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Bible Quotation for today/Courage
01 John 03/19-24: "This, then, is how we will know that we belong to the truth; this is how we will be confident in God's presence. If our conscience condemns us, we know that God is greater than our conscience and that he knows everything. And so, my dear friends, if our conscience does not condemn us, we have courage in God's presence. We receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. What he commands is that we believe in his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as Christ commanded us. Those who obey God's commands live in union with God and God lives in union with them. And because of the Spirit that God has given us we know that God lives in union with us.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For November 22/13
Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For November 22/13
Pope Says 'No Middle East without
Naharnet Newsdesk 21 November 2013/Pope Francis on Thursday said the Catholic Church will not accept a Middle East without Christians, who often find themselves forced to flee areas of conflict and unrest in the region.
"We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians," he said after meeting with patriarchs from Syria, Iran and Iraq, before calling for "the universal right to lead a dignified life and freely practice one's own faith to be respected." The political upheaval that has swept the Arab world over the past three years has led to a rise of radical Islam, leaving minority Christians feeling threatened and sometimes forcing them to emigrate.
Francis said he had spoken to the patriarchs about "those who live in the Middle East, often in small flocks, in environments marked by hostility and conflicts" and "the size of the diaspora, which is notably growing."
He said he was concerned by "the situation of Christians, who suffer in a particularly severe way the consequences of tensions and conflicts in many parts of the Middle East.""Syria, Iraq, Egypt and other areas of the Holy Land sometimes overflow with tears," he said. Amid reports Christians are being 'punished' for the actions of Western powers, some faith experts have warned that Christianity is in danger of becoming extinct in its own cradle.
Francis said he "will not rest while there are still men and women, of any religion, whose dignity is affronted, who are stripped of the basics necessary for survival, whose future is stolen, who are forced to become refugees or displaced people." He called on the patriarchs for "tireless zeal and that fraternal and paternal charity which bishops, priests and faithful look to us for, especially if they are alone and marginalized."
Last year, Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI used a trip to the Middle East to offer support to Christian minorities, calling on them not to emigrate or give in to a sense of "victimization" amid the rising tide of Islamism. Eastern Christians number between an estimated 10 and 13 million. They make up 36 percent of the population in Lebanon, 10 percent in Egypt, 5.5 percent in Jordan, 5.0 percent in Syria, up to 2.0 percent in Iraq, 2.0 percent in Israel and 1.2 percent of Palestinians, according to the Oeuvre d'Orient Catholic association. Among those meeting with Francis Thursday were Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, the Syrian Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic church, Gregory Lahham, and the patriarch of the Iraq-based Chaldean church, Louis Sako. Sako told Vatican Radio that Iraqi authorities were supplying visas as part of "a whole strategy to help Christians leave Iraq", even in areas in the north of the country where they are not under threat. "The Middle East is going to empty of Christians", he warned. The 2,000-year-old Christian community in the country has shrunk by more than half since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In Syria and Lebanon, Christians claim they are persecuted by rebels challenging the regime, because of their perceived allegiance to President Bashar Assad.
Source/Agence France Presse.
Netanyahu: I pledge Iran will not
get nuclear weapon
AFP Published: 11.21.13, 12:29 / Ynetnews
Speaking to leaders of Russia's Jewish community in Moscow, PM Netanyahu says Israel will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, accuses Khamenei of using Nazi-like rhetoric Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday pledged Israel would never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, as world powers sought a deal with Tehran in Geneva over its nuclear drive. "I pledge Iran will not get a nuclear weapon," Netanyahu, who has never ruled out military action against Tehran, said in a speech to leaders of Russia's Jewish community in Moscow. Earlier, Netanyahu warned world powers negotiating with Iran that an anti-Israel speech by Iran's supreme leader gave fresh proof over why Tehran must not acquire a nuclear weapon. Speaking to leaders of Russia's Jewish community on the second day of a visit to Moscow to campaign against an emerging world power deal with Iran, Netanyahu accused Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of using the lexicon of the Nazi Holocaust. "Yesterday, Iran's supreme leader, Khamenei, said 'death to America, death to Israel', he said that Jews are not human beings.""Sounds familiar?" Netanyahu asked. Khamenei told militia commanders in Tehran on Wednesday that Israel, Iran's arch-foe, was "doomed to collapse", "the rabid dog" of the Middle East, and with leaders "not worthy" of being called "human"."Such an Iran must not get a nuclear weapon," Netanyahu said. He later pledged that "Iran will not get a nuclear weapon."After talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Netanyahu on Wednesday insisted on the need for a "real" solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. Netanyahu's speech in Moscow came as Iran and world powers were set Thursday to begin hammering out a landmark deal freezing parts of Tehran's atomic program to ease fears of the Islamic republic obtaining nuclear weapons.
