August 27/07

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13,22-30. He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" He answered them, Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, 'Lord, open the door for us.' He will say to you in reply, 'I do not know where you are from.' And you will say, 'We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.' Then he will say to you, 'I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."

If Only Nasrallah Would!.By: Tariq Alhomayed. Asharq Alawsat.August 26/07
Who Is Allah?.By: Soeren Kern. 26/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for August 26/07
Three soldiers killed in fighting in north Lebanon refugee camp.Jerusalem Post
Iran Claims to Have Developed 'Smart' Bomb. Associated Press
Air Raids Resume Against Militants after Evacuation of Civilians-Naharnet
Power shifting in the Middle East.
Lebanese source: Saudi ambassador left Lebanon amid threats.Ha'aretz
Khoja Tells of Terrorist Plot Against Saudi Interests Before Leaving Beirut-Naharnet
EU welcomes extension of UNIFIL mandate.
People's Daily Online
Power shifting in the Middle East.Newsday

Iran moves to assert power in the Middle East.Newsday
French envoy ends mission to Lebanon.Khaleej Times
49 dead as fires sweep through Greece.New York Daily News

Barbarians kill as West drifts
August 25, 2007
Toronto Sun
There comes a point at which diminishing returns on most issues begin to go negative.
Such a point in denouncing Islamist terrorism and equally the Muslim majority's silence against this menace was reached sometime ago.
As Islamist terrorism, however despicable, became mundane occurrence in the daily news cycle, the deafening silence of Muslims -- except for lonely voices of feeble opposition -- has given credence to growing numbers of non-Muslims that Islam is as much a religion of peace as the Klanmen's politics is an expression of multiculturalism.
But there is another side to this abject reality. The Muslim majority's silence is greatly compounded by the appeasement mentality in the West of the mainstream liberal-left media, politicians trolling for ethnic votes and bureaucrats running public institutions.
An evidence of this comes from Scotland. Theodore Dalrymple, a retired physician and prolific writer, in New York's City Journal reports:
"In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow's public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period."
It is as if more diversity training for public officials, more accommodation of demands made by fundamentalist Muslims, greater willingness to self-flagellate for sins long past of western colonialism, more policing of what might be politically incorrect speech and writing about Islamists or Saudi Arabia's official cult (Wahhabism) of bigotry masquerading as a world religion, will somehow mysteriously translate into taming suicide-bombers and their masters to reciprocate kindly to the liberal-left sensibilities of people in the West.
Dalrymple observes stories such as the one from Scotland tell us something about how civilizations commit suicide -- they "collapse not because the barbarians are so strong, but because they themselves are so morally enfeebled."
What do barbarians do? Kill indiscriminately as in the recent Aug. 14 massacre in northern Iraq reported by the New York Post with the headline "Savages Kill 175 in Iraq Bombings."
Four trucks were exploded west of Mosul -- Iraq's third largest city in the Kurdish north -- in an area predominantly inhabited by Yazidis, a people practising pre-Islamic faith. The toll of dead and wounded among this poor dwindling minority living at the edge of the Iraqi society far exceeds the numbers first reported.
This savagery is the work of al-Qaida associates preparing more predictable bombings ahead of the mid-September report in Washington to be given by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.
There is now a pattern in al-Qaida bombings arranged to influence American public opinion during key moments in public policy debates and general elections.
But the liberal-left media, such as the New York Times, remains fixated with faulting the Bush administration for the savagery of Islamists while providing oxygen to apologists of terror spinning their endless refrain of "root cause" being oil and Israel for violence originating in the Middle East. How morally enfeebled, as Dalrymple opines, is the West? Imagine the uproar denouncing any suggestion that the mainstream liberal-left media, in appearance at least, is treasonously on side with the newest enemies of freedom and democracy.
**Salim Mansur is Senior Fellow at the Canadian Coalition for Democracies
 2 Dead in Canada Hot Air Balloon Fire
