April 11/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 20,11-18. But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and what he told her.

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources for April 11/07
Political standoff in Lebanon cripples some businesses .International Herald Tribune
How Syria Helped the US in the "War on Terror.CounterPunch
Syria postpones activist trial to May 10, International Herald Tribune
Geagea Vows to Confront Nasrallah's Global Scheme-Naharnet
Geagea: Hezbollah is blocking the rise of a strong Lebanon-Ya Libnan
Crisis Deepens Following Nasrallah's Speech-Naharnet
Legislators Appeal Anew for Parliament Session-Naharnet
Nasrallah's Address Escalates Tension, Fuels Counter Accusations-Naharnet
Nasrallah declares war on Lebanon-Ya Libnan
Hezbollah warns of coup efforts-PRESS TV
Hezbollah and Al Qaeda-International Herald Tribune
Easter Marked by Arab Christians; Still Illegal in Saudi Arabia-Christian Post
IMF Approves $77 Million Loan for Lebanon; Larger Aid on Hold-Voice of America
Syria invites US delegation-PRESS TV
Hope and the internal crises in the spiritual leaders Easter
Hezbollah, Israel take grudge to courtroom-Middle East Times

INTERVIEW-Senior US lawmaker says he'll go back to Syria-Reuters

Geagea Vows to Confront Nasrallah's Global Scheme
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea lashed out at Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah Tuesday, accusing him of "cheating" the Lebanese and blocking the formation of a capable state.
Geagea, addressing a news conference, also accused Nasrallah of trying to carry out an agenda aimed at creating a global Islamic state that contradicts with the essence of pluralist Lebanon. "We will not allow either Hizbullah or any other power to control our destiny and our children's destiny," Geagea announced in an apparent response to a pledge of a half century of Hizbullah influence that Nasrallah made in a speech Sunday.
Addressing Nasrallah, Geagea said: "you are not allowing the rise of the state, you are blocking our march … a capable state cannot rise if it is surrounded by armed militias." "We don't want armed factions alongside the state any more. We want the state. The state cannot rise if it is surrounded by armed groups," he stressed.
Geagea's 80-minute conference focused on countering minutes of Nasrallah's address that has provoked angry reaction and criticism from leaders of the March 14 majority alliance that backs Premier Fouad Saniora's government. The capable Lebanese state, Geagea said, "will certainly rise. We and our allies believe in this state … we are facing a problem today, but in any minute you will notice that the problem ceased to exist."
Hizbullah's target, according to Geagea, is not to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms of south Lebanon that the Saniora government is seeking to place under United Nations supervision pending demarcation of the borders with Syria.
"You want to liberate the whole of Palestine and throw the Jews in the sea. You want to push the Americans out of all Muslim lands. You want to liberate the Balkan province … We are not affiliated with this scheme," Geagea told Nasrallah. "You have no right to take the Lebanese people hostage to carry out your strategy. The Lebanese state exists, the Lebanese entity exists and you will not be able to drag the Lebanese people into war," he added.
"No one can impose on us what we don't want. No one can impose on us strategies or ideologies," Geagea announced.
Regarding Nasrallah's call for a referendum to allow the people have a say in a settlement to the ongoing political crisis, Geagea asked the Hizbullah chief: "Did you ask for the people's opinion when u staged war on July 12 and caused the death of over 1.000 Lebanese and the destruction of the country?"
He was referring to last summer's 34-day war with Israel which started on July 12 when Hizbullah fighters kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack. Geagea accused Hizbullah's ally, House Speaker Nabih Berri, and Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud of blocking bills adopted by the Saniora government in order to prevent state rise. "You want a return of the Syrian hegemony era and this will not happen," Geagea told Nasrallah.
He attacked the Hizbullah chief for saying that the international tribunal designed to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes was to announce ready-made verdicts. "These are mere allegations that lack proof. You are cheating the Lebanese .. We want reforms," Geagea said. He accused the General Security department, which the majority says is headed by a pro-Hizbullah general, of permitting the entry of "trucks loaded with weapons" from Syria to re-arm Hizbullah and other pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon. Geagea said it was not up to Nasrallah to say if the Saniora government is constitutional or not "Only parliament can judge the government and your ally (Berri) does not convene it." Beirut, 10 Apr 07, 14:38

