Articles of Interest, March 2nd, 2008

Obama with his daughter Malia waves to supporters. If he wins on Tuesday his focus will switch to fighting Republican John McCain

Barnstorming Obama plans to pick Republicans for cabinet

AS Barack Obama enters the final stages of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, he is preparing to detach the core voters of John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, with the same ruthless determination with which he has peeled off Hillary Clinton’s supporters.

The scene is set for a tussle between the two candidates for the support of some of the sharpest and most independent minds in politics. Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.

Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”.

Asked about his choice of cabinet last week, Obama told The Sunday Times: “Chuck Hagel is a great friend of mine and I respect him very much,” although he was wary of appearing as though he was already choosing the White House curtains. But after winning 11 primary contests in a row after Super Tuesday, he is ready to elbow Clinton off the stage.

Earlier Obama had told the audience at a suburban high school rally in Dallas, Texas, that he intended to follow the example of his hero, President Abraham Lincoln, and appoint a cabinet of the talents, irrespective of party labels.

“I think America deserves the best person for every job and so we are going to be canvassing far and wide if I am fortunate enough to be elected,” he said.

Richard Reardon, 64, a security officer and veteran, said: “I’ll be honest. Maybe 20 years ago, I’d never have voted for a black man, but after the Bushes and the Clintons, give the man a chance.”

After overtaking Clinton in the national polls, as well as the popular vote and delegate count in the Democratic primary contest, Obama is now sizing up McCain with the same cool eye for signs of weakness.

They are evenly matched in the polls, an enviable position compared with the 20-point lead Clinton held over Obama for the best part of last year. He believes he will be able to make deep inroads into the conservative vote that put George W Bush into the White House twice but might not transfer its loyalty to his successor. McCain blurted out that he was a “conservative liberal Republican” last week, a slip of the tongue that confirmed the fears of die-hard Republicans that he is not one of them.

Larry Korb, a defence official under President Ronald Reagan who is backing Obama, said: “By putting a Republican in the Pentagon and the State Department you send a signal to Congress and the American people that issues of national security are above politics.”

Korb recalled that President John F Kennedy appointed Robert McNamara, a Republican, as defence secretary in 1961. “Hagel is not only a Republican but a military veteran who would reassure the troops that there was somebody in the Pentagon who understood their hopes, concerns and fears,” he said.

Obama intends to pour more troops and resources into defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan.

He told The Sunday Times he would expect European allies to contribute more to the fight. “You can’t have a situation where the United States and Britain are called on to do the dirty work and nobody else wants to engage in actual fire-fights with the Taliban.”

He praised Prince Harry’s “commendable” service – “I’m sure the British people are very proud of him” – and said America would have a “special, special relationship” with Britain should he win the White House. “That’s inviolable,” he said.

Europe, he added, would get something in return for an extra push in Afghanistan. “It’s important for us to send a signal that we’re going to be listening to them when it comes to policies they find objectionable, Iraq being top of the list.”

As the plane flew on to Beaumont, Texas, a southeastern town near the Louisiana border, Obama let rip about parents’ responsibility for their children, a theme that appeals to conservative voters as much as the predominantly black audience in the theatre.

He drew the noisiest whoops and cheers of the day when he admonished parents for their failings. “Turn off the TV set, put the video game away. Buy a little desk or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give them help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher. Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Keep them off the streets. Give them some breakfast. Come on! And since I’m on a roll, if you’re child misbehaves in school, don’t cuss out the teacher! Do something with your child!”

He then went on to attack childhood obesity. “We can’t keep feeding our children junk all day long, giving them no exercise. They’re overweight by the time they are four or five years old and then we’re surprised when they get sick … I know some of you that get cold Popeyes [chicken] out for breakfast! I know! That’s why you are all laughing! I caught you out!”

Cornel West, a professor of African American studies at Princeton University, believes Obama has found the language to address problems in the black community. “You have to respect black people enough to say that sometimes we make bad choices. You have to talk about personal responsibility as well as social conditions.”

Obama was equally at home the next day at a gathering of evangelical ministers in Brownsville, southern Texas, where he talked about his introduction to Christianity as an organiser in Chicago. He opened the meeting by referring to the prophet Jermiah, who told people “in a time of uncertainty and despair” that God had plans to “prosper” them and give them “hope”.

