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Reflections on Abie’s 80th

For those who may not be aware, Abie Nathan recently celebrated 80th birthday. Being one of the many people in Israel who enjoyed listening to Abie’s Voice of Peace radio station: “that’s right, 1540 on your FM dial”, I was thoroughly pleased to listen to the birthday tribute made to him today by the DJ’s and staff of a local station, 100 FM who recreated the Voice of Peace today, May 12, in commemoration of this wonderful human being who has given so much of himself in the cause of peace and humanity.

Peace Ship  - Abie NathanIn a previous article I posted a short while back, it was written that Abie’s main wish for this day was to be given the means to end his suffering; i.e. to take his own life. In his present condition, Abie Nathan feels that he has been forgotten by the very humanity he tried so much to help. It’s not just his poor state of health that depresses him now – it’s how both Israel and the rest of the world seem to have swept both him and his dreams under the rug of history. With all that is going on in this world of ours today, especially during the past 7 years, I for one wonder what Abie Nathan would have done to help alleviate the suffering of people in so many disasters, natural and man-made, which have occurred around the planet. I can only speculate, but here are some of my ideas as to how Abie would have reacted to the following events:

1. 9-11: Abie would have certainly gone to New York City and stayed there at least a few weeks assisting in the search for victims of the World Trade Center attack, and to do what he could to help the survivors and next of kin of those who perished. He would have done this despite the backgrounds of those who became innocent victims of terror.

2. The tsunami tidal waves in Southern Asia, in December, 2004: Judging on past natural tragedies in which Abie was involved, he would have organized a large shipment of medical and other humanitarian supplies to assist the survivors of this mega catastrophe that killed nearly a quarter million human beings. One would have surely seen him in the middle of some of the worst hit areas, passing out candy and other items to children to put a smile on their stunned faces. It wouldn’t have mattered if it were in Indonesia, Thailand, India, or Sri Lanka, Abie would have gone to where he was needed.

3. Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005: Abie would have been right there on the spot to assist in the rescue of people trapped in flooded buildings in New Orleans and other areas. He also would have organized relief supplies and temporary shelter to people on the stricken Gulf Coast – many of whom who were from poorer backgrounds and not given aid fast enough during the first crucial days following the category 5 mega-storm.

4. Lebanon and Israel, July-August, 2006. Abie would have reacted immediately to the tragedy of this conflict, and if allowed would have surely aided the Lebanese as well as his own countrymen who suffered from this short but terrible war. Abie Nathan’s philosophy was to help anyone who was in need of assistance; and he would have done all he could to help those who were suffering on either side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. As it turned out, private individuals and organizations reacted much quicker than government ones; a situation still being talked about to this day.

5. Darfur in the Sudan: This conflict, now being referred to as the new holocaust of the 21st Century, would not be strange to a man like Abie Nathan as he often went to conflict torn regions, including the Congo, Ethiopia, and other places where man’s inhumanity to Man is reaching a scale of shocking proportions. Though not yet on the scale of the horrors of the Rwandan tribal massacres of the early 1990’s, what is presently happening to the inhabitants of this unfortunate region needs much more attention that what is being given by the rest of humanity. In fact, Abie suffered his first stroke while on a similar mission in Africa in 1995. Tragedies such as these only show how big Abie Nathan’s heart was in regards to helping to relieve human suffering.

While these are only a few examples of crises areas where Abie Nathan would have given his able assistance, they indicate what he would have done if given the opportunity. In the realm of promoting peace, Abie Nathan had his few moments of glory in which he could reap the personal satisfaction of helping to make it all come about – one of these being in the aftermath of the 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The ink was barely dry on the document signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin, when Abie broadcasted a VOP program from a night club in the center of Cairo. It’s too bad that he won’t have the opportunity to do this again from a similar location in the center of Beirut or Damascus.

