January 27/2007

Bible Reading of the day
 Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 4,26-34. He said,"This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come." He said, "To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Latest News Reports From miscellaneous sources For 27/01/07
Mufti Qabbani Condemns Violence-Naharnet
Saudi, Iran Agree to Cooperate to 'Achieve Solidarity between Muslims'-Naharnet
Geagea to Nasrallah: You Won't Achieve Anything-Naharnet
Life Returns to Normal Gradually in Beirut-Naharnet

Canada Issues Travel Advisory for Lebanon-Naharnet
Israel Destroys Hizbullah Bunkers-Naharnet
U.S. Accuses 'Irresponsible" Forces of Provoking Atmosphere of Confrontation-Naharnet
Rice: Only Lebanese Army Should Carry Weapons-Naharnet
Life Returns to Normal Gradually in Beirut-Naharnet
Army lifts Beirut curfew after sectarian clashes-Reuters
Israeli Families Urge France to Help Free Kidnapped Soldiers-Naharnet
Is Lebanon Headed toward Another Civil War?Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Lebanese Christians split over protests-BBC News

Get moving, Gabi-Ha'aretz
WHOM IS ONE TO BELIEVE?Free Market News Network
US blames unrest in Lebanon on Iran, Syria-Monsters and
Hezbollah's Nasrallah calls for supporters' restraint-People's Daily Online

Saudi-Iran clash via Lebanese-Monsters and
Report: Canada to apologize, pay man detained in Syria-CNN - USA

Canada Issues Travel Advisory for Lebanon -Naharnet
Canada has issued a travel advisory for Lebanon, warning its citizens against non essential travel to the country following growing unrest.
Citing the ongoing sit in by the opposition in downtown Beirut since December 1, the foreign ministry said in a statement: "there are reports that anti-government groups may intensify their actions by staging a general strike and possibly blocking roads in Beirut. The security situation in Lebanon remains fragile and could deteriorate rapidly without notice.""Canadians should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and ensure their travel documents are valid and up to date," it said. It advised its citizens to monitor local news broadcasts and avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.
The Canadian foreign ministry also advised its citizens against all travel to the region south of the Litani River, especially to the areas near the Israeli border in south Lebanon. Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 15:49

Rice: Only Lebanese Army Should Carry Weapons
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said all arms should be in the hands of the Lebanese army and slammed Hizbullah for "operating outside the government process." "All arms need to be in the hands of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese security forces, which are being reformed, which are being supported," Rice said on LBCI's "Kalam al Nass" talk show Thursday night. "No democracy can exist with militias that operate outside of the governmental process," she told Marcel Ghanem, the show's host. When asked about the issue of Hizbullah's disarmament, Rice said that U.N. Security Council Resolutions call for the party to lay down its arms. "There is already a U.N. resolution, first 1559 and then 1701," she said.
Asked if she thinks that Lebanon is at the brink of civil war, Rice said "Lebanese people do not want to have a violent confrontation. That is very clear. There are those, I think, who would like to see violence in Lebanon." Rice also said that there are outside forces that don't want to see an independent Lebanon, adding that the Lebanese want peace. "Those from the outside that don't want to see a successful Lebanon, or those from the outside who after years of intimidation of the Lebanese people, of occupation of Lebanese country -- of the Lebanese country, do not really want to see Lebanon independent and sovereign," she said.
"But the Lebanese people want to live in peace. They want to live in economic prosperity." She slammed Syria for not wanting to recognize Lebanon as a sovereign country. Syria "will not even recognize Lebanon to send an ambassador to Lebanon, as you should do with any neighboring state, because Syria appears not to want to recognize the full sovereignty of Lebanon," she said. On Thursday's Paris III donors' conference, Rice said: "The show of support today for Lebanon is a show of support for the democratic process in Lebanon, for the reform process and for the people of Lebanon."
Rice told Ghanem that the Paris III conference, during which international donors pledged more than 7.6 billion dollars in aid for Lebanon, was for all of Lebanon. "I would hope that the Lebanese people understand that this conference is for all Lebanese. Prime Minister Saniora made very clear that he is here representing all of Lebanon and that the money that is pledged here will be used to help the poorest in Lebanon and also to help Lebanon's economy develop," she said. Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 10:55

