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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ditching TSA?;Military Tribunals;NATO-Russia,missiles in Turkey;UNSC-EUFOR-BiH;Israeli-U.S.;Martyrs Joy,Fr.Sysoeyv

An Orlando, Florida, airport official wants to do away with the Transportation Security Administration and use a private firm to screen passengers. Larry Dale, president of the Sanford Airport Authority in Orlando, is considering ditching TSA security personnel and replacing them with a private firm. Dale's comments come during a week in which the TSA has been under fire for it's airport screening procedures, including imaging technology and pat downs. TSA is in charge of protecting the nation's transportation systems. Private airport security is not uncommon. The TSA lists 17 airports that are currently participating in its Screening Partnership Program. They include San Francisco International Airport, Kansas City International Airport, Greater Rochester International Airport and Key West International Airport. Participating airports work with TSA to hire an approved security contractor and must follow TSA security guidelines when screening passengers and baggage, according to the TSA website. "All commercial airports are regulated by TSA whether the actual screening is performed by the TSA officers or private companies. The TSA sets the security standards that must be followed and includes the use of enhanced pat downs and imaging technology, if installed at the airport," said TSA spokesman Greg Soule. Congressman John Mica, R-Florida, the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wrote a letter to the nation's 100 busiest airports urging them to ditch the TSA for private security.

The Obama administration may be forced to rely on military tribunals to try "war on terror" suspects after a New York jury cleared the first ex-Guantanamo inmate brought to a civilian court of almost all charges, experts say. The trial verdict is a huge blow to President Barack Obama's plans to close Guantanamo Bay prison and will boost Republicans opposed to trying terrorists on the mainland. "The verdict has offered a vision of the nightmare scenario -- acquittal in a terrorism case involving a high value detainee -- and that vision will be enough to ramp up the already intense pressure not to try something like this again," said legal expert Benjamin Wittes from the Brookings Institution in Washington. However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a news briefing, "The President remains committed to closing Guantanamo Bay to ensure that it is no longer the recruiting poster that it is right now for al-Qaeda." Tanzanian national Ahmed Ghailani, 36, was acquitted on Wednesday of all but one of the 286 charges brought against him after the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He faces up to life in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy against U.S. property in the attacks which killed 224 people and injured thousands more. But on Thursday, Mr. Wittes said Ghailani's final sentence, which could be the mandatory minimum of 20 years in jail, will fail to quell the political storm about future trials of other suspects -- including the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks and his four alleged coplotters. "The only thing that will matter in the political sphere will be that prosecutors won a conviction on only one of 285 criminal counts -- that they came within a hair's breath of losing the case entirely," he said. Wednesday's verdict immediately reignited the fierce debate about what to do with other "war on terror" suspects. The Obama administration is seeking to try some of the 171 terror suspects still at Guantanamo Bay in civilian courts, as part of its stalled plans to empty and close the notorious facility in Cuba.

Leaders of the 28 NATO member countries begin a two-day summit in Lisbon on Friday, and next to the war in Afghanistan, a missile defense shield to defend against Iran is set to be high on the agenda. Turkey is seen as playing a key role in the program, but Ankara is far from enthusiastic. This week Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he wrote to NATO leaders explaining his country's concerns over the proposed missile defense shield. Primarily, Ankara fears potential fallout with Iran, with which in the last few years it has rapidly developed strong political and economic ties. Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University said the missile defense program is now viewed by Turkey's Western allies as a test of its allegiances. Turkey's closeness with Iran was epitomized in July, when Ankara voted against a UN Security Council resolution to impose new sanctions on Iran for its continued uranium enrichment program. The vote set alarm bells ringing in the capitals of Ankara's Western allies - none more so than in Washington. Concern had already been growing in the US even before the vote, following the collapse of relations between Turkey and Israel. Now Washington is using all its diplomatic muscle on Ankara to secure its participation in the missile defense program. Turkey is the only NATO country bordering Iran, and is thus seen as playing a key role in the program. Earlier this month the head of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry, visited Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan to press Washington's case. Even though he put a positive spin on the talks, he admitted little progress had been made. Analysts say the failure to resolve the issue before the Lisbon summit is causing concern in both Washington and Europe. In the European Union's annual progress report published this month, it too stressed its concern with Turkey's apparent reluctance to tow the EU's foreign policy line. [Turkey demands to be given control of missile defense system since it will be on her territory.] Such a demand could prove hard for NATO to agree to, especially with increasing questions about Turkey's relations with Iran. Even if NATO agrees on a compromise, as is expected, Turkey's apparent reticence will not go unnoticed. Failure to reach an agreement would likely be a turning point in Turkey's relations with the West.