Nasrallah discusses Beirut bombings with
November 21, 2013 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah discussed Thursday with Iranian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the recent deadly attack against the Islamic republic’s embassy in Beirut.
According to Hezbollah’s office, Nasrallah and Amir-Abdollahian discussed recent developments in the region and the suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy. Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Ruknabadi attended the meeting along with the visiting official’s delegation. Twin suicide bombings targeted the Iranian embassy Tuesday, killing 25 people including an Iranian diplomat and wounded over 150. An al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, warning of further bombings unless Hezbollah withdraws its fighters from Syria. Nasrallah vowed last week in a speech for the occasion of Ashura that his party would remain in Syria as long as needed. Amir-Abdollahian met Wednesday with several Lebanese officials and affirmed his country's support for the resistance. “We will not allow in any form the terrorist and extremist takfiri forces, directed by the Zionist entity, to extend their criminal hands and again mess with with the security and [natural] resources of all friendly and allied states, especially the brotherly Lebanese Republic,” Amir-Abdollahian told reporters after meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh. “Despite this cowardly crime, we affirm our support for the resistance and deterrence axis. We will continue our cooperation and consultations with all regional states in order to confront the extremist takfiri ideology,” the Iranian official said. “Lebanon’s security is intertwined with the security of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added.
Embassy bombers stayed at luxury Beirut hotel: Saqr
November 21, 2013/By Youssef Diab/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Two suicide bombers, who attacked the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon earlier this week killing at least 25 people, stayed at a luxury Beirut hotel, Militay Prosecutor Saqr Saqr said Thursday. Saqr told The Daily Star the killers, who spoke Arabic, stayed at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in the Beirut area near UNESCO. He said security camera videos submitted by the hotel were also being examined. Security sources told The Daily Star that a Palestinian national was among the two suicide bombers, adding that investigators were still trying to identify the second bomber. Saqr said fingerprints taken from the hotel room were being analyzed, describing this measure as "the most significant step." Conflicting reports in the local media claimed the killers had stayed for one night at the hotel, while others said they stayed for four days. "We confiscated two Lebanese identity cards, but they were forged," Saqr said, adding that Lebanese Army intelligence had searched the bombers' hotel room and seized other items. LBCI television channel said the fake IDs identified one bomber as a Beirut resident and the other from the Iqlim al-Kharroub province southeast of Beirut. As-Safir and the pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar newspapers said the killers had also carried two cell phones that they did not use, according to an unsourced report.
At least 25 people were killed and more than 150 were wounded when two suicide bombers - one wearing an explosive belt and the other driving a bomb-laden vehicle - attacked the Iranian embassy in Bir Hasan, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood south of Beirut. Among the killed were the embassy’s cultural advisor and several guards. Saqr said no arrests have yet been made in the bombings case.
The Abdullah Azzam brigades, a Lebanon-based al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings outside the Iranian embassy at Bir Hasan. The report also said the bombers were driving a stolen Chevrolet Trailblazer in the attack which was handed over to them only meters away from the Iranian Embassy. One attacker who was wearing an explosive belt stepped out of the vehicle and blew himself up at the entrance of the embassy to make way for the suicide car bomber. Coincidently, a water tanker stood in the way of the Trailblazer hindering the second bomber’s way. A police officer then approached him prompting him to detonate himself, according to the report. The Trailblazer was rigged with 50 kilograms of explosives, the Lebanese Army said.
Salam warns Lebanon in danger on
November 21, 2013 /The Daily Star
BEIRUT: “Lebanon is in danger due to political disputes over national issues in the country,” Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam warned Thursday on the eve of the 70th memorial of the country’s Independence Day.
