Tuesday, July 31, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 31, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 31, 2012

President In Name Only

From street protests to insurgency to national insurrection. The remorseless escalation of Syria's conflict since it first broke out 16 months ago is the most striking feature of the challenge to President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

Repression has bred resistance, and vice versa, to the point where the country's biggest cities are becoming battlefields. Aleppo is dominated by the magnificent gatehouse of its Citadel, providing visual proof that possession of this ancient city has decided the fate of kings for centuries.

So it is with Assad today: his actions betray a grim awareness that the struggle for Aleppo is central to his regime's survival. He has been willing to strip neighbouring provinces of troops and tanks in order to mobilise forces for this battle, even though this effectively means turning over large areas of his country to de facto rebel control.

The outlines of Assad's new survival strategy are now emerging. He will do whatever it takes to hang on to Damascus and Aleppo and, so far as possible, the main north-south highway linking the two cities. But this leaves him with little choice but to concede most of rural Syria to his enemies.

In the past few weeks, instead of being president of his country, Assad has effectively become the embattled mayor of Damascus and Aleppo, plus the policeman of the road that joins them. As the war has escalated, so his realistic objectives have been downgraded.

In March last year, delivering his first speech since the outbreak of the street protests, Assad predicted that his regime would "magnificently succeed in passing the test" and "come out stronger". The president's next setpiece address came three months later - as demonstrations were beginning to turn into outright rebellion - and the rhetoric was less flowery, but he could still say that Syria's "destiny" was to "come out of crises stronger thanks to the solidarity and cohesion of its society".This year, as insurgency has tipped into insurrection, Assad's persona has changed to that of the sombre war leader. He still predicts victory, but his words are darker, with an acknowledgement of the suffering that has been inflicted in his name. "When a surgeon goes into the operating room, cuts a wound, the wound bleeds," he said last month. "Do we condemn the surgeon because his hands are bloodstained or do we praise him for saving a human being's life?"

There are tormented echoes here of Lady Macbeth: "Here's the smell of blood still / All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." When a president tries to rationalise his bloodstained hands, things really have reached a sorry pass. How has this happened and what does it mean for Mr Assad's friends and enemies?

Syria's armed forces have clearly been stretched to breaking point by this crisis. On paper, the army has 220,000 soldiers, but most of the rank-and-file are Sunnis - and their loyalty to Assad, whose regime is dominated by the minority Alawite sect, is not always guaranteed. Consequently, the burden of the fighting has fallen on two dependable units: the 4th division, under the de facto command of his brother, Maher, and the Republican Guard.

Together, these formations have no more than 30,000 men - less than 14% of the army's total strength - and they have borne the lion's share of the task of combating a national insurrection. Their soldiers have fought from Deraa in the south to Idlib in the north, and they have paid a grievous price: at least 5,000 Syrian troops are believed to have been killed by the rebels in the past 16 months. By way of comparison, America has lost 1,939 men in Afghanistan during almost 11 years of war.

Assad's foes, notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have directly armed those responsible for this bloodshed, while America and Britain have provided non-lethal help. In the process, the rebels have clearly become far more capable, particularly in the past few months. Western and Arab opponents of the regime will argue that they are saving lives by hastening Assad's downfall - and they could be right. But no one should be under any illusions about the suffering inflicted by this course.

Reduced to defending a handful of cities, and confident of the loyalty of only a fraction of his army, Assad is no longer bidding for outright victory. A core of his security forces can still be counted on to obey orders and defeat the rebels in pitched battles, but the clock is clearly ticking. He can still buy time - perhaps measured in months - but he cannot win.

Having invested greatly in his survival, what might lead Russia to question the wisdom of trying to stave off the inevitable? The answer, paradoxically, might be success for Assad in Aleppo. If he keeps this prize and hangs on to Damascus, but cedes most of the rest of Syria, he will be telling the world that total victory is no longer on the cards. His friends may then draw their own conclusions.

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Jerusalem Dateline:

Jerusalem Dateline:

Iran, Hamas United In Hate

Story Taken From
Y Net News


Op-ed: Some in West fail to realize that persistent ideology calling for destruction of Jews, Israel flourishes among adherents of radical Islamic ideology

Anav Silverman Published: 07.30.12, 17:48 / Israel Opinion

Often times, western media overlooks a very key factor to the prolongation of the Middle East conflict. This type of oversight leads some media commentators to reach, through ludicrous logic, some very strange conclusions as to why Israelis are continuous targets of terror.

Take for example a recent article published in The Daily Beast following the terror attack in Bulgaria, which killed five Israeli tourists and wounded 36 others in a bus bombing. The author, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, wrote about the senseless attack in the context of the past year’s killings of Iranian nuclear scientists:

War on Terror

One dead Jew at a time / Alex Ryvchin

Op-ed: World’s empty terror condemnations won’t stop erosion of Jewish right to live

Full story

“US officials have privately expressed concern that one of the purposes of Israeli attacks in Iran has been to generate an Iranian response that could serve as a casus belli for Israel. That way, Israel could target Iran’s nuclear facilities without paying the heavy political cost of starting a preventive war.”

In other words, the goal behind Israel’s alleged targeting of Iranian nuclear scientists was to provoke an Iranian response that would justify an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Following the writer’s logic, the deadly attack on the Israeli tourists in Bulgaria would have served that purpose.

The skewed and twisted reasoning behind such statements implies that Israel wants its citizens dead, maimed and traumatized by terrorist targets, in order to carry out regional war. It completely ignores the fact that a persistent and insidious ideology that calls for the destruction of Jews and the Jewish state has deep roots in Middle Eastern countries like Iran and flourishes among adherents of radical Islamic ideology.

A very influential figure in Iranian politics, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani openly suggested 10 years ago that nuclear weapons should be used against the Jewish state. In a traditional Friday sermon in Tehran in 2000, he further articulated:

“The Jews (who immigrated to Israel) should expect a “reverse exodus,” because one day, the tumor will be removed from the body of the Islamic world, and then millions of Jews who moved there will become homeless again.”

'Resistance will continue'

More recently, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted in September 2010: “Israel is a hideous entity in the Middle East which will undoubtedly be annihilated.”

In February 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was photographed carrying signs in Persian and Arabic which read “Death to Israel.”

In addition, Iranian Armed Forces regularly hold military parades in Tehran, which feature Iranian Shahab-3 missiles that have a 1300-kilometer range to strike Israel.