The Associated Press
Sunday, August 26, 2007; 5:15 AM
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A hot air balloon burst into flames over western Canada, burning a woman and her adult daughter to death while their families looked on, officials said Saturday. Other passengers leaped to the ground, some with their clothes in flames, witnesses said.
Eleven passengers were seriously injured when the balloon crashed Friday evening in a recreational vehicle park near the U.S border in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. There were 12 passengers and a pilot on board, police and witnesses said.
A hot air balloon's basket bursts into flames shortly after takeoff when it was about 25 feet off the ground in Surrey British Colombia Canada Friday evening Aug. 24, 2007. Witnesses said passengers screamed and jumped to the ground. The balloon reportedly took off from a grassy field with 12 passengers. The balloon crashed in a trailer park and campground , injuring as many as 11 people, police and local reports said. Two additional people were unaccounted for.
John Kageorge, who works for Fantasy Balloon Charters, said the fire started as the balloon was about to launch. Kageorge said three passengers did not get out of the basket before it became airborne.
"One person jumped from an unsafe distance, two stories in the air or more," said Kageorge. The mother and daughter did not jump, he said, although two of their family members made it out of the basket. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow confirmed the deaths and said relatives of the two passengers killed witnessed the fire. "It's just tragic. They watched it unfold before their eyes," Morrow said of the family. "The fatalities suffered from burns."
The balloon caught fire as it prepared to launch, said Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
"The crew loaded 12 passengers and was preparing to launch when a fire erupted. The pilot asked the passengers to get out of the basket," he said. "The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose," he added."They were all trying to get out."
After most of the passengers escaped, the balloon exploded in a fireball and shot up into the air. Shortly after, the burning balloon plunged to ground in the RV park, leaving a tail of thick black smoke in its wake."I can't tell you what exactly happened when the balloon was loosened from the tether," Yearwood said. "We will be talking to attending crew members and the pilot to find out."He said the pilot was in stable condition.
The thing went up about 400 feet in the air at which point it melted enough of the balloon _ it collapsed," said Don Randall, a resident of the trailer park who took pictures of the scene. "The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone," he added."I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,'" he said. A hot air balloon's basket bursts into flames shortly after takeoff when it was about 25 feet off the ground in Surrey British Colombia Canada Friday evening Aug. 24, 2007. Witnesses said passengers screamed and jumped to the ground. The balloon reportedly took off from a grassy field with 12 passengers. The balloon crashed in a trailer park and campground , injuring as many as 11 people, police and local reports said. Two additional people were unaccounted for.Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles away.
Another resident, Karen Ashby, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.
"They found the bodies in here," Ashby said. "I watched them take them out."The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight. "People were screaming and trying to get out," Frank Hersey said Friday night near a grassy field where several of the injured were being attended to by ambulance crews. Perry Kendall said he saw what looked like something out of a movie.
"It was horrifying," said a shaken Kendall. "Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful."Witnesses also said propane tanks from the balloon shot off and landed on the Hazelmere RV park below, setting fire to three trailers and several vehicles. No one was reported hurt in those blazes."We're exceptionally lucky that nobody in any of these three trailers or in the vehicles that were destroyed were caught in them," Morrow said. The hot-air balloon, operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time. The balloon that burned, Kageorge said, was about nine stories high.There was a similar accident earlier this month in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, Manitoba, where 12 people were injured.
Associated Press writers Rob Gillies and Charmaine Noronha in Toronto and Nahal Toosi in New York contributed to this report.

