Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the Week - Gary L'Hommedieu

" today's Episcopal Church 'justice' is one of those words that should always be put in quotes." -- Canon Gary L'Hommedieu

Hat Tip to Rick Lobs.

Jim Crow and Catholics of "Color"

Here is an excerpt from a report written by my friend Arturo Vasquez.

Perhaps the most unfortunate story I heard about black Catholics during these times comes from Ms. Eunice, a friend of Mr. G.'s who is now a Catholic lay oblate. In her town growing up, there was only one church, but she and other black Catholics were not allowed to sit down during Mass. There were a few benches in the back that constituted the "colored" section, but if white parishioners needed to sit in those benches for some reason, the few black parishioners who could sit had to cede their place -- even if pregnant, old, or otherwise infirm. What's more, the black members of the congregation had to come late and leave early so that white Catholics didn't have to see them. They had to depart after the final blessing and be across the bayou by the time the rest of the congregation exited the church. Those who could not rush across the bridge and be out of sight of white churchgoers when they came out of Mass were subject to a severe beating.

It would be a mistake to say that such actions characterized the perennial attitudes of the old, provincial South. The system of racial separation that we now know as Jim Crow in many places did not really take affect until the late-19th and early-20th centuries. In the case of Mr. G.'s family, as "Creoles of color" or "mixed race," they were well aware of who their white relatives were; his mother, born in 1920, still remembers being baptized in the one Catholic church in town and going over to play with her white cousins on Sundays. It was only in her late childhood that the strict codes of racial apartheid began to be taken seriously in all circumstances.

In terms of religion, it was on one Sunday that her family was told that they were not allowed to come to Mass at their church anymore. They and other Creoles had to scramble to build another church and find priests who would minister to them. This was often not easy, since most of the all-white clergy didn't want to serve them. In many cases, it was only members of religious congregations like the Holy Ghost Fathers, set up to do missionary work in the "pagan" world, who would come and service their churches. As in the case of Ms. Eunice's church, these situations were often framed by violence and threats of violence. When one priest suggested in the early 1970s that the congregations should integrate and go to Mass together, his own parishioners beat him to within an inch of his life.

Most of the "resistance" to Jim Crow when it came to the Church, however, was done by a rebellion of the feet. Driving through rural Louisiana and seeing many of the black Protestant churches now present there, it's easy to forget that many of those congregation's ancestors were probably Catholic at some point. Instead of putting up with the idea of having to sit in the back of the church, or trying to organize their own church and finding a white priest who would administer the sacraments to them, many left Catholicism altogether and sought refuge in the black Protestant churches as something that could be truly and unequivocally theirs. In places like New Orleans, there was also the emergence of the black spiritual churches, which incorporated Catholic ritual and imagery into a Pentecostal-style worship service. The Catholic Church lost many souls because it chose to go along with Jim Crow, seeking not to upset the status quo even when it came to the seating arrangements of its own churches.

Read it all here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Empty Mosques, Unqualified Imams Feed Radical Islam

Bishkek, August 21, Interfax - Eighty percent of imams in Kyrgyzstan do not have the required expertise in modern Islam, Director of the State Agency for Religious Affairs Kanybek Osmonaliyev told journalists on Friday.

"In 2008 we started the imam certification program, which revealed that 80% of imams do not have the knowledge required by the modern Islamic standards," said the head of the agency."

Many spiritual servants are incompetent, which results in their unilateral interpretations of the social role of Islam, most of them are susceptible to the idea of Islamization, whereas our first priority should be to promote the freedom of religion, that is a tolerant approach towards any faith," Osmonaliyev said.

The number of new mosques being built has decreased over the past four years, he also said.

"The boom that Kyrgyzstan saw between the early 1990s and 2005 is now over," he said. "Our policy is to switch from quantity to quality, a policy of building large mosques that will have all the needed infrastructure," the official said."

Currently, many mosques are empty, especially in rural areas, partly because of the lack of qualified imams. As a result, mosques are used as a base for destructive religious Islamic organizations, such as the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir and other Wahabi organizations," Osmonaliyev said.

According to the agency, the country currently has over 2,500 operating mosques.

From here.

Iraq Internal Security Inadequate

Many journalists were obstructed and manhandled by security forces whenthey tried to cover the two truck bombs that exploded on 19 August in Baghdad, one outside the foreign ministry and the other outside the financeministry, exposing the inadequacies of the new internal security plan drawnup by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is also head of the security forces, following the withdrawal of US forces from the cities.

The next day, three journalists were prevented from photographing and filming the funerals of victims near Baghdad's Al Tab Al 'Adli hospital.

Although they showed a permit issued by the Baghdad operational command and the health ministry, they were physically attacked by an interior ministry official accompanied by plain-clothes police.

Reuters photographer Tha'ir Al Sudani, cameraman Haydar Kadhim Noor and Shehab Ahmed, a photographer with the European Pressphoto Agency, were also detained for several hours by hospital security guards.

In Al Hillah, 100 km south of Baghdad, print and broadcast media personnel, including the correspondents of the satellite TV stations Al Hurra, Al Sumariya and Al Rasheed and Radio Sawa, were denied entry to the main hospital after a series of bombings in the city and the surrounding province of Babil on 20 August that killed more than 65 people.

The security forces prevented them from talking to hospitalised survivors or other witnesses of the bombing on the orders of the hospital administration, which was acting on instructions received from the health ministry in Baghdad, one of the reporters said.

The same hostile policy towards the press was pursued the next day, 21 August, when only 60 of Iraq's 440 parliamentarians turned up for an emergency meeting of parliament to discuss the adoption of new security measures following the failure of the security forces to prevent the wave of bombings of the previous two days.

First deputy chairman of the parliament Khalid Al Attiyah demanded the expulsion of all the journalists present in the parliament building and issued a formal ban on any press coverage of the meeting and its content for security reasons. Al Ittijah TV reporter Mufid Hamid was manhandled by the first deputy chairman's bodyguards as the media were being expelled from parliament.

The expulsion and the accompanying use of violence against journalists were filmed and broadcast by local TV stations.

The Iraqi Union of Journalists and several parliamentarians, including Maha Al Dawri, Fawzi Akram and Hassan Al Rabi'I, have condemned the decision to exclude the media from the parliamentary debate and impede coverage of the wave of bombings, its consequences and, in general, the government's anti-terrorism policies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Say Goodbye to Grandma!

Dear Grandma,

I am writing you this email from my blackberry. I have been standing online here at the Department of Health and Human Services appeals office for the last 3 hours. My feet are killing me. I can't believe I am missing the Hanson reunion tour just so I can try for the fifth time to get the government to pay for your pain medication. It didn't work the first four times and it isn't going to work this time.

You know how I know this is pointless? There is a guy on line with me who has a tumor the size of a grapefruit on his knee. He said it was only the size of a tennis ball the first time he applied to have it removed but since it is benign it is deemed elective / cosmetic surgery and so he was denied. The guy in front of him pulled out seven teeth with his own pliers because there are no dentists left in Pennsylvania, they all moved to the Republic of Texas where you can still make money as a dentist.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I mean I appreciate you giving birth to my Mom and all and for taking me in when she died of small pox, but that was then and this is now. There is a very nice lady here handing out pamphlets about a place called the Sebelius Home for the Soon to be Dying. It looks very nice. I know you are not technically dying since the pain medication is only for arthritis but let's face it, its only downhill from here and as the lady reminded me that can get very expensive.

Anyway, this nice lady said that when you arrive at Sebelius that they treat you with great dignity. Dignity is good, right? She said they give you a nice meal, some nice medicine to relax you (apparently they can get all the medicine they need!), and then they take you to a nice room where you can get cleaned up.

The reason I am writing all this on my blackberry is that I signed you up for the program. Right now there are some men in a van on the way over to pick you up. It is amazing how efficient the government can be sometimes, huh? Anyway, they should be there soon. Don't worry, the lady assured me that transportation to Sebelius is absolutely free. They didn't mention anything about the ride back but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Oh, and they said you don't need to pack anything.

Anyway, have a great time and thanks for everything. I am going to try and see if I can still make the Hanson concert at Biden Hall in Scranton. I hope you feel better.


H/T Creative Minority blog

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Punjab Police Retaliate against Bishop and his Flock

Police issue warrant for Bishop of Faisalabad Rt. Rev. John Samuel and 128 other Christians
By Taskeen Khan in London, England

Punjabi police have issued warrants for the arrest of the Bishop of Faisalabad and 128 other Christians, charging them with ‘’conspiracy’’ in the July 31 assault by Islamic militants on Gojra.

