Cool Stuff

The Wayfarers trilogy by author Jim Yackel

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jesus is Coming Soon! We are living on borrowed time. by Dr. David R. Reagan

Jesus is Coming Soon!
We are living on borrowed time.
by Dr. David R. Reagan

Jesus is Coming Soon!

Many people believe there is nothing that can be known about the timing of the Lord's return because Jesus said He would return like a "thief in the night" (Matthew 24:42-44).

But Paul makes it clear in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 that Jesus' statement does not apply to believers: "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief..." He then proceeds to explain why: "for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober." Paul is referring, of course, to the light of the Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers and who can enlighten us through our study of Scripture to know the season of the Lord's return (1 John 2:27).
God's Attitude

As a matter of fact, God is obligated by His character to warn the world of the imminent return of His Son. The reason is that Jesus is returning in great wrath to "judge and wage war" (Revelation 19:11), and God never pours out His wrath without warning.

God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, God always warns before He executes His wrath. He warned the world through Noah for 120 years. He warned Sodom and Gomorrah through Abraham. He sent Jonah to warn the pagan city of Ninevah, and He sent Nahum to the same city 150 years later.

Likewise, God is warning the world today that His Son is about to return. He is calling the world to repentance. The message of the hour to unbelievers can be summed up in these words: "Flee from the wrath that is to come by fleeing into the loving arms of Jesus now." Jesus came the first time as an expression of God's love; He came to die for the sins of Mankind. But when He returns, He will come in vengeance to pour out the wrath of God on those who have rejected God's love and grace.

The soon return of Jesus also carries with it a message for believers. Lukewarm Christians and carnal Christians are being called to commit their lives to holiness: "The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:12-14).
God's Method of Warning

God is alerting believers of the soon return of His Son through what are called "signs of the times." These are prophecies concerning world events that we are told to watch for, prophecies that will identify the season of the Lord's return.

The Bible is full of these signs. There are about 500 prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the Second Coming of the Messiah. In the New Testament, one out of every 25 verses is concerned with the return of Jesus.

In fact, there are so many signs that it is difficult to grasp all of them. The best way I have found to do this is to put them in categories:

1) The Signs of Nature — We are told to watch for earthquakes, famine, pestilence, and signs in the heavens (see Matthew 24:7 and Luke 21:11).

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N.Y. Health Care Workers Revolt Over H1N1 Vaccine

They're upset over an ultimatum from the health department.

Workers are being told to either get the swine flu vaccine or lose their jobs.

New York is the first state in the country to mandate flu vaccinations for its health care workers. The first doses of swine flu vaccine will be available beginning next week. Much of it is reserved for state health care workers, but there is growing opposition to required innoculations.

Health care workers in Hauppauge screamed "No forced shots!" as they rallied Tuesday against the state regulation requiring them to roll up their sleeves.

"I don't even tend to the sick. I am in the nutrition field. They are telling me I must get the shot because I work in a health clinic setting," said Paula Small, a Women, Infants and Children health care worker.

Story Link

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A massive earthquake struck the South Pacific on Wednesday morning, according to officials, generating a possible destructive tsunami. Tsunami warnings are in effect, but there was no immediate word on possible damage or casualties.

The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 8.3, struck 127 miles south-southwest of Apia, Samoa and about 139 miles southwest of Pago Pago on American Samoa. The tremor, which struck at 6.45 a.m. local time, had a depth of about 30 miles, making it a fairly shallow earthquake. Shallow earthquakes often tend to cause more damage, and increase the risk of a destructive earthquake.

Tsunami warnings were immediately issued for American Samoa, Samoa, Niue, Wallis-Futuna, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Kermadec Islands, Fiji, Howland-Baker, Jarvis Island, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Palmyra Island. Later, tsunami warnings were also issued for Palmyra Island, Vanuatu, Nauru, Marshall Island and the Solomon Islands.

A tsunami watch is also in effect for Johnston Island, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Papua New Guinea, Pohnpei, Wake Island, Pitcairn, Midway Island, Chuuk and Australia.

