Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fla.'s 'Father Oprah': Church is about forgiveness

Fla.'s 'Father Oprah': Church is about forgiveness

Fla.'s 'Father Oprah': Church is about forgiveness
By SUZETTE LABOY – 1 hour ago

BISCAYNE PARK, Fla. (AP) — A popular Miami priest nicknamed "Father Oprah" said Sunday that "church is about forgiveness" during his first sermon since leaving the Roman Catholic Church to become Episcopalian amid an uproar over published photos of him kissing his girlfriend on the beach.

The Rev. Alberto Cutie (pronounced KOO'-tee-ay) gave the sermon at the Episcopal Church of The Resurrection in Miami. Episcopal priests can marry, unlike their Catholic counterparts. It will take him at least a year to become a priest in his new church.

The cozy church was overflowing with supporters, most having to stand along the aisles or lean against the walls. Many in the crowd said they were not members but came to support Cutie.

"This little church has been neglected, and membership is not great," said Jackie Fernandez, who attends another Episcopal church in the Miami area. She said within the year that will all change thanks to Cutie.

Cutie said in a TV interview in early May that he was in love with the woman in the photos and that they have been romantically involved for about two years after being friends for much longer. His girlfriend has been identified in local media as 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis. He has not said if he plans to marry her, but noted in a statement this week that as he became an Episcopalian, he "has seen the ways that many of my brothers serve God as married men."

"If love was his mistake, then I'll still support him. Love makes the world go round," said Ysset DeCarlo, 44. She brought along her 17-year-old daughter Stephanie, who made her confession to Cutie for her confirmation.

Cutie received a standing ovation and told several jokes, quipping that "my stuff is in storage." He didn't directly address his relationship with his girlfriend.

"The spirit of God has been with me," he said. "And I'm going to tell you something: God is the only one we follow."

He also said church was about seeking God, not people, and added: "Church is about forgiveness."

Cutie has said his decision to switch was made over time, not since the photos in a Spanish-language magazine rocked South Florida's Spanish-speaking community, where he was known for his good looks and as the host of a TV show on which he gave relationship advice, earning him the "Father Oprah" moniker.

He was removed from his Miami Beach Catholic parish after the photos surfaced in early May.

His decision to switch has drawn harsh words from Archbishop John Favalora, who said he met with Cutie after the photos were published and the priest didn't mention changing churches. Favalora has admonished Cutie and Episcopal leaders in Miami.

Cutie headed the archdiocese's Radio Paz and Radio Peace broadcasts, heard throughout the Americas and in Spain.

The Cuban-American priest was born in Puerto Rico and previously hosted shows on Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish-language network in the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere. He is also a syndicated Spanish-language columnist and author of the book "Real Life, Real Love: 7 Paths to a Strong, Lasting Relationship."

Ignacio Bolivar, 65, said he thought Cutie was intensely conflicted about his relationship with the woman and his views on marriage.

"I think he tried to tell the Catholic Church what he wanted to do. That he wanted to get married," Bolivar said.

Bolivar also joked about Cutie's talents as a speaker and good looks, in light of his switch: "The Catholic Church has to put ugly priests up there."

Abortion Doctor Gunned Down in Church

posted: 56 MINUTES AGO

WICHITA, Kan. (May 31) -- Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions despite decades of protests and attacks, was shot and killed Sunday in a church where he was serving as an usher.

The gunman fled, but a 51-year-old suspect was detained some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said.
Skip over this content

Controversial Life, Shocking Death

Larry Smith, AP

A prominent pro-choice doctor who performed late-term abortions was shot and killed while attending church in Wichita, Kan., Sunday. Dr. George Tiller, here in 2002, was serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church when the gunman attacked and then fled by car, his attorney said. Hours after the shooting, a police official said a suspect was in custody.

Politics Daily Commentary: Pro-Crazy Is Not Pro-Life

Although Stolz refused to release the man's name, Johnson County sheriff's spokesman Tom Erickson identified the detained man as Scott Roeder. He has not been charged in the slaying and was expected to be taken to Wichita for questioning.

There was no immediate word of the motive Tiller's assailant. But the doctor's violent death was the latest in a string of shootings and bombings over two decades directed against abortion clinics, doctors and staff.

Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summer-long protest in 1991, Tiller was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, Stolz said. Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

The slaying of the 67-year-old doctor is "an unspeakable tragedy," his widow, four children and 10 grandchildren said in statement. "This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."

The family said its loss "is also a loss for the city of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence."

Stolz said all indications were that the gunman acted alone, although authorities were investigating whether he had any connection to anti-abortion groups.

Tiller's Women's Health Care Services clinic is one of just three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy. The clinic was heavily fortified and Tiller often traveled with a bodyguard, but Stolz said there was no indication of security at the church Sunday.



Evangelical Left Follows Secular Culture, Endorses 'Hate Crimes' Bill

Evangelical Left Follows Secular Culture, Endorses 'Hate Crimes' Bill

"Increasingly the Evangelical Left is indistinguishable from the secular Left." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell,

WASHINGTON, May 11 /Christian Newswire/ -- Members of the Evangelical Left are endorsing a bill before Congress that would add sexual orientation and gender identity as official categories to "hate crimes" law.

Liberal evangelist Tony Campolo joined a Capitol Hill rally this week organized by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group, which also distributed supportive statements by Christian ethicist David Gushee, Sojourners' Jim Wallis and Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter. The rally additionally touted legislation that would protect transsexualism in the work place.

Critics of hate crimes laws warn they are redundant and attempt to criminalize thought and speech. They also warn that clergy and others who support traditional marriage potentially could be prosecuted for "hate."

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

"Why are self-proclaimed evangelicals echoing the secular culture by endorsing ideologies wrapped around 'sexual orientation' and 'sexual identity'?

"All victims of violence are already rightly protected by law, no matter the motive of their assailants.

"Increasingly the Evangelical Left is indistinguishable from the secular Left.

"Christians of all traditions are called to transform the culture, not conform to it. But the Evangelical Left repeats arguments from The New York Times' editorial page and seems to think such cultural conformity will win applause.

"History shows that accommodationist Christians are ultimately irrelevant Christians."

Government to force gay youth workers on church

Equalities minister, Maria Eagle, says the state will impose 'gay rights' on faith communities.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Government says its new Equality Bill will force churches to accept practising homosexuals or transsexuals in youth worker posts and other similar roles.

Equalities minister Maria Eagle said religious believers should push ‘gay rights’ in their communities, but in the meantime the state would do it.

