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Weekly News In Review

January 15 - 21, 2006
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We are adding a commentary by Roger Oakland in our Weekly News In Review and we will be adding them as they become available. The commentary will appear at the bottom of this email.


The following articles were posted at this past week:

Russia May Legalize Polygamy for "10 Million Lonely Women"
'Divine mission' driving Iran's new leader
UN Tells India to Decriminalize Homosexual Sex to Fight AIDS
Russian Expert Says Israel Likely to Bomb Iran in Spring
Iran issues stark warning on oil price
Earth Doomed
Intelligent design not science, says Vatican newspaper article
Iran's leader challenges Europe to take back Jews in Israel
Hopes Rise for Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue
Assad: Israel is behind Arafat's death
Weather Gets Even Weirder

This Weeks Commentary by Roger Oakland
Another Ecumenical Bridge

Article: Perilous Times

January 13, 2006 - Russia May Legalize Polygamy for "10 Million Lonely Women"

MOSCOW, January 13, 2006 ( - The polygamy trend is catching on around the world. In an interview with a Russian radio station, Ramzan Kadyrov, a militia leader and Deputy Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic, said that the depopulation of Chechnya by war justifies legalizing polygamy.

"(Polygamy) is necessary for Chechnya, because we have war. We have more women than men," the pro-Moscow Kadyrov told Ekho Moskvy radio. The Muslim Chechen rebels are fighting to gain independence from Russia and are largely of the fundamentalist Wahabist sect.

In response to the suggestion, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Deputy speaker of the State Duma, said the idea of introducing legal polygamy in Chechnya is "absolutely right," and proposed to spread it for the whole of Russia.

"We must welcome (this idea) and spread (polygamy) for the whole Russia because we have 10 million lonely women."

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Article: Islam

January 14, 2006 - 'Divine mission' driving Iran's new leader

1s Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is "What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?"

Political analysts point to the fact that Iran feels strong because of high oil prices, while America has been weakened by the insurgency in Iraq.

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad - recently described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" - and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad's government was to donate about £10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.

All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour - denied by the government but widely believed - is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a "contract" pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.
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Article: Perilous Times

January 13, 2006 - UN Tells India to Decriminalize Homosexual Sex to Fight AIDS

NEW DELHI, India, January 13, 2006 ( - Police in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, arrested four men last week on charges of homosexuality and running an online gay club, part of an ongoing effort to enforce laws prohibiting homosexual activity. Homosexual activity is illegal in India, punishable by prison terms of up to 10 years. The Indian government is currently fighting a court effort to legalize gay activity.

UNAID is protesting India's recent crackdown on homosexual activity in the country, saying it will directly increase the spread of HIV/AIDS by driving homosexual activity underground.

The UN, and other NGO's, have argued that preventing homosexual men from accessing information on safe sex will increase the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India. India has over five million people infected with the virus, the second highest rate in the world, after South Africa..

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Article:  Wars and Rumors of War

January 15, 2006 - Russian Expert Says Israel Likely to Bomb Iran in Spring

Israel could launch a missile attack on Iran in the upcoming spring, Director of the Russian Political Research Institute Sergei Markov was quoted by Interfax as saying Saturday.

"Israel is in the state of a bitter cold war with Iran and might become the first victim of a nuclear weapon attack: therefore, I deem it very likely that the Israeli Air Force could launch missile strikes on military, nuclear targets in Iran as early as this spring," Markov told Interfax.

This move, however, would create serious problems for Israel, Markov said. "This would lead to a significant destabilization of the situation in the Middle East, including a dramatic increase in [terrorist] attacks by Islamists on Israel," he said.

At the same time, the international community will be increasing pressure on Iran, Markov said. In particular, Iran might be subjected to economic sanctions, "which would at first be mild but would then grow tougher and tougher, up to an embargo on purchasing Iranian oil," he said.
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Article: Wars and Rumors of War

January 16, 2006 - Iran issues stark warning on oil price

Iran stepped up its defiance of international pressure over its nuclear program yesterday by warning of soaring oil prices if it is subjected to economic sanctions. As diplomats from the US, Europe, Russia, and China prepared to meet today in London to discuss referring Tehran to the UN security council, Iran's economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari, said the country's position as the world's fourth-largest oil producer meant such action would have grave consequences.

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Article: Signs of the Times

January 16, 2006 - Earth Doomed

Renowned scientist James Lovelock says he believes the world has passed the point of no return for climate change, and civilization is unlikely to survive.

Thirty years ago Lovelock conceived the idea that Earth possesses a planetary-scale control system he named Gaia, which keeps our environment fit for life, The Independent reported Monday. But now he believes mankind's abuse of the environment has made climate change insoluble and life on Earth will never be the same again.

