Formal Petition for Palestinian Statehood Presented to U.N.

Palestinians erupted into wild applause in packed town squares across the West Bank as their president delivered a request for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations Friday. The U.N. Security Council says it will take up the Palestinians’ membership request Monday. Action could take weeks, if not months, the Associated Press notes. Full recognition can be granted only by a majority vote of the U.N.’s security council. Flag-waving Palestinians packed Ramallah’s downtown to watch on giant screens as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas presented his case before the international body’s General Assembly.

A coalition of leading powers that has been mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said Friday that it will shelve the request for the creation of a Palestinian state and urged him instead to return to peace talks without preconditions. The historic Palestinian bid for statehood goes before the United Nations Security Council Monday, where it looks set for a largely symbolic debate in the face of a promised American veto.

Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, opposes the statehood bid. Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said Friday that Abbas was giving up Palestinian rights by seeking recognition for a state with borders as they were on June 4, 1967, before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

The Jerusalem Prayer Team reports: “Yesterday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the podium at the United Nations, the sense of hatred could be felt in the room. There were cheers and applause and a warm welcome for PA President Abbas when he spoke…not for the leader of Israel. So many nations have disguised their anti-Semitism behind a hatred of Israel. The enemies of the Jewish state want nothing less than the utter destruction of Israel, and they are using the demand for Palestinian statehood as a step toward reaching that evil goal.

  • The ultimate goal of the Muslim world is the complete elimination of Israel, whether preceded by Palestinian statehood or not

Budget Impasse as Debt Deadline Approaches Again

With the economy sputtering, the warring factions of Congress have lurched toward gridlock over the usually noncontroversial process of approving disaster aid and keeping the government from shutting down. The GOP-dominated House early Friday muscled through a $3.7 billion disaster aid measure along with a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running past next Friday. Later Friday, the Democratic-controlled Senate blocked the bill because it also called for $1.6 billion in spending cuts to help defray the disaster costs. Democrats say it’s unprecedented and unfair to require spending cuts to accompany badly needed emergency aid. Republicans say that with a $14 trillion-plus national debt, business-as-usual spending is no longer acceptable. So just a week away from a possible government shutdown, lawmakers boxed themselves into yet another budget impasse.

  • Political wrangling and gridlock has been and will continue to be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as America sinks into economic chaos

House Immigration Status-Check Bill Faces Tough Road

The House Judiciary Committee last week passed a Republican-sponsored bill that would require private businesses to use a federal program that checks the immigration status of all job applicants. The bill, the most sweeping piece of immigration legislation moving through Congress, will have a hard time getting through the full House of Representatives, let alone passing the Democrat-controlled Senate and getting a signature from President Obama. The bill passed the committee 22-13 on a party-line vote, with no Democrats voting in favor. At a time when House Republicans are pushing a job-creating, regulation-slashing agenda, Democrats say the immigration verification program, called E-Verify, will cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their jobs, and impose another, expensive layer of regulation on struggling U.S. businesses.

  • Fear-mongering aside, this is a necessary albeit relatively minor step in regaining control over illegal immigration that would ensure more, not less, jobs for American citizens

Obama Administration Suspends 300,000 Deportations

Vision to America reports that various officials within the Obama Administration have recently announced they plan to suspend the deportation orders of 300,000 illegal aliens that have already been issued by a U.S. court of law. In addition to being allowed to stay in the country, each of these 300,000 illegal aliens will also be eligible for temporary work visas, and will continue to take away job opportunities from the 22 million Americans who are unable to find a full-time job. “Once again, President Obama has put the desires of the pro-amnesty movement above the U.S. citizens he has taken an oath to protect.”

‘In God We Trust’ Banished from Classroom

A team of free-speech experts has announced plans to challenge a decision by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that banished the national motto, “In God We Trust,” from a school teacher’s classroom, even while allowing the display of Tibetan prayer flags and the sayings of the Dalai Lama. The Thomas More Law Center said it will appeal the ruling from the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit to the full court. “Astonishingly, the officials left untouched classroom displays by other teachers that included Dalai Lama and Malcolm X posters, Tibetan prayer flags, anti-religious song lyrics, and gay and lesbian promotional materials,” the announcement from the law center said. The school allowed a 35-to-40 foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha, a poster with the lyrics from John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine” (which begins, “Imagine there’s no Heaven), a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins,” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X and another of Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