“After seventy years of independence, Lebanon is facing real dangers due to disputes over the national constants and the [political rivals’] view of Lebanon and its role in the region,” Salam said in a statement. Salam said that disputes between political rivals led to “an unprecedented political tension that in turn caused paralysis in state institutions." “The only way for the Lebanese out of this crisis is in restoring basic national concepts that our ancestors have laid as foundations for future Lebanon,” he said. Salam also denounced the deteriorating security situation in the country especially after the suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian embassy Tuesday.
“The recent explosions have shown that real danger would lie further ahead in Lebanon if the language of violence overcomes the language of national consensus and dialogue,” Salam said. Lebanon has been rocked by a series of security breaches related to the war in Syria including Tuesday’s twin suicide bombings outside the Iranian Embassy that killed at least 25 people and wounded over 150.Tuesday bombings, for which the Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility, have drawn nation-wide and international condemnation.
Why Hezbollah is scared of satire
By:Diana Moukalled/Asharq Alawsat
A satirical Lebanese show that poked fun at Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah last week angered many Lebanese people, so they blocked some roads in protest. This is not the first time such a manifestation of popular anger has occurred. It has happened before, when Nasrallah was mocked in 2006. Back then, following protests and riots, satirical shows avoided tackling Nasrallah and instead just imitated other Hezbollah figures. It has become generally accepted that Nasrallah is a religious figure, the mocking of whom is unacceptable. This was before the Arab Spring and before satire found itself a braver path where its material became religious men, politicians and leaders. Such satire was depicted via graffiti, TV sketches or the Internet, which may become the only arena for such satire after the relapse that targeted the most prominent Arab satirist, Bassem Youssef.
Satire in Lebanon is submissive to the calculations of politics and the media. The formula of tackling Nasrallah lies at the core of this division. The point of tackling him is not rooted in the arts. Satirical shows in Lebanon tend to imitate public figures and bring up sex in a vulgar manner, a lot more than they actually present an idea or a contradiction that eventually makes you laugh.
The incident against Nasrallah did not involve insulting rhetoric. Indeed, the segment’s director has often voiced his admiration for Nasrallah. Therefore, the protests against the segment were tantamount to placing Nasrallah in a “godly” category—a category in which the party supporters think Nasrallah must remain. Hezbollah used this term to describe the results of the July 2006 war, and it became a slogan used to describe everything the party does. Even Hezbollah’s participation in the fighting alongside the Assad regime was described as such.
Hezbollah, which is dragging its supporters and Lebanon towards a suicidal war in Syria, is a party that hates satire, because the latter deprives one of the aura which surrounds all stances based on dogma or intellectual stagnation or prejudice. Satire immunizes us against worshiping people, and this doesn’t harmonize with all efforts aiming to sanctify Nasrallah.
However, the space for free satire has not yet opened up in Lebanon. It is therefore unsurprising that parties that reject satire resort to violence out of fear that their legend may erode as a result of a satirical sketch.
**Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV
journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal
show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of
documentaries on controversial areas and topics which
airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel,
Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war
correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and
in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath"
massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained
world wide recognition and was named one of the most
influential women in a special feature that ran in Time
Magazine in 2004.
Saudi Arabia urges citizens to leave Lebanon
November 21, 2013/The Daily Star /BEIRUT:
Saudi Arabia urged its citizens Thursday to leave
Lebanon in light of recent bombings, the Saudi
Ambassador said. “Given the danger of the situation in
Lebanon, the Saudi Embassy urged its citizens to leave
the country for their own safety,” Awad Asiri told the
National News Agency. The statement was issued in light
of Tuesday's twin suicide bombings outside the Iranian
Embassy that killed at least 25 people and wounded over
150. This is the second Saudi travel advisory for Saudis
in Lebanon in two months after the Saudi Foreign Affairs
Ministry warned its nationals in September against
travel to Lebanon when the U.S. was preparing for a
strike against Syria. The embassy sent text messages to
its nationals in the country, asking them to depart or
remain cautious in case they decided to stay.