The First Information Reports or FIRs were filed this week by the Punjab police against the Rt. Rev. John Samuel, the Church of Pakistan’s Bishop of Faisalabad and 28 other Christians, in retaliation for complaints of police incompetence in the wake of the attacks on Christians in the town of Gojra that left ten dead and destroyed three Churches and over 100 homes.

FIRs have also been registered against 100 unnamed Pakistani Christians charging them as ‘’co-conspirators’’ in the attacks. Local human rights activists have denounced the police action telling AsiaNews, “It is a revenge move by agents and district administration against the Christian victims of the accidents in Gojra.”

The three day anti-Christian pogrom began on July 30 in the village of Koriyan following a Church wedding. Following local customs, confetti was tossed over the bride and groom as they left the Church---however, local Islamists took offence saying the shredded paper had come from pages of the Koran. Rocks were thrown and a fight ensued leading to the burning of several Christian homes.

The following day members of the banned extremist Muslim organization, Sipah-e-Sahaba, gathered near the railway station in Gojra and marched towards the Christian quarter of the town, and began throwing petrol bombs and shooting at the fleeing Christians. Ten Christians were killed either by the gunfire or were burned to death by the mob in their homes.

In the days preceding the violence, the Punjabi police were warned of an impending action by the Sipah-e-Sahaba---who through a radical splinter group, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, are linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. During the attacks the police are alleged to have stood aside as the banned terrorist group destroyed the Christian quarter of the town.

“All the world knows about this incident very well, what the Islamic terrorists have done with the Christian community in my diocese and even in my city,” Bishop Samuel told The Church of England Newspaper in an email on Aug 26.

“Instead of arresting those responsible for this incident, the police have registered the F.I.R. against 29 nominated and 100 un-nominated people. My name and the name of my both sons are also included in those 29 names,” he said.

“We have again become the victims,” the Bishop’s said, stating he had sent his family away from Gojra but would remain in the town and was ready to be “prosecuted for the glory and for the work of Jesus Christ.”

“I daily receive threats through phone calls from unknown numbers,” he said, and reported this to the police. However, the police are “not paying attention to us and they are just favouring the persons who are responsible” for the attacks.

Bishop Samuel has urged Christians around the world to “please Pray for us and also do something for my family because we are in great trouble.”

Lutherans Denounce ELCA Heresy

The fall-out continues from last Friday’s vote by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to allow homosexual clergy.

Not surprisingly, the reaction echoes that witnessed when the Anglican church ordained its first homosexual bishop. A schism, within the Anglican church in the U.S. and abroad, took place.

Immediately following the ELCA’s decision, Lutheran leaders from both Asia and Africa denounced the decision, showing that those very places where the church is experiencing growth are also those places where the faithful are trying to hold onto the church’s traditional teachings.
Here in the U.S., parishes have responded as well. St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Charleston, WV decided to cover up the word “Lutheran” on their outdoor sign.

The other major Lutheran bodies, not affiliated with the ELCA, denounced the decision. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) all made statements regarding the ELCA vote.
“Ordaining practicing homosexuals and lesbians to the ministry is a serious departure from the Biblical standards of morality to which Lutherans and Lutheran pastors have historically been held,” said Rev. John Moldstad, president of the ELS.

In 2001, LCMS president Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick said that the ELCA was no longer an “orthodox Lutheran body.”

From here.

Saeed: Test of Pakistan's Resolve

NEW DELHI, Aug 26: Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has said the world must take notice of the Interpol alert against Hafiz Saeed of the Jamaatud Dawa.

“I think the world should take note of these developments and then you know they will have to come to their own conclusions,” Mr Krishna told reporters on Wednesday.

He said Indian officials had painstakingly collected evidence against the “perpetrators of last year’s attacks in Mumbai”.

“India can only do this much and nothing beyond, and we have done whatever we can and we will continue to impress on Pakistan the desirability of curbing terror.”

Mr Krishna said the people behind the Mumbai attacks would have to be brought to justice.

A notice on Interpol’s website identified Hafiz Saeed as “Hafiz Saab Sayed”. The agency said an arrest warrant for him had been issued in Mumbai for various offences including “crimes against life and health”, kidnapping and terrorism.

Interpol says many of its member countries consider a red notice a valid request for provisional arrest. Pakistani government spokesmen were not available for comment.

India had on several occasions given Pakistan information with the aim of helping build a case against Saeed, but Mr Krishna said the information had been rejected.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told a television station that Pakistan still needed “solid evidence” against Saeed.

Pakistan has arrested at least five people and put them on trial for the Mumbai assault, but Indian officials say Saeed’s case is a test of whether Pakistan is serious about dismantling the “terrorist network” on its soil. Saeed is one of 38 people, including Pakistani nationals, accused by India of planning the guns-and-grenades attack by 10 gunmen late last year. —Reuters

From here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Obama on a Mission

President Obama plans to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together for a face-to-face meeting at the United Nations General Assembly next month in a bid to revive long-stalled peace talks.
Plans for the meeting are being drawn up despite the failure of Mr Obama’s special envoy George Mitchell to strike a compromise over Jewish settlements that would allow the resumption of the negotiations, which were abandoned in March.

Washington is backing Palestinian calls for a freeze on settlement activity as a precondition to talks, leading to a rare public falling out with Israel.

In his talks with Mr Mitchell in London yesterday, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, failed to win the compromise he was seeking, which would exempt settlements in East Jerusalem and continue to allow “natural growth” of existing West Bank settlements.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Christians Slaughtered and Media Looks Away

For centuries, Muslims committed genocide against Hindus in India and what is now Pakistan. Today, in Sudan, Somalia [1], Nigeria [2], Kenya [3], Turkey [4], Pakistan [5], Gaza [6], and Iran, it’s open season on Christians.

Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese journalist who is facing 40 lashes for “indecency” because she wore trousers—has just been barred from leaving Sudan.

Interestingly, Hussein is a Christian, not a Muslim; she is also a former UN worker. (For the sake of this lawsuit, she immediately quit her UN job which would have provided her with immunity from such prosecution). The Sudanese Islamist authorities are not allowing her to do an interview in Lebanon. Sarkozy, who has called for a ban of the burqa in France, has invited Hussein to Paris. Please note: In Sudan, non-Muslim women are being punished if they do not dress according to Islamist standards.

All infidels, including the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are an endangered species in Muslim countries. Always have been.

Christians are being slaughtered in Pakistan by Muslim mobs for refusing to convert; for being Christians; and for allegedly setting fire to a Quran. Young Pakistani Christian girls are being kidnapped, raped, “married” to Muslim men and then forced to convert. Recently, a rampaging Muslim mob burned eight Christians alive, destroyed 50 houses [8] and destroyed a church in the village of Gojra [9].

Earlier this month, Pakistani Christians finally closed their schools and peacefully protested their country’s “blasphemy” laws.

Read it all here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quote of the Week - Senator Grassley

"When you deal with something called healthcare, you're talking about the life and death of every American. And so for those two reasons, the prime consideration has to be to get it right, as opposed to get it done by a certain time." -- Senator Grassley

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Afghanistan Voters Intimidated, Discouraged

KANDAHAR, Aug 23: Threatened with death, restricted by relatives or alienated by politics, turnout among women voters in Afghanistan was generally poor and close to zero in some parts of the south.

“We were very willing to vote but then Taliban provocation started. We heard that they would kill people, cut off people’s fingers and cut off their heads,” said Naseema Naseri, who works for an aid group in the southern city of Kandahar. “The Taliban stuck up (fliers) making these threats. We were too scared to come out of our houses to vote,” she said.

Barrages of rockets were launched the night before and the day of voting. Naseri likened Kandahar to a ghost town during the elections. It was a public holiday. The streets were deserted and traffic virtually non-existent. “We were very happy and very interested at the last election. I voted for a special candidate (President Hamid Karzai) however he did not bring quality of life,” said Fatima, who works in a Kandahar school. “With each day, the security situation deteriorated. Hundreds of people were killed. Unemployment and poverty increased. Karzai is weak. The power lies with the foreign forces. So I decided not to participate,” added Fatima, who only uses one name.

A quarter of seats on provincial councils were reserved for women and while the number of women candidates generally was up on the last election in 2005, in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Uruzgan there were fewer women candidates than seats.

“It wasn’t just women. Men also didn’t participate as much as in previous years. From the night before until the end of the election, a lot of rockets were fired in Kandahar,” said Zarghona Kakar, who stood for re-election.

From here.

Yemeni Troops Kill 100 Militants

SANAA, Aug 23: Yemeni troops have killed more than 100 militants, including two of their commanders, in an operation to recapture a small town in the northern mountains, according to the government.