A spokeswoman for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center told BNO News that a 10 foot (3 meter) tsunami had hit the harbor of Pago Pago on American Samoa, but said she had no information about possible casualties.

"Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter. An investigation is underway to determine if there is a tsunami threat to Hawaii," a bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center read.


Philippine flood death toll rises

The Philippines government says 240 people are now known to have died in severe flooding caused when Tropical Storm Ketsana struck on Saturday.

The country has appealed for foreign aid to deal with the disaster, which has displaced 450,000 people and left 380,000 living in makeshift shelters.

Public buildings including schools, universities and the presidential palace have become relief centres.

The storm has now hit Vietnam, where at least 22 people are said to have died.

The Vietnamese government earlier ordered the evacuation of more than 170,000 people as strong winds of up to 150km/h (93mph) and heavy rain began to affect the country's central coast.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

World Bank says don't take dollar's place for granted

 World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the United States should not take the dollar's status as the world's key reserve currency for granted because other options are emerging.

In excerpts released on Sunday from a speech that he is to deliver on Monday, Zoellick said global economic forces were shifting and it was time now to prepare for the fact that growth will come from multiple sources.

"The United States would be mistaken to take for granted the dollar's place as the world's predominant reserve currency," he said. "Looking forward, there will increasingly be other options."

Zoellick said that a meeting of Group of 20 rich and developing countries in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday had made "a good start" toward increased global cooperation but they will have accept global monitoring of their activities.

"Peer review will need to be peer pressure," he said.

Zoellick said that the G20, as the new chief forum for international economic cooperation, also must not forget the 160 countries left outside its structure and should try to open opportunity for them.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iran to hold missile exercise on Yom Kippur 9/27/09

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards will hold missile defense exercises on the upcoming Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Iranian media reported on Saturday.

The announcement of the war games coincided with increased tension in Iran's nuclear dispute with the West, after the Islamic Republic disclosed that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant.

The reports did not say what kind of missiles would be used in the war games, which will start on Sunday, the eve of Yom Kippur. In May, Iran said it had tested a missile that defense analysts said could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf.

A statement quoted by Iranian news agencies said the goal of the exercises by the Revolutionary Guards' air force, was "to raise the deterrence capability of the Iranian armed forces."

On Yom Kippur in 1973, a coalition of Arab states launched a surprise attack on Israel. The ensuing conflict, the Yom Kippur War, was particularly costly and traumatic for Israel.

General Hossein Salami, head of the Guards' air force, said that the drill would include simultaneous firings of missiles at targets. The exercises, which will begin Sunday, will last several days and take place in various locations.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly expressed alarm over Iran's nuclear ambitions and refused to rule out pre-emptive military action to stop Iran developing an atomic weapon.

Israel considers Iran a strategic threat due to its nuclear program, missile development and repeated references by Ahmadinejad to Israel's destruction.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Terror plot focus was 9/11 anniversary

Claims that an Afghan immigrant was on the verge of unleashing a terrorist attack on New York City on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 are missing a key element: explosives or the chemicals allegedly used to make them, the man's attorney said.

FBI agents have yet to find those elements and connect them to Najibullah Zazi, charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in a plot authorities say was aimed at commuter trains, attorney Arthur Folsom told a federal judge in Denver Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer ultimately ordered Zazi's transfer to New York, and Zazi was taken there by federal marshals.

"No traces of any kind of chemical was found in his vehicle," Folsom said of an FBI search of Zazi's car.

A federal prosecutor argued that Zazi was planning an attack to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary.

"The evidence suggests a chilling, disturbing sequence of events showing the defendant was intent on making a bomb and being in New York on 9/11, for purposes of perhaps using such items," prosecutor Tim Neff told Shaffer.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Today's Global Headlines

'Iran has revealed existence of second enrichment plant'
Iran has revealed the existence of a secret uranium-enrichment plant, officials told The Associated Press Friday, a development that could heighten fears about Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon and escalate its diplomatic confrontation with the West. The New York Times reported that US President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain had been planning to charge Iran with constructing the facility in an announcement in Pittsburgh before the opening of the G-20 economic summit.  

