Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nadel must make lawyer decision

A civil fraud case filed in Tampa could result in a default judgment if Arthur Nadel does not have a lawyer appear on his behalf.

Nadel must make lawyer decision

By Michael Pollick

Published: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:31 a.m.

Former Sarasota hedge fund manager Arthur Nadel faces a deadline if he wishes to avoid a default judgment in the SEC's civil fraud case against him in Tampa federal court.

If not, it might take only a month for the Tampa judge to convict him by default, according to the agency's lead prosecutor in the case, Scott Masel.

Nadel is incarcerated under federal custody in New York, where he faces criminal fraud charges.

He is represented there by a high-profile criminal attorney team from Tampa, Barry Cohen and Todd Foster. But he has never had an attorney put in an appearance in the Tampa civil fraud case filed by the SEC on Jan. 21.

In a Feb. 20 filing with the Tampa court, Masel warned that he would seek a default.

Once the SEC enters its official notice, said Masel, the agency would ask the court for a default judgment. The process could be completed in 30 days.

"It would be unusual because we are seeking monetary judgments that are pretty big," said Masel. "We don't know how big yet, but as you can see in the complaint it was presented that their accounts were worth over $300 million. Somewhere there is a lot of money missing."

Nadel disappeared on Jan. 14, leaving his wife, Peg Nadel, and business associate Neil Moody to explain to investors that they had suddenly discovered that most of the $300 million-plus they had stated to be under management was gone.

Nadel claimed to be trading securities for six private mutual funds run by Scoop Management, all of which claimed unusually high annual returns. The SEC alleges that the returns were fraudulent and that the firm was simply paying redemptions out of money coming in from new investors, and pocketing hefty and unwarranted management fees along the way.

With Nadel still missing, the SEC filed its civil fraud case against him and his investment management corporations on Jan. 21.

The Tampa federal court immediately granted a request by the SEC to appoint a receiver to take control of the assets of the Nadels and the companies they ran. The receivership now takes in not only the Sarasota-based financial business but also the Venice Jet Center, which is owned by the Nadels, and some real estate holdings.

Nadel reappeared at federal offices in Tampa on Jan. 27 and was arrested on what had been sealed criminal fraud charges. He was later transferred to New York City, where he faces trial in federal criminal court.

In New York, Nadel could conceivably bail out for $5 million, an amount set earlier this week. However, that seems unlikely under the current terms, according to Foster.

The New York judge said that Nadel must post $1 million of the bond in cash.


U.S. will not attend U.N. conference on racism

U.S. will not attend U.N. conference on racism
Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:23pm GMT

By John Whitesides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will not attend a U.N. conference on racism that critics say will be a forum to bash Israel and will no longer take part in preparatory sessions for it, a U.S. official said on Friday.

"We will not attend," the official said of the World Conference on Racism set for April in Geneva, Switzerland.

The decision to end U.S. involvement comes one day before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves on her first trip to the Middle East in her new job, including stops in Israel, and removes a likely source of friction during the visit.

A U.S. delegation took part in negotiations this month with 30 other countries to try to win changes in the conference's final document, but said at the time the United States would not necessarily attend the conference.

The U.S. team has now decided the draft document is "not salvageable" and would not be in line with U.S. policy, another official said.

Critics of the April conference say Arab nations plan to use it to slam Israel. They also have focussed on sections they say would limit freedom of religion and speech.

The United States and Israel walked out of the first U.N. conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, days before the September 11 attacks, to protest efforts to pass a resolution comparing Zionism to racism.

Israel has called for a boycott of the April conference, and Canada also has said it will not attend.

The decision to bow out of the process drew praise from some U.S. politicians and Jewish groups. "It became clear through the preliminary negotiations that the focus of the conference will not change and the goals would not be met," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

The Anti-Defamation League said the Durban conference had become too politicized.

"The Durban Review Conference has itself been tainted by the very bigotry and vitriol that it was meant to counter," Abraham Foxman, national director, and Glen Lewy, national chairman, said in a joint statement.

The decision to take part in talks on the draft document reversed the stance of the Bush administration, which had refused to take part in the planning and voted in the U.N. General Assembly last year to protest against the conference.

U.S. officials said attending the planning sessions was in line with President Barack Obama's promise of a more engaged diplomatic approach and more cooperation with the United Nations.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

Jobless cowgirl to ride her horse from Florida to Texas

Donna Byrne rides her horse Jay as Tonto carries her belongings, on her trip along US Highway 301 in Riverfiew, Fla. Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009. Byrne, from Arcadia,Fla., says she lost her job and her home, but she's not losing her horses, Tonto and Jay. She plans to ride to Ocala then on to Texas. (AP Photo/Tampa Tribune via News Channel 8, Paul Lamison) AP

Jobless cowgirl to ride her horse from Florida to Texas


Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 1:05 a.m.

RIVERVIEW - Donna Byrne lost her job in Arcadia a couple of months ago, so she decided to take off for Texas -- on horseback.

Her horses, Jay and Tonto, are about all she has left.

"I lost my job and my house. I'm not losin' these guys," she said. Without them, she would be on foot.

Hoping to reach Ocala in two weeks, Byrne made her way through Hillsborough County Tuesday, riding Tonto and leading Jay, who was loaded down with about 100 pounds of everything she owns, her clothes, a tent and some blankets. She planned to reach Dade City by Wednesday.

With her dusty white cowboy hat pulled low, shading blue eyes and a weathered face, she and the horses stood on the side of U.S. 301 in Riverview Tuesday morning. Six lanes of traffic whooshed by, drivers honking, waving and yelling out.

By evening, she was north of Interstate 4. Getting her horses over I-4 on the 301 overpass was touch and go, she said. Tonto spooked and stepped off the shoulder, forcing a truck to swerve out of the way. Otherwise, the horses have kept their heads.

Byrne, 44, was headed to a horse auction in Ocala, where she hoped to get a few days' work. Then she will move on to Texas, maybe Amarillo. She has never been there, but she knows they have ranches. And that is the kind of work she is looking for.

She is not sure she will make it, but she is getting help. Tonto threw a shoe Monday, and when Tonya Halvorsrod read about it in a story about Byrne on, she called her husband, a farrier.

"My wife called," said Clint Halvorsrod. "She was like, 'Honey, you have to help her.'" So he cruised 301 until he spotted Byrne and pulled over with his mobile horseshoing rig. Byrne was shocked, but relieved to see him. He ended up putting new shoes on both horses.

"She has a long way to go," he said. "It's really hard right now; everyone needs help."

Byrne started working with horses when she was a teenager, at stables around Tampa.

"I can ride and rope cattle," she said. "I'm a cowgirl. That's all I've ever wanted to do."

Back in the '90s she worked on a ranch in Montana for a while. She also drove a truck, until she got too many speeding tickets and got caught driving with a suspended license.

She tended cattle in Arcadia until the operation shut down a few months ago, she says. Then she went to work in a plant that made butterflies out of silk. That was not for her.

"They said I wasn't making them right," she said.

So when she lost that job and lost her home because she could not pay the rent, she decided to take off, to find a real ranch. One day, she said, she would like to have land of her own, in Montana with mountains in the background and a free-flowing stream, a private place where she could live her own life and not have to deal with nosy, critical people.

She does not have any family except a brother she does not speak to. But she has friends, she said, who tried to talk her out of making the trip.


A Crisis Ahead

A Crisis Ahead

Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Joel 1:15.

The prophecies which the great I AM has given in His word, uniting link after link in the chain of events, from eternity in the past to eternity in the future, tell us where we are today in the procession of the ages, and what may be expected in the time to come. All that prophecy has foretold as coming to pass, until the present time, has been traced on the pages of history, and we may be assured that all which is yet to come will be fulfilled in its order.

Today the signs of the times declare that we are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Everything in our world is in agitation. Before our eyes is fulfilling the Saviour's prophecy of the events to precede His coming: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."

The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place--that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.

The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, . . . the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble and men's hearts to fail them for fear.

Today men and nations are being tested by the plummet in the hand of Him who makes no mistake. All are by their own choice deciding their destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment of His purposes.

Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts.

