WASHINGTON - Leaving President Bush's proposed immigration overhaul in disarray, Republicans on Friday won congressional approval for fencing nearly one-third of the Southwest border and prepared to head into the November elections with a tough border security message.
Rushing to finish work before leaving on a six-week campaign recess, the Senate passed, by a vote of 80-19, and sent to President Bush a bill for more than 700 miles of fencing. The House approved the bill in mid-September.
The legislation - which Bush has agreed to sign - was denounced by critics as little more than a symbolic gesture by Republicans to appeal for votes in their re-election campaigns. But GOP supporters hailed the fence as the cornerstone of a legislative offensive to plug the porous 2,000-mile border with Mexico.
"It's important that we demonstrate to the American people that we are serious about securing our border," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., "and it can't be done without the fence."
The proposed construction of the five-section fence - along with roads and vehicle barriers - has threatened to tarnish diplomatic relations with Mexico and has prompted resolutions of opposition from several U.S. towns along the border. Outgoing Mexican President Vicente Fox has condemned it as "shameful."
The largest section of fencing would reach 361 miles from Calexico, Calif., to Douglas, Ariz. Three sections would be in Texas - a 51-mile stretch from Del Rio to Eagle Pass; 176 miles from Laredo to Brownsville and 88 miles stretching westward to Columbus, N.M.
A 22-mile section would be built near San Diego, Calif.
The IDF has decided that the Merkava tank production line will be shut down within four years. "Globes" reports that the decision to stop production of the tank, one of the most expensive projects in the history of Israel's military industries and the pride of the army, was made shortly before the outbreak of the war in Lebanon. Leaders of the project decided that the benefits do not justify the cost of the product.
During the fighting in Lebanon, the Merkava tanks sustained serious damage from antitank rockets fired by Hizbullah militants. The tank, which has been boasted as having the best protection in the world, and which was designed for classic tank on tank battles, was not impervious to the rockets. 500 rockets were fired at Israeli tanks, 47 Merkava tanks were hit (two more were hit by roadside bombs) and 33 IDF soldiers were killed.
Senior officials both inside and out of the military are critical of the tank's function in the war and of its economic necessity over the years. They question whether Israel should continue to invest in tanks as the central ground forces player. Several defense establishment figures believe that the tank is no longer appropriate for the modern battlefield.
The prestigious project, which began in 1969 as an idea by Major General Israel Tal and has continued ever since, has cost about $7.5 billion dollars according to an IDF assessment while Ministry of Finance officials estimate its cost closer to $10 billion. Thousands of workers across the country are employed in production of the tank and its systems, and are liable to be hurt by the cessation of the project.
An investigation has revealed that the Muslim riots that destroyed 18 Christian churches, 20 homes owned by Christians and dozens of Christian shops in the Nigerian city of Dutse happened after a Christian girl rejected a Muslim boy's advances.
As WND reported earlier, the riots erupted after the boy accused the girl of "blasphemy" to the prophet Muhammad.
Now word comes from Voice of the Martyrs that the investigation shows nearly 5,000 Christians were displaced and 40 Christian shops destroyed in the capital city of Jigawa state.
"After an Islamic young man made several unsuccessful advances on Jummai, a female Christian, he angrily reacted by calling her a fake Christian who follows a 'useless Jesus,'" the VOM report said.
"Jummai responded by telling the boy he followed a 'useless prophet – Muhammad'," the report said. "Furious, the Muslim boy raised alarm through the town by proclaiming that a Christian lady blasphemed Muhammad. She was quickly taken to the local police station where she was kept in custody to diffuse the potentially volatile situation."
After several hours, the Muslim returned to the police station with a "militant band of friends" and incited them to attack police by alleging the woman wasn't being punished after her "insult" to Muhammad.
At least six Christians were injured in the resulting riots that destroyed churches, homes, vehicles and shops, officials said.
The government ended up imposing a nighttime curfew and deploying soldiers in tanks and trucks to deter further mayhem, officials said.
Voice of the Martyrs also said Aderemi Ogunmola was one of the Christians who was caught in the violence, and was captured by the Muslim militants to be beaten and slashed. They doused him with gasoline but he fled before he could be killed.
Rioters also ransacked the Christ Apostolic Church and while Pastor Adeyinka was trying to flee in his car, they stopped him and burned his car as he escaped.
Voice of the Martyrs said it is mobilizing workers to help repair the damage at Calvary Life Church, Divine Life Church, Assemblies of God Church, Living Faith Church, Christ Apostolic Church, The Apostolic Church, Ecwa Clinic Church, Presbyterian Church, Anglican Cathedral, Celestial Church and others.
The Christian aid organization Barnabas Fund said the conflagration destroyed two-thirds of all Christian churches in the area, including St. Peter's Anglican Cathedral, and there were reports that the state's governor himself was attacked when he tried to calm the mob.