January 9/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 3,15-16.21-22.
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Latest news from The Daily Star for January 09/07
GLC expects up to 10000 at demonstration
March 14 Forces accuse rivals of preventing solution
Beirutis brace for spread of protests across capital
PSP urges Palestinians to avoid infighting, focus on 'true enemy' - Israel
Harb: Political crisis serves no one, only harms Lebanese
North and Mount Lebanon Workers Union seeks to replace GLC with 'representative' group
Sabaa warns protesters to follow the rules
GLC expects up to 10,000 at demonstration
Mouawad insists tax increases will wait until economy shows signs of recovery .
Labor considers action to block Siniora's reforms
Clashes erupt in Beirut suburb after arrest for illegal construction
Aridi vows to settle New TV case 'as soon as possible'
As tensions rise, some Beirut workplaces ban all talk of politics
Ski season gets off to rocky start in Faraya
The Middle East as Tony Blair's nemesis-By Michael Glackin

Latest news from Miscellaneous sources for January 09/07
Opposition Adopts Serial Protests Scheme to Topple Saniora Government-Nahaernet
March 14 Majority to Confront Serial Protests by Opposition-Naharnet
Is Aoun Moving to Jounieh?Naharnet
War of Words Between Jumblat, Berri Over 'Iranian and Syrian Guns'-Nahaernet
Qassem: Reform Plan Will Not Pass-Nahaernet
Two Iraqis, Lebanese Detained in Miami Port Scare-Nahaernet
Hariri says Lebanon is Facing 'Political-Intellectual Terrorism-
Lebanese Man Badly Wounded in Cluster Bomb Blast-Nahaernet

Hizbullah Plans To Cripple Lebanon-Arutz Sheva

Hariri: Hezbollah is 'spear head' of Syrian-Iranian assault-Ya Libnan
Hezbollah seems to agree with Saudi Arabian arbitration-Journal of Turkish Weekly
Chamoun: Aoun is Syria's ally
MK Eitam: Barak Must Admit Error of Lebanon Withdrawal-Arutz Sheva
Can Saudi Arabia help end the political crisis in Lebanon?
Lebanon tax protest will hit economy- Gulf Times
Lebanon opposition to escalate anti-govt protests-Middle East Online

Opposition Adopts Serial Protests Scheme to Topple Saniora Government
-Nahaernet: The opposition on Monday decided to launch serial protests targeting public offices throughout Lebanon after its 37-day sit-in in downtown Beirut failed to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's government. The decision, which is to be carried out as of Tuesday, was announced by ex-minister Talal Arslan after a meeting of opposition representatives at the residence of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun in suburban Rabiyeh, north of Beirut.
The General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU) had set Tuesday a date to launch a sit-in near offices of the finance and justice ministries to protest against a six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan adopted by the Saniora government.
The five-year plan is to be submitted to the Paris III conference of Arab and Foreign donors to help Lebanon compensate for the estimated 6.3 billion-dollar worth of losses sustained during last summer's 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel in addition to re-paying its foreign debt estimated at 40.5 billion dollars. Arslan, reading a statement summing up the outcome of the opposition meeting, said the March Eight alliance and the FPM "adopts the GFLU protest and decided to upgrade it into daily movements that would spread to all ministries and official facilities."
In addition to Aoun and Arslan, the meeting was attended by ex-Premier Omar Karami, ex-Minister Suleiman Franjieh of the Marada Movement, two Hizbullah representatives, two representatives of the Amal movement, MP Ousama Saad and other figures representing factions comprising the March Eight alliance. The alliance, led by Hizbullah, launched an open-ended sit-in in downtown Beirut on Dec. 1 to topple the Saniora majority government. The 37-day protest has, so fair, failed to achieve its declared objective. The statement, recited to reporters by Arslan, reiterated its call for toppling the Saniora government, charging that it has lost its "popular and constitutional" legitimacy. It stressed that "toppling the government has become a legitimate (task)."
The document also renewed calls for early parliamentary elections in line with a new electoral law worked out by a "trusted government."The Saniora government, backed by the March 14 parliamentary majority coalition, had rejected such calls and accused the Hizbullah-led protest of trying to obstruct the creation of an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes. Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 08:48

