Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Daily Brief - Thursday, January 9, 2008

"Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake." (Psalm 79:9)

1. Bush Calls Israel A Jewish State

The U.S.-Israeli alliance helps to guarantee the security of Israel as a Jewish State, President Bush said Wednesday, after arriving in Tel-Aviv on Air Force One, the first stop of his Middle East tour. Israel is eager for the U.S. to back them as a Jewish state in any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Characterizing Israel as a Jewish State undermines the Palestinian demand that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees (and millions of their descendants) return to Israel - diluting its Jewishness demographically.

Bush is here on a three-day "working visit" of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders designed to energize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process the U.S. re-launched last November, in Annapolis, Maryland. He'll travel to the West Bank for some of the talks, and is expected to make at least two stops at Christian holy sites in northern Israel overlooking the Sea of Galilee and in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.

· Dearest Lord, thank You for allowing our President to travel safely to Israel today. We humbly ask You to guide him to an awareness of Your plans for Israel and to show him that Your sovereign nation will never be divided. May he travel to places that You will show him Your power and may he continue to read Your Word to confirm what he sees in Israel and throughout the Middle East. May he seek Your face in all that he does while on this trip, and may he realize that You have been the source of all his wisdom and strength. In the Powerful Name of Jesus we ask these things. Amen.

· "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him." (Psalm 28: 7 NKJV)

2. Three Dead , 38 Injured After Brush Fire, Fog Cause 70-Car Pileup on Florida Interstate --Associated Press and Fox News

About 70 cars crashed on a highway blanketed by fog and smoke from a brush fire Wednesday, and authorities said at least three people were killed. Nearly 15 miles of Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando was closed by the pileup. Aerial footage showed the soupy mix of fog and smoke covering the landscape for miles and giving the sky an eerie golden color.

Poor visibility forced rescuers to walk along the closed interstate checking individual vehicles for injured motorists, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Larry Coggins said. Conditions cleared in late morning, showing mangled, charred trucks and cars pinned underneath some tractor trailers. Workers were still trying to rescue one man pinned beneath an overturned truck. One of the first accident victims was a Florida Sheriff's Deputy, who said that conditions on the road worsened suddenly. "'It was clear, it was a little foggy, then it was total darkness."

· Dear Lord, may we be mindful of our days here on earth. No one involved in this early morning accident knew they would either be killed or injured. Please continue to help the emergency workers, law enforcement and state officials; and those involved, directly or indirectly, in this multiple vehicle pileup. All-wise God, may You be glorified in this horrific fiery crash. May many be saved unto You from these collisions today. In Your Name we pray, Jesus. Amen.

· "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 43: 2-3a NKJV)

3. Gold Prices Hit Record High Above $880 - Associated Press

Gold futures surged above $880 Tuesday to their highest level ever, not accounting for inflation, propelled higher by rising oil prices and a weak U.S. dollar. An ounce of gold for February delivery climbed as high as $884 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, topping by almost $10 its previous record of $875 set in 1980, and later settled at $880.30, up $18.30.

· Heavenly Father, we trust in You for our provision. May man, especially commodity traders, realize that they need to trade in Your eternal commodities for salvation first, and then for earthly treasures. May this gold, that You created; be used for Your glory, no matter what price it is!

· "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6: 33 NKJV)

4. Huckabee, Thompson Face Tough Ground in South Carolina

Following Sen. John McCain's victory in the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina GOP primary on January 19th looms as the next major electoral battle. Two presumptive Republican leaders in the state -- former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee - may face a tougher challenge there than conventional wisdom might believe.

Michigan is the next state to host a presidential primary on January 15th. On January 19th, Nevada also hosts caucuses. South Carolina holds its Democratic primary on January 26th, and Florida rounds out the month with its primary on January 29th.

· Dear Creator of the Universe. Please refine and pick the next President of the United States. May You continually be glorified in the 2008 presidential elections, and may we as a nation, truly live up to our nation's motto, "In God We Trust." And, may all presidential candidates, past, present and future be saved for Your Son's sake. In His Name we pray. Amen.

