Saturday, March 26, 2011

London marchers protest massive spending cuts in Britain

Tens of thousands of demonstrators throng the streets of London to protest $130 billion in spending cuts the Conservative-led government says are needed to tame a runaway deficit. It was one of the biggest demonstrations since rallies in 2003 against the Iraq war.
By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
March 26, 2011

 Reporting from London— Tens of thousands of demonstrators whistled, chanted, drummed and marched their way through the heart of London on Saturday to protest massive government spending cuts that threaten to leave almost no part of British society untouched.

It was one of the biggest public demonstrations in Britain since 2003, when antiwar rallies were held across the country before the invasion of Iraq. Organizers said up to 250,000 people participated in the march, whose carnival-like atmosphere was briefly marred by black-clad anarchists who smashed a few shop windows, flung paint bombs and attacked luxury icons such as the Ritz Hotel.

The protesters gathered here from all corners of Britain to express their outrage over a whopping $130 billion in cutbacks that the government insists are necessary to tame a runaway budget deficit. The retrenchment is expected to result in a radical shakeup of bedrock social services such as welfare and healthcare and in the elimination of nearly half a million public-sector jobs. the rest

Stink bug population spreading across USA

By Doyle Rice
posted March 26, 2011

They're here.

Stink bugs, the smelly scourge of the mid-Atlantic, are hitch-hiking and gliding their way across the country. Officially known as the brown marmorated stink bug, sightings of the pest have been reported in 33 states, an increase of eight states since last fall.

"I would say people now regard them as an out-of-control pest," says Kim Hoelmer, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Newark, Del.

TELL US: Your experience with the smelly pests
The National Pest Management Association warns homeowners this week that the bugs' growing populations are likely to make infestations significantly worse this year. "This season's stink bug population will be larger than in the past," says Jim Fredericks, director of technical services for NPMA. the rest image

Thousands of Christians Displaced in Ethiopia After Muslim Extremists Torch Churches, Homes

By Diane Macedo
March 24, 2011

Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.

At least one Christian has been killed, many more have been injured and anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 have been displaced in the attacks that began March 2 after a Christian in the community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran.

The violence escalated to the point that federal police forces sent to the area two weeks ago were initially overwhelmed by the mobs. Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal told Voice of America police reinforcements had since restored order and 130 suspects had been arrested and charged with instigating religious hatred and violence. the rest

PETA: Don't call animals 'it' in the Bible

By Eric Marrapodi
CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible.

The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls "speciesist" language and refer to animals as "he" or "she" instead of "it."

The NIV is a popular translation of the Christian Bible. An updated translation was released this month. The translators said 95% of the 1984 translation remains the same. But the committee of scholars made a move to be more gender-inclusive in their translation into English from the original Hebrew and Greek texts...

....PETA is hoping the move toward greater gender inclusiveness will continue toward animals as well.

“When the Bible moves toward inclusively in one area ... it wasn’t much of a stretch to suggest they move toward inclusively in this area," Bruce Friedrich, PETA's vice president for policy, told CNN.

Friedrich, a practicing Roman Catholic, said, "Language matters. Calling an animal 'it' denies them something. They are beloved by God. They glorify God." the rest image by Bradley Gordon

Animal Rights Activism Would Harm Disabled Veterans
Animal rights ideology states that there should be no domesticated animals of any kind and no human utilitarian uses of animals of any sort. This would cause great human harm, which animal rights/liberation theorists try to downplay so as to not lose any chance of suading the public to their misguided cause. I mean, when most of your advocacy is emotion-based–photos of injured dogs or screaming monkeys–you can’t focus on the suffering and harm that would be caused to us if animal rights were the law of the land...

California: Christ Church (ACNA) begins anew -- again -- in own space

 Friday, March 25, 2011

Christ Church is welcoming a new building for a new era.

The Fallbrook congregation, formerly known as St. John's Anglican Church, has been conducting services at Living Waters Christian Fellowship Assembly of God Church for the past two years. The church began sharing space with Living Waters after legal battles over property rights and organizational authority allowed the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego to take over the former church property (which is now operating as St. John's Episcopal).