“The bodies of more than 100 rebels have been recovered from the roadside outside the town of Harf Sufyan,” a government statement said on Sunday. “It seems that the bodies were those of rebels who were trying to flee the town during a mopping-up operation over the past two days,” the statement said, adding that two of the dead were identified as commanders Mohsen Saleh Hadi Gawd and Salah Jorman.

There was no independent confirmation of the number of those killed in the operation in Harf Sufyan, some 70 km north of the capital Sanaa.

The security forces succeeded in “totally purging the town of rebel elements in the past two days, forcing the rebels to surrender or flee”, the statement said.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged on Wednesday to crush the “rebellion” in the north as the army pressed on with an offensive launched two weeks ago. The campaign, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, aims to end once and for all a rebellion by the Zaidis, also known as Huthis, in the rugged mountainous region.

Fighting began in Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia and has since spread to Amran province to the south where Hafr Sufyan is located. The Zaidis are a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen but form the majority community in the north. Mr Saleh is himself a Zaidi.

The militants reject the current government and want to restore the Zaidi imamate overthrown in a 1962 coup. Thousands of people have been killed since the conflict first erupted in 2004.

From here.

Hillary on US Investments in Pakistan

WASHINGTON, Aug 22: Pakistan’s fight with extremism would have been in better shape had the United States invested more in the nation’s schools and girls and not just its military, according to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

The United States has pumped more than seven billion dollars into Pakistan’s military since the September 11, 2001 attacks. In an interview with The New York Times Magazine to be published on Sunday, Mrs Clinton said she had told Pakistan’s former military leader Pervez Musharraf that more of the money should be going to education.

She recalled a trip to a Pakistani village, where families hesitated to educate children — particularly girls — because the children would need to travel away to the closest school.

“When I think about the extraordinarily accomplished Pakistanis in the professions, in medicine, in education, I think it is certainly the case that if Pakistan had invested more in the education of children so that poor families would not have sent their boys off to be educated by extremists, it might well have made a difference,” she said.

“And it still can, because that’s part of our approach now,” she said.

US lawmakers have voted to provide $7.5 billion for Pakistan over the next five years — largely in support for social development including building schools.—AFP

From here.

Judge Ginsburg Self-Clarifies on Eugenics

From what surely must vie for the title of "Dingiest Gorge in Hell", the perdition bound soul of Margaret Sanger, posthumous Queen of the radical feminist movement, was unbeknownst summoned -- and just as quickly retired to the infernal pit where it likely makes its eternal home -- by a very artless and candid response from Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, during a recent, hardly publicized, New York Times Magazine interview.

Billed as a serious enquiry into the psyche of the esteemed judge, the interchange consisted primarily of a whole lot of tedious bewailing the female gene's perennial struggle against the oppressive, sexist culture that ostensibly permeates even moderately influential power structures in this country. At times, exposing this presumed, deep-seated, patriarchal impulse of the male species appeared to be the sole objective of the interview.

And then, suddenly, and most unexpectedly, Mrs. Ginsburg yielded a rather frank assessment of the Pro-choice movement's little known history of eugenics.

As civilized people who stumble upon an embarrassing truth and then try to regain their stoic composure, both the Judge and the unsuspecting enquirer continued undaunted on their merry way to discuss matters of more practical relevance, without even offering Justice Ginsburg's revealing observation nearly a parting glance.

If for no other reason than to avoid being charged with having unfairly wrenched Mrs. Ginsburg's poorly "calibrated" remarks from their original context, I now present you with the extract, from what was declared by the publisher as an already condensed and edited version of the interview:

Read it all here.

Obama Pact with Blackwater

The Obama administration has retained services of the notorious Blackwater guards to carry out drone attacks in Afghanistan, a new report reveals.

Despite controversial records of indiscriminate civilian killings in Iraq during the Bush administration, the shadowy US-based paramilitary security company has continued its ongoing relationship with Washington under President Barack Obama.

A fresh report by the New York Times revealed on Friday that Blackwater USA has been contracted to work with the unmanned Predator drones that carry out assassinations and terrorize villages in eastern and southern Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

It added that Blackwater personnel also ‘assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs’ — a work formerly carried out by the CIA.

Blackwater, which has changed its name to Xe Services LLC, began assisting the CIA in Afghanistan after gaining a contract to protect a new intelligence station in Kabul in 2002.

The drone assassination program under Obama’s ‘Af-Pak theater’ mission — which has left many civilians dead — shows no substantive distinction to the Bush administration’s hiring of Blackwater to carry out ‘targeted assassinations’ in Iraq with snipers and ambushes.

All the more, the security firms’ deployment in Pakistan is in clear violation of international law, as the US has never declared war on the South Asian state.

The new report comes in the wake of Thursday’s revelations that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had hired Blackwater in 2004 to carry out assassinations of those who Washington called ‘terror suspects’ over alleged links to al-Qaeda militant group.

The multimillion-dollar covert contracts had enabled the North Carolina-based group to execute its military tactics generally accepted as ‘excessively’ forceful.

In its most infamous episode, in September 2007, Blackwater agents killed 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in an ‘unprovoked’ attack, after opening random fire on pedestrians with machine guns and rocket launchers.

The bloody incident drew the public’s Ire in Iraq and worldwide condemnation, forcing the company to change its name to be able to return to Iraq.

However, even though the current US administration has barred Xe Services LLC from carrying guns in Iraq, a considerable number of former CIA authorities continue to work in collusion with the notorious security provider.

These relationships reveal that what has so far been exposed regarding Washington’s pacts with Blackwater — pacts concluded behind the backs of the American people — is only the tip of the iceberg.

From here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quote of the Week - Fr. Stephen Freeman

"Reason and faith are certainly in harmony with each other – but reason must first be redeemed and faith must be the true faith."
-- Fr. Stephen Freeman (a comment he posted here.)

Obama's Lost Brother Found

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s lost brother has been tracked down in Kenya. George Hussein Onyango Obama, aged 26, was found by journalists from the Italian edition of Vanity Fair. He reportedly lives in poverty.

He has the same father as the U.S. senator, Barack Hussein Obama, but a different mother. Her name has been given as Jael.

The youngest of Obama’s half-brothers says he lives on less than a dollar per month in a 2m x 3m shack. Its walls are decorated with posters of famous footballers and a calendar featuring exotic beaches. The magazine also noted George has a newspaper picture of his brother.

He has only met his famous brother twice. Once when he was five and then in 2006 when Senator Obama visited Nairobi. George admits their meeting was very brief and cool.

Obama Addresses Muslim World on Ramazan

WASHINGTON, Aug 21: US President Barack Obama used an annual ritual — a Ramazan message — on Friday to assure the Muslims that his administration had an ‘unyielding’ determination to resolve the issues that plague relations between the Muslim and western worlds. “We are … committed to keeping our responsibility to build a world that is more peaceful and secure,” he said. “That is why we are responsibly ending the war in Iraq. That is why we are isolating violent extremists while empowering the people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Mr Obama also assured the Muslims that he and his government were “unyielding in our support for a two-state solution that recognises the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security”.

Mr Obama’s message was very different from the terse and brief Ramazan messages of his predecessor which did not go much beyond formal felicitations and the expression of a desire for better relations between the two civilisations.

In his first Ramazan message, the US president not only identified the real issues but also demonstrated a better understanding of Islam and its rituals. All his efforts, he said, were a part of America’s commitment to engage Muslims and Muslim-majority nations on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect.

“And at this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world.” Mr Obama recalled that in a speech in Cairo on June 4, he had stressed the need for a new beginning between the Muslim and western worlds. “This new beginning must be borne out in a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another and to seek common ground,” he said. “I believe an important part of this is listening.”

He said that in the last two months, American embassies around the world had reached out not just to governments, but directly to people in Muslim-majority countries, receiving “an outpouring of feedback” about how America could be a partner on behalf of peoples’ aspirations. “We have listened. We have heard you. And like you, we are focussed on pursuing concrete actions that will make a difference over time – both in terms of the political and security issues that I have discussed, and in the areas that you have told us will make the most difference in peoples’ lives.”

Such consultations, Mr Obama said, were helping his government implement the partnerships that he called for in Cairo – to expand education exchange programmes; to foster entrepreneurship and create jobs; and to increase collaboration on science and technology, while supporting literacy.

Mr Obama said his administration was also moving forward in partnering with the OIC and OIC member states to eradicate polio, while working closely with the international community to confront common health challenges like H1N1 which was of particular concern to many Muslims preparing for the upcoming Haj.

From here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Homeless Islamabad Christians Need Our Help!