The move has been met with a strong response from Christian groups who have accused the Government of secular intolerance against the church.

The Bill dramatically narrows exemptions in sexual orientation employment laws which protect the religious liberty of churches and other faith groups.

Read the relevant section of the Bill together with explanatory notes

Under the current law, religious groups can restrict posts to Christians whose private conduct is consistent with the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics. These posts must be for the purposes of organised religion, which could include jobs like a youth worker.

But under the Equality Bill the Government is specifying that this protection can only apply to posts that mainly involve leading worship or explaining doctrine.

Equality Bill info hub

The Bill’s explanatory notes make it clear that this protection “would not apply to a requirement that a church youth worker or accountant be heterosexual”.

At the weekend, Government equalities minister Maria Eagle said that “while the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters” it would tell churches what to do in other areas.

She also said “members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment.”

A spokesman for the Church of England said the proposed change in the law “was inserted in the Bill without our receiving any prior consultation or warning.

“It represents a substantial narrowing of the exception relating to employment for the purposes of an organised religion.

“It would have the effect that many of those employed in senior posts that involved representing the Church either locally or nationally (e.g. the posts of Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, or diocesan secretary) would not, for the purposes of this exception, be employed ‘for the purposes of an organised religion’.”

The spokesman added: “We shall be raising the issue with the Government and are likely to support the tabling of amendments that would preserve the status quo.”

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “The Government’s own explanation of the Bill clearly says churches must accept homosexuals as church youth workers.

“The Bill says nothing about the difference between an active homosexual and someone who has left the lifestyle but still experiences some same-sex attraction. This distinction is crucial for Christians.”

Catholic College Commencement Scandals Increase in 2009

Catholic College Commencement Scandals Increase in 2009

May 29, 2009

MANASSAS, VA (MetroCatholic) - In the Spring of 2009, at least 12 Catholic colleges and universities hosted scandalous speakers and honorees at their commencement ceremonies, according to The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual review. This marks a troubling reversal of the recent decrease of Catholic commencement scandals – merely seven took place in 2008, down from 24 in 2006.

“It is a very sad development, to see so many Catholic colleges and universities joining Notre Dame in their disrespect for Catholic morality and for the U.S. bishops,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The bishops’ policy against such honors and platforms is crystal clear and is only the bare minimum expected of Catholic institutions.”

The 2009 commencement scandals occurred despite the unprecedented public opposition of 83 U.S. bishops to the University of Notre Dame’s honor for President Obama at commencement. None publicly supported Notre Dame’s action.

Most of the protesting bishops referenced the 2004 USCCB statement “Catholics in Political Life” as support for their opposition. The statement reads: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The Cardinal Newman Society compiled the following list of Catholic colleges and universities whose commencement speakers have publicly opposed or acted against Catholic values on key moral issues:

***Creighton University (Neb.)
Christopher J. Elias, M.D., was the commencement speaker and honorary Doctor of Science degree recipient at Creighton University on May 16. Elias is the President and CEO of Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH). PATH, a nonprofit organization to address health concerns around the world, promotes abortion and contraception. PATH worked in Nepal to shift “cultural norms” toward an acceptance of abortion by means of “dialogue groups.” The organization’s website states: “This is where PATH comes in: helping address the long-held beliefs that still stand between women and safe abortion.”

***Dominican University of California
Willie L. Brown, Jr. was the commencement speaker and honorary Doctor of Laws degree recipient at Dominican University of California, where he is a board member, on May 15. Brown has served as Mayor of San Francisco and as Speaker of the California State Assembly, and he is an advocate of abortion rights and homosexual marriage. According to a review of his autobiography, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times, “Willie Brown shows how some of the most far-reaching and socially advanced legislation in American history — like… legalized abortion, gay rights… — was carried out under his guidance and on his watch.” In 1996, Archbishop William Levada protested when San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown officially recognized 175 same-sex couples as “domestic partners” in a proceeding that was very similar to a marriage ceremony. Last year Brown publicly opposed California’s Proposition 8, which legally defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

***Fordham University (N.Y.)
Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, delivered remarks and received an honorary degree at Fordham University’s commencement on May 16. Bloomberg is pro-abortion. reported in 2006 that Bloomberg said, “Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right, and we can never take it for granted. On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.” Reproductive choice is a euphemism for abortion. Bloomberg also supports homosexual marriage. According to New York Magazine, he has stated, “I think anybody should be allowed to marry anybody.” Charles Schumer, a U.S. Senator from New York, also spoke at the Fordham University commencement exercises, according to Catholic News Agency. Schumer has received a 100% voting record from NARAL Pro-Choice America. He has voted to expand the availability of contraceptives, voted for expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines, voted against notifying the parents of minors who get out of state abortions, and voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion.

***University of Notre Dame (Ind.)
Barack Obama, President of the United States, was commencement speaker and honorary Doctor of Laws degree recipient at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement on May 17. Obama is vigorously pro-abortion. Before becoming president, he stated at a Planned Parenthood conference that his first act as president would be to sign into law the Freedom of Choice Act (a bill that would remove all existing restrictions on abortion); the bill has not yet passed. He also opposed a ban on partial-birth abortion. As president, Obama has worked to overturn conscience protections for healthcare workers, appointed numerous pro-abortion cabinet members (including the Secretary of Health and Human Services), dedicated federal funds to harvest embryonic stem cells, and overturned the Mexico City Policy which prevented U.S. funds from being used to promote abortion overseas. Obama reaffirmed his pro-abortion stance two weeks before the Notre Dame commencement ceremony, and again during his commencement address. More than eighty bishops have opposed Notre Dame on account of this matter.

***College of the Holy Cross (Mass.)
King’s College (Pa.)
Robert Casey, Jr., a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, was commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at both the College of the Holy Cross and King’s College commencement ceremonies (May 22 and 17 respectively). These went forward despite the fact that Casey’s own bishop in Scranton, Pa., Bishop Joseph Martino, has been repeatedly critical of the senator’s record in recent months. This criticism included Casey’s vote opposing an amendment to reinstate the pro-life Mexico City Policy, which prohibits federal funds to groups that promote or perform abortions. Bishop Martino also scolded Casey for his vote to confirm pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The bishop called the decision of King’s College to honor Casey “an affront to all who value the sanctity of life,” saying Sen. Casey lacks “the moral stature” to properly address the challenges faced by the graduates.