The members at St. John's Anglican had previously voted to secede from the Episcopal Church, which is the North American branch of the global Anglican Union, and reaffiliated with a more theologically traditional conservative archdiocese in Africa. Disagreements regarding homosexuality and biblical authority are at the core of an ongoing dispute between the Episcopal Church and hundreds of its congregations, as well as Anglican bishops in other countries.  the rest

Ohio: Anglicans forming plans for new church in Canton

Friday, March 25, 2011


The God whom earth and sea and sky
Adore and laud and magnify,
Whose might they own, Whose praise they tell,
In Mary's womb vouchsafed to dwell.

How blessed that Mother, in whose shrine
The world's Creator, Lord divine,
Whose hand contains the earth and sky,
Once deigned, as in His ark, to lie.

Blessed in the message Gabriel brought,
Blessed by the work the Spirit wrought;
From whom the great Desire of earth
Took human flesh and human birth.

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to Thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost for evermore.
... For­tu­na­tus

Britain is no longer a free society, says Bishop Nazir-Ali

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has warned that Britain is no longer a free society where conscience is respected.
by Karen Peake
Friday, March 25, 2011

Speaking at the Christian Broadcasting Council’s annual conference, the bishop warned that “encroaching totalitarianism” was threatening respect for conscience.

“What we are facing is not a free society, but an ideology that is seeking to impose its views on us,” he said.

“We are making the assumption that conscience will be respected because we are living in a free society.

“But we are not in that society anymore.” the rest image

The bishop said that the secular worldview was undermining absolute respect for human life and amounted to an attack on the unborn child, the ill, the disabled, the elderly and the family.

Albert Mohler: Must a Pastor Be Married? The New York Times Asks the Question

The New York Times has asked the question. How would you answer it?
Friday, March 25, 2011

Is marriage a requirement for pastoral ministry? That question is not new, having been a major focus of debates at crucial points in church history, but it is being asked once again.

Erik Eckholm of The New York Times asked the question in a news story that put a focus on Mark Almlie, a single seminary graduate who has been looking for a pastorate. As Eckholm reports, Almlie, “despite a sterling education and years of experience, has faced an obstacle that does not exist in most other professions: He is a single pastor, in a field where those doing the hiring overwhelmingly prefer married people and, especially, married men with children.”

Mr. Almlie calls this unfair discrimination, and he suggested that the motive behind this discrimination comes down to what Eckholm described as “irrational fears” that an unmarried pastor would be hampered in counseling, might be susceptible to sexual advances, or “might be gay.” In Almlie’s words, “Prejudice against single pastors abounds.” the rest

Title IV and The Constitution: Dioceses’ Exclusive Authority for Clergy Discipline

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
By C. Alan Runyan and Mark McCall

In our previous papers we have shown that the new Title IV is unconstitutional in two key respects: it usurps the exclusive constitutional authority given to dioceses for the trial of priests and deacons and it gives the Presiding Bishop unprecedented and unconstitutional authority over diocesan bishops. These conclusions continue to be disputed, both publicly and privately, by those primarily responsible for drafting the revised Title IV even as these issues are under review by others throughout the church. Given the purposes of our previous papers, we have presented only the highlights of the extensive historical analysis that supports our conclusions. In light of the continued defense of the constitutionality of these revisions, however, we think it is important to present the full analysis. We begin with this review of the historical background of Article IX of the Constitution, the article that commits clergy discipline to the exclusive authority of the dioceses. We submit that this review demonstrates conclusively that Title IV as enacted is unconstitutional.

the rest

Deposed CNY Episcopal priest receives probable 'life sentence'

March 25, 2011

MONTROSE - An 84-year-old deposed Episcopal priest will spend 4½ years behind bars for sexually assaulting two teenage boys more than a decade ago in his Susquehanna County home.

The sentence delivered Thursday to Ralph Johnson of Gibson Twp. is likely a "death sentence," said his attorney, John Petorak, after the hearing.

In November, Mr. Johnson pleaded guilty in Susquehanna County Court to two felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a minor. Mr. Johnson will serve two concurrent 4½-to-18-year sentences in a state prison.