“The calling to apply the values of faith to our society is one that has been heard throughout the ages,” he said. “I think about the evangelicals I know who may not agree with me on every issue” – he was thinking of abortion – “but know that poverty has no place in a land of plenty.”

If education is to be Obama’s signature issue, he might consider appointing Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, as his czar. The billionaire media magnate last week ruled out running for president as an independent and said he would offer his support to whichever candidate took the most nonpartisan approach to America’s problems. The subtext was clear: “Hire me.”

Bill may tell Hillary to quit on Tuesday

IT is the burning question of the moment: who will have the courage to tell Hillary Clinton it is time to quit? Friends of the couple say the chances are that it will be her husband, and that he will tell her if she loses Texas or Ohio on Tuesday. He has already made it clear she cannot soldier on without a double victory.

If, however, she wins narrowly in both states but lags significantly behind in the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, then who will tell Bill Clinton to tell Hillary the game is up?

It could be Vernon Jordan, the African-American power broker who is so loyal to the Clintons that he arranged a job for the former intern Monica Lewinsky when she was no longer welcome at the White House.

Clinton has been outshone by a candidate who resembles her husband more than she does. At a rally in Beaumont, Texas, Samantha Bartley, 40, said she had expected to vote for Hillary. “Because we knew him, we thought we knew her. Bill inspired me when I was young. Now I’ve got my 18-year-old, my 20-year-old and my 21-year-old all voting for the first time. Barack Obama’s charisma reminds me of Bill and makes me feel young again.”

Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Obama, said: “The Democratic Party wants to be united and is looking forward to running against John McCain. Spending millions of dollars against each other instead of the presumptive Republican nominee is not going to help the Democrats to win the presidency.”

There was a rush of sympathy for Margaret Thatcher when she was ousted by her colleagues, even though the country did not want her back. If Clinton loses the race, Panetta believes, “It will be a tragedy for her. It’s everything she wanted and was prepared to do.

“All of us expected that with the money, the organisation and the Clinton name, she would win.

“The other lesson with the Clintons is, they always come back and that will be true for her. She could be the next Senate majority leader.”

  • Seriously, why shouldn’t Obama be the next President? It’s time to have a true uniter who will defend and realize the dreams of all Americans and put an end to partisanship. With a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in an Obama administration, that is truly an administration to Hope for!

Bill Clinton Rule in ‘04: Vote for Candidate of ‘Hope’ Not ‘Fear’

  • How do you explain this Clinton supporters? He said it, not just us Obama supporters. So much about the red telephone at 3 am. Besides do we really want to think about that phone ringing so early in the morning with President Clinton there? 🙂 Just jokes…..

Is Media predestined to be biased about Islam?

The media has improved its coverage in recent years. An increasing number of networks and newspapers have religion reporters or advisers. However, since its main drivers (market share and maximization of profits) are media coverage, it is “predestined” to be unbalanced or biased.

The emphasis on “headline events” often means a predominant focus on the negative, sensational, violent. The “dark side” of religion predominates over coverage of religions more transcendent and transformative aspects. This is reflected across the religious spectrum. Mainstream evangelicals are eclipsed by the preferential coverage given to more militant and strident evangelicals like Pat Robertson who can be counted on for provocative sound bites. Warith Deen Muhammad, leader of the majority of African American Muslims has often been eclipsed by the more combative Louis Farrakhan. Much needed coverage of the pedophilia problems of the Catholic Church were rarely complimented by stories that also show the faith that informs the lives of most Catholics.

Most glaringly in recent years, Islam and Muslims have come to be viewed primarily through the lens of religious extremism and terrorism. Media tend to focus disproportionately on this dangerous and deadly minority who threaten global security and offer minimal coverage of the faith and lives of the mainstream majority of Muslims. Prominent media commentators use Islamophobic (anti-Muslim) language and make outrageous unsubstantiated charges that responsible editors allow regarding Judaism and Christianity. There is a growing propensity in the media in the name of balanced coverage of Islam and Muslims to have a “counter voice” on virtually any story. Especially favored are ex-Muslims, those who publicly repudiate Islam and like some prominent non-Muslim ideologues do not distinguish (as they would when talking about other faiths) between mainstream Islam and religious extremism but rather see the religion of Islam itself as inherently flawed and dangerous.

