Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Auburn SDA Church hosted a Lent Service - "Pastor Arnold Parungao, a Catholic Priest, spoke at our church"

April 2014

Community Newsletter

Because we believe Jesus is returning our mission is to attract and grow passionate followers of Jesus, through worship, relationships and service

 On March 19, 2014, Auburn SDA Church hosted a Lent ServiceLent is a time when we take a careful look at our lives and our relationship with God. This service is part of a series built around the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The sermons are being given by various pastors of different denominations around town.

On March 5th Pastor Dan spoke at the service at the St.Teresa Church. On March 19th Associate Pastor Arnold Parungao, a Catholic Priest, spoke at our church.

Pastor Arnold spoke on steps 6 and 7 of the 12-Step Program, which are Willingness to have God remove our defects of character, and Humility before God. Close to 300 members heard Pastor Arnold give a stirring sermon. The Lent series is another outreach to foster improved community relations and share with Auburn what the Auburn SDA Church is all about.

Inside this Issue:
Pg 1 -Lenten Service
Pg 2 - Sermon Notes, Church Birthdays, Health Bites, Upcoming Events
Pg 3- Jan’s Healthy Recipes, Church Contacts, Cartoon
Pg 4- Poem – Wall Of Partition


An Afghan Village Of Drug Addicts, From Ages 10 To 60

by Renee Montagne
April 30, 2014 3:31 AM ET

Listen to the Story
Morning Edition

8 min 44 sec

David P. Gilkey/NPR

David P. Gilkey/NPR

David P. Gilkey/NPR

David P. Gilkey/NPR

David P. Gilkey/NPR

Herat is one of the most graceful cities in Afghanistan. Its traditions go back to the Persian empire, with its exquisite blue and green glass, and its thriving poetry scene.

Now Herat is struggling with a darker side: drug addiction at a higher rate than almost anywhere else in the country.

In a dusty ravine on the outskirts of the city, Ahmad, a scruffy 20-year-old, is striking a match to inhale heroin.

It's a simple act he repeats throughout his day — heating a dark slab of heroin paste smeared on a bit of foil so he can smoke it.

Ahmad is one of hundreds of addicts who have turned a dumping ground for building material into a village. A drug village.

They used chunks of cement and tarps to honeycomb the ravine with what look like stone igloos.

Ahmad's mother, Zahra, leans against some rocks in front of their place. Her flat, gold eyes peer at us from beneath a plaid veil as she tells her story

"I used to weave carpets and also worked as a maid," she says. "Then my husband got cancer and died."

Zahra's life spiraled downward, hitting bottom when her sister-in-law returned from Iran and offered her heroin.

Now, Zahra says, "I can't do anything except beg on the street."

We pull back a red cloth to find another woman, Zahra's sister, blinking up into the light. In the center of this tiny space is a cooking area — not for food, but for heroin.

There's also a small figure moaning and moving restlessly under a filthy blue burka.

"That's my daughter," says Zahra.

She's 10, and she's hooked on heroin too.

How did such a young girl become addicted?

"When we had my sister-in-law living with us, she was addicted," says Zahra. "I would go out to other homes to do housekeeping. And my little girl Laila used to cry a lot. So my sister-in-law gave the child opium to calm her down — that's when she became an addict."

Zahra says her daughter has already gone through rehab at a clinic in the city.
But back in this drug village, the 10-year-old became addicted once again.

Few Resources To Combat Drugs

In a white-tiled office, Dr. Ezmaray Hassin runs several clinics in Herat, and he says one of them serves children as young as 4. There are an estimated 70,000 drug users here now, he says.

"There's no doubt that Afghanistan is one of the largest producers of poppy, but historically they have never been drug users," Dr. Hassin says. But more than three decades of war, which has displaced millions of Afghans, has created all sorts of upheavals, he says.

"A lot of people travel to the neighboring countries, and they got to know about narcotics and they become addicted," he adds. "And the one country that's closest to Herat is Iran."

Saleh (from left), 25, Mohammed Ibrahim, 31, and Nisar Ahmed, 23, sit in a drug rehabilitation center on the outskirts of Herat. Opium grown in Afghanistan has long been smuggled through Herat on its way to Iran and to the West. Now Herat has many drug addicts of its own. David P. Gilkey/NPR

Iran has long had one of the highest rates of drug addiction in the world. Heroin is widely used in Iran, but recently there has been a dramatic rise in the use of crystal meth.