US May Face 'Armageddon' If China, Japan Don't Buy Debt
The US is too dependent on Japan and China buying up the country's debt and could face severe economic problems if that stops, Tiger Management founder and chairman Julian Robertson told CNBC.

SNAP ANALYSIS: New world economic order takes shape at G20
The Group of 20 is set to become the premier coordinating body on global economic issues, reflecting a new world economic order in which emerging market countries like China are much more relevant, according to a draft communique.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Israel feeling abandoned by U.S.?

The head of a messianic Jewish ministry says he senses a real uneasiness among the Israeli people since Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Last week U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell met behind closed doors with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and later conferred with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Mitchell was trying to pave the way for a meeting between the two sides, but Abbas has ruled out talks with Israel until it halts construction in West Bank settlements.

David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, visited Israel this summer. He says the Israelis are concerned about what direction the Obama administration is taking with regards to the Jewish state.

"What struck me is the unease in Israel now that a new administration in the United States is putting enormous pressure on them, that they feel very much alone, that the arm-twisting to halt the expansion of existing settlements in the West Bank is hugely problematic," he contends.

Story link

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wild Weather

Severe U.S. flooding kills 7 in Georgia
Governor Sonny Perdue asked President Barack Obama on Tuesday to declare a state of emergency for Georgia because of the flooding, which a state climatologist said was the worst in 100 years.

Australia reels from wild weather
Australia's biggest city was shrouded in an eerie blanket of red dust on Wednesday as bushfires, earthquakes, wild winds and massive hail stones caused havoc in the country.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Population growth driving climate change, poverty: experts

Unchecked population growth is speeding climate change, damaging life-nurturing ecosystems and dooming many countries to poverty, experts concluded in a conference report released Monday.

Unless birth rates are lowered sharply through voluntary family-planning programmes and easy access to contraceptives, the tally of humans on Earth could swell to an unsustainable 11 billion by 2050, they warned. 

 The UN currently projects that global population will rise from 6.8 billion today to between 8.0 and 10.5 billion by mid-century.

The researchers said that with one and a half million more humans climbing aboard the planet every week, a recipe is looming for ecological overload, famine and broken states.

"Continued rapid population growth in many of the least developed countries could lead to hunger, a failure of education and conflict," said Malcolm Potts at the University of California in Berkeley, which hosted the conference in February. 

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Quake kills at least 11 in Bhutan, shakes India

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook the remote mountain nation of Bhutan on Monday, killing at least 11 people, damaging an ancient monastery and forcing hundreds to flee, officials said. At least 15 people were also injured.

The afternoon earthquake was initially reported in Gauhati, the capital of India's northeastern Assam state, but it was centered in a little-populated eastern region of the tiny nation of Bhutan.

Much of Bhutan, a Himalayan nation sandwiched between India and China, is sparsely populated, reachable only by walking paths and without electricity or telephones.

"We're trying to piece together information to assess the damage," Ugyen Tenzing, the country's director of disaster management said from Thimphu, Bhutan's capital.

He said at least seven people were killed when their houses collapsed in the eastern districts of Munggar and Trashigang, and rescuers were searching for survivors under the debris of other buildings. Most buildings in that region are small farmhouses made by hand from mud and stone.

Four Indian highway workers were also killed in Bhutan's Samdrup Jhongkar district, near the border with India, when the road they were working on collapsed, Tenzing said, adding that at least 15 people had been injured across the earthquake zone.

Story link

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Obama to hold tripartite meeting

US President Barack Obama will host a meeting Tuesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in an effort to lay the groundwork for renewed peace negotiations, the White House announced Saturday night.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the three-way meeting would take place after Obama meets separately with each of the two leaders.

"These meetings will continue the efforts of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Special Envoy George Mitchell to lay the groundwork for the relaunch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so that they can succeed," the statement said.