Israel Destroys Hizbullah Bunkers
The Israeli army said Friday that it destroyed two Hizbullah bunkers discovered near the Jewish state's border with Lebanon.
Israeli forces "uncovered two connected bunkers which had been used by the Hizbullah terrorist organization, apparently as a forward base for its operations," the army said in a statement. "In the bunkers forces found food, shovels and other equipment. The bunkers were destroyed by controlled environment explosions," it said. The bunkers were on "Israeli territory south of the international border" but beyond the security fence that the Jewish state has constructed along its border with Lebanon, it added. Haaretz said in its online edition Friday that the Israeli army unearthed near the Lebanon-Israel border two weeks ago a cache of supplies that had been used in the abduction by Hizbullah elements of two Israeli soldiers on Jluy 12. Israel launched a massive 34-day offensive on Lebanon the same day. The war ended under a U.N.-brokered ceasefire on August 14.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 14:36

Life Returns to Normal Gradually in Beirut
Beirut woke up to a calm day Friday after violent street clashes between pro- and anti-government activists spread through the capital, claiming four lives and wounding 169 people. The rioting between rival Sunni and Shiite Muslims was at a level not seen since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, and came two days after the Hizbullah-led opposition called a general strike Tuesday which was also marred by deadly clashes.
The Lebanese army declared an overnight curfew from 8:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) until 6:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Friday, the first such action in the country since violent labor demonstrations in 1996. Beirut streets were deserted after the curfew took hold, except for army vehicles.
But the chaos that swept the city hours earlier stirred fears that Lebanon was plunging into a new civil strife. "We are witnessing scenes that remind us of the civil war," said Speaker Nabih Berri, urging restraint on both sides. "We must go back to talks. There is no other solution." "Rehearsal for civil war in the streets of Beirut," warned the headline of the Al Balad newspaper. "Damn the one who awakened it," cried the bold headline of the leftist As Safir newspaper in reference to confessional dissension. Druze leader Walid Jumblat accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of "trying to burn Beirut," calling on Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to "evacuate Beirut alleys."
This was a reference to the Hizbullah-led protestors camping outside government headquarters in downtown Beirut since Dec. 1 in a bid to topple Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's cabinet. Jumblat also stretched a hand to Nasrallah, inviting him over "lunch at my house in Beirut, away from the caves. "Let's sit down and negotiate the Lebanon situation." The danger of further violence erupting prompted Nasrallah to respond with a call for army orders to be obeyed. "We are using a Fatwa (religious decree)... in the interests of the country and civil peace," he said. "Everyone should evacuate the streets... we call for the measures of the Lebanese army to be respected." U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said from Washington that those who triggered unrest were linked to "well-known" groups. She did not elaborate.

Rice also said that she was worried about Saniora's life.

The clashes first broke out on the main campus of Beirut Arab University (BAU) after a lunchtime squabble between a student supporter of the Moustaqbal movement, headed by parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri, and others allied with Hizbullah and Berri's Amal movement.
Minutes later the quarrel spread across campus and soon afterwards the fighting penetrated Beirut's predominantly Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods of Tarik Jedideh, Zokak Blat, Basta and Hawd al Wilaya, where cars were smashed. Lebanese army troops in armored personnel carriers were promptly dispatched to BAU to contain the confrontation as young men hurled rocks and set fire to rubber tires in a bid to block traffic.
Youths also torched cars and smashed windshields as the troops fired gunshots into the air to disperse the crowds. Rioters set fire to the office of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Tarik Jedideh as well as the Ansar football field on the airport highway. Hizbullah demonstrators also attacked buildings in downtown Beirut's banking sector shortly before the curfew took hold. March 14 sources said Lebanese army commandos have arrested two snipers a Syrian and a Lebanese - from the vicinity of the Sportive City near the Beirut Arab University.
They said the snipers, who fired gunshots in the direction of the citizens, were handed over to the Lebanese army Intelligence Bureau.Nasrallah voiced concern over what he called the "snipers' phenomenon," insisting that the "killers' identity should be disclosed and should be tried."
He said Thursday's clashes and reports of snipers being involved "verify data" Hizbullah had obtained in recent weeks that snipers have been deployed at a number of rooftop buildings in Beirut. In a separate incident, security sources said two men in a dark blue Cherokee jeep on Thursday roamed Bikfaya, the hometown of former President Amin Gemayel, inquiring about the location of the Gemayel mansion. The sources told the daily An Nahar that an investigation was underway at Bikfaya's police station. Shops and businesses were opened Friday when the overnight curfew ended at 6.00a.m. (0400 GMT), but private and public schools, colleges and universities remained shut across the nation in line with government orders. The roads where the clashes erupted were covered with litter and rubble, while burnt-out cars, buses and large garbage containers lined streets close to Rafik Hariri international airport. During the night, the Lebanese army deployed heavily across the deserted capital, staging patrols and erecting checkpoints on main crossings.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 09:26