Maranatha, E. G. W., p.68.

Jesus' Testimony to the Pharisees

John 8

1Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

13The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

14Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.

15Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

16And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

17It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

18I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

19Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

20These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.

21Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.

22Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.

23And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

24I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

25Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

26I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.

27They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.

28Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

30As he spake these words, many believed on him.

31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

33They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.

36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

37I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

38I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

39They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

40But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.

41Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.

42Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

45And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

46Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

47He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

48Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

49Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

50And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

52Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

54Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

57Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

A Planet at the Brink

First Published 2009-02-25

A Planet at the Brink

Food riots were but one form of economic violence that made its bloody appearance in 2008. As economic conditions worsened, protests against rising unemployment, government ineptitude, and the unaddressed needs of the poor erupted as well, notes Michael T. Klare.

Will Economic Brushfires Prove Too Virulent to Contain?

The global economic meltdown has already caused bank failures, bankruptcies, plant closings, and foreclosures and will, in the coming year, leave many tens of millions unemployed across the planet. But another perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 has only recently made its appearance: increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Someday, perhaps, war may follow.

As people lose confidence in the ability of markets and governments to solve the global crisis, they are likely to erupt into violent protests or to assault others they deem responsible for their plight, including government officials, plant managers, landlords, immigrants, and ethnic minorities. (The list could, in the future, prove long and unnerving.) If the present economic disaster turns into what President Obama has referred to as a "lost decade," the result could be a global landscape filled with economically-fueled upheavals.

Indeed, if you want to be grimly impressed, hang a world map on your wall and start inserting red pins where violent episodes have already occurred. Athens (Greece), Longnan (China), Port-au-Prince (Haiti), Riga (Latvia), Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Vilnius (Lithuania), and Vladivostok (Russia) would be a start. Many other cities from Reykjavik, Paris, Rome, and Zaragoza to Moscow and Dublin have witnessed huge protests over rising unemployment and falling wages that remained orderly thanks in part to the presence of vast numbers of riot police. If you inserted orange pins at these locations -- none as yet in the United States -- your map would already look aflame with activity. And if you're a gambling man or woman, it's a safe bet that this map will soon be far better populated with red and orange pins.

For the most part, such upheavals, even when violent, are likely to remain localized in nature, and disorganized enough that government forces will be able to bring them under control within days or weeks, even if -- as with Athens for six days last December -- urban paralysis sets in due to rioting, tear gas, and police cordons. That, at least, has been the case so far. It is entirely possible, however, that, as the economic crisis worsens, some of these incidents will metastasize into far more intense and long-lasting events: armed rebellions, military takeovers, civil conflicts, even economically fueled wars between states.

Every outbreak of violence has its own distinctive origins and characteristics. All, however, are driven by a similar combination of anxiety about the future and lack of confidence in the ability of established institutions to deal with the problems at hand. And just as the economic crisis has proven global in ways not seen before, so local incidents -- especially given the almost instantaneous nature of modern communications -- have a potential to spark others in far-off places, linked only in a virtual sense.

A Global Pandemic of Economically Driven Violence

The riots that erupted in the spring of 2008 in response to rising food prices suggested the speed with which economically-related violence can spread. It is unlikely that Western news sources captured all such incidents, but among those recorded in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were riots in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.

In Haiti, for example, thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince and demanded food handouts, only to be repelled by government troops and UN peacekeepers. Other countries, including Pakistan and Thailand, quickly sought to deter such assaults by deploying troops at farms and warehouses throughout the country.

The riots only abated at summer's end when falling energy costs brought food prices crashing down as well. (The cost of food is now closely tied to the price of oil and natural gas because petrochemicals are so widely and heavily used in the cultivation of grains.) Ominously, however, this is sure to prove but a temporary respite, given the epic droughts now gripping breadbasket regions of the United States, Argentina, Australia, China, the Middle East, and Africa. Look for the prices of wheat, soybeans, and possibly rice to rise in the coming months -- just when billions of people in the developing world are sure to see their already marginal incomes plunging due to the global economic collapse.

Food riots were but one form of economic violence that made its bloody appearance in 2008. As economic conditions worsened, protests against rising unemployment, government ineptitude, and the unaddressed needs of the poor erupted as well. In India, for example, violent protests threatened stability in many key areas. Although usually described as ethnic, religious, or caste disputes, these outbursts were typically driven by economic anxiety and a pervasive feeling that someone else's group was faring better than yours -- and at your expense.

In April, for example, six days of intense rioting in Indian-controlled Kashmir were largely blamed on religious animosity between the majority Muslim population and the Hindu-dominated Indian government; equally important, however, was a deep resentment over what many Kashmiri Muslims experienced as discrimination in jobs, housing, and land use. Then, in May, thousands of nomadic shepherds known as Gujjars shut down roads and trains leading to the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, in a drive to be awarded special economic rights; more than 30 people were killed when the police fired into crowds. In October, economically-related violence erupted in Assam in the country's far northeast, where impoverished locals are resisting an influx of even poorer, mostly illegal immigrants from nearby Bangladesh.

Economically-driven clashes also erupted across much of eastern China in 2008. Such events, labeled "mass incidents" by Chinese authorities, usually involve protests by workers over sudden plant shutdowns, lost pay, or illegal land seizures. More often than not, protestors demanded compensation from company managers or government authorities, only to be greeted by club-wielding police.

Needless to say, the leaders of China's Communist Party have been reluctant to acknowledge such incidents. This January, however, the magazine Liaowang (Outlook Weekly) reported that layoffs and wage disputes had triggered a sharp increase in such "mass incidents," particularly along the country's eastern seaboard, where much of its manufacturing capacity is located.

By December, the epicenter of such sporadic incidents of violence had moved from the developing world to Western Europe and the former Soviet Union. Here, the protests have largely been driven by fears of prolonged unemployment, disgust at government malfeasance and ineptitude, and a sense that "the system," however defined, is incapable of satisfying the future aspirations of large groups of citizens.

One of the earliest of this new wave of upheavals occurred in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 2008, after police shot and killed a 15-year-old schoolboy during an altercation in a crowded downtown neighborhood. As news of the killing spread throughout the city, hundreds of students and young people surged into the city center and engaged in pitched battles with riot police, throwing stones and firebombs. Although government officials later apologized for the killing and charged the police officer involved with manslaughter, riots broke out repeatedly in the following days in Athens and other Greek cities. Angry youths attacked the police -- widely viewed as agents of the establishment -- as well as luxury shops and hotels, some of which were set on fire. By one estimate, the six days of riots caused $1.3 billion in damage to businesses at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

Russia also experienced a spate of violent protests in December, triggered by the imposition of high tariffs on imported automobiles. Instituted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to protect an endangered domestic auto industry (whose sales were expected to shrink by up to 50% in 2009), the tariffs were a blow to merchants in the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok who benefited from a nationwide commerce in used Japanese vehicles. When local police refused to crack down on anti-tariff protests, the authorities were evidently worried enough to fly in units of special forces from Moscow, 3,700 miles away.

In January, incidents of this sort seemed to be spreading through Eastern Europe. Between January 13th and 16th, anti-government protests involving violent clashes with the police erupted in the Latvian capital of Riga, the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, and the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. It is already essentially impossible to keep track of all such episodes, suggesting that we are on the verge of a global pandemic of economically driven violence.

A Perfect Recipe for Instability

While most such incidents are triggered by an immediate event -- a tariff, the closure of local factory, the announcement of government austerity measures -- there are systemic factors at work as well. While economists now agree that we are in the midst of a recession deeper than any since the Great Depression of the 1930s, they generally assume that this downturn -- like all others since World War II -- will be followed in a year, or two, or three, by the beginning of a typical recovery.

There are good reasons to suspect that this might not be the case -- that poorer countries (along with many people in the richer countries) will have to wait far longer for such a recovery, or may see none at all. Even in the United States, 54% of Americans now believe that "the worst" is "yet to come" and only 7% that the economy has "turned the corner," according to a recent Ipsos/McClatchy poll; fully a quarter think the crisis will last more than four years. Whether in the US, Russia, China, or Bangladesh, it is this underlying anxiety -- this suspicion that things are far worse than just about anyone is saying -- which is helping to fuel the global epidemic of violence.