District Attorney Jason Legg agreed to waive the five-year mandatory minimum sentences in each case but asked the court to fashion a jail term in the aggravated range. Given the fact that there were multiple victims, an aggravated sentence would "still be lenient," he said.
the rest

Mr. Johnson was deposed in 2006 by Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams of the Central New York Episcopal Diocese after similar allegations of inappropriate conduct surfaced while Mr. Johnson was serving at a parish in Owego, N.Y.

Bishop Adams said in March 2010 that no victim ever came forward at that time to verify the allegations, but he felt the information was credible enough to merit Mr. Johnson's discipline.

While ordained, Mr. Johnson served in parishes in Buckingham, part of a Philadelphia area diocese; as well as at the New York churches of St. Paul's, Owego; Zion Church, Windsor; and St. Ann's, Afton.

Former Tier priest sentenced for sex crimes
"Justice has finally come to the victims," the Rev. David G. Bollinger said Thursday. Bollinger retired in 2009 after serving at St. Paul's in Owego from 1985 to 2005.

"The victims were courageous in coming forward in this case," he said.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Christian woman lawyer told she cannot represent people before Malaysia’s Islamic courts

The lawyer will appeal to a higher court after an initial rejection of her application for a permit to practice before Shari’a courts. Malaysia has a dual, secular-religious, legal system. 03/22/2011

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Christian woman lawyer in Malaysia was unsuccessful in her bid to obtain a permit to practice law before Shari’a courts. Victoria Jayaseele Martin said she wanted to represent non-Muslims. Malaysia has a dual legal system, a secular system for non-Muslim Malaysians and a religious one for Muslims, who constitute the country’s majority.

Ms Jayaseele Martin objected to a decision by a religious council to bar non-Muslim lawyers from Shari’a courts, but a judge in Kuala Lumpur rejected her claim. She said however that she would appeal to a higher court to argue that the ruling against her was unconstitutional.

Victoria Jayaseele Martin’s lawyer, Ranjit Singh, said that it is hard to find Muslim lawyers willing to represent non-Muslims before Islamic counts because they usually do not like to take cases that might run counter to their faith. the rest

Forced Into Medicare

A federal judge tells seniors to take it or lose Social Security.

MARCH 24, 2011

This week marks the first anniversary of ObamaCare, and if you are wondering where that coercive law is headed, we'd point to a case in federal court. That's where Judge Rosemary Collyer has ruled that Americans have a legal obligation to accept subpar government health benefits.

It remains a remarkable fact that America obliges most citizens over the age of 65 to take that rickety government health plan known as Medicare. Judging by today's growing number of health-savings options (HSAs, medical FSAs), some Americans would prefer to maintain private coverage upon retirement, rather than be compelled into second-rate Medicare. Yet the idea of patient choice offends many in government, and in 1993 the Clinton Administration promulgated so-called POMS rules that say seniors who withdraw from Medicare Part A (which covers hospital and outpatient services) must forfeit their Social Security benefits.

Several senior citizens in 2008 challenged the government, suing to be allowed to opt out of Medicare without losing Social Security. The plaintiffs paid their Medicare taxes through their working lives and are not asking for that money back. They simply want to use their private savings to contract for health services they believe to be superior to a government program that imposes price controls and rations care. They also dutifully contributed to Social Security and—fair enough—prefer to keep those benefits.

As recently as the fall of 2009, Judge Collyer provided support for the plaintiffs. She rejected the Obama Administration's argument that the plaintiffs were lucky to get Medicare and therefore had suffered no "injury" and lacked standing. She noted the Clinton POMS are simply part of a government handbook and never went through a formal rule-making. She also refused the Administration's request to dismiss the suit, noting that "neither the statute nor the regulation specifies that Plaintiffs must withdraw from Social Security and repay retirement benefits in order to withdraw from Medicare."

