Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quote of the Week - Cyril of Alexandria

"That which the holy scripture hath not said, by what means should we receive and account it among those things that be true ?"--Cyril of Alexandria

This is why Christians do not credit the Talmud. Both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmuds contain much that is not in the Bible and a good amount that contradicts the Bible.

Friday, July 26, 2013

China economic growth winding down?

Major shifts underway in the Chinese economy that Stratfor has forecast and discussed for years have now drawn the attention of the mainstream media. Many have asked when China would find itself in an economic crisis, to which we have answered that China has been there for awhile -- something not widely recognized outside China, and particularly not in the United States. A crisis can exist before it is recognized. The admission that a crisis exists is a critical moment, because this is when most others start to change their behavior in reaction to the crisis. The question we had been asking was when the Chinese economic crisis would finally become an accepted fact, thus changing the global dynamic.

Last week, the crisis was announced with a flourish. First, The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-recipient Paul Krugman penned a piece titled "Hitting China's Wall." He wrote, "The signs are now unmistakable: China is in big trouble. We're not talking about some minor setback along the way, but something more fundamental. The country's whole way of doing business, the economic system that has driven three decades of incredible growth, has reached its limits. You could say that the Chinese model is about to hit its Great Wall, and the only question now is just how bad the crash will be."

Later in the week, Ben Levisohn authored a column in Barron's called "Smoke Signals from China." He wrote, "In the classic disaster flick 'The Towering Inferno' partygoers ignored a fire in a storage room because they assumed it has been contained. Are investors making the same mistake with China?" He goes on to answer his question, saying, "Unlike three months ago, when investors were placing big bets that China's policymakers would pump cash into the economy to spur growth, the markets seem to have accepted the fact that sluggish growth for the world's second largest economy is its new normal."

Read it all here.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Putin on Snowden, Russia-US relations

President Vladimir Putin says Russian-American ties are more important than the issue of the fugitive former U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, who is currently sheltering at a Moscow airport.

'Our bilateral ties, in my view, are much more important than any squabbles around the work of security services,' Putin told journalists in the context of questions about tensions related to the U.S. contractor.

Snowden has been in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23 and has requested temporary asylum in Russia.

Putin said he was more focused on the task of developing U.S. relations.

'We have warned Mr. Snowden that any activity on his part that could harm Russian-U.S. relations is unacceptable to us,' Putin said, repeating a warning from July 1.

Read it all here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quote of the Week - St. Athanasius

"The holy and divinely-inspired scriptures are sufficient of themselves to the discovery of truth."-- St. Athanasius

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two questions for Eric Holder

Here are two questions for Eric Holder:

1.  Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch because there'd been a rash of break-in at that housing development.  So, how many break-ins were reported after the Zimmerman-Martin confrontation?

2.  Our attorney general is protected by an armed security team.  Should an attacker come toward the attorney general, should his security team shout, "Come on, Eric, let's run for it!" -- or does he want them to stand their ground and shoot?

From here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Are mercy and kindness forgotten virtues?

Road from Jerusalem to Jericho

The Rev. Canon Rick Lobs

I have traveled the Jerusalem to Jericho road many times. That ancient road, now paved, is the geographical location of the parable. The people I have traveled with never want to be on that road after dark if possible. The fear was that the vehicle might break down. There are many places along this twenty mile road, which drops 3,300 feet between Jerusalem and Jericho, from which bandits could and can ambush the traveler. Historically, the Jerusalem to Jericho road was so dangerous that it was called, “The Path of Blood.” As late as the 19th century it was necessary to pay safety money to local sheiks to ensure safe arrival.

So, the story Jesus tells is about boundaries. Would a rotten, low down, Samaritan, one of the folks that just threw Jesus and his crew out of town, qualify as a neighbor? The whole concept must have floored the disciples. Well, let’s ruminate just a bit further.

Are both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin neighbors?

Are Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaida neighbors?
Are Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson neighbors?
Are the folks at liberal MSNBC our neighbor? How about conservative Fox News?
Are those bishops responsible for the bleed out of the Episcopal Church neighbors?
Are illegal aliens, the undocumented, neighbors?
Is Edward Snowden our neighbor?
What about the guy or gal at the intersection with the “God bless” sign?
Is the homosexual couple down the street our neighbor?
Is President Barak Obama our neighbor? What about President George Bush?
Is the Pope our neighbor? Southern Baptists?
Are Liberals our neighbor” How about the Tea Party?

Perhaps you get the point. In the interest of transparency I can look at that list and see some folks for whom a little shock and awe would be therapeutic. How about you?