· "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer." (Psalm 4: 1 NKJV)

5. FAA: Terrorists Could Hack New Boeing Jetliner -- Fox News and Associated Press

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight deck introduces innovative new technologies to help pilots while maintaining commonality with the popular Boeing 777 Worldliner.

The technology used by the new generation of aircraft is now so advanced that aviation officials fear that terrorists could use it to fly the plane. Aviation regulators have refused to certify Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet until it redesigns its computer system to protect against such an event.

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is concerned that terrorists could use the Dreamliner's in-flight Internet system to connect to "systems critical to the safety and maintenance of the aircraft. "In a report released last week, the FAA said that Boeing had left the pilots' computers open to attack by connecting the Dreamliner's entertainment system to the pilots' controls. A hacker with a computer and some IT training potentially could hijack the system from his seat.

· Thank You Omniscient Father, that You have chosen to reveal this frightening information before in-flight system hacking could become a reality, dooming many airliners before authorities would know what was causing in-air explosions and crashes. May those who invent these terrorist strategies be stopped and again, may they be saved and lead their families, friends and nations to an everlasting relationship with Your Son, Jesus Christ.

· "And I know that I will live to see the Lord's Goodness in this present life. Trust in the Lord, have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord!" (Psalm 27: 13-14 Good News Bible)

The Middle East in Focus

This week, for all the headlines cited below, please join us in proclaiming THIS DECREE:

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto You. When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." (Psalm 32:8)

1. Bush urges clear outline for a Palestinian state - Ha'aretz

U.S. President George W. Bush called for Israel and the Palestinians to agree on clearly defined outlines for a Palestinian state, a day before he begins a landmark visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

2. Olmert to lay down Israel's red lines - Ynet News

In his meeting on Wednesday with US President George W. Bush in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to lay down Israel's red lines in regards to matters pertaining to security, economics, infrastructure and quality of life.

3. Analysis: Al-Qaida sends Bush, Israel a stark reminder - Jerusalem Post

Last week it was Osama Bin Laden who in an audiotape message declared that he would never recognize Israel and warned of a "blood for blood and destruction for destruction" Jihad.

4. 9 Qassams hit Negev; IDF attacks rocket launchers in Gaza - Ynet News

Palestinians in northern Gaza fired nine Qassam rockets and a number of mortars toward the western Negev Wednesday morning, just several hours before US President George W. Bush's expected arrival in Israel.

Prayers for the Persecuted Church

This week, for all the headlines cited below, please join us in proclaiming THIS DECREE:

"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also." (Hebrews 13:3)

1. IRAQ: Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches - Compass Direct News

Four Iraqi churches and three convents were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts yesterday morning, the day many Iraqi Christians celebrate either Epiphany or Christmas Eve according to some Eastern liturgical calendars. At least six people were injured, one seriously.

2. PAKISTAN: Released: 5 Christians kidnapped in Waziristan - Asia News

The 5 Christians kidnapped on January 4th last by suspected Taliban militants in Waziristan province were released late last night. It appears the Christians were released after intense "political pressure" on the kidnappers.

The 5 men kidnapped - Altaf Masih, Babar Masih, Emanuell, Sakhawat Masih and his son Imran Masih - were travelling to Wana a Der, when men surrounded the vehicle they were in and captured them.

According to local sources
the kidnap was orchestrated by Baitullah Mehsud, the infamous Taliban commander close to Afghan terrorism. Moreover Islamabad believes he is chiefly to be held responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (Ppp) who was killed in a 27 December attack in circumstances that have yet to be ascertained.

3. A message to President Bush:
Please Ask President Mubarak These Questions
- Christian News Wire

To read the letter to President Bush released by Mounir Bishay, President of Christian Copts of California, go here.