***Xavier University of Louisiana
Donna Brazile, a political commentator and activist, was commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at Xavier University of Louisiana on May 9. Brazile supported President Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy which previously barred taxpayer funding from supporting abortion services overseas. She said that “this will save lives.” In a CNN segment during the 2008 presidential campaign, Brazile suggested that public discussion of Barack Obama’s legislative support for infanticide should be diminished in light of high gas prices. Additionally, in a 2006 article, Brazile expressed her support for across-the-board availability of contraceptive services, including her support for the Prevention First Act. New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes boycotted the ceremony on account of the selection of Brazile.

***St. Francis College (N.Y.)
Yvette Clarke, a U.S. Representative from New York, was the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at St. Francis College on May 27. In 2007, Clarke voted for the expansion of federal funding to include more research of embryonic stem cell lines. In the same year, Clarke co-sponsored a bill that would have ensured access to and federal funding of contraception.

***Saint Joseph’s University (Pa.)
Chris Matthews was commencement speaker and honorary Doctor of Communications degree recipient at Saint Joseph’s University on May 16. Matthews is the widely-recognized host of MSNBC’s Hardball, and has repeatedly and publicly supported legalized abortion. Last March, he referred to pro-life advocates opposing the nomination of pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services as “terrorists.” Cornel West, a Princeton University professor, also received an honorary degree at the commencement ceremony of Saint Joseph’s University. In 2006, West opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment by signing onto the public statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families and Relationships.” The group supporting the statement (at proposed that “Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others.” They sought to “reframe the narrow terms of the marriage debate” and advocated legal recognition of “a wide range of relationships” regardless of “conjugal status.”

***Stonehill College (Mass.)
M. Elizabeth Fini was Stonehill College’s commencement speaker. Fini currently serves as the Vice Dean for Research at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. According to the Daily Trojan, Fini expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of utilizing embryonic stem cell lines for research at USC. “Because we got this jumpstart, it makes all the difference for us,” she said. “Our researchers are ready to go, where other schools are going to have to get this started.” As scientific director and vice chair for research at the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in 2007, Fini helped establish a partnership between Moorfields Eye Hospital in England and Bascom Palmer. According to the South Florida Business Journal, Moorfields previously received a “$7 million donation to conduct embryonic and adult stem cell research to treat macular degeneration,” and Fini intended to work with the Hospital on that project, even looking for a matching donation for Bascom Palmer.

***University of St. Francis (Ill.)
A. J. Wilhelmi, an Illinois State Senator, was commencement speaker at the University of St. Francis on May 9. In 2007, Senator Wilhelmi voted for a bill that permitted Illinois state funding for research on embryonic stem cell lines.

***University of San Francisco (Cal.)
Most Reverend Kevin Dowling, Bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa, was an honorary degree recipient and undergraduate commencement speaker at the University of San Francisco on May 22. Bishop Dowling has publicly criticized abstinence-only programs and supports condom use by those infected with or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. After he expressed his view regarding condoms in a 2001 interview, the South African bishops’ conference condemned his statements and has reaffirmed that condoms are “immoral” and a “misguided weapon in the fight against HIV.” The papal nuncio of South Africa has also rebuked Bishop Dowling at least twice. Kamala D. Harris was the graduate school commencement speaker at the University of San Francisco on May 23. She is the San Francisco District Attorney. According to the Bay Area Reporter, Harris has spoken at rallies against California Proposition 8. The proposition, which passed, defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Harris said that was an expression of “prejudice” and “hate.”

In order to live in the sight of the Lord

I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. {EW 71.1}

I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of "refreshing" and the "latter rain" to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." I saw that none could share the "refreshing" unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.
{EW 71.2}


Concerning Spiritual Gifts;Unity and Diversity in the Body

1 Corinthians 12

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14For the body is not one member, but many.

15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.

25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

29Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

31But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jimmy Carter: Disharmony Among Christians 'Like a Cancer'

By Eric Young
Christian Post Reporter
Mon, Apr. 27 2009 11:27 AM EDT

Former president Jimmy Carter delivered the closing address at a diverse gathering of Baptists over the weekend, and urged them to come together to help the people of America in their time of need.

During his address Saturday at the Southeast regional gathering of the New Baptist Covenant, Carter said the shared faith in Jesus Christ should be enough reason for Christians to unite and that other divisive issues need to be put aside if they stand in the way of unity.

Disharmony among Christians, he said, “is like a cancer metastasizing in the body of Christ.”
“We're saved by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. That's a fundamental in which I believe. And I think for Christians that's basically adequate,” the former president said to the more than 800 attendants gathered at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. "If you believe in that, no matter how you feel about homosexuality or the death penalty or church and state being separated ... we should put those things aside."

The April 25-26 regional gathering was one of a number that grew out of the initial Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, held in Atlanta in January 2008, which brought together nearly 15,000 Baptists representing more than 30 Baptist organizations.

The covenant was launched out of concern that the prevailing image of Christians, particularly Baptists, today is one of divisiveness. Baptists have debated and, in some cases, split over such issues as the role of women in ministry and marriage, abortion, civil rights for gays, and Scripture, among many others.

“They (Baptists overseas) see us (U.S. Baptists) at each other's throats, as argumentative, as struggling for authority and power,” Carter said Saturday, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Hoping to overcome any racial, theological, philosophical, geographical or political division, over 30 organizations representing 20 million Baptists (black, white, conservative, moderate, Republican and Democrat) lent their support to the start of the New Baptist Covenant last January.

Since the landmark meeting, event organizers have been holding multiple regional meetings in order to offer greater opportunities for cooperation among Baptist ministries. Regional meetings have so far this year been held in Birmingham, Ala., and Liberty, Mo. Other meetings this year are scheduled for Norman, Okla., and Chicago.

The theme of the recent meeting at Wake Forest was “This is God’s Year to Act: Responding to a Society in Crisis.” The gathering featured writer Maya Angelou as a speaker and included worship services and workshops offering strategies for churches to respond to pressing social and spiritual needs in a time of economic crisis.

The steering committee for the event included a diverse group of individuals representing more than 40 churches and organizations from three states


Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand

Isaiah 13

1The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

2Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

3I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.

4The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

5They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

6Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

7Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:

8And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

9Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

10For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

11And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

12I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.

13Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

14And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

15Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.

16Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

17Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

18Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.

19And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

20It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

21But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

22And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Episcopal Church fires 61 Central Valley priests

Episcopal Church fires 61 Central Valley priests

May 27, 2009 10:45am

Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb (CVBT file photo)

• Says they quit when they aligned with conservative group
• ‘It is a sad day’
The Episcopal Church has fired, or in its words “deposed,” 61 priests and deacons in the Central Valley who followed former Bishop John David Schofield when he rebuked the national church and aligned with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, a conservative group based in South America.