In an extraordinarily pessimistic new assessment published in Monday's Independent, Lovelock suggests efforts to counter global warming cannot succeed, and that, in effect, it is already too late.
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Article:  Creation - Evolution

January 17, 2006 - Intelligent design not science, says Vatican newspaper article

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Intelligent design is not science and should not be taught as a scientific theory in schools alongside Darwinian evolution, an article in the Vatican newspaper said.

The article said that in pushing intelligent design some groups were improperly seeking miraculous explanations in a way that creates confusion between religious and scientific fields.
At the same time, scientists should recognize that evolutionary theory does not exclude an overall purpose in creation -- a "superior design" that may be realized through secondary causes like natural selection, it said.

The article, published in the Jan. 17 edition of L'Osservatore Romano, was written by Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna in Italy.

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Article: Israel and the Last Days

January 21, 2006 - Iran's leader challenges Europe to take back Jews in Israel

In a new attack on the existence of Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has challenged Europe to take back the Jews who emigrated to Israel, adding that no Jews would remain in Israel if Europe were to open its doors.

Ahmadinejad delivered the challenge after arriving in Syria for a two-day visit on Thursday. Addressing Europe, he asked: "Would you open the doors of your own countries to these (Jewish) immigrants so that they could travel to any part of Europe they chose?"
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Article:  Ecumenical Movement - Protestants Uniting with Roman Catholics

January 20, 2006 - Hopes Rise for Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2006 ( This is the year to relaunch the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, says an article in L'Osservatore Romano.

The report of Monsignor Eleuterio Fortino, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, published in Thursday's Italian edition of the newspaper, explained that relations between these Churches have been unblocked in the last few months.
Next Sept. 18-25, the Serbian Orthodox Church will host the plenary session of a mixed commission made up of representatives of the Catholic Church and various Orthodox Churches, the works of which have been at a standstill since a meeting in 2000.

That meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, ended without an agreement because of discrepancies "over the theological concept of Uniatism," the principle by which the Eastern Churches that share the liturgy and traditions of the Orthodox Churches have joined the Church of Rome, recalled Monsignor Fortino.

Nonetheless, that meeting was useful, acknowledged the article.
"It concretized the authentic nature of the problem under discussion," stated Monsignor Fortino. "The birth of the Catholic Eastern Churches is profoundly linked to the affirmation of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the Church of Christ."

Therefore, the "primacy of the Church" will be one of the key topics for the future of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.

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Article:  Israel and the Last Days

January 21, 2006 - Assad: Israel is behind Arafat's death

Deflecting increasing criticism for his administration's role in the assassination of former Lebaneese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Syrian President Bashar Assad claimed Saturday that Israel was responsible for the death of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yassir Arafat.

"Among the many assassinations that Israel has carried out in a systemic and organized manner, the most dangerous one was the assassination of Arafat," Assad said, addressing a conference of Arab lawyers.

Assad, speaking in Damascus, added that "this was done secretly, under the watching eyes of the world. But no country responded - as if nothing had happened at all."

The president, facing pressure from the United states and Europe, said that he fully supported the formation of an international investigation charged with examining the circumstances surrounding Arafat's death, similar to the committee currently charged with investigating Hariri's assassination.
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Article:  Signs of the Last Times

January 21, 2006 - Weather Gets Even Weirder

The events which have caught the eye of the climatologists include the frequency and longevity of hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean during 2005-06 rather than the character of individual storms, the long-lasting warmth in Australia rather than the recent Sydney heatwave, and the unprecedented retreat of the Arctic ice during the late-summer and autumn of 2005 rather than the Eurasian cold waves of the last few months.

The experts are particularly interested at the moment in the absence of ice north of Spitsbergen, in the Norwegian Arctic, where clear water extends to within 500 miles of the North Pole.

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Commentary: Bridge To Rome

Another Ecumenical Bridge

Stephen Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. This magazine concentrates on the news and views of the charismatic movement. I monitor Charisma from month to month to keep in touch with the latest news from the charismatic front.

The front cover of the June 2005 issue of Charisma magazine caught my attention. There in living color, was a full page photo of Pope John Paul II with a dove over his head. The main heading read: “Vicar of the Spirit”.

Now to set the record straight, I believe “gifts of the Spirit” as mentioned in the Bible, are biblical. However, through the years I’ve been a Christian I have discovered there are many experiences that are embraced by Christians “as gifts of the Holy Spirit” when there is no basis for support in the Bible. In fact, I have wondered if it is possible that the Holy Spirit could be counterfeited in the last days in order to provide a bridge to serious deception without genuine Bible-believing Christians knowing it.    

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