April 14/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 21,1-14. After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come, have breakfast." And none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

Free Opinions
In Lebanon as elsewhere, civil wars do not happen by themselves.Daily Star. April 14/07
Upside Down Logic-Dar Al-Hayat.April 14/07
Al-Qaeda: a brand name now being franchised globally.By Faisal Devji. April 14/07
Actually, Britain didn't blink, the divided Iranians did.By Francis Fukuyama. April 14/07

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources for April 14/07
Lebanon Marks Civil War
Lebanese police dismantle bomb near American University campus.Monsters and

US Committed to Court, Worried About Lack of Christian Unity-Naharnet
Assad-Offered Peace with Israel Cuts off Hizbullah Link-Naharnet
Once Militia Woman Fights for Peace-Naharnet
U.N. Envoy on Children Horrified by Bint Jbeil's Destruction-Naharnet
Ban Frustrated Over Lack of Progress on Tribunal-Naharnet
Specter of Civil War Still Haunts Lebanese-Naharnet
U.N. Chief Studying Saniora Letter on Tribunal-Naharnet
Beirut Asks UN To Help End Syria's Influence in Lebanon-New York Sun
Pelosi's 'mixed message' to Syria is more direct than the president's-Seattle Post Intelligencer
Pelosi's 'mixed message' to Syria is more direct than the president's-Seattle Post Intelligencer
The new second-richest man/Carlos Slim passes Buffett and may soon beat Gates, but says he isn't like them. How did he get rich? April 14/07
Have we become afraid of peace?Jerusalem Post

Latest News Reports From  The Daily Star for April 14/07
Siniora: We insist on overcoming our differences
Ban urges Lebanese to resume dialogue
Mitri asks EU for pressure on Israel to honor cease-fire
Opposition wins big in first round of LU polls
Sfeir voices hope for 'far-off goal' of 'peace and tranquility'
Lebanese from all camps voice hope that nation won't return to civil war
NGO raises awareness on child soldiers
More pressure for better driving tests
Panel urges help for undocumented Palestinians
UN envoy completes Lebanon leg of tour aimed at protecting region's children
Bomb scare results in closing of business school
Team of experts to report on Al-Madina case
Arab women bring campaign for greater equality to fundamental front: the right to share one's nationality
Choueifat farmers 'use raw sewage' to irrigate crops

Forbes: Slim is world's 2nd richest man
Forbes: Slim is world's 2nd richest man
By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 12, 3:10 AM ET
MEXICO CITY - Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim has quietly overtaken investor Warren Buffett as the world's second-richest man and is close to wresting the top spot from Bill Gates, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday.
In the two months since Forbes calculated its 2007 wealth rankings, the 67-year-old Slim's fortune rose $4 billion to $53.1 billion, while Buffett's holdings slipped to $52.4 billion as of March 29.
In an article on its Web site, Forbes attributed part of Slim's "amazing run" to a 15 percent increase in the stock price of Carso Global Telecom, part of a larger rally in Mexican stocks. Slim's America Movil cell phone company also soared on news of a possible acquisition of Telecom Italia.
In the 2007 rankings released March 8 but prepared almost a month earlier Forbes had listed Slim as the world's third-richest man and estimated Gates' fortune at $56 billion. Slim said shortly afterward that he wasn't concerned about his ranking or taking over the top spot, but he expressed differences with Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and Gates, the chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp.
"It's not about having who knows how many bonds, to spend them on whatever one wants or live it up all year," said Slim, an engineer who wears modest suits and whose main indulgence appears to be expensive cigars. "I don't have apartments abroad. I don't have a house abroad."
Slim, who owns Mexico's dominant phone company and has holdings throughout Latin America, said his vision of a businessman's role in the world is at odds with that of Buffett, who announced last year he would donate $1.5 billion every year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"It's very interesting, because he leaves those who are running his affairs the responsibility of being very profitable," Slim said of Buffett. "If they're inefficient or don't get real-term returns, they're not going to be running anything." "Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving that is, not going around like Santa Claus," Slim said. "Poverty isn't solved with donations."

