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August 8, 2000 The London Times reported: “Palestinian leaders warned Israel yesterday that a plan to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem could provoke a war in the Middle East. The warning came after the Chief Rabbinical Council announced that it was setting up a committee to ‘realize our rights and sovereignty on the Temple Mount’. The decision appeared to be an attempt to avoid a confrontation with Muslims over what many regard as the most sensitive site in the Middle East. Jews believe that their temples stood on the site, which is inside Jerusalem's walled Old City, in biblical times. To Muslims it is known as al-Haram al-Sharif, the ‘Noble Sanctuary’, housing the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosques. Ikrema Sabri, the Mufti of Jerusalem, said that building a synagogue on the hill would start a war and ‘only God knows where it would lead’. Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the most senior Islamic administrator at al-Haram al-Sharif, appealed to Israel: ‘Don't play with fire, this is not politics, this is religion, and if something happened, God forbid, you will find millions of Muslims willing to sacrifice their souls for our holy places.’ The synagogue proposal was made by Shaar-Yeshuv Hacohen, the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, who opposes the view of most rabbinical authorities that Jews must not enter the Temple Mount because of its holiness and concerns about ritual purity. He also rejected suggestions that the issue should be debated only after a peace accord has been reached with the Palestinians...”


August 8, 2000 The Jerusalem Post reported: “In what is likely to be as much a signal to the Americans as a hard and fast prediction, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said in Abu Dhabi yesterday that a new summit may take place within the next 10 days. Arafat's comments come just a day after Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that a new summit is not immediately in the offing, because there has been no ‘breakthrough’ on the Palestinian side. But a diplomatic source said that Arafat's comments may ‘be signaling that he is now willing to make some moves. We have not seen them yet, but this may be an indication of readiness.’ Nevertheless, the source said that Arafat's claim that the summit may be convened in 10 days is nonsense. ‘There is not going to be a summit in 10 days. Everybody is basically now just flailing around, and I really think that we are in a situation where nothing is going to be achieved, no summit convened, until there is substantive progress on the big issues,’ he said...”


August 8, 2000 ETWN News reported: “International leaders from government, business and civil society will meet in New York for seven days in September to muse about mankind and his future. Founded in 1995 by former Soviet Communist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the ‘State of the World Forum’ meets regularly to advance a bundle of mostly far left ideas. The State of the World Forum ‘was founded with the explicit purpose of gathering together the creative genius of the human family, its elders and innovators, in a search for solutions to the critical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.’...Three main principles drive the State of the World Forum; ‘ecological sustainability’ as opposed to the ‘generation of wealth,’ ‘global governance’ rather than ‘national sovereignty’, and a ‘compassionate society’ as opposed to the ‘global flow of capital.’ What is most striking about the Forum is the long list of international heavyweights who participate. Even conservatives have turned up, such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brezinski, and new Mexican President Vincente Fox. Sprinkled with world leaders has been a large number of New Age proponents, including author Marianne Williamson, guru Deepok Chopra, and ‘mythologist’ Jean Houston. The seven-day meeting beginning in New York on September 4 is intended to coincide with a number of other important conferences attached to the United Nations. The UN will convene a Millennium Summit of up 150 heads of state and the World Peace Summit of religious and spiritual leaders meets just before the Forum begins...”


August 4, 2000 The BBC reported: “Egypt has offered to help Israel reach a peace deal with the Palestinians but said it would not put pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to make concessions on Jerusalem. The Israeli leader Ehud Barak has been having talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at his summer palace in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. Mr. Barak's visit comes a day after the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, had talks in Egypt as part of a campaign to gather international support for his negotiating stance at Camp David. A senior Israeli official said Mr. Barak had hoped the Egyptian leader would lead an Arab initiative on softening the stand on Jerusalem, but the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amr Mousa, said Egypt remained firm in its support of Mr. Arafat...”


August 4, 2000 IsraelWire reported: “According to a recent poll taken by an Arab agency, support among the population of PLO Authority (PA) autonomous areas for terrorist attacks against Israel is the highest that it has been in the past six years Yediot Ahronot reported. The poll reveals that 52 percent of the population supports armed attacks against Israeli targets compared to 44 percent in March 2000. The poll included 1,259 participants living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, on July 25, 2000, following the breakdown of the Camp David II summit."


August 4, 2000 The Jordan Times reported: “Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia expressed support on Monday for Palestinian demands that East Jerusalem be the capital of their future state, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported. Information Minister Fouad Ben Abdul-Salam Farisi told SPA after a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by King Fahd that the issue of Jerusalem was ‘the heart of the problem (of the failed Camp David talks) and the core of the Middle East conflict.’ ‘East Jerusalem must be dealt with within (UN) resolutions...and must be considered part of occupied land and Israel must refrain from unilateral measures affecting the status of this Holy City,’ Farisi said."


August 4, 2000 The New York Times Service reported: “It is summer camp time for 25,000 Palestinian teenagers, and unusual camps they are, too. As run by the men who handle psychological warfare for Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, they allow no horsing around in the dormitory, no fun-in-the-sun by a cool lake, no rousing sing-along beside a campfire. Instead, there is the chance to stage a mock kidnapping of an Israeli leader by masked Palestinian commandos, ending with the Israeli's bodyguards sprawled dead. Next, there is the mock attack on an Israeli military post, ending with a sentry being fatally stabbed. Finally, there is the opportunity to excel in stripping and reassembling a Kalashnikov rifle. In the summer of the latest Camp David talks, a summer that was supposed to produce a final peace settlement between Israel and its Palestinian adversaries, the Palestinians' idea of a teenage boys' camp is a reminder of how deep old enmities run. At 90 two- and three-week camps on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, youths from towns and villages already ceded to Israel by Mr. Arafat's Palestinian authority are learning the arts of kidnapping, ambushing and using assault weapons. ‘As President Arafat says, this is the generation that will plant the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem,’ said Wajieh Affouneh, a 49-year-old dental graduate who joined Mr. Arafat's Fatah organization in a refugee camp, and in the 1970s and 1980s participated, so other aides said, in some of the operations that made the Palestinian cause synonymous with attacks on Israeli and other targets. Mr. Affouneh is now a top man in the ‘political guidance’ department of Mr. Arafat's National Security Forces, the armed police unit permitted under the Oslo accords...”