Legislators Appeal Anew for Parliament Session
Naharnet: Pro-government legislators gathered in parliament for the fourth straight Tuesday urging Speaker Nabih Berri to convene parliament to ratify the international tribunal that would try suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's murder and related crimes.
MP Akram Shehayyeb urged Berri "to attend," adding that failure to hold a session would lead to "negative consequences which would not be in the interest of Lebanon." About the petition handed to the U.N. requesting that the world body establish the international court, Shehayyeb said the move "was the only way to protect the tribunal."Last Tuesday, legislature Saad Hariri delivered the petition which was signed by 70 lawmakers to the U.N. special coordinator in Lebanon, Geir Pederson. Addressed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, it requested that "all alternative measures" be taken by the Security Council to establish the tribunal. "It is a duty to open parliament doors," Shehayyeb said. But Hizbullah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan ruled out a session before the formation of a "legitimate and constitutional government." "If they (March 14 Forces) are able to form a cabinet through coexistence (among various sects) then let it approve as much bills as it wants," then refer them to the president and finally to parliament, said Hajj Hassan. Beirut, 10 Apr 07, 11:51

Crisis Deepens Following Nasrallah's Speech
Naharnet: The ongoing political deadlock continues in Lebanon following Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's fiery speech in which he ruled out any chances for a settlement into the four-month-old stalemate. The daily As Safir said Tuesday failure to maintain dialogue between pro-government MP Saad Hariri and opposition House Speaker Nabih Berri to end the impasse has renewed fears over security.
"Uncalculated security developments are likely to happen," As Safir wrote on the front page, even though, it said, Nasrallah had reasserted that Hizbullah would not allow itself to be dragged into civil war. Nasrallah has given up hope of reaching a Lebanon deal and said in a Sunday address that the "dialogue is deadlocked." An Nahar's Rosana Bou Monsef wrote, in turn, that Nasrallah used the U.S.'s "shock and awe" tactic, a strategy technically known as rapid dominance. Nasrallah also criticized the U.N.-backed international tribunal saying it is designed to announce ready-made verdicts against certain suspects in the 2005 murder of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. Bou Monsef said that some states like Russia will seek to employ Nasrallah's position by saying that the establishment of the court will "further shake Lebanon's stability." Beirut, 10 Apr 07, 07:30

INTERVIEW-Senior U.S. lawmaker says he'll go back to Syria
10 Apr 2007 -By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has invited U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others in an American delegation that met him in Damascus last week to make a return visit, Rep. Tom Lantos, senior lawmaker who was on the trip, said on Monday.
"I have every intention of going back," Lantos, California Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters, insisting that he would not bow to the "ostrich policy" of the Bush administration by refusing to communicate with those with whom Washington disagrees.
The foray to Damascus by a bipartisan delegation led by Pelosi drew strong reprimands from the White House, which has sought to isolate Assad. Washington accuses Syria of sponsoring terrorism and allowing suicide bombers and fighters to cross its desert border into Iraq.
President George W. Bush said Pelosi's visit sent "mixed signals" to Syria, Vice President Dick Cheney accused her of "bad behavior," and Republicans in Congress asserted that she was trying to embarrass Bush.
But Lantos said Pelosi had represented U.S. interests "magnificently," adding: "I think the administration may be embarrassed by its own unwillingness to engage in dialogue. "I vastly prefer Nancy Pelosi's approach to the Middle East to Cheney's," Lantos said in a telephone interview.
Pelosi, a California Democrat who met Assad on Wednesday, was the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria in more than two years. Several other American lawmakers have traveled to Syria recently, including some Republicans -- one of whom, Rep. David Hobson of Ohio, was with Pelosi.
"He (Assad) strongly encouraged the continuation of the dialogue. He invited the speaker and the rest of the delegation to return," Lantos said. He could not say whether Pelosi would return, but "I would suspect her answer would be yes."
The United States withdrew its ambassador from Syria shortly after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005. Many Lebanese blame Syria for the killing. Damascus denies involvement.
But Lantos, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust, said normal U.S. diplomatic relations with Syria are possible.
He recalled that just a few years ago the United States had "zero" diplomatic relations with Libya, and now the two countries share full diplomatic ties. These improved dramatically after Tripoli's 2003 decision to give up weapons of mass destruction.
"Syria in many ways is more developed and there are more historic ties," Lantos said, "and I fully anticipate that sooner or later there will be a resumption of full diplomatic relations."Syria will need to do several things, he said. These would include closing its border with Iraq; closing the border with Lebanon to arms shipments by Hezbollah; facilitating the work of the United Nations investigation into Hariri's assassination; releasing political prisoners and closing headquarters of "terrorist" groups.
As for whether Syria should resume talks with Israel, "that is between the two of them," Lantos said, but "I certainly think that sooner or later that will happen."During Pelosi's visit, Assad said Syria was ready to resume talks with Israel based on an Arab peace plan calling for Israeli withdrawal from all Arab land for peace.

