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eNews For The Week Of July 18, 2006

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In The News

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Articles and Commentary

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In The News

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House Rejects Gay Marriage Ban

July 18, 2006

On Tuesday the US House of Representatives rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The 236-187 vote for the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment. It followed six weeks after the Senate also defeated the amendment.

FOX News

US Could Be Going Bankrupt

July 18, 2006

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank. A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.


Prayer in Prisons Now Unconstitutional

July 18, 2006

Federal Judge Robert W. Pratt has ruled that Prison Fellowship Ministries' InnerChange program violates the US Constitution. PFM is an Evangelical Christian organization that ministers to prisoners in 10 states, they believe that real change comes through the teachings of Jesus Christ. The organization helps prisoners with academics, job placement, and life skills. The InnerChange program has been proven to dramatically reduce recidivism, however Judge Pratt has ruled that the program must be discontinued.

CNS News

Russia May Send Troops to Middle East

July 18, 2006

President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia would consider contributing troops to an international force in the Middle East if the United Nations approves deployment.

Jerusalem Post

Viruses Leap to RFID

July 18, 2006

Computer viruses could be about to take a giant leap and start spreading via smart barcodes, warn experts. Security researchers have infected a Radio Frequency ID tag with a computer virus to show how the technology is vulnerable to malicious hackers.



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Articles And Commentary

Israel At War

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"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee (Psalm 122:6)."

The fighting began last Wednesday, in the early morning hours, when terrorists launched a barrage of rockets into a town near the Israeli-Lebanese border. However the rockets were a diversion. A few miles to the east, Hezbollah guerrillas crossed the border, fired anti-tank missiles at two armored vehicles, seized two soldiers, and killed at least seven others. Israel called the raid an "act of war" and has since attacked Lebanon by air and sea and has sent in troops to look for the captured soldiers.

Israel is now batting on two fronts. While war rages in the north, Israel has continued its counter-terrorist offensive in Gaza. Tensions in the region have grown increasing fragile, and violence threatens to consume the entire Middle East.

It has been a week since the hostilities erupted, during which time Hezbollah has fired over 700 rockets into Israel. The rockets have been targeted at population centers throughout northern Israel, including Haifa, Israel's third largest city. The rockets have penetrated deeper into Israeli territory than ever before. Hezbollah claims to possess approximately 12,000 rockets with ranges of up to 200 kilometers.

Hezbollah was founded by Iran, and it is often seen as a proxy for Iran and Syria to carry out attacks against Israel. Israeli military reports indicate the rockets that hit Haifa may have even been fired by Iranian Guard troops in Lebanon. Israel has said that it will not halt its offensive until Hezbollah is disarmed. Both Hezbollah and Hamas have headquarters in Damascus, which has prompted speculation that Israel may hit Syria. Iran has said that if the conflict spreads to Syria, it will be interpreted as "an attack against the whole Islamic world."

From 1976 to 2005 Syria occupied Lebanon, and it still has strong influence in Lebanese politics. UN resolution 1559 required Syrian troops to leave Lebanon and demanded that militias surrender their weapons. Under intense pressure from the international community, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April of last year, ending its 29-year military presence in the war-torn nation. The militias, however, have refused to disarm. Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran, has vowed to continue its armed struggle against Israel. The Lebanese government has not taken action to disarm the terrorists, therefore Israel holds Lebanon accountable.

Hezbollah, which occupies southern Lebanon along the Israeli border, is a group of radical Shiite militants that opposes the West, seeks to create a Muslim fundamentalist state modeled after Iran, and is a bitter foe of Israel. Hezbollah and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of terrorist attacks against America, Israel, and other Western targets. According to the US State Department, Hezbollah receives "substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria."

Hezbollah is an important player in Lebanon's politics and a major provider of social services to thousands of Lebanese Shiites. It operates hospitals, schools, orphanages and a television station. Its base is in Lebanon's Shiite-dominated areas, including parts of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. In addition, US intelligence reports say that Hezbollah cells operate in regions including Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.

In last year's parliamentary elections Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian Shiite alliance claimed victory in Southern Lebanon, winning 23 seats in the 128-member assembly. Previously Hezbollah held only 8 seats in the assembly. Not only did they win 23 seats, they won with nearly 80 percent of the vote - a landslide by any standards. Their victory has been as a mandate for continuing the armed struggle against Israel.