The World Bank's most recent status report, Global Economic Prospects 2009, fulfills those anxieties in two ways. It refuses to state the worst, even while managing to hint, in terms too clear to be ignored, at the prospect of a long-term, or even permanent, decline in economic conditions for many in the world. Nominally upbeat -- as are so many media pundits -- regarding the likelihood of an economic recovery in the not-too-distant future, the report remains full of warnings about the potential for lasting damage in the developing world if things don't go exactly right.

Two worries, in particular, dominate Global Economic Prospects 2009: that banks and corporations in the wealthier countries will cease making investments in the developing world, choking off whatever growth possibilities remain; and that food costs will rise uncomfortably, while the use of farmlands for increased biofuels production will result in diminished food availability to hundreds of millions.

Despite its Pollyanna-ish passages on an economic rebound, the report does not mince words when discussing what the almost certain coming decline in First World investment in Third World countries would mean:

"Should credit markets fail to respond to the robust policy interventions taken so far, the consequences for developing countries could be very serious. Such a scenario would be characterized by... substantial disruption and turmoil, including bank failures and currency crises, in a wide range of developing countries. Sharply negative growth in a number of developing countries and all of the attendant repercussions, including increased poverty and unemployment, would be inevitable."

In the fall of 2008, when the report was written, this was considered a "worst-case scenario." Since then, the situation has obviously worsened radically, with financial analysts reporting a virtual freeze in worldwide investment. Equally troubling, newly industrialized countries that rely on exporting manufactured goods to richer countries for much of their national income have reported stomach-wrenching plunges in sales, producing massive plant closings and layoffs.

The World Bank's 2008 survey also contains troubling data about the future availability of food. Although insisting that the planet is capable of producing enough foodstuffs to meet the needs of a growing world population, its analysts were far less confident that sufficient food would be available at prices people could afford, especially once hydrocarbon prices begin to rise again. With ever more farmland being set aside for biofuels production and efforts to increase crop yields through the use of "miracle seeds" losing steam, the Bank's analysts balanced their generally hopeful outlook with a caveat: "If biofuels-related demand for crops is much stronger or productivity performance disappoints, future food supplies may be much more expensive than in the past."

Combine these two World Bank findings -- zero economic growth in the developing world and rising food prices -- and you have a perfect recipe for unrelenting civil unrest and violence. The eruptions seen in 2008 and early 2009 will then be mere harbingers of a grim future in which, in a given week, any number of cities reel from riots and civil disturbances which could spread like multiple brushfires in a drought.

Mapping a World at the Brink

Survey the present world, and it's all too easy to spot a plethora of potential sites for such multiple eruptions -- or far worse. Take China. So far, the authorities have managed to control individual "mass incidents," preventing them from coalescing into something larger. But in a country with a more than two-thousand-year history of vast millenarian uprisings, the risk of such escalation has to be on the minds of every Chinese leader.

On February 2nd, a top Chinese Party official, Chen Xiwen, announced that, in the last few months of 2008 alone, a staggering 20 million migrant workers, who left rural areas for the country's booming cities in recent years, had lost their jobs. Worse yet, they had little prospect of regaining them in 2009. If many of these workers return to the countryside, they may find nothing there either, not even land to work.

Under such circumstances, and with further millions likely to be shut out of coastal factories in the coming year, the prospect of mass unrest is high. No wonder the government announced a $585 billion stimulus plan aimed at generating rural employment and, at the same time, called on security forces to exercise discipline and restraint when dealing with protesters. Many analysts now believe that, as exports continue to dry up, rising unemployment could lead to nationwide strikes and protests that might overwhelm ordinary police capabilities and require full-scale intervention by the military (as occurred in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989).

Or take many of the Third World petro-states that experienced heady boosts in income when oil prices were high, allowing governments to buy off dissident groups or finance powerful internal security forces. With oil prices plunging from $147 per barrel of crude oil to less than $40 dollars, such countries, from Angola to shaky Iraq, now face severe instability.

Nigeria is a typical case in point: When oil prices were high, the central government in Abuja raked in billions every year, enough to enrich elites in key parts of the country and subsidize a large military establishment; now that prices are low, the government will have a hard time satisfying all these previously well-fed competing obligations, which means the risk of internal disequilibrium will escalate. An insurgency in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, fueled by popular discontent with the failure of oil wealth to trickle down from the capital, is already gaining momentum and is likely to grow stronger as government revenues shrivel; other regions, equally disadvantaged by national revenue-sharing policies, will be open to disruptions of all sorts, including heightened levels of internecine warfare.

Bolivia is another energy producer that seems poised at the brink of an escalation in economic violence. One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, it harbors substantial oil and natural gas reserves in its eastern, lowland regions. A majority of the population -- many of Indian descent -- supports President Evo Morales, who seeks to exercise strong state control over the reserves and use the proceeds to uplift the nation's poor. But a majority of those in the eastern part of the country, largely controlled by a European-descended elite, resent central government interference and seek to control the reserves themselves. Their efforts to achieve greater autonomy have led to repeated clashes with government troops and, in deteriorating times, could set the stage for a full-scale civil war.

Given a global situation in which one startling, often unexpected development follows another, prediction is perilous. At a popular level, however, the basic picture is clear enough: continued economic decline combined with a pervasive sense that existing systems and institutions are incapable of setting things right is already producing a potentially lethal brew of anxiety, fear, and rage. Popular explosions of one sort or another are inevitable.

Some sense of this new reality appears to have percolated up to the highest reaches of the US intelligence community. In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 12th, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the new Director of National Intelligence, declared, "The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications... Statistical modeling shows that economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they persist over a one to two year period" -- certain to be the case in the present situation.

Blair did not specify which countries he had in mind when he spoke of "regime-threatening instability" -- a new term in the American intelligence lexicon, at least when associated with economic crises -- but it is clear from his testimony that US officials are closely watching dozens of shaky nations in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Central Asia.

Now go back to that map on your wall with all those red and orange pins in it and proceed to color in appropriate countries in various shades of red and orange to indicate recent striking declines in gross national product and rises in unemployment rates. Without 16 intelligence agencies under you, you'll still have a pretty good idea of the places that Blair and his associates are eyeing in terms of instability as the future darkens on a planet at the brink.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy (Metropolitan Books).


Friday, February 27, 2009

Gary Locke

Gary Faye Locke (born January 21, 1950) is an American politician who served two terms as the the 21st governor of Washington from 1997-2005. He is the first Chinese American to serve as governor of a state in United States history.[1] On February 25, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Locke as the next Secretary of Commerce.[2]

Gary Locke

United States Secretary of Commerce-designate
Taking office
President Barack Obama
Succeeding Carlos Gutierrez


21st Governor of Washington
In office
January 15, 1997 – January 12, 2005
Lieutenant Brad Owen
Preceded by Mike Lowry
Succeeded by Christine Gregoire


5th King County Executive
In office
January 4, 1994 – January 15, 1997
Preceded by Tim Hill
Succeeded by Ron Sims


Member of the Washington House of Representatives
from the 37th district
In office
January 10, 1983 – January 3, 1994
Preceded by Peggy Joan Maxie
Succeeded by Vivian Caver


Born January 21, 1950 (1950-01-21) (age 59)
Seattle, Washington
Political party Democratic
Spouse Mona Lee Locke
(李矇/Lĭ Méng)
Alma mater Yale University
Boston University
Religion Baptist
Gary Locke
Traditional Chinese: 駱家輝
Simplified Chinese: 骆家辉
Cantonese Jyutping: Lok3 Gaa1-fai1


1 Family and education
2 Political career
2.1 Leaving office
2.2 United States Secretary of Commerce nomination
3 Footnotes
4 External links

Family and education
Locke was born on January 21, 1950 in Seattle, Washington. A third-generation American with paternal ancestry from Taishan, Guangdong in China, Locke is the second of five children of James, a native of the United States, and Julie Locke from Hong Kong. His parents gave him the Chinese name of Lok Gaa-Fai (駱家輝).