Yet in a stunning reversal, Judge Collyer last week revisited her decision and dismissed the case. In direct contravention to her prior ruling, the judge said the Medicare statute does—with a little creative reading—contain a requirement that Social Security recipients take government health care. The Medicare statute provides that only individuals who are "entitled" to Social Security are "entitled" to Medicare. Therefore, argues the judge, "The only way to avoid entitlement to Medicare Part A at age 65 is to forego the source of that entitlement, i.e., Social Security Retirement benefits." the rest

Large quake hits Myanmar near northern Thailand

March 24, 2011.
By Panumet Tanraksa

CHIANG MAI, Thailand (Reuters) – A large 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Myanmar near the border with northern Thailand on Thursday, killing one woman, police and witnesses said.

Witnesses said the tremors were felt in Bangkok, central Myanmar and as far away as the Vietnam capital of Hanoi where people were evacuated from tall buildings.

Police said a 53-year-old woman in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, had been killed when one wall of her house collapsed. Hospital officials said there were no other deaths or injuries reported. the rest

First pictures emerge of the Fukushima Fifty

By Matt Blake and Richard Shears
24th March 2011

The darkness is broken only by the flashing torchlight of the heroes who stayed behind.

These first images of inside the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant reveal the terrifying conditions under which the brave men work to save their nation from full nuclear meltdown.

The Fukushima Fifty - an anonymous band of lower and mid-level managers - have battled around the clock to cool overheating reactors and spent fuel rods since the disaster on March 11.

the rest-pictures

US Bishop: How long will pro-abort politicians be able to receive Communion

by John-Henry Westen
Wed Mar 23, 2011

 ( - “One must honestly ask, how many times and years may a Catholic politician vote for the so called right to abortion, - “murder” in the words of John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (58), and still be able to receive Holy Communion?” The remark came as part of a keynote address delivered by Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo on March 18.

“The continual reception of Holy Communion by those who so visibly contradict and promote a grave evil, even more than simply dissent, only creates grave scandal, undermines the teaching and governing authority of the Church and can be interpreted by the faithful as indifference to the teaching of Christ and the Church on the part of those who have the responsibility to govern,” Bishop Aquila told over 150 participants at the 10th Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest in Philadelphia, PA. the rest

Christians face trial for blasphemy in Iran

Five Christians are to stand trial in a lower court in Iran charged with blasphemy.
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani, Mehdi Furutan, Mohammad Beliad, Parviz Khalaj and Nazly Beliad are due to appear before the court in a fortnight’s time, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

They were first arrested in June last year on charges of apostasy, holding political meetings, and committing blasphemy and crimes against the Islamic Order.

The Revolutionary Court in Shiraz found the five men guilty of crimes against the Islamic Order and sentenced them to one year’s imprisonment. the rest

In quake-torn Japan, a baptism is celebrated

Mar 22, 2011
 by Susie Rain

TOKYO (BP)--Excitement and happiness fill the air. Smiles and laughter abound and, for some, tears of joy.

One week after the onset of Japan's triple disaster, everyone is ready for something to celebrate. For a small group of Japanese Christians, it was a double baptism.

When Shinichi Saito bobs up out of the water, everyone breaks out in applause. The new believer immediately reaches out to missionary Mark Busby with a radiating smile. It's hard to tell who is happier -- Busby or Shinichi Saito. the rest-lovely!

BBC: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

22 March 2011
By Jason Palmer
Science and technology reporter, BBC News, Dallas

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team's mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries. the rest
The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

More U.S. colleges adding Muslim chaplains

By Matthew Daneman, USA TODAY
posted March 24, 2011

ITHACA, N.Y. — When Jainal Bhuiyan attended Cornell University, he and his fellow Muslim students were mentored and led in religious prayers by a collection of Muslim professors, graduate students and staff.

"That was our network that filled the void," says Bhuiyan, 28, and now senior vice president at the New York investment bank Rodman & Renshaw.

Cornell soon could join the growing ranks of universities with full-time Muslim chaplains working alongside the Christian and Jewish chaplains already common on college campuses. the rest

The Most Islamic Community in Europe

by Soeren Kern
March 24, 2011

Leicester, an industrial city in central England, is home to the most conservative Islamic population anywhere in Europe, according to American diplomatic cables that were obtained and recently released by the website, Wikileaks. Leicester is also on track to become the first majority non-white city in British history.