Footage from last year’s parade show slogans on military vehicles carrying these missiles which read: “Israel Must Be Destroyed.”

While some will say that mere hate rhetoric and intimidation parades are harmless, the culture of hate and incitement which Iran perpetuates through financial, educational means and military weapons, find fertile minds in the likes of young radical Islamist operatives both in the Middle East and internationally.

But most disturbing is that this hatred thrives right on Israel’s borders and is cultivated every year in Gaza summer camps run by Hamas. From June – August of this year, the Hamas administration and its military wing are indoctrinating 70,000 elementary school children and teenagers under the slogans of “Victory Through Youth” and “Camps of Return.”

While girls learn cooking and embroidery, the older boys are trained to use real rifles, handguns, and knives, alongside playing sports and riding horses. The camp counselors prepare the children for prison, and inculcate Hamas’s violent brand of Islam, teaching campers to revere suicide bombers. One of the celebrated heroes this year in camp was Ibrahim Hamed, who as the head of Hamas’s military wing in Ramallah orchestrated countless suicide bombings, murdering 46 Israeli civilians and wounding 400 others, and was sentenced in June to 54 life terms.

Indeed, Iran and Hamas share one mind and one heart in their hatred of Israel. This past February, Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, traveled to Tehran and declared to a crowd of 30,000 Iranians in Azadi Square that Hamas “will never recognize Israel,” in a commemoration ceremony marking Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, which overthrew the country’s pro-west monarchy.

“The resistance will continue until all Palestinian land, including al-Quds (Jerusalem), has been liberated and all the refugees have returned,” affirmed Haniyeh, alongside President Ahmedinejad.

Despite these types of events and declarations that are frequently made in the Middle East, the West continues to ignore the blatant hatred that defines Iran’s and Hamas’s foreign policies and conduct. It might explain why all diplomatic attempts and negotiations have failed with Iran and Hamas. When the Quartet of diplomatic players in the Middle East peace process - the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States - demands that any Palestinian government, including Hamas, must renounce violence and recognize Israel, one can only wonder why Hamas would ever accede to such a request.

The deep-seeded hatred that has lead to the murder of countless Israelis both in Israel and abroad must not be ignored or imagined away. It exists in the hearts, minds, and wallets of those who seek to eradicate the Jewish state and harm the Jewish people at no moral conscience. At the end of the day, it was Israeli planes that brought the Israeli victims back home from Bulgaria—no other country carries the burden of Jewish survival as does Israel.

Reclaiming the Sweetness of the Cross

Reclaiming the Sweetness of the Cross

Rahm Emanuel: High Priest of Chicago

Rahm Emanuel

Story taken From

               Chicago voters who elected Rahm Emanuel the city's mayor might not have realized they were also electing a high priest for the city.

The mayor donned priestly regalia – in spirit if not physically – when he declared his outrage over the support for traditional marriage voiced by Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy. The establishment media choir howled as usual in the same key that Cathy's position is "anti-gay," and the Chicago mayor-high priest rose to the pulpit.

He would work to block Chick-fil-A expansion in Chicago, said Emanuel. "Chick-Fil-A's values are not Chicago values," the mayor said, as quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. "They're not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you're gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values."

It took a chicken chain to bring Emanuel's priesthood into focus. There was once another named Emanuel, or "God with us." Maybe the Chicago mayor is confused about which Emanuel he is.

Welcome to what I have termed elsewhere the Globequake Age, in which the tectonic plates of whole cultures are shifting so fast the whole world is topsy-turvy. That means among other things that the mayors of great cities can start defining what the values of the city are and what they are not.

German businesses owned by Jews who did not fit into the values of the nation's governing powers were infamously assaulted on Kristalnacht – the "night of broken glass" from shattered shop windows – on November 9-10, 1938. Now that Emanuel has issued the dictum that Chick-Fil-A has strayed from the propaganda line of the cultural elites and the politicians they heft into power, will there be a purge of all non-conforming companies, starting with Chick-fil-A?

I was recently in Chicago and spent the good part of a day at Moody Bible Institute. This great school in the heart of downtown, just off Chicago Avenue, was founded in 1886. It is a primary center for teaching the values Emanuel says are not part of Chicago's values. Will the mayor-high priest shut down Moody, deny its expansion permits, conduct background checks for political correctness of its faculty members, and run the rebels out of town?

Will the constituents of Chicagoland institutions like Wheaton College, Christianity Today magazine, Willow Creek Church, Total Living TV Network, Youth For Christ International, the Slavic Gospel Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Trinity Seminary, The Salvation Army Training Center, Emmaus Bible Institute, and many others now have to go through an internal control point where their alignment with the mayor's "Chicago values" must be confirmed before they are permitted into the city itself?

Are all the citizens of Chicago who agree with the Bible's view of marriage and Dan Cathy's support of it, and, therefore, disagree with the mayor's declaration of "Chicago's values," now non-Chicagoans?

The mayor and his supporters rightly decry discrimination. But they go too far in attempting the equivalency maneuver in which they try to compare opposition to same-sex marriage to the repugnant discrimination of black people in pre-civil rights places like Alabama.

I grew up in Birmingham, and later was a reporter for The Birmingham News covering much of the civil rights revolution there. As a boy in the late 1940s and 1950s, I saw the "Whites Only" signs, deacons at white churches standing guard to prevent black people from attending, and those Neanderthal banners noting that Negroes would not be served in certain business establishments.

Dan Cathy's restaurants have no such signs banning homosexuals, or anyone who disagrees with his position on marriage. To the contrary, Chick-Fil-A has a declared policy of serving anyone and everyone, and that extends to hiring as well.

Ages ago Zechariah saw the vision of two olive trees separated by a lampstand. Ultimately he understood that the lampstand in the center symbolized the presence and authority of God, and the olive trees the jurisdictional powers in culture, the "two anointed ones." Both the high priest and the civil ruler were empowered of God to serve and lead in the jurisdictions to which He appointed them – a truth affirmed in Romans 13 and other New Testament passages.

However, the high priest was not to step over into the role of the civil ruler, nor was the civil ruler to usurp the position of the high priest. The state was not to be the church, and the church was not to be the state – which is why a theocracy is inappropriate for governance of civil society. King Saul tried to take over Samuel's role at one point, and Saul lost his kingdom.

If anyone has the right of choosing values, it is the individual. People can do so only in an economic environment where there is a diversity of values. There are joints in my community that most definitely do not reflect my values. But their very presence means I have the freedom to choose by not patronizing them. Give the people the right to choose to buy chicken wings at a gay bar or Chick-fil-A, or both. God, after all, put two trees in the Garden.