March 14 Majority to Confront Serial Protests by Opposition
Nahaernet: The March 14 majority coalition on Monday said it would confront efforts by the Hizbullah-led opposition to paralyze the economy and torpedo the Paris III conference of donors. The coalition, in a statement issued after a meeting of its follow up committee, said Hizbullah and its allies were trying to "widen the scope of the sit-in imposed on Beirut's commercial sector and spread it to other vital areas in order to paralyze the economy and force the Lebanese to succumb to their unilateralism and the will of forces standing behind them." The statement was commenting on a call by the opposition to launch serial protests as of Tuesday targeting government offices and public institutions after failing to topple Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government by an ongoing sit-in in downtown Beirut since Dec. 1.The opposition's attitude, the March 14 statement said, would "reflect negatively on the vital interests of all the Lebanese (citizens) and falls in line with efforts to block (creation of) the international tribunal in favor of the Syrian regime."
The statement attacked a call by the General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU) to organize a sit-in near offices of the finance and justice ministries Tuesday to protest against the six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan adopted by the Saniora government.
The plan is to be forwarded to the Paris III conference, scheduled for Jan. 25, to raise badly needed financial aid to compensate losses sustained during the 34-day war between Hizbullah and Israel last summer as well as to help Lebanon settle its 40.5-Billion-Dollar debt. The March 14 statement noted that the GFLU governing body was created during Syria's tight control of Lebanon, which ended in April 2005 when President Bashar Assad's regime was forced to withdraw its army after the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri. The statement said the GFLU was "a window" behind which Hizbullah and its allies operate in an effort to topple the Saniora government. The March 14 forces, the statement added, "Calls on the Lebanese people to support the state and the economic recovery plan and to confront their (opposition) plans aimed at impoverishing them."It also urged all the Lebanese to "double your efforts at all public and private sectors to underline your rooted belonging to the nation and your rejection of schemes targeting its sovereignty, security and economy." Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 17:51

Is Aoun Moving to Jounieh?
Nahaernet: Is Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun moving to a new residence in Jounieh?
The question was asked after a wave of rumors swept the city saying Aoun would move to a new residence that had been owned by the late MP Philippe al-Khazen. The property was bought by an FPM official from Jean al-Khazen, son and heir of the late MP. FPM sources have not denied the rumors.
The mansion, located near Jounieh's cable car station, occupies a large stretch of terrain and is fenced in by cypress trees and barbed wire.
Witnesses in the city said construction work was underway to replace the barbed wire by a two-meter high cement fence to provide security for the new tenant. The rumors listed several "Reasons" behind Aoun's alleged decision to move to Jounieh, including one saying the owner of his present residence in Rabieh wants to reclaim his property. Another reason appears to be based on a political background and, according to the rumors, Aoun's aides advised him to move to Kesrouan province, being one of the region's representatives in parliament. Such a move would enable Aoun maintain contact with voters who supported him in the 2005 elections, especially after Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea moved to Bzimmar, in the Kesrouan heartland, and following the mushrooming popularity of the Phalange Party in the region.
Aoun's new residence has been chosen because it represents the late Khazen's legacy as a representative of the tripartite alliance in the 1968 elections, which he won against followers of ex-President Fouad Shehab and his military intelligence department. Such aides, according to the rumors, believe Aoun played alone in the 2005 elections the role of the famous tripartite alliance that grouped Lebanon's most famous late Christian leaders, ex-President Camille Chamoun, Phalange Party founder and leader Pierre Gemayel and founder-leader of the Nationalist Bloc Raymond Edde. Aoun, in the eyes of his advisors, currently represents all these Christian leaders in confronting the March 14 coalition.A third rumored reason behind Aoun's alleged move is that the step falls within the framework of dedicating him as political leader of the Christians, because Jounieh is reputed as the "Christians' Capital" abutting Bkirki, seat of Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 15:55

Qassem: Reform Plan Will Not Pass
Nahaernet; Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem has warned that the reform plan adopted by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government last week "will not pass." "Since we are not part of it (the plan), then it will not pass," Qassem threatened in remarks published by Lebanese newspapers on Monday. The government last week approved a six-point, socio-economic recovery and reform plan ahead of an international aid conference for Lebanon to be held in Paris January 25.The plan aims to lift war-devastated Lebanon out of its 41-billion-dollar public debt. Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 11:38

War of Words Between Jumblat, Berri Over 'Iranian and Syrian Guns'
Nahaernet: Druze leader Walid Jumblat has said that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was "paralyzed" because "Iranian and Syrian guns" were held to his head. Jumblat, in an interview with Abu Dhabi television on Saturday, also reiterated that the rejection by Hizbullah and its main backers Syria and Iran for the formation of a Special International Tribunal for Lebanon reveals that the party might be involved in some of the assassinations in the country.
He said the opposition to the international court came "because they want to protect some of the Hizbullah members involved in the 2005-2006 string of assassinations."About Berri, the head of the Progressive Socialist Party said the speaker had "a bundle of Iranian and Syrian guns directed toward his head, which is why he seems paralyzed and unable to make any decisions."But the speaker snapped back at Jumblat saying: "there is no gun pointed at my head, and I've never been threatened by anyone; I am who I am."Berri, in an interview with his Amal movement's Al Rissala radio station said: "I am still the same. It seems that you (Jumblat) have changed. What a pity this loss is! Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 11:04