Sitting on a bed in this clinic in Herat is Saleh, 25, who tells a story we hear again and again, from migrants and refugees who've returned from Iran with addictions.

A few years ago, he crossed the border into Iran to look for work.

"I was in Iran and I was digging wells," he begins. "Then my legs would really, really hurt, really bad. Basically it started with opium first to treat my legs — to kill the pain. And then over time I went to heroin. Then the problem became that every time I did not use heroin my legs even would hurt more. So I had to use."

Relatively speaking, Saleh is among the lucky ones. There are just 250 beds devoted to drug treatment in all of Herat.

The city's top counternarcotics officer is Faquil Gul Amini, whose office in the center of Herat is protected by trucks with mounted machine guns.

Amini's resources are limited, and the challenge is growing with the arrival of a drug he'd never seen before a couple of years ago: crystal meth, which is known in Persian as shisheh, or glass.

Amini says he has just raided meth labs in Herat and arrested a Breaking Bad kind of guy from Iran. But he has no illusions about the magnitude of the battle he faces.

"I'm afraid to say when it comes to the list of priorities for the government to deal with, the issue of drug addicts, I'm afraid to say, it's below zero," he said.

Which is why this village outside the city is full of addicts. On a hot day you can see a constant flow of men walking up and down on a path crunchy with broken glass.

They are going nowhere.

A self-proclaimed poet and scholar, Haji Ismatullah blows smoke out after taking a hit of crystal meth. He says he turned to drugs after his wife and kids were killed in a car accident. David P. Gilkey/NPR

Those who are on crystal meth are easy to spot. One we encounter has the air of a 60-something hipster. A trim gray beard. A black leather jacket. A tattoo on his hand spelling love.

His name is Haji Ismatullah, and the young men clustered around him call out, "He's a writer."

As evidence, he opens a notebook filled with elegant Persian script in red and black.

"I say poetry for the people here," he says. "For the pain of the people."

Ismatullah says he began using crystal meth after his wife and three children were killed in a car accident.

"My heart was hurting a lot after the accident when I lost my family," he says. "Some people told me if you take meth it makes you forget things. And there's a lot in Herat, so I took it."

For the first few months, it did help, he says. But, he adds with a cackle, "After that, it does not help me because it's not a good friend."

Still, Ismatullah would like some meth right now.

As we walk with him to his place, a young woman who carries herself like a dancer comes toward us. The men see her and laugh. She has lost her mind, she's crazy, they say.

She does in fact call herself by the name of a famous Iranian singer and seems to think she's on stage. Decked out in a magenta cape, turquoise beads and a turban, she tosses her head dramatically and with a kind of wild beauty.

Then she spins away, just as we reach the dwelling of Ismatullah, which resembles a stone igloo.

A man walks past a fresh grave in the Kamar Kulagh slum outside of Herat. David P. Gilkey/NPR

He goes inside the tiny place and smokes crystal meth in a glass pipe.

Afterward, he's ready to wander again, so we walk to the top of a hill to a makeshift cemetery. He takes us to a fresh grave marked by a small mound of rocks. There lies his friend Baluchi, who died two days before.

It's a moment that brings to mind a question we put earlier to a man named Mohammed, who has been residing in this drug village for six months. I asked him how he sees his future. "Look at my life, this life," he said. "The end for us is death. That's what we're waiting for."


Gay-rights group opening offices in 3 Southern states

Dustin Barnes, USA TODAY 3:21 a.m. EDT April 27, 2014

(Photo: Danny Johnston, AP)

JACKSON, Miss. — The nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization is setting up shop in the South, announcing plans to establish field offices in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The Human Rights Campaign said the new $8.5 million campaign, called Project One America, is focusing on these states because they lack nondiscrimination protections for LGBT residents in the areas of employment and housing.

"The opportunities for progress couldn't be clearer, and the need couldn't be greater," said Brad Clark, director of the new initiative.

Joce Pritchett and her partner of 10 years, Carla Webb, are raising two children in Jackson, location of one of the new field offices. Pritchett carried the couple's two children, but Webb was the egg donor in both pregnancies.

"They're her biological children," Pritchett said, referring to Grace, 5, and Ethan, 20 months. "But in Mississippi, the laws are antiquated. According to them, I'm their birth mother. She has no legal rights."