"Amid the current situation and the
tensions, the Saudi Embassy advises its citizens to
return home or remain cautious," the text message read.
Israel hails US alliance as Iran, world powers weigh prospective nuke deal
By REUTERS 11/21/2013/JERUSALEM - Israel pledged allegiance on Wednesday to its special relationship with the United States, now tested by pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman appeared to question the strength of the tie. Any notion that Lieberman's comments, in a speech on Wednesday, meant that Israel was looking for new friends at the expense of its bonds with its longtime main ally and military aid provider was challenged by the minister's own deputy.While his blunt-speaking boss was left behind in Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin was in Moscow with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin against a prospective deal between world powers and Iran now being weighed at talks in Geneva.Elkin told Army Radio that Russia understands Israel's security concern in light of Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions. Moscow and Jerusalem sometimes have "tactical disagreements, but Russia also does not want a nuclear Iran," he said. "No, I would not suggest reaching far-reaching conclusions that we will now replace our main ally, and that that is the aim of the visit," Elkin told the radio station from the Russian capital. "Even when there are disagreements over this issue or another ... there is no one who can take the place of the Americans," he said.
Elkin is a member of Netanyahu's conservative Likud party. Lieberman heads the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenu party in the governing coalition.
Netanyahu is locked in his most serious dispute yet with US President Barack Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue. His talks with Putin and French President Francois Hollande, who visited Israel this week, were seen by some Israeli media commentators as a snub to Washington. The Israeli leader, calling for a dismantling of Iran's nuclear enrichment capabilities, says any agreement to ease sanctions against Iran in return for only curbs on its activities would still enable Tehran to build an atomic bomb. Iran says its nuclear energy program is completely peaceful. Israel, Iran's arch-enemy, is widely thought to have the Middle East's only nuclear weaponry.
Lieberman, in his first speech as foreign minister after his acquittal last week on corruption charges, suggested that Washington's relations with Israel were taking a back seat to other challenges, such as Iran and domestic economic problems. "It should be understood ... that the link with our greatest strategic ally, the United States, its link with Israel, is waning," Lieberman told an economic conference.
It was time, he added, for Israel to shift from a "unidirectional foreign policy" toward a "diverse policy" of seeking better relations with other countries, which he did not name.
While publicly critical of the Obama administration's pursuit of what Netanyahu has described as an "exceedingly bad deal" with Iran, the premier and other Israeli officials have insisted the decades-long alliance with Washington remained strong. As foreign minister in Netanyahu's previous government, Lieberman raised hackles at home and abroad over comments questioning the loyalty of Israel's Arab minority and calling for the removal of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In the past, Netanyahu largely kept Lieberman on the sidelines of Israel's dealings with the United States, its main military aid provider, and the European Union, its biggest trading partner. But Lieberman's stronger political partnership with Netanyahu - their parties ran together in last January's national election - could make it difficult for the prime minister to muffle the outspoken hardliner.
**JPost.com Staff contributed to this report.
Incredible! Beirut bombings killing 25 people were self-inflicted by Iran and Hizballah as a diversionary tactic
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 19, 2013 /A highly sensitive Saudi tip-off reaching Western intelligence agencies, including Israel, on Nov. 14, gave advance warning that Iran and Hizballah were plotting a major terrorist operation in Beirut as a diversionary stunt, debkafile’s exclusive intelligences sources report. The warning was received three days before twin suicide bombings struck the Iranian embassy in Beirut and the Hizballah stronghold suburb of Dahya Tuesday, Nov. 19, killing 25 people and injuring nearly 150.
It was on debkafile’s desk
Sunday, Nov. 17.
Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar al Sultan explained that Tehran and Hizballah needed a powerful diversionary stunt to draw attention away from the consignment against their will of more than 3,000 Hizballah troops who were forced to return to the Syrian battlefield in the last ten days
There is no such organization as Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which took responsibility for the twin attacks in Beirut “on behalf of al Qaeda,” debkafile’s counterterrorism experts report. They are a random group of terrorists hired by Hizballah for ad hoc missions like, for instance, the Grad rocket attacks from South Lebanon aimed recently against Israel targets according to a list provided by Hizballah officers.
