May 10/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15,1-8. I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 10/07
Bishops against constitutional changes to presidential election
March14 decided on its Lebanon presidential candidate a year ago.Ya Libnan

Panic Ensues after Explosion, Bomb Scare in Beirut-Naharnet
Geagea: March 14 Unanimous on Presidential Candidate-Naharnet
Cornerstone Laid for Paralympic City in South Lebanon.Naharnet
Six arrested in plot to attack NJ army
Rice: UN will take action on tribunal if Lebanon does not-Daily Star
Geagea stresses presidency after talks with patriarch-Daily Star
Ban cites Hizbullah's arms as 'key' threat to government's authority-Daily Star
French senator arrives for talks in Beirut-Daily Star
'No escape:' Fatah gives Jund al-Sham 72 hours to turn over killers of two members-Daily Star
Hamadeh welcomes possible return of resigned ministers-Daily Star
MPs hold lively - but unofficial - Parliament debate-Daily Star
Lahoud receives notice of new ambassadors-Daily Star
Democratic Leftists elect party leadership-Daily Star
Pederson discusses domestic situation with Aoude-Daily Star
Sabaa chairs high-level security meeting-Daily Star
US will continue working with Olmert’s government, Rice says.Ynetnews
Terrorist Cells Used Syria.Wall Street Journal
Saudi report: Terror cell had Syria base.Houston Chronicle
Rice Floating Idea for Policy Change on Syria.IraqSlogger
Fort Dix Terror plotters' commitment to ideology is issue on Big ...News Hounds
Israel's deadly stupor.Boston Globe
Planning the previous war.Ha'aretz

Aoun continues to push for direct election of Lebanon president.Ya Libnan
Ban Said To Mull Lebanon Intervention.New York Sun
Iraqi refugees overwhelm UN centre in Syria.Khaleej Times

Bishops against constitutional changes to presidential election process
by Youssef Hourani
At the end of their monthly meeting, Maronite prelates express their gratitude to the Pope for his closeness to Lebanon. They voice concern about the country’s deteriorating economic situation.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – In their monthly meeting at Bkerke chaired by the Maronite Patriarch, Card Nasrallah Sfeir, Lebanon’s Maronite bishops expressed their gratitude to the Pope for his closeness to the country as well as concerns for the deteriorating economic situation. The prelates also declared their loyalty to the country’s parliamentary system which gives lawmakers the power to elect the president and made clear their opposition to any changes to the constitution regarding choosing a successor to current President Émile Lahoud as demanded by General Aoun.
In a press release, the bishops said they were grateful to the Pope and the Roman curia for closely monitoring the situation in the country. Last week Patriarch Sfeir was in the Vatican where he had a long talk with the Pontiff and some Vatican officials in charge of Lebanon affairs. The bishops stressed how much Benedict XVI is concerned for the Lebanese, especially the Christians who “guarantee the Christian presence in the Middle East.”
The bishops made a strong appeal demanding that the established electoral timetable be respected and urged lawmakers to choose the new president through parliament, rejecting thus demands for constitutional changes.
They also expressed their deepest concern for the deteriorating economic situation, which represents a real threat to everyone, forcing middle class Lebanese who are leaving in great numbers for greener pastures. In doing so they are upsetting the country’s delicate demographic balance and undermining its bases.
Sources close to the Maronite Patriarchate have finally confirmed to AsiaNews that National Assembly Speaker Nabih Beiiwill pay a visit to Bkerke where he will meet with Patriarch Sfeir.