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However, the Prime Minister's Office said Sunday that the meeting will not serve as a preparation for negotiations and not constitute renewal of negotiations where they were left off, but rather be a preliminary meeting to lay the groundwork for further meetings.

Netanyahu, the statement continued, never set any preconditions for meeting the Palestinian leadership and was ready to travel anywhere in the world and meet any leader so long as the meeting would advance peace.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today's Global Headlines

Kenya's pain: famine, drought, gov't ambivalence cripples once stable nation
Children are starving, cattle are dropping dead, crops are withered, lakes are empty, and still the rains haven't come. Kenya is on the verge of a catastrophe of Biblical proportions. Estimates put the number of hungry around 3.8 million - 1 in 10 Kenyans, so far. However the Minister of Environment said that the number is more likely over 10 million. -The fear is that Kenya represents the state of things to come in the face of climate change, overpopulation, political corruption, food shortages, and unsustainable resource use.

Obama promised Jewish homes to Palestinians?
President Obama is "fed up" with Israel while his administration has given the Palestinians guarantees they will eventually take over Jewish homes and buildings throughout most of the West Bank, a top Palestinian Authority official claimed to WND. "We heard from the U.S. that no matter what Israel is building in the West Bank, it will not affect a final status agreement to create a Palestinian state," said the PA official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld.

More than 50,000 displaced in Khartoum's "worst" floods -IFRC
More than 50,000 people have been uprooted by what aid agencies have described as the worst flooding in years in Sudan's Khartoum State, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Friday.-With more torrential rains expected in the coming months, IFRC warned that problems with displacement and disease were likely to worsen. With poor drainage systems and submerged pit latrines, IFRC said an outbreak of water borne diseases could have dire consequences.

Dismay in Europe as Obama ditches missile defence
President Obama dismayed America's allies in Europe and angered his political opponents at home today when he formally ditched plans to set up a missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. clearly prompted some dismay in Central and Eastern Europe, where the Bush plan had been seen as an effective guarantor of US support for the fledgling democracies of the old Soviet empire. It will also send a chill through Russia's neighbours.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nuke agency says Iran can make bomb

Iran experts at the U.N.'s nuclear monitoring agency believe that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and worked on developing a missile system that can carry an atomic warhead, according to a confidential report seen by The Associated Press.

The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that those officials share Washington's views on Iran's weapon-making capabilities and missile technology — even if they have not made those views public.

The document, titled "Possible Military Dimension of Iran's Nuclear Program," appeared to be the so-called IAEA "secret annex" on Iran's alleged nuclear arms program that the U.S., France, Israel and other IAEA members say is being withheld by agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei — claims the nuclear watchdog denies.

It is a record of IAEA findings since the agency began probing Iran's nuclear program in 2007 and has been continuously updated.

Calls to the Iranian mission at the United Nations were not immediately returned.

Story link

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Will Obama greet Muslims on Capitol Hill?

A political activist and former GOP presidential candidate says he wonders whether President Barack Obama -- who essentially spurned Christians on the National Day of Prayer -- will give a special greeting to a Muslim gathering scheduled later this month on Capitol Hill.

The event, called "Islam on Capitol Hill 2009," will take place on Friday, September 25. It is being promoted as a day of Islamic unity "to express and illustrate the wonderful diversity of Islam." The organizers also say they intend to "inspire a new generation of Muslims to work for the greater good of all people...regardless of race, religion, or national origin." The event's website says 50,000 people are expected to attend.

Gary Bauer, chairman of American Values, says he would like to see those who come to the event take a realistic look at radical Islamic terrorism.

"I certainly hope that those Muslims who are there will denounce Islamic fascism -- the kind of extremism and regular violence we see around the world to kill Americans and kill others," he says. "If they do that, then there would be something positive that would come out of the event."

The conservative spokesman is curious how President Obama will treat the event. "Whether there's any kind of special greetings or whatever," says Bauer. "Most of us remember President Obama refused to do an event at the White House to mark the National Day of Prayer [in May], which was deeply disappointing and certainly put him in a category by himself in refusing to do that."