Abie Natthan may be old, sick, and infirm; but he is certainly not forgotten. Not by many of us who still pray for the day when peace and understanding will finally come not only to Israel and her neighbors, but in many other parts of our world as well.

Happy birthday, Abie, and many, many happy returns!

WhiteSmoke Writing Software

WhiteSmoke Writing Software

WhiteSmoke develops writing software. In addition to the traditional English grammar, spelling, and punctuation checks found in word processors, WhiteSmoke provides an enrichment feature that suggests context-based additions to users’ texts, plus an online dictionary that includes translations and a thesaurus. The patented technology stimulates the human thought process when it reads, classifies, and stores millions of English texts.

The company developed this artificial intelligence tool that is able to scan databases from news sites such as CNN and The New York Times, and studies documents from Harvard and Yale on an ongoing basis to learn how English sentences are used real-time in business, medicine and every-day life.

When a user activates WhiteSmoke software he sends text to the server, which then parses the text and returns it to the user with relevant choices for text enrichment. WhiteSmoke software is compatible with all applications; the user’s text is automatically sent to the WhiteSmoke server upon activation. An OEM version also exists, consisting of a set of client and server tools that enable websites and writing platforms to provide users access to WhiteSmoke.

WhiteSmoke has been in business for three years. Notable investors include Shlomo Touboul, evolution VC, and Yair Goldfinger, a founder of online chat giant ICQ.

Newt Gingrich’s not-so-new Revelations

NewtThe American presidential race is off with a bang, and this fact is none the less dramatized within the Republican Party. One of this party’s presidential hopefuls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has made his presidential bid even more ‘interesting’ by his recent disclosures that he had an extra-marital affair during the period prior to impeachment proceedings against former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The revelation by Mr. Gingrich shouldn’t be startling to anyone who is familiar with the former Georgia Congressman, who made a similar disclosure during the investigations against President Clinton. Gingrich, who as the 59th House Speaker held one of the most powerful political positions in America, eventually resigned this position, as well as his seat in the House of Representatives. The incident also cost him his marriage as well.

Following his resignations, Gingrich disappeared temporarily from public life but later resurfaced as a guest commentator for news media programs, such as Fox News. With a number of Republican and Democratic ‘wannabe’ hopefuls already throwing their hats into the political arena, including former New York mayor Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani, many people are wondering why Gingrich has suddenly decided to bring his questionable past to the fore front once again. By declaring that he has asked for God’s forgiveness for his extra marital activities, Gingrich appears to be trying to vindicate himself by comparing his affair to that of former president Bill Clinton by saying that Clinton’s crimes were much greater due to the former President’s attempt to cover up his relationship with a junior White House aid, as well as other crimes, including contempt of Congress.

Gingrich’s desire to run for the American Presidency lumps him together with other Republican hopefuls, with Rudy Giuliani being considered the apparent front runner. Giuliani himself has had a very “colorful” personal life, including being married twice and having a number of extra marital affairs. Perhaps Mr. Gingrich feels that by “letting it all hang out” he can put this sordid business out of the way and then proceed to clean up his political act. Most Americans, however, are not so keen on accepting his attempts to turn over a new personal and political leaf. It is still very early in the campaign, and there are surely many more capable candidates out there with much cleaner personal and political ‘laundry’ to display.

Gingrich’s appearances on several American talk shows, as well as being a guest commentator on Fox News, indicate that he might become an acceptable journalist or talk show host; and this may be his best ‘calling’ in respect to his personal future. He could wind up being a permanent member of the Fox News staff; or even the host of a program such as The Tonight Show, presently hosted by TV personality Jay Leno. After all, Gingrich has plenty of material to use in the program’s beginning monolog.

At the end of the day, Mr. Gingrich’s political antics may remind many of words immortalized by American circus promoter P.T. Barnum, who said that “you can fool some people some of the time, but not everyone all of the time”.

Adi Ashkenazi – Photographer

Adi Ashkenazi

Adi Ashkenazi is an Israeli photographer. This is a little about him.

