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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Iran rally;U.S. Jewish leaders,Greece;HRW,Kosovo organs;Cyprus talks,Russian tourists,Arctic;Shortcomings with Passion

Iranian opposition leaders are organizing a solidarity rally in Tehran to support anti-government protesters in Egypt and Tunisia, officials said. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi wrote a letter to Iran's Interior Minister, seeking permission to hold a rally scheduled for next Monday, Radio Zamaneh, a Persian-language radio station based in Holland reported. The government has yet to respond to the request. Attempts by Iranian opposition leaders to stage peaceful protests in Iran from June to December 2009 were systematically crushed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime. A group of Iran's Green Movement posted a Facebook page dubbed "25 Bahman" -- the Iranian date for next Monday -- to drum up support for the rally, the report said. So far more than 9,000 people have friended the page.

An association of American Jewish community leaders begins Tuesday a first-ever visit to Greece in the latest demonstration of Greek efforts to improve relations with Israel, officials said. Around 60 representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations will visit Athens and Thessaloniki for talks with Greek state and Jewish community officials, a Thessaloniki community leader said. "This visit is held at the invitation of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou," said David Saltiel, chairman of the Thessaloniki Jewish community. The visit to February 13 is part of an annual trip to Israel by the group, a central coordinating body that represents 52 American Jewish agencies across the political and religious spectrum. This is the organisation's first visit to Greece according to the government. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebermam both recently visited Athens and Greek officials have also travelled to Israel to discuss potential projects in recent months. "Relations with Israel have never been better," Saltiel told AFP. "There is daily contact between Greek and Israeli ministers...."

Human Rights Watch is demanding a credible and independent investigation into the allegations of organ trafficking in Kosovo, said reports. According to Deutsche Welle radio, the international human rights organization is urging that the probe be conducted by a specially formed team of experts in fighting crime and corruption, which would have sufficient political power to carry out the investigation and protect witnesses. In mid-January HRW recommended that the international team should be based outside of the region due to possible intimidation of witnesses and investigators. Council of Europe (CoE) Rapporteur Dick Marty indicated in his report that in 1999 and 2000, Serb and other civilians fell victim to the members of the ethnic Albanian KLA... Other than being located outside Kosovo, such a body should also have at its helm high-ranking investigators given powers and jurisdiction to find the necessary information. In 2009, HRW said it had information that "at least 400 persons were taken from Kosovo to Albania, where all traces of them disappear". It was stressed then that the case is important because the alleged trade in human body parts took place after international presence was established in Kosovo in 1999... HRW says that in their efforts to secure a credible investigation, they were talking to representatives of "Germany, France, Britain and Brussels".

Two members of a global peace initiative who have visited Cyprus say its long-running peace talks appear to be at a standstill. Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu met on Tuesday with Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias. Afterward, the two members of the Elders, a group of international statesmen and women brought together by Nelson Mandela, said the talks have "gone backward" on some issues. But Brundtland also said she's convinced a peace accord is still possible. Cyprus was split into the Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded. Negotiations between Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu have yielded little progress.

Vice President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Yuri Barzykin has recommended Russian tourists, who cannot travel to Egypt, to visit Cyprus and Greece, the portal has reported. According to Barzykin because of the continuing unrest in Egypt, package tours to quieter destinations in the region have already risen by 10-15% in the Russian market and Russian tourism professionals and their customers are seeking alternatives options. Speaking to television network “Vesti”, Barzykin advised Russian tourists to adjust their plans and options and choose other destinations. According to his words a tourist ''can book early a package to Greece for summer and get a discount up to 35% and can also visit Cyprus in April”. The events in Egypt, a country which absorbs more than two million Russian tourists every year, are expected to cause upheaval across the Russian tourist market and redefine prices and priorities. In previous statements, however, press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Irina Tyurina had said that most packages to Egypt that have been canceled are replaced in priority order with destinations like Turkey, Thailand, Goa, Israel and the Maldives.

Russia is opposed to the militarization of the Arctic, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Serdyukov spoke after a meeting with his Danish counterpart, Gitte Lillelund Bech, in Moscow. "The sides shared their views on the situation in the Arctic. Russia is against the militarization of the north and sees no need for a military presence in the region today," Serdyukov's press secretary Irina Kovalchuk said. Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice.

VII. ORTHODOXWAYOFLIFE - Seek Your Shortcomings with Passion

Continuing our discussion on confession from the previous post, Saint Theophan reminds us that it is important to take on this task with passion. You must critically judge yourself without making any excuses. You must have confidence that with God's help you can overcome your weaknesses once you recognize them and accept responsibility for all of your actions. Saint Theophan says, When you come to say in your heart “I am guilty,” you must supply the fear of Divine judgment. We must always remember that God is most merciful. He will forgive us of all of our shortcomings as long as we are repetitive and working to make improvements. Saint Theophan says, A gracious God gives us the hope of forgiveness of guilt, if we repent with contrition and set forth a firm intention to flee past sins and not anger God by them. This is the essence of repentance. Do not just be a passionless seeker of your shortcomings; mourn for them, and sincerely regret that they were committed. Mournings begets the humble resolution to flee shortcomings; while knowledge alone, although it is accompanied by the intention to be cautious, leads to pride... It is important to record all of your shortcomings as soon as we become aware of them. In addition, make the extra step to write out a plan for how you can go about correcting them. Then, you need to include in your prayers this effort, asking the Lord to grant His help in overcoming your sinfulness so you can better do His will. With this approach and attitude you can then approach the sacrament of Confession at which time God will fully forgive you for all of your sinful actions clearing your Divine record of all sins. He also recommends that you read the story of how blessed Theodora endured the toll-houses. This story is included in the life of St. Basil the Younger celebrated on March 26.