Jesus is calling me to name the worst of the list above my neighbor. He is not asking me to be their BFF – but He is demanding that if any of them find themselves in one of life’s ditches, bruised and battered, I am their neighbor and they are mine. The key words are "showing mercy". That is what the Samaritan did. In that regard he became a Christ figure. He modeled how the Lord treats us and we are ordered to go and do likewise.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sequestration fallout and damage

Air Force leaders announced July 15 that flying training would resume at numerous units, bringing an end to the three-month halt that resulted from the budget sequestration reductions.

Congress approved a $1.8 billion reprogramming request that transferred money from several programs to pay for near-term shortfalls in war funding, which allowed flight training to resume.

In total, the budget sequestration triggered by Congress' inability to reach a broader deficit reduction agreement has cost the Air Force $10 billion in fiscal 2013. Absorbing that cut in just seven months forced many damaging steps beyond the halt to flying training, including a near freeze on repairs to buildings, significant reductions in maintenance of aircraft, and the 11 days of civilian furlough that began last week.

The halt to flying reduced expenditures by $857 million for fiscal 2013, but restoring readiness will require major additional investments in 2014 and beyond.

'We all understand that the Air Force has a part to play in the efforts to get the federal deficit under control,' said Dr. Jamie Morin, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller. 'The updated defense strategy as well as the drawdown in overseas operations will let us make some reductions. But these arbitrary, across the board cuts from sequestration are undermining the Air Force's efficiency and effectiveness.'

Congressional approval of this reprogramming request, coupled with efforts under the 'Every Dollar Counts' campaign and belt tightening at bases around the world has allowed the Air Force to begin to undo some of the worst damage from sequestration. However, a recovery of flying proficiency will take several months.

According to Air Force officials, the damage will worsen if Congress does not act to avoid a further round of automatic cuts in time for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct.1. In that case, the Air Force would have to reduce training across an even wider swath of units, including likely more than half the Combat Air Forces.

Units across the Air Force are also feeling the effects of the 11 days of civilian furlough, which is reducing crucial services at bases around the world and is projected to cost the average Air Force civilian $3,000 in pay cuts.

'We rely on our civilian Airmen to keep the Air Force in the fight,' said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning. 'Their absence is felt across the board and it impacts our ability to accomplish the mission. General Welsh and I are committed to working with the Secretary of Defense to find a way to bring this disruptive furlough to an early end if at all possible.'

While flying operations will begin the long path to recovering readiness, many other areas of Air Force operations remain seriously degraded. The largest funding reductions came in areas like facilities maintenance, where many installations are addressing only emergency work orders.

'Right now, most bases only have the resources to do emergency facility and infrastructure repairs in order to avoid imminent mission failure or threats to life, health or safety,' said Maj. Josh Connell, who is assigned to Headquarters Air Force Office of the Civil Engineer. 'Therefore, vital preventive maintenance is being deferred. Just like with your car, you can save money by not changing the oil, but at some point, it's going to cost a lot more to repair the damage caused by that lack of maintenance.'

Similarly, the three Air Logistics Centers' depots have seen their workload reduced by $700 million, meaning that aircraft and engines will not be overhauled on schedule. A broad civilian hiring freeze remains in effect, resulting in thousands of vacant positions across the Air Force. Few of these reductions will be reversed even with approval of the reprogramming action, and the effects are projected to deepen if the sequester reductions last into 2015.

Major Air Force modernization projects were also hit by the sequestration. Some programs were targeted for even further reductions in order to transfer dollars to war requirements, and these cuts will have enduring consequences.

'When we have to disrupt complex acquisition efforts to find near-term savings, we almost always end up costing the taxpayer more for less capability in the long run,' said Lt. Gen. Charles R. Davis, the military deputy to the Air Force Service Acquisition Executive.

'We appreciate Congress' support for realigning dollars to meet wartime requirements so that we could restore our most critical flying training,' Morin said. While the flying stand down was one of the most visible actions we've had to take to reduce spending, no one should be under any illusion that this return to flight means the damage from sequestration has stopped.'

For more information on how sequestration is impacting the Air Force, visit

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Something wonderful happened in America last week!

Michael Cook, Editor of MercatorNet, tells this uplifting story.

Something wonderful happened in the United States this week: an unborn baby whose life was poised between abortion and adoption was saved by not one but hundreds of offers from people wanting to adopt the child. And it all happened in 24 hours, thanks to quick action by a parish priest and the use of social media.

A young couple were planning to abort their baby who had been diagnosed with Down syndrome at nearly 24 weeks, in a state that prohibits abortions beyond that point. However, they also asked an adoption agency to look for adoptive parents.