The politically incorrect observation was made by a senior US State Department official who visited the city as part of an effort to engage Muslim communities in Europe. It reflects how Leicester's long-ballyhooed experiment with multiculturalism is being challenged by Muslim separatism and assertiveness.

A leaked diplomatic cable recounts the October 2007 visit of Farah Pandith, the US State Department's Senior Advisor for Muslim Engagement, to Leicester, a mid-sized city some 70 minutes north of London. The stated purpose of the visit was for the US government to find ways to help Britain "update and improve" its approach to stopping "home-grown" Islamic extremists. The document says Pandith found the lack of integration of the Muslim community in Leicester to be "striking."

The cable says, among other observations, Pandith was shocked to find "girls as young as four years old were completely covered." The document continues: "At a local book store, texts… seemed designed to segregate Muslims from their wider community, urging women to cover themselves and remain in their homes, playing up the differences between Islam and other religions, seeking to isolate Muslims from community, and feeding hate of Jews to the young."  the rest

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?

Women of a liberated generation wrestle with their eager-to-grow-up daughters—and their own pasts.
MARCH 19, 2011

In the pale-turquoise ladies' room, they congregate in front of the mirror, re-applying mascara and lip gloss, brushing their hair, straightening panty hose and gossiping: This one is "skanky," that one is "really cute," and so forth. Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they've got under the party lights.

But for the most part, there isn't all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls. Along with their male counterparts, they are celebrating the bat mitzvah of a classmate in a cushy East Coast suburb.

In a few years, their attention will turn to the annual ritual of shopping for a prom dress, and by then their fashion tastes will have advanced still more. Having done this now for two years with my own daughter, I continue to be amazed by the plunging necklines, built-in push-up bras, spangles, feathers, slits and peek-a-boos. And try finding a pair of sufficiently "prommish" shoes designed with less than a 2-inch heel.

All of which brings me to a question: Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we're being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards? the rest
But it's easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn't dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: "Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!" But that's essentially what we're saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our own roofs.

Two Christians Killed Outside Church in Pakistan

Muslim youths kill two, wound two others after dispute over teasing of Christian women.
By Compass Direct News
Tue, Mar. 22 2011

KARACHI, Pakistan – Two Christians were gunned down and two others are in a serious condition with bullet wounds after Muslim youths attacked them outside a church building in Hyderabad last night, witnesses said.

Residents of Hurr Camp, a colony of working-class Christians in Hyderabad in Sindh Province, were reportedly celebrating the 30th anniversary of their Salvation Army church when a group of Muslim youths gathered outside the building and started playing music loudly on their cell phones. They also started teasing Christian women as they arrived for the celebration, according to reports.

Christians Younis Masih, 47, Siddique Masih, 45, Jameel Masih, 22, and a 20-year-old identified as Waseem came out of the church building to stop the Muslim youths from teasing the Christian women, telling them to respect the sanctity of the church. A verbal clash ensued, after which the Muslim youths left, only to return with handguns.

Witnesses told Compass by phone that the Muslim youths opened fire on the Christians, killing Younis Masih and Jameel Masih instantly, and seriously injuring Siddique Masih and Waseem. The injured men have been transferred to a hospital in Karachi, the provincial capital of Sindh. the rest

ObamaCare and Carey's Heart

My daughter probably wouldn't have survived in a system where bureaucrats stifle innovation and ration care.
MARCH 23, 2011

Today is the first anniversary of the greatest single assault on our freedom in my lifetime: the signing of ObamaCare. As we consider what this law may do to our country, I can't help but reflect on a medical miracle made possible by the American health-care system. It's one that holds special meaning for me.

Some years ago, a little girl was born with a serious heart defect: Her aorta and pulmonary artery were reversed. Without immediate intervention, she would not have survived.

The infant was rushed to another hospital where a surgeon performed a procedure at 1 a.m. that saved her life. Eight months later, when her heart was the size of a small plum, an incredibly dedicated and skilled team of medical professionals surgically reconstructed it. Twenty-seven years later, the young woman is now a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit where she is studying to become a nurse practitioner.

She wasn't saved by a bureaucrat, and no government mandate forced her parents to purchase the coverage that saved her. Instead, her care was provided under a run-of-the-mill plan available to every employee of an Oshkosh, Wis., plastics plant.