“Balance” has come to mean that any discussion of Islam and Muslims include someone who is a “militant critic.” Yet, we don’t expect that every discussion of religion include an atheist, that every discussion of the meaning of Passover or Easter include someone who will deny the historicity or relevance of these beliefs and rituals, that every panel on some aspect of Jewish or Christian faith and belief include “critics” with preference given to those who have rejected the faith and are often not experts as much as “professional critics,” that is, make a career of slamming their former faith. While criticism and dissent are important and must be heard, they are not necessary or relevant to every story or report.

Most glaringly in recent years, Islam and Muslims have come to be viewed primarily through the lens of religious extremism and terroriMedia tend to focus disproportionately on this dangerous and deadly minority who threaten global security and offer minimal coverage of the faith and lives of the mainstream majority of Muslims.

Notably absent in the mainstream media is coverage of Islam and Muslims is coverage of the erosion of civil liberties. While stories on global terrorism and domestic threats are important to us all, at the same time how many stories have gone one step further and focused on the thousands of Muslims indiscriminately arrested, detained, monitored and interviewed and not found guilt or released for lack of evidence; the number of Islamic charities shut down but despite the passage of years not successfully prosecuted; the continued detention of Muslims like Prof. Sami al-Arian, whose jury verdict as well as the post-trial agreement forged by Justice Department and Defense attorneys were ignored by the trial judge.

Since 9/11, I am constantly asked (or the charge is made): “Why donÕt Muslims in America and globally speak out against religious violence and terrorism?” To which my response is that the absence of such statements is either due to the fact that Muslims do not speak out or that, as is the case, the media too often does not find these stories “newsworthy.” I then refer them to internet sites like Beliefnet and others where these statements may be found.

Inadequate media coverage is compounded by the fact that many, though certainly not all, reporters come to stories with little or no background on religions and the very topics they cover. This was a major reason why after 9/11, I wrote the book, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.

Is there more media coverage of religion today than in the past? Yes. Are there reporters and stories that make an important contribution to better understanding? Yes. However, are there serious and substantial problems resulting in a dangerous bias in the coverage provided by many media outlets? Most assuredly, Yes. We still have a long way to go in a world in which in many societies, religion has become a more pronounced presence and factor in personal and public life, in domestic and international politics.

The emphasis on “headline events” often means a predominant focus on the negative, sensational, violent. The “dark side” of religion predominates over coverage of religion’s more transcendent and transformative aspects.

This is reflected across the religious spectrum. Mainstream evangelicals are eclipsed by the preferential coverage given to more militant and strident evangelicals like Pat Robertson who can be counted on for provocative sound bites.

Warith Deen Muhammad, leader of the majority of African-American Muslims has often been eclipsed by the more combative Louis Farrakhan. Much needed coverage of the pedophilia problems of the Catholic Church were rarely complimented by stories that also show the faith that informs the lives of most Catholics.

Most glaringly in recent years, Islam and Muslims have come to be viewed primarily through the lens of religious extremism and terrorism. Media tend to focus disproportionately on this dangerous and deadly minority who threaten global security and offer minimal coverage of the faith and lives of the mainstream majority of Muslims.

Prominent media commentators use Islamophobic (anti-Muslim) language and make outrageous unsubstantiated charges that responsible editors allow regarding Judaism and Christianity. There is a growing propensity in the media in the name of balanced coverage of Islam and Muslims to have a “counter voice” on virtually any story.

Especially favored are ex-Muslims, those who publicly repudiate Islam and like some prominent non-Muslim ideologues do not distinguish (as they would when talking about other faiths) between mainstream Islam and religious extremism but rather see the religion of Islam itself as inherently flawed and dangerous.

“Balance” has come to mean that any discussion of Islam and Muslims include someone who is a “militant critic.” Yet, we don’t expect that every discussion of religion include an atheist, that every discussion of the meaning of Passover or Easter include someone who will deny the historicity or relevance of these beliefs and rituals, that every panel on some aspect of Jewish or Christian faith and belief include “critics” with preference given to those who have rejected the faith and are often not experts as much as “professional critics,” that is, make a career of slamming their former faith.

