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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Rare Eclipse Of The Midnight Sun

It sounds like an oxymoron: a solar eclipse at midnight.

According to NASA, it's about to happen.

"It might sound like a contradiction to have a solar eclipse in the middle of the night, but this is what we will see in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland on June 1st," says Knut Joergen Roed Oedegaard, an astrophysicist at the Norwegian Centre for Science Education in Oslo.

At this time of year, he explains, the sun doesn't set in Arctic parts of the world, so a solar eclipse is theoretically possible at all hours of the day. When the clock strikes local midnight in northern Norway at the end of June 1st, about half of the lingering sun will be covered by the Moon.

"The eclipse can also be seen from Siberia, northern China, remote parts of Alaska and Canada, and Iceland," writes Fred Espenak of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where the eclipse circumstances were calculated. "Greatest eclipse occurs at 21:16 Universal Time on June 1st. At that time, an eclipse of magnitude 0.601 will be visible from the Arctic coast of western Siberia as the midnight sun skirts the northern horizon."

Not all places in the eclipse zone are in line for a midnight event. Espenak notes that Reykjavik, Iceland, will experience a 46% eclipse just before sunset--a nice way to end the day--while northern China gets its eclipse at sunrise. A table from NASA lists key times for major cities.

The fact that this eclipse is partial rather than total will not diminish its beauty. On the contrary, it could be spectacular. At midnight in Norway, the bloated golden disk of the sun will be hanging low in the north. Imagine that disk transformed into a crescent, surrounded by the red and orange hues of a sunset sky.

"This is going to be good," predicts Oedegaard.

Sky watchers in the area should be alert for long, crescent-shaped shadows cast by the eclipsed sun, especially on surfaces (walls and cars) located behind leafy trees.

No trees? Try this trick: Criss-cross your fingers waffle-style and let the sun shine through the matrix of holes. You can cast crescent suns on sidewalks, driveways, friends, cats, dogs and so on. The creative possibilities for hand shadows are sky-high

This will be the first midnight Sun eclipse in Norway since 2000 and the deepest one since 1985," says Oedegaard. "Scandinavians must wait until 2084 for an even deeper midnight eclipse."

Norwegian readers will be interested to know that the eclipse can be viewed from the counties of Mre og Romsdal, Trndelag, Nordland, Troms, Finnmark as well as Spitsbergen. The event begins at 22:37 local time (20:37 UT) and ends at 00:22 (22:22 UT).

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Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day: This city is ours!

Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day: This city is ours!
As Israel marked the 44th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that Israel would never allow the city to be again divided.

"Forty-four years ago, IDF soldiers realized the prophets' vision and returned Jerusalem to its proper place," Netanyahu said, referring to the liberation of the eastern half of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.

Speaking at Jerusalem's Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which has long been at the forefront of religious Zionism, Netanyahu continued:

"Jerusalem will never be divided. There's nothing more holy to us than Jerusalem, we'll protect Jerusalem, it's unity, and we'll build and develop it."

US President Barack Obama and other Western leaders have been pushing hard to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks based on Arab demands that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders.

For its part, the Palestinian leadership insists it will never sign a peace deal with Israel that does not include the full surrender of the eastern half of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

But a Jerusalem Day poll revealed that a strong majority of Israelis remain firmly behind Netanyahu's policies, and do not agree to divide Jerusalem even as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Conducted by the Geocartography Knowledge Group on behalf of Israel's Channel One News, the survey showed that 66 percent of Israelis oppose handing over any part of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority.

A 23 percent minority said they would be willing to surrender Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, a compromise the Palestinian Authority has already rejected.

An even larger 73 percent majority opposed placing Jerusalem's holy sites under international control, a proposal that first came up during former US President Bill Clinton's oversight of the peace process.

Rather than talk about how to divide Jerusalem, 67 percent of Israelis want to simply get on with building up and developing the city as the capital of Israel.

Israel Today

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Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says?

President Obama has shown himself to be weak in his dealings with the Middle East, says Robert Fisk, and the Arab world is turning its back with contempt. Its future will be shaped without American influence

This month, in the Middle East, has seen the unmaking of the President of the United States. More than that, it has witnessed the lowest prestige of America in the region since Roosevelt met King Abdul Aziz on the USS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake in 1945.

While Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu played out their farce in Washington – Obama grovelling as usual – the Arabs got on with the serious business of changing their world, demonstrating and fighting and dying for freedoms they have never possessed. Obama waffled on about change in the Middle East – and about America's new role in the region. It was pathetic. "What is this 'role' thing?" an Egyptian friend asked me at the weekend. "Do they still believe we care about what they think?"

And it is true. Obama's failure to support the Arab revolutions until they were all but over lost the US most of its surviving credit in the region. Obama was silent on the overthrow of Ben Ali, only joined in the chorus of contempt for Mubarak two days before his flight, condemned the Syrian regime – which has killed more of its people than any other dynasty in this Arab "spring", save for the frightful Gaddafi – but makes it clear that he would be happy to see Assad survive, waves his puny fist at puny Bahrain's cruelty and remains absolutely, stunningly silent over Saudi Arabia. And he goes on his knees before Israel. Is it any wonder, then, that Arabs are turning their backs on America, not out of fury or anger, nor with threats or violence, but with contempt? It is the Arabs and their fellow Muslims of the Middle East who are themselves now making the decisions

Turkey is furious with Assad because he twice promised to speak of reform and democratic elections – and then failed to honour his word. The Turkish government has twice flown delegations to Damascus and, according to the Turks, Assad lied to the foreign minister on the second visit, baldly insisting that he would recall his brother Maher's legions from the streets of Syrian cities. He failed to do so. The torturers continue their work.

Watching the hundreds of refugees pouring from Syria across the northern border of Lebanon, the Turkish government is now so fearful of a repeat of the great mass Iraqi Kurdish refugee tide that overwhelmed their border in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war that it has drawn up its own secret plans to prevent the Kurds of Syria moving in their thousands into the Kurdish areas of south-eastern Turkey. Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a "safe area" for Syrian refugees inside Assad's caliphate. The Turks are prepared to advance well beyond the Syrian border town of Al Qamishli – perhaps half way to Deir el-Zour (the old desert killing fields of the 1915 Armenian Holocaust, though speak it not) – to provide a "safe haven" for those fleeing the slaughter in Syria's cities.

The Qataris are meanwhile trying to prevent Algeria from resupplying Gaddafi with tanks and armoured vehicles – this was one of the reasons why the Emir of Qatar, the wisest bird in the Arabian Gulf, visited the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, last week. Qatar is committed to the Libyan rebels in Benghazi; its planes are flying over Libya from Crete and – undisclosed until now – it has Qatari officers advising the rebels inside the city of Misrata in western Libya; but if Algerian armour is indeed being handed over to Gaddafi to replace the material that has been destroyed in air strikes, it would account for the ridiculously slow progress which the Nato campaign is making against Gaddafi.

Of course, it all depends on whether Bouteflika really controls his army – or whether the Algerian "pouvoir", which includes plenty of secretive and corrupt generals, are doing the deals. Algerian equipment is superior to Gaddafi's and thus for every tank he loses, Ghaddafi might be getting an improved model to replace it. Below Tunisia, Algeria and Libya share a 750-mile desert frontier, an easy access route for weapons to pass across the border.

But the Qataris are also attracting Assad's venom. Al Jazeera's concentration on the Syrian uprising – its graphic images of the dead and wounded far more devastating than anything our soft western television news shows would dare broadcast – has Syrian state television nightly spitting at the Emir and at the state of Qatar. The Syrian government has now suspended up to £4 billion of Qatari investment projects, including one belonging to the Qatar Electricity and Water Company.

Amid all these vast and epic events – Yemen itself may yet prove to be the biggest bloodbath of all, while the number of Syria's "martyrs" have now exceeded the victims of Mubarak's death squads five months ago – is it any surprise that the frolics of Messrs Netanyahu and Obama appear so irrelevant? Indeed, Obama's policy towards the Middle East – whatever it is – sometimes appears so muddled that it is scarcely worthy of study. He supports, of course, democracy – then admits that this may conflict with America's interests. In that wonderful democracy called Saudi Arabia, the US is now pushing ahead with a £40 billion arms deal and helping the Saudis to develop a new "elite" force to protect the kingdom's oil and future nuclear sites. Hence Obama's fear of upsetting Saudi Arabia, two of whose three leading brothers are now so incapacitated that they can no longer make sane decisions – unfortunately, one of these two happens to be King Abdullah – and his willingness to allow the Assad family's atrocity-prone regime to survive. Of course, the Israelis would far prefer the "stability" of the Syrian dictatorship to continue; better the dark caliphate you know than the hateful Islamists who might emerge from the ruins. But is this argument really good enough for Obama to support when the people of Syria are dying in the streets for the kind of democracy that the US president says he wants to see in the region?