4. CHINA: Shi Weihan Released on Bail
Government Officials Decide Not to Pursue Criminal Charges
- China Aid

China Aid Association has learned that on January 4, Christian bookstore owner, Shi Weihan along with two dozen others associated with his case, have been released on bail. Chinese officials have decided against a formal trial for Shi, and criminal charges against the accused have been dismissed. Eyewitnesses told CAA that Shi was in good spirits and relatively stable physical condition. Shi's family members asked CAA to thank the tireless efforts of the international community for his release.
(To read the full article, go here.)

5. IRAQ: Chaldean priest abducted and tortured in Iraq because he was Christian - Asia News

Fr Hani Abdel Ahad, abducted in Baghdad in June of last year and held for 12 days, tells AsiaNews about his captivity, the daily violence he experienced, the psychological threats and physical torture he endured. Money is not the only motive behind the abduction of priests. "I experienced first hand the deep hatred terrorists have for Christians and suffered on my body their plans to drive them out Iraq," he said. Still convalescing for the hardships he had to endure, he is thankful to God for his faith, only "hope for a better future."
(To read the entire article, go here.)


January 9 - President Bush arrives in Tel Aviv in the afternoon

The President changed the itinerary of his trip late this week in order to fit in a visit to Capernaum, the Christian holy site.

January 9, 10 - On Wednesday and Thursday, while in Israel and the West Bank, (Judea and Samaria) the President will have meetings with Israeli President Peres and Prime Minister Olmert, and separately with Palestinian President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

January 11 - On Friday, the President will meet with Quartet representative Tony Blair to get an update on efforts to help build the institutions of a Palestinian state and enhance the Palestinian capacity to self-govern.

The President will also lay a wreath at the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem before traveling to Kuwait, where he will meet with Amir Sabah.

January 12 - On Saturday, President Bush will visit with U.S. troops at Camp Arifjan (Kuwait). He will meet with Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus to get an update on the current situation in Iraq. Also, the President will have a roundtable on democracy and development with Kuwaiti women. The President will then travel to Bahrain, where he will meet with King Hamad.

January 13 - On Sunday, President Bush will visit the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet before traveling to the United Arab Emirates, where he will meet with President Khalifa. Following this meeting, President Bush will deliver a speech in Abu Dhabi. In that speech, he will talk about the progress we have seen in the Gulf, the progress of the freedom agenda in the region, emerging economic progress, and how regional security is important for both continued economic growth and for the spread of freedom.

January 14 - On Monday, President Bush will travel to Dubai, where he will be greeted by the ruler of Dubai. President Bush will then travel to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet with King Abdullah.

January 15 - On Tuesday, President Bush will be in Riyadh for meetings.

January 16 - On Wednesday, President Bush will travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where he will meet with President Mubarak. The President will depart Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday January 16 in the afternoon en route to Andrews Air Force Base.

(White House Press Briefing 1/3/08)

Pray for the safety and protection of President Bush, his aides, members of the Secret Service teams attending the Middle East meetings.

Ask the Lord to send GOSPEL MESSENGERS into their midst - that they may give a loving demonstration, and a compassionate witness of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco was quoted as saying that the three-day visit, which will start next Wednesday, will see a total of 10,450 police officers on the streets of Jerusalem to safeguard President Bush and his entourage.

[This article was reported by Intercessors for America.]

We also note that White House reporter Bill Koenig has been asked to accompany President Bush on this trip. Mr. Koenig is the author of the book, Eye to Eye - Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel, and knows well the dangers of dividing the land of Israel and/or Jerusalem. Please pray along with us that Mr. Koenig's message, based on the Word of God, would be heard during this trip.

New Jersey Passes Dangerous Hate-Crimes Bill

SUMMARY: Legislation adds gender identity as a protected status.

New Jersey lawmakers voted Monday to give transgendered individuals special rights. If Gov. Jon Corzine signs the legislation, the state would be the 12th to grant such strong rights. According to gay- activist groups, New Jersey has 153 laws to protect homosexuals and transgendered people. The first section of the bill adds "gender identity or expression" to the existing hate-crimes law, which includes sexual orientation, race and religion. The bill also requires all new police officers to attend a mandatory, two-hour hate-crimes sensitivity training.