He graduated with honors from Seattle’s Franklin High School in 1968. Locke achieved Eagle Scout and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[1][3]

Through a combination of part-time jobs, financial aid and scholarships, Locke attended Yale University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972.[4] He then earned a law degree from the Boston University School of Law in 1975.

On October 15, 1994, Locke married Mona Lee, a former television reporter for the NBC affiliate KING 5 television in Seattle. Her father was from Shanghai, China and her mother from Hubei, China. The Lockes have three children: Emily Nicole, born in March 1997, Dylan James, born in March 1999 and Madeline Lee, born in November 2004.[citation needed]

Political career
In 1982, Locke's South Seattle district elected him to the Washington House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Eleven years later, in 1993, Locke made history by becoming the first Chinese American to be elected King County's County Executive, defeating incumbent Tim Hill. In 1996, he won the primary and general elections for governor, becoming the first Chinese American state governor in United States history. His political committee was fined $2,500 by regulators in 1997 after admitting to state campaign finance law violations during his successful 1996 campaign.[2] Locke easily won re-election in the 2000 governor's race.

Democrats criticized Locke for embracing the Republican Party's no-new-taxes approach to dealing with Washington's budget woes during and after the 2001 economic turmoil. Among his spending-reduction proposals were laying off thousands of state employees; reducing health coverage; freezing most state employees' pay; and cutting funding for nursing homes and programs for the developmentally disabled. In his final budget, Locke suspended two voter-passed, pro-school initiatives while cutting state education funding. That same state budget, though, had record-high allocations for construction projects.

Supported by the state's political left, former Washington Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge announced his plans to challenge Locke in the 2004 Democratic primary. Talmadge ended his campaign early for health reasons.

On the national stage, Democrats saw Gary Locke as a rising star and a possible vice-presidential pick. He was chosen to give his party's response to George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.[5] In 1997, Gov. Locke was a guest at that year's State of the Union.[6]

Leaving office
In a surprise move, Locke announced in July 2003 that he would not seek a third term,[7] saying, "Despite my deep love of our state, I want to devote more time to my family."[7]

Susan Paynter, a columnist at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, suggested that slurs, insults, and threats that Locke and his family received, especially the large number which came after his rebuttal to George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union address, played a role in Locke's decision to leave office after two terms.[8] The governor's office received hundreds of threatening letters and e-mails; others threatened to kill his children.[8]

Locke left office on January 12, 2005. If the disputed 2004 election between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi had not been resolved by then, the state constitution mandated that Locke would have remained in office.[9]

After leaving office, Locke joined the Seattle office of international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, in their China and governmental-relations practice groups. During the leadup to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Governor Locke signed on as Washington co-chairman of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's bid for president.[10]

United States Secretary of Commerce nomination
On December 4, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Locke was a potential candidate for Secretary of the Interior in then-President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet. Eventually, Ken Salazar was nominated instead.

On February 25, 2009, Locke was announced as President Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Commerce.[2] If confirmed, Locke would become the first Chinese American Secretary of Commerce, and the third Asian American in Obama's cabinet, joining Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, the most of any administration in United States history.

1. a b Robinson, Sean (January 2, 2005). "Middle man: Gov. Gary Locke’s eight years in office showed hard work, if no real flash". The News Tribune (Tacoma). Retrieved on October 17, 2007.
2. a b c Sidoti, Liz (February 25, 2009). "Obama chooses Locke to run Commerce Department". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved on 2009-02-25.
3. Townley, Alvin. Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 5, 35–45. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved on December 19, 2006.
4. "Biography of Governor Gary Locke". Who's Who of Asian Americans. Retrieved on November 9, 2008.
5. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (2003-01-15). Democractic Leaders Announce Governor Gary Locke Will Deliver the Democratic Response to State of the Union Address. Press release. Retrieved on 2009-02-24. "Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced today that Governor Gary Locke of Washington state will deliver the Democratic response to President Bush’s State of the Union address."
6. Clinton, Bill (1997-02-04). "Remarks By The President In State Of The Union Address". The White House. Retrieved on 2009-02-24. "Gary Locke, the newly elected Governor of Washington State, is the first Chinese American governor in the history of our country. He's the proud son of two of the millions of Asian American immigrants who have strengthened America with their hard work, family values and good citizenship. He represents the future we can all achieve. Thank you, Governor, for being here. Please stand up."
7. a b Washington State Office of the Governor (2003-07-21). Gov. Gary Locke Announces He Will Not Seek a Third Term. Press release. Retrieved on 2009-02-24.
8. a b Paynter, Susan (July 26, 2003). "Threats to Locke's family are a factor in third-term decision". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved on December 17, 2007.
9. Staff reporter (2004-12-23). "Wash. Recount Favors Democratic Challenger". Associated Press. Retrieved on 2009-02-24. "If the legal fighting does not produce a new governor by the scheduled Jan. 12 inauguration, lame-duck Gov. Gary Locke, a Democrat, may have to stick around. That is because of a provision of the state constitution that says the governor's term of office is four years "and until his successor is elected and qualified."
10. Ammons, David (October 7, 2007). "Ex-governor Locke named Clinton state co-chair". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved on October 17, 2007.


A Famine for the Word

A Famine for the Word

Those who do not now appreciate, study, and dearly prize the Word of God spoken by His servants will have cause to mourn bitterly hereafter. I saw that the Lord in judgment will at the close of time walk through the earth; the fearful plagues will begin to fall. Then those who have despised God's Word, those who have lightly esteemed it, shall
"wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord and shall not find it" (Amos 8:12). A famine is in the land for hearing the Word.--Ms 1, 1857.

For we walk by faith, not by sight

2 Corinthians 5

1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Ecumenical Movement (A Family Reunion?)

August 31, 2005

Posted/Updated: 2008-04-28 11:57:06

The Ecumenical Movement
A Family Reunion?

After centuries of separation, some in each of the major branches of traditional Christianity—Protestantism, Orthodoxy and Catholicism—are finding that they must cross denominational lines to find common ground. What will be the ultimate outcome of this trend?


Traditional Christian churches are perceived as institutions that promote unity and inclusiveness. Paradoxically, division and fragmentation have plagued these churches for centuries.

The first major split in “Christendom” was the Great Schism of 1054, in which the Eastern Orthodox Church broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. This was followed in the sixteenth century by the Protestant Reformation, which further eroded the Catholic sheepfold. Since then, the Protestant world has continued to splinter and divide, with the Roman and Eastern churches remaining separate, but reaching states of relative stability.

Today, Christian denominations are divided internally along many of the same “red-blue/conservative-liberal” ideological lines found in the political arena.

A range of opinion on certain controversial moral and social issues exists among members of each major division of traditional Christianity—but the spectrum of varying beliefs is especially broad among Protestants. These topics include abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty (sometimes referred to as “sanctity of life” issues), homosexuality (including homosexual marriage and openly “gay” clergy), and the ordination of women. Mainline (moderate) and liberal Protestants usually take a permissive stance on these issues, while evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal Protestants hold more conservative views.

To confuse the matter further, many historically liberal denominations now have conservative caucuses growing within their ranks, and doctrines are being liberalized by the leaders of certain “old guard” traditionalist groups.

In this climate, members of the many “fellowships” can no longer expect to find a consensus of belief within their local congregation—or even among the clergy and top officials of their corporate church. Many professing Christians feel compelled to find others of like mind and are being forced to look beyond denominational boundaries to do so.

Ecumenical Development
The term “ecumenical” derives from the Greek word oikoumene, meaning “the inhabited world.” The current ecumenical movement consists of organizations, initiatives, programs and forums that promote unity among the various “Christian” factions. The movement first gained widespread attention in 1910 with the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, an all-Protestant gathering. This led to the formation of other groups, which soon began to include Eastern Orthodox adherents.

Alongside the long-established World Council of Churches (WCC), a number of ecumenical organizations have arisen in recent years: The Association for Church Renewal (ACR); the Foundation for a Conference on Faith and Order in North America (FCFONA); Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT); Global Christian Forum (GCF); the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), and others.