STORY: 12 states still ban sodomy a decade after court ruling
STORY: Gay rights group angry at White House press secretary

In spite of the lack of legal protections, the couple has remained in the state because it's their home, Pritchett said.

"What I'm personally hoping (HRC Mississippi) will be able to do is help bridge part of the divide in the state," Pritchett said, pointing out that the diversity of the state's LGBT residents has resulted in fractures among the community.

Often people in the South have faced discriminatory laws. We’re not at the place where other states are.-

Former Arkansas state legislator Kathy Webb said HRC's clout will have a large impact, particularly on residents in more rural parts of the same state where the organization's president, Chad Griffin, grew up. Griffin is the first Southerner to head the Washington-based group.

Having an established office and people on the ground working with Arkansas' LGBT residents can bring significant change, she said.

"Often people in the South have faced discriminatory laws," Kathy Webb said. "We're not at the place where other states are."

Serving as Arkansas' first openly gay legislator, Webb said her career is a testament to how minds can change.

Bryson Pickens, a longtime central Mississippi resident and transgender male, said he hopes the offices will bring more attention to the lack of resources to members of the transgender community in his state.

And though he's noticed the attitudes toward gay and lesbian Mississippians changing in the state, Pickens said the transgendered community still worries about the general population's close mindedness.

"A lot of transgendered people are afraid of coming out," he said. "This is an at-will state, and they're afraid of losing their jobs, their livelihoods."

The lack of legal protections for LGBT residents in the South also highlights the growing gap on these issues.

"Right now, this country is deeply divided into two Americas, one where LGBT equality is nearly a reality and the other where LGBT people lack the most fundamental measures of equal citizenship," Griffin said. "Project One America is an unparalleled effort to close that gap, and it opens up a bold, new chapter in the civil-rights movement of this generation. In this grand struggle for equality, we can't write off anyone, anywhere."

As Pickens said, "It shows that somebody's listening and cares what we're going through."

Dustin Barnes also reports for The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.


Do away with dumb diplomacy

Apr. 29, 2014

A book street vendor passes the time on her smartphone as she waits for customers in Havana, Cuba. The Obama administration secretly financed a social network in Cuba to stir political unrest and undermine the country's communist government, according to an Associated Press investigation. / AP file photo

Written by
Lionel Beehner

I had to laugh when I heard about the U.S. Agency for International Development's botched effort to create a Twitter-like platform for Cuba intended to undermine the communist regime. Even the name -- ZunZuneo -- to the State Department's credit, sounded like something cooked up in Silicon Valley, not Foggy Bottom.

But it sparks the question: Why are we dumping millions of taxpayer dollars on such dumb programs in the first place?

To be sure, there is a need for outside-of-the-box thinking when it comes to diplomacy, which has always involved overt and covert tactics. And, as anybody who has seen the movie Argo knows, not all hare-brained schemes fail.

But our dependence on covert forms of public diplomacy can feel like an admission that our normal diplomacy has failed (see the past five decades of U.S.-Cuban relations).

It also implies we can do diplomacy on the cheap and painless. There is this dogma within the U.S. government that throwing a few million dollars at social media programs can topple nasty regimes -- just look at Tunisia or Egypt.

That the new undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, Richard Stengel, was the managing editor of Time when the magazine declared its 2006 Person of the Year was "You" -- implying the tweeting masses -- does not bode well for reform.

Cultural warriors

"The State Department's fascination with social media reflects a view that its job is to speak over the heads of governments, or under their heads, or something," as Laurence Pope, a former ambassador, put it in a recent interview. "That is a dangerous illusion."

Sure, spending millions on programs aimed at winning hearts and minds is better than, say, invading a country. And there is obvious value in squashing news stories -- say, an American pastor burning Qurans -- before they spread virally.

ut we can do better when it comes to selling our values and promoting democracy abroad.

During the Cold War, such information campaigns were an embedded part of our national security apparatus. Voice of America reached more than 94 million people during its heyday. We sent jazz impresarios like Duke Ellington to Eastern bloc countries to showcase American culture.

But such kinds of diplomacy got downgraded after the Berlin Wall fell. When democracy promotion came back into vogue after 9/11, we saw a string of failed propaganda efforts to win over the Arab world.