Geagea to Nasrallah: You Won't Achieve Anything
Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea on Friday urged Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to call off the nearly two-month protest, predicting it would fail to achieve its declared objective of toppling Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government.
Addressing Nasrallah during a news conference, Geagea said: "If you proceed with your protest through democratic means it wouldn't lead you to achieving results because you cannot alter the balance of power.""If you go beyond democratic means, that would lead you to civil war in which, also, you will not achieve your declared objective," Geagea added. He said the attempt on Tuesday by the Hizbullah-led opposition to block roads "was the beginning of a coup to be carried out by the opposition throughout Lebanon."
Such an alleged coup, Geagea said, "failed because the Lebanese forces intervened and reopened roads."He set the basis for a deal between anti and pro government factions, telling Nasrallah: "You want to change the government and we want to change the president" Emile Lahoud.
"Let's sit and talk," Geagea added. Geagea also lashed out at Gen. Michael Aoun, saying His Free Patriotic Movement was trying to carry out a plot in cooperation with Hizbullah and other factions of the opposition to "topple the regime" in Lebanon. That plot, Geagea stressed, was "foiled by the Lebanese Forces that is why they called off the move in order to re-plan and repeat what they have started doing, but couldn't complete."
"If they repeat the attempt we'll interfere again," Geagea pledged. "Lebanon was facing a real threat on Tuesday."At least eight people were reported killed and more than 300 wounded in violence between pro and anti-government factions on Tuesday and Thursday. Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 17:52

Saudi, Iran Agree to Cooperate to 'Achieve Solidarity between Muslims'
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal has denied any Saudi initiative to settle the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon, saying there was a message received by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz from Iran's spiritual leader Ali Khamenei. "There is no initiative really that we can call a Saudi initiative. There was a message received by the king from Khamenei," Faisal told reporters in Paris at the end of an international donors' conference for Lebanon.
"The message was an offer to cooperate to achieve solidarity between Muslims," Faisal said. "The response was that if this is the intention, then it is action that speaks louder than words, and if Iran can do anything to calm its supporters in the region, then this would be the best service that could be done for the sake of Muslim solidarity." Iranian media reported Thursday that regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia have intensified efforts to broker a solution to Lebanon's crippling political impasse. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki earlier spoke by telephone with Faisal to examine "ways to find an acceptable solution," Iranian state television added.
It was Larijani's second meeting with Saudi officials in 10 days. On January 14, he traveled to Riyadh to meet King Abdullah and the foreign minister.
After those talks, Larijani told Beirut newspapers that Iran was keen on working with Saudi Arabia to resolve the crisis which has crippled Lebanon's public administration since Hizbullah and its allies quit the cabinet in November. "There is a problem in Lebanon that we, along with the Saudis, wish to help to resolve," he said.
Both the Lebanese government and the opposition have expressed a readiness to accept the two governments' mediation.
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora called on Wednesday for improved relations with Iran, but said the ties must be between governments and not "through third parties" -- an allusion to Hizbullah. In Beirut, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Shibani said Tehran was also trying to bridge differences between Saudi Arabia and Syria in an effort to resolve Lebanon's political crisis.  "Iran is carrying out consultations with Saudi Arabia and Syria on the situation in the region and in Lebanon," Shibani said after meeting officials at the Lebanese foreign ministry on Thursday. "My government is trying to bring viewpoints between Saudi Arabia and Syria closer," he said.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 14:29