Missile defense, one of the thorniest points in Russia-NATO relations, could be the focus for new cooperation between the two sides after the NATO summit in Lisbon. "It will certainly be a summit that marks a fresh start in our relations," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on the eve of the landmark November 19-20 meeting. "I hope in particular that NATO and Russia will be moving forward on missile defense cooperation." The Russian side agrees - something the two sides have rarely managed to achieve on missile defense issues in the past. "I consider this realistic," presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko said, adding that the realization of the system was simply a matter of "political will." He also said a joint system was possible in the "mid-term, rather than the long-term". Russian Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin said on Tuesday the Air Force was ready to work on missile defense systems with NATO. The Kremlin insists that the readiness to cooperate on missile defense issues should be laid down in a written document. Rasmussen also said that the alliance is hoping for further cooperation with Russia on Afghanistan. "We are hoping to finalize an understanding which would broaden the existing agreement on transit. It would allow for land movements across Russia both to and from Afghanistan. And the list of approved goods would be enlarged," he said. That enlarged cooperation could include Russian training and support for Afghanistan's helicopter force. He also expressed hope that NATO and Russia would "increase the scope" of its work on combating the drug trafficking from Afghanistan. Russian and U.S. personnel recently combined to launch raids on drug labs. The NATO head also remarked that "new NATO" meant "a more engaged NATO, open to deeper partnerships in a wider world, including with Russia."

The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of the European Union Force (EUFOR) in Bosnia for another year, it was stated in New York. EUFOR took over the peace mission from SFOR - the NATO-led stabilization forces in BiH in 2004. Their purpose was to ensure compliance of all sides with the Dayton Peace Accords. Addressing the UN Security Council last week, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko required an extension of EUFOR's mandate in BiH. He also called for continued involvement of the international community in that region. He assessed that 15 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, the country still lacks readiness for dialogue and compromise. The Security Council adopted a resolution in which it “reminds the parties once again that, in accordance with the Peace Agreement, they have committed themselves to cooperate fully with all entities involved in the implementation of this peace settlement,” the United Nations News Service reported.

Israel's prime minister will ask his Cabinet Sunday to consider a package of security and diplomatic incentives the U.S. has proposed to entice Israel to renew limits on settlement construction and revive moribund peace talks with the Palestinians. The chief Palestinian negotiator expressed strong reservations about the proposal because the 90-day moratorium on new construction would only apply to the West Bank and not east Jerusalem, the Palestinians' hoped-for capital. But Saeb Erekat did not reject it outright, saying the Palestinians would consult among themselves and with Arab leaders. Peace talks ground to a halt, just three weeks after they began, after Israel rejected U.S. and Palestinian pressure to extend a 10-month moratorium on new construction that expired Sept. 26. Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table if construction resumed on land they want for a future state and gave the U.S. until later this month to come up with a formula to salvage the talks. The diplomatic climate soured even further last week after Israel pressed ahead with plans to build 1,300 apartments in east Jerusalem. In a seven-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the U.S. last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that in exchange for a new construction moratorium, the White House would ask Congress to sell Israel 20 stealth fighter jets, an Israeli diplomatic source said. The U.S. would also commit to fight international resolutions that would be critical of Israel or unilaterally advance the Palestinian quest for statehood, he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity pending the presentation of the deal to the Cabinet on Sunday. Netanyahu can expect some stiff opposition to the proposal from some members of his hawkish Cabinet. It was unclear if any decisions would be taken at Sunday's meeting. Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, said the Americans had not officially informed the Palestinians about the details of the proposal, but "they know we have a major problem in not including east Jerusalem." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will put the U.S. plan before Palestinian decision-makers and call for an immediate session of Arab League officials before announcing an official decision, Erekat said.