Local doctors and experienced news correspondents are shocked by the appalling conditions being endured by some 2,000 Christians in downtown Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Despite being only ten minutes from health centres, two people have died in the 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) heat, with many more in danger of dying from dehydration, infection or the cumulative effects of poverty.

How did they end up here? Approximately a year ago, around 214 Christian families were promised land in the Chak Shahzad district of Islamabad. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) of Islamabad arranged their move and told the families to set up tents there until possession had been finalised. Then three months ago the CDA changed their minds forcing the Christian families to live in the road amidst squalid conditions, where their only water supply runs all too close to an open pit latrine and a waste dump. There are up to 20 people sharing one tent, which only adds to the discomfort.

Our partners in Pakistan commented, “Since Christians are discriminated against by the majority population, nothing has been done to help them.”

Whilst the Pakistan authorities are still to act, Barnabas has been able to secure a way to provide practical aid to the families now. This aid will take the form of food items including rice, lentils, onions and cooking oil for each affected family, as well as buckets and water containers to reduce the risk of typhoid affecting the tightly packed camp.

For only £34.75 ($56.94 or €40.33) you can feed a whole family for a month. Five water containers each capable of carrying 20 litres, costs only £7.40 ($12.15 or €8.60). Any one of these items could be a lifesaver.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund says, “Here is a real opportunity to save lives. Our brothers and sisters in Islamabad are in dire need of material assistance to prevent disease ravaging their already stricken camp. Please be praying that we can raise the necessary funds quickly to meet this life-threatening need.”

To donate, see here.

The Rapture: A Modern Doctrine

On Beyond the Veil, Presbytera Jeannie Constantinou continues her discussion of the Book of Revelation in Orthodox tradition by tackling a timely topic - The Rapture.

This belief of millions of Evangelicals is not based on any teaching found in the Book of Revelation. In fact, the idea of the Rapture is only about 100 years old and sprang from "the fevered imagination of just one person."

The Rapture was never taught by the Apostles or the early church. It is an invention. In this podast, Pres. Jeannie discusses the origin of this teaching, and the truth as expressed in Orthodox teaching.

Click here to download MP3 file.

UK Swine Flu Predictions Exaggerated?

More than 100,000 people could be diagnosed with swine flu every day by the end of August, the government said, announcing that the disease can no longer be contained in the UK.

A Commons statement by the health secretary, Andy Burnham, marks a watershed in the spread of the flu. No more schools will be closed, unless forced to by the lack of staff or if the pupils are especially vulnerable. Families and people in contact with those with flu will not be given preventative antiviral drugs.

The new policy of treatment for those with diagnosed illness, rather than containment, has already begun in the hotspots – chiefly London, Birmingham and Scotland.

The change of tactic is the predicted response to the swelling number of people infected. There are now 7,447 diagnosed cases in the UK, but the number is doubling every week. If they continue in this way, said Burnham in his statement, "we could see over 100,000 cases per day by the end of August". He later stressed that the figure "is a projection. It is not a fact. This is how the disease could develop and we don't know."

Those sorts of numbers would put a heavy burden on the NHS, which is already feeling the strain in some areas. The new strategy will help keep those with possible symptoms out of GP surgeries.

People who think they may have flu are now being advised to go online and check their symptoms on the NHS website or call the swine flu information line, on 0800 1 513 513. Anyone still concerned after that should phone their GP, who can provide a diagnosis over the phone. If swine flu is confirmed, they will be issued with an authorisation voucher, which a "flu friend" can take to an antiviral drug collection point, which may be a pharmacy or a health centre.

But health officials in Scotland doubt the virus will spread dramatically across the UK, as it seems to have peaked in Scotland, which saw the first big outbreaks, and the first two deaths in Europe.

The rapid spread of the virus has slowed down in Paisley, which suffered the second largest outbreak, and it has disappeared in Dunoon, where a coachload of football fans were infected. In Glasgow, until recently the worst affected area of the UK, infection rates have stabilised. After infection rates peaked at 111 confirmed cases on 25 June, the rate in Scotland has remained steady at an average of about 60 new cases a day over the last week. There is no evidence that infection rates in Scotland, where the virus first arrived in late April, were doubling.

Read it all here.

Afghan Voters Turn Out Despite Violence

KABUL, Aug 20: Taliban attacks and blasts killed 26 civilians and security personnel as millions of Afghans voted to choose a president on Thursday in polls that were declared a security success with less violence than expected.

“The Afghan people dared rockets, bombs and intimidation and came out to vote,” President Hamid Karzai told a news conference after polls closed. “We’ll see what the turnout was. But they came out to vote. That’s great, that’s great.”

Preliminary results are not due for two weeks, although polling stations could begin to report sooner. Rockets fell on towns and two gunmen wearing suicide vests were killed in a gunbattle in Kabul, but the Taliban failed to mount a single spectacular strike that could threaten the poll itself.

“Overall, the security situation has been better than we feared. That is certainly the most positive aspect of these elections,” said Kai Eide, head of the UN mission in Kabul. Pre-election polls showed Mr Karzai is likely to win but not by enough votes to avoid a run-off against his main challenger, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

US President Barack Obama’s envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke, toured polling stations in Kabul. “So far every prediction of disaster turned out to be wrong,” he said.

Election commission head Azizullah Ludin said 6,192 polling stations had opened, 94 per cent of the number planned. Polls were kept open an extra hour because some stations had temporarily shut for security reasons during the day.

National Directorate of Security chief Amrullah Saleh said authorities thwarted plans by fighters to attack a hotel in Kabul and a ministry.

UN officials described turnout as robust in the north but weaker in the south, although they saw signs that turnout there picked up during the day as violence eased.

‘135 incidents of violence’
A series of attacks killed nine civilians, nine policemen and eight soldiers, ministers told a news conference in what Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said was a total of 135 incidents. Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hailed the election a “success” in security terms and said it had been well run.

Police said militants stormed an Afghan town on Thursday, launching a multi-pronged assault that sparked clashes and disrupted voting. “Terrorists attacked from several directions. Fighting has been going on since morning,” provincial police chief Mohammad Kabir Andarabi told AFP from Baghlan, a small town in the usually peaceful north. “The enemy has been pushed back. We have killed 22 terrorists,” he added.

Provincial governor Mohammad Akbar Barakzai later said 30 ‘rebels’ were killed in fighting. The head of the country’s Independent Election Commission told a news conference in Kabul that voting had been disrupted in the town. “We had to tell our people to save your (ballot) boxes and save yourselves,” Mr Lodin told reporters.

Separately, in a volatile district in the western province of Herat, the Taliban stormed into three polling stations, set fire to the buildings and destroyed all votes cast, a district governor said.

In the northern Kunduz province, Taliban were repelled from attacking a polling station, police said. In eastern Gardez city, two would-be suicide bombers were shot dead, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said. And in Kandahar, at least four explosions rang out before polling stations opened and a woman was killed when a rocket slammed into a residential neighbourhood, a witness said.

From here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Al Qaeda Leader Found Dead

PESHAWAR, Aug 19: The body of a suspected Al Qaeda leader was found in a house here on Wednesday. According to officials, the body with multiple wounds was of Abdullah Noori, son of Abdul Qadir, an Algerian believed to be Osama bin Laden’s top aide.

They said the man had been suffering from kidney ailment and was being treated by a private physician in a rented house in Tehkal area on the University Road.

Ten other people in the house were also arrested, but seven of them were later released. The other three are said to be foreigners, one of them from Algeria.

Police said they raided the house on information that an important militant commander was hiding there.

According to a reliable source, the body bore deep cuts, needle pricks on shoulders and marks of wounds in fingers. A urine bag was attached to the body. He said Abdullah had two wives, one from Swat, and three daughters and two sons.

From here.

Moral Crisis in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Kansas told Gov. Mark Parkinson that his administration's decision to end state funding in 2010 for a program that helps women facing crisis pregnancies "will have grave repercussions for some of the most vulnerable among us." "We implore you to consider the true costs of ending this important program," they wrote in a July 31 letter to Parkinson. "The state cannot afford to turn its back on women seeking help in choosing life."

Called the Senator Stan Clark Pregnancy Maintenance Initiative, the program "provides women facing crisis pregnancies with a wide array of support services, including counseling on alternatives to abortion," the bishops said in their letter. "Its absence will send a disturbing message about our priorities as a state," they said, "especially when taken in concert with your recent veto of a budget amendment restricting public funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider."

The Legislature had approved more than $345,000 to fund it for 2010, a smaller amount than the bishops had hoped for, they said. However, until the program was cut, the bishops said they were confident that even that amount would help the women who needed it.

From here.