Despite Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May of 2000, Hezbollah has continued to shell Israeli forces at a disputed border area called Shebaa Farms. Shebaa Farms is located where the borders of Lebanon, Israel, and Syria meet. Israel and the UN consider Shebaa Farms to be part of the Golan Heights (thus it is considered occupied Syrian territory), while Hezbollah and Lebanese officials claim it belongs to Lebanon. They use these claims to justify their attacks against Israel.

Hezbollah is many things: a terrorist group, a guerrilla movement, a proxy for Iran and Syria to use against Israel, the champion of Lebanon's Shia Muslim community, a leading Lebanese political force, and even a builder of hospitals and schools. Through all these roles it exerts remarkable influence on Lebanon.

Experts attribute much of Hezbollah's widespread popularity to its claim that it forced Israel to retreat from territory it held, something no Arab government or group had ever accomplished. Hezbollah waged a violent, 18-year campaign against Israels control of a self-declared "security zone" in southern Lebanon, which Israel had established after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by forces under then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. In 2000, after suffering mounting casualties, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israeli troops to unilaterally leave the security zone. For millions of Arabs, Hezbollah achieved heroic status, and many Palestinian militants at war with Israel cite Hezbollah as an inspiration.

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Senate Votes on Stem Cells

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The United States Senate is currently debating legislation that would ease federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. President Bush is opposed to the legislation, so supporters of the bill are hoping to raise enough votes to override a presidential veto. Embryonic stem cell research is not illegal. However in August of 2001 President Bush issued an executive order limiting federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different kinds of cells and thus can be used to repair damaged tissue. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to either remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell. There are two basic types of stems cells: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are extracted from fertilized eggs or embryos. When the stem cells are removed the embryo is destroyed, raising a variety of ethical concerns. Adult stem cells, however, can be safely extracted from various places in the human body, such as fatty tissue, blood, and bone marrow.

Many scientists believe that embryonic stem cell research will result in miracle cures to some of our most devastating diseases, but there are still many hurdles to overcome. In laboratory research using rodents the embryonic stem cells either caused tumors or were rejected by the tissue. This has caused many scientists to look to therapeutic cloning as a source for compatible stem cells. Despite their touted potential, it could be years before embryonic stems cells can be used to effectively treat disease. While the debate rages over the ethical and moral objections to embryonic stem cell research, adult stem cells have proven to be more versatile than originally thought and have been successfully used to treat over 100 different diseases and injuries.

There is a great deal of confusion and misinformation surrounding stem cell research. It seems as though most individuals do not fully understand the facts or the long term implications. Many misconceptions about stem cell research have arisen because both Congress and the public have relied on the media for their information. Yet most journalists tend to overlook many of the important scientific and ethical aspects of the issue. The pubic is instead given an oversimplified and often distorted version of the truth. Stem cell research is a complicated and multi-faceted issue that cannot be adequately explained in a sixty-second sound bite.

The media debate is framed so it appears to be a simple choice between using leftover embryos from in-vitro fertilization procedures for research or discarding them, and whether to use federal tax money to fund the research. Who could argue with research to help those suffering with degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease, cancer, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, heart disease, and diabetes? There are so many people fighting these tragic disabilities that the promise of healing offered by this research is a poignant argument in favor of pursuing the technology. However the truth is not so simple.

There are still many questions that need to be answered. When does life begin: at conception, in the womb, or at birth? If we allow embryos to be destroyed for the greater good, then why waste aborted fetuses when they can be used for research? If we are going to clone embryos as a source of compatible stem cells, why not clone fetuses for not just individual cells, but also tissues and body parts? If these forms of human life are destined to die anyway and can save another life, then why not harvest organs from death row inmates like the Chinese do? Where do we ultimately draw the line?

What do you think? Should Christians oppose embryonic stem cell research, even if it could be used to save lives? Sign up for the Berean Online Fellowship and join the discussion! In addition to all the other member benefits, our online message boards give you the opportunity to read and post opinions on various topics: scripture, Christian living, apologetics, current events, science, and more. See the link below for more information.

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles, enews and linked websites are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views held by Koinonia House. Koinonia House is providing this information as a resource to individuals who are interested in current news and events that may have an impact on Christian Life and Biblical trends. Koinonia House is not responsible for any information contained in these articles that may be inaccurate, or does not present an unbiased or complete perspective. Koinonia House disavows any obligation to correct or update the information contained in these articles.

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