August 4, 2000 The Jordan Times reported: “His Majesty King Abdullah told Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Rabat on Monday that Jordan will reject any Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem. The King was speaking with Arafat in Morocco where the two leaders had attended the celebrations marking the first anniversary of King Mohammad VI's accession to the throne. Later Monday the King flew to Alexandria for crucial talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on ‘latest developments in the peace process and efforts geared to advance the negotiations in light of the outcome of the recent Camp David talks,’ a high-ranking Jordanian official said...”


August 3, 2000 The BBC reported: “The United States is planning to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by 20 January, the day President Bill Clinton leaves office, according to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The prime minister told Israeli television that he understood the US ‘will rent offices by 20 January, and they will build an embassy’. Mr. Barak's comments have met with a chorus of disapproval from Middle Eastern officials. In Washington, the US State Department said the final decision had not been made on such a move. Mr. Clinton said on Friday that the location of the US embassy was being reviewed and a decision would be made by the end of the year. The issue of the location of the US embassy is of such importance because the move would imply official recognition of Israeli control of Jerusalem...Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is to despatch envoys to all corners of the Arab and Islamic world in the coming days for talks on the fate of Jerusalem, Iranian radio reported on Wednesday. Mr. Khatami is taking the initiative as acting chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the 56-nation pan-Islamic body whose rotating presidency is currently held by Tehran. The report said Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi had already held talks on the Jerusalem question on Tuesday with his counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Syria...”


August 3, 2000 IsraelWire reported: “Arab hospitals in eastern Jerusalem remain on a higher than usual state of alert in anticipation of warfare between the PLO Authority (PA) and Israel Arutz-7 reported. Despite reports by PA officials of the recent apprehension of terrorists on their way to perpetrate and attack, as well as the discovery of a Hamas bomb factory in Nablus, PA officials continue to sponsor summer camps in Gaza and Hebron, teaching Arab youth the working of Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic weapons. PA Chairman Yassir Arafat continues to speak of his desire to resume negotiations with Israel in the hope of reaching a peace agreement, while condoning the summer camps and illegal tunnels used to smuggle arms from Egypt to Gaza. In addition, the PA maintains an armed fighting force, which according to Israeli intelligence estimates, numbers about 40,000, twice the size permitted under the Oslo agreements signed with Israel. Israel’s intelligence community adds that in defiance of the agreements, PA military forces are also arming with anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles and many other armaments and weaponry in violation of the agreements."


August 3, 2000 CNN reported: “Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak arrived in Egypt on Thursday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on reviving peace talks with the Palestinians. Barak's visit comes just one day after Palestinan Authority President Yasser Arafat met with Mubarak in the coastal city of Alexandria. Arafat returned to Gaza on Wednesday and told reporters that he remains committed to declaring a Palestinian state on September 13, with or without an agreement with Israel. The trip to Egypt by Barak also follows what has been an extremely difficult week for the prime minister at home. On Wednesday Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy resigned from Barak's cabinet, saying Barak is going too far in concessions to the Palestinians, and the country's parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill calling for early elections. But the Knesset is now in recess and no further action is expected on the bill until the body reconvenes in October...”


August 3, 2000 The Press of New Zealand reported: “Schools can help students of any age get abortions without informing parents, let alone getting their consent. The legal situation has been clarified after the mother of a Linwood High School student raised concerns about the school helping her 15-year-old daughter arrange an abortion without her knowledge. The Christchurch woman said the school helped set up the abortion, and provided transport to and from the operation, yet the first she learned of it was when a hospital receipt arrived in the mail. Jane Roseveare, a lawyer specializing in youth advocacy at the Christchurch Community Law Centre, said the Guardianship Act gave all young women the right to decide to have an abortion. Section 25a of the act says a female child of whatever age may give her consent or refusal to abortion as if she were an adult. It was a major exception to the general rule that parental consent was needed for medical treatment for children under the age of 16, she said. ‘Parental consent or even knowledge is not required, so whatever your age you're treated as an adult with regard to abortion.’ Ms. Roseveare said the only requirement for a school to inform parents was in the Education Act, which limited that consultation to notifying parents only of anything affecting their child's progress at school or their relationships with teachers and other students..."


August 2, 2000 USA Today reported: “The Vatican wants something from the U.S-brokered mediation on Jerusalem's final status: a say. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Tuesday with the Vatican's foreign minister, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, and he made clear that the Vatican would like to see international oversight in Jerusalem. Albright, however, said that the issue of internationalization ‘was not the solution’ at the Camp David talks. It was unclear whether Arafat's insistence at Camp David on full Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem posed a conflict with that accord...”


August 2, 2000 UPI reported: “Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday he expected the United States to open its embassy in Jerusalem by Jan. 20. Barak told state-owned Channel 1 television that the embassy move would be one of several U.S. actions he expected to strengthen Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem after the Camp David talks in July. The talks broke down last week mainly over the issue of Jerusalem. President Clinton said afterward that Barak had been more ready than Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, his counterpart in the negotiations, to make concessions in order to achieve peace. The two Middle East leaders have agreed to continue negotiating on their own, although U.S. envoy Dennis Ross said Tuesday that he may head to the region within a few weeks to act as a mediator. The date reportedly cited by Barak is notable: Jan. 20 is also when the next U.S. president will be inaugurated, and the last day of Clinton's presidency...”


