Articles of Interest, December 4th, 2007

Israel to build homes in east Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – Israel said Tuesday it is seeking bids to build more than 300 new homes in a disputed east Jerusalem neighborhood, drawing Palestinian condemnations that the move is undermining the newly revived peace talks held last week in Annapolis, Md.

A Housing Ministry spokesman said 307 units would be built in Har Homa, a Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Israel captured the eastern part of the city in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said he sent an urgent message to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, asking her to block the project from moving forward.

“This is undermining Annapolis,” he said, referring to the U.S.-hosted summit, where Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace talks.

–  SURPRISE, SURPRISE! I mean come on, we all held out hope for this latest round of “peace talks”, however the truth is and will remain that there won’t be peace until there is some sort of mutual trust and a commitment to stabilization through realization.  How in the world can you talk about supporting a Palestinian State, yet at the same time continue to develop settlements?  Yet, when Palestinians and Muslims in general don’t trust the Israeli government, we are looked at like we are crazy.  Talk about another travesty of justice!

Toy row teacher speaks of ordeal

LONDON, England (CNN) — A British teacher who was jailed over the naming of a teddy bear said Tuesday that she “got a bit more than I bargained for” during her stint in Sudan. 

“I am just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher,” Gillian Gibbons said after arriving in London. “I went there to have a bit of adventure and got a bit more than I bargained for.”

Gibbons was arrested on November 25 on a charge of blasphemy for allowing a class teddy bear at the school where she was teaching to be named “Mohammed.”

– So now that the teacher is home, I still don’t believe the case is closed.  The truth of the matter is this ordeal exposed a serious and major problem here.  Once again Muslims look like the idiots.  Accept it or not perception and image is often everything, especially when real world treatment is dictated by such.  No matter if we like it or not, people will continue to look at us and our religion as backward and “immature” because some Muslims and their governments continue to engage in rulings such as the one that punished Gibbons in the first place.  Call me what you will, but I reject ANY so-called Islamic ruling that rejects the ideas and attributes of Mercy, Tolerance, Reason, and Patience.  We love to talk about the beauty of our religion.  Imagine how much more beautiful it would be when due to our actual application thereof, others began to talk about it!

A Miracle: Honest Intel on Iran Nukes

For those who have doubts about miracles, a double one occurred today. An honest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear program has been issued, and its “Key Judgments” were made public.

With redraft after redraft, it was what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt – a difficult birth, 10 months in gestation.

I do not know how often Vice President Dick Cheney visited CIA headquarters during the gestation period, but I am told he voiced his displeasure as soon as he saw the first sonogram/draft very early this year and is so displeased with what issued that he has refused to be the godfather.

This time Cheney and his neocon colleagues were unable to abort the process. And after delivery to the press, this child is going to be very hard to explain – the more so since it is legitimate.

The main points of the NIE:

“We judge that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program…

“We assess with moderate confidence Tehran has not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007.

“We do not have sufficient intelligence to judge confidently whether Tehran is willing to maintain the halt of its nuclear weapons program indefinitely…

“We judge with moderate confidence Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium sometime during the 2010-2015 time frame.

“We judge with high confidence that Iran will not be technically capable of producing and reprocessing enough plutonium for a weapon before about 2015.”

Having reached these conclusions, it is not surprising that the NIE’s authors make a point of saying up front (in bold type), “This NIE does not [italics in original] assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.”

– I loved the original font, so I kept it! 🙂  For those of us that could hear the drumbeat, it’s nice to know that it has stopped temporarily.  However, one can never be too sure.  Let us be vigilant and keep our eyes and ears open, just in case, there is still 330 plus days left before we elect a new President!

Deportation Awaits US Army Muslim Hero

CAIRO — Distinguished Muslim-American Army sergeant Hicham Benkabbou will neither get the Army Achievement Medal nor the Distinguished Service Medal when he completes his current duty in Afghanistan and returns to the United States, but might rather find a deportation order awaiting him, The Guardian reported.

“I do not think I deserve to get deported after serving honorably during a time of war!” Sergeant paratrooper Hicham Benkabbou wrote in an email obtained by the paper.

Benkabbou, 28, has been served with an order to stand trial for deportation as soon as he arrives in the US because of alleged irregularities in his immigration papers.

– This is why we need a strong and organized Muslim Veterans Association.  How in the world can this be tolerated?  I mean if serving in this war isn’t worthy of earning citizenship, then nothing is.  I would love to see how many of the mainstream veteran organizations will touch this.  I’m certain few even know, because afterall, he is Muslim and isn’t he one of “those people” we are fighting against?