One of the vainest elements of American foreign policy towards the Middle East is the foundational idea that the Arabs are somehow more stupid than the rest of us, certainly than the Israelis, more out of touch with reality than the West, that they don't understand their own history. Thus they have to be preached at, lectured, and cajoled by La Clinton and her ilk – much as their dictators did and do, father figures guiding their children through life. But Arabs are far more literate than they were a generation ago; millions speak perfect English and can understand all too well the political weakness and irrelevance in the president's words. Listening to Obama's 45-minute speech this month – the "kick off' to four whole days of weasel words and puffery by the man who tried to reach out to the Muslim world in Cairo two years ago, and then did nothing – one might have thought that the American President had initiated the Arab revolts, rather than sat on the sidelines in fear.

There was an interesting linguistic collapse in the president's language over those critical four days. On Thursday 19 May, he referred to the continuation of Israeli "settlements". A day later, Netanyahu was lecturing him on "certain demographic changes that have taken place on the ground". Then when Obama addressed the American Aipac lobby group (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) on the Sunday, he had cravenly adopted Netanyahu's own preposterous expression. Now he, too, spoke of "new demographic realities on the ground." Who would believe that he was talking about internationally illegal Jewish colonies built on land stolen from Arabs in one of the biggest property heists in the history of "Palestine"? Delay in peace-making will undermine Israeli security, Obama announced – apparently unaware that Netanyahu's project is to go on delaying and delaying and delaying until there is no land left for the "viable" Palestinian state which the United States and the European Union supposedly wish to see.

Then we had the endless waffle about the 1967 borders. Netanyahu called them "defenceless" (though they seemed to have been pretty defendable for the 18 years prior to the Six Day War) and Obama – oblivious to the fact that Israel must be the only country in the world to have an eastern land frontier but doesn't know where it is – then says he was misunderstood when he talked about 1967. It doesn't matter what he says. George W Bush caved in years ago when he gave Ariel Sharon a letter which stated America's acceptance of "already existing major Israeli population centres" beyond the 1967 lines. To those Arabs prepared to listen to Obama's spineless oration, this was a grovel too far. They simply could not understand the reaction of Netanyahu's address to Congress. How could American politicians rise and applaud Netanyahu 55 times – 55 times – with more enthusiasm than one of the rubber parliaments of Assad, Saleh and the rest?

And what on earth did the Great Speechifier mean when he said that "every country has the right to self-defence" but that Palestine would be "demilitarised"? What he meant was that Israel could go on attacking the Palestinians (as in 2009, for example, when Obama was treacherously silent) while the Palestinians would have to take what was coming to them if they did not behave according to the rules – because they would have no weapons to defend themselves. As for Netanyahu, the Palestinians must choose between unity with Hamas or peace with Israel. All of which was very odd. When there was no unity, Netanyahu told us all that he had no Palestinian interlocutor because the Palestinians were disunited. Yet when they unite, they are disqualified from peace talks.

Of course, cynicism grows the longer you live in the Middle East. I recall, for example, travelling to Gaza in the early 1980s when Yasser Arafat was running his PLO statelet in Beirut. Anxious to destroy Arafat's prestige in the occupied territories, the Israeli government decided to give its support to an Islamist group in Gaza called Hamas. In fact, I actually saw with my own eyes the head of the Israeli army's Southern Command negotiating with bearded Hamas officials, giving them permission to build more mosques. It's only fair to say, of course, that we were also busy at the time, encouraging a certain Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan. But the Israelis did not give up on Hamas. They later held another meeting with the organisation in the West Bank; the story was on the front page of the Jerusalem Post the next day. But there wasn't a whimper from the Americans.