My first freelance job out of graduate school in 2002 was to write copy for Hi!! magazine, a U.S. government-funded glossy magazine in Arabic meant to portray us in a positive light to the Muslim world. The trouble is I was told not to write about religion, sex or politics, which left me writing puff pieces. No wonder the magazine folded a few years later.

We also set up Alhurra, a pro-U.S. network alternative to Al Jazeera. But the channel's legitimacy took a hit after refusing to interview anyone, including members of Hezbollah, whose views Washington found offensive.

Hip-hop diplomacy
Or consider our use of "hip-hop diplomacy," whereby Washington dispatches hip-hop artists to talk up American inclusiveness to disaffected Muslim youths as a way to prevent future 9/11s. But our cultural diplomacy only ticked off our European allies, who felt we were downplaying the musical genre's role in stoking radical Islam, and sparked a backlash within the hip-hop community itself, according to Columbia University's Hisham Aidi.

With a new kind of Cold War with Russia, there are renewed calls for revitalizing public diplomacy. One ambassador, Brian Carlson, proposed grants for Ukrainians to study politics here and call them "Putin Scholarships." Instead the U.S. government has busied itself with online trolling and tweeting Buzzfeed-like listicles such as "President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine."

It's not that we should do away with public diplomacy or even that we should do away with covert public diplomacy, but rather we should do away with dumb public diplomacy, especially one enraptured by the magic of tweeting ambassadors and other quick technological fixes.

If we couldn't dislodge the Castro regime after 50 years, how will we dislodge it in 140 characters or less?

Lionel Beehner, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale, is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.


U.S. Economy Barely Grew in First Quarter


Wednesday, April 30, 2014 8:37 AM EDT

The American economy slowed drastically in the first quarter of 2014, as wintry weather depressed corporate spending and housing sector activity, while smaller additions to inventories by farmers and businesses also held back growth.

At an annualized rate of 0.1 percent, the pace of expansion in January, February and March was the weakest since the fourth quarter of 2012, when output barely grew at all. It also represented a sharp deceleration from the level of growth recorded in the second half of 2013, when the economy expanded at a 3.4 percent rate.

The first-quarter pace also fell well short of the 1.2 percent rate of growth expected by Wall Street economists before the Commerce Department announcement Wednesday morning.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

David Wilkerson Prophecy (New York 1000 fires burning)

Revival House

Uploaded on Sep 16, 2011

David Wilkerson Prophecy (New York 1000 fires burning)


Revival House Fellowship is a Moncton, NB, House Church which is Cross centered and Spirit filled. Be sure to check out our website for more Christian resource material at

David Ray Wilkerson (May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011)[1] was an American Christian evangelist, best known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York of evangelical doctrine and practice, in which more than 100 nationalities were represented.[2]

Source: (Bio)

What do they have in common?

What does the current president of Russia have in common with two Titans of Russia's early Communist past?

Besides, a fervent lust for power....

They all have names (or nicknames) that end with 'in'.

Lenin and Stalin are long gone...  and are out
While, Putin is still around...       and unquestionably 'in'.

Lenin, born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870 – 21 January 1924.

Stalin, born Ioseb Besarionis Dze Jugashvili 
18 December 1878[1] – 5 March 1953. 

Putin, born Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
 7 October 1952

Credits: (Photos, etc.)


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Scriptwriters


Published on Apr 20, 2012

Elder Bob Trefz explains what has happened to Protestant America and the General Conference Corporation of SDAs.

Part 2:

Where's James D. Standish now?

If you wonder where the ex-Deputy Secretary General of IRLA (International Religious Liberty Association) , and previously Executive Director for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is?
Well, where is James D. Standish now?
 He's back in his native Australia!

James D. Standish is communications director for the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as head of news and editorial for RECORD, the official news magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.*

Note: James D. Standish appears on video @ Approx: 9:30.





Adventist Media Network began operations in Australia on 1 July 2006 and is the first communication and media network of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It is responsible for all communication and media needs of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific. These include media ministries, public relations, marketing, design, news dissemination and the production of resources such as books and DVDs.