Christian groups slam new Kidman children’s movie

Christian groups are up in arms here over a new children’s film starring Nicole Kidman and based on an award-winning novel by British author Philip Pullman, accusing it of being anti-religious.

“The Golden Compass” which opens here Friday is the film version of “The Northern Lights,” the first book in Pullman’s “Dark Materials” fantasy trilogy aimed at teenage readers.

The books by confirmed agnostic Pullman trace the fate of a young girl, Lyra, as she becomes drawn into an apocalyptic battle of good against evil, meeting a host of strange characters along the way including a polar bear, voiced in the film by Ian McKellan.

Evil in Pullman’s books is represented by the church, called the Magisterium, whose acolytes kidnap orphans across England to subject them to horrible experiments in the frozen northern wastelands.

– Is it just me, but there can be no movies for children released in December unless it passes the “Christian” litmus test?  Only when a movie can in some form convince children to believe in this month, will it be accepted.  Often movies are dissected to find something to be offended by or to herald as good for Christians.  We always hear about the sensitivity of Muslims, but come on now, Christians go there too! (maybe not as angry 🙂 ) but you get my point.  So far the only movie in this genre that survived the test is Narnia and that is because the Church spinned it to a Jesus story!  Personally I believe there is no better weapon against the media than parents.  My children get to watch all these things, even rudolph and frosty et. al and guess what?  They still are Muslim and know the difference between fairytales and what God requires of them.  If you don’t think your beliefs can hold out, shelter your children, it’s your choice.

‘Now the fun part starts’ in Iowa

DES MOINES – A Democratic presidential contest that had focused on high-minded qualities of leadership, experience and change has whiplashed into sharp attacks between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over courage, character and kindergarten writings amid ever-tightening polls and the ever-closer Iowa caucuses.

The intensity of the rhetoric flowing between the two rival camps underscores the stakes of Iowa’s presidential deliberations, now less than a month away, for a Clinton campaign that had initially projected inevitability toward winning the nomination, only to find a strong challenge from Obama turning the leadoff contest into a tossup.

“Well, now the fun part starts,” Clinton said in kicking off the week with a new round of attacks on Obama, including using an event Monday to question whether he has had a history of putting politics ahead of personal conviction from his days in the Illinois Senate to his time in the U.S. Senate.

– Clinton supporters, you have to admit, this sounds a “little” desperate.  Why now?  Why not months ago?  If Obama has all these flaws, surely they didn’t just develop.  The truth is I predict (hope) this backfires on the Clinton camp.  These tactics are beneath what I thought was Clinton’s standards.  Let’s debate the issues people, no one is a saint in either party’s race, and surely most are guilty of some of the same things.  I don’t believe there is more than 10% of the Senate that attended every vote or voted “decisively” yes or no.  It’s politics.  What most Americans want to know is which candidates policies and ideas best represent the future of America.

USA TODAY/Gallup Poll: Significant drops in support for Clinton & Giuliani

“National support for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani significantly eroded over the past month,” USA TODAY Washington bureau chief Susan Page writes.

Meanwhile, Republican Mike Huckabee’s standing in the national poll has shot up — to the point where he leads a group of four GOP contenders basically tied for second place behind front-runner Giuliani.

Susan adds that results of the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll underscore the volatile nature of both the Democratic and Republican nomination battles with just one month to go before the Jan. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses.

– Notice the correlation between this article and the above?  From whence did Hillary’s latest tactics come? 🙂

PM: US report should not deter world from dealing with Iran

The threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons must not be underestimated, was the message government officials sent out on Tuesday after the release of a US intelligence report claiming that Teheran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but was continuing to enrich uranium.

The report only emphasizes and strengthens the need for the international community to tighten sanctions on Iran so that it will not be able to produce nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the opening of a meeting with the Italian deputy prime minister.

Olmert said that the report’s findings were brought up during his meetings with Washington officials soon after the Middle East Peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland last week.

Regardless of the fact that the report said that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons plan, the fact was that such a plan did indeed exist until 2003.

– I’m sorry but I have to reiterate for those not listening.  We shouldn’t be surprised by the weary eye Muslims give the Isreali government.  First, peace talks about a Palestinian State a couple of weeks ago, meanwhile more settlement in disputed territory.  Now, US intelligence pretty much vindicates Iran (for now) and the Israeli PM pretty much says so what, we want to proceed.  Mutual trust and respect is the very first step toward a lasting peace.

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