Panic Ensues after Explosion, Bomb Scare in Beirut
Naharnet: Panic ensued Wednesday after a small explosion went off during the morning rush hour followed by a bomb scare in Beirut, but police reported no injuries or damage. There were conflicting reports as to what caused the 9 a.m. explosion in the Tahwita neighborhood which ripped through an empty lot near the Armenian cemetery. Police and army experts said it was caused by a rusting, left over grenade that detonated because of a fire in a garbage dump.
But the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation television channel (LBC) reported that a dynamite stick or a concussion bomb was tossed from a speeding car into the empty lot. The blast caused panic among residents as police and armed troops deployed in the neighborhood and investigators began sifting through the dirt to pick up evidence. Two fire engines were sent to Tahwita, where the offices of the Medical Association and a number of government buildings are located.
Shortly afterwards, a luggage left right in the middle of the Sayyad roundabout also caused panic among citizens.
A huge traffic jam was also reported as police and army troops cordoned off the area to search the suitcase which was suspected of containing explosives. No bombs were found. Future TV said clothing and personal belongings were found in the luggage.
Lebanon has been rocked by a series of explosions since late 2004, mostly targeting anti-Syrian politicians, journalists and businesses in Christian neighborhoods. The largest of the explosions was the February 2005 truck bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in downtown Beirut.
Three people were killed and 20 wounded in Ein Alaq near Beirut in simultaneous bombings on two buses on Feb. 13. Lebanon also has seen a rise in sectarian tensions and violence in recent months, resulting in 11 deaths since December.Beirut, 09 May 07, 09:51

Geagea: March 14 Unanimous on Presidential Candidate

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has said that the pro-government March 14 coalition would reveal the name of its presidential candidate "at the appropriate time." "We've talked about who could be the next president a year ago…We insist on having a president from the March 14 Forces," Geagea said Tuesday after visiting Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkirki. "We will declare our candidate at the appropriate time," he said.
Geagea also denied reports that March 14 forces had been split over their favored candidate. Speaker Nabih Berri announced last month that he will convene parliament on September 25 to elect a new president. The LF leader told reporters that Lebanon is going through several crises and "we all need a way out."
He said the Lebanese should see the presidential election as an opportunity to "move Lebanon forward."
Asked what would happen if President Emile Lahoud stayed in Baabda Palace, Geagea replied: the issue will be "in the hand of the darak (police) because it will be considered an occupation." Free Patriotic Movement legislator Ibrahim Kanaan also visited Sfeir Monday.
He said the solution to the ongoing political crisis must come from the Lebanese first. Kanaan also reiterated a call by FPM leader Gen. Michel Aoun for direct presidential elections. "When disputes reach a level that the system cannot solve them on its own, we will have to go back to the people," he said.
Naharnet/Beirut, 09 May 07, 08:23

Cornerstone Laid for Paralympic City in South Lebanon
The Secretary General of Qatar's Olympic Committee Sheikh Saud Bin Abdul Rahman al Thani has laid the cornerstone for a Paralympic stadium in south Lebanon, An Nahar daily reported Wednesday.It said the city in the town of Ansar was a grant from Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al Thani to the Lebanese Association for the Care of Disabled which is headed by Speaker Nabih Berri's wife Randa. "I hope that in two years we share the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project's inauguration," said Sheikh Saud after laying the foundation stone Tuesday on a lot where a well known Israeli prison established during the Jewish state's occupation once stood. Berri, in her turn, praised Qatar for its role in rebuilding the country and "turning the field of death and destruction into fields of life."
Beirut, 09 May 07, 12:16