While this movement is not new, two recent developments are noteworthy: increased inclusion among these groups of Roman Catholic representatives alongside Protestant and Orthodox officials, and an increased acceptance of Catholic doctrine among Protestants. This is striking, as it was dissent with Catholic doctrine that ignited the Protestant Reformation. In spite of a history of disagreement that often led to persecution, martyrdom and war, these differences are now being minimized.

Ecumenism and Roman Catholicism
How is ecumenism viewed by the Roman Catholic Church, which, at over 1.2 billion members, is the largest professing Christian church?

The Catholic Church began to address this question in its Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II. The ecumenical council was comprised of four sessions, spanning 1962 to 1965. In these meetings, Catholic leaders encouraged contact with Protestants, and slightly softened their exclusivist language and their opposition to “freedom of conscience” in matters of religion.

Regarding divided Christendom, the Council’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, states the following: “…many Christian communions…profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways…Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature.”

It goes on to assert that, “more than ever before, [Christ] has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity.”

The Legacy of John Paul II
During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II built bridges with many denominations, and even other religions, winning an unprecedented degree of admiration and goodwill among non-Catholics.

The leading Protestant evangelist Billy Graham, despite his fame as “America’s Pastor” and a high-profile career beginning in the mid-1950s, had never met with a pope until 1981. His visit with John Paul II at Rome ended with the pontiff clutching Mr. Graham’s thumb and telling him, “We are brothers.” Mr. Graham did not publicly share this story until 1990, in a Time magazine interview. In this nine-year span, relations between the two leaders’ flocks had apparently warmed to the degree that this sentiment was palatable to each group.

John Paul’s 1995 papal letter on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint (“That They May be One”), concluded, “As the Church turns her gaze to the new millennium, she asks the Spirit for the grace to strengthen her own unity and to make it grow towards full communion with other Christians.”

Aside from interdenominational outreach, John Paul II’s efforts in helping to defeat communism also endeared him to many non-Catholics.

Continuing the Theme
John Paul II’s successor, Benedict XVI, plans to follow a similar pattern, plainly stating that his “primary task is the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all of Christ’s followers” (Zenit News Agency).

A close associate of the new pope expressed that “[Benedict XVI] has written extensively on the subject of ecumenism. As a German, he has had extensive experience with the traditions coming out of the 16th-century divisions, especially Lutheranism and Reformed, or Calvinist, Christianity. He has a sympathetic appreciation of what Martin Luther got right, and an incisive but non-polemical analysis of what he got wrong, and why. As head of CDF [the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition], he was responsible for the doctrinal aspects of all the ecumenical dialogues in which the Church is engaged…CDF was, for instance, intensely involved in the 1999 Lutheran-Catholic declaration on justification” (ibid.).

As Benedict takes the helm, what is the status of relations between Rome and other denominations?

Catholics and Eastern Orthodox
The Eastern Orthodox Church resembles the Roman Church in doctrine, tradition, liturgy and structure more than any other group. Vatican II states, “These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked to us in closest intimacy” (Unitatis Redintegratio).

The Orthodox Church split from Rome in 1054, but, like the Catholic Church, claims an unbroken line of apostolic succession stretching back to Peter. The mutual excommunications that accompanied the Great Schism nearly 1,000 years ago were mutually rescinded in 1965.

John Paul II’s efforts to reach out to the Orthodox are well-known, and the results are summarized by the following statement, published after a June 1995 meeting with the Orthodox leader: “…our Churches declare their desire to relegate the excommunications of the past to oblivion and to set out on the way to re-establishing full communion…Our new-found brotherhood in the name of the one Lord has led us to frank discussion, a dialogue that seeks understanding and unity…A common sacramental conception of the Church has emerged, sustained and passed on in time by the apostolic succession…the Joint Commission has been able to declare that our Churches recognize one another as Sister Churches, responsible together for safeguarding the one Church of God, in fidelity to the divine plan, and in an altogether special way with regard to unity” (Common Declaration Signed in the Vatican by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I, June 29, 1995).

In a telling public gesture, John Paul’s funeral was the first papal funeral in centuries to be attended by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox.

Catholics and Evangelicals
A number of Protestant denominations known as evangelical emphasize evangelism (preaching to witness and proselytize), doctrinal conservatism, professed adherence to Scripture, a “born-again” conversion experience, and promoting family-oriented cultural values, often through politics. In general, evangelicals are seen as the right wing of the Protestant world.

Evangelicals and Catholics comprise more than half of all churchgoers in the United States. It seems there is now more common ground between these two groups than between evangelicals and liberal Protestants. The common enemy that has helped unite these factions is secularism. Evangelicals, despite a historic animosity toward Catholicism and the papacy, appear to believe that any form of traditional Christianity is preferable to the hedonism, materialism and moral relativism overtaking the West.

The incentive for Protestants is strength in numbers. They see that in order to “fix” the culture around them, it is expedient to join those who share their most pressing concerns. Religious activist Gary Bauer put this new phenomenon in context: “When John F. Kennedy made his famous speech that the Vatican would not tell him what to do, evangelicals and Southern Baptists breathed a sigh of relief. But today evangelicals and Southern Baptists are hoping that the Vatican will tell Catholic politicians what to do” (USA Today).

Rome has traditionally avoided full official involvement in ecumenical groups. They did not establish relations with the WCC, founded in 1948, until 1965, after Vatican II. At that point, they still declined membership, choosing rather to form a Joint Working Group as a means of contact at arm’s length.

However, in November 2004, U.S. Catholic bishops meeting in Washington voted to join the CCT, marking “the first time in American history that you have Catholic bishops joining an ecumenical organization with Protestants and Orthodox” (Christianity Today).

An evangelical minister commented, “I believe one of the reasons Catholics were comfortable joining this was because of the presence of evangelicals. The same was true of the Orthodox” (ibid.).

Along with interfaith dialogue, marriage and the sanctity of life will be prominent in Benedict’s papacy. Both themes are very important to evangelicals.

While many mainstream Protestant denominations change with the times, Catholic stability creates a clear contrast that will serve Rome’s purpose well.

Catholics and the Church of England
The Church of England, also called the Anglican Communion, encompasses the Episcopal Church in the United States, and claims 77 million adherents. This denomination was established in 1536 by King Henry VIII. Similar to the Orthodox, the Anglicans have held on to much Catholic form and ceremony: “Among those [groups springing from the Reformation] in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place” (Unitatis Redintegratio).

Referring to the mother of Jesus Christ, Pope John Paul II called England “Mary’s dowry” in an address at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1982, to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd. In retrospect, this seemed to foreshadow a recent cooperative step. On May 16, 2005, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) released a document titled “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ.” It concludes that Anglican doctrine is compatible with Catholic dogma on the Immaculate Conception, which declares that Mary was born unstained by “original sin,” and the Assumption of Mary, the belief that Mary ascended bodily to heaven.

Scripture does not teach either of these doctrines, and the Anglican Church had historically rejected them. However, in a press conference to mark the event, the Anglican Abbey Canon Nicholas Sagovsky stated, “As Anglicans and Roman Catholics, we believe that through our baptism into Christ we already share a deep unity and we look forward in prayer and hope to the day when we shall no longer be separated at the Eucharist” ( This document will be reviewed by Vatican and Anglican officials.

The Role of Mary
The Church of England is not alone in its reassessment of Mary’s place in modern Christianity. Many Protestants are inching toward a more Catholic view of this New Testament figure.

In some cases, an increased focus on Mary in American Protestant churches is a result of, or a response to, an influx of Hispanics into the pews, most of whom have a Catholic family heritage. A recent Time magazine cover story on the subject includes the following account: “A man stands at the lectern at the El Amor de Dios Church on Chicago’s South Side reading in Spanish, tears streaming down his cheeks. His text is a treatment of the Virgin Mary from one of the Bible’s apocryphal books. Another congregant follows, reciting his own verses to the Virgin…Flanking the altar are two Mary statues…hanging from the hands of the baby Jesus is a Rosary. The altar cover presents the church’s most stunning image: Mary again, this time totally surrounded by a multi-colored halo, in the traditional iconography of the Our Lady of Guadalupe. The church is Methodist.”

One hundred years ago, this scene would have shocked the typical Methodist, as the avoidance of “Mariolatry” in part distinguished the Protestant world from Catholicism. Increasingly, this distinction is being blurred.