Chicago is a great city – one of my favorites – but it's not a church, and doesn't need a high priest for mayor.

Monday, July 9, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 9, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 9, 2012

The Coming Apostasy Part Two

Michael Plemmons

             I have spent the last three days grieving and weeping on my face before the Lord. All around me the scented clouds of Father’s presence adds both sweetness and a sense of urgency to the revelation I am receiving. In all my years of service to my Lord I have never been pressed in my spirit to call out to my Lord in intercession for the body of Christ than I do now.

The words spoken to me by Enoch have left an indelible impression on my heart. I have grieved as I watched the message and convictions of our faith watered down. In its place a hunger for experience above all other things has formed like a cancer in the church.

Lying beside me also face down and calling out to the Lord is my mentor and friend Enoch. Our sense of urgency is magnified by the presence of the seven archangels of God. Three days ago they surrounded us and their intensity of anointing is having an effect on both of us.

Enoch reached over and took my hand and we both stood to our feet. His face reflected both the intensity we both had felt in our time of intercession as well as the love and compassion he has for me. Enoch put his arms around me and pulled me close and we stood there for a long moment in complete silence.

I could see the archangels surrounding us in a circle over Enoch’s shoulder. He reached down and picking up both our staffs passed mine to me. His face was glowing with the light of the Lord. A warm smile spread across his face and he turned and in so doing cast his eyes in the distance ahead. I somehow feel I have begun a journey with this trip that shall bring eternal changes in my life.

Enoch put his arm on my shoulder and said, “My son the time has come and Father is calling you to himself. The time has come and you as yet have no idea what is coming. These mighty warriors of God have been sent to be your royal escort into the realm of God to which you are called.

You have faced many challenges in your life and Father has put you to the test over and over again. Yet as challenging as they were they were nothing more than Father in his love for you preparing you for the task he has for you. You shall be challenged as never before but the price shall be but a small thing to walk in that place he has prepared you for all these years.”

Having said this, tears welled up in Enoch’s eyes and he reached over and embraced me once more.

“Michael my son, I am but the first of seven witnesses whom you shall meet on this present journey they shall one after the other prepare your heart by opening your understanding of both what is yet to come and Father’s call on your life. Have no fear my son the apostasy spoken of by Paul and others shall be vanquished by the true anointing and glory Father is bringing into the world at this time”

Do not fear my son though the hour is late yet even in an apostate hour such as this Father has a faithful remnant whose hearts cry day and night to the Lord. These are they of whom the world is not worthy. They shall walk in the true faith and anointing of their Father and their voices even now are coming up before Father as a sweet savior.”

Having said this Enoch turned and began to walk back in the direction from which he had come. I watched him until he was lost from sight within the swirling clouds of Father’s glory.

Grasping my staff I turned because I know I must press on for the hour is late and I can feel the anointed presence of Father calling to my heart in the distance. As I started to walk the seven archangels of Father’s glory turned and walked with me. They are still surrounding me and, I little me, am in the middle. May my Father be glorified in all I say and do. May my heart remain fixed on pressing on no matter what the cost that I might serve him.

Suspected US Drone Strike Kills 24 in Pakistan

Story taken from
Voice of America

             Pakistani officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed at least 24 suspected militants in the country's northwest.

Friday's strike took place near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region — a known hub of Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.

Officials told VOA that foreigners were among those killed when missiles hit a compound in the area. It was one of the deadliest reported U.S. strikes and the first such attack since Pakistan re-opened NATO supply lines into Afghanistan following a seven-month shutdown.

Pakistan closed the routes after a coalition airstrike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops near the Afghan border last November.

After the cross-border attack, Pakistan's parliament reviewed the country's terms of future engagement with the United States and demanded an end to drone strikes on its territory, as well as an unconditional apology for the attack that killed Pakistani troops.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the United States “is sorry for the Pakistani military's losses.” Pakistan later reopened the supply routes.

On Friday, hundreds of Islamists in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and the southern port city of Karachi protested the reopening of the supply lines.

Members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party chanted anti-American slogans and marched along the roadway in Karachi, where many of the shipments originate.

The head of the JI party in Karachi, Mohammad Hussain Mehnati told reporters “we will prove to Pakistani rulers, America and the world that the decision is against Pakistan, the restoration of NATO supplies is against Muslims. And the people of Pakistan reject this decision and we vow to continue our struggle until the reversal of the decision.”

The demonstrations came a day after the first NATO supply trucks crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Drivers continue to express concerns about their security, demanding that the government provide additional protection. The Pakistani Taliban has vowed to attack the convoys.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, suspected rebels in the southwestern province of Baluchistan opened fire on a bus in the Turbat district, killing at least 18 passengers.

Officials say the bus was carrying people bound for Iran when it was attacked on Friday.

Stakelbeck on Terror: Whitewashing Islam in Public Schools

Stakelbeck on Terror: Whitewashing Islam in Public Schools

Iran says it will block passageway to stop oil

Iranian Navy Conducts Exercises in the Strait of Hormuz

Story taken from
Associated Press

           Tehran -- - Iran will block the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, the passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil flows, if its interests are seriously threatened, a senior Iranian military commander said Saturday.

"We do have a plan to close the Strait of Hormuz," state media quoted Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi as saying Saturday. "A Shiite nation (Iran) acts reasonably and would not approve interruption of a waterway ... unless our interests are seriously threatened."

The comments by Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, come days after the European Union enforced a total oil embargo against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program. The move follows sanctions already imposed against Iran by the United States and the United Nations.

The United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China are negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program, which the West suspects aims to make a bomb.

Iran denies the charge. It says that its right to enrich is enshrined in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty - and therefore sees demands to curtail higher enrichment as contravening international law. It says it needs to enrich to that level to power a research reactor and make medical isotopes.

Israel has warned of possible air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and the United States has said all options are on the table should negotiations fail to bring Tehran to compromise.

The halt in crude oil imports from Iran is intended to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level.

The Western powers fear material produced at that level - well above the 3.5 percent enrichment needed for energy-producing reactors - can be turned into weapons-grade material in a matter of months.

Iranian lawmakers have prepared a bill that would order the country's military to stop tankers headed to countries that have joined the oil ban.

But Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted by Iranian media on Saturday as saying that the proposed bill has not yet been studied by parliament.

Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards has warned that Tehran would order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz if the country's oil exports are blocked.

Dutch lawmaker brings his crusade against Islam to conservative confab

Geert Wilders
Story taken from
The Colorado Statesman

            Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders brought his crusade against the Islamic religion to Denver last weekend, warning an audience at the Western Conservative Summit that Europe and the United States are vulnerable to an insidious takeover by what he termed a “dangerous, totalitarian ideology” masquerading as a religion.

“If we do not stop the Islamization, we will lose everything: our identity, our culture, our democratic constitutional state, our freedom, and our civilization,” Wilders told an audience of roughly 1,000 gathered in the main ballroom at the downtown Hyatt Regency Denver on Saturday. The annual summit, in its third year, is sponsored by the Lakewood-based Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute and had an estimated 1,300 attendees over three days.

While the reaction to Wilders was mixed — he received repeated standing ovations during his 45-minute talk, but perhaps a third of the audience members remained planted in their seats throughout — one Colorado lawmaker said Americans should take the Islamic threat seriously and consider prohibiting the construction of mosques in the state.

Former Senate President John Andrews and Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders take a question from the audience following a speech by Wilders at the Western Conservative Summit on June 30 at the Hyatt Regency Denver. Andrews directs Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, which sponsored the conference.

Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado StatesmanWilders, the founder and head of the far-right Party for Freedom, now the third-largest political party in the Netherlands, has lived under constant guard since 2004 and is the author of the recently published “Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me.”

He has been targeted “for criticizing Islam,” he told the avid crowd after describing some of the security measures required to protect him and his wife.

“My view, in a nutshell, is that Islam, rather than a religion, is predominantly a totalitarian ideology striving for world dominance,” he said. “I believe that Islam and freedom are incompatible.”

CCU president and former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong launched the summit on Friday by proclaiming it open to members of all faiths.

“Of course, those of us at CCU are followers of Jesus, but in the room tonight are men and women of not only the New Testament but the Old Testament, and of other religious and philosophical traditions as well. You’re all welcome, we’re delighted you’re here,” Armstrong said.

But by the time Wilders commanded the same stage the next afternoon, the welcome mat might have been less firmly in place for at least one religion.

Former Senate President John Andrews, who heads CCU’s Centennial Institute, didn’t mince words when he introduced Wilders and another speaker known for his opposition to Islam.

Saturday afternoon’s topic, Andrews said, would be “the existential threat to the United States of America posed by Islam.”

Pausing for a moment to let his words sink in, he continued. “I didn’t say ‘radical Islam,’ I didn’t say ‘extremism.’ After you hear from Frank Gaffney and our friend from across the Atlantic, Geert Wilders, you’ll know why I just say ‘the threat of Islam.’”

For his part, Wilders emphasized what he described as a distinction between followers of Islam and the religion itself.

“I do not have a problem with Muslims,” Wilders said during his address. “There are many moderate Muslims. I always make a distinction between the people and the ideology. There are indeed many moderate Muslims. But believe me, there is no such thing as a moderate Islam — there is only one Islam, and that is a dangerous, totalitarian ideology that is intolerant, that is violent, that should not be tolerated by us but that should be contained.”

Wilders warned against opening the door to Sharia law — based on traditional Islamic principles — in Western courtrooms but added that it was already too late to keep Islam and its influences out of the country entirely.

“Your country is facing a stealth jihad, an Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia law bit by bit by bit,” he said.

In order to keep the United States from succumbing, Wilders said, politicians have to ignore what he promised would be derision from the liberal media and other quarters and firmly deliver strong medicine. First, he said, Americans have to stop putting up with “multiculturalism,” even as free-speech proponents cry foul. In addition, he said American courtrooms must bar Sharia law and “stop the immigration from Islamic countries.”

Most critically, he said, “We should forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in the West already.”

State Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, said it’s worth paying attention to Wilders and the alarms he was raising.

“It’s warranted in this country,” Grantham told The Colorado Statesman minutes after Wilders finished his speech. “We already see the beginnings of that movement here in a smaller fashion, but it’s the same thing as it was in Europe just within the last couple decades, and we see where Europe’s at right now. So the warning is very real, and we should take heed and watch where we’re heading in this country.”

Grantham said he agreed with the distinction Wilders made between the Islamic religion and its adherents.

“If we look at the philosophical underpinnings of what is called Islam, (it’s) very fair how he treats that. Now, there’s some Muslims, obviously, like Mr. Wilders said, that we would call moderate. But the philosophical underpinnings of that system, of that culture of Islam — those are very serious problems and they are antithetical to the American way.”

Regarding Wilders’ suggestion that Western governments ban construction of new mosques, Grantham said it was worth considering.

“You know, we’d have to hear more on that, because, as he said, mosques are not churches like we would think of churches,” Grantham said. “They think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches — we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those.”

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, who last week won the GOP nomination for the Second Congressional District seat, had a more skeptical reaction than his Senate colleague.

Wilders, he said, “showed some concern for some issues that have happened in this country, and there are some issues we need to be aware of here, but I’m not ready to endorse what he said.”
Asked whether he shared concerns raised during Wilders’ talk about a proposed mosque in Larimer County, Lundberg shook his head and quoted the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I think immediately of ‘Congress shall make no law …’ and that sounds pretty close to that, doesn’t it?” he said.

A moment later, Lundberg elaborated on his reaction to Wilders’ proposals.

“We’re a free society, and there are risks with freedom,” Lundberg said. “In my mind, we need to give every citizen the opportunity to succeed or fail on their merits, and there are limits we have to put in place for certain public safety issues, but I am much more a stronger defender of the First Amendment than I am of immediately restricting people because of a perceived concern.”

Former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney — something of a pariah in right-wing circles since he began accusing anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist of helping radical Muslims infiltrate the conservative movement — riled up the crowd immediately before Wilders spoke with a preview of a 10-hour video series called “The Muslim Brotherhood in America.” The series charges that a cabal of Muslims is staging a stealthy conquest of the United States by pretending to be moderate while ascending the rungs of power.

Gaffney called on conservatives at the summit to boycott the American Conservative Union’s regional Conservative Political Action Conference — known as CPAC — set to take place in Denver on Oct. 4, the day after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, unless the organization renounces its association with individuals Gaffney claims have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Former radio talk-show host and Denver attorney Craig Silverman introduced Wilders, but first told the crowd that he stood before them “in all humility to you conservatives for confession and forgiveness,” and admitted that he voted for Obama in 2008. Silverman said he has since seen the error of his ways.