Who Is Allah?
By Soeren Kern | 8/24/2007
Europeans love to mock the salience of religion in American society, but they won't be laughing for very long. The de-Christianization of Europe in the name of "tolerance" is rapidly driving the spiritually shiftless continent into the arms of Islam. And now, amidst the postmodern theological confusion that defines contemporary Europe, even Catholic clergy are jumping on the Islamomania bandwagon.
The latest post-Christian theological spectacle comes to us from the Netherlands (of Ayaan Hirsi Ali fame), where the Roman Catholic Bishop of Breda, Tiny Muskens, says he wants Christians to start calling God "Allah" because he believes such a gesture would promote "rapprochement between Christianity and Islam". Appearing on Dutch television, the 71-year-old cleric said:
"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him?"
Inquiring minds want to know: If the bishop really thinks the names "God" and "Allah" are interchangeable, why doesn't he ask Muslims to start calling Allah "Yahweh", the biblical name for God? But he won't, because he knows they won't.
Indeed, just because Christianity, Judaism and Islam are called "monotheistic" faiths, it does not follow that Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God. So for those pre-postmoderns who believe that words still mean something, a quick survey of archaeology, history and theology-accompanied by a dose of common sense-can answer the question of whether the Allah of Islam is really the God of the Bible.
What Archaeology Says about Allah
Muslims claim that in pre-Islamic times, "Allah" was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Indeed, the credibility of Islam as a religion stands or falls on its core claim of historical continuity with Judaism and Christianity. No wonder, then, that many Muslims get uppity when the claims of Islam are subjected to the hard science of archaeology.
Because archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god. Indeed, it is an established archaeological fact that worship of the moon-god was the main religion of the ancient Middle East.
But what about the Arabian Peninsula, where Mohammed (570-632) launched Islam? During the last two centuries, prominent archaeologists have unearthed thousands of inscriptions which prove beyond any doubt that the dominant religion of Arabia during Mohammed's day was the cult of the moon-god.
In fact, for generations before Mohammed was born, the Arabs worshipped some 360 pagan gods housed at a stone temple in Mecca called the Kabah. According to archaeologists, the chief deity of Mecca was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. Pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave themselves: Mohammed's father (Abdallah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.
What History Says about Allah
Historians say that pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped the moon-god by bowing in prayer toward Mecca several times a day. They would also make a pilgrimage to Mecca, run around the Kabah seven times and throw stones at the devil. And they fasted for one month, which began with the appearance of the crescent moon and ended when the crescent moon reappeared.
These same rites form the core of Islam today: Muslims bow in prayer toward Mecca; they make a pilgrimage to Mecca and run around the Kabah seven times; and they still throw stones at the devil. They also observe the fast of Ramadan, which begins and ends with the crescent moon.
Moreover, the ancient symbol of the pagan moon-god, the crescent moon, is the official symbol of Islam; it appears on the flags of Muslim countries, as well as on the tops of mosques and minarets everywhere.
Historians say that Mohammed, who as a traveling trader was exposed to Judaism and Christianity during his visits to different parts of the Middle East, tried to mimic those monotheistic faiths by taking Allah, the main deity within the Arabian pantheon, and making it the only god. Indeed, the basic confession of Islam is not that "Allah is Great" but that "Allah is Greater". Greater than all the other idols, that is.
But Islam also draws from other pagan traditions. For example, the tale of Mohammed's night journey into heaven parallels the Zoroastrian story of Arta Viraf. Zoroastrianism also inspired the Islamic belief that dark-eyed virgins await every man who enters heaven. And the Islamic ritual of praying five times a day? That, historians say, originates with the Sabeans, Syrian pagans who practiced an ecumenical mixture of Babylonian and Hellenic religion.
No surprise, then, that some scholars refer to Islam as monotheistic heathenism.
What Theology Says about Allah
Muslims claim that Islam is Judaism and Christianity reformed. They say the Koran confirms the truth of the Torah and the Gospels. But since those texts did not jive with Mohammad's beliefs, they accuse Jews and Christians of changing and distorting the original versions. Muslims therefore assert that the Koran "clarifies" the Bible.
Even if that were the case, the Koran and the Bible present ideas about God (especially about His character) that are so diametrically opposed that any reasonable observer would conclude that each book refers to a distinct deity.
The Koran, for example, states unequivocally that Allah is an unknowable and non-personal deity. By contrast, the God of the Bible allows Himself to be known and desires fellowship with human beings on a personal basis. Indeed, the Bible says that Abraham (the same Abraham whom Muslims say they venerate) was the "friend of God."The Koran also portrays Allah as a vindictive deity who hates sinners and desires to afflict them. But the Bible says God is love.
Moreover, the New Testament teaches that God loved humanity so much that He came to earth to pay the debt for man's sin, and that that act of grace is available for free to anyone who believes Jesus Christ is their personal Savior. But Islam denies that Christ was God or that He died in order to save humanity. Indeed, Allah does not provide any way for man to be reconciled to God.
And the theological differences go on and on, so much so that the God of the Bible cannot possibly be the Allah worshipped in Islam. Unless, of course, a Dutch bishop says so.
Allah and Eurabia
Mohammed thought the Jews and Christians of his day would receive him as a prophet. But the Bible says that any new revelation must agree with what is already established in Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). So they rejected his Allah as a false god. And Mohammed replied by setting his Islam on a permanent warpath against Judaism and Christianity that continues to this day.
The Dutch bishop and other Muslim fellow travelers think they can buy a fake peace with Islam by playing relativistic word games as a part of an "inter-faith" dialogue. But Muslims understand much better than do post-modern Europeans that ecumenical appeasement is a symptom of a Judeo-Christian civilization that is weak and dying. The irony is that the real danger from Islam stems not so much from ordinary Muslims as it does from sickly Europeans who have subverted their Judeo-Christian heritage in search of secular hedonism. Because they live only for the moment, they are willing submit to anything, including Islam, as long as it doesn't interfere with the pursuit of pleasure today. It has been more than 50 years since the late Christian apologist C.S. Lewis first warned about Western Civilization's disastrous lurch into post-Christianity. But even he would be surprised to see how quickly Islam is filling the religious and cultural vacuum that is post-Christian Europe.
It's not that Europeans haven't been forewarned. It's that they couldn't care less.
Soeren Kern is Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.

