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Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Daily News Digest

the latest reports on terrorism, Iraq policy, nuclear energy, the Mideast peace, Gaza, the Vatican, North Korea, Dick Cheney, and Habitat for Humanity.
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Terrorism. 6 Years After 9/11, the Same Threat “In many respects, the National Intelligence Estimate suggests, the threat of terrorist violence against the United States is growing worse, fueled by the Iraq war and spreading Islamic extremism.” Intelligence report cites Al Qaeda threat “Nearly six years after the United States set out to crush Al Qaeda, the terrorist network has “regenerated key elements” of its ability to attack targets in America and is intensifying its efforts to put operatives inside the country, according to a sobering new report from U.S. intelligence agencies.”

Iraq – policy. Democrats Fail to Force Vote on Iraq Pullout “Senate Democrats fell short this morning, after a rare all-night session, in their attempt to force President Bush to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq.” Senate Rejects Troop Withdrawal Measure “Reid’s surprise change of strategy means the Senate will turn to higher education legislation, which could shelve the war debate until after Labor Day. Although Democrats have demanded an immediate change in course, Reid said he was unwilling to consider other Iraq amendments if Republicans continued to block a simple-majority vote on withdrawal.” The strategy behind Senate Iraq war vote “Washington’s political theater is part of a deliberate political strategy aimed at living rooms across America. By presenting the choice over the future of the Iraq war in the starkest possible terms, Democrats hope to convince Americans of the need to change course and ratchet up the political pressure on Republican lawmakers supporting President Bush.”

Nuclear energy. Accidents dim hopes for green nuclear option “As concern about global warming has swelled in recent years, so has renewed interest in nuclear energy. The main reason: Nuclear plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases tied to climate change, at least not directly…. But that was before an earthquake in Japan this week rattled the Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant.”

Mideast peace. Bush Middle East plan starts to unravel “George Bush yesterday encountered the weakest of welcomes for his call for an international peace conference on the Middle East.” White House: Int’l Mideast meeting is not a big peace conference “After many years of disappointments and setbacks in the search for peace in the Middle East, the Bush administration appears intent on preventing expectations from rising too high. Bush has avoided direct engagement in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for several years, and he has been reluctant to ask hard compromises of close ally Israel.”

Gaza. U.N. Warns of Gaza Collapse if Border Stays Closed “Gaza’s already weak economy could collapse unless the main commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel is reopened, Gaza businessmen and United Nations officials said today.” UN: Gaza economy may crash soon unless Israel reopens borders “In recent weeks, some border points were opened to transfer humanitarian supplies. But no industrial material has entered Gaza, bringing construction activity and manufacturing to a halt, including $93 million worth of UN-funded projects employing 121,000 people, according to the United Nations.” UN warns of economic collapse in Gaza “Although Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza two years ago, it maintains control of the sea, the airspace and all the crossings for people and goods with Israel and with Egypt.”

Vatican. Vatican: We may drop revived prayer offensive to Jews “The most senior official in the Vatican after the Pope on Wednesday suggested that a highly controversial prayer for the conversion of the Jews could be dropped from the re-introduced Latin-language rite.” A church’s assertive shift toward tradition “The leader of 1.1 billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, is completing a significant theological shift of the Roman Catholic church – a sweeping change that not only eclipses 40 years of a more moderate and collegial Catholicism, but seeks to reassert the spiritual supremacy of the Vatican and more openly proclaim the authority of the office of pope among all Christians.”

North Korea. N Korea closes more nuclear sites “North Korea has shut down all five nuclear facilities at its main Yongbyon complex, International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei says.” North Korean Disarmament Talks Resume “Buoyed by their first success, diplomats from six nations resumed talks on North Korean nuclear disarmament Wednesday, warning that a difficult road still lies ahead despite North Korea’s closure of its main nuclear reactor.”

Dick Cheney. Papers Detail Industry’s Role in Cheney’s Energy Report “The list of participants’ names and when they met with administration officials provides a clearer picture of the task force’s priorities and bolsters previous reports that the review leaned heavily on oil and gas companies and on trade groups — many of them big contributors to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party. But while it clears up much of the lingering uncertainty about who was granted access to present energy policy views to Cheney’s staff, it does not entirely explain why the Bush administration fought so hard to keep it and other as-yet-unreleased internal memos secret.”

Habitat for Humanity. Some Worry Home Charity Is Shedding Grass Roots “Now, though, that movement, driven by affiliates with the same goal but widely varying approaches to achieving it, is fraying under new leadership that is trying to centralize the organization. Habitat for Humanity International is asking affiliates to sign an agreement that would establish a quality-control checklist, and a new policy gives headquarters a cut of each donation it receives that is earmarked for an affiliate. And the changes are meeting with opposition.”