  • ‘Tolerance’ is extended to all things except Christianity

Number of Participating Churches Doubles for National Back To Church Sunday

More than 7,600 churches from 34 denominations opened their doors to an estimated 250,000 visitors during National Back to Church Sunday held Sept. 18. Twice as many churches as last year participated in what has become the single, largest cross-denominational outreach initiative in America. Churches responding to a post-event survey welcomed an average of 34 new visitors, an increase of 25.4 percent in weekly attendance. “The enthusiasm for National Back To Church Sunday has grown along with the number of churches participating,” said spokesman Philip Nation of LifeWay Research, whose organization’s research helped birth the nationwide event three years ago. “We’re excited about the response to this initiative, not only from the churches, but from those friends and neighbors who have told our participants how much they appreciated the welcome—and, in many cases, the welcome back.”

Student Group Launches New Pro-Life Initiative

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 46 percent of all abortions nationwide are performed on women in college. WORLD News Service reports that Students for Life has launched a new program to help pregnant college students give birth to their babies — and stay in school. The Pregnant on Campus Initiative is giving students tools to make their campuses more welcoming to pregnant girls and new mothers, such as lactation stations, diaper-changing decks and affordable on-campus housing.

Iranian Youth Searching for Answers; Open to the Gospel

A significant number of young Iranians, searching for answers to the issues they face, are coming to Christ, the Christian Newswire reports. In many ways they have the same interests and questions as youth in the West, and many of them dream of leaving the country because of the current economic situation with the lack of job prospects, says Ramin, a Christian leader who works with young people in Iran. Nader, another Christian leader, says young Iranians are thirsty for the Gospel, even many who appear to be devout Muslims. Young people are coming to Christ through personal evangelism, satellite TV and websites Christian leaders direct them to through Facebook. Believers must be careful; they face challenges from their families and sometimes suffer or are arrested if they become too outspoken, Ramin says. Iran is ranked No. 2 on the Open Doors 2011 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.

Freed Hikers Maintain Innocence

Two hikers who spent more than two years in an Iranian prison landed in New York on Sunday and had harsh words for the government they said held them hostage. They were held because they’re Americans, the pair said, not because they were truly suspected of spying. Shane Bauer, a freelance journalist, and Josh Fattal, also 29, an environmental activist originally from Pennsylvania, had been held in Iran since July 31, 2009, when they were arrested along the Iraq-Iran border. Iran sentenced them to eight years in prison for alleged espionage and crossing the border illegally. Iran released the men Wednesday after the country of Oman, a U.S. ally, posted $1 million in bail.

Cantaloupe Listeria Kills 16

The death toll in the 15-state listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe from Colorado may now be as high as 10; at least 60 people have been reported ill. Food safety experts are warning anyone who might have had the cantaloupes in their home to clean and sanitize their countertops and refrigerator with bleach because listeria can colonize even on the inside of a vegetable drawer. Listeria is a food-borne disease that is most dangerous to the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. It can take up to two months before a person who ate listeria-contaminated food comes down with listeriosis.

Economic News

The Group of 20 leading advanced and emerging economies are vowing to work together to boost the struggling global economy and financial system. The statement came as global stock markets have plunged amid worries the world economy is heading back into recession. The U.S. economy is saddled with high unemployment, Europe is burdened by its sovereign debt crisis and growth in China is also slowing.

A brutal week for the stock market ended on a quiet note Friday, but worries about the global economy continued to pound copper, gold and other commodities. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37.65 points Friday, or 0.4%, to close at 10,771.48. The Dow lost 6.4% for the week. Commodities from soybeans to metals sank Friday. Gold dropped 5.9%, copper lost 6% and silver 17.7%. Traders had sold gold to raise cash during Thursday’s sell-off.

Nigeria

A series of attacks by armed Muslim extremists in Nigeria’s Plateau State have left more than 100 Christians dead, including one pregnant woman and the elimination of many entire families, according to Compass Direct News. Nigerian Muslim nomads, enlisted by militant Muslims to attack Christian communities because of their expert understanding of the rural terrain, raided three villages in guerilla-type “hit-and-run” attacks this month. Survivors of the attacks said men in military uniforms of the Nigerian Army accompanied the assailants. Emmanuel Dachollom Loman, chairman of the local government council, said he had repeatedly reported the attacks to security agencies and the Nigerian government, but nothing had been done to protect his people. “The government should help us before Muslims come and wipe all of us out one day,” he said.