If Only Nasrallah Would!
By: Tariq Alhomayed .
According to a report published in our newspaper a couple of days ago, Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has moved out of his rented home to an undisclosed location in preparation for the rebuilding project slated for the Dahiya neighborhood destroyed by Israel's attack on Lebanon during last summer's thirty-six day war. The story of the Dahiya quarter, or rather the "security compound", is much greater then that of a mere "leased home", and is more complex in its composition for it to be labeled as just a "residential neighborhood", for it is a sealed security area limited to Hezbollah, a story the people of Lebanon know only too well.
But before celebrating the details of extensive renovation project, we wish Nasrallah would also restore the rest of Lebanon to its people.
What is meant here is that Lebanon, the nation, would serve the agenda of the Lebanese citizen and not that of Iran or Syria. The reconstruction of Lebanon will happen if Nasrallah chooses the unity of Lebanon, taking into account the composition of the country, which can only survive on its pluralism and the granting of others their space. Lebanon is an entangled country and the best solution for its dilemma would be not to manipulate it.
Today, the number of migrating Lebanese citizens is increasing; and this is not out of fear of escaping Israeli occupation but rather fleeing from the domestic absurdity which is tampering with the lives of Lebanese people, who are victims in this case.
Hezbollah has frequently wagered on the issues of resistance and the liberation of Lebanon. But today the party has run of credit and now must face the Lebanese people. and the should face their country's people knowing that last years war let to the deaths of approximately 1200 Lebanese , not to mention the damage and loss of properties!
Today, Hezbollah wants to wrap up Lebanon in its coat, turning against the pluralistic mosaic of the country.
Lebanon wants Syria out of Lebanon and demands a Syrian return to Lebanon in the form of an Ambassador with diplomatic relations just like other nations. Lebanon also wants Iran to stick to the rules of geography and remain behind their natural borders, instead of turning Beirut into a pawn, utilizing it according to political conflicts and ambitions of the Islamic Revolution. Yet the actions of Hezbollah resemble those of a Genie in a Magic Lantern, who pops up at Syria and Iran's beck and call saying "your wish is my command". Furthermore, the news of Hezbollah's reconstruction project should not eclipse the news of them constructing their very own telephone network parallel to that of the official state. Building telephone networks is a new reality among movements and groups which work to eat away at their nations in the Arab world. So now after accepting the fact that each group has its own flag, militia or army and television satellite channel, we now have to accept the establishment of one's own private telephone network as well. I do hope Hassan Nasrallah would restore all of Lebanon to its people and their best interests, steering clear of subordination to any party. Only then will Lebanon become a healthy state that breathes correct democracy and not the democracy of exclusion and the disruption of constitutional institutions. Restoring Lebanon to its people means reopening the doors of parliament, trying those accused of murder, respecting Lebanon's constitution and keeping Beirut free of foreign greed.

Three soldiers killed in fighting in north Lebanon refugee camp
Aug 26, 2007 16:56 | Updated Aug 26, 2007 16:56
Three Lebanese soldiers were killed in fighting with Islamic extremists at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, a day after their families were evacuated, the military announced Sunday. The army said the three soldiers were killed Saturday "while carrying out their military duty" at the Nahr el-Bared camp. It did not elaborate or say how they were killed. The deaths raise to 145 the number of soldiers who have died since fighting between the army and al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam militants erupted three months ago. On Friday, the families of the besieged militants who had been caught inside the camp - 25 women and 38 children - were evacuated