Women in Combat

Far outside the view of the American public, women in uniform are now breaking the "combat barrier" and fighting side by side with male soldiers. As The New York Times reports, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have changed the way American troops go into combat. Before 2001, very few American women ever saw action in battle, except when taken by surprise. Now, women are now routinely deployed in combat situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan -- and all this in defiance of established policy.

As reporter Lizette Alvarez explains, "Women are barred from joining combat branches like the infantry, armor, Special Forces and most field artillery units and from doing support jobs while living with those smaller units. Women can lead some male troops into combat as officers, but they cannot serve with them in battle."

At least, that is the established policy. Nevertheless, "Army commanders have resorted to bureaucratic trickery when they needed more soldiers for crucial jobs, like bomb disposal and intelligence." In order to circumvent the policy, women are said to be "attached" to combat units rather than "assigned."

There is more. Alvarez explains that "as soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, women have done nearly as much in battle as their male counterparts: patrolled streets with machine guns, served as gunners on vehicles, disposed of explosives, and driven trucks down bomb-ridden roads." Women have even been involved in combat raids, she explains, "engaging the enemy directly in total disregard of existing policies." The policies themselves are often confusing, and appear "contradictory or muddled." Nevertheless, there is now an open acknowledgment that the policy is routinely circumvented.

Read it all here.

Orthodox Theological Study in Spanish


It is with great joy that I bless the establishment of the Orthodox Theological Study Program in the Spanish language Instituto Superior de Ciencias Teológicas San Basilio de Ostrog. Our Lord’s call to teach and baptize all nations is a summons which the Orthodox Church has faithfully obeyed and fulfilled in the course of its history to the extent that it external condition and circumstances permitted.

The time has now come for a renewed witness of Orthodoxy to be extended to the Spanish-speaking world, especially in the countries of Latin America, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.

The newly instituted program will be easily accessible through the internet and subscribers will have a wonderful opportunity to discover the spiritual and theological wealth of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

The need for educational materials on the Orthodox Faith in the Spanish and Portuguese languages were first actively recognized by Bishop Alexander (Mileant) of blessed memory, formerly the ruling hierarch of the South American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

He began to collect materials and translate seminary text books for the preparation of future candidates for the diaconate and priesthood in his diocese. His subsequent illness and untimely repose brought an end to his missionary and catechization endeavors.

Thanks be to God, the task of providing Orthodox Christian Education in Spanish has been taken up by the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Dr. Andrew (Vujisic), a clergyman of the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. May God richly and abundantly bless the efforts of Fr. Andrew and his co-workers in developing this study program for all who decide to know more about the Orthodox Church and its teachings and traditions.

May it also educate, spiritually enlighten and strengthen a multitude of new workers in Christ’s vineyard, future priests, deacons, readers, choir directors, and catechists. This holy task is very necessary and timely, “for the harvest is great but the workers are few”.
Metropolitan HILARION

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

APA Perpetuates Madness

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, LifeSite News

A man goes to a psychologist with a problem. "Doctor," he says, "I’m suffering terribly. I feel like a woman trapped inside the body of a man. I want to become a woman."
The psychologist responds: "No problem. We can discuss this idea for a couple of years, and if you’re still sure you want to be a woman, we can have a surgeon remove your penis, give you hormones for breast enlargement and make other changes to your body. Problem solved."

Gratified, the first patient leaves, followed by a second. "Doctor," he says, "I feel terrible. I’m a man but I feel attracted to other men. I want to change my sexual preference. I want to become heterosexual." The psychologist responds: "Oh no, absolutely not! That would be unethical. Sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic!"

The irony of this little tale is that, while reading like a joke, it is in reality an accurate description of the mental health professions today. While dismissing and condemning reparative therapy for homosexual orientation, the majority of psychiatrists and psychologists in Anglophone North America have embraced the concept of "sex change," a procedure that does nothing more than mutilate the patient to appease his confused mind.

The American Psychological Association Perpetuates the Madness

In its most recent statement on the topic, the American Psychological Association (APA) has softened its tone somewhat against psychologists who do reorientation therapy for homosexuals. However it maintains that, "Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation".

The refusal of the organization to accept the increasingly strong evidence against its position is another reminder of how entrenched the sophistry of sexual hedonism has become among the leaders of the organization.

Read it all here.

Obama Playing Chicago-style Politics with DOMA

A pro-family leader says the Obama administration is playing dishonest "Chicago-style politics" by defending the Defense of Marriage Act while undermining the law in a court filing.

The Obama Justice Department today filed court papers claiming the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against homosexuals. In the meantime, the DOJ lawyers are seeking to dismiss a suit brought by a homosexual California couple challenging DOMA.

Gary Bauer, president of American Values, says President Obama is committed to repealing DOMA -- but does not want to take the political flak that would come along with it.

"What the White House wants is for a court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act so that the White House and the president don't have to take the political damage for undermining a law that protects normal marriage," he explains.

Bauer argues Obama is contradicting a campaign pledge. "President Obama ran promising he would be open and transparent, and no longer practice the usual politics of Washington, DC," he notes. "Millions of people voted for him because they thought he would be more honest and more open in the way he governed."

According to Bauer, that is not happening. "What we're seeing here is something more reminiscent of the way they do politics in the wards of Chicago -- saying one thing and then doing something else behind the scenes," he states.

Read it all here.

Pakistani Reporter Detained at Dulles

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, August 14, 2009 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by U.S. immigration officials' decision to detain without explanation Rahman Bunairee, a Pakistani reporter for Voice ofAmerica (VOA) who said he had been targeted for attack in his home country.

CPJ calls on immigration officials to release Bunairee immediately and allow him to resume his work for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster.

Bunairee arrived at Washington's Dulles International Airport on Sunday from Karachi, intending to take a position at VOA's Washington headquarters. Bunairee had fled Pakistan after saying he had been threatened and attacked; notably, he reported a July 8 attack in which Taliban militants blew up his family's home in Buner District in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province. The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan had issued Bunairee a J-1 visa, for visiting scholars and experts, which would allow him to live and work in the United States for a year, according to a VOA press release posted Friday on its Web site.

Bunairee was detained at the airport by the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. A spokeswoman for the agency, Cori Bassett, confirmed that Bunairee was in ICE custody in an e-mail message to CPJ on Friday. "Mr. Bunairee . . . will be afforded all rights and procedures allowed under our laws," Bassett said, but declined to comment further citing ICE protocol.

Read more here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obama Promotes Homosexual Agenda

‘I’ve called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination — (applause) — to help end discrimination against same-sex couples in this country. Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law…. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I’ve made that clear’ President Obama

‘Welcome to your White House’ By Robert A. J. Gagnon

The Office of the White House Press Secretary released on June 29, 2009 “Remarks by the President at LGBT Pride Month Reception.” Here are excerpts of the speech (emphases are mine). They make clear Obama’s major commitment to shove down the throat of the American public the full homosexualist agenda, consistent with many previous pronouncements. For the full speech go here.

‘Welcome to your White House…. Though we’ve made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes….

It’s not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half century ago.

Read it all here.

Related reading:  Genesis and Homosex: Beyond Sodom

Hamas Denies Palestinian Journalists Access

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the Hamas interior ministry's decision to deny Palestinian and foreign journalists access to the southern city of Rafah and to all hospitals in the Gaza Strip until further notice. The ban was issued on 14 August 2009, after fighting broke out in Rafah between the Hamas government and a radical Islamist group.

"The Hamas-led government's interior ministry has again demonstrated a desire to control news and information in the Gaza Strip," Reporters Without Borders said. "Only the presence of journalists would ensure independent information about what took place in Rafah on 14 and 15 August."

The press freedom organisation added: "This ban leaves journalists powerless and allows the authorities to avoid having to account for their actions during these important clashes."

The fighting between the Hamas government's security forces and members of Jund Ansar Allah, an armed Salafist group, left more than 20 dead and 112 wounded. It was sparked by the Friday sermon delivered by the group's leader, Sheikh Abdul Latif Musa, in the Ibn Taymiyya mosque on 14 August, in which he announced the creation of an Islamic emirate in Rafah.

The interior ministry's ban has been greeted with anger by virtually all of the Gaza Strip's journalists, who say it is an attack on media freedom and their autonomy. The Palestinian media and Palestinian journalists managed to keep operating and provide coverage during the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip last January. But this ban concerns Palestinian journalists as well.

"Many photographers and cameramen have been prevented from working in the neighbourhood where the Ibn Taymiyya mosque is located since just after the start of the fighting on Friday until today," said AFP photographer Said Al-Khatib on 17 August. "They told us it was for safety reasons."

Members of the security forces raided the Gaza City bureau of the British news agency Reuters on 14 August after it ran a report about Musa's sermon together with video of the outbreak of fighting. The security forces demanded the Reuters videotape of the fighting, but did not obtain it.