Father Vander Woude, of Gainesville, Virginia, heard about it and got someone from his parish to post an urgent appeal on Facebook on Monday morning. "... If a couple has not been found by today they plan to abort the baby. If you are interested in adopting this baby please contact Fr W IMMEDIATELY."

The result amazed everyone: all day long the parish office fielded phone calls and emails from all over the US and as far afield as England, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. There were over 900 emails alone. A shortlist of three families has been presented to the baby's parents.

Some 80 to 90 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down are aborted in countries like the US and UK, many after 20 weeks, but this story is solid evidence that such a brutal and heartbreaking response to this disability is not only wrong but completely unnecessary. President and founder of the International Down Syndrome Coalition, Diane Grover, told The Washington Times, "There's a lot of people waiting, and we are happy to always help" couples who don't think they can cope with a child who has Downs.

Related reading: Hundreds call to adopt Down syndrome baby, save it from abortion

Friday, July 19, 2013

California sterilization of women prisoners

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been accused of forcing female prisoners to have tubal ligations. In an article that has sparked public outcry, the Centre for Investigative Reporting (CIR) claimed that 150 inmates had been pressured into being sterilized. This included a woman who was told during labour; she barely escaped after protesting.

The CIR says that "doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals." The report also states "At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years."

Many of the sterilizations were performed by Dr James Heinrich, the former Valley State Prison obstetrician. In an interview with the CIR, Heinrich felt the need to justify the spending of tax payers money on the procedure - he said that "this isn't a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children - as they procreated more."

The shocking report has raised the spectre of eugenics in a state which sterilized about 20,000 people between 1910 and 1964. "I was like, 'Oh my God, that's not right,' " a former inmate who worked in the infirmary, Crystal Nguyen, told CIR. "Do they think they're animals, and they don't want them to breed anymore?"

In fact, in 2003, Governor Gray Davis issued a formal apology for eugenic sterilisations. "Our hearts are heavy for the pain caused by eugenics. It was a sad and regrettable chapter in the state's history, and it is one that must never be repeated again," he said.

State politicians have reacted strongly to the report and a number of groups are calling for a government enquiry. Senator Ted Lieu has sent a letter to California's medical board demanding answers. The California Legislative Women's Caucus has sent a letter to the head of California Correctional Health Care Services.

Source: BioLogos

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yale education a "cheap hodgepodge"

One might understand, given this unlikely story, why Nathan Harden might have been induced to write such a book as Sex and God at Yale. At heart, this book—like William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale, from which it draws its title—is the autobiographical account of a Yale student who felt betrayed by his institution, an institution he had long dreamed of attending. He had expected learning, culture, and all the best of Western Civilization. Instead, he received a cheap hodgepodge of multiculturalism, gender studies, and Sex Week—free condoms, vibrators, and porn. If Nathan Harden sounds angry in these pages, that is because he is. The book’s excesses might best be chalked up to a righteous indignation.

Harden’s main argument is that because Yale has abandoned its purpose of raising up young men and women to the greater glory of God and country, it has succumbed to the worst of mankind’s sins in the name of critical thinking and political correctness. The book thoroughly details Harden’s depressing experience at Yale—the “hook-up culture” taken to new extremes, Yale’s naked parties, professors sleeping with students, pornographic films shown in class in the name of cultural studies.

Read it all here

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pennsylvania: Lawlessness in high places

Excerpt from Michael Cook's "Evita's back and she supports same sex marriage"

The refusal of Pennsylvania's attorney general to defend her own state's law on marriage is a sign of the corruption of American politics.

Michael Cook

Kathleen Kane, the popular Democratic Attorney General, who received more votes than Barack Obama in the 2012 election, probably hopes to be elected Governor or Senator in the not-too-distant future. She is treating marriage as a political stepping-stone rather than a serious moral issue.

How did this come about?

In 1996, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly amended its consolidated statutes to state: “It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman.” So not only did the legislators follow US President Bill Clinton’s lead in endorsing a traditional view of marriage, they declared that this view was by no means based on whim, bias, or convenience, but on policy settled from time out of mind. It is a rash lawyer who chooses to nullify such emphatic language with a wave of her hand.

To be sure, the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor demonstrates that Mrs Kane’s personal opposition to DOMA is not unfounded. Not that she needed a precedent, mind you, for in her eyes it would be highly unethical for her to defend a statute which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Once again, Evita comes to mind:

There is evil, ever around, fundamental
System of government quite incidental

Because Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who opposes gay marriage, is named in the ACLU’s lawsuit, Pennsylvania’s statute will probably not go undefended. However, the Mrs Kane’s audacious move is sure to undermine confidence in the rule of law.