The Adventist Media Network is the result of a merger of the Adventist Media Centre, the communication and public relations department of the church in the South Pacific and Signs Publishing Company. It is situated at two locations, Warburton, Victoria (Signs Publishing Company) and Wahroonga, New South Wales (Adventist Media Network headquarters)

Adventist Media Network publishes a weekly news-magazine called the Record for church members, a bi-monthly magazine called Edge targeted towards the youth and a monthly lifestyle magazine, Signs of the Times (Australian version).[15] 


Emergency crews searching for survivors after tornadoes kill at least 18 in central US


Published April 28, 2014

April 27, 2014: An official says two people are dead after a tornado hit Quapaw, Okla.Courtesy Justin Clarke

Emergency officials and rescue crews are searching for survivors after a powerful storm system moved through the central and southern United States Sunday, spawning multiple tornadoes that killed at least 18 people.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management confirmed early Monday that at least sixteen people died in Little Rock, Ark., when a twister carved an 80-mile path of destruction through suburbs north of the state capital.

Brandon Morris, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said crews were sifting through the rubble Monday in the hope of uncovering survivors and to assess the full extent of the destruction.

"Right now, the main focus is life safety," Morris said. "We're trying to make sure everyone is accounted for."

The tornado, which grew to be a half-mile wide, turned buildings into rubble and stripped the leaves and smaller branches off of trees.

"There's just really nothing there anymore. We're probably going to have to start all over again," Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell said early Monday after surveying what had been a $14 million intermediate school set to open this fall.

An Oklahoma county sheriff's dispatcher reported that one person had died in the town of Quapaw, near the state's borders with Kansas and Missouri. Fox News has also confirmed that another person died when a tornado hit Keokuk County, Iowa.

The Arkansas tornado touched down about 10 miles west of Little Rock at around 7 p.m. local time and moved northeastward for at least 30 miles, the National Weather Service reported. It missed the state capital but passed through or near several of its suburbs, causing widespread damage in the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia.

According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, ten of the deaths occurred in Faulkner County, where Mayflower and Vilonia are located. Five more occurred in Pulaski County, and one occurred in White County.

The twister shredded cars, trucks and 18-wheelers stuck along Interstate 40 north of Little Rock. After the storm passed, tractor-trailer rigs tried to navigate through the damage to continue their journeys, while gawkers held smartphones to their windows to offer a grim glimpse of the destruction.

State troopers went vehicle-to-vehicle to check on motorists and said with genuine surprise that no one was killed.

"About 30 vehicles -- large trucks, sedans, pickup trucks -- were going through there when the funnel cloud passed over," said Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police.

Karla Ault, a Vilonia High School volleyball coach, said she sheltered in the school gymnasium as the storm approached. After it passed, her husband told her their home was gone -- reduced to the slab on which it had sat.

"I'm just kind of numb. It's just shock that you lost everything. You don't understand everything you have until you realize that all I've got now is just what I have on," Ault said.

The National Weather Service in North Little Rock said it was virtually certain that the Mayflower and Vilonia storm would be rated as the nation's strongest twister to date this year.

"It has the potential to be EF3 or greater," said meteorologist Jeff Hood. EF3 storms have winds greater than 136 mph. "Based on some of the footage we've seen from Mayflower and where it crossed Interstate 40, things were wrecked in a very significant way."

From communities west of Little Rock to others well north of the capital, emergency workers and volunteers were going door-to-door checking for victims.

"It turned pitch black," said Mark Ausbrooks, who was at his parents' home in Mayflower when the storm arrived. "I ran and got pillows to put over our heads and ... all hell broke loose."

"My parents' home, it's gone completely," he said.

Becky Naylor, of Mayflower, said she and her family went to their storm cellar after hearing that tornado debris was falling in nearby Morgan. Naylor, 57, said there were between 20 and 22 people in the cellar and they were "packed like sardines."

"Everyone is welcome to come into it," she said. "In fact, people were pulling off the highways and were just running in."

She said the men held the cellar doors shut while the tornado's winds tried to rip them open.

"It sounded like a constant rolling, roaring sound," she said. "Trees were really bending and the light poles were actually shaking and moving. That's before we shut the door and we've only shut the door to the storm cellar two times."

The White House issued a statement in which President Barack Obama promised that the federal government would help in the recovery and praised the heroic efforts of first-responders and neighbors.

"Your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild as long as it takes," Obama said.

The Arkansas tornado was one of several that touched down Sunday as a large storm system moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest and South.