“I find the actions I was forced to take last Friday and Tuesday to be heartbreaking,” says the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin in written comments Wednesday. “I have known a few of these clergy personally and others by the stories I have heard about their ministry. But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church.”
Mr. Schofield was deposed in March 2008.

He and the various priests and deacons objected to the Episcopal Church’s ordination of gays to the priesthood among other things, "refusing to recognize the authority of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and of the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church," as the church puts it.

The clergy who have been fired had six months to deny their abandonment, recant, or renounce their ministry in the Episcopal Church, according to the diocese.

“They declined to ask for a release from their ordination vows, and I had no option but to bring the charges of ‘Abandonment of the Communion’ to the Standing Committee last year and take these final steps today,” says Mr. Lamb. “It is a sad day.”
Note: Bolds added...........Arsenio.

The Food Pyramid

The Vegan Food Pyramid

Vegan with Soul and in the Tropics: Two Cookbooks (and Recipes!)

Vegan with Soul and in the Tropics: Two Cookbooks (and Recipes!)

by Esther Sung
on 04/22/09 at 07:45 AM

As a former quasi-vegetarian, I never quite got the hang of consuming processed meat substitutes like tempeh and seitan. I understand that texture is an important part of the eating experience for many people, myself included, but if I wanted chicken fingers or sausage, I'd go for the real deal, not a vegan imitation of it. But that's just me. Factor in a mild allergy to soy, and I'm eating mostly whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables. A vegan, perhaps, I was not meant to be? But in my quest to give a vegan-ish diet a second chance, I picked up Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry (Da Capo) and The Tropical Vegan Kitchen: Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Dishes from the Tropics by Donna Klein (Penguin).

Bryant Terry's recipes dispel the common myth that soul food is heavy, rich, and unhealthy. In fact, soul food can be vegan, light, and healthy. Who ever thought that traditional recipes (with a slight twist) such as Succotash Soup with Garlicky Cornbread Croutons, Pan-Fried Grit Cakes with Caramelized Spring Onions, Garlic, and Thyme, and Chocolate-Pecan Pudding Pie could be vegan? And just for some more soul, Terry lists at least one song to listen to while making the recipe. "Chicken an' Dumplins" by Art Blakey & the Jazz Masters, anyone?

And then there's the culinary tour of tropical countries around the globe in Donna Klein's book. You'll find recipes representing a myriad of nations and regions, including India, Brazil, Taiwan, Costa Rica, and Haiti. Klein's brief descriptions of common tropical fruits such as taro root, chayotes, and chili peppers could have benefited from accompanying images so that anyone unfamiliar with the produce would have an easier shopping experience. (Many of the fruits and vegetables Klein's recipes use can be identified with our visual guides to Latin American and Asian produce.) The recipes had my mouth watering from the start with recipes such Arugula and Star Fruit Salad with Pineapple Vinaigrette, Orange-Glazed Snow Peas with Cardamom, and African-Style Caramelized Ripe Plantains.

Ultimately, I think these two books have recipes that are great for anyone in the following situations: 1) You're not looking to radically alter the way you eat or cook; 2) You want to ease into veganism and want recipes that are a bit more approachable and natural; 3) You're already a vegan but maybe you're looking for recipes with a new angle or point of view. No matter which one describes your situation, Terry and Klein make the transition as painless—and oh-so-delicious—as possible.

Recipes to try from Vegan Soul Kitchen:- Agave-Sweetened Orange-Orange Pekoe Tea-

Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper Sauce-

Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux

Recipes to try from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen:- African Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas-

Belize-Style Sweet Potato Pudding-

Cucumber and Chayote Slaw

Search our recipe database for more delicious vegan recipes.

Interested in another vegan cookbook recommendation? Consider This Crazy Vegan Life.




Where's the Beef? Ghent Goes Vegetarian

By EBEN HARRELL Eben Harrell – Wed May 27, 12:10 pm ET

Last year, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the most useful step ordinary citizens could take to help combat climate change would be to stop eating meat. In Belgium, an entire town is taking his advice to heart. The Flemish city of Ghent has designated every Thursday as "Veggiedag" - Veggie Day - calling for meat-free meals to be served in schools and public buildings, and encouraging vegetarianism among citizens by promoting vegetarian eateries and offering advice on how to follow a herbivorous diet.

Veggie Day is not compulsory, says the city's vice-mayor, Tom Balthazar, because such a draconian measure would be impossible to enforce, even in environmentally friendly Ghent, a picturesque town of 230,000 where bicycles lay scattered against spired churches in the largest car-free city center in Belgium. "We wanted our goal to be easily achievable - it's not hard to skip meat one day a week," he says. "And we wanted it to be something the population could rally behind. If you give people the correct information about meat, it becomes an easy ethical decision." (Watch an interview with PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk.)

According to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, meat production accounts for 18% of annual greenhouse-gas emissions - more than transportation, which accounts for roughly 14%. Each year, millions of acres of rain forest are cleared for cattle ranchers and suppliers of animal feed, further accelerating climate change. Then there are the urgent human-health issues: the world feeds much of its grain to cattle and other animals even as millions of people starve. Those wealthy enough to consume fatty animal products are themselves at higher risk of certain health problems, including heart disease and some cancers. (See pictures of the U.N.'s efforts to feed the people of Uganda.)

For these reasons, says Tobias Leenaert, co-director of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative, a nonprofit funded by the regional Flemish government, "it's almost impossible to be against meat reduction. You can argue against vegetarianism, but not against cutting back on meat." That's a view that is gaining traction among those who hope to reshape meat consumption from an animal rights issue into an environmental and public health one. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, for example, recently spearheaded a "meatless Mondays" campaign in which it and 28 other public health schools run local outreach programs that promote a meat-free start to the week. Germany's federal environment agency issued an advisory earlier this year urging Germans to return to prewar norms of eating meats only on special occasions. And Leenaert says that since Ghent's Veggie Day was launched on May 13, environmental health officers from several other cities - including SÃo Paulo, with a population of 13 million - have expressed interest in mimicking the program.

But instituting such well-intentioned programs can be difficult, as I discovered during a trip to Ghent on its most recent Veggie Day on May 21. While most restaurants owners and residents I spoke to had heard of Veggie Day, few had any plans to embrace the concept. A local rib shack, Amadeus, was doing brisk business, and many people openly ate hot dogs on the street. Wim De Kinder, owner of the upscale Traiteur Grimod delicatessen, said he tried to introduce vegetarian fare two years ago after learning of the environmental cost of livestock production, but he couldn't shift enough product to make it profitable. "I can't be expected to make a loss for the sake of principle, however worthy," he says. (Read "Should We All Be Vegetarians?")