Education:
“School of Visual Arts” (SVA) Summer Residency. New York, 2005-2006
“School of Visual Arts” (SVA) Photography Studies (Fashion, Studio). New York, 2003 – 2004
“Fairleigh Dickinson University” (FDU), BAGS Degree. New York/New Jersey, 2000 – 2003
“Open” high school, General Studies, B/W photography Rison Le Zion. Israel, 1986

Exhibitions:
“Magnificent New York” Empire state building Manhattan, Group show, New York September 2006.
“New York, New York. Five photographers” Brooklyn, New York, August 2006.
“Glimpses of New York” New York Images, Manhattan New York July 2006.
“Portraits, Self-Portraits” GALLERY 402, Group exhibition, Manhattan New York March 2006.
“Portraits, Self-Portraits” GALLERY 402, Group exhibition, Manhattan New York March 2005
MMCC at Cornell Library, Group exhibition, Manhattan New York February 2005.
Laser show production displays, design and presented in front of 6000 people monthly for a period of three years, concluded with “Israel 50th anniversary” show display viewed by 30,000 people daily for a month. 1998.

Publications:
“Pnai Plus” Israel Magazine, pictures. September 2006.
“Maariv” Israel biggest News Paper, pictures. September 2006.
“Guest Informant” Guest Informant In-Room Books, USA Nationwide, September 2006.
“OBHF – Outreach for Breast Health” Photography book for benefit, May/June issue 2006.
“Farmhouse Magazine” Visual Art – Photography, May/June issue 2006.
“Basketball” -Short movie, Still Photography, used in publication and DVD Cover April 2005.
vilnaismusic.com, Online Photo Gallery, and Photo for Ad’s. New York, March, 2005
“BiZBash” Event Style Reporter magazine and website, Event photography, New York February 2005
“Maariv” Israel biggest News Paper, Editor’s choice and recommendation pictures and articles. December 2004.
“Maariv” Israel biggest News Paper, Gossip column pictures. December 2004.
“Storahtelling” & “REBBETZIN HADASSAH GROSS”, Online Photo Gallery, and Photo for Ad’s. New York, November, 2004
“Smadar Levi” Music Band, CD Cover, Online Photo Gallery, and Photo for Ad’s. New York, June, 2004
“Time-Out Kids” Quarterly Magazine, New York events photography. July, 2004.
“Time-Out Student Guide” Yearly Magazine, New York events photography. August, 2004.
“Village Voice” Magazine, Advertisement campaign for the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. 4 weeks October, 2004.
“Sway Machinery Inc” Music band, photo Ad’s for Concerts. New York, 2004.
“Sultana Ensemble” Music, Online photo gallery. New York, 2004.
On-line photo gallery, Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. October, 2003.
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Israeli Consulate has an Isrealli Blog

Isrealli.org - New York Consulate BlogThis is a nice edition to the blog world. The Israeli consulate in New York has a blog called Isrealli. They are already asking for help from writers but seem to have a fresh approach and not the typical government feel. Hope they keep it going…Welcome Guys!

Brother James Takes the “Night Train”

Brother James Takes the Night Train
Brother James Joseph Brown, the self-proclaimed “God Father of Soul” left this world on Christmas Day, 2006, age 73. Brown expired from a complication of pneumonia in Emory Hospital Atlanta, long considered his ‘home town’. Considered an Icon in the realm of soul and rhythm & blue music, Brown’s career spanned more than 50 years, in which he won several Grammy awards for hit recordings such as Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Out of Sight, and Black and Proud. Brown often billed himself as “the hardest working man in show business”, and anyone who had the opportunity to see in a live performance, will most likely agree to this.

I had the pleasure to see “Brother James” in at least 6 performances during a 25 year period, beginning in 1964. He never failed to both entertain and amaze me in his dancing, and other antics on the stage. James got his big boost when he performed several gigs in the Apollo Theater in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. After that, there was no looking back, and he afterwards deserved the acclaim of being the star of stage, screen and television.