Link to story

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

World food aid at 20-year low, 1 billion hungry

Food aid is at a 20-year low despite the number of critically hungry people soaring this year to its highest level ever, the United Nations relief agency said Wednesday.

The number of hungry people will pass 1 billion this year for the first time, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) said, adding that it is facing a serious budget shortfall.

To date the WFP has confirmed $2.6 billion in funding for its 2009 budget of $6.7 billion.

"This comes at a time of great vulnerability for the hungry," the WFP said in a statement.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

IAEA 'bans' attacks on nuclear installations

An Iranian proposal prohibiting military attacks against nuclear installations worldwide has been approved by the UN nuclear watchdog's general conference, an Iranian official says.

"Iran's proposal … has been approved in the meeting," said Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the sidelines of the week-long General Conference in Vienna.

Considered the highest policymaking body of the IAEA, the General Conference meets annually to consider issues such as non-proliferation, nuclear safety, nuclear safeguards and nuclear security.

The general conference in 1990 passed a resolution banning "all armed attacks against nuclear installations devoted to peaceful purposes whether under construction or in operation."

Iran says a new resolution is vital as "nuclear installations all over the world are increasing and any sort of threatening attacks ... will have radiological consequences all over the world."

Tehran, however, has denied a link between the proposal and Israeli threats against its nuclear facilities.

Tel Aviv, believed to be the sole possessor of a nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Tehran of making efforts to build a nuclear bomb and has threatened to target Iranian nuclear installations militarily.

In June 1981, Israel launched a 'preemptive' airstrike on the Iraqi breeder reactor in Osirak, under the pretext that Baghdad posed a threat to Tel Aviv's 'absolute' military superiority in the region.

In September 2007, Israel launched another attack against an alleged nuclear facility in Syria.

Story link

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Emerging Apostasy

What is the 'emerging church' or the 'emerging movement'? The emerging, or emergent, church movement takes its name from the idea that as culture changes, a new church should emerge in response. In this case, it is a response by various church leaders to the current era of post-modernism. Although post-modernism began in the 1950s, the church didn't really seek to conform to its tenets until the 1990s. Post-modernism can be thought of as a dissolution of "cold, hard fact" in favor of "warm, fuzzy subjectivity." The emerging / emergent church movement can be thought of the same way.

The following are the beliefs/teachings behind the Emerging Church:

•The world is radically changing and the church must radically change with it
•Since the Church has been culture bound for so long we must reexamine and question every belief and practice in the Church, finding new ways to define
•We have no foundation for any beliefs, therefore we cannot know absolute truth
•Since we cannot know absolute truth, we can only experience what is "true" for our communities
•Since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about doctrine
•Since we cannot know absolute truth we cannot be dogmatic about moral standards
•Since we cannot know absolute truth, dogmatic preaching must give way to a dialogue between people of all beliefs
•Since propositional truth is uncertain, spiritual feeling and social action make up the only reliable substance of Christianity
•To capture a sacred feeling we should reconnect with ancient worship forms
•Since sublime feeling is experienced through outward forms, we should utilize art forms in our worship
•Through conversation with them, "outsiders" will become part of our community, and then be able to understand and believe what we teach
•All are welcome to join the "conversation" as long as they behave in a kind and open-minded manner.
•The ultimate goal is to make the world a better place

The Lord Jesus Christ himself warned that in the closing hours of history, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. That is a high degree of subtlety and it explains why so few evangelicals are challenging men like Erwin McManus and Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones and all the others on the emergent bandwagon.

2 Tim. 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

If your church is part of the emerging church movement, then run don't walk to the nearest exit and never look back. The world will one day hold hands and sing in unison, and worship the anti-Christ. Many will be fooled because they will have no foundation to stand on, and no belief that the Bible is the true word of God, so all they will have is false teachers to tell them what to believe. Don't allow yourself or your children to be one of these fooled and lost individuals. Guard your soul and your doctrine, the time is short.

Is Jesus Really Coming Again?

As Jesus himself promised when here on earth, "I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me."

Jesus' first coming is an indisputable fact of history. His second coming to end this world age is just as certain.