And it's clear that Ghent still has some ways to go in its promotion of a healthy lifestyle, even among the city's enlightened vegetarians. "I already follow a vegetarian diet for health reasons," insists Mareije Vanneck, 29, as she sucks on a cigarette. Lees Molenschot, a 64-year-old pensioner sitting in a local pub, says he eats only one meal a day, and always without meat, before adding, "I start out with a coffee in the morning, then five or six beers during the day, maybe some JÄgermeister, and then at 6 I make a healthy meal of vegetables in olive oil."

But Leenaert of Ethical Vegetarian Alternative says Ghent's public education program is still young. The city council has yet to mail out the 90,000 leaflets it has printed for residents explaining the global benefits of reducing meat consumption, and Veggie Day has yet to roll out in local schools, which will happen when they reconvene in September. He points out that there are historical antecedents for meat-free days, and that it is only recently that people have come to expect meat to be a daily ritual. For centuries in Catholic Europe, for example, citizens forsook meat on Fridays, fast days and Lent. Leenaert, a committed vegan, says governments may have to lay down such restrictions in the coming years as more people in the developing world become wealthy enough to eat meat, but room for livestock diminishes. He hopes, however, that the joint challenges of feeding the world and tackling climate change can be met without curbs on personal choice. "I have big dreams. I dream not of restrictions, but of a critical mass of enlightened citizens who become vegetarians by choice. Maybe that dream starts here in Ghent."


P.S. Bolds added

Global Government

Organizations leading the way towards global government.

  1. The United Nations

  2. The Council on Foreign Relations

  3. The Trilateral Commission

  4. The Bilderbergers Group

  5. The Gorbachev Foundation

  6. The Club of Rome


New World Order (September 11, 1991)



“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”- Romans 12:15


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Power to the Papal: Fiat provides Vatican with specially-equipped Ducato van

Power to the Papal: Fiat provides Vatican with specially-equipped Ducato van

by Noah Joseph on May 5th 2009 at 8:01AM

Pope Benedict XVI's Fiat Ducato Panorama – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Pope may be the Pope but he still needs to get around, which is why there have been so many additions to the Vatican motor pool for us to report on. His predecessor John Paul II may have received a Ferrari Enzo, but after selling his Volkswagen Golf, Benedict XVI has added a Volvo XC90, a BMW X5, a Volkswagen Phaeton W12, and a custom Mercedes G-Class to his serene stable. And now he can add one more, as Fiat has provided the Holy Father with a specially-equipped Ducato Panorama van for his tour of the earthquake-stricken region of Abruzzo in Italy, which also happens to be where the Ducato is made in a joint venture with PSA-Peugeot-Citroen.

The van is painted plain white with the livery of the Italian Civil Defence administration, which is managing the disaster relief, while inside the papal transport has been fitted with white leather sofas for His Holiness and his entourage. The Pope will be riding around Abruzzo to tour the tent camps housing the refugees, a local bassilica damaged by the disaster, and the coordinating headquarters for the relief efforts. Follow the jump for more detials in Fiat's press release, and click on the thumbnails below to view the holy roller in high resolution.

Gallery: The Pope's Disaster Relief Fiat Ducato Panorama

[Source: Fiat]

From Abruzzo a special Fiat Ducato for the visit of the Holy Father

The vehicle to be used by Pope Benedict XVI today for his visit to the areas hit by the earthquake was produced in the largest factory in Abruzzo.

The special version of the Ducato Panorama, manufactured at the Sevel Val di Sangro plant located around one hundred kilometres from L'Aquila, has been provided by Fiat to the Civil Defence for the Pope's transportation.

This initiative continues the collaboration initiated between various Fiat Group companies and the Civil Defence in the first phase of the disaster relief effort to enable a prompt and effective response to various needs arising.

The Ducato will be used to transport the Holy Father to various sites which are symbolic of the recent tragedy in Abruzzo: the tent camp in Onna, the Basilica of Collemaggio, the ruins of the student dormitory and finally the academy of the Guardia di Finanza in Coppito, which is serving as headquarters for the disaster relief effort.

This one-of-a-kind vehicle was specially-equipped for the occasion: A white exterior featuring the insignia of the Civil Defence and a white leather-upholstered interior. This seven seat vehicle (including five seats in the rear in a divan/lounge-style configuration) is equipped with rear-view camera, side footboard and the most advanced systems for safety and low environmental impact.

Sevel, the 50/50 joint venture between Fiat Group and PSA-Peugeot Citroën, began its activities in 1981 and, with 3.8 million vehicles produced to date and nearly six thousand employees, is the largest industrial facility in the Region.

Rome-Turin, 28 April 2009


Black Pope gets questions from WeAreChangeLA

Thank you, Brother T.

I am the vine, ye are the branches

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

John 15:1-8.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Holds Barred: Give it a rest

May 25, 2009 20:22 Updated May 26, 2009 10:13
No Holds Barred: Give it a rest

Last Friday night at our Sabbath table I was asked by one of our esteemed guests, Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey, what I thought of Bergen County's Blue Laws. Roughly stated, the Blue Laws here in one of America's largest shopping mall meccas mandate that the "physical, intellectual and moral good of the community requires a periodic day of rest." All stores, with rare exceptions, are closed on Sunday, America's Sabbath.

I told the governor, a man of sincerity and humility, that the consensus among economists is that the American economic collapse came about through greed, reckless spending and reckless borrowing. What better way to remedy it than to give our citizens a day for saving rather than splurging, suffused with peace rather than clogged with traffic, a day to fill our inner emptiness not through impulse buying but through prayer at church, bike-riding with the kids, or lunching with friends.

At this my friend of 18 years, Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a rising political star, interjected. "But Shmuley, then Bergen County's retailers lose revenue because of all the shoppers who are going to go elsewhere to buy what they need."

It's rare that I disagree with Cory. But here I countered: "President Bush thought that the answer to 9/11 was to encourage, not sacrifice, but shopping (his exact words, on September 20, 2001, were 'Get down to Disney World in Florida. Take your families and enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed.') He is a religious man, but he forgot to remind us to rediscover our spiritual center."