Assad-Offered Peace with Israel Cuts off Hizbullah Link
Syrian-American negotiator Ibrahim Suleiman said Thursday Syrian President Bashar Assad was ready for peace with Israel in six months that could cut his links with Lebanon's Hizbullah and allow him to fight terrorism.
"Since 1948 Israeli leaders have said they are ready to talk peace anytime and anywhere," the Israeli daily Haaretz quoted Suleiman as telling reporters at a news conference after addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "Syria right now is ready to speak peace."
"I challenged the Israeli government to answer President Bashar [Assad]'s call for peace and sit down together," he added. "I think it can happen in six months."David Baker, an official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, said in response: "The position of the Israeli government remains the same. The Syrian government is not pursuing peace but is merely posturing.""Syria continues to be more interested in providing safe haven to the 11 terrorist groups it is harboring in Damascus and fomenting terror against Israel wherever it can," Baker added.
The peace plan drafted during the unofficial Syrian-Israeli negotiations would allow Syria to "cut itself off from Hizbullah and join the global struggle against terror," Suleiman told the committee on Thursday.Suleiman appeared before the committee alongside Alon Liel, former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The two briefed the committee members on the secret, unofficial talks they conducted, and on the understandings they reached for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.
The centerpiece of the "non-paper" they drafted is a proposal to turn part of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, into a "peace park." Syria would be the sovereign in all of the Golan, but Israelis could visit the park freely, without visas.
In addition, territory on both sides of the border would be demilitarized along a 4:1 ratio in Israel's favor. Liel, who represented the unofficial Israeli delegation during the negotiations, told the committee that he had informed the ministry of the talks and that Suleiman had met with Israeli inspectors over the issue. Suleiman asked the Israeli government to allow him to meet with 12 Syrian citizens who are currently serving time in Israeli prisons - one Syrian who crossed the border and was captured, and 12 Golan Heights Druze who also hold Syrian citizenship.
Suleiman raised the issue during the committee hearing, and several Members of Knesset promised to ensure that he could meet with the Syrian who crossed the border before the end of his visit Friday afternoon. Suleiman said such a meeting would be seen as a gesture of goodwill by Damascus.
Suleiman is the first Syrian to address lawmakers in Israel. On his way out of the meeting, Suleiman said he was very glad to have come to Israel.
"I am hoping that the officials in Israel and the officials in Syria will start meeting with one another and that we, as a private channel, should disappear now," he said. "My presence here will make everything useful."Suleiman said he has no doubts that Assad is genuine in his desire for peace, as are the Syrian people. He said that in previous peace talks between Israel and Syria, 80 percent of the issues in dispute were resolved, adding that in his opinion the Shepherdstown talks in 2000 would not have broken down had the contents of the emerging agreement not been leaked to the media.
The invitation to Suleiman was extended so the panel could assess his claims to ties with top figures in the Damascus regime. Israel, which has acknowledged his talks with Liel but distanced itself from them, has questioned the quality of his contacts.
Suleiman, who landed in Israel on Tuesday, has told the MKs about a committee appointed by Assad to coordinate the talks with Israel, which is headed by one of his army generals with whom Suleiman has regular contact. In addition, he relayed messages he received from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and other Syrian officials. In the hearing, Liel disclosed the contents of the reports he allegedly gave to officials in the Foreign Ministry regarding his progress in the talks. Liel also reported to various parties in the Prime Minister's Bureau when it was headed by former prime minister Ariel Sharon.
"There is a genuine willingness in Damascus to initiate peace talks with Israel, which at the very least requires Israel to test the waters," Suleiman told Israeli sources during his stay.
Labor MK Danny Yatom said during the hearing that he has approached Syrian sources during the past few weeks in an effort to begin unofficial negotiations. Yatom said he was turned down, and that the Syrians are continuing to demand that any negotiations be official. "They have always been concerned that unofficial negotiations would end in leaks that are embarrassing to Syria," he said.
During the hearing, a difference of opinion emerged between Suleiman and Uzi Arad, who also participated in the secret talks. Arad said Suleiman told him that the Assad family does not want peace, but Suleiman denied the conversation ever took place.
National Union-National Religious Party MK Zvi Hendel said as a result that, "Until now I thought they (Syrians) were liars, and now I know that they are telling the truth - they want negotiations, not peace."Despite Suleiman's interest in meeting with senior Israeli officials during his visit, the Foreign Ministry decided against such a move. The ministry's director general, Aharon Abramowitz, explained that Suleiman's request had been denied "to avoid giving a false impression, as though he were engaged in official talks with the State of Israel." Abramowitz added that, "If Syria wanted to conduct official talks, it had other avenues available to it."
The Prime Minister's Bureau had similar reservations, as it did when Haaretz first exposed the existence of the talks in January. By contrast, MK Zahava Gal-On, who initiated the committee discussion, expressed her hope that after the MKs hear what Suleiman has to say, they would realize his immediate connection to the Syrian leadership. "Some think he doesn't enjoy any sort of valid status in Damascus. The hearing will give us a chance to examine just that," she said. On Wednesday Suleiman visited Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem. Suleiman said he hoped "we will be able to live together in peace, and put all the killing and incitement behind us," adding that "the peoples of the Middle East need to think of the future of their children and grandchildren." Beirut, 12 Apr 07, 18:28