While criticism and dissent are important and must be heard, they are not necessary or relevant to every story or report.

Notably absent in the mainstream media is coverage of Islam and Muslims is coverage of the erosion of civil liberties. While stories on global terrorism and domestic threats are important to us all, at the same time how many stories have gone one step further and focused on the thousands of Muslims indiscriminately arrested, detained, monitored and interviewed and not found guilt or released for lack of evidence? Or stories on the number of Islamic charities shut down but despite the passage of years not successfully prosecuted; the continued detention of Muslims like Professor Sami al-Arian, whose jury verdict as well as the post-trial agreement forged by Justice Department and Defense attorneys were ignored by the trial judge?

Since 9/11, I am constantly asked (or the charge is made): “Why don’t Muslims in America and globally speak out against religious violence and terrorism?” To which my response is that the absence of such statements is either due to the fact that Muslims do not speak out or that, as is the case, the media too often does not find these stories “newsworthy.” I then refer them to internet sites like Beliefnet and others where these statements may be found.

Inadequate media coverage is compounded by the fact that many, though certainly not all, reporters come to stories with little or no background on religions and the very topics they cover. This was a major reason why after 9/11, I wrote the book, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.

Is there more media coverage of religion today than in the past? Yes. Are there reporters and stories that make an important contribution to better understanding? Yes. Are there serious and substantial problems resulting in a dangerous bias in the coverage provided by many media outlets? Most assuredly, Yes.

We still have a long way to go in a world in which in many societies, religion has become a more pronounced presence and factor in personal and public life, in domestic and international politics.

John L. Esposito is professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University. He also is founding director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. A specialist in Islam, political Islam and the impact of Islamic movements from North Africa to Southeast Asia.

Source: On Faith at WashingtonPost.com

Gaza’s American Martyr

IslamOnline.net & Newspapers

 
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Rachel, 23, was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza town of Rafah.

CAIRO — Five years after she was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer, the diaries of peace activist Rachel Corrie will show how a young girl from Olympia, a small town an hour’s drive from Seattle, died a Palestinian martyr, the Observer report on Sunday, March 2.“It takes a while to get what’s happening here,” Rachel wrote in one entry of her diary.

“Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realize there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I’m having dinner with.”

A collection of Rachel’s writings, journals, email printouts, poems, letters and drawings will see the light next week.

The final piece in the book, entitled Let Me Stand Alone, was written only four days before her death on March 16, 2003.

Rachel, a 23-year-old college student and member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

Six eyewitnesses had testified that Corrie, with her bright orange jacket, was clearly visible to the bulldozer drivers.

They said the bulldozer lifted her up and drove over her repeatedly with its plow down.

“In the first hour after Rachel was killed, I remember saying: we have to get her words out,” her mother Cindy told the Observer.

“Nobody was thinking of a book back then but, even early on, when we were in such searing pain, we were drawn to what Rachel had written as a comfort, as a connection.”

In 2005, Corrie’s death became the inspiration for a play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, also based on Rachel’s writing.

The play has been staged in so many places around the world.

Palestinian Martyr

Craig, Rachel’s father, remembers an intimate phone call by late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat shortly after receiving the sad news of their youngest daughter’s death.

“He told me: ‘She is your daughter but she is also the daughter of all Palestinians. She is ours too now,'” he told the Observer.

In the Gaza Strip, families dedicated graffiti to the young American woman.

“‘Rachel was a US citizen with Palestinian blood,'” Craig recalled the words of the graffiti.

“She had become a victim of their intifada, a heroine who had stood up to the mighty Israeli army. New mothers christened their daughters Rachel. A kindergarten was named after her.”

Rachel spent the last days of her short life with the Palestinians.

“I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive,” she said in a television interview shortly before her death.

“It’s horrifying.”

In one of her diary entries she describes the shock of moving the body of a Palestinian child killed by Israeli bullets.

Five years after Rachel’s death, the same picture remains unchanged.

Scores of Palestinian kids, some as young as five-month, have been killed in an ongoing Israeli ground and air blitz in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“This has to stop!” Rachel wrote in a letter sent to her mother from Rafah shortly before her tragic death.

“I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop.”