Of all the remedies to American consumer insatiability that so undermined our national character and finances over the past few years, none would be as effective, nor as direct, as simply rediscovering our lost Sabbath. Last year I launched a national drive called "Turn Friday Night into Family Night" for every American family to create a weekly family dinner. Public service announcements featuring celebrities and politicians are already airing on TV, courtesy of the Discovery networks, and thousands of families have signed up (

But beyond a weekly family feast, we need a national Sabbath.

AS A KID growing up in Miami, I often went to the mall with my friends on Sundays. It was weird, standing around looking for things to do, at best grabbing a movie. Thankfully, I was never fully bitten by the shopping bug, and I am still bored whenever I go shopping, as every self-respecting man ought to be. Not because I'm less materialistic than the next guy but, having discovered the joys of biking near the Thames when I lived in Oxford, or taking long walks in the woods by our home in New Jersey, I see shopping as a mediocre substitute.

As a parent I have learned that one of the best gifts I can give my children is a love for the outdoors rather than being indoors at a department store where nothing is free.

Every human being begins life experiencing an inner emptiness. The steps taken to fill that void constitute the single greatest determinant of character. The notion that a person's truest self is revealed in the way he spends his 'play' time is anticipated in the Talmud (Eruvin 65b), which declares that a man's character can be tested in three ways: be'kiso, be'koso, u've'kaaso, what he spends his money on, what he says when he is intoxicated, and what provokes him to anger.

But there is a further opinion: Af Be'sahako - also in his play. A person is known by how they use, or abuse, their leisure time. Victor Frankl says in Man's Search for Meaning: "There is a kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within becomes manifest. Such widespread phenomena as alcoholism and juvenile delinquency are not understandable unless we recognize the existential vacuum underlying them…. Sometimes the frustrated will to meaning is vicariously compensated for by a will to power, including the most primitive form of the will to power, the will to money." Or, in the case of modern America, the will to spend money. In this, Frankl was prophetic. Studies show that the number one cure for depression in America is to go shopping.

SUMMING UP the negative consequences of inactivity and how this can lead to toxic greed, the ancient rabbis declared: "When there is nothing to do, you do what you ought not do." How sad that a country with a heritage as noble as the United States' has been reduced to finding meaning through material acquisition.

I recognize, of course, that an economy needs people to consume, and that stores need people to shop. But given the wasteful ways that have not only eviscerated our national treasury but also made Americans into caricatures of material indulgence, a spiritual renaissance is called for.

I believe in the tension of the weekdays. Inner pressure leads to external action and internal unease motivates us to maximize our professional achievement. But I believe equally that if that tension and effort is not balanced by a day of peace and communal sharing, our lives will fall into a state of toxic imbalance. We will lurch from being a country of great wealth to a country staring bankruptcy in the eye. And not just financial bankruptcy, but the far more insidious personal bankruptcy of empty lives, devoid of purpose and meaning.

No wonder then that all work and no play makes Johnnie a dull (and broke) boy.

Rabbi Boteach launches his newest book, The Blessing of Enough: Becoming Materially Satisfied and Spiritually Hungry, on June 1. Twitter: RabbiShmuley

Note: Bolds and Highlights added for emphasis................... Arsenio.

World Agenda: EU prepares to welcome President Tony Blair

From Times Online
May 22, 2009

(John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

Mr Blair has become the top candidate while diplomatically showing little interest in the post

David Charter in Brussels
One by one, the field of names to become the first president of the EU is slowly clearing, leaving a certain Middle East envoy as favourite for the job.

Should the Irish vote “yes” to the Lisbon treaty at the second time of asking, thus creating the new presidential role, Tony Blair is well placed to benefit. He still enjoys powerful support among the 27 EU leaders and is said by those around him to be interested in a return to European politics as their convener and global representative.

There would appear to be two obstacles: the Irish and Angela Merkel.

Mr Blair has become the top candidate while diplomatically showing little interest in the post. Behind the scenes, however, he has kept in touch with his main sponsors around the EU table: Nicolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, Gordon Brown and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, with whom he dines regularly.

Mr Sarkozy originally had two favourites for the new permanent post of President of the European Council – Mr Blair and Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who also chairs the “euro group” of the 16 single-currency countries.

Mr Juncker was a serious rival to Mr Blair because he attracted support from Germany, too, which has always wanted a “true European” in the post — that is, someone whose country used the euro and did not keep opting out of EU initiatives.

Mr Juncker has fallen badly out of favour with Mr Sarkozy, however, not least by grumbling about the French President’s brazen attempts to hijack the euro group. He is out of the running as far as Mr Sarkozy is concerned.

Ms Merkel was also keen on Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, who let it be known some time ago that he wanted to work on a bigger stage. But along came the Secretary-General post at Nato and — despite complaints from Turkey over the Dane’s handling of the Prophet Muhammed cartoon crisis — Mrs Merkel was key in persuading President Obama to accept Mr Rasmussen.

With these two out of the way, there seems no obvious alternative to Mr Blair. Furthermore, his role as Middle East envoy for the Quartet has gone some way to restoring his reputation after his support for the invasion of Iraq angered many Europeans.

The new post replaces the rotating presidential role taken by the leader of whichever of the 27 EU nations is chosen to organise the agenda for the next six months. It is supposed to give continuity for countries such as China and Russia, who are said to be bemused that the leadership changes so often and between different political persuasions.

The latest six-month presidency, held by the Czechs, is widely said to have reinforced the need for greater permanency. It has been a disaster in PR and continuity terms, with the Government of Mirek Topolánek being ousted after a vote of no confidence on the eve of the G20 summit, leading to a caretaker administration running both the Czech Republic and the agenda of the EU.

Then there is the eccentric behaviour of the eurosceptic Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, who calls the EU the new Communism and rejects the possibility of man-made climate change — despite the need for a major policy drive towards a CO2 deal at Copenhagen later this year.

No one is keener on a permanent EU president than Mrs Merkel, but she has yet to make clear what kind of president she wants. Some senior figures in Berlin would prefer a lower-key candidate than Mr Blair, who might outshine the leader of the EU’s largest power. But others seem to think that only someone of Mr Blair’s star quality should be considered.

Berlin and Paris will liaise to make sure they get the president they want and one key policy difference is looming which could wreck Mr Blair’s chances. As Prime Minister he was instrumental in relaunching Turkey’s application for EU membership in 2005. Since then the French and Germans have become increasing hostile, with Mr Sarkozy openly talking about Europe’s natural borders stopping well before the Bosphorus.

Mr Blair could neutralise this issue — no one, not even Turkey’s most fervent supporters, envisages it joining in the next five years, the maximum possible length of the first EU president’s mandate.