According to Bible scholars there are some 1,845 references in the Old Testament about Christ's coming back to earth and 318 in the New Testament. This means for every prophecy in the Bible about Christ's first coming—every one of which was fulfilled in minute detail—there are eight about his second coming!

Jesus Christ is coming again. God has promised this in his Word, the Bible. Jesus himself promised it as well. The angels at the time of his return to heaven also promised that, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

And all the signs that Jesus and the Bible said would immediately precede his return are evident today, also reminding us that Christ's return could be very soon. If it were today, would you be ready?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Guatemala in 'public calamity' as drought and famine worsen

Guatemala's President Alvaro Colom has declared a "public calamity" from drought and famine that have claimed more than 460 lives since the start of the year.

"I have decided to declare a state of public calamity throughout the country," Colom declared in a nationally-broadcast address Tuesday.

"This will allow us to have access to international aid resources and to mobilize resources within our budget with greater ease," the Guatemalan leader said.

The country's health minister said 462 people have died, including 54 children.

Most of the deaths occurred in the impoverished northern section of Guatemala bordering Mexico, where more than half of the 13 million inhabitants in the region subsist below the poverty line.

Key crops like corn and beans have been decimated by the drought, leading to a spike in rates of malnutrition.

Meanwhile, the drought also is being felt in neighboring Mexico, where the country's water commission last month warned of a "critical" water shortage that was likely to reach crisis levels by next year.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Plot thickens over Israeli PM's secret trip

The plot thickened on Thursday over a secret trip by Israel's prime minister, as his office admitted it had misled about his whereabouts but stopped short of denying reports he had stolen away to Russia.

"The prime minister was busy with a confidential and classified activity," Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

"Having had the best intentions, his military attache... acted to defend that activity and did this through an announcement to the media" that said he had spent the day at a security facility in Israel, it said.

But the statement did not deny media reports that Netanyahu had flown to Russia aboard a private plane on Monday to discuss Moscow's arms sales to arch-foes Syria and Iran.

In Moscow, the Russian authorities said that the Israeli premier had met neither his counterpart Vladimir Putin nor President Dmitry Medvedev, but did not explicitly deny the trip itself.

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The mystery around the prime minister's day-long disappearance from public view is unfolding alongside another -- that the Arctic Sea cargo ship supposedly seized by pirates and later recovered by Russia was secretly carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems bound for Iran.

oStory link

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama to seal US-UN relationship

Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council.

The topic for the summit-level session of the council on September 24 is nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament – one of several global challenges that the US now wants to see addressed at a multinational level.

“The council has a very important role to play in preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and it’s the world’s principal body for dealing with global security cooperation,” Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, said last week.

Her remarks were the latest by the Obama administration to emphasise a shift from the strategy of the previous Bush administration, sometimes criticised by its UN partners for seeking to use the world body principally to endorse its own unilateral policies. The US currently holds the month-long rotating presidency of the Security Council.

Mr Obama will join other heads of government in New York during the week of the nuclear summit for the opening of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly. The annual meeting of world leaders is this year raising expectations on a number of fronts.

Full story

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ahmadinejad: Iran Won't Stop Nuclear Expansion

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday Iran will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights but is ready to sit and talk with world powers over "global challenges."

His statements came as the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog warned of a "stalemate" over Iran's nuclear program. Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency began meetings in Vienna that could set the stage for a toughening of sanctions against Iran.

Ahmadinejad also said Iran will present a package of proposals for talks to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany but rejected any deadline for such talks.

He said the package would "identify challenges facing humanity ... and resolve global concerns."

But he said that "from our point of view, Iran's nuclear issue is over. We continue our work within the framework of global regulations and in close interaction with the International Atomic Energy Agency." But "we will never negotiate over obvious rights of the Iranian nation," he said.

He said the only two aspects of the nuclear file he was willing to discuss were "creating peaceful nuclear energy for all countries" and a mechanism to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage global nuclear disarmament.