Ordinary voters do not understand the subtleties on which her reasoning, such as it is, is based. Whether or not they support same-sex marriage, they have a reasonable expectation that their elected officlals will enforce existing laws. They do not expect them to open the gates of the City to the Vikings, no matter how honeyed their promises or how nicely they knocked. All they will see is that an official of the executive branch sworn to defend and obey the constitution is so sure of her own genius that she has bypassed the judicial branch.

What if she were to see clearly that all gun control laws are plainly unconstitutional because they infringe upon “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” guaranteed by the Second Amendment? American courts are pilloried daily in the press, but is Mrs Kane right to treat the balance of powers as a superannuated relic of the dismal, homophobic past?

“A state’s attorney doesn’t get to pick and choose what laws she wants to prosecute,” says retired judge David A. Erickson, of Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law. “What if the state’s attorney was a person who doesn’t believe in hate crimes? You can’t just say I’m not going to enforce this law or defend it because I don’t believe in it or I don’t think so. That’s flat-out wrong.”

The dispute over same-sex marriage has encouraged Evita impersonators to spring up across the United States. The attorneys general of Illinois and California have also refused to defend state legislation against same-sex marriage. And in 2011 President Obama directed Attorney-General Eric Holder not to defend the Federal version of DOMA.

What are the long-term consequences of officials ignoring or nullifying the law? There is an ominous precedent in American history.

It began with the policy of the third president, Thomas Jefferson, on the Sedition Act of 1798. This oppressive act lapsed on John Adams’s last day in office, but several cases were pending in the courts when Jefferson became President. He dropped the prosecutions. This was a sensible response to an unjust act which had already expired.

The Sedition Act would certainly have been ruled unconstitutional had it ever come before the Supreme Court. However, Jefferson’s views on the law – which had been used mostly to prosecute members of his party – now look quite extreme.

They are expressed in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, of which he was the anonymous author. In response to the unpopular Sedition Act, Kentucky’s legislature declared that each state had the power to declare whether or not a Federal law were "unauthoritative, void, and of no force". And the states, acting together, had the power to nullify, or invalidate, such a law.

At the time, the Kentucky Resolutions had little effect. They were even repudiated by most of the other states in the infant nation. However, as tensions grew within the Union, their spirit was revived as the theory of nullification. Eventually this doctrine, which was elaborated by the great South Carolina politician John C. Calhoun, was used to justify the secession of the southern states and the ensuing slaughter of the American Civil War.

The refusal by same-sex-marriage-friendly attorneys-general to defend DOMA is unlikely to lead to insurrection. This is the stuff of political pot-boilers. But justice must be seen to be done. Unequal enforcement of the laws of the land enrages people and is a sure recipe for civil unrest. Jefferson himself wrote in the Kentucky Resolution that “unless arrested at the threshold,” injustice must “necessarily drive these States into revolution and blood”.

Injustice is what the crowds are protesting after George Zimmerman’s acquittal of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Their complaint is that there is one law for whites and another for blacks. President Obama’s response on Sunday to the unrest was that Americans should respect the legal system. “We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken,” he said.

But if attorneys general don’t respect the law, can you fault the crowds for following their lead? The smug sophistry shown by Kathleen Kane is another sign of how capitulation over same-sex marriage is gradually corrupting not just marriage, but the law itself.

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quote of the Week - St. Augustine

"Attempt to understand the Trinity and you will lose your mind. Deny the Trinity and you will lose your soul."--St. Augustine

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pakistani Taliban Join Syria Conflict

ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Taliban have set up camps and sent hundreds of men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al Assad, militants said on Sunday, in a strategy aimed at cementing ties with Al Qaeda’s central leadership.

More than two years since the start of the anti-Assad rebellion, Syria has become a magnet for foreign Sunni fighters who have flocked to the Middle Eastern nation to join what they see as a holy war against Shia `oppressors’.

Operating alongside militant groups such as the Al Nusra Front, described by the United States as a branch of Al Qaeda, they mainly come from nearby countries such as Libya and Tunisia riven by similar conflict as a result of the Arab Spring.

On Sunday, Taliban commanders in Pakistan said they had also decided to join the cause, saying hundreds of fighters had gone to Syria to fight alongside their “Mujahideen friends”.
Read it all here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

US Journalists Lack Spine

Nicole Hemmer

"Why shouldn’t you, Mr Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"
The question was directed at Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who broke the story of NSA surveillance using material provided by on-the-lam leaker Edward Snowden. The person grilling Greenwald wasn’t a government prosecutor or a frustrated member of the intelligence community. It was David Gregory, host of NBC’s Sunday morning political talk show Meet the Press.