August 2, 2000 Associated Press reported: “A privacy group asked a federal judge Tuesday to order the release of details concerning the government's ‘Carnivore’ e-mail surveillance ‘system. The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center accused the FBI of not moving fast enough to act on the group's Freedom of Information Act request for the information. EPIC asked on July 12 that the information, including the inner workings of Carnivore, be fast-tracked through a portion of FOIA that allows for ‘expedited processing,’ 10-day time limit for responding to requests. The Justice Department has not responded, EPIC said. ‘If there was ever a request that qualified for expedited treatment, this is it,’ said EPIC general counsel David L. Sobel. ‘It's hard to believe that the Justice Department is unable to recognize the high level of public concern that Carnivore has generated.’ On July 14, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar request to the FBI for Carnivore's details. An FBI spokesman contacted Tuesday had not yet heard of EPIC's request for judicial action and could not comment. But at a congressional hearing last month, FBI officials objected to the idea of making Carnivore public on grounds it allow people to undermine the system. Two lawmakers have since introduced bills aimed at FBI surveillance of e-mail and telephone wiretaps. Carnivore is the term used for the entire system, a computer running the Microsoft Windows NT operating system and software that scans and captures ‘packets,’ the standard unit of Internet traffic, as they travel through an internet service provider's network. The FBI can install a Carnivore unit at an ISP's network station and configure it to capture only e-mail going to or from the person under investigation...”


August 2, 2000 Agence France Press reported: “Two lawyers said on Tuesday that they had written to German Family Minister Christine Bergmann asking her to officially class the Bible among books considered dangerous for children because of its violent content. The Holy Book contains passages of ‘a gruesomeness difficult to exceed’ which are glorified as the will of God, the Bavarian lawyers Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel said in their submission to the minister on behalf of ‘some parents of minors’. ‘It preaches genocide, racism, enmity towards Jews, gruesome executions for adulterers and homosexuals, the murder of one's own children and many other perversities,’ Sailer and Hetzel said. The book should therefore be kept on the ‘not for children’ list so long as the ‘bloodthirsty and human rights-violating passages’ were not removed. A spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church in Munich, Adelheid Utters-Adam, described the demand as absurd. If the Bible should be put on the index, then so should every history book and practically every newspaper edition, she said...”


July 27, 2000 BBC News reports: US President Bill Clinton has said he believes Israel and the Palestinians can reach a compromise over the status of Jerusalem, the issue which brought about the collapse of the recent Middle East summit. Mr Clinton told a news conference the 15-day summit meeting had not been long enough to resolve that particular question. But he said he believed there was a possible solution which preserved the fundamental interests of the two sides and the sanctity of the three religions for which Jerusalem is a holy city, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.


July 27, 2000 BBC News reports: Israeli and Palestinian officials say they will resume peace talks in the Middle East on Sunday, just days despite the collapse of the Camp David summit. The Israeli negotiator Gilead Sher and the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said they both saw hope that an agreement could be reached soon. Correspondents say that both sides will be aiming to conclude before 13 September, when the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has threatened to declare a Palestinian state with or without an agreement. US President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday that he believed the two sides could reach a compromise over the status of Jerusalem, the key stumbling block at the Camp David summit.


July 27, 2000 Electronic Telegraph reports: YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader, was greeted as a conquering hero when he returned to Gaza yesterday after rejecting an Israeli compromise offer on the status of Jerusalem at the Camp David summit. Mr Arafat was garlanded with flowers, raised aloft by well-wishers and proclaimed a modern-day Saladin, the Muslim warrior who drove the Crusaders from the Holy City in 1187. He seemed to be on the verge of tears as he told crowds at Gaza airport that the 15 days of peace talks were "very, very difficult". The homecoming celebrations were orchestrated by Mr Arafat's Fatah party, but there was little doubt that they reflected a widespread sense of relief among Palestinians that he had resisted pressure to compromise on his demand for sovereignty over the holy places of Islam and Christendom. Addressing the crowd, Mr Arafat said: "We went with the determination not to cede our rights. "Jerusalem is not only for the Palestinians: it is for the Arab nation, for the Christians and for Muslims everywhere. Jerusalem is the capital of a Palestinian state, like it or not. Whoever does not like it, let him go and drink from the sea at Gaza."


July 26, 2000 CNN reports: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat are expected to arrive home to a tense situation Wednesday after leaving the Middle East peace summit without reaching an agreement. Each man's homecoming will be marked by demonstrations, planned for Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, by both proponents and opponents of what the two leaders tried to achieve in 15 days of talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton at Camp David, Maryland. Whether those demonstrations remain peaceful or erupt into violence could be a key factor in determining how soon Barak and Arafat resume talks, if at all, CNN's Mike Hanna reported. Israeli and Palestinian security forces are on high alert, amid fears of unrest in the West Bank and Gaza. Both sides pledge more negotiation The leaders are bringing back a committment to further negotiation. Each pledged in a joint statement, issued before they left the United States, to continue their attempts to achieve peace. Barak on his return will face a Knesset or parliament likely to be just as hostile as, if not more than, it was on his departure. His first task will be to reorganize a coalition government that fell apart when several ministers resigned in protest against the Camp David talks. The prime minister can expect criticism from both the left and the right. The left likely will be critical because he came away with no agreement, while the right contends that Barak already has made compromises that threaten the state of Israel.