Then another moment that I can recall over the long years. Hamas and Islamic Jihad members – all Palestinians – were, in the early 1990s, thrown across the Israeli border into southern Lebanon where they spent more than a year camping on a freezing mountainside. I would visit them from time to time and on one occasion mentioned that I would be travelling to Israel next day. Immediately, one of the Hamas men ran to his tent and returned with a notebook. He then proceeded to give me the home telephone numbers of three senior Israeli politicians – two of whom are still prominent today – and, when I reached Jerusalem and called the numbers, they all turned out to be correct. In other words, the Israeli government had been in personal and direct contact with Hamas.

But now the narrative has been twisted out of all recognition. Hamas are the super-terrorists, the "al-Qa'ida" representatives in the unified Palestinian leadership, the men of evil who will ensure that no peace ever takes place between Palestinians and Israeli. If only this were true, the real al-Qa'ida would be more than happy to take responsibility. But it is not true. In the same context, Obama stated that the Palestinians would have to answer questions about Hamas. But why should they? What Obama and Netanyahu think about Hamas is now irrelevant to them. Obama warns the Palestinians not to ask for statehood at the United Nations in September. But why on earth not? If the people of Egypt and Tunisia and Yemen and Libya and Syria – we are all waiting for the next revolution (Jordan? Bahrain again? Morocco?) – can fight for freedom and dignity, why shouldn't the Palestinians? Lectured for decades on the need for non-violent protest, the Palestinians elect to go to the UN with their cry for legitimacy – only to be slapped down by Obama.

Having read all of the "Palestine Papers" which Al-Jazeera revealed, there is no doubt that "Palestine's" official negotiators will go to any lengths to produce some kind of statelet. Mahmoud Abbas, who managed to write a 600-page book on the "peace process" without once mentioning the word "occupation", could even cave in over the UN project, fearful of Obama's warning that it would be an attempt to "isolate" Israel and thus de-legitimise the Israeli state – or "the Jewish state" as the US president now calls it. But Netanyahu is doing more than anyone to delegitimise his own state; indeed, he is looking more and more like the Arab buffoons who have hitherto littered the Middle East. Mubarak saw a "foreign hand" in the Egyptian revolution (Iran, of course). So did the Crown Prince of Bahrain (Iran again). So did Gaddafi (al-Qa'ida, western imperialism, you name it), So did Saleh of Yemen (al-Qa'ida, Mossad and America). So did Assad of Syria (Islamism, probably Mossad, etc). And so does Netanyahu (Iran, naturally enough, Syria, Lebanon, just about anyone you can think of except for Israel itself).

But as this nonsense continues, so the tectonic plates shudder. I doubt very much if the Palestinians will remain silent. If there's an "intifada" in Syria, why not a Third Intifada in "Palestine"? Not a struggle of suicide bombers but of mass, million-strong protests. If the Israelis have to shoot down a mere few hundred demonstrators who tried – and in some cases succeeded – in crossing the Israeli border almost two weeks ago, what will they do if confronted by thousands or a million. Obama says no Palestinian state must be declared at the UN. But why not? Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says? Not even, it seems, the Israelis. The Arab spring will soon become a hot summer and there will be an Arab autumn, too. By then, the Middle East may have changed forever. What America says will matter nothing.

The Independent

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Obama again declares June ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month’

President Barack Obama has proclaimed June 2011 “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.”

Painting the LGBT experience as the “story about the struggle to realize that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law,” Obama highlighted the steps his administration has taken for gay rights, including passing the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation and giving the LGBT community more access to federal housing programs.

Obama made the same proclamation in June 2010, picking up where President Bill Clinton left off in 2000, when he marked the month “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.”

President George W. Bush angered many gay rights activists by saying no to the June celebration, and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Justice Department barred a group of employees from celebrating the month.

June was chosen in honor the 1969 Greenwich Village riots at the Stonewall Inn where gay rights advocates clashed with New York City police over alleged discrimination.
[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]

Obama noted his administration’s efforts to prevent bullying, especially of gay people, and to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS virus within LGBT circles.

The gay community does not, however, have the month to themselves. Obama also proclaimed June “National Caribbean-American Heritage Month,” “African-American Music Appreciation Month” and “Great Outdoors Month.”
Daily Caller

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S. Korean businessman claims N. Korea developed small nuclear warhead

SEOUL, (Yonhap) -- A South Korean businessman claimed Monday that North Korea has succeeded in mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile that can reach the United States.