Once Militia Woman Fights for Peace
Jocelyne Khoweiry was 20 years old when she first carried arms to fight in Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. Now at 51, she is working forcefully for peace. "In 1975 I was ready to die for my country. Today I want to live for its sake," Khoweiry told Agence France Presse on the 32nd anniversary of the outbreak of the 15-year civil war that killed more than 150,000 people. Khoweiry, in a rare interview, said she wanted to "relay a message of peace" at a time when many people fear that deeply divided Lebanon may plunge back into the devastating violence and chaos of civil war.
"I tell the young Lebanese of today war is not a game," said Khoweiry, founder and director of the Pope John Paul II Centre which provides social, psychological and medical assistance to those in need.
"When violence breaks out it becomes deaf. Nothing stops it." Khoweiry, still youthful despite years of wars and hardship that have turned her hair white, does not regret her active participation in the civil war as a member of the Phalange (Kataeb) Christian party's militia.
"We (Christians) were forced to make war. And it was not easy, especially for women," she said. "Like all the young people of my generation, I had enthusiasm and ideals. I wanted to defend my country against the Palestinian armed presence in Lebanon.
"I only regret that the war broke out in our country," Khoweiry said, adding: "It is better to defend one's nation without resorting to arms."
The annual April 13 anniversary is always a time of reflection for her. "I feel sad because I remember the young people who fell in combat and those who became disabled. I do not want this to be repeated." Khoweiry, one of the first Lebanese women to bear arms during the civil war, has now sought refuge in Christianity. "After carrying arms, I thought repeatedly about becoming a nun. When you see so much violence and drama, you start asking questions about men, death and God."
In 2000 she founded the Pope John Paul II Centre in Ghadir, a mountainous village in the Christian heartland northeast of Beirut, with the help of other "sisters in arms" who discarded their guns to become "messengers of hope and peace." Khoweiry said the late Pope John Paul II -- whom she met three times -- encouraged her to pursue a path of peace, which has allowed her to meet many of the people she fought against during the war.
Some communist militants, who fought alongside the Palestinians in Lebanon against the Christian militias, have even become her friends.
Sitting in her office amid piles of books on theology, politics and economics, Khoweiry opens an old album to show pictures of her in combat gear.
"I was so wild," she recalled, laughing at one photograph in which her hair was still long, brown and curly and in which she was about to fire an assault rifle. Khoweiry earned a master's degree in theology with a paper on the personality and the cult of the Virgin Mary. Now she is writing a doctorate on the role of the Virgin Mary in politics.
"The subject may be strange, but it is really interesting," she said. The former militant insists that her military and spiritual endeavors have much in common.
"Military combat is also an ascetic, mystical experience: one sacrifices oneself in wars -- just like in religion," she said.
The rusty bullet-scarred bus which was ambushed by gunmen 32 years ago was put on display Friday on the occasion of the Lebanese civil war anniversary. "This is the outcome of civil wars," said Sami Hamdan, owner of the old Dodge bus as he knocked on the reddish brown metal of the decaying vehicle. "People get killed, everyone loses and everything gets destroyed. All that's left will be a rusty carcass," the 61-year-old told A F P.
On April 13, 1975, an ambush by Christian gunmen of a bus carrying Palestinians in Beirut's eastern suburb of Ain al Rummaneh sparked the civil war that lasted 15 years. Marking this year's anniversary, the bus was displayed at the central field of Beirut racetrack, a former crossing point on the line that separated Beirut's Christian and Muslim sectors during the war. Ibrahim Eid, a Lebanese civil society coordinator, said the bus should "raise awareness after what we've seen in the last year."Under the slogan "Remember it, don't repeat it," Friday's activities include conferences and exhibitions of wartime pictures, films, documents, songs, newspapers and news bulletins.(AP-AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 13 Apr 07, 11:21