On November,19, 2010 is one year since the murder of Fr. Daniel Sysoeyv. When I was little, I very much feared death, and thought that to die meant to completely vanish. It is a very good thing that believers do not have such fear. While we are alive on earth, our bodies interfere with our seeing God, for God is Spirit, but when we die, our soul encounters God. People of faith of course also fear death, but it is a different kind of fear. It is not a fear of vanishing, of no longer being, it is not a fear that your life, everything good that you possess, everything will come to an end, and no longer exist. Rather, it is the fear of God's Judgment, fear that God will judge us for everything we have done. And today, praying for Fr. Daniel, we ask God that this Judgment of God over Fr. Daniel will be a merciful one. Like everyone else, Fr. Daniel was a sinful person, but he possessed amazing zeal; he greatly desired that all people should learn about Christ. He had a great desire to tell about Christ to those who did not yet know about Him. He wanted to share with others the joy of his faith. And the fact that the Lord blessed him with such a martyric death is a sign of God's mercy towards man. While the Saints were being taken away to be martyred, they rejoiced that they could suffer for Christ's sake, to suffer for the One Who died for us on the Cross, Who suffered for us. Thus, for the Saints, it was a joy to have a martyr's death, and we always celebrate the day of their death as a great Feast. In our school, there are girls who are afraid of revealing their faith in Christ, who are afraid that others will find out that they are Orthodox, who are embarrassed by the fact that they do not smoke and do not commit the sins that others do. Some of the children are embarrassed that they do not have social network pages, that they don't own a good cell phone. Yet, is that a cause for embarrassment?! Is that so important? Is that what one needs? What is important for man is to be with God, to be with Christ. And of course, to be embarrassed by what is the main joy of our life, to be embarrassed by what the Lord has given us, not according to our merits, but because he has chosen us — that is a great sin. Our being chosen should be a source of joy, about which we should speak; how can it be an embarrassment? Even if as a result we are betrayed unto torture and death. Such a death will be an encounter with God, Whom we seek here on earth but quite often cannot find. With that God, Who is the greatest Joy, for Whose sake one can give up everything, including life itself. Those who murdered Fr. Daniel know not what they did. When good on earth is destroyed in this manner, the good becomes very powerful! Those who crucified Christ saw that he was preaching something quite different from what they believed , and they wanted to put an end to that preaching, wanted to force Him to be silent, for he was denouncing lying, hypocritical, evil, greedy people, people who served the devil. They did not know how to accomplish their goal, so they decided to put Him to death. And what happened? Did they win? Stupid people. Christ is Risen! And the Faith in Christ has spread throughout the entire world. Although we are living today far from the place where Christ suffered, although we are living centuries after his death, we know of Christ. It is impossible to kill good. It cannot be destroyed. It is impossible to kill the truth, for it remains victorious. It is impossible to kill life itself, for the soul was created by immortal God. When people act as they have here, they help good to become firmly established, with ever greater power. In the past century, many people were murdered and tortured to death, and what was the result? The Faith was triumphant! Look at how many churches are being opened, at how many people are coming to God. Have the murderers won? It was the martyrs who were victorious! Today is the day of commemoration of Hieromartyr Kirill of Kazan, of Fr. Tavrion, who spent 30 years in exile. It was they who were victorious. And of course, Fr. Daniel is victorious. Because it is impossible to destroy good. Those whom he called to faith, those to whom he preached Christ, will now become even stronger in that faith. Of course, we should all follow along that path. We must not be afraid to bear witness to the Faith in Christ. Of course, as we are not privy to God's Judgment, we must pray for the soul of Fr. Daniel. Yet, it is our hope that if the Lord granted him such a martyric death, he will also take him to himself into the Heavenly Dwellings, and will grant him rest with the Saints. Let us pray for that, with both hope and joy! Let us also pray for his wife. He left three children, for whom life now is very difficult. We must help them.