Kim Young-il, the head of a small South Korean firm that has business ties with North Korea, said he heard the information from a person familiar with the North's missile development about a month ago.

He declined to give any further details, including the person's nationality, because of a government ban on South Koreans from holding unauthorized contact with North Koreans. But his comment indicated the person may be a North Korean.

He made the claim in a forum at South Korea's parliament in Seoul.

The National intelligence Service, South Korea's top spy agency, said it had no immediate comment.

The allegation, if confirmed, would tip the regional security balance and represents a threat Washington has feared.

A U.S. defense official said in January that North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons will pose a threat to the U.S. within five years. Some experts say Pyongyang may have already developed nuclear warheads small enough for missile payloads.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and test-fired ballistic missiles three times in 1998, 2006 and 2009.

Meanwhile, Kim also claimed North Korea has inked a deal with China to explore offshore oil reserves in waters between their countries.

The reserves are believed to be containing 20.5 billion tons of oil, Kim said, adding that he estimated that one-third of the oil reserves could be explored, an amount he says China can consume for about 30 years.

He declined to give any further details.

Auto Sales Decline in US but Along Expectations

Ford says its U.S. sales for May were down 0.1 percent versus the same time in 2010. However, this was within the estimates by analysts and making it virtually unchanged.

The company [F 14.30 -0.62 (-4.16%) ] says May was its best month for small-car sales since 2008, and that strong sales of small cars were weighed down by slower sales of pickup trucks.

Small cars sales were up 74 percent from last May, led by Ford's new Fiesta subcompact and its newly redesigned Ford Focus. The new Ford Explorer also was strong, with sales more than double those of last May.

Ford's truck sales were down 11 percent, dented by the slow recovery in home building and construction. Ford's luxury Lincoln brand also continued to suffer, with sales down 5 percent from last May. The company is in the midst of revamping the Lincoln brand.

Meanwhile, General Motors [GOM 24.05 -0.05 (-0.21%) ] says its sales for May of 2011 were down 0.5 percent from the same time last year, but that figure is within analysts' expectations.

The drop was for GM's core brands—GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac. Including non-core brands, the total decline in sales was 1.2 percent.

The largest U.S. car company says it sold 221,192 vehicles last month, led by smaller, more fuel-efficient models.

GM blamed the drop mainly on a decision to cut sales to rental car companies by 21 percent from a year earlier. Sales to individual buyers rose 9 percent despite a 10 percent drop in rebates and other incentives.

GM's sales were led by the new Chevrolet Cruze compact and the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain midsize crossover vehicles. Cruze sales were up 40 percent over the Chevrolet Cobalt, the lackluster model it replaced.

Equinox sales were up 34 percent and Terrain sales rose 42 percent. Sales of GM's full-sized pickup trucks, however, were down about 13 percent.



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Mobile phone brain cancer risk: 3G phones 'less harmful', says Professor Bruce Armstrong

  • Mobile use increases chance of brain cancer
  • Conclusion based on wide review of evidence
  • Aussie expert says 3G not as harmful

UPDATE: The latest 3G mobile devices like iPhones and other smart phones may deliver a lower dose of radiowaves to the brain than earlier models but frequent use could still cause cancer, a health expert says.

A report released by the World Health Organisation's cancer research wing says radio frequency electromagnetic fields generated by such devices are "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

The International Agency for Research on Cancer said heavy usage could lead to an increased incidence of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer. It advised people to text or use hands-free to reduce the risk.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/mobile-phone-radiation-a-possible-cancer-risk-who/story-e6frfro0-1226066882672#ixzz1O33pZclZ

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Chapman: Real Inflation could reach 30-50%

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U.S. home prices have fallen more than in Great Depression

U.S. home prices as measured by the Case-Shiller index have now fallen by more than they did during the Great Depression, according to Capital Economics.

Paul Dales, senior U.S. Economist at Capital, said the Case-Shiller index released earlier on Tuesday — which tracks prices of single-family home in 20 major U.S. cities — are now 33% below the 2006 peak and back at a level last seen in the third quarter of 2002, edging out the 31% dip seen in the Depression of the 1930s.