“I thought Barack Hussein Obama was ideally situated to speak simple truths to the Islamic world,” Silverman said, adding that instead, the president “wouldn’t do it, he did not do it, and he will not do it.”

Saying he feared for America’s safety and for the very survival of Israel, Silverman declared that he has read few books in recent years that affected him as profoundly as Wilders’ memoir.

“Geert Wilders is a great man,” Silverman said. “He refuses to be intimidated. He is a profile in courage.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 6, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 6, 2012

Iran says can destroy US bases "minutes after attack"

Story taken from

            Iran has threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, as Revolutionary Guards extended test-firing of ballistic missiles into a third day.

Israel has hinted it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to secure a halt to its disputed nuclear energy programme. The United States also has mooted military action as a last-resort option but has frequently nudged the Israelis to give time for intensified economic sanctions to work against Iran.

"These bases are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands (Israel) are also good targets for us," Amir Ali Haji Zadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

Haji Zadeh said 35 U.S. bases were within reach of Iran's ballistic missiles, the most advanced of which commanders have said could hit targets 2,000 km (1,300 miles) away.

"We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack," he added.

It was not clear where Haji Zadeh got his figures on U.S. bases in the region. U.S. military facilities in the Middle East are located in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey, and it has around 10 bases further afield in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.


Defence analysts are often sceptical about what they describe as exaggerated military assertions by Iran and say the country's military capability would be no match for sophisticated U.S. defence systems.

Iranian media reported that this week's three-day "Great Prophet 7" tests involved dozens of missiles and domestically-built drones that successfully destroyed simulated air bases.

Iran has upped its fiery anti-West rhetoric in response to the launch on Sunday of a total European Union embargo on buying Iranian crude oil - the latest calibrated increase in sanctions aimed at pushing Tehran into curbing nuclear activity.

Revolutionary Guards commanders have also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than a third of the world's seaborne oil trade passes out of the Gulf, in response to the increasingly harsh sanctions.

Major powers have said they would tolerate no obstruction of commercial traffic through the Strait, and the United States maintains a formidable naval presence in the Gulf region.

Iran accused the West of disrupting global energy supplies and creating regional instability and says its forces can dominate the vital waterway to provide security.

"The policy of the Islamic Republic is based on maintaining security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz for all ships and oil tankers," Iranian English-language state Press TV quoted the chairman of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, as saying.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of using its nuclear programme to covertly develop all the components required to produce nuclear weapons, accusations the Iranian officials have repeatedly denied.

The world's No. 5 oil exporter maintains that it is enriching uranium for nuclear fuel only to generate more energy for a rapidly growing population.

The Willingness to Kill Jesus

The Willingness to Kill Jesus

US Military Strength At Hormuz Beefed Up As Nuclear Talks With Iran Fade

Story taken from

                The Obama administration released details Tuesday, July 3, of a fresh buildup of its military forces in the Persian Gulf, stressing their task is to fend off any Iranian attempt to endanger international shipping by blocking or planting mines in the Strait of Hormuz.

Shortly after the announcement, senior US administration officials said the fourth round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers taking place in Istanbul Tuesday were most probably the last: Tehran has refused to give way on the key issues of the 20-percent grade enrichment of uranium and the closure of its underground nuclear facility at Fordo.

The new war drums sent oil past $100 for the first time in three weeks.

As for the Gulf buildup, US sources said counter-measures were in place in case the extra forces were targeted for Iranian aggression.

Tehran earlier threatened military reprisals for the oil embargo imposed by the European Union Sunday, July 1. The next day, the Prophet 7 missile exercise was launched by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards simulating attacks on “enemy air bases.”

The wording of the exercise’s mission was taken as strongly intimating that Tehran had US air bases in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, including facilities used the US Air Force in Israel and Turkey, well within the sights of its missiles.

It was stressed that short-, medium- and long-range missiles were being put through their paces.

Tuesday, commanders of the Iranian exercise reported that dozens of missiles had been trained for several hours on mock “enemy bases” in several countries, stating that missiles capable of hitting Israel had been successfully tested.

The US has doubled the number of fast warships in Gulf waters that are capable of instantaneously responding to Iranian moves for closing the strategic Straits of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes daily.

More minesweepers are also on hand, as well as commando units for preventive action against the planting of mines in the sea lanes frequented by oil tankers on their way to and from Gulf export terminals.

debkafile’s military sources report that US, Saudi and other Gulf armies have been on high military alert since Thursday, June 28, on two counts: the escalating Syrian crisis and the potential threat to the strategic strait in response to the EU embargo. Iranian leaders have often threatened to treat this penalty as an act of war. As part of their new stance, Saudi forces moved up to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

According to our sources, the information released in Washington on the US Gulf buildup represents only a fraction of the concentration of strength gradually building up around Iran for five months since March.

It was then that two squadrons of the F-22 Raptor stealth planes were moved to the United Arab Emirates air base at Al Dhafra and troops were flown in to two strategic islands, Masirah on the Gulf of Oman and Socotra at the meeting-point between the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Their numbers now are estimated at 40,000.

Dreams, Visions Moving Muslims To Christ

                                                   Story taken from

         Several years ago, Ali took the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca known as Hajj.

"Of course when I went to Mecca I was going there in order to pay hommage to the Kabba and to fulfill the requirements in Islam," he recalled.

But the trip became more of a spiritual journey than he could ever imagine.

"That night I saw Jesus in a dream. First, Jesus touched my forehead with his finger. And after touching me, He said, 'You belong to me,'" Ali recalled.

"And then He touched me above my heart," he continued. "'You have been saved, follow me. You belong to me,' he said."

Ali's story in Mecca was told and dramatized in a DVD called "More Than Dreams."

"I decided I'm not going to finish the Hajj, the pilgrimage. Whatever it takes, I'm going to follow that voice," he explained.

The film documents and dramatizes Ali's story and several other Muslims who came to faith in Jesus through a dream or vision.

"We're seeing that all around. We're hearing about people that have never even thought about Jesus as savior," Tom Doyle, with e3 Ministries, said. "They're content Muslims and they're having dreams over and over."

Doyle and his wife Joanna take the gospel to the Muslim world. He's also the author of the upcoming book, Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World?

"I think our God is a fair God, that He's righteous and just, and people are seeking and they don't know where to go," Doyle said.