Six arrested in plot to attack N.J. army base
Updated Tue. May. 8 2007 1:07 PM ET News Staff
Six men described as "Islamic militants" were arrested on charges they plotted to attack New Jersey's Fort Dix Army base and "kill as many soldiers as possible," authorities said Tuesday. One suspect reportedly spoke of using rocket-propelled grenades to kill at least 100 soldiers at a time, according to court documents.
"If you want to do anything here, there is Fort Dix and I don't want to exaggerate, and I assure you that you can hit an American base very easily," suspect Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer said in a conversation last August that was secretly recorded by a government informant, according to the criminal complaint against him. "It doesn't matter to me whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away," a suspect identified as Serdar Tatar said in another recorded conversation. "Or I die, it doesn't matter. I'm doing it in the name of Allah." Another suspect, Eljvir Duka, was recorded saying: "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."Four of the suspects were born in Yugoslavia, one in Jordan, one in Turkey, and all had lived in the United States for years.
Three of the men were in the United States illegally, two had work permits, and the other is a U.S. citizen, the Associated Press reported. Five of the six suspects are from Cherry Hill, N.J., about 15 kilometres east of Philadelphia and about 30 kilometres from the base. A White House spokesperson said there is "no direct evidence" that the men have ties to international terrorism. A law enforcement official told AP that the men were arrested based on the combined efforts of a federal and local investigation.  AP reports the FBI were alerted in early 2006 when someone brought a video to a store to be copied onto a DVD, according to the agency's criminal complaint. The video showed 10 men, including six of the accused, shooting assault weapons and calling for jihad, the complaint said.
Analysts say tips from citizens are used frequently to prompt terrorism investigations. "Citizen watching is almost everything in the counter-terrorism age in democracies because the government is not supposed to be omnipresent," Walid Phares, a terrorism expert, told CTV Newsnet on Tuesday.
Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie told him one of the suspects had a pizza delivery job and frequently delivered to the base. He is said to have allegedly used the opportunity to gather information for a possible attack.
Smith said the men had been under surveillance for 16 months and practiced their attacks in the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because documents in the case remain sealed, said the attack was thwarted in the planning stages.
The officials said the men also allegedly conducted surveillance at other military institutions in the area, including Fort Monmouth, a U.S. Army installation, and were arrested while attempting to buy automatic weapons in a sale set up by authorities. Reports have surfaced that the suspects often trained using paintball equipment.
"It's now the second case in the United States where the Virginia paintball cell was dismantled a couple of years ago that paintball as a game, which is nationwide in the United States, may be being used to cover up for other activities," Phares said.The group is expected to appear in a U.S. District Court in Camden to face charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. servicemen.The suspects have been identified in court papers as:
Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer
Dritan Duka
Eljvir Duka
Shain Duka
Serdar Tatar
Agron Abdullahu
AP reported checks with Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka and Shain Duka were living illegally in the U.S.
Representative James Saxton, who represents Fort Dix, said the base is on its highest security alert level. Jeff Sagnip, a spokesman for Saxton, said the base typically has 15,000 people, including 3,000 soldiers, while the McGuire Air Force Base, which is adjacent to Fort Dix, has about 11,500 people. Fort Dix is run in part by the Army and is used as a reserve training centre. Active units also take part in training at the base. In 1999, the base hosted refugees from Kosovo.
Police are planning to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon. With files from The Associated Press

US will continue working with Olmert’s government, Rice says
Secretary of State Rice tells Al-Arabiya television US will continue to work with Israeli prime minister and Abbas despite political crisis in Israel; ‘Palestinians have waited a long time for their state,’ she says
Yitzhak Benhorin Published: 05.08.07, 21:03 / Israel News
WASHINGTON – Just a day after delaying her scheduled trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority due to the domestic political woes of Ehud Olmert, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that Washington would continue to work with the Israeli prime minister.
Asked by Al-Arabiya television how the US could advance the peace process with a “besieged” Israeli prime minister, the secretary of
state said, “First of all, Israel is a strong democracy and democracies have a way of working their way through issues like this and we look forward to working with the prime minister and continuing to push forward. “I hope that they will again renew the efforts to have the regular meetings with (Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas,” she said. “We're going to continue to work toward the two-state solution because one thing that we know is that the Israeli people overwhelmingly want to get to a place where they have a neighbor who can be a contributor to their security and we know that the Palestinian people have waited a long time for their state.”
Turning her attention to Lebanon, Rice said a tribunal for those behind the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri “needs to take place despite the deadlock that is taking place in Lebanon because the perpetrators of the assassination need to be brought to justice.
“And the (Fouad) Siniora government, the democratically elected government of Lebanon needs to be supported; the Lebanese can count on the United States to do that,” she said.