Lebanese Man Badly Wounded in Cluster Bomb Blast
A Lebanese civilian was gravely wounded on Sunday when a cluster bomblet fired by Israeli forces during the July-August war with Hizbullah exploded, security sources said. The blast in the village of Halta near the border with Israel took the cluster bomb toll since the U.N.-brokered ceasefire to 25 dead and more than 140 wounded, according to an Agence France Presse count. The wounded man was 26-year-old Samer Ramz Abdel Aal, security sources said. Between July 12 and the ceasefire on August 14, 2006, Israeli forces are believed to have dropped more than a million cluster bomblets in Lebanon. The United Nations says 40 percent of the apple-sized bomblets failed to explode on impact. Unexploded bomblets can detonate later at the slightest touch, so they pose a threat similar to that of anti-personnel landmines.Cluster munitions spread bomblets over a wide area from a single container. According to the group Handicap International 98 percent of the victims of such weapons are civilians. On December 29 two Belgian soldiers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) tasked with demining operations in the south of the country were seriously wounded in a cluster bomb explosion.(AFP) Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 07:50

Two Iraqis, Lebanese Detained in Miami Port Scare
Authorities in Miami have detained two Iraqi nationals and a Lebanese as they headed to the Port of Miami in a truck, which was later found to contain legitimate cargo. The three U.S. residents were detained Sunday after the Iraqi driver said he was alone in the semi-trailer truck, even though his brother and a friend were with him, said Lieutenant Nancy Goldberg of the Miami-Dade Police Department. "Apparently there was some miscommunication" between the driver and the security agent at the gate of the port, she said. "Maybe it was a language barrier," she said. She said the 20-year-old driver also did not have proper port identification and one of the passengers had no ID at all. She said all three were permanent residents in the United States.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies were called to the port and experts thoroughly searched the truck's container.
The port's cargo area was shut down as the Miami-Dade bomb squad X-rayed the truck and scanned it for radioactive materials. Nothing unusual was found, officials said. "It contained electrical automotive parts as stipulated in the manifest," said Goldberg. The men were still detained by local police Sunday evening, but authorities said no federal charges were expected. They said they were still investigating the three for possible "administrative violation" for failing to present proper identification.(AFP-AP) Beirut, 08 Jan 07, 07:26

Hariri says Lebanon is Facing 'Political-Intellectual Terrorism'
Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Sunday accused Hizbullah of being the "spear head" of an alleged Syrian-Iranian assault on the Paris III conference and pledged to confront what he described as political-intellectual terrorism. Hariri said Lebanon was facing "a new wave of political and intellectual terrorism that coincides with the ongoing preparations" for the Paris III conference of Arab and foreign donors who would provide the Lebanese government with badly needed financial aid to re-start its economy that suffered yet another major blow during the July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel. Premier Fouad Saniora's majority government has adopted a six-point socio-economic recovery and reform plan to be submitted to the Paris III conference scheduled for Jan. 25, upon which foreign donors are expected to provide Lebanon with financial aid to launch reconstruction. The plan is largely based on privatization of some indebted public services, re-structuring working hours for civil servants, the imposing of additional taxes on luxury items to increase state revenue and an end to government subsidies for fuel. Hariri, in a statement, said "Hizbullah, regretfully, is a spear head of the renewed attack on Paris III." He said Hizbullah's campaign on the donors' conference was also targeted against "the government and its premier in addition to the "international tribunal" that would try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes.
"We had announced more than once that Hizbullah is not involved in the crime that targeted martyred Premier Rafik Hariri. We stress this stand anew, not to grant certificates of innocence, but to shed light on the truth as we perceive it," Hariri said.
He questioned the reason behind the insistence of Hizbullah's leaders on assuming that the international tribunal is "an international effort to put the party on trial. Hizbullah's leadership knows for sure that this tribunal has no other role than bringing to justice those who planned and carried out the crime of assassinating the martyred premier and his comrades and the other crimes that jolted Lebanon and targeted a group of its beset symbols, the latest of whom was martyr Pierre Gemayel," the industry minister who was gunned down by unidentified assailants in Beirut's northeastern suburb of Jdaideh on Nov. 21. Hariri said the "essence of the current escalation is this particular issue (blocking the international tribunal) and it is part of attempts that have been underway for over a year to create a Lebanese safety dragnet confronting the international tribune on behalf of the Syrian regime."
Hizbullah, he added "cannot veil out the external plot that is targeting Lebanon."
Hariri stressed that such a scheme "is not less ferocious than the Israeli aggression unfortunately it integrates with the destructive goals of that aggression and enables it, through agitating the internal dispute, to achieve what it had failed to accomplish during the war on Lebanon" staged last summer after Hizbullah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. He added: we are facing a new link in the chain that seeks to destabilize Lebanon as if we are facing a renewed copy of another security system, a joint Iranian-Syrian security-political-financial system."Hariri pledged that "we will not withdraw from the arena and we will confront whoever is empowered by external support to destabilize the nation." Beirut, 07 Jan 07, 18:43