Obama’s African, not Muslim Garb

The photo of Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama in a traditional Somali garb during a visit to his father’s homeland Kenya was again used to stoke the “Obama is a Muslim” flames.

But the white sash and white turban put on by the man seeking to become the first African-American president of the US are traditional African clothes for tribesmen of every ethnicity and religion in the black continent.

Christian tribesman in Ethiopia celebrating Christmas.

African rabbis in white turbans and robes.

The white robe is a historical African warrior garb.

An African shepherd in Obama-like dress.

Ethiopian Jews in white robes.

An African priest in white turban and robe.

  • Point? Those who keep using “Hussein” and this photo are prejudiced plain and simple.

Islam and American Culture Reconciled

 
 
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“Where you don’t have people who have strong intellectual capacity, you get demagoguery,” Yusuf believes.

With accent-free Arabic and rarefied Qur’anic grammar, all the while being equally at home in Islamic subjects and modern American culture, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir are on a mission to reconcile Islam with American culture.

“Sheikh Hamza and Imam Zaid have grown up here after having studied abroad, and you can really connect with them,” Ebadur Rahman, 19, told the New York Times.

“The scholars who come from abroad, they can’t connect with the people. They’re ignorant of life here,” insisted the New Yorker.

Rahman, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, was one of six full-time students in the first Islamic seminary in the United States.

Yusuf and Shakir are hoping to train a new generation of imams and scholars who can reconcile Islam and American culture.

Most American mosques import their imams from overseas — some who preach extremism, some who cannot speak English, and most who cannot begin to speak to young American Muslims growing up on hip-hop and in mixed-sex chat rooms.

While there is no scientific count of Muslims in the US, six to seven million is the most commonly cited figure.

Beacon of Knowledge

Yusuf, who reverted to Islam after a near-fatal car accident in high school, believes that many Muslims lack “religious knowledge.”

He regrets that many of the seminaries that once flourished in the Muslim world are now either gone or intellectually dead.

Yusuf noted that smart Muslims now go into technical fields, like engineering, not religion.

He hopes for more Muslims to be schooled in their faith’s diverse intellectual streams and to have a holistic understanding of their religion.

“Where you don’t have people who have strong intellectual capacity, you get demagoguery.”

Yusuf named his school the Zaytuna Institute — Arabic for olive tree, and also the name of a renowned Islamic university in Tunisia.

Although many universities have Islamic studies departments, including a program at Hartford Seminary to accredit Muslim chaplains, there is no program in the US like Zaytuna’s, according to the New York Times.

Hundreds of Muslims come for evening and weekend classes on Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the noble Qur’an, and the Arabic language.

Increasing Clout

“Where are the Muslim Doctors Without Borders? Spend six months here, six months in the Congo. Form it,” Shakir told his attentive audience.

Yusuf and Shakir, who have spent years in the Middle East and North Africa studying Islam, enjoy a much higher profile than most imams and draw overflow crowds in theaters, mosques, and university auditoriums that seat thousands.

Their books and CDs are pored over by young Muslims in study groups.

During a presentation at the University of Houston, every seat in the auditorium was taken, and the crowd was standing in the back and spilling out into the lobby, straining to hear.

Yusuf told the audience to beware of “fanatics” who pluck Islamic scripture out of context.

“That’s not Islam,” he said. “That’s psychopathy.”

He urged his attentive audience to pray for the victims of kidnappers in Iraq, saying that kidnapping is just as bad as American bombings in which the army describes the civilian victims as “collateral damage.”

“They’re both sinister, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “One is efficient, the other is pathetic.”

Shakir, who teaches as a scholar-in-residence in Zaytuna, urged Muslims to serve humanity at large.

“Where are the Muslim Doctors Without Borders? Spend six months here, six months in the Congo. Form it!”

When one student asked if assistance should be aimed at Muslims only, Shakir said, “The obligation is to everyone. All of the people are the dependents of Allah.”

The crowd included students in college sweatshirts, doctors, limousine drivers in suits, immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and the grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the immigrant generation.

There were plenty of African-Americans and a sprinkling of white and Hispanic reverts.

After waiting for more than an hour to greet them, Sohail Ansari, an information technology specialist originally from India, marveled, “I was born a Muslim, and these guys are so far ahead of us.”