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eileen fleming

posted July 19, 2007 at 1:16 am

MID EAST PEACE and what they are saying in the streets of Bethlehem:
[Bethlehem July 17, 2007] This reporter spent the day in Dheisheh one of the three nearly 60 year old refugee camps in the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory.
I listened to but a few of the over 11,000 Muslims who live there and are crammed into less than one square kilometer of land and over 6,000 of the residents are children under the age of 18.
The word on the street-or to be more accurate in the winding narrow alleys with no names in this ‘Holy Ghetto’ is that no one has any faith that America’s promise of money will change anything at all until the occupation ends and the inalienable right to return to one’s homeland becomes a fact on the ground in the Holy Land.
I returned to Jerusalem through the Terminal and checkpoint that divides that ancient town from her sister Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory at 7 PM and my Irish was once again raised…
I could have been picked up by my Jerusalem taxi driver inside the checkpoint area right next to the Orwellian Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s sign that tourists in buses see at the checkpoint from Jerusalem into Bethlehem that proclaims:
“Peace, Peace, Peace.”
But as the prophet Jeremiah said:
“‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”-Jeremiah 6:14
I chose to go the way Palestinians must go and which puts one in mind of being a cattle being led to the slaughter. The Terminal is a sterile, frigid steel and concrete structure with concealed cameras with very young Israeli soldiers pacing above one’s head on a cat walk or sitting inside glass encased tombs where they watch and check backpacks, shoes, belts, jewelry and anything else they demand be removed so as to be viewed through an x-ray machine.
One is also held back from moving on, until the green light comes on and the turnstiles are released that allowed only four people at a time to go through; during my journey through the Terminal.
At 7 PM all the Palestinians who have been allowed into Jerusalem for the day, must return to the Little Town of Bethlehem and the long line of men trying to get back in had slowed everyone’s exit out, for only one young soldier was checking visas and passports behind the glass encased tomb for all who entered and exited.
What got my Irish up and flaming was the fact that every Palestinian’s papers were closely examined but my American passport got me a smile and a wave from the baby faced soldier inside his glass encased tomb.
A Muslim mother and her three children had been in front of me all the while.
The little ones broke my heart; for all they know of Israeli’s is through the barrel of a gun, or behind a glass encased tomb that prevents human contact with the other.
Did you know that in November 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton stood on the Jerusalem side of The Wall and claimed it was good for security.
Pardon my French, but this is total bullshit.
When I was in Israel Palestine in December 2005, every taxi driver-and would be ‘terrorist’ knew the way into Jerusalem from Bethlehem was through Beit Jala where The Wall was not completed and the checkpoint was unmanned.
The Wall is NOT being built on the internationally recognized 1949 Green Line boundary between Israel and the West Bank. The wall is on Palestinian land that according to international law must be returned to Palestinians.
The direct effect of the wall is that 10% of the West Bank will be confiscated and Palestinians are separated from each other and enclosed in Bantustans; open air prisons.
USA citizens also contribute over one million dollars per mile to construct The Wall which the Intrernational Court of Justice has deemed illegal and must come down.
The Wall is three times as long and twice as high as the Berlin Wall and once completed it will reach over 700 km, completely encircling and dividing the West Bank and 295,000 to 400,000 Palestinians will be isolated from the West Bank because their homes will fall between The Wall and the Green Line.
Rural populations are walled off from urban centers where essential services are available, such as hospitals, schools, markets and their places of worship.
The Wall is composed of cement and/or electrified fence with sniper towers, trenches, trace roads, patrol roads, gates, footprint detection fields, sensors, and cameras on both forms.
Israel has total control of the movement of all the inhabitants and the route of The Wall insures that all settlements’ will fall on the Israeli side together with most of the best Palestinian agriculture land and underground water.
Senator Clinton, nor any member of Congress that I am aware of has ever bothered to enter into the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory and birth place of The Prince of Peace, to see what The Wall has done to the Palestinian economy.
During my times in the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory I have spent hours just walking around, “streets that are dead” [Bob Dylan].
Shops are closed and restaurants and hotels are empty.
I have seen many tourists disembark from their air-conditioned big fat Tour buses at The Church of The Nativity, take a quick tour and shoot some film without ever really looking around them.
Then they would all climb back into their big fat buses and roll on out of occupied territory, for tourists do not want to know what is really going down in occupied territory.
I often wonder if they just check Bethlehem off their itinerary and so remain clueless to the facts on the ground.
Ignorance is only bliss for the proud and deluded.

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