U.S. Committed to Court, Worried About Lack of Christian Unity
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch has said his government is committed to the formation of the international tribunal that would try suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's murder and related crimes.
Welch told An Nahar daily's Washington correspondent that if the Lebanese parliament does not ratify the tribunal, the U.S. will consider with other members of the U.N. Security Council legal options to set up the court. He blamed "foreign interference" for obstructing the formation of the international tribunal. Speaker Nabih Berri, whose Amal movement is part of the Hizbullah-led opposition, is refusing to call for a parliament session to set up the court.
Welch said that he discussed with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in a telephone conversation Wednesday discord among Christians in Lebanon.
"I expressed my concern over lack of unity" between them, Welch added. He also said that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Damascus has not led to changes in Syria's behavior in Lebanon. Pelosi's trip last week stirred controversy, with President George Bush and other administration officials lashing out at the speaker for undermining the government's tough line against the Syrian regime, which the U.S. accuses of supporting terrorism.
Beirut, 13 Apr 07, 10:32

U.N. Envoy on Children Horrified by Bint Jbeil's Destruction
A U.N. envoy for children in conflict said Thursday she had been horrified by the destruction of a Lebanese town besieged by Israeli troops last year, and that many of Israel's actions during the war had violated international law. The U.N.'s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, told reporters she would discuss the Jewish state's conduct in the July-August war when she meets Israeli officials on the next stop of her Middle East tour. "I think the message is very clear -- the need to respect civilians" and to distinguish between civilians and combatants, Coomaraswamy said in Beirut after a three-day visit to Lebanon. She referred to Israel's dropping of millions of cluster bombs during the 34-day war and its "disproportionate use of force," which destroyed much of the country's infrastructure.
She said she was "horrified" by the destruction she saw in the southern Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil "and the considerable impact that it had on children."
"Many of the actions taken in the Lebanese war appear to have violated international humanitarian law," Coomaraswamy said when asked if she would be raising with Israeli officials what their armed forces had done in Lebanon. She said she would add her voice to those pressing Israel to provide data on the location of the cluster bombs dropped on the south in the last days of the war. "Apparently they do have the data in the computer," she said.
In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yariv Ovadia declined to indicate Thursday how Israel would respond to Coomaraswamy's push for maps of the cluster bomb areas. "We will deal with her request when she arrives," Ovadia said.
Asked about her accusations that Israel had violated international law and employed disproportionate force, Ovadia said: "No comment." The United Nations and human rights groups say that Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets on Lebanon during the war which erupted on July 12. It is thought that up to 1 million bombs failed to explode. Since the war ended on Aug. 14, such ordnance has killed 29 people and injured another 215 -- 90 of them children.
Coomaraswamy said the main aim now is not to eliminate the unexploded cluster bomblets, but to ensure they do not cause further casualties. Ordnance clearing specialists hope that through an awareness program they will be able to stop casualties from occurring by December. Fifty-six ordnance clearing teams from around the world are at work in southern Lebanon, she said.(AP) Beirut, 13 Apr 07, 09:53

Ban Frustrated Over Lack of Progress on Tribunal
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that he was concerned about divisions in Lebanon but hoped that bickering parties will solve their differences on their own. Premier Fouad Saniora on Tuesday sent a letter along with a copy of a petition signed by 70 lawmakers to Ban asking him to move on the international tribunal, which is the core of Lebanon's deepest crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. "I am very much concerned by the lack of progress in this issue," Ban told reporters in New York. "I know that there is a sense of frustration, even by Prime Minister Saniora, among members of the Security Council and myself."
"Again, I hope the Lebanese government will take the necessary constitutional procedures," he said. The United Nations and Lebanon's government have signed a deal to set up the tribunal that would try suspects in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination and related crimes.
The court must be ratified by the country's divided legislature, but Speaker Nabih Berri is refusing to call for a parliament session.
Ban told reporters that the issue of how to proceed with the tribunal has not been discussed yet in the Security Council.
"I'm still studying the letters and request from the Lebanese government," he said. "This needs to be very closely considered, taking into account the ongoing political situation in Lebanon. This is a very important and urgent one, but at the same time sensitive one." Beirut, 13 Apr 07, 08:14