The show, conceived as a regular forum for holding government officials accountable to the media, long ago devolved into a forum for politicians to field softball questions and dole out talking points. So it was a remarkable moment when Gregory found his spine. Less heartening? That he found it not when facing down a powerful politico but rather a fellow member of the fourth estate.

Since the NSA surveillance story broke in June, several members of the media like Gregory have focused fire on journalists and whistleblowers rather than the government programs that Greenwald and reporters for the Washington Post revealed. In doing so, they have sparked a debate about journalists and their role in a democracy. They have also revealed that the relationship between the press and the powerful is often more accommodating than adversarial.

The uproar began when Greenwald and the Washington Post revealed government surveillance programs using information gained from Snowden, who had been working for the NSA since 2009. Americans were appalled to learn that the Obama administration seemingly had access to everything from email to Facebook to phone records. Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 soared.

In response, president Obama came out in defense of his programs. “You can’t have 100% security and also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” he argued. “We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.” His deputy press secretary Josh Earnest added: “the president welcomes a discussion of the tradeoffs between security and civil liberties".

When it comes to that debate, a considerable number of American journalists have come out more strongly for security than for press freedoms. One strategy has been to redefine who qualifies as a journalist. Gregory told Greenwald that “the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you’re doing”. A writer at the Telegraph newspaper excoriated Greenwald for “blurring the line between opinion pieces and straight reporting”.

While this has opened up an intriguing discussion in the US about what journalists do, the attempt to define people like Greenwald as non-journalists has real consequences. Press protections, which are substantial in the United States, don’t cover activists. The media shield laws for which Obama advocated in response to outcry over his surveillance programs, for instance, only cover members of the press.

In a time when media are rapidly changing – when the people breaking news are not just employees of august print publications but bloggers and tweeters – journalists should be pushing for broad definitions of their craft to ensure press protections remain robust and inviolable.

This is particularly important not just because of the swiftly shifting media landscape but because of the expanding powers of the government. In addition to new technologies for surveillance, the Obama administration has developed new legal protections for an extensive security state.

The Obama administration has also aggressively prosecuted anyone who divulges classified information. The Espionage Act, a relic of the World War One era used only three times since the end of that war, has now been invoked seven times in five years by the administration in its pursuit of leakers and whistleblowers.

Given the government’s attempts to lock down information, journalists are forced to pick sides. And many are siding with the administration to protect the national security state. A writer for Salon labelled this group “Journalists Against Journalism”. He listed not only Gregory and New York Times columnist David Brooks, but the editorial page of the Washington Post. The Post joined the “Journalist Against Journalism” ranks when it declared last Tuesday that “the first U.S. priority should be to prevent Mr Snowden from leaking information” beyond what he has already shared.

That stance is odd for two reasons. First, the Washington Post itself scored a major scoop based on Snowden’s documents. Also, 40 years ago the Post ran some of the most important leak-based journalism in American history: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s account of the Watergate break-in and cover-up. For the Post to now be railing against stories built on “stolen” information and leaks shows how deeply implicated major American media have become in protecting the national security state.

Barack Obama was right when he said there should be a debate about the balance between liberty and security. Press freedoms are at the very heart of that discussion. The institutional checks and balances on the security state barely function. A secret court rubber stamps warrant requests. Congressional overseers are often disengaged. When they do pay attention, the intelligence sector has proven quite willing to lie to them.

In such an atmosphere, a free press willing to challenge and chasten the government without fear of recriminations is vital. Journalists like Gregory have a right to disagree with Greenwald. But they also have a responsibility to defend his right to practice journalism.

Source: MercatorNet

Nicole Hemmer is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Miami and a Research Associate at the University of Sydney. The original article was published at The Conversation

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quote of the Week - Cardinal John Njue

In response to President Obama's June 2013 tour of three African nations, the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Kenya, John Njue, said, “Those people who have already ruined their society…let them not become our teachers to tell us where to go.” 

To Obama’s promotion of same-sex relations, Cardinal Njue said, "I think we need to act according to our own traditions and our faiths.”

Let's hope American imperialism does not manage to destroy this "diversity" of opinion and tradition.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Egypt's Removal of Morsi not a Military Coup

"Australians and people worldwide should be in no doubt whatsoever that this was the will of the people. Millions of Egyptians were unhappy that Muslim Brotherhood backed-Morsi was not following democratic processes as expected and instead was imposing Sunni Muslim ideology on the entire Egyptian nation."-- Bishop Suriel of Australia

Australia's highest ranking Coptic cleric, Bishop Anba Suriel and leader of Australia's 80,000 Coptic Christians says it is critical Foreign Minister Bob Carr and the international community understand the overthrow of Egypt's elected President Mohammed Morsi was not a military coup but a response to the will of more than 33 million Egyptians who signed a petition for his removal.

