Embattled Muslim aide to leave Pentagon job

Hesham Islam's 'resume didn't add up,' official says
Hesham H. Islam (left), Muslim aide to the deputy secretary of defense,
with Muslim military chaplain Abuhena M. Saifulislam (right)
In a stunning turn of events, a high-level Muslim military aide blamed
for costing an intelligence contractor his job will step down from his
own Pentagon post, WND has learned.
Meanwhile, his rival, Maj. Stephen Coughlin, a leading authority on
Islamic war doctrine, may stay in the Pentagon, moving from the office
of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the office of the
secretary of defense. However, sources say a former U.S. ambassador to
Turkey is trying to block his new contract.
The top Pentagon aide, Egyptian-born Hesham H. Islam, came under a
cloud of suspicion after reports raised doubt about his resume and
contacts he had made with radical Muslims. He is expected to leave the
government next month, officials say.
Islam and Coughlin recently quarreled over intelligence briefings
Coughlin presented showing a close connection between the religion of
Islam and terrorism. Coughlin's contract with the Joint Chiefs, which
But as a result of the ensuing firestorm that played out in the
conservative press – led by Washington …

Bacteria crawling on fountains and workout mats at city's gyms

By christina boyle
Dangerous germs lurking around city gyms may be making you sick, the
Daily News has found.
A News spot check of health clubs – including several of the city's
most expensive gyms – uncovered potentially harmful bacteria lingering
all over exercise mats, bicycles, drinking fountains and other surfaces
The germs could easily make you ill – especially if you're rundown,
elderly or have a compromised immune system, experts said.
The equipment posing the highest risks are cardiovascular machines used
by many people in quick succession and equipment, including dumbbells
or mats, that are passed around.
“I believe it,” said Alex Marquez, 34, from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who
ended up taking antibiotics in a hospital after his foot swelled from
an infection doctors said was caught at the gym.
“They told me I probably got it when I stepped on the wet floor getting
out of the shower,” he said. “First my foot was itching and scratching
made a cut so the infection got into the blood.
“Now when I come out the shower I wear slippers. It wasn't fun. You've
got to realize that everybody uses the equipment, and you don't know
where they've been.”
The News …

Gaza, Iran on agenda as Olmert meets Merkel in Berlin

Germany, Angela Merkel  
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on
Monday to discuss Israel's conflict with Hamas Islamists in the Gaza
Strip as well as Iran's controversial nuclear program, Israeli
officials said.
An Israeli official said before the meeting that Merkel was “very
curious” about the situation along the Gaza border, where violence
threatens to complicate Palestinian statehood talks that resumed after
the Annapolis peace conference in November.
Public pressure has been mounting in Israel for Olmert to order a wide
scale military operation against Hamas to curb cross-border rocket fire
that has been disrupting life in towns and communities along the
While Olmert toured Berlin's Jewish Museum, pausing to tell reporters
that Israel was “at war” with Hamas, residents of the southern Israeli
town of Sderot disrupted traffic in Tel Aviv to protest against his
government's failure to end the launchings.
A senior Israeli official declined to comment on whether Olmert would
lobby Merkel to support stronger Israeli military action in the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians live in
densely populated areas.
Israel's recent tightening of a Gaza blockade and cutback in fuel
supplies, part of a declared bid to pressure militants to …

Shas: We'll quit government if peace talks continue amid terror

By Mazal Mualem, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service   
Tags: Israel, peace process  
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai on Monday stepped up his party's threats to
resign from the government over the ongoing peace talks with the
Palestinians, warning against moving forward in the peace process as
long as terrorism against Israelis continues.
“If there is any diplomatic progress in the negotiations with
Palestinians beyond the current situation, and we are still under fire
from Qassams and West Bank incidents, Shas will quit the government
immediately,” he said.
Shas has taken a tougher stance on diplomatic issues, and stepped up
threats to resign from the government, since the right-wing Yisrael
Beiteinu party walked out of the government in protest over the
decision to launch talks on the core issues of the conflict, including
Jerusalem, refugees, and borders.  
The ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party has said that talks on Jerusalem
would constitute a red line, and in recent weeks has demanded that
other core issues like permanent borders and refugees be kept off the
table as well.
On Thursday, the Shas Knesset faction intends to tour the City of David
in Jerusalem in order to express its commitment to the capital and make

Barak reacts: We're preparing for Gaza offensive

By Stan Goodenough
The Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to prepare for a ground
invasion of the Gaza Strip as terrorism from the “Palestinians” there
continues unabated.
So said Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a meeting of the Knesset Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee Monday as anger boiled over in the Negev
town of Sderot following a week of intensive Kassam rocket attacks
which left a number of residents wounded, some seriously.
“The residents of Sderot and the Gaza periphery are in the midst of a
severe trial,” Barak said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“The cry and the pain are difficult and understandable, and it is the
duty of our government – in conjunction with the military and defensive
effort – to assist them in every way.”
Cynics wondered whether the minister's threat of a Gaza invasion was
made simply to pacify citizens' anger.
Israelis have been calling with increasing stridency for effective
action to defend the south. While the IDF has upped its targeted
killings of Hamas and other “Palestinian” terrorists, however, the
attacks have only increased in intensity and efficiency.
Some commentators questioned the wisdom of sending the IDF into the
Gaza Strip on the ground….

Is someone lying about dividing Jerusalem?

Prime minister repeatedly denies negotiations to split up holy city
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Current behind-the-scenes Israeli-Palestinian talks include
negotiations aimed at dividing Jerusalem, according to a senior
Palestinian negotiator involved in the negotiations. 
“Since [last November's U.S.-sponsored] Annapolis [summit], our regular
meetings have been dealing with all the core issues, yes, of course
including Jerusalem,” said the Palestinian negotiator, who agreed to
speak only on condition of anonymity. 
The official said he was talking off-the-record for fear of
contradicting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has repeatedly insisted
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are not dealing with the status of
The Israeli Shas party, an important coalition partner in Olmert's
government, has stated it would bolt the prime minister's coalition if
it becomes clear the Israeli government is negotiating the ceding any
part of Jerusalem. Shas' departure could collapse Olmert's government. 
“Nobody is talking about Jerusalem. The moment Jerusalem is being
discussed Shas will leave the government – period,” Shas Spokesman Roi
Lachmanovitch told Israel National News. 
Olmert must maintain a majority of the Knesset's 120 seats to continue
ruling. He currently rules with a slight plurality.  If Shas, with its
12 seats, bolts the government, Olmert would be forced …