Specter of Civil War Still Haunts Lebanese
Thirty-two years on, Lebanon is again a divided country.
April 13, 1975 saw the start of a civil war that was to last for 15 years. That specter has never been laid to rest, and on Friday the country marks an anniversary it would prefer to forget. The current political impasse has led to scenes reminiscent of those horror years and raised fears of a return to protracted civil strife. In January deadly clashes between Shiites and Sunnis erupted in Beirut as the political standoff between the government of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and the Hizbullah-led opposition spilled over into violence.
The civil war in Lebanon killed some 100,000 people, with thousands kidnapped and many others "disappeared."When the conflict ended in 1990, the Lebanese embarked on a path of peace. But the assassination on February 14, 2005 of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and, paradoxically, the subsequent departure of Syrian troops after years of Damascus domination, changed everything. The country is now split into two camps -- the government on the one hand, and the opposition on the other. "The country is under threat of partition," Justice Minister Charles Rizk said in a televised debate last week.
The crisis began last November with the resignation from Saniora's cabinet of six pro-Syrian ministers, paralyzing the anti-Damascus parliamentary majority. The United Nations and Lebanon's government have signed a deal to set up an international tribunal to try suspects in Hariri's murder, but this must first be ratified by the country's divided parliament.
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, backed by President Emile Lahoud, has been pressing for the formation of a new government of national unity in which the opposition would have a minority veto. On Sunday Nasrallah proposed a referendum to resolve the political deadlock between the pro- and anti-Syrian camps, saying that the way to resolve domestic problems was "not to resort to foreign parties but to the people."
Hizbullah would not allow itself to be dragged into a civil war, he said: "We will continue to use peaceful, democratic and civil means" of protest.
He said the Saniora government was deluding itself by counting on major regional changes to transform the situation in Lebanon, such as a U.S. attack on Iran, a major backer of Hizbullah.
On Wednesday Sheikh Naim Qassem, the Shiite movement's number two, charged in an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper that the United States was financing a secret war in Lebanon by arming those in power.
U.S. Vice President "Dick Cheney has given orders for a covert war against Hizbullah... there is now an American program that is using Lebanon to further its goals in the region," Qassem said. Since the January street clashes in which four people were killed and 150 others were wounded, each side has accused the other of rearming. On Monday, Druze chief Walid Jumblat, a leader of the parliamentary majority, claimed that armed foreigners -- mainly Syrian -- were entering the country illegally disguised as building workers.
He accused Hizbullah of seeking to establish a Shiite "Hizbullah republic" backed by Iran.
On Tuesday, however, another majority leader and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said: ""We want no more war."(AFP) (AFP photo shows the facade of a building which is still carrying the scars of the 1975-1990 civil war in Beirut's Beshara al-Khoury area) Beirut, 13 Apr 07, 07:53

U.N. Chief Studying Saniora Letter on Tribunal
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was studying a letter from Prime Minister Fouad Saniora in which he asked the world body to create the international tribunal after efforts to get the court ratified by the Lebanese parliament failed.
"We are in receipt of the letter from Mr. Saniora and we're studying it," U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe told reporters in New York on Wednesday. Saniora's press office said the premier on Tuesday sent a letter along with a copy of a petition signed by 70 lawmakers to Ban asking him to move on the tribunal, which is the core of Lebanon's deepest crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990. Saniora stressed that the tribunal was needed "to preserve freedoms and end the cycle of political attacks." Last week, Ban said that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri had called for a Saudi-sponsored meeting of rival Lebanese parties to break the impasse over creation of the court. The U.N. chief said Berri also suggested that Nicolas Michel, the U.N.'s top legal adviser, would attend that meeting and provide the necessary advice.
Meanwhile Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah proposed on Sunday that a referendum could resolve the political deadlock between the pro- and anti-government camps in Lebanon. The crisis began when six pro-Syrian ministers walked out of the cabinet last November.
Nasrallah slammed a call by 70 anti-Syrian MPs for the U.N. Security Council to step in and use its power to set up the tribunal to try those involved in the 2005 murder of former Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. Many Lebanese accuse Syria of killing Hariri and 22 others in a massive bomb blast in Beirut. Damascus has denied any involvement. The United Nations and Lebanon's government have signed a deal to set up the tribunal, but it must be ratified by the country's divided parliament. The Hizbullah-led opposition objects to the way the Saniora government has handled plans to create the court under U.N. auspices and has so far blocked all moves to set it up.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 12 Apr 07, 05:34