Does Mr Blair want it? He has said nothing directly about it, but in an interview with The Times in January he was asked: “When will you feel real frustration if you don’t see real progress?” He answered: “Probably this time next year.” It was a hint that he was thinking of moving on — just when EU leaders want their president to start. If the Irish play ball.

There is one candidate who would certainly rival Mr Blair if she ran, and that is Mrs Merkel herself. Her fate, and the future career of Mr Blair, rests with German voters in the autumn.


Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

May 24, 2009

Billionaire club in bid to curb overpopulation

America's richest people meet to discuss ways of tackling a 'disastrous' environmental, social and industrial threat

John Harlow, Los Angeles

SOME of America’s leading billionaires have met secretly to consider how their wealth could be used to slow the growth of the world’s population and speed up improvements in health and education.

The philanthropists who attended a summit convened on the initiative of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, discussed joining forces to overcome political and religious obstacles to change.

Described as the Good Club by one insider it included David Rockefeller Jr, the patriarch of America’s wealthiest dynasty, Warren Buffett and George Soros, the financiers, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and the media moguls Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey.

These members, along with Gates, have given away more than £45 billion since 1996 to causes ranging from health programmes in developing countries to ghetto schools nearer to home.

Related Links
Climate change 'biggest threat to human health'
Bill Gates funds unorthodox research

They gathered at the home of Sir Paul Nurse, a British Nobel prize biochemist and president of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan on May 5. The informal afternoon session was so discreet that some of the billionaires’ aides were told they were at “security briefings”.

Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said the summit was unprecedented. “We only learnt about it afterwards, by accident. Normally these people are happy to talk good causes, but this is different – maybe because they don’t want to be seen as a global cabal,” he said.

Some details were emerging this weekend, however. The billionaires were each given 15 minutes to present their favourite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an “umbrella cause” that could harness their interests.

The issues debated included reforming the supervision of overseas aid spending to setting up rural schools and water systems in developing countries. Taking their cue from Gates they agreed that overpopulation was a priority.

This could result in a challenge to some Third World politicians who believe contraception and female education weaken traditional values.

Gates, 53, who is giving away most of his fortune, argued that healthier families, freed from malaria and extreme poverty, would change their habits and have fewer children within half a generation.

At a conference in Long Beach, California, last February, he had made similar points. “Official projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion [up from 6.6 billion today] but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive healthcare, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion,” Gates said then.

Patricia Stonesifer, former chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives more than £2 billion a year to good causes, attended the Rockefeller summit. She said the billionaires met to “discuss how to increase giving” and they intended to “continue the dialogue” over the next few months.

Another guest said there was “nothing as crude as a vote” but a consensus emerged that they would back a strategy in which population growth would be tackled as a potentially disastrous environmental, social and industrial threat.

“This is something so nightmarish that everyone in this group agreed it needs big-brain answers,” said the guest. “They need to be independent of government agencies, which are unable to head off the disaster we all see looming.”

Why all the secrecy? “They wanted to speak rich to rich without worrying anything they said would end up in the newspapers, painting them as an alternative world government,” he said.

Get Ready For: "Is Sonia Sotomayor A Bad Catholic?"

Get Ready For: "Is Sonia Sotomayor A Bad Catholic?"

Tuesday May 26, 2009

First published May 5, 2009

From a raw political point of view, it's hard to top Sonia Sotomayor to be Obama's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. She's Hispanic, a key group that Obama won over and must keep. She's a woman and, though liberal, was appointed by a Republican.

I haven't been able to determine whether she's Catholic, but she's Puerto Rican (most of whom are Catholic) and went to Catholic schools as a child.There already are five Catholics on the court but they're all conservative so they haven't been attacked for being bad Catholics (i.e. being pro-choice despite the church's teaching).

But pro-choice Catholics face a different obstacle course. As John Kerry and Kathleen Sebelius can attest, if you're a pro-choice Catholic, you will be challenged not only on whether you're a good public official but also whether you're a good Catholic.

If Sonia Sotomayor is Catholic, and pro-choice, we may get a wave of discussion about whether the Supreme Court justice should be denied communion.


If there are 5 Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court already:
How on God's green Earth could any Constitutional Congress approve of "6" Roman Catholic, Supreme Court Judges in a court of only 9? How?

Here's a doosy for those of you who are keeping count: If you divide 6 into 9 you get: 666!


Sonia Sotomayor Already Being Blasted

Sonia Sotomayor Already Being Blasted

Let the labeling begin. One of the leading and most influential conservative judicial groups is calling President Obama's Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor, a "liberal judicial activist". Read below from Wendy E. Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network:

"Judge Sotomayor is a liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written. She thinks that judges should dictate policy, and that one's sex, race, and ethnicity ought to affect the decisions one renders from the bench.

"She reads racial preferences and quotas into the Constitution, even to the point of dishonoring those who preserve our public safety. On September 11, America saw firsthand the vital role of America's firefighters in protecting our citizens. They put their lives on the line for her and the other citizens of New York and the nation. But Judge Sotomayor would sacrifice their claims to fair treatment in employment promotions to racial preferences and quotas. The Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision.

"She has an extremely high rate of her decisions being reversed, indicating that she is far more of a liberal activist than even the current liberal activist Supreme Court."

President Obama makes his pick at 10:15am eastern time this morning from The East Room of The White House....

Initiatl analysis: Sotomayor has tons of experience as a federal judge and the fact that she was nominated by a Republican President in 1991 and confirmed by half of Republicans as a Circuit Court Judge in 1998 will provide some cover for the White House. Additional cover will come because it may be tough for Republican Senators to vote AGAINST an Hispanic for the highest court in the land especially considering the GOP is already in a world of hurt with hispanics on immigration.

Having said all that, get ready for the Sotomayor Youtube close up. The White House is going to have its hands full with the following clip. Watch here. To conservatives, this screams "judicial activist". Another problem may be the fact that because Sotomayor has quite a bit of experience, that means she's written many, many decisions. More potential amunition.

Fianlly, watch conservative groups try and tie Sotomayor's "liberalism" to President Obama and make him pay a political price for nominating her. He may get her through because he has the numbers in the Senate but his poll numbers showing him as a centrist may take a hit. Keep an eye on Gallup.

The Brody File has also been alerted to the fact that she is a practicing Catholic. More details on that to come. Keep it here.

posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 9:09 AM


Obama to pick Sotomayor for Supreme Court

President to announce his first Supreme Court choice later Tuesday

Obama picks Sotomayor for Supreme CourtMay 26: President Obama will nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
NBC News

updated 14 minutes ago

A formal announcement is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. ET in the East Room of the White House.