Also, certain theologians have appealed to feminist sensibilities, which encourage conjecture about women in the Bible. They use this approach to introduce themes such as Mary as Christ’s first disciple, as an “activist” who bucks the patriarchal culture of her time, and even as a prophetess. One Protestant author, reflecting on the Mexican Catholic interpretation of Mary as “Our Lady of Guadalupe,” concludes that future study of Mary should “come from a feminist liberative perspective that promotes freedom and espouses a holistic life for Mexican and Mexican-American women” (Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary, Gaventa and Rigby, eds.).

Interestingly, the Protestant Mary has been reconfigured to appeal to women and Hispanics—both seen as key voting blocs in the current “red-blue” cultural battle.

Meanwhile, in the Catholic fold, millions of lay members and hundreds of clergy have signed a petition to declare Mary the co-redemptrix (meaning that she cooperates with Jesus in redeeming humanity).

Of course, this idea is utterly unscriptural.

“Heretics” Versus “Separated Brethren”
To be considered a traditional Christian church, a denomination must affirm belief in the trinity and accept the divinity of Christ. These two elements also seem to form the minimum criteria for membership in some ecumenist organizations.

The Catholic Church stresses the importance of other elements: The receiving of communion (Eucharist) and baptism. “Furthermore, the Sacrament of Baptism, which we have in common, represents ‘a sacramental bond of unity linking all who have been reborn by means of it’…Although this sacrament of itself is ‘only a beginning, a point of departure’, it is ‘oriented towards a complete profession of faith, a complete incorporation into the system of salvation such as Christ himself willed it to be, and finally, towards a complete participation in Eucharistic communion’” (Ut Unum Sint).

If a church possesses these characteristics, Catholics consider them “separated brethren”—a middle ground between true believers and heretics. Orthodox Christians categorize Catholics and Protestants as heterodox (“other believing”) rather than heretic (“other choosing”).

Persuasion, Conversion and Annexation
There is a sharp contrast between the Catholic and Orthodox viewpoint, and that of the typical Protestant, in entering ecumenical dialogue. Protestants focus on finding common ground, on compromise between doctrinal positions, finding the lowest common denominators in order to work together, and sharing with the Catholics or Orthodox “new elements” of Christianity from the Reformation heritage.

However, the Catholic and Orthodox concepts of ecumenism have one goal in mind: Persuasion of separated brethren to traditional teaching and correction of Reformation-era error—in other words, conversion.

If Vatican II slightly softened the tone of Catholic pronouncements toward those outside the fold, its conclusions were still uncompromising:

“This Sacred Council exhorts the faithful…[that] their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic…faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed” (Unitatis Redintegratio).

“This is the one Church of Christ…professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth’. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium).

Conciliatory rhetoric notwithstanding, Rome is not interested in conceding doctrinal ground, or backing away from its claim to be the only true Church, and therefore the only path to salvation. They desire unity of all believers, but not at the expense of established doctrine or papal authority. While Protestant denominations allow latitude for disagreement, Rome never loses sight of its goal of complete conformity. The official Catholic position is that one cannot openly contradict Catholic teaching and remain a member in good standing.

Overall, the drift of modern ecumenism is toward Rome, reversing the objectives of the Reformation. There is less focus on merging Protestant organizations, and more focus on Protestant churches doctrinally gravitating toward Catholicism.

Even in the midst of outreach efforts, Catholic doctrine is not changing. For example, John Paul II had increasingly stressed the importance of indulgences (pardon from punishment for sins in return for payment or “pious” actions), and Benedict has authorized “plenary indulgences” to any who participate in World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. This is significant, since this practice was one that outraged Martin Luther and helped spark the Reformation. For some years after Vatican II, indulgences were downplayed.

Ironically, the Greek word oikoumene, mentioned earlier, was often used to refer to the Roman Empire. This is what the Vatican has in mind—all ecumenical roads leading to Rome!

Hurdles Preventing Unity
The Eastern Orthodox and the various Protestant denominations have certain doctrines or practices that currently prevent full unity with the Vatican.

Protestants generally reject Catholic use of religious icons such as statues, the veneration of “saints,” and the Catholic position that church tradition overrides Scripture. There are certain specific doctrines that vary, such as the Lutherans’ “consubstantiation” contrasting with Catholic “transubstantiation.”

In the case of the Orthodox, the main obstacle is their acceptance of the Patriarch of Constantinople as the human leader of the Church rather than the bishop of Rome, as well as the doctrine of papal infallibility.

The Church of England capitulating to Rome would involve a compromise of national sovereignty, as the Anglican leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is nominated by Britain’s queen. In addition, Anglican female priests began to be ordained in 1994, which contradicts Catholic teaching.

There is also alarm on the part of some Protestant leaders. For example, a Southern Baptist theologian characterized the recent increased focus on Mary as “the Reformation in reverse” (Time magazine). Others point to a document written in September 2000 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. Dominus Iesus provoked anger with its references to the “defects” of Protestant churches and its insistence that salvation is available only through the Roman Church. Some viewed this work as negating the more inclusive tone of Vatican II.

Catalyst for Full Unification
The process of integration, while steadily gaining momentum, is still a cumbersome, inefficient process, hindered by the layers of bureaucracy in each of the churches involved.

Although Benedict is very interested in the full and visible unity of all professing Christians, he has limited expectations for mere human efforts to accomplish this: “[Benedict] has also emphasized that the way toward unity is not a matter of our programs and schedules but of faithful waiting upon a new initiative of the Holy Spirit which we can neither control nor anticipate” (Zenit News Agency).

Indeed, to expedite the ecumenical process, a catalyst far beyond rhetoric, diplomacy and dialogue is needed.

History shows, and human nature dictates, that decisive action taken by large numbers is typically sparked by crisis, and facilitated by a strong central figure—a leader who can offer the masses what they long for, whether it is prosperity and prestige, freedom from oppression, deliverance from suffering or a bolstering of collective pride and resolve.

Two Churches in the End-time
An address published in 1950 states, “The Catholic Church…embraces with truly maternal affection all who return to her as the true Church of Christ” (“On the ‘Ecumenical Movement’ – An Instruction of the Holy Office”).

In Revelation 17, the apostle John describes a religious system pictured as a mother with daughters. This “woman” is called a harlot (vs. 5), in contrast to the true Church, which is symbolized as a virtuous woman in chapter 12. (Please read the article “What Did the New Testament Church Look Like?”, featured in this issue.)

This system is prophesied to grow very powerful one more time, but for a short time, only to have her reign end violently just prior to Christ’s Return.

We can expect the current drift toward the Catholic Church to continue and intensify in the years ahead, resulting in a final “family reunion” for professing Christianity! (To learn more, read our publication Many Shall Come in My Name.)

President Obama's Big Budget

President Obama's Big Budget

Last Update: 8:03 am

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is sending Congress a budget Thursday that projects the government's deficit for this year will soar to $1.75 trillion, reflecting efforts to pull thenation out of a deep recession and a severe financial crisis.

A senior administration official told The Associated Press that Obama's $3 trillion-plus spending blueprint also asks Congress to raise taxes on the wealthy in 2011 and cut Medicare costs to provide health care for the uninsured.

The president's first budget also holds out the possibility of spending $250 billion more for additional financial industry rescue efforts on top of the $700 billion that Congress has already authorized, according to this official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the formal release of the budget.

The official said the administration felt it would be prudent to ask for additional resources to deal with the financial crisis, the most severe to hit the country in seven decades. He called the request a "placeholder" in advance of a determination by the Treasury Department of what extra resources will actually be needed.

The spending blueprint Obama is sending Congress is a 140-page outline, with the complete details scheduled to come in mid- to late April, when the new administration sends up the massive budget books that will flesh out the plan.

However, the submission of the bare budget outline was certain to set off fierce debate in Congress over Obama's spending and tax priorities. The budget document includes additional requests for the current year and Obama's proposals the 2010 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

The president wants Congress to extend the $400 annual tax cut due to start showing up in workers' paychecks in April, and it extends the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 for couples earning less than $250,000 per year. Those tax cuts were due to expire at the end of 2010.