Less than two hours before the Arkansas tornado struck, a twister hit the small northeastern Oklahoma community of Quapaw, killing at least one person and injuring six others, Ottawa County sheriff's dispatcher Kelli Soechs said. Earlier Sunday, another Ottawa County sheriff's dispatcher reported that two people were killed. Soechs declined to explain the discrepancy.

Five of the six injured in Quapaw were treated and released from Baptist Regional Health Center in Miami, Okla., said hospital spokeswoman Kristie Wallace. The sixth, who was in fair condition with a broken bone, was kept overnight, she said.

Ottawa County Emergency Management director Joe Dan Morgan said Quapaw, which has about 900 residents, was heavily damaged by the tornado.

"Looks like about half of town got extensive damage as well as the fire department," Morgan said.

After hitting Quapaw, the tornado moved northward into Kansas and struck Baxter Springs, a city of about 4,200 residents about 5 miles away. Cherokee County, Kan., sheriff's dispatcher Josh Harvey said the tornado that hit Baxter Springs injured several people and caused extensive damage, but that no deaths had been reported. He said first responders were going from house to house checking on residents' wellbeing.

Tornadoes also touched down Sunday in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri, including one northwest of Joplin, Mo., where a massive tornado in May 2011 killed 161 people, injured many others and leveled a large swath of the city. Sunday's twister didn't hit Joplin.

The first reported tornado Sunday touched down in a rural area in central in Nebraska. The weather service said it remained on the ground for only a short time, and there were no immediate reports of damage.

Gusts of up to 60 mph were registered during a storm that hit southeastern Iowa on Sunday that damaged several buildings, including a barn that injured someone when it was blown over.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, a strong line of storms moved through west-central Missouri, bringing winds that reached 70 mph hour near Chillicothe, Mo., that toppled some trees.

The Missouri Highway Patrol also reported a tractor-trailer was blown onto its side on Interstate 70 about 30 miles east of Kansas City about 1 p.m. No one was injured. The weather service received a report from Plattsburg, Mo., where an anemometer measured 58 mph before it blew away. Golf ball-sized hail was reported at Overland Park, Kan., and Trimble, Mo.

Sunday was also the third anniversary of a 122-tornado day, which struck parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

The Signs - Ron Spear

Michael Walston

Published on Apr 28, 2011

at Steps to Life

Elder Ron Spear passed away on Friday, February 28th, 2014

Last week I was informed that Pastor Ron Spear had passed away and I was so saddened by his demise. I first met Elder Spear in 2003 in West Palm Beach.  I saw him several times since then in Orlando, Florida, and was so happy when I heard he was retiring in Florida and would support the Eternal Gospel Ministry;  However, he eventually returned to Washington state and I never saw him again.  He was a longtime faithful servant of the Lord, lead many to Christ, and could recite the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy off the top of his head.  I am so fortunate to have known Ron Spear.      
P.S. Pastor Ron Spear introduced me to The Sanctified Life by Ellen G. White.

“The Voice of Truth in Perilous Times”

Elder Ron Spear passed away around 3:30AM on Friday, February 28th, 2014, at his home in Washington state.

Memorial Service plans have been made. The Memorial Service date is March 15, 2014 at the Loon Lake Church in Washington state. Please remember Ron's wife, Carmen, and Ron's family in prayer. Download memorial information. Sign Guestbook!

Respectfully yours,
Dean & Blanca Ferrell

Revelation 14:13, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." -- Sleep in peace brother Ron. Thank you for loving Jesus and sharing His gospel message with so many.

Pastor Ron Spear writes from the state of Washington.

"God brings His people near Him by close, testing trials, by showing them their own weakness and inability, and by teaching them to lean upon Him as their only help and safeguard. Then His object is accomplished. They are prepared to be used in every emergency, to fill important positions of trust, and to accomplish the grand purposes for which their powers were given them. God takes men upon trial; He proves them on the right hand and on the left, and thus they are educated, trained, disciplined. Jesus, our Redeemer, man's representative and head, endured this testing process. He suffered more than we can be called upon to suffer. He bore our infirmities and was in all points tempted as we are. He did not suffer thus on His own account, but because of our sins; and now, relying on the merits of our Overcomer, we may become victors in His name.