If you haven't guessed, this story touches my heart because the girl is my daughter, Carey. And my wife and I are incredibly thankful that we had the freedom to seek out the most advanced surgical technique. The procedure that saved her, and has given her a chance at a full life, was available because America has a free-market system that has advanced medicine at a phenomenal pace. the rest

Failing to Protect Our Own in America's Nursing Homes

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members." ...Pearl S. Buck
Ken Connor
posted March 23, 2011

Sadly, however, that the same pains are not taken to protect a class of individuals that is just as weak, vulnerable, and helpless as children. According to a recent report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 90% of nursing homes employ at least one ex-convict. The very same people who go out of their way to ensure that their children are safe and protected while at daycare may have a grandparent in a nursing home who is suffering at the hands of poorly qualified, sometimes criminally-abusive staff members.

Why is this happening? Why would those in the business of caring for America's elderly turn a blind eye to such behavior? As with so many other instances of reprehensible human conduct, the culprit lurking behind the curtain is Greed. Because the largest expense of a nursing home's budget is "labor," corporate executives at these companies have learned that one surefire way to increase the profitability of their homes is to reduce costs by cutting back on staff and hiring individuals who are willing to accept lower wages. The end result? Profits up! Patient welfare down, forgotten, ignored, and suffering.

Undoubtedly, most Americans with family members in nursing homes have no idea that this is happening, and truly believe that their loved ones are being treated well. They have no idea that behind the reassuring advertisements and sophisticated marketing are profit-driven enterprises who often care more about the bottom line than they do about the welfare of seniors. They are unaware that these business often take advantage of programs like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which incentivizes the hiring of certain "target groups," including convicted felons. By hiring hard to emply ex-cons, nursing home operators get a "two-fer": tax credits that improve the bottom line, and lower paid employees (which produces the same result).

One possible reason for such widespread ignorance is that, quite simply, there is very little media coverage of elder abuse (the New York Times being a notable exception). Aside from the occasional headline-grabbing report like the one recently issued, the subject is largely ignored. Perhaps that's because much of it goes on behind the closed doors of nursing homes. Perhaps it's because our culture is obsessed with youth and no one wants to contemplate getting old. Or perhaps it's because we simply devalue the elderly?after all, many of them have substantially degraded mental and physical abilities. the rest
 image by Derrick Tyson

Elizabeth Taylor dead at 79

By the CNN Wire Staff
March 23, 2011

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Elizabeth Taylor, the legendary actress famed for her beauty, her jet-set lifestyle, her charitable endeavors and her many marriages, has died, her publicist told CNN Wednesday. She was 79.

Taylor died "peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles," said a statement from her publicist. She was hospitalized six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, "a condition with which she had struggled for many years. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be."

Though a two-time Oscar winner -- for "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966) -- Taylor was more celebrated for simply being Elizabeth Taylor: sexy, glamorous, tempestuous, fragile, always trailing courtiers, media and fans. She wasn't above playing to that image -- she had a fragrance called "White Diamonds" -- or mocking it. the rest image

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First spring crocuses!

(Raymond got a great picture of the first crocuses to bloom in our backyard-much more to come!)

...for behold, the winter is past;
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
...Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Albert Mohler: This Priest Faces Mecca? A Parable of Confusion

Tue, Mar. 22 2011

Rev. Steve Lawler has attracted the attention of the national media because this Episcopal priest chose a very odd way to observe Lent. He decided to “adopt the rituals of Islam” for the forty day season observed by many liturgical denominations, including the Episcopal Church.

As reported in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lawler decided to practice as a Muslim for the forty days as a part of his “Giving Up Church for Lent” emphasis at St. Stephen’s Church. The closer you look at this story, the more it appears that Rev. Lawler “gave up church” some time ago.

According to the press reports, the priest began to perform Muslim prayer rituals, facing toward Mecca and praying five times a day. He prayed to Allah, read the Qur’an, and adopted Islamic dietary restrictions.