James Brown literally put Soul Music on the map, making this combination of gospel and rhythm & blue music immensely popular with all ages and ethnic backgrounds. His show antics, included wearing a collection of capes and other items, which he often threw into his delighted audience, as well as collapsing onto the floor; only to be helped up and ‘revived’ by his show staff, and throwing even more items to his fans.

Though his personal life was a bit ‘problematic’, including serving a two and a half year prison sentence for assault, he bounced back and received a special Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards in 1992. Brown’s concert appearances took him all over the world, including Israel. He had bit parts in numerous movies and even starred in some dealing with his career.

James’s musical achievements inspired many performers who imitated either his music or dancing style. Some of these included Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. One performer, the late Otis Redding, once said that “if I was a dance floor, I would like to have James Brown ‘mash potato’ all over me”. And ‘mash potato’ he did, as well as the ‘funky boogaloo’ and a number of other dance numbers, many of them not only nameless but impossible to duplicate as well.

James Brown had the wonderful ability to adapt and diversify his music to fit the times, which made him perennially popular to generations of audiences, from R & B to Hip-Hop. He frequently made appearances on T.V. talk and variety shows, including Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. At nearly every live performance, James included an old R & B song “Night Train”, in which he ‘traveled’ the country with his music. He has now taken that final Night Train, and though gone, will never be forgotten.

Can a Rabbi Say God is Dead as a joke?

Rabbi Marc GellmanI was sent this article from Newsweek, written by Rabbi Marc Gellman and the first sentence I read was this:

The arrival of the World Series this year convinced me that God is dead (proof: the Mets are gone) and that God is not dead (proof: the Yankees are also gone).

So I went to his bio page and this is what it said:

Gellman holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern University. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and is the senior rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York. Gellman is a past President of the New York Board of Rabbis.

That’s it really… I know its a joke and I read the article but just thought it was interesting to hear a Rabbi say god is dead even in jest. I guess its a cultural think, its just that when I think Rabbi I think of someone like this….
Ovadia Yosef

(Hat Tip: Manu)

End of the Israeli Macho

Machismo in Israel (Hat Tip: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times)

A recent New York Times article, dealing with the sexual misconduct affairs of Israel President Moshe Katsav, questions whether this and other publicized sexual misconduct and harassment cases involving Israel generals and political leaders marks the end of the stereotyped “macho” image of Israeli men. Referring back to former years, when men such as Moshe Dayan were known womanizers and even international sex symbols, the more recent scandals and court cases involving Israeli male personalities may mean that the cliché of the macho image may fast becoming history in present day Israeli society.

Delving into the history of modern day Zionism, in which Jewish “Hatluzim”, or pioneers, tamed a harsh and disease ridden land while constantly fighting off hordes of Arabs no longer appears to be the character of the modern Israeli male. While the colorful Dayan was able to carry on his activities without undue controversy, and male actors such as Uri Zohar and Yehuda Barkan displayed images of Israeli playboys and beach boys in their movies, the present legal embroilments of several Israeli male personalities have resulted in this ‘trait’ becoming more of a hindrance than an attribute.

A law passed in 1998 now makes sexual advancements and harassment by men a crime, with women able to come forward to take their cases to court against employers, army superiors, and others. The case of former defense minister and transportation minister Yitzhak Mordechai, which occurred around the time this new law (based of a similar U.S. law) was passed, resulted in his leaving political life and public disgrace; as well as being divorced by his wife, Kochi, who herself may have been one of his “victims”.

With the present sex scandals of both Moshe Katsav and former justice minister Haim Ramon being not only splattered across the front pages of newspapers both in and outside of Israel, ‘The Times’ article has drawn it’s own conclusions on the future image of the Israeli male.