Bashar Assad told Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and his friends in Tehran that he was up against the biggest battle of the Syria war, which he could not afford to lose, in the Qalamun Mountains northwest of Damascus.
Another 3,000 Hizballah fighters are standing by in Beirut ready to go across after the first batch as reinforcements.
Assad depends heavily on winning this battle because of three key strategic objectives:
1) Seizure of this mountainous region will cut the Syrian rebels’ supply routes of fighters and arms from Lebanon.
2) It will reopen the route from Damascus to the coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus and the Alawite concentrations of Assad loyalists in the northwest.
For the Syrian ruler, the Qalamun battle is just as important as the battle of Qusayr, which his army won five months ago with the help of Hizballah forces.
3) The Syrian rebel militias defending this region are backed by Saudi intelligence with data, fighting strength and arms. Their defeat would be a serious reverse for the Saudis, generating far-reaching fallout that would also affect the balance of power in Beirut.
Al Qods Brigades Chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of non-Syrian Shiite forces taking part in this key battle, is approaching it as a personal duel with Saudi Prince Bandar.
The problem for Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is that his organization is still licking the wounds of its heavy losses in the Qusayr battle – 200 dead and more than 750 injured – and its members are fiercely opposed to getting embroiled any further in what they regard as a foreign conflict which is none of their business.
To rev up motivation, Iranian Al Qods strategists and Hizballah security chiefs hatched a secret plan: If Iranian and Hizballah were targeted on home ground, the involvement of Hizballah troops in the Qalamun battle could be presented as essential for defending their home bases which were under attack.
This self-inflicted attack at the cost of more than a score of lives is a rare occurrence even in the unbridled and unpredictable annals of Middle East terrorism. It is also possible that the bombers did their work too well and bringing the chickens home to roost. Certainly the Iranian cultural attaché who paid the price will be honored as a martyr.
If Tehran is capable of such atrocities merely as a diversionary tactic, then perhaps Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin ought to take a really hard look at their negotiating partner across the table before signing a major deal Wednesday, Nov. 20, which leaves Iran’s nuclear program in place.
November 21, 2013/The Daily Star
Tuesday’s tragedy in Beirut’s southern suburbs, according to investigators, was the work of two suicide bombers, a rare mode of attack in recent years. While the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is believed to have involved a bomb-laden truck driven by a suicide bomber, one must return to the Civil War for similar instances.
Some are beginning to wonder whether Lebanon is now set to follow the tragic paths of Iraq, after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, and Syria, after jihadist fighters began to appear in significant numbers and carry out “spectacular” suicide attacks.
The notion that Al-Qaeda and its various affiliates have changed their approach to dealing with Lebanon should be taken very seriously by the authorities. There are reports that hard-line extremists have elected to change their strategy from mobilizing “support” in Lebanon to carrying out “jihad,” meaning violent acts in which civilians pay a heavy price.
Whatever the case, the Lebanese authorities should remember that it is very difficult to guarantee that such suicide attacks will not occur. No matter how many policemen are deployed in the streets, fighting terror is usually not a straightforward matter of taking enough precautions. Terrorists search for so-called “soft targets,” and it is unreasonable to expect the police, the army and security bodies to cover every single inch of every single part of Lebanon, 24 hours a day, to prevent another incident from taking place.
This means a forceful response to the danger of suicide attacks will have to be include robust political measures, and not the standard “security” clamp-down that is often called for under such conditions.
The only clear aspect of Tuesday’s bombings near the Iranian Embassy is the likelihood of further attempts to destabilize Lebanon, irrespective of the side behind such efforts. Several countries and shadowy terror organization may believe it is in their interest to cause problems for Lebanon, whether this is part of a desire to punish the country, or an attempt to make trouble here in order to cover problems elsewhere.
Do officials and politicians have any idea of the dangers that await or are they content to just receive reassurances things won’t spiral out of control?
The simple truth is Lebanon’s debilitating political divisions will continue to present an attractive option for a whole range of parties to stir up trouble.
And most importantly, those who are responsible for the country’s welfare should acknowledge the following: Many people merely ask, “Where next?” in the aftermath of terrorist atrocities because they have no faith that elected officials will do anything meaningful to prevent another attack.