July 26, 2000 Electronic Telegraph reports: The Camp David peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed yesterday, casting a bleak shadow over the Middle East, after the two sides failed to agree on the future of Jerusalem. Although the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, issued a joint statement with President Clinton pledging to continue the talks, the summit ended amid recriminations. Mr Barak said concessions made at Camp David were being withdrawn. Last night, there were predictions of fresh violence. A deadline of Sept 13 looms, the date set by Mr Arafat for his declaration of an independent state of Palestine. A Palestinian official quoted Mr Arafat in a letter to Mr Clinton as saying he saw no point in continuing unless the United States amended proposals on the status of Jerusalem. He quoted the letter as saying: "The Palestinians believe as long as there are no new constructive ideas on Jerusalem, there is no reason to go on." But Mr Barak said: "Arafat's position on Jerusalem prevented an agreement. Arafat was afraid to make historical decisions to put an end to the conflict." Gadi Baltiansky, spokesman for Mr Barak, said: "The Palestinians refused to relax their stance on Jerusalem and on other issues so the summit failed." Mr Clinton, although saying he remained optimistic of a settlement, warned both sides that they should avoid taking "any unilateral actions" that would prevent them from resolving their differences. There was anger and accusations of intransigence from both sides as Mr Barak and Mr Arafat headed away from the presidential retreat near Washington to fly home. The failure to reach an agreement is thought likely to weaken both men at home and threaten their chances of being able to muster domestic support for a last-minuFEARS OF VIOLENCE AFTER PEACE TALKS COLLAPSE


July 26, 2000 The Courier-Journal reports: A federal judge yesterday blocked the General Assembly's effort to erect a monument bearing the Ten Commandments on the Capitol lawn, saying the measure appeared to be an endorsement of religion. Striking down one part of the new law authorizing the placement, U.S. District Judge Joseph Hood sided with civil-rights lawyers who argued that the monument would violate the U.S. Constitution, which requires government to be neutral on the subject of religion. "I think the purpose of this is not secular. I think it's religious," Hood said in announcing his decision yesterday from the bench. "It's admirable that people want the Ten Commandments up . . . (but) this would give anyone the impression that the Commonwealth of Kentucky had expressed its faith in the Ten Commandments." The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which filed suit to block the monument, did not challenge other portions of the law that encourage schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Hood's decision will not affect them. The ACLU, however, has said it would sue if schools use the law to post the commandments in an unconstitutional manner. Hood's ruling comes as commandments supporters in southeastern Kentucky are battling in a separate case to post the biblical laws on the walls of courthouses and schools. U.S. District Judge Jennifer Coffman ordered the Ten Commandments removed from display in public buildings in Harlan, Pulaski and McCreary counties while a separate ACLU lawsuit is pending.


July 25, 2000 AP Reports: Arguing that Americans should embrace their religious heritage, the House on Monday voted to encourage the display of the national motto ``In God We Trust'' in public buildings. The motto, said bill sponsor Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Colo., ``unites us as a people and has made us the greatest country on the planet. We should not run from it. We should endorse it and embrace it.'' Only one lawmaker spoke against the non-binding measure, which passed by voice. It was one of several recent moves by the House to give religion a more visible role in public life. Last year, the House approved a bill urging the display of the Ten Commandments in public offices and schools. Last month, it gave its support to Ohio's state motto, ``With God, all things are possible,'' after a federal appeals court ruled that it violated the church-state separation provision of the Constitution.


July 21, 2000 The BBC reported: “As the Middle East peace talks continue at Camp David, the Israelis have given details for the first time of the concessions they are prepared to make to resolve the deadlock over the future status of Jerusalem. Israeli cabinet minister Michael Melchior said Prime Minister Ehud Barak had accepted a US proposal to give the Palestinians administrative control over parts of East Jerusalem, with, as he put it, some signs of sovereignty. There has been no word so far from the Palestinian side. Negotiations have continued near Washington, for more than a week in an effort to settle all the major issues at the core of the 52-year-old conflict. The Palestinians have been demanding that Israel grant them a sovereign capital in East Jerusalem, which is home to 200,000 Arabs as well as al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam. Israel, which captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, insists that the city remain its ‘eternal and undivided’ capital...”


July 21, 2000 The Jerusalem Post reported: “The Palestinians are proposing to share sovereignty over Jerusalem without physically dividing it, Palestinian sources in touch with the Palestinian delegation at Camp David told The Jerusalem Post yesterday. That way, neither Prime Minister Ehud Barak nor Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat will have to return as the only one who yielded on the most sensitive issue at the summit, one of the sources said. The issue must be resolved along the principles of an undivided city, where both sides share sovereignty, and its Arab citizens have dual nationality, Bassam Abu Sharif, an adviser to Arafat, said. ‘The only way to work it out is an American proposal offering the Palestinians some functional sovereignty in east Jerusalem, especially the Old City and its religious sites, so that Arafat can claim sovereignty, while Israel maintains the overall sovereignty,’ meaning security responsibility, one Israeli diplomatic source said. ‘Barak cannot come home without being able to claim that he did not divide the city and did not give up Israeli sovereignty,’ he added...”


July 15, 2000 Agence France Presse reported: “AIDS researchers returned to their laboratories Friday after a marathon assessment which concluded the disease is devastating Africa and could ravage Asia next, and there is still no cure or vaccine in sight. Ringing in their ears was an appeal from former South African president Nelson Mandela, who described the swelling AIDS epidemic as ‘one of the greatest threats humankind has faced.’…Scientists, donors, government officials and grass-roots workers who attended the six-day conference said they were shocked by the latest data about the spread of the disease and the ghastly destruction left in its wake. The conference was previously staged in the northern hemisphere, where often the debate and demonstrations were dominated by gay activists, eager to convey the distress of the group that, in rich countries, is most vulnerable to HIV. But by meeting in Africa for the first time, many of the 11,000 delegates got a spine-chilling first-hand look at what is a far worse problem -- a disease that in some countries is out of control, hitting the mainstream population. ‘This meeting has been a success, in that it's brought the reality of the epidemic to a lot of the people who have been working on it and who are usually enclosed in their laboratory,’ said Paul De Lay, director of HIV/AIDS at the American development agency USAID. Even the most pessimistic estimates of the estimate at the last international meeting, two years ago, have been outstripped by the astonishing spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)...”


July 14, 2000 Israeli radio Arutz 7 reported: "The PLO Central Council decided last night to declare a Palestinian state on Sept. 13. Prime Minister Barak said yesterday that if the Palestinian Authority unilaterally declares a state, Israel will annex the areas in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha) planned for the settlement blocs. Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said today that the Palestinians will gain nothing from declaring a state that Israel does not recognize. A senior PA official has called on the Islamic Jihad and Hamas to join forces with the PA in anticipation of what he called 'the final battle with Israel.' Imad Falouji, responsible for PA Communications, told reporters last night that the battle will develop after Arafat's declaration of a state. He said that there will be a war over Jerusalem, and predicted that 'no settler will be able to return to his home.'"