He also got in trouble with his bishop. “He can’t be both a Christian and a Muslim,” said Bishop George Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. The bishop continued: “If he chooses to practice as Muslim, then he would, by default, give up his Christian identity and priesthood in the church.” The bishop also told the public that his priest had a responsibility “to exercise Christianity and to do it with clarity and not with ways that are confusing.” the rest
What Rev. Lawler really represents is the postmodern spirituality that masquerades as authentic belief. This becomes clear when the report reveals that the priest did not declare the oneness of Allah nor acknowledge Muhammad as God’s prophet. These just happen to be the first of Islam’s Five Pillars.

Judge orders use of Islamic law in Tampa lawsuit over mosque leadership

By William R. Levesque
Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TAMPA — The question of what law applies in any Florida courtroom usually comes down to two choices: federal or state.

But Hillsborough Circuit Judge Richard Nielsen is being attacked by conservative bloggers after he ruled in a lawsuit March 3 that, to resolve one crucial issue in the case, he will consult a different source.

"This case," the judge wrote, "will proceed under Ecclesiastical Islamic Law."

Nielsen said he will decide in a lawsuit against a local mosque, the Islamic Education Center of Tampa, whether the parties in the litigation properly followed the teachings of the Koran in obtaining an arbitration decision from an Islamic scholar. the rest
The Tampa case is drawing attention from some who cite it as proof judges are improperly using foreign law.

Obamacare: One Year Later, Even Less Popular

 Mar 21, 2011

 One year ago today, the then-Democratic House of Representatives openly disregarded the cool and deliberate sense of the people and rammed Obamacare down the American people’s throats. At the time, the Democrats claimed that their bill would become more popular once Americans found out what was in it (a process that, as Democrats explained, required passing it). A year later, polls show that Obamacare’s popularity has declined even further.

Take the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. The Kaiser poll is an outlier poll that almost always indicates stronger support for Obamacare than other polls convey. Shortly after passage, the Kaiser poll actually showed respondents having a favorable, rather than unfavorable, opinion of Obamacare, by a margin of 6 points (46 to 40 percent). Since then, that margin has moved 10 points against Obamacare — from plus-6 to minus-4 — as those with unfavorable opinions (46 percent) have come to outnumber those with favorable ones (42 percent).

It’s not hard to tell why. The Kaiser poll shows that, in the intervening year, people have become more convinced that Obamacare would raise their health costs and lower the quality of their health care. the rest
The biggest condemnation of all, across 53 consecutive Rasmussen polls, beginning the day that the president signed Obamacare into law and proceeding to today, is that Americans have supported repeal in all 53 of them — and by double-digit margins in all but one of them (the poll of October 4th, in which Americans supported repeal by “merely” 6 points).

New York City sued over law targeting pregnancy care centers

New code requires centers to post, publish notices advising women to seek help elsewhere, but law does not affect abortion facilities
Monday, March 21, 2011

NEW YORK — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the city of New York Friday over a new law that threatens non-medical, pro-life pregnancy care centers with steep fines and potential closure if they don’t post signs and publish in their ads that the city health department encourages women to go elsewhere.

“Pregnancy centers, which offer real help and hope to women, shouldn’t be punished by political allies of the abortion industry,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Attacks on pregnancy centers are an ideologically motivated attempt to distract from the growing national scandals in the abortion industry. For years, abortionists have preyed on women and girls for profit. Now pro-abortion politicians are trying to give women fewer choices.” the rest

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pope Benedict’s latest book is a bestseller

March 20, 2011

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week debuts among world’s best selling books

SAN FRANCISCO, — Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume on Christ’s life debuts on the March 27 New York Times Bestseller List. Released March 10 worldwide, the new volume covers the last week of Jesus’ earthly life — from his entrance into Jerusalem to his resurrection and appearances to his apostles and other followers. “We’re delighted that Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week is an instant New York Times bestseller. It means that many people across the country are discovering Pope Benedict’s insights into the life of Jesus Christ,” said Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press reacting to the announcement. “In this way, more and more people will encounter the real Jesus, which was the Holy Father’s goal in writing the book. It would be great if Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week became the number one book in America!”

Global reaction to the book makes it clear that Benedict XVI has contributed a work on Jesus that is as important and historically significant as it is well-written and thorough.