Terrorist Cells Used Syria As Base, Saudi Paper Says

Associated Press
RIYADH, Saudi — One of seven recently exposed Saudi terrorist cells used Syria as a base for coordinating with al-Qaida in Iraq and held training camps in the desert of neighboring Yemen, a newspaper owned by Saudi Arabia's royal family said Tuesday.
The report in Al-Watan provided the first new details since Saudi authorities announced last month that security forces had broken up the biggest terror plot ever uncovered in the kingdom.
The government said a monthslong sweep had netted 172 alleged Islamic militants, some of whom trained abroad as pilots for using aircraft in attacks. The militants were said to have been organized into seven cells.
"One of the uncovered cells used Syria as a `safe house' for meetings and coordination with active elements of al-Qaida in Iraq," Al-Watan said. "The houses were used for recruiting and testing loyalties of new members, most of whom were youngsters."Al-Watan provided no source for its report. In Syria, officials were not immediately available for comment on the newspaper's claim. U.S. officials have accused Syrian authorities of allowing militants to cross into Iraq to join the insurgency. The Damascus regime has denied that, saying it tries to police the long border. Al-Watan paper said the terror cell, described as the most dangerous of the seven, also had members train in camps in a mountainous area in Yemen close to the Saudi border.
"The extremist group exploited the absence of any Yemeni authorities' control over this region and held permanent camps there. Selected members crossed the border in groups of three to four for training," Al-Watan said. Saudi authorities said in April that the sweep thwarted a militant plots to mount air attacks on the kingdom's oil refineries, break extremists out of prison and send suicide attackers to kill government officials. Saudi Arabia's long alliance with the United States angers Saudi extremists, especially al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was born here. Fifteen of the 19 airline hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. were from Saudi Arabia. An austere strain of Islam known as Wahhabism is followed by the country's predominantly Sunni Muslim population, and militant groups have attracted Saudi recruits with extremist leanings. Militants have in the past attacked foreigners living in Saudi Arabia as well as the country's oil industry, which has more than 260 billion barrels of proven oil reserves — a quarter of the world's total. Bin Laden has urged such attacks to hurt the flow of oil to the West.

Ban Said To Mull Lebanon Intervention
Staff Reporter of the Sun-May 9, 2007
UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban is said to be weighing a plan to travel to Lebanon, where he will try to diplomatically untangle a political impasse that many in the country, as well as in key world capitals, believe can be solved only with increased international pressure.
Mr. Ban sees both the carnage in Darfur, Sudan, and the political knot in Beirut as two diplomatic priorities he can personally contribute to solving, according to officials familiar with his thinking. In both cases, he would confront despots at odds with U.N. Security Council resolutions: President Bashir of Sudan has denied entry to international troops attempting to protect civilians in Darfur; and Lebanese allies of President Al-Assad of Syria have blocked attempts to establish an international tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri.
Last month, Mr. Ban asked the Security Council to hold off on imposing sanctions on Khartoum. More recently, he requested a delay in attempts by America and France, both permanent council members, to force a tribunal on Lebanon.
On the Lebanese issue, Mr. Ban "thinks the same way as he did about Darfur," his spokeswoman, Michele Montas, told The New York Sun yesterday. "The solution cannot come from the outside. It has to come from within."
She confirmed that Mr. Ban is contemplating a trip to Lebanon, "if he thinks his presence might make a difference." As of yesterday, she added, "he has not made a decision" to go.
According to several diplomats and U.N. officials, Mr. Ban, who recently visited Mr. Assad in Damascus, hopes to negotiate with pro-Syrian politicians in Lebanon who so far have successfully blocked the international tribunal. Mr. Assad's aides and family members have been mentioned by U.N. investigators as possible suspects in the Hariri assassination and subsequent political killings in Lebanon.
The American ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Lebanese politicians might already have reached an impasse. "If the judgment is made that the domestic thing cannot solve it — that's our view at this point, and we have to convince others — then we'll have to go to a resolution," he told the Sun. "But I think the secretary-general's judgment on that will be important as well."
American and French diplomats are reportedly preparing a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter that would allow the council to establish the international tribunal even as the pro-Syrian opposition maintains its resistance.
America "will use every means at its disposal to further the pursuit of justice and to put an end to the current campaign of assassinations," Secretary of State Rice wrote yesterday in an op-ed in Beirut's a-Nahar newspaper.
But in recent days, officials of the pro-Syrian terror group Hezbollah hinted that it would use violence if such a resolution were passed. "We say no to the establishment of a tribunal under Chapter 7," the organization's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, told an Arabic-language Iranian TV channel.
Hezbollah and its Shiite political allies, as well as some pro-Syrian Maronite Christians, withdrew from Prime Minister Siniora's Cabinet soon after the Security Council passed a resolution establishing the tribunal last November. The Beirut Cabinet later voted in favor of the tribunal, but Hezbollah politicians later prevented a parliamentary vote to ratify the decision. The political maneuvering has created a constitutional crisis, which is increasingly seen as threatening Lebanon's independence.
A European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that policy-makers in Washington and Paris are concerned that by creating a false impression of a diplomatic process with the pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon, Mr. Ban may unwittingly encourage Mr. Assad's allies on the Security Council, led by Russia, to resist a resolution under Chapter 7.

