04.08 Historic weekend charter flights take off across Taiwan Strait amid applause, joy

BEIJING, July 4 - The 1st weekend charter flight from mainland to Taiwan landed at Taipei Taoyuan airport Friday morning. A total of 760 mainland tourists are on the journey to Taiwan and will stay there for 10 days. In Beijing, a ceremony was held in the morning for the launching of the weekend charter flights. The first weekend charter flights flew across the Taiwan Strait on Friday, carrying excited mainland tourists and Taiwan residents joyful at the shorter and cheaper journey. The first cross-Strait weekend charter flight from China's mainland to Taiwan took off at 6:31 a.m. on Friday from Guangzhou, capital of the southern Guangdong Province, operated by mainland-based China Southern Airlines. It landed at Taipei at 8:10 a.m. with 258 passengers, including more than 100 tourists from the mainland.

The first flight from Taiwan to the mainland, run by Taiwan-based Uni Air, took off from Taipei Songshan airport at 8:00 a.m. with 149 passengers. Six airlines from the mainland and five from Taiwan were operating the 18 return flights on the first day of the weekend service between five terminals in the mainland and five in Taiwan. As the mainland aircraft taxied on the runway after landing at Taipei Taoyuan airport, fire trucks sprayed water in a greeting while passengers applauded the arrival.

7.04.08 YouTube ordered to release user data

July 4 - A federal judge in New York this week ordered the video-sharing site YouTube, the world's third-most-visited Web site, to release data on the viewing habits of its tens of millions of worldwide viewers. Tuesday's ruling, which amounted to only seven paragraphs in a 25-page opinion that was mostly about programming code and other matters, alarmed privacy advocates, who said it ignored laws meant to protect peoples' viewing habits.

The order comes as part of a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit brought against YouTube's owner, Google, by Viacom, the media company that owns large cable networks such as MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon. Viacom alleges that YouTube encourages people to upload significant amounts of pirated copyrighted programs and that users do so by the thousands, profiting YouTube and Google. It wants to prove that pirated videos uploaded to the site -- video clips of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show," for instance -- are more heavily viewed than amateur content. [More>>washingtonpost.com]


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