"Maybe they don't have a Bible, maybe there's no missionary in the village," he said. "He'll get the message to them somehow."

The phenomenon of dreams and visions has surfaced throughout the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Morocco.

"In the church if you ask how many people came to Christ, 80 percent will say, 'I saw Him in a dream,'" one woman in central Asia told CBN News. Her identity is being protected for security reasons.

A Christian friend challenged her to ask God to speak to her personally.

"So I decided to ask Him," she said. "The next day ... in my dream I saw Jesus ... I decided to come to Him."

Hazem Farraj hosts "Reflections," a satellite program for Muslims. He said he often gets feedback about dreams and visions.

"I had one lady write me ... she said, 'I turned on the television and there you were ... the words that were coming out of your mouth were so peaceful I fell asleep,'" Farraj recalled.

"She said, 'When I fell asleep I ended up having a vision of Jesus and I saw the Lord,'" he continued. "She said, 'As soon as I looked over I knew that Christ was the sacrifice, the son of the God."

Doyle said the dream or vision is usually the start, not the end, of a Muslim's conversion.

"Nobody goes to sleep a Muslim and wakes up a Christian, but it knocks down the false barriers that are inherent in Islam," Doyle explained.

The Doyles said beneath the current revolution in the Middle East, there's a spiritual earthquake.

"As things heat up politically and spiritually within Islam, man, the Holy Spirit is moving even more powerfully," Joanna said.

"This is the time when hearts are open, people are desperate, governments are changing," her husband added. "Everybody's foundation has massive cracks in it and Jesus is the answer that can come in and fill that need."

Many veteran missionaries to the Muslim world say dreams and visions, along with satellite television, are introducing Muslims to Jesus in unprecedented numbers.

They add that more Muslims are coming to Jesus than at any other time in the 1,400-year history of Islam.

The Doyles want believers in the West to join this spiritual revolution.

"Not everybody is going to go the Middle East. But they can pray," Doyle said.

"And no government, no leader can block intercession around the world," he said. "So we need to pray as believers that God would continue to push the gospel out to the ends of the earth."


Monday, July 2, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 2, 2012

News Channel Morning Edition: July 2, 2012

The Coming Apostasy

Michael Plemmons

On Tuesday the 26th of June I received the vision which I am going to share here. I do not pretend to know all the ramifications of that which I saw and heard but simply as a scribe took it all down. I subsequently felt led of the Lord to share it with the readers of my blog.

How meaningless are the days and hours that form the threads of meaning in our day to day lives. Reality as it is perceived in the natural world is so fragile and fraught with the misperceptions contained in the sub conscious mind. Yet it is here beneath the veneer of life as lived in the natural world that we all come closest to connecting to that realm of existence from which we were all formed.

We all perceive far more than we know. Instinctively our hearts race a little faster in the midnight hours. Behind every dark corner lay potential hidden dangers, hanging like shadows, and made more portentous in the generated dimness of the moonlight of the night.

How much different are the emotions generated by the sunshine of the day. The scent and vivid colors of a sunset, fields of flowers, and flowing streams, fills the heart with wonder and joy. Yet like the darkness fills the heart with dread the light gives the seeking heart a visual aid of the light and glory of that which lies just beyond the perceptions of the senses, a world which can only be spiritually discerned.

Such are the ruminations of my feeble mind as I in some small way try to enumerate the complexity and wonder of the wondrous place where I find myself this day. Once more my spirit as has happened so many times before been caught up into my Father’s presence. All around me, as the last few times, I am surrounded by the incensed clouds of his glory.

Gripping my staff I began to make my way forward the only sound being the soft echo that my sandals are making on the rocky surface. I have been here now three times but whereas before I became overwhelmed and fell on my face before the Lord weeping and submitting myself to him, this time is different as I made my way silently forward.

In the distance I could see someone waiting for me. He is too far away at present his form being somewhat obscured by the wafts of smoke swirling around him. He has his back to me but even from this distance his form brings a sense of familiarity to me.

My spirit is filled with a sense of anticipation I know not what lies ahead but I am filled with joy in being counted the privilege to be here. The man waiting for me turned to greet me as I drew abreast of him. The tall distinguished figure of Enoch stood before me. He put his arms around me in a loving embrace.

It has been my joy and privilege to have spent a great deal of time with this committed child of God. Never have I ever met any other human so resolute in both his commitment and determination to follow Father God. He long ago laid down his life in his service.

“Michael my son, welcome to the realm of glory. All your life has been a time of preparation for this day and time, for your time is at hand”.

Having said this he turned and we began to walk together side by side. Looking at him his face wore an expression as if he were deep in thought. In silence we continued our journey my spirit being made more and more aware that this place is unlike any place I have ever been before.

After some little time Enoch as he has done so many times before began to both teach and open his heart to me.

“My son the days of great deception spoken of by Paul has come. Many are following and giving heed to spirits of darkness and their hearts are far from the truth. A wave of supernatural power shall soon sweep through the apostate church. These are they whom Jude spoke of. They have abandoned the ways of true righteousness and holiness.

As in my day they seek an experience and not the true God. This wave shall deceive many for their shall be many signs and wonders. Miracles of diverse kinds by the so called apostles and prophets of this move shall prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of that evil one who by the miraculous power given him by that old serpent Satan shall deceive many.

Many shall come from the four corners of the world to partake of the new wine whose source shall be hell and by whose hand many shall be condemned in this hour.”

At this point Enoch stopped and was quite overwhelmed by great emotion and his body was wracked by great sobs. I instinctively put my arms around him in a gesture of emotional support. He looked up at me with eyes filled with tears and with a voice choked with emotion he continued.

’’Michael all those thousands of years ago as I walked with Father I saw the evil in my generation grow worse and worse. I knew the day of divine judgment would come and long before Noah’s day the world began to walk in the darkness of hell. Perversions in all their evilness began to become commonplace.

As you know Michael their came a day when an evil swept through mankind of such malevolence that our loving Father regretted ever making man and except for eight souls all were lost.

That day was but a foreshadowing of that which shall come to pass in this day. Lucifer shall send a wave of darkness to prepare the world for the coming of that evil one foretold in the word. Let the word of God dwell in you richly and receive your revelation from here.

Many hearts shall fall by the wayside and even deny the Lord which bought them. Soon very soon a powerful move shall move through the apostate fallen church. It shall be accompanied by lying signs and wonders. In the beginning it will seem to be all that so many of the false prophets have proclaimed.