Mufti Qabbani Condemns Violence
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani on Friday said a nearly two-month sit-in staged by the Hizbullah-led opposition was leading the nation to turmoil. He described the acts of violence that gripped Beirut on Thursday as "riots and criminal acts," stressing on the need to avoid clashes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The Muslim spiritual leader also urged all the Lebanese to realize that "only state institutions can guarantee the nation's safety and security."Qabbani asked security forces to arrest culprits in the wave of violence that swept Lebanon Thursday, which left four dead and wounded more than 100 people. Beirut, 26 Jan 07, 18:06

Bethlehem Christians fear neighbors
BETHLEHEM -Jan. 25, 2007 0:00
A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city. The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears. According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of "intimidation" for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded "collaborators" with Israel.
But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.
"The situation is very dangerous," said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station. "I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation."
Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with fire-bombs, but no one was hurt.
Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.
He said a monk was recently roughed up for trying to prevent a group of Muslim men from seizing lands owned by Christians in Beit Sahur. Thieves have targeted the homes of many Christian families and a "land mafia" has succeeded in laying its hands on vast areas of land belonging to Christians, he added.
Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family's six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. "A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land," said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. "We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land," she said, almost in tears. "Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale." When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.
"My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him," Georgette Lama said. "These people have no heart. We're afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking."
The Lamas have since knocked on the doors of scores of PA officials in Bethlehem seeking their intervention, but to no avail. At one stage, they sent a letter to Abbas, who promised to launch an investigation.
"We heard that President Mahmoud Abbas is taking our case very seriously," said Georgette Lama. "But until now he hasn't done anything to help us get our land back. We are very concerned because we're not the only ones suffering from this phenomenon. Most Christians are afraid to speak, but I don't care because we have nothing more to lose."
The couple's Christian neighbor, Edward Salama, said the problem in the city was the absence of law and order. "We are living in a state of chaos and lawlessness," he said. "The police are afraid of the thugs who are taking our lands."
Salama expressed deep concern over the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem, noting that many were leaving the country as a result of the deterioration.
"When I see what's happening to Christians here, I worry a lot for our future," he said. "They are targeting Christians, because we are seen as weak."
The Lamas said they decided to go public with the hope that the international community would intervene with the PA to halt the land-grab. "We will fight and fight until we recover our land," Fuad Lama said. "We will resort to the courts and to the public opinion for help.
"Unfortunately, Christian leaders and spokesmen are afraid to talk about the problems we are facing. We know of three other Christian families - Salameh, Kawwas and Asfour - whose lands were also illegally seized by Muslims." A Christian businessman who asked not to be identified said the conditions of Christians in Bethlehem and its surroundings had deteriorated ever since the area was handed over to the PA in 1995.  "Every day we hear of another Christian family that has immigrated to the US, Canada or Latin America," he said. "The Christians today make up less than 15 percent of the population. People are running away because the Palestinian government isn't doing anything to protect them and their property against Muslim thugs. Of course not all the Muslims are responsible, but there is a general feeling that Christians have become easy prey."

Report: Canada to apologize, pay man detained in Syria
 January 26, 2007 -OTTAWA, Canada (Reuters) -- Canada on Friday will apologize formally to software engineer Maher Arar, who was deported to Syria by U.S. agents after Canadian police mistakenly labeled him an Islamic extremist, and pay him $8.5 million in compensation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is due to make a formal announcement on Arar at 12:15 p.m. Harper officials did not respond when asked about the CBC report. Arar said he was repeatedly tortured during the time he spent in Damascus jails and sued Ottawa.
The affair tarnished the reputation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and strained relations with the United States, which has kept Arar on a security watch list despite Ottawa insisting he has no links to terror groups. Arar was arrested during a stopover in New York in 2002 on his way home to Canada from a holiday. An official probe into the case in September found the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had wrongly informed U.S. border agents that Arar was a suspected Islamic extremist. The inquiry slammed the police for incompetence and dishonesty. Canada's top Mountie resigned in December, admitting he had misled legislators when he learned of his force's mistakes. Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Tuesday that Arar should be able to travel where he wanted and promised to keep pressing Washington to have him removed from the security watch list.
David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, replied that "it's a little presumptuous for him to say who the United States can and cannot allow into our country." U.S. officials say Arar will remain on their list because of unspecified information possessed by law enforcement agencies.