July 15, 2000 Agence France Presse reported: “Asian economies will face ‘catastrophe of an unimaginable scale’ if the AIDS pandemic picks up pace there on the scale of southern Africa, where economies are slowing to a standstill, the World Bank says. ‘Throughout Africa, the epidemic has literally put the future at stake,’ said the World Bank's Debrework Zewdie in a paper presented to the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban on behalf of World Bank president James Wolfensohn. ‘As much as we focus on Africa, which is the global epicentre of the epidemic, we are equally concerned about the growing epidemics in Asia and eastern Europe, as well as in Latin America -- especially the Caribbean,’ he said. ‘These regions have been spared the worst so far, but could easily see the epidemic repeat what it has done and continues to do in Africa. Given the large population of Asia, that would represent catastrophe of an unimaginable scale.’...”


July 15, 2000 Agence France Presse reported: “Towfiq Kahil, 15, marched with some 200 other Palestinian boys, stomping his feet and swishing his arms with military precision. ‘Al Quds! Al Quds! Al Quds!’ Towfiq and the others yelled as they paraded at a summer camp for 10 to 18 year olds in Gaza City, shouting the Arabic name for Jerusalem, the city the Palestinians dream of making the capital of a future independent state. ‘I am happy to be in this camp that teaches us the history of the Palestinian people, how to defend ourselves and military training to defend the land of our fathers,’ said Towfiq. Towfiq added that he hopes his marching will help him be selected for an elite group that will begin weapons training next week. As Palestinians and Israelis fear violence could erupt if a peace summit at Camp David, Maryland, fails, the Palestinian Authority has increased the military-style training it gives to the some 30,000 children that attend its free summer camps. In an unprecedented move in the Gaza Strip and a rare one in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority will instruct some 3,600 children how to operate automatic rifles, deal with fires and tear gas and act in combat situations. The 42 summer boot camps in the Gaza Strip began last week, but the armed portion is not expected to kick off until the best-performing children are chosen for it. A similar number of camps are due to begin in the West Bank over the next few days. The 21-day camps have been running since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, in 1994. An instructor at Towfiq's camp, which is named after one of the Arab villages flattened by the Israelis during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, said a ‘new generation of Palestinians must learn to defend themselves.’...”


July 15, 2000 The London Times reported: “Peace in the Middle East could cost America dear, with Jordan reported yesterday to be joining Israel and the Palestinians in wanting a handout running to billions of dollars. The Israelis have their eyes on US aid of at least $17 billion (£11.3 billion) to implement any accord that comes out of the Camp David summit. Yassir Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, is asking for as much as $40 billion. Israel wants the money for increased security of Jewish settlers and new borders along the West Bank, while the Palestinians hope the Americans will pick up the bill for resettling refugees. Whether they get the funds will be up to an already skeptical Congress. Now King Abdullah's Government in Jordan is demanding US compensation for decades of ‘hosting’ Palestinian refugees, according to Israeli diplomats from Amman, quoted in the New York Post. Jordan has absorbed more than one million Palestinian refugees...”


July 13, 2000 IsraelWire reported: “Israel’s chief rabbis have ruled the prime minister may turn over control of holy sites to the PA under certain conditions. Barak dispatched his aide Major-General Yaakov Orr, the coordinator of activities in the territories, to meet with Chief Rabbis Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron and Yisrael Meir Lau, prior to departing for Camp David. Orr spoke with the rabbis to obtain their opinion regarding the peace negotiations and future Israeli control over holy sites throughout Israel. The chief rabbis said they would not object to Israel turning over control of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, & Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, to the PA, providing the peace treaty states that Israelis would maintain access to the holy site. The chief rabbis pointed out however that the issue of the Temple Mount would be the main issue and this needed to be worked out between Israel and the PA. The rabbis oppose relinquishing Israeli sovereignty over the Mount, the site of the First and Second Temples as well as the future Third Temple. The rabbis did not however rule out a trilateral governing body consisting of Jews, Christians and Moslems."


July 13, 2000 Reuters reported: “French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in an interview published on Wednesday that Europe someday may need a single nuclear power to speak as a deterrent force for whole continent. But in the interview with Rome's La Repubblica newspaper, he said it was still too early to say what role France and Britain, the European Union's only nuclear powers, would have in it. Vedrine, whose country just took over the rotating EU presidency, was asked if France would be willing to renounce its nuclear military power in the name of a united Europe. ‘Nuclear weapons are an extreme guarantee of survival,’ he was quoted as saying. ‘To assure the credibility of dissuasion, there is a need for a single dissuader who can affirm in a convincing way: 'If you threaten the vital interests of my country, you will in turn expose yourself to a vital risk',’ he said. ‘Peace is guaranteed by this mechanism. To transfer this position to a European level there is a need that the dissuader be credible and therefore speak in the name of a single European people,’he said. ‘Maybe one day this question will formulate itself in these terms. Today it is not this way. Neither France or Great Britain have a place in this logic.’ Vedrine also spoke of President Jacques Chirac's recent call for a ‘pioneer group’ of states forging ahead with closer integration before other EU members...”


July 12, 2000 The London Telegraph reported: “An army of 700,000 specially trained ducks and chickens has been mobilized to help fight China's biggest locust plague in 25 years. The birds, which are taught to pursue and eat locusts at the sound of a whistle, are part of a national campaign that includes 280,000 people backed by crop-dusting planes and special locust-killing micro-organisms imported from Britain. Swarms of locusts have destroyed more than 4.1 million acres of crops in 11 provinces in the north and east of China, and 9.6 million acres of grassland in the far western region of Xinjiang. The insects are now close to Beijing, with scientists finding up to 5,000 locusts per square yard in badly hit areas of the neighboring municipality of Tianjin...”