Aoun continues to push for direct election of Lebanon president
Wednesday, 9 May, 2007 @ 7:19 PM
Beirut- Gen. Michel Aoun continues to promote his earlier proposal to elect a new president directly by the people for one time, saying he supports implementation of such electoral law "at all times.""I am not suggesting that (constitutional) amendments be made for only one time, but for all times," Aoun told al Manar television, mouthpiece of Hezbollah.Aoun said he was "joking" when he proposed that the next president of Lebanon be elected by the people for ‘one time’ only.
Last Friday, Aoun said that his Free Patriotic Movement as well as Lebanon's Christians will be in "shock" if he was not elected the new head of state.
"I will not back off from nominating myself. I will not support any other person. I will not agree on anyone," he insisted.
"It would be politically impolite if I agree on someone else…I am a candidate," Aoun said.
Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has rejected Aoun's proposal, saying his offer requires a constitutional amendment "and the constitution cannot be amended in a blink." Sfeir added

March 14 alliance have decided on their own candidate

Lebanese Forces leader Dr. Samir Geagea has said that the pro-government March 14 coalition would reveal the name of its presidential candidate "at the appropriate time.""We've decided who will be the next president a year ago…We insist on having a president from the March 14 Forces," Geagea said Tuesday after visiting Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkirki."We will declare our candidate at the appropriate time," he told the reporters
Sources: Naharnet, Ya Libnan

March14 decided on its Lebanon presidential candidate a year ago
Wednesday, 9 May, 2007 @ 4:45 PM
Beirut- Lebanese Forces leader Dr. Samir Geagea has said that the pro-government March 14 coalition would reveal the name of its presidential candidate "at the appropriate time."
"We've decided who will be the next president a year ago…We insist on having a president from the March 14 Forces," Geagea said Tuesday after visiting Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkirki.
"We will declare our candidate at the appropriate time," he told the reporters
Geagea also denied reports that March 14 forces had been split over who their candidate will be .
The Free Patriotic Movement ( FPM) has declared that its candidate is General Michel Aoun.
Geagea said he is willing to sit down with Aoun and go over the program of the March 14 presidential candidate .
The LF leader told reporters that Lebanon is going through a political crises and "we all need a way out."
He said the Lebanese should see the presidential election as an opportunity to "move Lebanon forward." He added I don’t understand why some are trying to create obstacles for having this election on time.
Asked what would happen if President Emile Lahoud stayed in Baabda Palace, Geagea replied: the issue will be "in the hand of the Darak ( Lebanese police) because it will be considered an occupation." Meaning he will be evicted just like any illegal tenant .
Speaker Nabih Berri announced last month that he will convene parliament on September 25 to elect a new president, but insisted the 2 thirds of the MPs should attend before any election takes place. Berri also said there should be an agreement in advance who should the next president be.
Geagea said there is no article in the constitution that stipulates a quorum of 2 thirds of the parliament for it to elect a president .
He said traditionally many candidates also were suggested . This time also it could be the same he said . “ Hezbollah said they have their presidential candidate and they will declare his name in the appropriate time , Aoun is the candidate of FPM and we have our candidate ,there is nothing wrong with this “ he added.
Geagea was asked what will happen if there were 2 governments and 2 presidents in Lebanon.
He said this is impossible. During the first republic the president could remove a government and form another but not since al Taif accord . The president right now has no power to form a new government , besides for the government to be legal it has to get a vote of confidence from the parliament , which it cant . on the other hand he said the government of Fouad Siniora can get a vote of confidence any time from the parliament .