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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Oct. 18, 1996 V4, #190
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Drone Developed to Spot Forest Fires

The Israel Aircraft Industries have developed a drone, a small pilotless plane, to spot forest fires. The first test of its efficacy was carried out in Montana under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is the first time an Israeli enterprise has produced a drone exclusively for civilian purposes. It is called Firebird-2001 and works with a ground station and another plane. It can fly six hours consecutively and can reach an altitude of 15,000 feet, relaying information and data at all times, even through heavy smoke clouds.

Islamic Jihad: Armed Struggle is Permanent

Muhammad Abu Jihad, the leader of Islamic Jihad, told an Iranian newspaper "Al Hyat," his movement would never forego the military and grass roots options in the struggle against Israel, especially after the clash which recently took place in Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

Abu Jihad said that the military actions of his movement are not tied to any diplomatic conditions, but instead are a permanent option, and that the members of the military arm of his movement are making every possible effort to carry out military actions. He recognizes that it is possible this will cause friction or clashes with the Palestinian Authority, but he emphasizes that his movement maintains, that its true war is expressed in its struggle against Israel, and it will never give Israel the pleasure of seeing the breakdown of Palestinian society through an internal struggle.

Genetic Investigation Begins on "Yemenite Children"

Minister of Health Tzachi Hanegbi has instructed that the graves of children reported buried in the "Yemenite Children Affair" be opened, in order that genetic tests be carried out on the corpses. At the same time, blood samples will be collected from approximately 1,000 parents and family members of the children.

At issue are hundreds of children who were reported dead by the authorities in the early 50's, but whose family members claim were kidnapped and are still alive. The Health Ministry program will enable the establishment of a bank of genetic profiles that may be compared to those of the remains in the graves.

Many Yemenite parents were informed by authorities of precise burial plots where their children were allegedly buried following a sudden death. Knesset members claim comparison of DNA tests of the parents and the bones in the burial plots will shed light on the entire affair.

Who are the Jehovah's Witnesses?

By Deborah Croft (VOA-Washington)

The fastest growing religious sect in many countries is the Jehovah's Witnesses. This sect of Christianity has made inroads in many of the traditionally, strongly Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. And it is also finding converts in Japan, a predominantly Buddhist and Shinto practicing culture.

But as the Witnesses find more followers, the group also comes under greater scrutiny and criticism. Indeed, some observers see a dangerous or dark side to many of the sect's practices.

The Jehovah's Witnesses is one of several groups that grew out of the 19th century Adventist movement that was started by a man named William Miller. Adventists believe the second coming of Jesus is imminent.

Miller predicted that the second coming would occur on a specific date in the 1840s. When Jesus failed to reappear on that date, the group splintered and another so-called prophet, Charles Taze Russell, took over the sect in the 1870s, when it was known as the Watchtower Society.

J. Gordon Melton is the director for the Institute for the Study of American Religions in Santa Barbara, Calif. He explains the method the Adventists use to predict future events.

"It's a very complex system of looking at biblical chronology as Russell and the people who have followed him in leadership in the Watchtower Society have worked it out and then comparing that to contemporary events.

How did things that the Bible predicted would happen stack up against what's actually happening? And does the Bible refer to specific events? And that's the main way it's done. It's a fairly complicated process."

Melton says the failure of the system for predictions have never deterred the organization's leaders, who simply reevaluate their forecasts for the future.

"They go back and sort of revise their timetable. That's pretty much what you're stuck with as you move along. For awhile there was a long gap, a whole generation where they didn't do any date setting. And right now there's not particularly a date to which they are looking. That's the safest thing, is to say we expect it imminently but we don't know the date."

Failed predictions and other controversial issues have plagued the Jehovah's Witnesses from their very beginning, according to David Reed, author of the book "Blood on the Altar."

Reed was a Jehovah's Witness minister for many years before he began to ask some crucial questions.

Reed argues that the Watchtower, the organization's board of governors, rewrites the Bible to accommodate its own beliefs.

"That is the governing body of 12 men in Brooklyn, NY. They meet secretly on these things. They claim to derive their teachings from the Bible but in actual fact they just meet and discuss and vote and the majority rules on what the new teaching will be. That's another sticking point with me. I found out after being in the Witnesses that the Bible they were handing us had been altered to agree with Watchtower teachings. They used an ordinary Bible until the year 1950, but then they produced their own new world translation where, if you compared it to another Bible you'd see that most of it was the same. But they've changed it in about 350 different key verses to make the Bible agree with what the Watchtower wants to teach."

David Reed says the lesson he learned from his years as a Jehovah's Witness is to look carefully at the doctrine of any religious group before making a commitment.

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