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eNews For The Week Of August 05, 2008

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40 Million Credit Card Numbers Stolen

August 05, 2008

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday the indictment of 11 people whom they say stole millions of credit card numbers from major retailers. Investigators say the thieves stole over 40 million credit and debit card numbers making this the largest credit card fraud and identity theft scheme ever in our nation's history.

FOX News

Iran Faces New Sanctions

August 05, 2008

The US government says Iran's response to an incentives package aimed at defusing a dispute over its nuclear program is unacceptable, making the prospect of new sanctions more likely.

FOX News

Study Says Too Much Unmarried Sex on TV

August 05, 2008

A new study by the Parents Television Council includes a strongly worded condemnation of prime-time TV, contending it "seems to be actively seeking to undermine marriage by consistently painting it in a negative light." Scenes involving unmarried couples outnumbered scenes with married couples by a ratio of 4 to 1.



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Articles And Commentary

Who Will Be Israel's Next Prime Minister?

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Ehud Olmert has announced that he will resign as Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert will step down as soon as his replacement can be chosen. The announcement is not unexpected, yet it has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the Middle East peace process.

Ehud Olmert's government has been plagued by tragedy and controversy from the very start. In November of 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broke away from the Likud to establish a new political party. Sharon named the new party "Kadima" - a Hebrew word which means "forward" in English. Olmert was one of the first to join the new party. After the split the Knesset voted to hold early elections. Ariel Sharon was leading in the polls and was expected to win the election by a wide margin. In January of 2006, however, Sharon suffered a massive stroke which left him in a coma. In the wake of Ariel Sharon's incapacitation, Ehud Olmert took over as acting Prime Minister and was chosen as the Kadima Party candidate. Olmert went on to win the election, however his term in office has been marred by scandal.

In recent months Olmert has faced increasing pressure to resign his post - partly as a result of his disastrous handling of the 33-day conflict with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. He also faces multiple allegations of bribery and corruption. Olmert's popularity ratings have hit the single digits, and polls indicate that more than 70 percent of Israeli citizens think he should step down. The controversy has caused chaos in Israel's political sphere and disrupted the Middle East peace process.

Since Olmert announced his intention to resign there has been much speculation in the press about who may be chosen to take his place. When examining these possibilities it helps to understand how Israel's political system works. Israel has a multi-party system, and currently there are about 12 different political parties represented in its legislature. The three largest parties are the newly formed Kadima with 29 seats, the Labor party with 19 seats, and the Likud which holds 12 seats in the legislature. Since no single political party holds a majority, the parties must form a coalition government. Israel's 120-member national legislature, the Knesset, is elected by the people. The Knesset, in turn, chooses both the Prime Minister and the President. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and the most powerful political official, while the President's role is largely ceremonial. Members of the Knesset are elected to four year terms, but it is rare for the legislature to serve its full term. A political stalemate or failure to approve the annual budget can prompt early elections.

The leader of the political party with the most seats in the Knesset is customarily appointed to the office of Prime Minister. Therefore, whoever wins the Kadima's party leadership election in September will probably become the new Prime Minister. Currently the most likely candidates are Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The frontrunner, Tzipi Livni, has been described as "the second most powerful politician in Israel." She is popular and is among those who have publicly called for Olmert's resignation. Before entering politics she worked as a lawyer and was once a spy for the Mossad.

Israel is not scheduled to hold its next general election until 2010. However if the new leader of the Kadima party is unable to form a coalition government, Israel may be forced to hold early elections. If new elections are held, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor leader Ehud Barak could have a shot at the top post. Recent opinion polls indicate that if new elections were held today, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be the favorite. However the race would be a close one and experts say a lot could change in the coming months. If the new Kadima leader fails to form a coalition government, and early elections must be held, it could be a much as six months before Israel has a new Prime Minister.

The man or woman chosen to replace Olmert will help to shape the future of Israel and the entire Middle East. However Israel's ultimate destiny is in God's hands. He has a plan for the nation of Israel, just as He has a plan for you and me. To learn more about this topic, click on the links below.

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A Day of Mourning

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This Sunday, August 10th, is known as Tisha b'Av on the Hebrew calendar. Tisha b'Av simply means it is the 9th day of the Jewish month of Av. However Tisha b'Av is much more than just a date on a calendar. This peculiar day holds great significance for the Jews, as it is expressly linked with Israel's destiny.

Jewish tradition regards Tisha b'Av as the day the Children of Israel were prohibited from entering the Promised Land. You will recall, God commanded Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan, one from each of the tribes of Israel. They returned with tales of a land flowing with milk and honey. However Israel feared the inhabitants of the land. Of the 12 spies, only 2, Joshua and Caleb, had faith that God would deliver the land into their hands. God had delivered them from slavery and Egypt, parted the waters of the Red Sea, protected them, and miraculously provided for their every need. Yet the nation of Israel was consumed by fear and doubt, thus God decreed that a generation would pass away, wandering in the wilderness, before Israel would be allowed to enter His Land.

