Tripoli, 16 March (AKI) - In what observers are interpreting as a new era of trust between Libya and the international community, France and Libya on Thursday signed a key accord for the peaceful use of nuclear energy - the first such agreement to be signed with Libya since the country gave up its nuclear ambitions for military use more than two years ago.Something must have gotten lost in the translation there. Solar energy?
Libya is looking to use nuclear energy for water desalination plants to meet the country's projected water shortage in the next 15 years, but also for agriculture and solar energy, Libya's National Centre for Nuclear Research and Development supervisor, Maatug Mohamed Maatug said, quoted by BBC.
France's national atomic energy commission's director, Alain Bugat, who signed the pact during a visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, was quoted as saying France wants to be "an active and productive" partner in the development of Libya's civilian nuclear programme.
Libya is being allowed to develop a nuclear programme because two years ago it admitted it had secretly conducted an experimental nuclear fuel enrichment programme but gave this up.
JERUSALEM – The bird-flu virus found in Israel last week was sent by Allah to punish the Jews for being "the worst of humanity" and is the beginning of the outbreak of other diseases meant to destroy the Jewish state within the next twenty years, a Gaza preacher said at mosque services this weekend.And here I thought Jews had invented the bird flu. Now it was Allah's idea?
Sheikh Abu Muhammed, an imam at the popular Al-Tadwa mosque in Beit Lahia north of Gaza City, went on to ask Muslims at his Friday night sermon to pray for the sexual organs of Jews to "dry out" so they cannot reproduce, a Palestinian in attendance at the mosque services told WorldNetDaily.
"Praise Allah the bird flu has hit the Jews. It came because of their sins against the Palestinians; because they are the most cruel enemy of humanity; because they are themselves the enemy of humanity; because they don't believe in Allah; because they falsify the book of Allah; because they cheated the prophet Muhammed; and because they cheated Allah and even their own prophet, Moses," Sheikh Muhammed was quoted as saying.
"This bird flu will be the beginning of diseases which will hit the nonbelievers. Please Allah keep hitting the enemy with more diseases. This is no doubt the beginning of the end of the Israelis. Like [late Hamas spiritual leader] Sheikh Yassin said, 2025 will be the end of Jews. This [bird flu] is the sign," said Sheikh Muhammed, according to congregants.
Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in March, 2004, told followers he used Quranic verse to divine Israel would be destroyed by the year 2025.
In his mosque speech, Sheikh Muhammed reportedly went on to explain Allah decided to "hit the Israelis with birds," since birds are mentioned in the Quran as a tool used to defeat infidels.
He asked for congregants to "pray for Allah to dry out the sexual organs of the Jews with a disease so they won't be able to reproduce anymore."
WASHINGTON - President Bush leaned on the Afghan government Wednesday to spare a man threatened with the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Seeking to avoid a confrontation with the United States and NATO allies, Afghan officials suggested they might cite the conversion of Abdul Rahman, 41, as proof of insanity in order to cut short a trial under Islamic law.
"We have got influence in Afghanistan and we are going to use it to remind them that there are universal values," Bush said of the government of President Hamid Karzai, which was installed under the umbrella of U.S. military power.
The president was responding to a question from a firefighter in Wheeling, W.Va., who asked if Bush had an "army of sociologists" to plead for "the guy in Afghanistan that is going to convert to Christianity."
"It is deeply troubling that a country we helped liberate would hold a person to account because they chose a particular religion over another," Bush said.
Canada joined the United States, Germany and Italy - all of which have troops in Afghanistan - in protesting the charges against Rahman, who said he became a Christian while working for a U.S. charity in 1990.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had phoned Karzai, who "assured me that respect for human and religious rights will be fully upheld in this case."
Afghanistan, where 99 percent of the 25 million people are Muslim, was trying Rahman under Sharia (Islamic) law for rejecting Islam, a crime that could bring the death penalty.
Rahman told a hearing last week that "I'm not an apostate. I'm obedient to God but I'm a Christian, that's my choice."
Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to Karzai, told The Associated Press that Rahman would undergo a psychological examination.
WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- U.S. intelligence officials are divided as to whether Iran is playing host to al-Qaida leaders, allowing them to live and operate from there.And bin Laden himself isn't? Only the US "intelligence community" could be this stupid.
"Iran is becoming more and more radicalized and more willing to turn a blind eye to the al-Qaida presence there," one U.S. counter-terrorism official told the Los Angeles Times.*
Yet another intelligence official told the newspaper he did not see any relaxation in Iran's restrictions on al-Qaida members.
"I'm not getting the sense that these people are free to roam, free to plot," the official said.
Four months ago, Iran declared no al-Qaida members remained in the country, but U.S. officials rejected the claim. At other times Iranian officials said that al-Qaida members were kept under house arrest and their activities monitored.
Among the people U.S. officials believe are in Iran are three of Osama bin Laden's sons, as well as some of his wives and other relatives, the newspaper said.
Japan is considering whether it should, in 2009, buy the most advanced, stealthy fighter in the world, the American F-22, to replace its Vietnam-era F-4s and other old fighters. In some potential future conflict with China, the F-22 would allow Japan to penetrate Chinese air defenses undetected and, with air refueling, to reach Beijing and beyond.How refreshing...a responsible ally.
Japan's consideration of the fighter comes on the heels of a January announcement that the Self-Defense Force is pushing ahead with joint U.S.-Japan theater missile defenses. Japan is to buy 36 missiles for its destroyers starting next year. The missile defenses would protect Japan from an attack by China's new ballistic missiles, and from a nuclear attack by neighboring North Korea.
Of course, it's North Korea's firing of a Taepo-dong missile across Japanese territory in 1998 that woke Tokyo to the changed environment. Add to that China's aggressive military buildup in recent years, and now, in 2006, Japanese officials' talk about foreign policy and defense sounds nothing like it did in the late 1990s. Back then, talking to Japanese officials about foreign and defense policy was like talking to, well, West Europeans: One would hear nothing but mouthfuls of white rice. But now, Japanese defense thinking has clarity, insight, and an impressive forward-view.
"Japan cannot afford a hostile China because we are next to China and we cannot move away from China. If you look at our life lines, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, through the Arabian Peninsula to the Gulf, we cannot afford a hostile China," says Major General Noboru Yamaguchi, vice president of Japan's National Institute of Defense Studies. Ideally, Japan, the U.S. and China will capitalize on the fact that they "share a common interest in a stable energy supply" and maintain peace. But if there is aggression, say, in the Taiwan Strait, then "China will lose, Taiwan will lose, Japan will lose and the U.S. might lose, so no one wants to see bloody things happen in Taiwan."
With such plain speaking coming from Japanese officials, it's no wonder that Japan and the U.S. have in recent months spelled out their common strategic objectives, and that their defense cooperation is expanding apace. Interestingly, Japan sees all this as American evolution, not just its own. "The U.S. seems to be willing to deal with possible contingencies in the (Asia-Pacific) region," Yamaguchi said. "That area is exactly where Japanese sea lines of commerce, communication, and energy are existing so in that sense securing those areas is in our interest. If the U.S. is going to do it... we recognize our own responsibility" to do the same, Yamaguchi said.