Nasrallah's Address Escalates Tension, Fuels Counter Accusations
Naharnet: Political tension escalated in Lebanon Monday as leaders of the parliamentary majority back lashed Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accusing him of seeking to set up his own state in the multi-sect nation and defending assumed culprits in the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.
The attacks came hours after a speech by Nasrallah in which he pledged a half century of Hizbullah influence, attacked the international tribunal that would try suspects in the 2005 Hariri assassination and related crimes and defended four generals jailed in connection with the crime.
Druze leader Walid Jumblat said Hizbullah's "weapons, arsenal, institutes and security zones are the main obstacles that prevent the creation of a strong state" in Lebanon. Nasrallah's rejection of the international tribunal, Jumblat said, reflects efforts by Syria to "retain control of Lebanon's politics, constitution and institutions."
He said Syria, which dominated Lebanon for nearly 30 years before withdrawing its troops in April 2005 after the Hariri assassination, "seeks to retain control of Lebanon through Hizbullah." He said Nasrallah was facing "a problem" because of U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 which ended a 34-day war between the party and Israel last August. The resolution "prevents the Syrian and Iranian regimes from carrying out their maneuvers in the south Lebanon arena," he said in reference to Hizbullah which is banned by the U.N. measure from maintaining fighters in a 23-kilometer deep zone south of the Litani River. Jumblat also charged some Lebanese security agencies of "smuggling in hundreds of Iraqis."
"What is the aim of such a move? Does it aim at carrying out political assassinations or to carry out acts of sabotage?" Jumblat asked.
Several MPs from the Parliamentary majority also accused Nasrallah of defending alleged culprits in the Hariri assassination and related crimes.
The Hizbullah leader also was charged with sabotaging chances of a settlement to the ongoing Lebanese crisis. "Nasrallah announces the death of the (national) dialogue, ruling out civil war," the Daily al-Hayat wrote.
Nasrallah on Sunday said Hizbullah was no longer interested in a 19-11 formula, a reference to the number of ministers in a new national unity government.
"If we were to choose between civil war and keeping the situation this way for a limited period of time, we prefer to continue with this state of affairs (stalemate)," he said. Nasrallah attacked the international tribunal, saying it was designed to announce ready-made verdicts against certain suspects in the Hariri murder and related crimes. Al Mustaqbal newspaper, mouthpiece of MP Saad Hariri's political group that carries the same title, retorted on its front page that Nasrallah had "uncovered the hidden (truth) by rejecting the international tribunal … and by defending the suspects involved (in the Hariri killing), and labeling them political prisoners." In a televised speech to 1,700 Hizbullah university graduates, Nasrallah said the four Lebanese generals jailed in connection with the Hariri crime were "political prisoners" in Lebanon. He was referring to former Director General of the Surete Generale's Security Department Gen. Jamil as-Sayyed, former commander of the Internal Security Forces Gen. Ali el-Hajj, former Presidential Guards commander Brig. Gen. Mustafa Hamdan and former director of army intelligence Raymond Azar.

Nasrallah was also accused of trying to "control the whole of Lebanon for the interest of Syria and Iran."
Beirut, 09 Apr 07, 10:21
Hope and the internal crises in the spiritual leaders Easter reflections
Patriarch Sfeir invites politicians to “sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace”, the Metropolitan affirms that Lebanon’s resurrection “can only happen with the unity and solidarity of its people”, the Armenian Aram I urges a “resolution today, tomorrow may be too late”.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The internal crises, the need for reconciliation, peace and respect for human rights: these were the central themes of the leaders of Lebanon’s Christian Churches this Easter.
The Maronite Patriarch, card. Nasrallah Sfeir, during his homily asked political leaders to “sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace” and to respect human rights. Sfeir urged the Lebanese to “remember that they are brothers though they have different religious, social and political affiliations”. “The Lebanese people have the same fate – he added - ... no one can be happy at the expense of the other, nor can one suffer because of the other”. “We have endured enough suffering and we are still suffering ... we hope that the resurrection of Jesus lifts us from the crises we are plunging into in order to recover security and prosperity”. Speaking during an annual Mass held at Bkirki to express thanks to and friendship with France, Sfeir said that the European nation had “helped Lebanon achieve its sovereignty, independence, freedom and prosperity”.
“Our country – said the Orthodox archbishop of Beirut, Elias Aoude – is bleeding under the eyes of distracted leaders. Don't we know that if we lose our country we will never recover it?”. “Lebanon's resurrection from its pain can be achieved through the unity and solidarity of its people,” Aoude said.
For his part Aram I, bishop of Beirut of the apostolic Armenian Church denounced “the erosion of democracy”. “Today – he said – we don’t see one united Lebanon, but two. And “the persistence of the situation will lead to the country disappearing altogether”. “We must find a solution today, for tomorrow may already be too late”. The Maronite bishop of Jbeil, Bechara Rahi, warned that there are people who allow themselves to be corrupted by “their thirst for money and power”, thus “selling their people and their country short”.