* This article was originally published on www.IslamOnline.net. Click here to read the original article

Iran president on landmark Iraq visit

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Baghdad Sunday for the start of a historic two-day trip, said “visiting Iraq without the dictator is a good thing.”

art.leaders.ap.jpg

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Iraqi counterpart Jalal Talabani stand during a welcome ceremony in Baghdad, Sunday.

The Shiite-led Iraqi government rolled out the red carpet, literally, for Ahmadinejad as he became the first Iranian president to visit Iraq, a country that was a bitter enemy when Saddam Hussein’s Sunni government was in power.

Ahmadinejad, at a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, said the trip “opens a new chapter in bilateral ties with Iraq.”

“We have had good talks in a friendly and constructive environment,” Ahmadinejad said. “We have the same understanding of things and the two parties are determined to strengthen their political, economic and cultural cooperation.”

Later in the day, Ahmadinejad met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Both al-Maliki and Talabani have made official trips to Iran since taking office.

At a joint news conference with al-Maliki in Baghdad’s Green Zone, Ahmadinejad did not hide his disdain for the United States and its leadership.

“(U.S. President) Bush always accuses others without evidence and this increases problems,” Ahmadinejad said. “The Americans have to understand that Iraqi people do not like America.”

The United States has accused Iran of supporting some insurgent groups in Iraq, including supplying EFPs, the deadliest and most sophisticated type of roadside bomb.

Ahmadinejad shunned the security measures followed by many other leaders on visits to Baghdad, riding from Baghdad’s airport in a civilian-style sedan — and not an armored military vehicle or helicopter — to central Baghdad.

His official welcome and meeting with Talabani was at the presidential house outside of the heavily-fortified International Zone where most high-level events in Baghdad are held.

Ahmadinejad said a unified and powerful Iraq is in the best interest of Iran and all its neighbors.

“Iraqi people are passing through a critical situation but as we know, the Iraqi people will overcome the situation and the Iraq of tomorrow will be a powerful, developed and unique Iraq,” he said.

Ahmadinejad was warmly welcomed in Baghdad. An Iraqi military band played the Iranian and Iraqi national anthems as Ahmadinejad and Talabani stood side-by-side at the end of a long red carpet outside the presidential house. Ahmadinejad then walked down the carpet where he was greeted by two Iraqi children with flowers and a long line of Iraqi officials.

Ahead of his trip, Ahmadinejad said it would “contribute to regional peace and security” and stressed that the people of Iran and Iraq share close bonds.

“My visit to Iraq is to the benefit of all countries, because if there’s peace, if we establish peace and put an end to (U.S.) occupation, that will be to the benefit of all countries,” the Iranian leader told Tehran-based Press TV before his departure.

  • Hmmm, checkmate…

Abbas suspends peace talks with Israel

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he was suspending peace talks with Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to press on with the deadly military operations against militants who have been launching increasingly powerful rockets into southern Israel.

art.tires.apf.gi.jpg

Palestinian youths in the West Bank burn tires and throw stones to protest Israeli operations in Gaza.

Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank to protest the attacks that have killed more than 70 Palestinians in Israeli operations since Friday.

The demonstrators included supporters of both Abbas’ Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas movement. The two factions have been bitterly divided since Hamas drove Abbas’ security forces from Gaza last year.

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed Sunday in clashes with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Hebron, Palestinian medical sources said.

“It must be clear,” Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet Sunday, “the state of Israel has no intention of halting counter-terrorism actions even for a second. If somebody thinks that by extending the rockets’ range, he will succeed in deterring us from our activity, he is gravely mistaken.”

Abbas’ decision to pull out of the U.S.-led talks has stalled the burgeoning peace process. Palestinian and Israeli delegations had only recently begun discussions regarding the core issues in their conflict: Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel and Jerusalem as the shared capital of a future Palestinian state, among other topics.

Gaza militants fired at least a dozen rockets Sunday into southern Israel, according to the Israeli military. Eight Israelis were treated for shock, but no serious injuries were reported.

  • No justice, no peace. How can you expect peace, when your people get injured and others lose dozens of lives most of which are innocent children? When will American and the West have the courage to stand up and say something? When will the so-called Muslim nations have the backbone to help the Palestinian children?
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