Millions from all over the world shall give themselves over to this powerful move. Nothing like it has ever been seen before. However it is not the Holy Spirit that shall be the source of this move but rather Apollyon that lying serpent from hell.”

Enoch stopped speaking and we both fell to our knees as in the distance I saw the seven archangels of God making their way towards us. Both Enoch and I fell on our faces before them. I somehow know this is but the beginning and much more is to follow.


As Syria writhes, divided powers meet in Geneva

Syrian residents carry the coffins of those killed by shelling

Story taken from

                                   Foreign ministers of world powers gather in Geneva on Saturday to try and forge a common strategy to end the bloodshed in Syria, but differences between Russia and the West may thwart them.

Kofi Annan, the former U.N. chief who is special international envoy on Syria, has been hoping for consensus on a plan for a unity government that, by excluding from the leadership figures deemed too divisive, would effectively mean President Bashar al-Assad stepping down.

However, Moscow, a long-time ally of the Syrian strongman and an opponent in principle of what it sees as foreign meddling in domestic sovereignty, has voiced objections to any solution "imposed" on Syria from outside, while the United States and its European and Arab allies see no way ahead with Assad in power.

After Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met over dinner in St. Petersburg on Friday, Lavrov echoed Annan's own earlier upbeat assessment of the chances of agreement, but a senior U.S. official sounded less confident and said differences remained.

"We have a very good chance to find common ground at the conference in Geneva tomorrow," Lavrov told reporters, while also warning against what he called a counterproductive effort to dictate the outcome of a political transformation in advance.

His deputy, Gennady Gatilov, later tweeted Moscow's view of forcing Assad aside: "Our Western partners want to determine themselves the results of the political process in Syria," he said. "However, this is a matter for the Syrians themselves."

Nonetheless, Lavrov said he detected some flexibility on Clinton's part on the eve of talks due to start at U.N. offices in Geneva around 10 a.m. (0800 GMT): "I felt a change in Hillary Clinton's position. There were not ultimatums," he said.

"Not a word was said that the document we will discuss in Geneva cannot be touched," he said, a few hours after senior officials in Geneva failed to arrive at a compromise that could be presented to the foreign ministers for approval on Saturday.

A senior U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity after the meeting in St. Petersburg, said respect for Annan meant the ministers would still attend.

"There are still areas of difficulty and difference," the official said. But as for the chances of an accord in Geneva, the official added: "We may get there; we may not."


The foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Russia, the United States, China, France and Britain - will attend Saturday's talks along with counterparts from regional powers Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq as well as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Nabil Elaraby, the secretary-general of the Arab League.

Annan is seeking backing for a proposal that does not explicitly state that Assad must step down, but does call for a unity government which would exclude figures who jeopardize stability.

Diplomats have said that Russia proposed changes on Thursday to Annan's plan for a national unity government, despite initially supporting it, but the United States, Britain and France rejected the amendments.

Annan, who brokered a much abused ceasefire in April, said early on Friday he was "optimistic" that the Geneva talks would produce an acceptable outcome. Later, senior officials holding preparatory talks there failed to overcome differences. Western diplomats said Russia was pressing for changes to Annan's text.

Russian diplomats said the work continued but they would not "impose" a solution on Syria.

Moscow has vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian government over its crackdown on protests which began 15 months ago and have turned into something close to civil war with a sectarian tinge. The U.N. estimates at least 10,000 people have been killed.

Russia, and China, both conscious of the risk of internal revolt at home, have objected to what they see as Western interference in the domestic affairs of rulers like Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

Western governments, however, have shown little will to repeat last year's Libyan experience of military support for Arab rebels in Syria, where Assad's forces are formidable and the complexities of religion and ethnicity much greater.

The world has been accused by Syrian opposition activists of inertia over the bloodshed.

Assad on Thursday dismissed the notion of any outside solution to the crisis which has imperiled his family's four decades in power: "We will not accept any non-Syrian, non-national model, whether it comes from big countries or friendly countries.

"No one knows how to solve Syria's problems as well as we do."


On the ground in Syria, fighting continued on Friday, with particular tension around the northern border with Turkey, a week after Syria shot down a Turkish warplane.

Syrian helicopter gunships bombarded a strategic town in the north and tanks moved close to the commercial hub of Aleppo, rebels said. But Syrian troops kept well clear of new Turkish air defenses installed to curb Syrian action near its borders.

Regional analysts said that while neither Turkey nor its NATO allies appeared to have any appetite to enforce a formal no-fly zone over Syrian territory, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had made clear Assad would be risking what he called the "wrath" of Turkey if its aircraft strayed close to its borders.

Erdogan told a rally in the eastern city of Erzurum on Friday, broadcast by Turkish television: "We will not hesitate to teach a lesson to those who aim heavy weapons at their own people and at neighboring countries."

Turkey, sheltering some 34,000 Syrian refugees and providing bases for the rebel Free Syria Army, is in the forefront of the efforts to bring down Assad.

Stakelbeck on Terror: Biological Terror Next Big Threat?

Stakelbeck on Terror: Biological Terror Next Big Threat?

Obama may use Assad’s fall to disguise Iran strike

US B-2 Bomber

Story taken from
Debka files

               The new Aviation Week reports: “Evidence is mounting that the US defense community and the Obama administration view 2013 as the likely window for a bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear and missile facilities. It could be earlier, timed to use the chaos of the Syrian government’s fall to disguise such an attack…”

According to the journal, “Iran’s intransigence over shutting down its uranium-enrichment program will not buy it much more time… The tools for such an attack are all operational” and the US is coming around to suspect that Iran has already conducted its first nuclear test in North Korea.

Aviation Week’s report appeared after a failed attempt Friday, June 29, to bridge US-Russian differences on Syria was made by US Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in St. Petersburg. Moscow refuses to accept any solution that would entail Bashar Assad’s removal or foreign intervention in Damascus.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan is to present a proposal for a transitional unity government to the new Action Group on Syria meeting in Geneva Saturday. According to his plan, the government would include opposition representation but (without mentioning Assad) exclude figures complicit in the 15-month bloody suppression of dissent.

He had hoped that the presence at the meeting of all five UN Security Council veto-wielders, Arab League members and Turkey would make it possible to gain international endorsement of an agreed road map for the transition of power in Damascus without resorting to the Security Council again. However, after the failed St. Petersburg encounter, its chances of taking off are slim. Asked about this, a senior US official commented: “We may get there, we may not.”