“It’s a remarkable achievement,” said Protestant scholar Dr. Craig A. Evans of Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, in Wolfville, N.S., Canada. “It’s the best book I’ve read on Jesus in years. This is a book that I think all Christians should read, be they Protestant or Catholic.” the rest

Firebomb Thrown at Elderly Woman at Pro-Life Prayer Event

by Steven Ertelt
 Kalispell, MT
A homemade incendiary device was thrown at one of the participants of the 40 Days for Life pro-life prayer vigil at an abortion business in Kalispell, Montana on Thursday night.

The woman walked on the public sidewalk near the abortion business when an unidentified person threw the device — akin to a “Molotov cocktail” — in her direction. The woman did not see either the firebomb nor the assailant it exploded on the sidewalk behind her, making a loud popping noise like a big firecracker as it burst into flame. Fortunately, the woman was not hurt in the incident.

After she regained her composure, the victim called Karen Trierweiler, coordinator of the 40 Days prayer vigils in Kalispell at the All Family Health Care abortion center, over to her.

After a lengthy delay, a Kalispell police officer arrived. However, according to officials with the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group that is helping the participants, instead of inspecting the bomb debris or calling evidence technicians to the scene, the officer remarked that police could never get prints or other evidence from the bomb’s remains and said he would call the city’s garbage service to dispose of all the debris. the rest

Apple under fire for 'gay conversion' app

Apple has come under fire for approving an "app" that offers guidance on how homosexual people can be "cured" and convert to heterosexuality
By Alex Spillius, Washington
20 Mar 2011
 The "gay cure" application, designed to be used on Apple's hand-held devices, was created by and named after Exodus International, a religious organisation which believes in teaching "freedom from homosexuality through prayer and practicing conversion therapy".

The app is offered free on Apple's iTunes online shop and was given a "4+" rating by the company, meaning it is not considered to contain objectionable content.

A description of the app on the online shop said: "With over 35 years of ministry experience, Exodus is committed to encouraging, educating and equipping the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth."  the rest

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Catholic weddings drop 71 percent in R.I.

Sunday, March 20, 2011
By Richard C. Dujardin

The Rev. Joseph D. Santos Jr., pastor of Holy Name Church in Providence, contends that the falloff in Catholic weddings has its roots in the 1970s. That, he says, is when Catholic educators started revamping religious education and “basically destroyed or watered down” traditional teachings to the extent that increasing numbers of Catholics no longer understand what marriage and sexuality are about.

The church has traditionally taught that matrimony has two purposes: To allow the couple to love each other in a way that mirrors Christ’s love for his church, and to become partners with God in bringing new life into the world.

Unfortunately, says Father Santos, the failure to show the connection between those aspects has caused many Catholics to mistakenly think that sex can be primarily about pleasure and gratification and to believe that premarital sex, and even living together without marriage, are OK.

The Rev. Ronald E. Brassard, pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Cranston, says there is no doubt that cohabitation has been the biggest factor in the decline in the number of Catholic weddings. the rest image

Church in Wales recommends action against 'homophobic' clergy

The Ugley Vicar

Friday, 18 March 2011

UPDATE: the full report is here.

The relevant paragraphs would appear to be 22, 29 and 35:

22. It is necessary to provide a policy with guidance to clerics on the dangers of emotional abuse arising out of the inappropriate use of pastoral supervision or theological teaching.

29. The cleric as role model, as seen by children and young people is significant. This needs to be fully recognised and appreciated by the Church in Wales. Inappropriate and unacceptable conduct such as discriminatory behaviour involving aggression, bullying or attitudes such as homophobia should not be tolerated and can in some instances be emotionally abusive. This should be a professional development issue and where necessary, subject to disciplinary procedures.

35. Reference has been made earlier to the need for policy and guidance in relation to certain approaches to ministry within the Church in Wales (see 21 and 22 above). It would be appropriate to initiate a debate on the subject which would include exploring the importance of ensuring responsible attitudes towards age appropriate emotional and spiritual growth. This would ensure that the Church in Wales exercises its duty to protect children and young people from spiritual and emotional abuse. the rest