In a 15 August communiqué, the interior ministry accused the Dubai-based satellite TV station Al Arabiya of broadcasting a report that contained lies and "insulted the Palestinian resistance fighters."

Iranian Lawyers Denied Access to Trial

Lawyers protest lack of access to hearing

Ban Mina Jafari, Lawyer Abdolssamad Khoramshahi, Lawyer Nassrin Sutodeh, Lawyer Muhammad Mustafai, Lawyer (CPJ/IFEX) - New York, August 14, 2009 - In a letter addressed to the head of the Iranian judiciary, four defense lawyers protested that they were not allowed to attend the latest hearing, on August 8, in a mass trial in which more than 100 defendants, including journalists, stand accused of anti-state activities.

On Tuesday, Mina Jafari, Abdolssamad Khoramshahi, Nassrin Sutodeh, and Muhammad Mustafai sent a letter to the chief of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, protesting that they had been denied access into the mass hearing where their clients, some of whom are journalists, are being tried, Radio Zamaneh and the Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency reported. In their letter, the four lawyers said they were denied entry because their clients were already being represented by a public defender. They also voiced disapproval that one of the lawyers was threatened with arrest after trying to gain entrance to the proceedings.

Read it all here.

Troy Polamalu Visits Mount Athos

On this sunny So-Cal day, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu graciously postpones his morning workout to ruminate about not just football - but life and what's most important in it. I narrow our chat to three topics.

Football is a given: How was this year's Super Bowl experience versus XL? Tomlin versus Cowher? Goals for the coming season?

Fatherhood is new in Polamalu's life since the birth of his son, Paisios, named after a beloved contemporary Greek Orthodox monastic, Elder Paisios, on Oct. 31, 2008. Has daddy-dom been life-changing? Will he encourage his son to play professional sports? How's that beautiful new mom doing?

And last but not least: Faith. In order to properly meet Polamalu where he lives, this is the requisite, the grounding force that gives meaning to everything he does, every play he makes. Polamalu's evident gratitude to the one who made him is marbled throughout our talk - from his training regime to his travels to Mount Athos, a monastic site in Greece, a place he calls "heaven on earth."

Read it all here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kuwait Tragedy: Forty-One Dead

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 16: Forty-one women and children were killed and dozens more injured when a fire ripped through a packed wedding party in Kuwait, triggering a panicked stampede, officials said on Sunday.

Dozens of fire-fighters battled to douse the flames which engulfed a large tent reserved for women during the wedding celebrations late on Saturday.

“The total number of deaths reached 41. There were six children among them,” Kuwaiti fire chief General Jassem al-Mansuri told AFP. Gen Mansuri said an additional 57 women and children were injured, seven critically, hinting that the death toll could rise further from the disaster in the town of Jahra west of Kuwait City.

“The tent was burnt down within minutes and only the steel structures remained intact,” he said, adding that there were between 150 and 180 women and children inside at the time.

Health Minister Hilal al-Sayer had earlier told the official KUNA news agency that 76 people with various degrees of burns had been taken to several hospitals in Kuwait, including to intensive care and specialised burn units.

A medical source said that more than 80 people were injured in the fire as relatives of some victims took them to private hospitals. Many of the victims had fallen during a stampede as the flames spread through the tent, which was left a smouldering wreck.—AFP

Greek Police Free Contained Migrants

ATHENS, Aug 16: Greek police said on Sunday they freed 10 migrants who had been kept in a shipping container in Athens and were mistreated by smugglers for a month.

In a statement, the police said the migrants – who included a Somali, a Syrian, and eight Pakistanis – had come into Greece via Turkey, and then were put into the container in the industrial suburb of Aspropyrgos.

They were mistreated ‘daily’ by smugglers who demanded that they each pay 4,000 euros (5,700 dollars), on top of the 7,000 euros they had already each paid for their journey, police said.

A Greek man, aged 60, has been arrested on suspicion of running a network that smuggled Pakistanis into Greece – a gateway for migrants hoping to enter western Europe – via Turkey. Five suspected accomplices – two Greeks, two Pakistanis and an Indian national – are being sought.—AFP

Quote of the Week - Bishop Wantland

"The church is indefectible but not infallible" -- Bishop William Wantland, assisting Bishop in the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

American Surgeons to Obama: Get Facts Right!

Statement from the American College of Surgeons Regarding Recent Comments from President Obama

CHICAGO—The American College of Surgeons is deeply disturbed over the uninformed public comments President Obama continues to make about the high-quality care provided by surgeons in the United States. When the President makes statements that are incorrect or not based in fact, we think he does a disservice to the American people at a time when they want clear, understandable facts about health care reform. We want to set the record straight.

Yesterday during a town hall meeting, President Obama got his facts completely wrong. He stated that a surgeon gets paid $50,000 for a leg amputation when, in fact, Medicare pays a surgeon between $740 and $1,140 for a leg amputation. This payment also includes the evaluation of the patient on the day of the operation plus patient follow-up care that is provided for 90 days after the operation. Private insurers pay some variation of the Medicare reimbursement for this service.

Three weeks ago, the President suggested that a surgeon’s decision to remove a child’s tonsils is based on the desire to make a lot of money. That remark was ill-informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what’s right for the patient.

We agree with the President that the best thing for patients with diabetes is to manage the disease proactively to avoid the bad consequences that can occur, including blindness, stroke, and amputation. But as is the case for a person who has been treated for cancer and still needs to have a tumor removed, or a person who is in a terrible car crash and needs access to a trauma surgeon, there are times when even a perfectly managed diabetic patient needs a surgeon. The President’s remarks are truly alarming and run the risk of damaging the all-important trust between surgeons and their patients.

We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.

Read it all here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

TEC's Trust Fund Book

A.J. Haley has been doing his homework and here's something that grabbed my interest:

It turns out that, as a consequence of all the brouhaha over the embezzlement of millions by a former treasurer of the Church, ECUSA was required by the Attorney General of New York to do an audit of its funds held in trust. As part of the audit, it agreed "to prepare an annual trust fund book and promptly provide copies of it to members of the church who request it." Now, this was news to me; I had not seen any such "annual trust fund book". I went looking for it on ECUSA's official Website, and what do you know -- I found it. (Caution -- the link is to a 308-page .pdf download of the last such book published, for calendar year 2007).

This "Annual Trust Funds Book" provides a wealth of information about the wealth of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America -- which is the official name of the incorporated arm of ECUSA, organized under New York law in 1846 (but existing in earlier form ever since 1820). The DFMS was modeled on two similar predecessors established under the Church of England: the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In accordance with those models, the main purpose of the DFMS was to facilitate the work of missionaries and the spread of Church missions both domestically and in foreign countries, and it was through its efforts that ECUSA became a national church that affiliated over the years with a number of foreign dioceses.

Over those same years, a great deal of money was given to further the missionary work of the DFMS. The 2007 Trust Funds Book reports the total value of all funds it currently holds in trust at $363,218,308 as of the end of that year. All of the individual bequests are pooled into a common investment fund, which is allocated 72% to equities, 20% to bonds (mostly of the United States), and 8% to other types of investment, chiefly hedge funds (see the tabular breakout on page 6).

Read it all here.

Lakota Path to Healing

Seven Directions Toward Healing

1. I realize that because of my abuse of alcohol and other drugs, I have been disrespectful toward myself and my relations.

2. I understand now that I need to seek out help to regain respect for myself and my relations.

3. I now seek through prayer, purification, and meditation to communicate with Tunkasila (Grandfather).

4. I pray daily to Tunkasila to give me the wisdom to know and understand my weaknesses and to understand my place within the Sacred Circle of Life.

5. I have the courage to forgive myself and to live in balance with my relations with the guidance of Tunkasila.

6. I pray to Tunkasila to give me wisdom, knowledge, and strength to live my life according to our Lakota values.

7. By following these directions, I walk the Canku Luta (Red road), sharing these values to help my relations and myself to overcome alcohol and other drugs.

(From the Lakota Country Times)

APA's Homosexual Caucus Issues "Cheap" Document

Arthur Goldberg and Elaine Silodor Berk, JONAH

Political correctness reigns supreme in an unbalanced, scientifically flawed document that was prepared by six-gay identified therapists (all appointed as members of the six member "Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation") and approved by The American Psychological Association (APA). There was never any pretense of balance as to the make-up of the committee’s membership. The gay and lesbian caucus of the APA, originators of the study, consistently rejected for committee membership any number of qualified therapists either with neutral views or actual practitioners of therapies designed to assist sexual reorientation change.