In the Middle East, the military alert declared by Saudi King Abdullah Thursday was still in effect Saturday. Saudi forces continue to stream to the Jordanian and Iraqi borders and Jordanian, Turkish and Syrian army units are on the move, as debkafile reported Friday:

The Syrian crisis was Friday, June 29, on a knife edge between a Western-Arab-Turkish military offensive in the next 48 hours and a big power accord to ward it off.

debkafile’s military sources report heavy Saudi troop movements toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders Thursday overnight and up until Friday morning, June 29, after King Abdullah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive in Syria. The Saudi units are poised with tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries to enter Jordan in two heads:

One will safeguard Jordan's King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq.

The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syriam, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal – all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion. The region is also the home terrain of the Shammar tribe, brethren of the Shammars of the Saudi Nejd province.

The Saudi units deployed on the Iraqi border are there to defend the kingdom against potential incursions by Iraqi Shiite militias crossing into the kingdom for reprisals. The Iraqi militias are well trained and armed and serve under officers of the Iranian Al-Qods Brigades, the Revolutionary Guards’ external arm.

Western Gulf sources report that Jordan too is on war alert.

Following the downing of a Turkish plane by Syria a week ago, Turkey continues to build up its Syrian border units with anti-aircraft guns, tanks and missiles towed by long convoys of trucks.

A Free Syria Army officer, Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, reported Friday that 170 Syrian army tanks of the 17th Mechanized Division were massed near the village of Musalmieh northeast of Aleppo, 30 km from the Turkish border. He said they stood ready to attack any Turkish forces crossing into Syria.

As these war preparations advanced, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in St. Petersburg Friday for crucial talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They meet the day before the new UN-sponsored Action Group convenes in Geneva to discuss UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s latest transition proposal for Syria. He hopes for a political settlement that will ward off military intervention.

Invited to the meeting are the five veto-wielding UN Security Council members plus Turkey and Arab League envoys from Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq.

Annan proposes forming a transitional national unity government in Damascus that includes the opposition and excludes unacceptable regime members.

It was widely reported Thursday that Russia had agreed to this formula, even though it entailed evicting Bashar Assad from power. However, Lavrov stepped in to correct the record, stressing in reference to the Annan proposal that Moscow would not lend its support to “any outside interference or imposition of recipes in Syria.”

This position is doubly aimed at the intensive military movements afoot around Syria.

Clinton and Lavrov are therefore expected to go at the Syrian issue hammer and tongs. The outcome of their meeting will not only determine the course of the Action Group’s discussions but, more importantly, whether the Western-Arab-Turkish alliance goes forward with its military operation against Syria.

US-Russian concurrence on a plan for Assad’s removal could avert the operation. The failure of their talks would spell a worsening of the Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch Saturday, June 30.

Iran threatens Israel; new EU sanctions take force

Story taken From

            Iran announced missile tests on Sunday and threatened to wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" if the Jewish state attacked it, brandishing some of its starkest threats on the day Europe began enforcing an oil embargo and harsh new sanctions.

The European sanctions - including a ban on imports of Iranian oil by EU states and measures that make it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran - were enacted earlier this year but mainly came into effect on July 1.

They are designed to break Iran's economy and force it to curb nuclear work that Western countries say is aimed at producing an atomic weapon. Reporting by Reuters has shown in recent months that the sanctions have already had a significant effect on Iran's economy.

Israel says it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear aims. The United States also says military force is on the table as a last resort, but U.S. officials have repeatedly encouraged the Israelis to be patient while new sanctions take effect.

Washington said the EU's oil ban might force Tehran to give ground at the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled for this week in Istanbul.

Announcing three days of missile tests in the coming week, Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the exercises should be seen as a message "that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to ... bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly."

Any attack on Iran by Israel would be answered resolutely: "If they take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth," said Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' airborne division, according to state news agency IRNA.

The missile tests will target mock-ups of air bases in the region, Hajizadeh said, adding that its ability to strike U.S. bases in the Gulf protects Iran from U.S. support for Israel.

"U.S. bases in the region are within range of our missiles and weapons, and therefore they certainly will not cooperate with the regime (Israel)," he told IRNA.

Iran has repeatedly unnerved oil markets by threatening reprisals if it were to be attacked or its trade disrupted.

The threat against the Jewish state echoed words President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in 2005, saying Israel "must be wiped off the page of time" - a phrase often translated as "wiped off the map" and cited by Israel to show how allowing Iran to get nuclear arms would be a threat to its existence.

The EU ban on Iranian oil imports directly deprives Iran of a market that bought 18 percent of its exports a year ago. The sanctions also bar EU companies from transporting Iranian crude or insuring shipments, hurting its trade worldwide.

"They signal our clear determination to intensify the peaceful diplomatic pressure," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.

The EU sanctions come alongside stringent new measures imposed by Washington this year on third countries doing business with Iran. The United States welcomed the EU sanctions as an "essential part" of diplomatic efforts "to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said he hoped the sanctions would force Tehran to make concessions in technical-level talks with six world powers later this week.


"Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community's concerns with Iran's nuclear activities," Carney said in a statement.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - foes of Iran which face it across the oil-rich Gulf - announced their own joint air force exercises on Sunday which they said would take "several days," their state news agencies reported.

In three rounds of talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the Western powers have demanded Tehran halt high-grade uranium enrichment, ship out all high-grade uranium and close a key enrichment facility.

The talks lost steam at the last meeting in Moscow last month and there was not enough common ground for negotiators to agree whether to meet again. Officials - but not political decision-makers - meet in Turkey on Tuesday.

Turkey sees the sanctions and talks as a potential way out of the standoff to avert the need for military action, but has not said it would block Israel from attacking Iran.

Tehran says it has a right to peaceful nuclear technologies and is not seeking the bomb. It accuses nuclear-armed states of hypocrisy. Officials said they were taking steps to reduce the economic impact of the new sanctions.

"We are implementing programs to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies," Mehr news agency quoted Iranian central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.

Bahmani has struggled to prevent a plunge in the value of the rial currency and steadily rising inflation as the sanctions have taken effect. He said the effects of the sanctions were tough but that Iran had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect its economy.

Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said oil importing countries would be the losers if the sanctions lead to price rises.

"All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions," Qasemi said on the ministry's website.

Last Friday, another Revolutionary Guards commander, Ali Fadavi, said Iran would equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz - the neck of the Gulf and a vital oil transit point - with shorter-range missiles.