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Africans not buying what Obama is peddling

Eugene Ohu

Until all African countries planning to sign laws against homosexual unions enact the laws and put paid to speculations, we should not stop writing about it. Even if I wanted to ignore what is becoming a tiring topic, Obama will not let me, as he decided to make it a major thrust of his African visit. In choosing the African countries to visit, he may have opted for the less “controversial” ones, perceived to be more amenable to “reason” (or bully, if you like) and those who may value America’s aids to the point of being cowed to submit. Perhaps he avoided the likes of Nigeria and Kenya for that reason, where he has been told in no clear terms that the matter was not debatable. In Obama’s native Kenya deputy president William Ruto said the country would not lose sleep after the American president’s apparent snub of their country, and referring to Obama’s call for the respect of gay “rights”, Ruto reminded him that Kenya was a God-fearing nation that would not accept “alien mannerisms” in conflict with both Christianity and African traditions. And if Obama then decides to “punish” Kenya by refusing bilateral cooperation, Ruto told him there were other countries willing and ready to partner with them.

The president of Senegal, smaller man that he is compared to Obama, in physical stature and political eminence proved he was a better man of principles. Looking him literally in the eye he told Obama that no sir, you can’t touch this one. “We are not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” denying that Senegal was “homophobic”. And as if to make it clear that respect for “human rights” was not selective, he reminded Obama about America’s continuous application of the death penalty. All over Senegal, people were full of pride and joy that “David” stood up to “Goliath” and did not flinch doing so. Both in the newspapers and on the streets, Senegalese rallied behind their president who on their behalf seems to have closed the debate on legalizing homosexuality under any guise.

To be fair, it is not as if Obama has come to Africa solely as a champion of gays and lesbians. American people, as liberal as they may consider themselves, would not be paying tax for their president to travel thousands of kilometers on a homosexual campaign. Blame the press too for searching out and finding controversy. They expected a clash and they found it.

It is surprising how Obama has turned out this way: all for love of the White House. I am sadly reminded of Thomas Moore’s question to Richard Rich about the price for which he sold his soul and conscience: “For Wales?” Is this how Obama wants history to remember him, like an Elvis Presley that is an icon mostly for those who lived in the 60s, looking with nostalgia at what was “their time”, but meaning little for those who are living in today's world? Is this how desperate he is to be liked and ensure a continuously high rating by all? Try as I might, I find in him very little in imitable principles– little I can encourage my son to emulate.

Source: Harambee

Monday, July 8, 2013

Quote of the Week - John Wesley

"Let everyone therefore who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God and consult the good of his own soul by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord’s day’s service. ...Accordingly those that joined in the prayers of the faithful never failed to partake of the Blessed Sacrament."-- Father John Wesley, from Sermon 101 (1787)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

DNA Test Links Michelle Obama to Shields family

Rachel L. Swarns
First Lady Michelle Obama always suspected that she had white ancestors. But she had no idea who they were. With DNA testing and research, I was able to solve that mystery and finally identify the white forbears who had remained hidden in her family tree for more than a century.

All across the country, growing numbers of people are turning to DNA testing as a tool to help unlock the secrets of their roots, using companies such as, among others. When I started researching my new book, “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama,’’ I pored over historical documents that I found in local archives, courthouses and libraries as well as records that I found online on and other state and local databases. But I knew that DNA testing would be the only way to unearth the truth.

I suspected that Mrs. Obama’s white ancestors belonged to the white Shields family that had owned her great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields. So I persuaded several descendants of the black and white Shields to do DNA testing.

The results showed that the two families were related. The DNA testing indicated that Melvinia’s owner’s son was the likely father of Melvinia’s biracial child, Dolphus Shields. (Dolphus Shields is the first lady’s great-great grandfather.)

This was painful news for many of the Shields descendants. They knew that that Melvinia might have been raped and that their kinship originated during slavery, one of the darkest chapters of our history.

Shields family reunion in 2013

But last month, members of both sides of the family – black and white — put aside the pain of the past. They got together for the very first time in Rex, Georgia at a ceremony to commemorate Melvinia’s life. They swapped family stories, posed for photographs, exchanged phone numbers and had a meal together.

From here.

UK entering designer baby market?