Sex scandals are not the only reason why this phenomena has come about, as the country has undergone substantial changes since the days of Uri Zohar and of comedy flicks such as “Lemon Popsicle”, portraying the sexual antics of three Israeli male teenagers. Fewer young men seek careers in the military and in other macho-type occupations which were popular years back. More and more men, and women, are seeking professional or technological based careers; and instead of meeting on Friday afternoons to play “cadur-regel” (football), these guys may be more inclined to be surfing the Internet. In fact, while being an Egged bus driver was an ideal career about 30 years ago, being a computer software guru is now much more popular.

For those Israelis who still long for the nostalgia of the “good old days”, however; they can probably access onto some of Uri and Yehuda’s old movies via YouTube or other film-sharing websites.

Air Fares: Great Fall/Winter Deals!

Planning to fly abroad from Israel soon? Several airline companies are planning special fare deals for both business and tourist classes, even in excess of normal seasonal fare reductions. Due to decreased demand, especially on departing flights from Ben Gurion Airport, companies such as British Air and Lufthansa are offering both reduced rates as well as additional frequent flyer bonus miles.
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Musharraf Comes ‘Clean'; after 9-11 ‘fallout’

Pervez MusharrafIs the cat out of the bag, or is this something most people really knew all along? Only days after U.S. President Bush met with Pakistan’s president (or is it Dictator) Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in New York during the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, the release of the General’s book, In the Line of Fire, some very revealing details concerning Pakistan’s “real relationship” with the United States. Musharraf, who himself is not lily-white when it comes to how he became the supreme ruler of the world’s only (so far) nuclear armed Islamic country, has now made a virtual confession concerning how he had no alternative other than to ‘change horses’ and give support to the U.S. led War on Terror following the Al Qaeda planned attacks against the U.S. in September, 2001.

After supporting the ultra-Islamic Taliban organization to oust the Russians from Afghanistan, in which the U.S. CIA also played a major part, Pakistan continued to give support to this group which turned Afghanistan into an ultra-religious Islamic state where even most kinds of music was considered blasphemy and women had virtually no rights – even concerning education and receiving basic health care. All of this changed, however, when the Pakistani President received telephone calls from both the U.S. President and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, “inviting” Musharraf to join forces in defeating the Taliban, and it’s Al Qaeda ‘guests’, including Osama bin Laden.

Musharraf writes in his book that “America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear”, and that “this wounded bear would come charging straight at us” unless Pakistan elected to join the anti-terror Coalition. As was related to him by Mr. Powell, and later said generally by President Bush: “you are either with us, or you are with the terrorists”, with the obvious consequences for those who chose not to ‘join the party’.

Many people are asking, why is this ‘revelation’ coming out now? Why is Musharraf, who still is technically aligned with the U.S. and other countries, now coming clean? The only answer can be is that the Pakistani president has sensed a change of direction in the winds of war, regarding the battle against the Great Jihad of World Islam. Recent news stories have mentioned that Pakistan is not doing enough to search for and find Taliban and Al Qaeda members reported to be hiding in the mountain wilderness of northwest Pakistan; terrain so rugged that it is almost impossible to detect people who may be hiding there, even with the most sophisticated surveillance equipment. Top Al Qaeda leaders as well as Taliban chiefs such as Muhammad Omar, the ousted Taliban leader, are still assumed to be holed up there somewhere, or in similar terrain in northeastern Afghanistan.

Musharraf also has had his neighboring country India in mind when making these strategic decisions, since India is also a nuclear power and very much aligned with the U.S. The two countries have fought several major wars since both gained independence from Great Britain in 1947. They still have occasional skirmishes in the disputed region of Kashmir, and blame the other for frequent terror attacks which occur in both countries.

“We put our national interest on the line for self-preservation, as the Americans threatened to ‘bomb us back to Stone Age’ if we didn’t comply” Musharraf relates. He also sadly notes, that instead of becoming a safer place following the initial stages of the terror war, “the world has actually become far more dangerous”.