"This particular piece of legislation is very strong because it includes 'gender expression,' which is not defined," said Greg Quinlan of New Jersey Family First, the legislative arm of the New Jersey Family Policy Council. "What does 'gender expression' mean?" Quinlan said the bill puts families, particularly women and children, in danger. "What is the protection from these people going into a restroom where they identify themselves as a different gender, yet they're using the facilities at the same time you are?" he said. "It's exposing children - an unintended consequence of the law."

In December, a federal hate-crimes measure fell apart over the effort to protect "actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

Caleb H. Price, research analyst for Focus on the Family, said the New Jersey legislation is not necessary. "Not only is there no need for adding the category of 'gender identity or expression'," he said, "but this category is inherently ambiguous and unlimited - and is subject to an ever-morphing understanding of a person's 'perceptions' about their biological gender." The legislation also creates a Commission on Bullying in Schools, which has nine months to investigate and make recommendations to the governor.

"New Jersey already has anti-bullying laws in place," Quinlan said, "but the bullying commission is set up to be totally sexually oriented. The people of New Jersey have got to stand up," Quinlan said. "It's time to speak up."

The bill is on Governor Corzine's desk.

(Source: Focus on the Family; CitizenLink)

Dishonorable Killing

Details continue to emerge about the murder of two teenage girls in Texas last week. It is alleged that Egyptian-born Yaser Abdel Said, 50, of Lewisville, Texas, shot and killed his two daughters on New Year's Day.

Why would a seemingly devoted father kill his daughters?

The girls' aunt told reporters that the brutal attacks were "honor killings," a barbaric practice largely unknown to westerners. "Honor killing" is the murder of a victim, usually female, by a close family member with the aim of undoing the loss of family status due to the victim's perceived actions or status. These killings are often motivated by the perception that the victim has compromised her sexual purity or has become too "westernized."

In some countries, rape victims are stoned to death, and women who are seen in public with a man who is not her husband or a blood relation are raped or killed. The United Nations estimates that as many as 5,000 women globally are victims of so-called honor killings every year. In Great Britain, for instance, over 100 homicides are currently under investigation as potential "honor killings." In this case, the father, who fled the scene of the crime and is still at large, killed his daughters because one of them had been dating a boy in her class. The girls' mother said that her husband had previously physically abused and threatened to kill the girls.

Not surprisingly, news reports of the horrific crimes have focused on the girls, their friendly personalities, high grades in school and participation in athletics. But few reports have discussed a possible motive for the gruesome murders, while others seem content to refer to the incident as an issue of "domestic violence." What most of the mainstream analysis has failed to note is that the Said family is Muslim and that "honor killings" are a ghastly feature of Islamic culture. Although honor killing is not condoned in the Koran, many other forms of violence against women are.

Moreover, honor killings typically take place in Muslim countries or amongst Muslims living in the West. In fact, penal law in countries throughout the Middle East-including Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Egypt and Jordan-allow for partial or complete defense of honor killings.

Of course, the Saids have been living in the United States for at least 20 years, but that was not enough for the father to shed this most appalling custom of his birth country, Egypt. The question is: How many people entering the U.S. embrace the idea that it is somehow an "honor" to kill one's own children? Is this even a question that prospective immigrants are asked when they apply for American citizenship? Given that so many Islamic leaders have declared war on the U.S. and our values, I don't think it's too much to consider whether or not the customs and values we are importing are at odds with those we hold dear.

(Source: Gary Bauer; End-of-Day; Jan. 8, 2008)

Links to Other Resources

Other Recommended Resources are now posted. Please Click here to find more information.

We particularly wish to cite Intercessors for America as the source to find all other ongoing prayer initiatives at this time.

For news at the state level (including court decisions re: gay rights), please see the links for the Family Research Council and for Citizen Link (Focus on the Family.) Thank you!!