The UK government has decided that it will allow the creation of three-parent embryos to prevent the births of children with mitochondrial diseases. The announcement came after an extensive consultation carried out by the fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, last year which found that most Britons were not opposed to the procedure.

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Scientists have developed ground-breaking new procedures which could stop these diseases being passed on, bringing hope to many families seeking to prevent their future children inheriting them. It’s only right that we look to introduce this life-saving treatment as soon as we can.”

While the news was reported as a breakthrough and a world first by the media, there were voices of dissent. Dr David King, of the lobby group Human Genetics Alert, was bitterly critical.

"These techniques are unnecessary and unsafe and were in fact rejected by the majority of consultation responses. It is a disaster that the decision to cross the line that will eventually lead to a eugenic designer baby market should be taken on the basis of an utterly biased and inadequate consultation."

Read it all here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Locust Plague in Madagascar

Locusts swarm over field in Madagascar
Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/FAO/Afrol News

In Madagascar, "a largely uncontrolled locust plague" is in development, which by September is expected to infest two-thirds of the large island. If not checked, the locusts will finish off the entire crops of more than half of the population.

The UN's food agency FAO today issued a warning about the development of an uncontrolled locust plague being in development in Madagascar. The agency warns that emergency action must be taken to avoid a large-scale food crisis on the island.

"Some 13 million people's food security and livelihoods are at stake, or nearly 60 percent of the island's total population. Nine million of those people are directly dependent on agriculture for food and income," according to FAO. The UN agency says it urgently needs funding to start emergency operations on Madagascar to prevent "a serious food crisis."

FAO has issued various warnings since August 2012 calling for financial support. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva emphasised that prevention and early action are key to meet locust plagues. "If we don't act now, the plague could last years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. This could very well be a last window of opportunity to avert an extended crisis," he said.

Due to lack of efficient locust control programmes so far, the pest has already infected parts of the island. According to FAO, in parts of the country rice and maize losses due to the locusts vary from 40 to 70 percent of the crop, with 100 percent losses on certain plots.

The main food crop in Madagascar is rice, which is also on the menu of the swarming locusts. According to FAO estimates, there could be losses in rice production of up to 630,000 tonnes, or about 25 percent of total annual demands for rice in Madagascar.

The typical treatment of a locust plague is the large-scale spraying of insecticides. Swarming locusts occur periodically in most parts of semi-arid Africa, but can be controlled with preventive use of insecticides. When they first start swarming, the mighty plague is almost impossible to get under control.

Source: AFROL News

Thursday, July 4, 2013

GAFCON Primates Criticize Archbishop of Canterbury

A statement has been released by the Chair of the GAFCON Primates which expresses criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the direction of the Church of England. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya said:

While we give thanks for much that has been achieved, especially in the emergence of the Anglican Church of North America and our Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we are painfully aware that the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada continue to promote a false gospel and yet both are still received as in good standing by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Furthermore, the Church of England itself, the historic mother church of the Communion, seems to be advancing along the same path. While defending marriage, both the Archbishops of York and Canterbury appeared at the same time to approve of same-sex Civil Partnerships during parliamentary debates on the UK’s ‘gay marriage’ legislation, in contradiction to the historic biblical teaching on human sexuality reaffirmed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
 Read the full statement here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Obama calls Morsi as deadline approaches

U.S. President Barack Obama has called Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi to express concerns over Egypt's escalating political crisis.

The White House said on July 2 that Obama asked Morsi "to take steps to show that he is responsive" to the concerns of his political opponents.

Millions of Egyptians began protests against Morsi across the country this week.

Morsi's office says he will stick to his own political reconciliation plan despite the July 1 ultimatum from the military demanding the government and the opposition find a compromise within 48 hours. If they don't, the military said it would offer its own road map.

Read it all here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

French Police assault elderly, children

by Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

PARIS, June 28 (C-FAM) An international lawyer has filed complaints against France in the UN Human Rights Council for brutalizing peaceful demonstrators. Videos show French police beating marriage demonstrators, using tear gas and clubs against women, men, elderly and children.

Homosexual marriage and adoption became law in France on May 18. But a movement numbering millions of French citizens is determined to change that. La Manif Pour Tous, which means “demonstration for all”, is not relenting despite the government’s attempts to intimidate and violently repress them.

Since the law passed, La Manif has followed French President Francois Hollande with colorful demonstrations characterized by clean-faced youth, families, and elderly who believe children have a right to a mother and a father.

French authorities have decided pro-family demonstratos are a public threat. Riot police show up anywhere the demonstrators appear. They have been subject to baseless identity checks, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as police brutality through physical assaults and tear gas. Included in those roughed up by police has been Christine Boutin, former Cabinet Minister for the Sarkozy government who was tear-gassed, and Jean-Fredrick Poisson, a Member of the French National Assembly.