Obama had said publicly he wanted a justice who combined intellect and empathy — the ability to understand the troubles of everyday Americans.

Democrats hold a large majority in the Senate, and barring the unexpected, Sotomayor's confirmation should be assured.

If approved, she would join Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second woman on the current court.

Sotomayor is a self-described "Newyorkrican" who grew up in a Bronx housing project after her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. She has dealt with diabetes since age 8 and lost her father at age 9, growing up under the care of her mother in humble surroundings. As a girl, inspired by the Perry Mason television show, she knew she wanted to be a judge.

A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, a former prosecutor and private attorney, Sotomayor became a federal judge for the Southern District of New York in 1992. She became an appeals judge in 1998 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which covers New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

As a judge, she has a bipartisan pedigree. She was first appointed by a Republican, President George H.W. Bush, then named an appeals judge by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

At her Senate confirmation hearing more than a decade ago, she said, "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it."

Notable rulings
In one of her most memorable rulings as federal district judge, Sotomayor essentially salvaged baseball in 1995, ruling with players over owners in a labor strike that had led to the cancellation of the World Series.

As an appellate judge, she sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case brought by white firefighters after the city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough. Ironically, that case is now before the Supreme Court.

Obama's nomination is the first by a Democratic president in 15 years.

His announcement also leaves the Senate four months — more than enough by traditional standards — to complete confirmation proceedings before the Court begins its next term in the fall.

Republican intentions
Republicans have issued conflicting signals about their intentions. While some have threatened filibusters if they deemed Obama's pick too liberal, others have said that is unlikely.

Sonia Sotomayor biography

Name: Sonia Sotomayor
Age-Birthdate-Location: 54; June 25, 1954; New York, N.Y.

Experience: Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1998-present; judge, U. S. District Court Southern District of New York, 1992-1998; private practice, New York City, 1984-1992; assistant district attorney, New York County, 1979-1984

Education: B.A., Princeton University, 1976; J.D., Yale Law School, 1979.

Quote: "I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it." — during a 1997 nomination hearing.

Given Sotomayor's selection, any decision to filibuster would presumably carry political risks — Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population and an increasingly important one politically.

One conservative group did not wait for the formal announcement. Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network, issued a statement calling Sotomayor a "liberal judicial activist of the first order who thinks her own personal political agenda is more important that the law as written."

Abortion rights have been a flashpoint in several recent Supreme Court confirmations, although Sotomayor has not authored any controversial rulings on the subject.

Sotomayor's elevation to the appeals court was elayed by Republicans, in part out of concerns she might someday be selected for the Supreme Court. She was ultimately confirmed for the appeals court in 1998 on a 68-28 vote, gathering some Republican support.

Among those voting against her was Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that will hold sway over her confirmation.

Now, more than a decade later, Sotomayor possesses credentials Sessions said he wanted in a pick for the high court — years of experience on the bench.

Obama had talked openly about the upside of choosing someone outside the judiciary — every single current justice is a former federal appeals court judge — but passed on at least two serious candidates who had never been judges.

Latina heritage
Sotomayor has spoken openly about her pride in being Latina, and that personal experiences "affect the facts that judges choose to see."

"I simply do not know exactly what the difference will be in my judging," she said in a speech in 2002. "But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."

From the moment Souter announced his resignation, it was widely assumed Obama would select a woman to replace him, and perhaps a Hispanic as well.

Others known to have been considered included federal appeals judge Diane Wood, who was a colleague of the president's at the University of Chicago law school, as well as two members of his administration, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Solicitor General-nominee Elena Kagan.

If confirmed, Sotomayor is unlikely to alter the ideological balance of the court, since Souter generally sides with the so-called liberals on key 5-4 rulings.

But at 54, she is a generation younger that Souter, and liberal outside groups hope she would provide a counterpoint to some of the sharply worded conservative rulings.

Check back for more on this developing story.

Possible Supreme Court Justice picks...A rose is a rose!

University of Oxford
Coat of Arms
Inscription in book:
Dominus Illuminatio Mea

* Sonia Sotomayor, 54, a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Sotomayor, a graduate of Yale Law, would be a hit with two political constituencies given her Hispanic heritage. Her ruling against baseball's owners ended a long-running player strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series.

* Elena Kagan, 49, is the solicitor general, appointed by Obama to argue cases before the Supreme Court, and a former dean of the Harvard Law School. She served as associate counsel to President Bill Clinton and as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and taught at the University of Chicago Law School, where Obama also taught.

* Diane Wood, 58, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, also knows Obama from teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. She has been targeted at times by conservative groups for her defense of abortion rights, creating a potentially difficult confirmation process. She served in the Justice Department's Antitrust Division during the Clinton administration.

* Jennifer Granholm, 50, governor of Michigan, is a Harvard Law graduate and former attorney general who is a Democratic Party star but whose popularity at home has been hammered by the state's difficult economic conditions.

* Janet Napolitano, 51, is homeland security secretary and the former governor of Arizona. A former state attorney general and U.S. attorney for Arizona, she is a former corporate lawyer and was on the team that represented Anita Hill at the the contentious 1991 confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.

* Carlos Moreno, 60, is the only man included on the early White House list. A former Los Angeles city attorney and U.S. District Court judge, he was appointed to the California Supreme Court in 2001 and is often seen as the court's most liberal voice. He supported the court's 4-3 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The White House says other candidates are also under consideration. Here are some other frequently mentioned possibilities:

* Kathleen Sullivan, 53, director of Stanford's Constitutional Law Center, is a strong abortion rights advocate and a former dean of Stanford Law School. She would be the first openly gay justice.

* Leah Ward Sears, 53, is chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and the first black woman to serve as a state chief justice in the United States.

* Deval Patrick, 52, governor of Massachusetts, is a friend of Obama's and an assistant attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department. The second elected black governor in the United States once worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund but he has had his share of political troubles at home. Continued...



P.S. Some particulars about these candidates:

* Sonia Sotomayor, graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School

* Elena Kagan, attended Oxford University (The University of Oxford is a member of the Russell Group of research-led British universities.....For more than a century, it has served as the home of the Rhodes Scholarship,)

* Diane Wood, professor of law at Georgetown University from 1980 to 1981

* Jennifer Granholm, Roman Catholic (Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

* Janet Napolitano, She graduated from Santa Clara University (Jesuit)

Source of all these stats: Wikipedia

The question is: What do they all have in common?

Will Obama pick a rose from the bunch or what?