July 3, 2000 WorldNetDaily reported: “Europe's crackdown on what French lawmakers have deemed ‘dangerous sects’ -- including Southern Baptists -- has captured the attention of Congress now that France’s National Assembly is considering a law to imprison ‘proselytizers’ for up to two years. The bill aims to restrict the growth of 173 blacklisted faiths, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, and Unificationists Also among the targeted groups is the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest denominations in the United States and the church affiliation of both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore...”


July 1, 2000 IsraelWire reported: “Jordanian officials affiliated with the committee in Jerusalem overseeing the Temple Mount have issued a statement on Thursday that any Israeli attempt to change the status quo of the Mount would be interpreted as a declaration of ‘religious war’. Jordanian officials were critical of websites set up condemning the illegal Wakf Islamic Trust construction, calling them incitement to violence, adding that no attempt by Israel to change the current Temple Mount arrangement would be tolerated...”


July 1, 2000 MSNBC reported: “The last 25 years have been good ones for democracy. More than 100 countries replaced one-party or military rule with multiparty systems. And for the first time in history, some three-quarters of the world’s population has a government installed by ballot rather than bullet. But political gains have not always brought greater personal freedoms, warns a new report from the world’s largest aid agency. The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2000, released today, argues that many democracies have failed to protect or promote human rights in their countries. ‘Violence against minorities is a burning political issue the world over,’ says the annual survey. In Western Europe, immigrant minorities are often victims of racism; in Sri Lanka and the former Yugoslavia ethnic tensions led to war. ‘Even with constitutional protection, minorities can face large threats,’ notes the report. ‘What is needed is not elusive democracy but inclusive democracy.’ The solution? A new system of government that goes beyond ‘the brute electoral force of the majority.’..."


June 29, 2000 CNN reported: “IBM will announce Thursday it has built the world's most powerful computer - powerful enough to process an Internet transaction for every person on Earth in less than a minute. IBM built the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative - White, or ASCI White supercomputer for the U.S. Energy Department, so it can accurately test the safety and effectiveness of the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile, the company said. The government, which paid $110 million for the system, sought development of such a computer in the early 1990s in anticipation of a ban on underground nuclear testing, which President Clinton imposed this year. Some of the warheads are 40 years old. Previous versions in the ASCI program have included the red series by Intel, and the blue series by SGI/Cray and IBM. Although each was the most powerful of its time, the new White version for the first time allows scientists to factor in a host of variables when running a simulation...”


June 29, 2000 The BBC reported: “Details of the first human embryo to be cloned have been released. The watershed achievement in biotechnology actually happened last November, but more information was revealed on Thursday. It was achieved using a cell from a man's leg and a cow's egg. The scientists who created the clone see it as a significant step forward in the search for a way of producing human stem cells. These are ‘master’ cells which can develop into any type of cell - skin, bone, blood etc. They are believed to have the potential to provide perfect-match tissue for transplantation and the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's and stroke. But this development will also see a significant heightening of the debate over the ethics of human cloning and, indeed, what it means to be a human. American Cell Technology (ACT), a leading, private biotechnology company, cloned the first human embryo and let it develop for twelve days before destroying it. In a normal pregnancy, an embryo implants into the womb wall after 14 days....” [The Bible clearly teaches that life begins at conception--Jeremiah 1:15; Isaiah 44:2. See also these relevant verses of Scripture: Exodus 20:13; Matthew 18:6; Matthew 24:12; I Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Romans 1:22,30,32; Revelation 9:21; 21:8; 22:15.]


June 27, 2000 The Washington Times reported: “China's main nuclear weapons center is using U.S. supercomputers illegally to simulate warhead detonations without actual underground tests, The Washington Times has learned. U.S.-origin high-performance computers are being used at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics, the main nuclear weapons facility in Beijing. The facility is viewed by officials as China's version of Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to Clinton administration intelligence officials. The use of U.S. supercomputers — with computational speeds of billions of operations per second or faster — at the nuclear facility was outlined in a report classified ‘top-secret’ and circulated among senior U.S. national security officials last month, said the officials who have seen it. They discussed some elements of the report on the condition of anonymity. Disclosure of the use of U.S. computers to help develop China's nuclear arms comes as the Clinton administration and Congress are considering new measures to loosen exports of American-made high-performance computers. An amendment to the current defense authorization bill President Clinton signed in February further relaxed export rules on advanced computers, allowing U.S. manufacturers to begin selling faster systems on Aug. 15...”


June 27, 2000 Fox News reported: “A growing number of analysts and officials suggest that the most effective way for the United Nations to deal with risky missions would be to hire paid military professionals — mercenaries. The philosophical shift comes as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke is launching a new effort to strengthen the international body's peacekeeping capabilities around the world. The suggestion boldly challenges longstanding policy at the United Nations, where a 1988 convention lumps mercenaries into the same category as terrorists, drug traffickers and other international outlaws — and, not coincidentally, as peacekeeping has become an safe way for third-world governments to keep their armies busy and employed...”


June 26, 2000 Associated Press reported: “Turning up the heat on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told thousands of cheering supporters in the West Bank on Sunday that Palestinian statehood could be proclaimed within weeks. ‘Palestine is ours, ours, ours!’ he declared. Barak, meanwhile, accused Palestinians of deliberately placing obstacles in the path of a Camp David-style summit. A U.S. mediator was working to assess prospects for a three-way gathering of Arafat, Barak and President Clinton in order to try to meet a Sept. 13 deadline for a final peace treaty. Arafat's speech to a conference of his Fatah faction in the West Bank town of Nablus was full of the type of fiery rhetoric he customarily rolls out for such occasions - but even so, the timing was sensitive, as the two sides move into what a senior Palestinian official called ‘the last half-hour’ of a push to reach a sweeping accord. ‘We have a few weeks left ahead of us, but they are the most important and critical, because at the end of it we will declare statehood,’ Arafat told a crowd of about 5,000 supporters...” continued on next post