A report in Le Figaro has estimates of over 1000 arrests and 500 detentions since May 26. More than 150 individuals have filed complaints through different redress mechanisms.

In comparison, when violent riots erupted following a victory of the Paris soccer team in May only 11 people were arrested. Nearly 300 were arrested at a La Manif demonstration the same month.

Many were arrested solely for wearing a t-shirt with La Manif’s logo, an outline of a mother and father with two children. Forty-eight parliamentarians have demanded Hollande end the arbitrary detentions and arrests.

According to organizers, three massive gatherings of up to one million demonstrators have taken place since January. The French Minister of the Interior, Manoel Valls justifies the presence of riot police by citing brief clashes between riot police and “a few hundred” protesters at the end of some demonstrations.

But videos show French riot police charging peaceful protesters and families with children and elderly or disabled French citizens blinded by tear gas. Images of undercover police suggest they were under orders to instigate violence and then violently repress protesters.

A human rights lawyer has brought a complaint against France at the most recent session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Gregor Puppinck of the European Center for Law and justice (ECLJ) laments that France, a country which claims to have an exemplary human rights record, is the first European country ECLJ has filed a complaint against at the United Nations. The ECLJ hosted a discussion of the repression of La Manif at the Council of Europe this week.

A rally on Monday protested the trial of one peaceful demonstrator, 23-year old Nicolas Bernard-Busse. He was sentenced to two months in prison and 1000 Euros. Nicolas sought refuge in a restaurant after police charged a group of protesters on May 26. He was accused of evading arrest, even though no cause for arrest was alleged against him.

Dozens of cases like Nicolas’ will riddle the French justice system in coming months, and perhaps years. Demonstrators say they don’t care how long it takes to repeal the law.

Axel, a youth leader, told participants at a rally that was violently dispersed by police: “It is our inner life, our peace, our love which form the greatest force of résistance, and to this, the government can oppose nothing.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Heroic Orthodox Priest a Target

The persecution of Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Nadaf has escalated to a new crescendo, as the Jerusalem Patriarchate threatens to sack the Nazareth-resident and deprive him of his livelihood.
Nadaf’s sin is his open activism on behalf of integration by Arab Christians – or Arab-speaking Christian Israelis, as Nadaf prefers to call himself and his followers – into Israel’s mainstream.
He openly and bravely supports, though does not necessarily encourage, the growing number of young Christians who are interested in enlistment in the IDF. He also supports those interested in performing national service in their own communities. This sufficed to put him on the hit list of radical Arab MKs – including the only Greek Orthodox Arab MK, Basel Ghattas (Balad) – and to create inordinate pressure on the Jerusalem Patriarchate to dissociate itself from Nadaf and to punish him. The Palestinian Authority is also reportedly leaning on the patriarchate.
Last week, Christian Arab pro-Israel activists held a rally in Yafia, where Nadaf leads a congregation, and reported that this year 94 Christian Arabs signed up for military duty. In the whole of 2010, the comparable number was merely 30.
In their Facebook page the new recruits refer to themselves as “Arabic-speaking Israeli Christians.”
They say they live in a democratic Jewish state, see themselves as integrally part of it (Christians pre-date Muslims by centuries) and will not desist from saying so – especially in view of the bitter lot of their co-religionists in Syria, Iraq, the PA and Gaza. Their ambition, they stress, is status of the sort enjoyed by the Druse and Circassians.
But no sooner was the rally held, then the PA demanded Nadaf be fired. The threats against him were ramped up.
Nadaf calls this “blatant intimidation geared to frighten young Christians from identifying with Israel as fully fledged Israelis.”
See also The Times of Israel:
Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Yafia, was approached by the Forum soon after its creation, along with two other clerics, to serve as the movement’s spiritual guides. But following a campaign of intimidation the other two dropped out, leaving Naddaf alone at the helm.
For his positive view on Christian recruitment, Naddaf was banned from entering Nazareth’s Church of the Annunciation, and may be fired from his church position in Yafia. The tires of his car were punctured and a rag with bloodstains was laid at his doorstep.
“This is proof of their moral bankruptcy,” Naddaf told The Times of Israel in a telephone conversation. He considered the freedom to speak his mind on the recruitment of Christians “a matter of faith,” he added, noting that he has filed a police complaint against his attackers but could do little against inciting videos posted on YouTube or threatening tweets.
 Source: Rosh Pina

Quote of the Week - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”--Dietrich Bonhoeffer