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Arrow Missile Downs Scud Over Pacific


The Arrow anti-ballistic missile system performed as hoped during Thursday's test held off the California coast. Wednesday's planned test was postponed due to inclement weather conditions. Military officials proudly boasted the Arrow was on target, downing an incoming SCUD rocket over the Pacific Ocean.

Hizbullah Warns Against the Harming of Al-Aqsa

By Ma'ariv

In letter to Muslim sages, Hizbullah Secretary General warned Israel that such an act could "change the region entirely." Only days after the warning of Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi about the threat of Jewish extremists harming mosques on the Temple Mount, Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah warned of any harm being done to the site.

In a letter sent to the Arab and Muslim religious sages around the world, the leader of Hizbullah called on all the governments and people to regard the matter gravely and to enforce an "historical stance," in order to make clear that harming the al-Aqsa mosque and changing the Temple Mount would bring about the end of the Jewish entity, changing the region forever.

"We stand upon the verge of a dangerous and sensitive step and we must address it as Arabs and Muslims, as well as other Semitic religions who respect the holy places. We must cope differently than in the past", he wrote. Nasrallah referred to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000, and called for never allowing, violating or spreading filth in the holy places again "as Sharon did in al-Aqsa".

Israel to Probe if Vanunu Violated Release Terms

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli police are investigating whether freed former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu violated the terms of his release and endangered national security.

The high-level inquiry was launched after Vanunu told an Arabic newspaper that Israel possesses hydrogen as well as atomic bombs. A special high-level team comprised of state prosecutors, police and intelligence officers, has been formed to investigate Vanunu. The key question before them is whether Vanunu has breached the conditions of his release by giving interviews to the foreign media and endangered Israel's security.

The probe follows an interview published in the London-based Arabic weekly Al-Wassat. Vanunu is quoted by that newspaper as saying Israel has up to 200 atomic warheads, as well as a neutron bomb and hydrogen bombs. Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Vanunu would be brought in for questioning over the interview.

He was set free in April, after serving 18 years in prison for divulging classified information about Israel's nuclear program to the London Sunday Times. The article was based on Vanunu's employment at Israel's secret Dimona reactor in the southern Negev desert. In releasing him, Israel placed a number of strict restrictions on Vanunu, including a ban on talking to foreign media and traveling abroad.

On Monday, Israel's Supreme Court rejected his petition to have the restrictions lifted. The court ruled that Vanunu still has more secrets to disclose about the Dimona reactor and this posed a risk to national security. The head of the Israeli parliamentary committee on defense and foreign affairs, Yuval Steinitz, said the government should place Vanunu in administrative detention. Steinitz said the interview given by Vanunu constitutes a flagrant breach of the conditions for his release.

Israeli Algorithms Help You to Get Your Dates Straight

By Tel Aviv University Press Service

The e-mail came from a Swede requesting that Tel Aviv University Professor Nachum Dershowitz look into the rules of the Samaritan calendar "since he was already there in Israel."

Thus began the latest odyssey of Dershowitz, a member of the School of Computer Science, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, in systemizing yet another of the world's dating systems - this time of a secretive, traditionalist religious sect of only 1,000 people that live in a radius of about 65 miles from the TAU campus.

To date, Dershowitz and his colleague Prof. Edward M. Reingold of the Illinois Institute of Technology have mathematically analyzed 25 of the world's calendars in the first and only project of its kind. They have provided equations and algorithms for quick and accurate calculation of dates within each system, as well as for conversion of dates between calendars.

The second edition of their book, Calendrical Calculations, encodes the rules for two-dozen calendars in mathematical form, and describes how they relate to one another. Among the systems described are the Gregorian (in near universal use today), Islamic, Persian, Coptic, Baha'i, Hebrew, Mayan, Chinese and modern Hindu. (

"When you want to know in advance whether a particular date is a holiday, or when Ramadan will be in 2010, or how to convert the Chinese New Year into a date in the Jewish calendar," Dershowitz said, "the calculations can be very intricate."

What he and Reingold did was to define for several major calendar groups exactly how they could be computed. Their algorithms for date conversion are surprisingly concise, considering the complicated math on which they are based.

One problem solved by the calendrical algorithms is rampant errors in computer software. Leap years were inserted into spreadsheet programs where they shouldn't be, and daylight savings time was miscalculated in computer operating systems. Now, the researchers' accurate dating and conversion tools are used in business, communications, genealogical and diary software.

Dershowitz noted that, for the Chinese calendar, there had been no calculations in a Western language beforehand. For the difficult, geographically based Indian calendars - which can vary from province to province - there had never been an attempt to program them.

But the best story by far involves the Persian calendar. Like the Gregorian calendar, the Persian calendar is solar, but the lengths of the months are calculated differently, as are leap days and leap years. Using library resources and faxed messages with an official in Tehran, Dershowitz and Reingold cracked the system, simplified it, and wrote up the math.

Their solutions were so elegant that the government of Iran invited them to attend a conference there - the first time that American-born scientists were asked to visit since the fall of the Shah in 1979.

Their calendrical calculations are also being used by computer scientist W. Daniel Hillis, laureate of Tel Aviv University's 2002 Dan David Prize, who is building a clock for all time. His '10,000 year' clock synchronizes the date-keeping systems of many cultures and displays various calendar systems such as the Mayan, Muslim and Hindu ones.

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