“On that occasion, the peak in prices was not regained until 19 years after they first fell,” Mr. Dales said.

“The similarities between the current downturn and that seen during the Great Depression are striking,” Mr. Dales said in a note. He pointed out that on both occasions, prices initially fell by 31% and, after a temporary rebound, dropped back by 7%, the dreaded double-dip.

Double-dips are not on uncommon though. Denmark, the U.K. and Sweden all saw prices fall for a second time during the 1980s and 1990s, he notes.

Mr. Dales said the bottom has not yet been reached in U.S. housing: “We think that prices will fall by at least a further 3% this year, and perhaps even further next year.”

However he does offer a glimmer of hope. The rate at which prices are falling appeared to stabilise at 0.2% m/m in March.

“Moreover, the latest fall in prices has made housing appear even more undervalued,” he said.
Financial Post

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Only at the Federal Reserves is there no inflation

Marc Faber : "The absolute level of interest rates doesn't tell you whether there is tightening or not. 

In China, they increased the interest rates over the several times. But with inflation running at between 8-10% per annum and the deposit rate at 3.25%, money is losing its purchasing power if you keep it on deposit," "In US, you will have a similar process. One day they will increase it by a quarter of percent but what does it mean when commodity prices are going through the roof, energy prices are going up, health costs are going up, insurance premiums are going up, everything is going up. Only at the Federal Reserves is there no inflation."

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Iran cleric: Killing Israeli children OK

Iranian Ayatollah endorses evil: Radical religious cleric known as President Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor says attacks on Israeli civilians permissible, suicide bombings a Muslim duty

Evil words in Islamic Republic: A senior Iranian cleric, who is known as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, urged followers to continue suicide attacks against Israelis, including children.

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah, considered one of the Islamic Republic's most radical clerics, issued a religious edict on his website whereby suicide attacks are not only legitimate but are a must for every Muslim, a special paper by the Middle East Media Research Institute shows.

The senior cleric was responding to a question from a follower regarding the difference between "martyr's death" and "suicide." The man, who wrote anonymously, noted that "some people say that martyrdom operations are considered suicide and that they are haram (forbidden) because they contradict Islam."

In response, Mesbah expressed his regret that his follower has fallen victim to "propaganda of the enemies of Islam." He added that the follower was wasting his time instead of focusing on "uprooting the Zionist regime."

"When protecting Islam, the Muslim people depend on martyrdom operations. It not only is allowed, but even is an obligation," Mesbah wrote.

The follower presented another question regarding Islam's position on harming Israelis, wondering whether Hamas and Jihad actions against Israeli civilians are forbidden. He also asked: "How about the Israeli children killed in such attacks?"

The Iranian Ayatollah did not see fit to forbid the killing of children, only noting that Israelis can be harmed unless they openly express their objection to their government's position. He added that even in such cases, harming civilians is permissible if "they are used as human shield and fighting the aggressors depends on attacking those civilians."

IDF chief: Israel faces growing range of threats, from 'knife to nuclear'

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

IDF chief Gantz says Israel's defense establishment needs a higher budget to contend with the changes in the Middle East and spectrum of threats from a single terror attack to Iran's atomic developments.

The Israel Defense Forces will ask the state to increase its defense budget significantly to contend with the growing terror threats in the region, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said on Tuesday.

"The spectrum of threats in light of the changes in the Middle East is growing," Gantz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "These threats range from knife to nuclear – from the knife used in a single terror attack to a nuclear Iran."

"The threats of the past are still in force, but new threats are developing that require the ability to operate in a number of different theaters with strength and determination," Gantz said, adding that this "new spectrum of threats requires a new and broader budget framework for the defense establishment."

One such threat was the upcoming aid flotilla bound from Turkey to the Gaza Strip, one year after the deadly Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ship. "The flotilla organizers are working to inflame hatred and provocation against Israel and not out of desire to help the population in Gaza."

"There is no humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, Gantz declared. "Every day, hundreds of trucks enter filled with food and materials. The IDF will work to stop any attempt to break through the naval blockade."

The international community has recognized the validity of this blockade, said Gantz, adding that even United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recently defended its legality while blasting the illegality of the aid flotillas.

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