9/11: The Falling Man

The Falling ManSeptember 11, 2001 started out as any ordinary day: Clear blue skies and nice weather. On 8:46 am flight number 11 of American Airlines crashed into the northern tower of The World Trade Center (also known as The Twin Towers) in New York. The plane hit floors 93-99 and created a fire of 1000 degrees. The collision ruined the elevator shaft and prevented access to the emergency stairs. About 1300 people were trapped on the floors above the crash. At 9:03 am another plane crashed, this time into the southern tower. Another 600 people were trapped inside the second building.

Richard Drew, A photographer of Associated Press (AP) news agency, took many pictures from the scene. Amongst them, were photos of people jumping out of the burning towers. It’s estimated that 200 people jumped out of the towers.

The movie “9/11: The Falling Man”

The movie “9/11: The Falling Man” focuses on the most famous photograph of them all. It depicts a man falling from the World Trade Center, head first, with his legs stretched up gracefully, as if he was diving into a pool. The picture was published the next day on newspapers around the world. It provoked many angry responses from citizens, mainly from the US, and was censored immediately. The public felt that the camera invaded the falling man’s privacy before his death.

The first part of the movie exposes the viewer to the media’s debate whether to publish the photo. Editors felt that it was a decisive picture, portraying not only the last moments of a man’s life, but catching the big tragedy in this brutal terror attack.
Drew commented about the varying opinions, saying, “This is how it affected people’s lives at that time, and I think that is why it’s an important picture. I didn’t capture this person’s death. I captured part of his life. This is what he decided to do, and I think I preserved that.”

The second part of the movie deals with the attempts to find the identity of “The Falling Man”. The movie ends suggesting that this picture was not a matter of the identity behind the man, but how he symbolized the horrifying events of 9/11. The people that were trapped in the upper floors had to make a choice, and the deaths of those who jumped were and still are much more difficult to deal with.

This is the main reason why this film is worth watching. It deals with a morally controversial matter that is mostly ignored on this day of remembrance. It’s not easy to watch, but it shows a different and important aspect of to the 9/11 events.
(“9/11: the Falling Man”, Director: Henry Singer, Aired on channel yes doco, 11.9.)

She’s Hot! She’s on Top! – and she’s only 18!

Maria Sharapova is the envy of her classmates, and virtually all other girls her age. The 18 year old tennis ingénue won her claim to fame by winning the women’s title in the U.S. Open tennis tournament on Saturday. The Russian teenager, following the footsteps of former German tennis star, Steffi Graf, won her final match by the sizzling scores of 6-4, 6-4 over her Belgian opponent Justine Hennen-Arden.

Maria, who has recently gone from strength to strength in the professional tennis world, appeared to have the confidence and the grace of players at lest 6-8 years older. The slender teenager has already won a number of titles, including nearly every major world class tennis championship, defeating even the American sister stars, Venus and Serena Williams. Saturday’s final game took an hour and a half on intensive volleys, and brilliant defensive moves on Maria’s part.

Maria, who already has began to make on ‘play’ on the international marketing stage as well, is the example what every aspiring athlete would like to have; beauty, intelligence, and a will-to-win attitude that makes her a champion both on and off the court.

Saturday’s win entitled the young star to a purse of 1.2 million dollars; and is fast propelling her into the realm of being as a very wealthy young woman. Upon completing her last set, Maria romped all over the New York stadium course, hugging her coaches, friends, and family who were all in attendance. As she made her victory ‘parade’ around the court, she screamed out: “this is really crazy! It can’t be happening to me!”

Tennis is one of the summer’s grand outdoor sports, which contests such as the French Open, Wimbledon, and, of course, the U.S. Open being feature on the summer venue. Other popular greats such as Andre Agassi, whose tennis ‘swan song’ ended sadly for the American champion, were also featured at the match, which saw Serena Williams also bowing out early.