Iraq

Back-to-back bomb blasts ripped through one of the holiest cities in Shiite Islam Sunday, killing at least 10 people in a community still reeling from a deadly bus hijacking earlier this month that left Iraq’s Shiites again feeling hunted. Four explosions struck the city of Karbala over a five-minute period, government officials said, sending thick black smoke over the city. Two of the bombs targeted an Interior Ministry office that issues ID cards. Another struck near a house, shredding its walls and ceiling. And one of the explosions went off half a mile from an important gold-domed shrine. Ferocious bombing attacks by Sunni insurgent groups like al-Qaida in Iraq have targeted the Shiite community whose leaders came to power after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Afghanistan

An Afghan employed by the U.S. government killed one American and wounded another in an attack on a CIA office in Kabul, officials said Monday, in the latest high-profile attack in the Afghan capital. The shooting Sunday evening is the most recent in a growing number of attacks this year by Afghans working for international forces. Some assailants have turned out to be Taliban sleeper agents, while others have been motivated by personal grievances.

Yemen

President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a surprise return to Yemen on Friday after more than three months of medical treatment in Saudi Arabia in a move certain to further enflame battles between forces loyal to him and his opponents that have turned the capital into a war zone. Saleh immediately called for a cease-fire and said negotiations were the only way out of the crisis, He does not intend to step down immediately and was likely to only anger protesters who have been demanding his ouster for months. Fighting raged on Saturday in the Yemeni capital, leaving at least 40 dead as forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh battled pro-opposition soldiers and moved to clear the protest camp at a Sanaa square that has been the epicenter of the country’s uprising.

Libya

Backed by rockets and heavy artillery, hundreds of Libyan revolutionary fighters pushed into Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown from the west Saturday in the first significant assault in about a week. Gadhafi’s firebrand daughter has said in an audio recording that her father is in high spirits and fighting alongside his supporters against the revolutionary forces who swept his regime from power. Libya’s revolutionary forces say they have stepped up a siege around Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte Sunday to wear down his loyalist forces inside.

Libyan officials announced Sunday that they found a mass grave of 1,270 victims outside the white walls of Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison, where Gadhafi locked up and tortured opponents or simply made them disappear. Those bones could offer some of the most damning evidence of the brutality of Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year rule, and allow relatives of the victims to learn the truth about their fates after years of regime stonewalling.

Iran

American diplomats walked out of the U.N. General Assembly as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a fiercely anti-American speech.Friday. More than a dozen diplomats from other countries, including France, left the chamber soon afterward. Ahmadinejad attacked the United States for a history of slavery, causing two world wars, using a nuclear bomb against “defenseless people,” and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes on Asian, African and Latin American nations.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi King Abdullah has given the kingdom’s women the right to vote for first time in nationwide local elections, due in 2015. The king said in an annual speech on Sunday before his advisory assembly that Saudi women will be able to run for office and cast ballots in the 2015 municipal elections. Abdullah says women will also be appointed to “join the all-male” Shura Council, which is selected by Abdullah. Saudi Arabia held its first-ever municipal elections in 2005.

Morocco

Thousands of Moroccans have demonstrated against the government in the North African kingdom’s biggest city, threatening to boycott the upcoming elections. The weekly demonstration by the pro-democracy February 20 movement on Sunday attracted around 10,000 people who marched through Casablanca’s sprawling lower income neighborhood of Sbata. The demonstrators chanted for greater freedoms and an end to corruption. Morocco’s Nov. 25 parliamentary elections will be closely watched as they follow the passing of a new reformist constitution.

Weather

The drought in the northwest U.S. has made hungry bears more aggressive. A fatal bear attack along the Idaho-Montana border last week was the latest in a string of high-profile attacks as black bears roam farther in search of food. The lack of rain has meant less natural food sources in the woods, causing more bears to rove through towns, pawing through garbage cans to find food. Bear populations have been growing for several decades. Add in human population growth and movement into rural areas, and human-bear encounters naturally increase.

No fatalities or injuries have been reported from a possible tornado that touched down Sunday night in Cleveland, Mississippi, authorities said Monday morning. A Sears store and a Walmart store sustained substantial damage, according to local officials. Downed trees and power lines damaged a nearby subdivision.

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