The 9th of Av has marked some of the most harrowing days in the history of the nation of Israel:
If that weren't enough, the 9th of Av is also the day of:

Thus the 9th of Av, Tisha B'Av, has become a symbol of all the persecutions and misfortunes of the Jewish people, for the loss of their national independence and their sufferings in exile. It is a day of intensive mourning for the destruction of the Temple and for Jerusalem.

In 2005, the 9th of Av marked another milestone in Israel's history. That year Tisha b'Av marked the beginning of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. All 21 Gaza settlements were evacuated along with four of 120 settlements in the West Bank. The withdrawal marked the end of Israel's 38 year presence in the Gaza Strip. Approximately 9000 Jewish settlers were made to leave their homes, some were forcibly removed. The withdrawal took place amid a backdrop of widespread protests, and was accompanied by whispers of civil war.

The withdrawal was seen as necessary for Israel's security. However in the eyes of the Palestinians, the Gaza withdrawal represented victory in their armed struggle against the Israeli occupation. Israel's retreat was seen as the direct result of the sacrifice of suicide bombers and the almost constant barrage of mortar and rocket on settlements. The bottom line: it was a victory for terrorism. Six months later, after being credited for bringing about the Israeli retreat, the terrorist organization Hamas claimed victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.

Tisha b'Av is indeed a day of mourning. It is marked with sadness and fasting. On this day the Jews are reminded of their tragic history. Yet they will also be looking forward, toward the ultimate rebuilding of the Temple, to a time when the 9th of Av will become a day of joy and gladness (as it was foretold in Zechariah 8:19).

We do know that the Temple will be rebuilt because Jesus, John, and Paul all make reference to it. But we also know that this Temple will be desecrated by the Coming World Leader when he sets himself up to be worshiped. It is possible this prophetic event will also take place on Tisha B'Av - and may happen in the not-too-distant future. To learn more about this subject, click on the links below.

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Florida Voucher Program Has Another Chance

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True educational freedom had a small but important victory in Florida this week, when a circuit court judge gave school vouchers another chance.

Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled Monday that pro-voucher amendments could remain on the November 4 ballot. Voters will be able to decide whether to amend the state constitution to once again allow students to use vouchers to escape failing public schools.

School vouchers have been a major area of contention in the state of Florida. Off and on, from 1999-2006, Florida’s Opportunity Scholarship Program allowed state funds to pay for students to attend private schools. In general, voucher programs not only give public schools more competition and therefore more accountability, but also free up overburdened public schools. People assume that voucher programs take money from already troubled schools. Instead, they offer public schools more breathing room. Most importantly, they give underprivileged kids the opportunity to get a great education when their public schools fall short.

Because many private schools are also religiously oriented, however, opponents of the voucher program insist that paying to send kids to private schools violates the separation of church and state. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002) that the First Amendment does not prohibit voucher programs if they meet certain free choice requirements. Individual states may still reject voucher programs, though.

The Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s school voucher program as unconstitutional in January 2006. The court cited the state's constitution, which says, "Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools," and stated that the Opportunity Scholarship Program, "violates this language." Legislators have been working to get the important program running again by amending the state constitution.

Circuit Judge John C. Cooper offered pro-voucher groups hope on Monday when he ruled that amendments to change the state constitution could remain on the November 4 ballot. The statewide teachers union – which has been fighting the voucher program since 1999 – promises to appeal the ruling.

"It's very sad the teachers union is trying every possible maneuver to prevent the people from voting on these two important issues," said Patricia Levesque, one of the sponsors for the proposals.

The anti-religious Left has worked hard for decades to keep God out of the public sphere. There were relatively few private schools in America until the Supreme Court ruled against prayer and Bible reading in public schools in the 1960s. Since God was kicked out of public education, private schools have sprouted across the nation to fill the obvious void. Americans have been told to keep religion out of U.S. public life.

The basic problem with the liberal concept of the separation of church and state is that, rather than simply protecting basic religious freedom, it actually acts as an anti-religious force. The Supreme Court has ruled several times in recent years in favor of a truly neutral view of church state separation. To fund only secular charities, or vouchers for students only if they attend secular private schools, would be discriminating against religion. The Supreme Court has recognized that being truly neutral means treating institutions equally, regardless of whether they are religious or secular. There are many more battles to fight to protect our nation's religious nature and heritage, but we should not lose heart.

As for us parents, we are told our own personal responsibility in the education of our kids:

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." - Ephesians 6:4

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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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