Link here

Saturday, September 5, 2009

US fury as Israel defies settlement freeze call

Israeli plans to authorise the construction of hundreds of houses in the occupied West Bank sparked furious protests from American and Palestinian officials yesterday.

In a nod to US requests to suspend all building work at Jewish settlements, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister, is offering a freeze on construction at a later date — a peace gambit that did little to mollify those involved in the negotiations leading to a new Middle East peace process.

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President Obama had hoped to start formal talks between Palestinians and Israel later this month.

“We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction,” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said. “As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge it to stop.”

Article link

Friday, September 4, 2009

Parents' outrage preview of Obama TV Sept. 8?

Parents are outraged after a Utah elementary school showed a video to schoolchildren about pledging to "to be of service to Barack Obama," "to never give anyone the finger when I'm driving again," "to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid" and to advance stem-cell research.

The video, titled "I Pledge" and produced by Demi Moore, features more than 50 Hollywood celebrities who offer their support for President Obama's policies. The film was played for Obama during his inaugural celebration.

But school administrators at Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington, Utah, showed the video to young students at an Aug 28 school assembly, sparking outrage from parents and conservative groups who called the film "radical, leftist propaganda," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The video can be seen below:

"I Pledge" opens with a popular depiction of Obama. The president states, "Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other."

The following are some of the more controversial pledges:

* I pledge allegiance to the funk of the united funk of funkadelica.

* I pledge to never give anyone the finger when I'm driving again

* I pledge to advance stem-cell research

* To reduce my use of plastic … use less bottled water … plant 500 trees this year … to be more green … to no longer use plastic bags at the grocery store

* For the environment, I plan to flush only after deuce, never a single

* I pledge to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid

* I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Indonesian quake kills 57, leaves dozens missing

Children were crowded around a video game console, passing the time before they could break the Muslim holy month's daily fast, when an earthquake touched off a landslide that smothered their Indonesian village.

Rescuers were searching Thursday for those 13 children and several dozen more people buried alive, as officials warned the death toll of 57 is sure to rise.

Thousands of others were spending the night in tents after Wednesday's 7.0-magnitude quake flattened or seriously damaged more than 10,000 homes, offices, schools and mosques on the western side of the densely populated island of Java. Aid workers distributed provision kits, blankets and medicine, but said they were concerned remote areas had not received help following the temblor, which was felt for hundreds of miles (kilometers).

At least 125 people were hospitalized with serious injuries and more than 5,300 others were in need of shelter, said Health Ministry Crisis Center chief Rustam Pakaya.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Montana weighs assisted suicide ruling

The Supreme Court in the US state of Montana is due to begin hearing arguments to decide if severely ill people there have the constitutional right to ask their doctor to help them die.

A lower court judgement last December decided that they did, but now the state of Montana is trying to have that ruling overturned.

By and large, the rest of the US does not focus on legal proceedings in the small city of Helena.

It might be a state capital but the "Queen City of the Rockies" has a population of less than 30,000. Yet a hearing at Montana's Supreme Court in Helena may influence how other Americans live and die.

Last December, Montana became the third US state to permit what supporters call "assisted dying" or "death with dignity".

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hurricane Jimena and the California fires

Huge storm nears Mexican resorts
Mexico's Baja California peninsula is on alert as Hurricane Jimena nears, packing winds of 250km/h (155mph). The storm is just below the maximum category five strength, according to the US National Hurricane Center. Jimena is expected to reach the Los Cabos resort area later on Tuesday or early Wednesday, forecasters say.

Residents have been boarding up homes and schools are closed, and emergency officials are urging people to leave the areas most at risk from the storm.

Thousands flee as fierce California fire spreads
The huge blaze has already killed two firefighters and emergency services fought scorching heat to rescue five people trapped by flames. About 10,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes.

Flames have ripped through 105,296 acres (42,612 hectares) of tinder-dry forest north of Los Angeles and were still spreading, authorities said.

More than 3,655 firefighters battled the fire in the Angeles National Forest, which sent a huge mushroom cloud of smoke billowing across the city and east toward Las Vegas.