June 26, 2000 "...Aides said, however, that the timing of a statehood declaration was still being decided. In a show of defiance that was cheered wildly by the crowd, Arafat scoffed at an assertion earlier this month by Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, Israel's army chief of staff, that Israel would use tanks and helicopter gunships if necessary to quell any outbreak of rioting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. ‘We don't get threatened by tanks and planes - no one can threaten us,’ said the 70-year-old Palestinian leader, his voice strong although his hand holding the microphone trembled violently. ‘Whoever has forgotten, I want to remind him years of intefadeh (uprising) and I say we are willing to start again.’ Arafat also reasserted Palestinian claims to a capital in Jerusalem, over which Israel insists it will retain sovereignty. ‘The state will be established with its capital, Jerusalem, and whoever does not like it can go and drink from the Dead Sea,’ he said, stabbing a finger for emphasis. ‘Palestine is ours, ours, ours!’...”


June 26, 2000 CNN reported: “Declaring a new era of medical discovery, U.S. President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday praised the efforts of an international team of scientists to decode the genetic makeup of humans. Researchers in London announced earlier in the day that they had completed a rough draft of the human blueprint after 10 years of work. ‘This is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind,’ Clinton said in Washington. ‘I congratulate all of you on your achievement.’ Blair, appearing at the White House news conference by video link, said the work amounted to the ‘first great technological triumph of the 21st century,’ opening the way to new treatments for some of the most devastating human diseases. Both leaders, however, emphasized the need to use the information wisely and maintain international cooperation in its development..."


June 24, 2000 The London Telegraph reported: “China is building up its military forces in preparation for a possible war with the United States over Taiwan, according to a Pentagon report to be put to the US Congress. The report, leaked to the Washington Times, says: ‘A cross-strait conflict between China and Taiwan involving the United States has emerged as the dominant scenario guiding [People's Liberation Army] force planning, military training and war preparation.’ The accidental American bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade last year is said to have prompted China to consider ways to "offset US power, to include accelerating military modernization, pursuing strategic co-operation with Russia and increasing China's proliferation activities abroad". If America became involved in defending Taiwan, the report says, China ‘would employ all means necessary in the hope of inflicting high casualties and weakening the intervening party's resolve’. The report outlines China's development of new weapons and high technology, including information warfare, laser and anti-satellite weapons and new missiles, ships and aircraft..."


June 22, 2000 Associated Press reported: “U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised the Palestinians on Thursday that he would work hard for the implementation of U.N. resolutions calling for Israel's withdrawal from lands it occupied in the 1967 Mideast war. Annan spoke after a one-hour meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah. The Palestinians hope to establish a state in the areas Israel seized in 1967 -- the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Annan's pledge came during a crucial phase in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the terms of Palestinian statehood. Israel has said it is willing to make far-reaching territorial concessions, but that it will not withdraw to the pre-1967 borders...”


June 22, 2000 The London Times reported: “Israel was near panic amid warnings from its health and environment ministries that much of its water is unfit for consumption and could become a carcinogenic brew. Fears of permanent drought and ‘water wars’ between Middle Eastern countries pushed it this week into advanced talks to import water by sea from Turkey. Dalia Itzik, the Environment Minister, said that 40 per cent of Israel's water was undrinkable. Her statement came after disclosures that Navy commandos who had trained in the Kishon's mouth near Haifa had contracted cancers, allegedly caused by pollution from the Haifa Chemicals plant that discharges 5,000 to 7,000 cubic meters of waste into the river every day. Little effort has been made to preserve water resources. The coastal aquifer faces sea flooding, and pollution means that falling into rivers such as the Kishon and the Yarkon, in Tel Aviv, can be fatal...”


June 22, 2000 Wired News reported: “Blending neurobiology with computer design, scientists have created artificial neurons on a silicon chip, a step that may lead to everything from better artificial-vision systems for robots and computers to better prosthetic eyes and ears for humans. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs made the chip from a network of neuron-like circuits that behave in many ways like cells in the brain. The chip -- believed to be the first hybrid digital and analog electronic circuit -- has been hailed as a breakthrough in 'neuromorphic' engineering. The chip, which is described in a cover story in the June 22 issue of Nature, was constructed out of ordinary transistors arranged into a ring-shaped network of 16 artificial neurons and the synaptic connections between them...”


June 22, 2000 The BBC reported: “The Peruvian Government has enlisted the support of an army helicopter to try to deal with a plague of locusts which is destroying crops in the north of the country. The helicopter is being used to spray millions of locusts with insecticide, while special brigades carry out similar work on the ground. Peruvian Agriculture Minister Belisario de las Casas said the insects were destroying everything that stood in their way. The plague is one of the biggest Peru has ever seen - at least 15 million locusts covering an estimated area of 50 square km. The locust cloud is bigger than the towns whose livelihoods are under threat. According to the agriculture ministry, the insects have eaten maize, barley, rice and beans - staple crops crucial to the local economy. It is unclear just how large an area has been affected, but the agriculture minister, who visited the region on Tuesday, is taking the problem seriously. He has set up special brigades armed with flame-throwers and fumigation equipment and has asked the army to provide another helicopter to help fight the locusts. Plagues like this are rare in Peru...”


June 18, 2000 Agence France Presse reported: “When OPEC reassembles in Vienna this week to assess how much oil to supply to the world, the chances are the secretive producers' body will be divided into the traditional camps of ‘doves’ or moderates and hardline ‘hawks.’ Analysts, however, point out that the divisions between the supposedly pro-Western moderates and the hawkish revolutionaries, opposed to lowering prices, are far more to do with the hard fact of oil-producing capacity than ideology. The task of achieving consensus at the conference on June 21 could be complicated by the fact that most OPEC producers are believed to be pumping almost as much oil as they can and have little to gain from any output increase. Apart from Saudi Arabia, the world's leading producer, the only other OPEC members believed to have significant spare capacity are Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. An industry expert, who did not wish to be named, described the most fundamental split within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as ‘between the countries that have large reserves and smaller populations and those with small reserves and large populations.’ The latter are more likely to support high prices for short-term gain, rather than to take the longer view that sustained high prices drive customers to other energy sources, as well as reducing demand for oil by triggering inflation and slower economic growth. ‘At the moment, they're fairly much limit up. Most are running out of capacity. Therefore, high prices are better than low prices,’ he said. Whatever the divisions within OPEC, solidarity against the United States and its constant clamo’r for more oil could be just as strong as any internal rifts...”