The APA study also chose to totally ignore NARTH’s landscape review of over 600 studies (as compared to the APA’s citations of less than 100 selectively chosen studies.) The more detailed and definitive study was recently released by NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.) After providing a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed literature that examined the ability of individuals with unwanted homosexuality to change, NARTH’s Scientific Advisory Committee (the authors of the NARTH study) concluded that those with unwanted homosexual feelings or behavior can indeed change their sexual orientation, disputed the contention that change therapies are harmful, (even the APA report had to concede "there is no clear evidence of harm") and stated their concern that homosexuals are at greater risk for medical, psychological, and relationship pathology than are members of the general population.

Interestingly, at the same convention where the resolution prepared by the gay-identified therapists was accepted, a symposium show-cased findings from a six year study (by Drs. Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse) of people who went through a Christian reorientation program. That study showed that a significant number of the subjects studied either successfully converted to full heterosexuality or dis-identified with their homosexuality and embraced chastity.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pakistan TV Reporter Murdered

14 August 2009
Television reporter shot dead

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, August 14, 2009 - Security forces should immediately investigate today's shooting murder of TV journalist Siddique Bacha Khan in the city of Mardan in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Unidentified gunmen ambushed Bacha Khan, news correspondent for the independent Aaj TV channel, and shot him at close range before fleeing the scene, the channel reported on its Web site. The journalist was critically injured and died en route to the hospital, according to Aaj TV and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

The shooting took place early morning as he was on his way to work, the reports said. It is not clear whether the murder was related to his reporting.

"Siddique Bacha Khan's murder must not go unpunished," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The lack of official investigation into attacks on journalists is only contributing to a rapidly deteriorating security situation for the press in Pakistan's northwest."

Pakistan's frontier is a dangerous region for journalists, who frequently risk attacks from Taliban militants and the government forces fighting them for control of the territory bordering Afghanistan, according to CPJ research. Troops fired on a journalist and his driver at a checkpoint in the area in June, and militants attacked and destroyed the homes of two journalists in the province's Buner district in separate incidents in July.

Shooting attacks on reporters are often left unsolved, with Pakistan ranking 10th worst in the world among countries where journalists are murdered with impunity, according to CPJ's Impunity Index.

For more information:
Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001
USAinfo (@)
Phone: +1 212 465 1004
Fax: +1 212 465 9568

Obama Joker Poster in Florida

Kurt Nimmo
Friday, August 14, 2009

It looks like the police in Clermont, Florida, have a “suspect” in the serious crime of posting Obama as Joker posters. “Clermont police have interviewed one suspect who is admitting to putting up the dozens of posters pasted around the city depicting President Obama as the Joker character from the Batman film The Dark Knight, city officials confirmed,” reports the Orlando Sentinel.

The individual admitted to “putting up 500″ of the posters. Clermont Police Capt. Eric Jensen said others are likely involved in the nefarious plot.

“We have talked to an individual,” Jensen said. “He only admitted to some of it…We’re still tracking down leads and talking to folks. We have not arrested anybody.

Riots in Paris Maine?

On Thursday, Steve Watson reported on a National Guard “riot scenario” exercise conducted at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris, Maine. The school was chosen as a distribution site for the H1N1 flu vaccine by state officials. “The National Guardsmen will take on the roles of panicked citizens and military police and practice what they would do, such as using tear gas, in the case of a riot,” the Sun Journal reported on August 13.

Sgt. Skip Mowatt of the Paris Police Department told WMTW 8 desperate citizens — arriving without proper ID or living outside the designated area — may overwhelm local police and engage in violence in an effort to get their soft kill vaccination. In such a situation, the television station reports, the police in Paris would team up with the National Guard to baton, pepper spray, and tase rioters.

In late July, the Pentagon said it will establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a pandemic. The plan calls for all branches of the military to team up with FEMA. CNN reported on July 29 that the proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Northern Command’s Gen. Victor Renuart. The Pentagon, however, often announces plans after it has already moved to implement them. “Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall,” CNN reported.

“Much of the groundwork for the intervention of the military has already been established,” writes Michel Chossudovsky, who notes that “regional teams” have already been established under NORTHCOM, which has been involved in preparedness training and planning in the case of a flu pandemic. “The pandemic is being presented to public opinion as an issue of National Security, with a view to triggering the militarization of civilian institutions in blatant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act,” Chossudovsky noted in an earlier article (Martial Law and the Avian Flu Pandemic).

As Infowars reported on August 6 and investigative journalist Wayne Madsen confirmed on the Alex Jones Show earlier this week, an international conference on the coming flu pandemic will be held in Washington next week. Breakout sessions detailed in a brochure for the conference include discussions on mass fatality planning, business continuity planning, and COOP or Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government Planning. Additional sessions cover enforced quarantines, mass vaccinations, and how to “control and diffuse social unrest and public disorder.” In short, how best to implement martial law.

The WHO and CDC have played prominent roles in hyping the coming pandemic and propagandizing the public on its expected severity. On July 25, the Los Angeles Times reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the flu pandemic expected this autumn to kill hundreds of thousands. “The number of potential deaths is much higher than that usually seen in seasonal flu, which kills an estimated 36,000 Americans a year, and is even higher than the nation’s most recent pandemic.” The 1957 pandemic of Asian flu killed 70,000. The 1918 Spanish Flu claimed between 500,000 to 675,000 lives in the United States.

From here.

Schools as Vaccination Centers

Schools to Become Mass Swine Flu Vaccination Clinics
"Highly likely" that large scale operations will be implemented in US and UK

Steve Watson
Friday, August 7, 2009

Schools in both the US and the UK are set to serve as mass vaccination sites in the Autumn as government officials on both sides of the Atlantic consider plans that could see a push to inoculate every child in both countries against swine flu.

In the US, Federal officials representing Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and the Department of Homeland Security have briefed twelve heads of education associations, unions and child care providers on plans to implement mass vaccination in schools.
New York State United Teachers president Dick Iannuzzi, who was present at the briefing, told USA Today that it is "highly likely" that schools will be used for student vaccinations.

"That would be the optimum place to have that happen," he said, noting that there was "consensus in the room" about the wisdom of using schools as vaccination sites.

Federal officials put "a much stronger emphasis — stronger than I've heard in years" — on encouraging school districts and local health departments to open schools as immunization centers, said Amy Garcia, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses.

Meanwhile, government ministers in the UK are considering plans to place vaccination posts in every school in the country in what would amount to the biggest mass immunisation in 45 years.
All 8.5 million pupils aged five to 16, could be given the injections at the UK's 33,700 schools, the largest vaccination programme since the 1964 operation against smallpox.

The Department of Health has stated that no decision has yet been made on the programme and that parents would need to give permission for their child to be vaccinated.

Read more here.

Tight National Security in UK

LONDON, Aug 14: Five Pakistani men arrested in a major anti-terror swoop in Britain were denied bail due to a series of emails which could have implicated them in an Al Qaeda plot, a judge revealed on Friday. The five were among 12 men -- 11 Pakistanis and one Briton -- who were arrested in raids in April but not subsequently charged with any criminal offences.

Along with two other men who did not apply for bail, the five are challenging attempts by the British government to deport them on the grounds that they posed a threat to national security.

The five were denied bail at a hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) at the end of last month -- the reasons for which were revealed on Friday. Judge John Mitting said a string of emails exchanged between an address attributed to one of the men -- identified only as XC -- and another attributed to an Al Qaeda associate were “central to the open case of the appellants”.

The emails XC sent to “Sohaib” seemed to refer to a “nikah”, or wedding, but the security services believe otherwise. “They appear to refer to XC’s interest in named girls and to a nikah after 15th and before 20th April 2009 with one of them, Nadia,” Mitting said in a written statement.—AFP

Democratic Party Shuns Catholic Faith

The Shrivers represented the old Democratic Party—economically liberal and culturally conservative. They were routed by the new Democratic Party—economically liberal and culturally libertine—of which Ted became the poster boy. The tortured relationship of the Catholic Church with the Democratic Party mirrored that cleavage. Eunice was the ideal of the Catholic in public life—passionately committed to the poor, defender of the weak, pro-life, morally upright and a woman of faith and family. But the party followed Ted.

The Shrivers were devout Catholics who lived their faith with integrity privately before bringing its implications to the public square. Before Alzheimer’s took its toll on Sargent, he was a daily communicant, attending Mass either in Maryland or in Hyannis, Mass., a well-worn rosary often in hand.

Read more here.

Senate Drops End-of-Life Provision

Posted by Tom McFeely
Friday, August 14, 2009 11:30 AM

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks at a health-care reform town hall. (
One down, a much bigger one to go.