To pay for the middle-class tax relief and the effort to increase health coverage, Obama's budget makes significant cuts on the rate of growth in other areas of health care and seeks to trim a variety of other government programs, including subsidies earned by farmers with revenue of more than $500,000 a year.

The budget would also seek savings in military weapons purchases. It would raise taxes on wealthy hedge fund managers and corporations, eliminating tax incentives U.S. companies now have to move jobs overseas, something Obama repeatedly mentioned during the presidential campaign.

Even with all the savings, the cost of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill will push the deficit for this year to $1.75 trillion, a level - as a percentage of the economy - not seen since World War II. The deficit is expected to remain around $1 trillion for the next two years before starting to decline to $533 billion in 2013, according to budget projections.

Obama's plan proposes achieving $634 billion in savings on projected health care spending and diverting those resources to expanding coverage for uninsured Americans. The $634 billion represents a little more than half the money that would be needed to extend health insurance to all of the 48 million Americans now uninsured.

Americans now spend a total of $2.4 trillion a year on health care.

Obama also will ask for an additional $75 billion to cover the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, the end of the current budget year. That would be on top of the $40 billion already appropriated by Congress, the administration official said.

The administration will also ask for $130 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 and will budget the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan at $50 billion annually over the next several years.

Obama's budget proposal would effectively raise income taxes and curb tax deductions on couples making more than $250,000 a year, beginning in 2011. By not extending former President George W. Bush's tax cuts for such wealthier filers, Obama would allow the marginal rate on household incomes above $250,000 to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.

The plan also contains a contentious proposal to raise hundreds of billions of dollars by auctioning off permits to exceed carbon emissions caps, which Obama wants to impose on users of fossil fuels to address global warming.

Some of the revenues from the pollution permits would be used to extend the "Making Work Pay" tax credit of $400 for individuals and $800 for couples beyond 2010, as provided in the just-passed economic stimulus bill.

About half of what officials characterized as a $634 billion "down payment" toward health care coverage for every American would come from cuts in Medicare. That is sure to incite battles with doctors, hospitals, health insurance companies and drug manufacturers.

Some of the Medicare savings would come from scaling back payments to private insurance plans that serve older Americans, which many analysts believe to be inflated. Other proposals include charging upper-income beneficiaries a higher premium for Medicare's prescription drug coverage.

To raise the other half, Obama wants to reduce the rate by which wealthier people can cut their taxes through deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, local taxes and other expenses to 28 cents on the dollar, rather than the 35 cents they can claim now. Even more money would be raised if the top rate reverts to 39.6 percent, as Obama wants.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called Obama's proposal to tax the wealthy to finance health care reform a starting point. But he wants to also examine taxing some of health insurance benefits provided by employers – an idea rejected by Obama in last year's presidential campaign.

Budget documents provided to The Associated Press show that Obama will not lay out a detailed blueprint for a health care overhaul, but a set of broad policy principles and some specific ideas for how to raise a big chunk of the money.

Obama's promise to phase out direct payments to farming operations with revenues above $500,000 a year is sure to cause concerns among rural Democrats.

Even after all those difficult choices, cutting about $2 trillion from the budget over 10 years, Obama's budget still would feature huge deficits.

The $1.75 trillion deficit projected for this year would represent 12.3 percent of the gross domestic product, double the previous post-war record of 6 percent in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was president, and the highest level since the deficit totaled 21.5 percent of GDP in 1945, at the end of World War II.

At $533 billion, the deficit in 2013 will be about 3 percent of the size of the economy, a level that administration officials said would be manageable.



The Fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah is freed)

Jeremiah 39
1In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.

2And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up.

3And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.

4And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.

5But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

6Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah.

7Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.

8And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

9Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.

10But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.

11Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying,

12Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.

13So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes;

14Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.

15Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

16Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.

17But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.

18For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Legionnaires' Disease

An American Legion post in East Haven, Conn., opened its doors last year to anti-immigration activists including Walter Moore (with sign). (AP)
Intelligence Report
Fall 2008
Legionnaires' Disease
American Legion Pushes Nativist Falsehoods
By Sonia Scherr
Since its founding nearly 90 years ago, the American Legion has been a fixture of community life. It has hosted Memorial Day parades to remember those who died in America's wars. It has held bingo nights and dances at its 14,000-plus posts worldwide. It has supported thousands of Boy Scouts groups, sponsored a baseball program that's produced numerous professional players, and helped children living in poverty or with special needs. From World War II to the war in Iraq, the legion has fought to improve benefits for veterans and their families.

Now, America's largest veterans organization has launched another campaign — a hard-line attack on undocumented immigrants that's at odds with the legion's mainstream image. As part of this effort, the legion, which purports to speak for 2.7 million members, recently issued a booklet that regurgitates discredited and often completely false information about how "illegals" are bringing crime, disease, and terrorism to this country, even as they wreck the economy for natives.

The legion's 34-page booklet, A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States, asserts that "poverty, political instability, disease and war" are "on our back doorstep" because of porous borders and the failure of the government to stringently enforce immigration laws. But in making its case, the legion repeatedly cites dubious sources, ignores well-known facts and makes baseless claims — such as the false assertion that the undocumented infected more than 7,000 people in America with leprosy during a recent four-year period.

"They're sort of trotting out old tropes to do with immigration," said Richard Wright, a Dartmouth College geography professor who specializes in immigration. "These are hackneyed stereotypes that have no place in a policy document."

That's not all. On April 28, when it released its booklet — which was actually a repackaged version of a May 2007 legion "white paper" — the group announced that its campaign would include letters to the editor, news releases from posts around the country, and six 60-second radio spots. These spots revisit some of the nastiest claims in the report, portraying undocumented immigrants as sex offenders, gang members, terrorists and murderers. Remarkably, they are delivered by Richard Fatherly, Kansas City chapter media adviser for the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps — a group whose members President Bush once denounced as "vigilantes."

The American Legion, with its parades, conventions and hosting of politicians' speeches, has long been a fixture of American life. At times, it has also been associated with nativist xenophobia.
The Intelligence Report sought comment from the American Legion and was directed to Robert Caudell, assistant director of its Americanism and Children & Youth Division. Caudell requested a detailed list of false or misleading claims, but then declined to address those claims once he had received it. Instead, he E-mailed a general statement pointing to the legion's recommendations to the government and arguing that the Intelligence Report was simply interpreting the same facts and statistics differently than the legion. "It's quite the same when two individuals witness an identical incident," Caudell wrote. "Each has his perspective, his personal assumptions, and often a disparate ability to describe the event."

That's not the way Hispanic veterans organizations see it. Felix Vargas, a retired Army colonel and the director of government relations for the largest such group, American GI Forum, told the Intelligence Report that the booklet was misleading and untruthful and called it a slap in the face to Hispanic legionnaires. "We didn't need this distraction," said Vargas, who served as an Army Ranger and Special Forces commander in Vietnam. "The legion crusade is a disservice to both the veteran community and the nation." Added Eric Rojo, the president of Hispanic War Veterans of America and another retired colonel: "Their position is absurd and ignorant. Someone didn't sit down and check the facts." And John Amaya, a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, noted that 11% of the first 4,000 American casualties in Iraq were Latinos — and many of them are the children of undocumented residents of the United States.

The American Legion actually has been engaged with nativist groups for some time. In 2004, its national convention in Nashville, Tenn., featured Dan Stein, leader of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a strident nativist group that opposes both legal and illegal immigration. In March 2007, it held a forum on illegal immigration spotlighting nativist heavyweights like the leaders of NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies. It has allowed its posts to be used for gatherings of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. And this spring, it gave its "National Commander's Public Relations Award" to CNN anchor Lou Dobbs, who has himself regularly presented false data about immigrants.
Ed Hayes, director of the Kansas and Missouri chapters of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps — a group whose members President Bush once called "vigilantes" — waves the American Legion's new nativist tract during testimony at the Kansas statehouse. (Anthony S. Bush/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
At times in its history, the legion has made other forays into nativist politics. In 1937, the legion published A Review of Alien Isms, Revolutionary Communism and their Active Sympathizers in the United States, which linked immigrants to what was seen as the ultimate evil "ism": communism. The book claimed that immigrant children accounted for most of those attending communist summer camps and that other supposedly subversive groups were also heavily populated by immigrants. It demanded enhanced border patrols, immediate deportation of the undocumented and slashing of all immigration quotas by 90%. After World War I, when anti-Asian sentiment was sweeping the country, the legion on the West Coast championed policies that discriminated against Japanese-Americans. This attitude also affected the national legion, whose committee to investigate Asiatic immigration included a Seattle attorney who had served as president of his city's Anti-Japanese League, according to Tom Heuterman's The Burning Horse.