They say that champions are made, not born. But in Maria’s case, already coming from a very sport’s-minded family, both cases may very well be true.

The future appears very bright indeed for young Maria, who still has many successful playing years ahead of her. She has already appeared on a number of American TV talk shows, including Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, and Oprah Winfrey’s program. If she keeps this up, Maria will be able to look back one day as being one of the world’s most successful female tennis athletes.

September 11 2001 – Memoriam in Pictures

It’s been 5 years since the bombings and I know these events were all about the country but I have always had a warm corner in my heart for New York. Maybe because I lived there for a long time.

I think about the 911 attacks and I know that like Rabin’s murder in Israel, this was a life changing event for the American nation, one that is still resonating around the globe. I know it was for me.

I think so much has been written about 9/11 that the only thing I could think about is pulling out the pictures I collected over time. I apologize if I can’t name the sources, I can’t even remember where they all came from and who sent them to me.

So In Memoriam of September 11, 2001 here are our 63 images in one long strip.

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9-11: The Tragedy and the Warning

9-11: The Tragedy and the WarningToday at 9 a.m. E.D.T., and 4 p.m. M.E.T. (for those living in Israel and other similar time-zone countries), ceremonies will mark the fifth anniversary of what is now being considered the worst single attack against the United States, since Pearl Harbor. The events of this modern ‘day of infamy’ have been shown during the past few days by news networks all over the world. All the major U.S. new programs have been screening the horrible occurrences, in which at least 3.000 people lost their lives; most of them at the sight of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, New York City. Particularly as these events are re-screened, the nightmare of that fateful day becomes real again, almost a real as it was too many, a mere five years ago.

Despite intense efforts to find him, however, the world’s No. 1 arch villain, Osama bin Laden is still at large, and in fact appeared over the weekend in a new tape, together with his second in command, Ayman Muhammad al-Zawahiri, with renewed warnings that America and other Western countries have not seen the last of the terror organization known as Al Qaeda.

This follows on the heels of the tape last week in which Al-Zawahiri, together with a person known as Azaam the American, inviting all ‘non believers’ to convert to Islam before it will be too late. With people like bin Ladin and al-Zawahiri still on the lam, and with the near occurrence of yet another mega-terror attack in London only weeks back, many are wondering what is yet in store for not only Americans, but others as well.

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An “Open” Invitation

An Open InvitationA joint video taped speech by No. 2 Al Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad al-Zawahiri, and his American ‘spokesman’ Adam Gadahn, known in Al Qaeda circles as “Azaam the American” appeared over the weekend. The tape in which “Azzam” was speaking in English and al-Zawahiri in Arabic with English subtitles appeared to once again be reaching out to Westerners, especially Americans. Both Gadahn and al-Zawahiri were wearing white, which in Islamic religious circles symbolizes both purity and mourning, offered unbelievers an ‘opportunity’ to convert to Islam, before it is too late.

“We invite all Americans and non-believers to come to Islam; whatever their roles and status in (US President) Bush and (U.K. P.M.) Blair’s world order, Gadahn spoke in articulate American-accented English. Continuing, Gadahn said: “Decide today, because today could be your last day. All non-Muslims who have been living in ‘darkness’ should now come into the light”.

The ‘open invitation’ was part of a 48 minute speech in which both “Azaam” and Al-Zawahiri lambasted the policies of both Bush and Blair, particularly their military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though their locations were unknown, it was unlikely that the two men were speaking from the same place. Al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden are hiding somewhere in a remote mountainous section in northeastern Afghanistan; and Gadahn’s whereabouts are unknown. His family, who live in California, have not seen him since he gave up “heavy metalism” in 1995 and converted to Islam. Soon afterwards, he left for Pakistan, where he is still presumed to be living. The U.S. FBI has issued an international warrant for his arrest on the grounds that “Azzam” is inciting acts of terror against the USA. To put it more bluntly, his actions border more on sedition, and even treason.

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