That’s how Catholics might characterize yesterday’s move by the Senate Finance Committee to drop a provision that would have allowed taxpayer funding of doctor-patient end-of-life discussions from its version of the health-care reform bill.

“Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the provision had been dropped from consideration because it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly,” Associated Press reported yesterday.

Sen. Grassley’s statement can be read here.

The provision to fund end-of-life discussions is included in the version of the bill that has been passed by three committees in the House of Representatives. If the move by the Senate signals the permanent demise of this proposal from the health-care reform package, it’s good news. Critics of the provision warned, with good reason, that it could open the door to pressure for doctor-assisted suicide for patients suffering from serious illnesses that would be costly to treat.

The willingness of Senate Democrats to give ground on this issue gives reason to hope that the health-care reform bill also can be amended to address the biggest pro-life concern about the bill as it’s currently drafted: The inclusion of a mandate for taxpayer funding of abortion services.

Read more here.

Scovel to Investigate FAA's Selection Process

The Obama administration used economic stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn't meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants, a government watchdog said Monday.

Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said he plans to examine the Federal Aviation Administration's process for selecting programs for the $1.1 billion in grant money.

Among the projects that Scovel said didn't meet the FAA's minimum score was $14 million that went to Akiachak, Alaska, a town of 659 residents, to replace its airfield. The town has a seaplane and is only 14 nautical miles from the state's fourth busiest airport.

Nearly $15 million went to another Alaska town, Ouzinkie, that has 167 residents, to replace its gravel runway. The town has a float-plane landing area in its harbor. Barges also provide cargo delivery from Kodiak, 10 miles away.

Other projects Scovel said didn't meet FAA's threshold were $4.8 billion for a new taxiway in Findlay, Ohio; $2.2 million for a runway extension at Wilbur Airport in Washington, $2 million for an apron at Warrensburg-Skyhaven Airport in Missouri, and $909,806 to design a new runway at a small airport near Dover, Del. He said those airports don't provide commercial passenger service and have limited flight operations.

Read it all here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sex Educators: Nice People Who Lie

In You’re Teaching My Child What? Miriam Grossman exposes sex education and the problem of parental ignorance. Miriam Grossman, M.D., is a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist.

Sex educators may be very nice people but they stand on a social-political platform that can be yanked from under them if they don't spin the liberal party line. They twist medical facts into dangerous propaganda.

In You’re Teaching My Child What? Dr. Grossman presents what sex educators don’t want parents to know:
  • Why the discredited founder of "sexology"—dead for half a century—has more influence on sex education than today’s most eminent neurobiologists.
  • How information your child gets about common infections like herpes, warts, and Chlamydia is whitewashed.
  • When "safe sex" isn’t safe; why condoms won’t protect your teens from some of the most serious sexually transmitted diseases.
  • How sex educators try to normalize fringe behaviors—ignoring the health risks to your children.

Sex educators want parents to accept them as the "authorities" and to surrender parental responsibility for training a child in the path of rightness. The epidemic of sexually transmitted infections in young people and the increase in teen pregnancies indicate that the "education" is a failure.

To learn more, check out Dr. Grossman's website and read her book!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Liberals Who Think Like Stalin

The first adjective that comes to mind for "liberal" may be "touchy-feely." The best adjective for a Stalinist might be "murderous." That's a pretty big difference. I would never want to mistake a well-meaning liberal for a nasty Stalinist. At the same time, I hope we don't fail to spot any Stalinists who might be looking for mischief and pretending to be liberals. Certainly the mainstream media aren't interested in the difference.

The term "Stalinist" is historically justified by undeniable evidence, including testimony from thousands of former Stalin collaborators. So this is not a question to take lightly, as long as we are careful to separate undeniable facts from mere allegations.

I've started to gently question the beliefs of the liberals I know, without getting into any loud argument. Much to my surprise, some of the gentle-sounding people I know actually talk murderously at times. I wouldn't have believed it, because these are people I like a lot. They have a warm side. In their own minds they all believe they are driven by love and compassion. And yet, some of them -- certainly not most -- seem ready to hang the current media scapegoat from the nearest gallows.

I also know a lot of really sweet, dumb liberals, people who are so desperate to be loving that they rationalize all the nonsense they are fed by our media.

Read it all here.

Durban Document Recognizes "Christianophobia"

The outcome document of the Durban Review Conference held in Geneva from April 20th to 24th of 2009, recognizes the phenomenon of Christianophobia: "12. Deplores the global rise and number of incidents of racial or religious intolerance and violence, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and anti-Arabism manifested in particular by the derogatory stereotyping and stigmatization of persons based on their religion or belief..."

Read the full outcome document here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Homosexuals Block Open Debate in Germany

On May 9th the German Gay and Lesbian Association in opposition to two speeches on Psychotherapy congress on whether sexual orientation could be changed if wished for. Speeches had to be delivered with police protection. Anti-Christian counter-demonstration portrayed Jesus as a pig nailed to the cross and used slogans such as: "We are here to hurt your feelings."

A German Gay and Lesbian Association (LSVD) opposed in an open letter from March 26th two speeches that were scheduled to be held on the "6th International Congress for Psychotherapy and Spiritual Welfare" (20th to 24th of May 2009 in Marburg). The lectures were to be given by therapist Markus Hoffmann of the organization Wüstenstrom and medical doctor Dr. Christl Ruth Vonholdt of the Deutsche Institut für Jugend und Gesellschaft. The main objection was their conviction that sexual orientation could be changed if wished for by the individual. The Association called upon the University in Magdeburg to distance itself from the meeting.

On April 21st 2009 a declaration "for freedom and self-determination – against totalitarian gay and lesbian associations" was opened for signatures. Several thousand people including on high ranking officials signed in favor of the protection of the freedom of speech and scientific discussion. Among them: philosopher Robert Spaemann, former minister of state socialist Hans Apel, public law expert Martin Kriele, and member of parliament Norbert Geis.

Due to these efforts, the speeches in question were not cancelled. Protests during the congress however required heavy police protection and forced the concerned speeches into an offsite location which prevented several people from participating.

Homosexual activist groups were responsible for the smearing of walls of Christian buildings and the destruction of display cabinets of parishes.

Red it all here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Episcopalians Jumping Sinking Ship

How one Episcopal parish is addressing TEC's slip into spiritual darkness (surely it can't slip any farther?)

Whereas The Episcopal Church in its most recent General Convention has once again exhibited a disregard for Holy Scripture and failed to submit to the Anglican Communion, we the Vestry of Christ St. Paul's Parish, Yonges Island, SC, hereby request that the Diocese of South Carolina be placed under a spiritual authority which holds to the clear teaching of the Holy Scripture and the Bonds of Affection within the Anglican Communion which will give our Diocese a place to thrive.

From here.

Hat Tip to Kendall Harmon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pray for These Folks

Makes the heart sad...


God, thank you for the gift of Gayness, a way of reaching out and loving, a way of enjoying your gifts of sexuality and pleasure, a way of knowing aloneness, a way of knowing union. Thank you for the awareness it gives me, for the clarity of pain, for the rapture of joy. All good gifts come from you, Oh God. May I use the gift of Gayness to celebrate you, life, your love, your tender whimsy. AMEN (Fr. Ron Wesner)

From here.

David Bentley Hart's New Book

David Bentley Hart is visiting professor, Theology Department, Providence College, and author of several books, including In the Aftermath: Provocations and Laments and The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth. Hart is a Christian in the Orthodox Church. He is the younger brother of the Anglican priest Robert Hart of The Continuum. (The third Hart brother is a Roman Catholic priest. The conversation around the table when the three brothers are together must be interesting!)

Here is a review of David Bentley Hart's new book Atheist Delusions:

Currently it is fashionable to be devoutly undevout. Religion’s most passionate antagonists—Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and others—have publishers competing eagerly to market their various denunciations of religion, monotheism, Christianity, and Roman Catholicism. But contemporary antireligious polemics are based not only upon profound conceptual confusions but upon facile simplifications of history or even outright historical ignorance: so contends David Bentley Hart in this bold correction of the distortions. One of the most brilliant scholars of religion of our time, Hart provides a powerful antidote to the New Atheists’ misrepresentations of the Christian past, bringing into focus the truth about the most radical revolution in Western history.

Hart outlines how Christianity transformed the ancient world in ways we may have forgotten: bringing liberation from fatalism, conferring great dignity on human beings, subverting the cruelest aspects of pagan society, and elevating charity above all virtues. He then argues that what we term the “Age of Reason” was in fact the beginning of the eclipse of reason’s authority as a cultural value. Hart closes the book in the present, delineating the ominous consequences of the decline of Christendom in a culture that is built upon its moral and spiritual values.

From here.