What follows is a sampling of the kind of claims that the American Legion is making with regard to undocumented immigrants, along with the actual situation, as revealed by statistics and interviews with non-partisan experts.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM American prisons "are crowded or full because of the illegals convicted of committing crimes against the people of the United States." Non-citizens make up fully 30% of the American prison population.

THE TRUTH As with many of its claims, the legion offers no source for this figure other than to claim that it has been "widely reported." A 2005 report by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office says that immigrants — both documented and undocumented — constitute 27% of federal prisoners. But fewer than 13% of incarcerated people in America are in federal prisons, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. When both federal and state prisoners are counted, about 6% are non-citizens; that is actually less than expected, because documented and undocumented immigrants make up roughly 8% of adults residing in the U.S.

Although the late Madeleine Cosman had lots to say about Latino immigrants — describing all such men, for example, as child-molesting rapists — the medievalist cookbook writer had no expertise on the subject whatsoever.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM Based on the same follow-up General Accounting Office (GAO) report, the legion states that 49% of all incarcerated illegal immigrants had prior felony convictions.

THE TRUTH The GAO report contains no such information, despite the fact that the American Legion report specifically cites it. What it does say is that of the offenses for which undocumented immigrants were arrested, just 12% were violent crimes.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program aimed at catching child predators arrested more than 6,000 "illegal aliens" in its first two years. The legion also asserts that 240,000 undocumented immigrants are sex offenders.

THE TRUTH While it's true that Operation Predator made 6,000-plus arrests in its first two years, those arrested consisted of both documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as American citizens, according to ICE. About 85% of those arrested were foreign nationals (many of them documented), but this was no surprise, given that the operation specifically targeted foreign-born predators whose status made them deportable, along with U.S. citizens who engage in child sex tourism abroad. With regard to the total figure of undocumented sex offenders, the legion cites a self-published article from independent criminal profiler Deborah Schurman-Kauflin stating that 240,000 undocumented immigrants are sex offenders. Schurman-Kauflin based that figure on the assumption — for which she provided no specific source — that sex offenders account for 2% of all undocumented immigrants. She didn't respond to an E-mail from the Intelligence Report seeking clarification.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM Thousands of immigrants from countries with terrorist connections have been caught trying to enter the United States illegally. This claim is immediately followed by several paragraphs about illegal crossing of the Mexican border, suggesting that dangerous immigrants "from countries with known terrorist connections" are entering the U.S. via Mexico.

CNN anchor Lou Dobbs repeated and popularized false claims about immigrants and leprosy. When confronted by "60 Minutes" and numerous critics, Dobbs refused to correct his statements, saying his program did not make errors.

THE TRUTH A 2006 report by the Nixon Center, which appeared in the peer-reviewed Terrorism and Political Violence journal, found that the suggestion that terrorists were entering the U.S. through Mexico, while frightening, was entirely untrue: "Despite media alarms about terrorists concealed in the illegal traffic crossing the Mexican border, not a single subject entered from Mexico."

THE LEGION'S CLAIM "More Americans are killed by illegal aliens than die in the Iraq War."

THE TRUTH The legion cites no source for this allegation. Its claim appears to come from a February 2007 article by the editors of Family Security Matters, which frequently publishes breathless "exclusives" such as the one about Latinos titled, "Illegal Aliens Bring a Taliban Culture to the United States." The February 2007 article attributes its data to an article on the far-right WorldNetDaily website, which in turn cites blogger Matt Johnson. In 2005, Johnson claimed — based, absurdly, on murder rates in immigrants' home countries — that undocumented immigrants kill 1,806 to 2,510 people every year. Applying that claim to the FBI's most recent murder total (15,854 murders in 2006) would mean that the undocumented, who number about 12 million people or 4% of the U.S. population, are responsible for 11.4% to 16.1% of U.S. murders. In plain English, that means the legion is claiming that undocumented immigrants murder U.S. citizens at a rate of three to four times that of the general population. In fact, nonpartisan studies have shown that immigrants of all kinds are significantly less criminal than their native-born American counterparts.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM The legion quotes a 2005 article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons saying that many illegal immigrants "harbor fatal diseases that American medicine fought and vanquished long ago, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, leprosy, plague, polio, dengue and Chagas disease. The influx of illegal aliens has serious hidden medical consequences." The legion also claims that drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have risen 25% recently.

THE TRUTH The "journal" the legion cites is a pseudo-scientific publication known for articles like the recent piece attempting to refute the well-established fact that the HIV virus causes AIDS. And the 2005 journal article's author, the late Madeleine Cosman, was a lawyer and medievalist with no medical expertise at all. She was also a rabid migrant hater, as evidenced by this 2005 comment about all Mexican male immigrants to the U.S.: "Most of these bastards molest girls under age 12, some as young as age 5, others age 3. Although, of course, some specialize in boys, some specialize in nuns, [and] some are exceedingly versatile and rape little girls age 11 and women up to age 79." It is true that certain diseases like Chagas disease are more prevalent among immigration populations. But the legion's claims are wildly overstated, suggesting real and widespread threats to the health of the general public. As an example, in the case of drug-resistant tuberculosis, the Centers for Disease Control reports that there were only 116 cases in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Overall, tuberculosis cases in the United States are at an all-time low since national reporting began in 1953.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM "Between 2000 and 2003, leprosy infected over 7,000 people in the U.S., brought to this country by illegal immigrants from India, Brazil, Mexico and the Caribbean." That compared to 900 cases in the prior 40 years.

THE TRUTH The legion's claim is based on a misreading of a New York Times article cited by Cosman in her journal article. In fact, just 453 cases were diagnosed in those years, according to the National Hansen's Disease [leprosy] Program. As program director James Krahenbuhl told the Times: "It's not a public health problem. That's the bottom line." The legion's claim has been popularized nationally by CNN host Lou Dobbs, who refused to retract his assertion even after it had been debunked by "60 Minutes" and many others.

THE LEGION'S CLAIM "Illegals cost Americans jobs."
THE TRUTH A 2006 Pew Hispanic Center study found that, overall, large increases in states' immigrant populations did not correspond with more unemployment for their native-born workers. While some scholars have said that undocumented workers depress wages for native-born high school dropouts, most have failed to establish a link between immigration and job loss, said Richard Wright, the Dartmouth College professor. In fact, many experts have argued that immigration can lead to a net gain of jobs. Said Wright: "The actual effect on the economy is at worst minor, at best beneficial."

THE LEGION'S CLAIM "Illegal immigration … causes an enormous drain on public services." Citing the partisan Center for Immigration Studies, which favors restricting immigration, the legion says undocumented immigrants don't pay nearly enough in taxes to compensate for the burden they place on public resources.

THE TRUTH Undocumented immigrants are barred from receiving most forms of public assistance, other than public school education and emergency medical care. But they do pay taxes, including sales taxes, and often, through phony Social Security cards, payroll taxes. In 2005, The New York Times reported that undocumented immigrants contribute some $7 billion a year to the Social Security system that they will never be able to claim. Local and state governments, however, do not receive any benefit from that money and may, as a result, spend more on services to the undocumented than they get back in local taxes from them.

EDITOR'S NOTE: While this story was being prepared, two key Latino groups — the American GI Forum, a veterans organization, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund — met several times privately with leaders of the American Legion. In July, around the time this article was first published on the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, a note appeared on the legion's website saying that its immigration booklet was "being updated." But the legion offered no public clarification, retraction or any other statement about the booklet's errors.