June 17, 2000 Capitol Hill Blue reported today: “Two computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets from the Los Alamos weapons lab have been found behind a copying machine within the lab's top-secret secure area and are being evaluated, the Energy Department and government sources said Friday. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the two hard drives, believed to be the ones that disappeared more than six weeks ago, were in an area that apparently had been searched before. Richardson said investigators are looking into ‘inconsistencies’ surrounding the whereabouts of the devices. The FBI has examined the drives for fingerprints and they were to be examined electronically on Saturday to determine definitely whether they are those that are missing, and whether they had been tampered with or the contents copied, said an official who spoke on condition of not being identified further…Richardson said that while the devices have been found, ‘their authenticity’ still must be evaluated. The FBI's continuing criminal investigation has found ‘strange circumstances and inconsistencies that are being probed’ as part of the ongoing criminal investigation...”


June 16, 2000 The BBC reported: “Huge swarms of locusts have been destroying crops in northern China - a region which is already suffering from its worst drought in more than a decade. Two areas have been struck by the locust plague at once. In north-central China, at least six provinces have been hit by massive infestations, and in the far north-western province of Xinjiang, another huge swarm of insects is rapidly chewing its way through the summer crop. In the worst affected areas of Xinjiang, local farmers are reporting infestation levels of 4,000 locusts per square metre. According to one local paper, this is the biggest outbreak of locusts in a quarter of a century. Two years of extremely dry weather, which is already wreaking havoc on northern China's farm land, is also being blamed for this latest problem...”


June 11, 2000 WorldNetDaily reported: "Since a mid-May decolonization seminar held by the United Nations Special Committee of 24 opposition to the panel's goal of divesting certain foreign land possessions from the U.S. and UK has been mounting. The members of the Special Committee of 24 are: Antigua, Fiji, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Chile, India, Sierra Leone, China, Indonesia, Syria, Republic of Congo, Iran, Tunisia, Cote d'Ivoire, Iraq, United Republic of Tanzania, Cuba, Mali, Venezuela, Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea. Other nations with foreign colonies -- Denmark and France, for example -- have told the U.N. committee, in no uncertain terms, that they plan to retain all of their colonies. The U.N., therefore, has no plans to push independence for the following territories from their ‘colonial’ powers: Greenland (Denmark), Tahiti, the Marqueses and the remainder of French Polynesia (France), St. Pierre and Miquelon (France), Chatham Islands and Stewart Island (New Zealand), Curacao and the related islands of Holland. The French, under an elite force of French Foreign Legion troops, still use French Polynesia as a ground for nuclear tests. The UK used the Australian outback to conduct its own nuclear tests in the 1950s and, to this day, has refused to pay for the cleanup of those testsIn recent years, the U.S. has ceded a number of islands to Russia and other nations. All of these transfers occurred without scrutiny of the U.S. Congress or the news media..."


June 8, 2000 Reuters reported: “Ten of the world's top stock exchanges said on Wednesday they were planning to set up a 24-hour $20 trillion global market controlling 60 percent of the world equity market. The ambitious global equity market (GEM) project would be a powerful and direct competitor to Nasdaq-backed iX, the planned merger of the London and Frankfurt exchanges, which faced fresh concerns on Wednesday. The plan is being put forward by the New York Stock Exchange -- the world's biggest bourse -- with the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Australian Stock Exchange, and bourses in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Toronto, Hong Kong, Mexico and Sao Paolo. ‘The (GEM) global equity market project is the first attempt to create a world exchange working 24 hours a day,’ Euronext President Jean-Francois Theodore said in a statement. Euronext, the planned merger of bourses in Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, said working groups were already in place to discuss round-the-clock trading in the 10-fold alliance. ‘This is something that has been predicted and speculated upon for some time,’ said Lee Cook, head of European equities trading at U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan & Co. ‘I am a little surprised by the participants. It's a big drawback that the LSE and Deutsche Bourse and Nasdaq aren't involved,’ Cook said. The big dealers would prefer one single global platform to avoid duplicating technology investment costs and the emergence of two powerful rivals makes this more difficult to achieve. GEM would trade in big name, international stocks by linking exchanges in three time zones -- Asia-Pacific, Europe-Middle East-Africa, and North and South America...”


June 4, 2000 The uniting of the world’s religions is moving forward according to the United Religions Initiative group which stated: "The United Religions Initiative moved closer to its official birth last week as members of the international Board of Directors, now called the Interim Global Council, approved for Cooperation Circle (CC) membership, the applications of interfaith groups from around the world. CCs are the fundamental organizing unit of URI and are created by people who come together to initiate acts of interfaith cooperation. They are self-organizing and each determines its own unique purpose, membership and ways of making decisions that are relevant to and consistent with the Preamble, Purpose and Principles of URI. The approval process began with a Council member reading aloud each application in which the Preamble, Purpose and Principles were affirmed and confirming that there were at least seven members from at least 3 different faiths. Forty-nine applications from local communities in Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America were approved and the number of members in each CC ranged from 7 to over 1,000. Council itself is composed of members from all over the world and members from outside the United States read the requests from their own CC groups in their own home countries. After each approval, all of which were unanimous, the entire Council repeated in unison, 'May the people of (the regional CC was named) fulfill their aspirations and live in peace.' This was a very meaningful step in the Chartering process for the United Religions Initiative. Applications for CC membership continue to arrive daily...”

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