God's work of refining and purifying must go on until His servants are so humbled, so dead to self, that, when called into active service, their eye will be single to His glory. He will then accept their efforts; they will not move rashly, from impulse; they will not rush on and imperil the Lord's cause, being slaves to temptations and passions and followers of their own carnal minds set on fire by Satan. Oh, how fearfully is the cause of God marred by man's perverse will and unsubdued temper! How much suffering he brings upon himself by following his own headstrong passions! God brings men over the ground again and again, increasing the pressure until perfect humility and a transformation of character bring them into harmony with Christ and the spirit of heaven, and they are victors over themselves." 4T 8 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Non Affiliated Seventh-day Adventist Pastor Publishes Controversial Billboards

A self-supporting Seventh-day Adventist pastor recently published two billboards in northwest Michigan that is grabbing the attention of people.

Eternal Gospel Seventh-day Adventist Believer's Billboards

West Palm Beach, FL (PRWEB) March 28, 2014

There are two controversial billboards that have recently been placed in northwest Michigan. One depicts the Virgin Mary and asks if Virgin Mary sightings are real and if the dead can really speak to us. The other describes Saturday as being the true Lord's day and claims that the day was changed to Sunday by the Antichrist. Both billboards offer a free book to those who call the phone number listed: 1-866-7TH-DAY-2.

Pastor Raphael Perez of the Eternal Gospel Church is responsible for the billboards. A look at his website describes his ministry as being founded in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventist believers.

"We have been engaged in a campaign for over 15 years with more than 100 billboards in the major cities and highways across America," says the Florida pastor.

When asked if he thinks his message could be characterized as controversial, he says yes. "Every present truth that God has for His people will always been considered unpopular. And it is no different today," he explains.

Even though Pastor Raphael Perez is not part of the 18 million member Seventh-day Adventist denomination, he claims that the message of his billboards is deep-rooted in Seventh-day Adventist theology.

"Historically, our Seventh-day Adventist pioneers of the 19th Century used to engage in this same work. Sadly, during the last few decades, the leaders of the church have been shying away from this work in order to become more ecumenical," Pastor Perez continues.

Both billboards are located outside of Cadillac, Michigan, one on State Road 115 and the other is on Business Highway 131. Michigan is considered a central point in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church was founded in Michigan in 1863 during its first world convention. Later their first hospital and college were established there also. The founding fathers of the church, James and Ellen White, are buried in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Pastor Raphael Perez's church was previously known as the Eternal Gospel Seventh-day Adventist Church. But as a result of its straightforward style of evangelism, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the highest governing body of the denomination, sued what they described in federal court as a "hate group" from using the denomination's name. A federal lawsuit was filed in 1999 over trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution. The lawsuit ended with a settlement which resulted in the current name of the church - "Eternal Gospel Church, Founded in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventist Believers."

"It is true that my church suspended my membership and even sued me in federal court, but I am still a Seventh-day Adventist believer," says Pastor Raphael Perez when asked about the lawsuit. "The message I believe in and preach is still the same message that the church once taught and still teaches," he continues. "It's not me who has changed. They have changed."

Pastor Perez says that the work of his ministry is supported by people from both within and without the denomination.

About the Eternal Gospel Church: The Eternal Gospel Church was founded in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventist Believers, and has been engaged in a world-wide newspaper, radio, and billboard campaign for over 20 years with the goal of teaching people about the present truth for this time. They also have been giving a warning message about the dangers of Sunday laws, the union of church and state, and modern spiritualism.

Eternal Gospel Church


Also:... .

The Devil’s Strategy Against Sabbathkeepers

Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. Psalm 94:20, 21.

As the people of God approach the perils of the last days, Satan holds earnest consultation with his angels as to the most successful plan of overthrowing their faith....

Says the great deceiver: “... The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls. We must exalt the sabbath of our creating. We have caused it to be accepted by both worldlings and church members; now the church must be led to unite with the world in its support. We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth, and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God and follow custom and tradition.

“I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God....

“But our principal concern is to silence this sect of Sabbathkeepers. We must excite popular indignation against them. We will enlist great men and worldly-wise men upon our side, and induce those in authority to carry out our purposes. Then the sabbath which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exacting. Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages, and made to suffer hunger and privation. When once we have the power, we will show what we can do with those who will not swerve from their allegiance to God.... Now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our sabbath, then many who are now ranked with commandment keepers will come over to our side.

“But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must ... ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall.”

Maranatha, P.163.

Happy Sabbath

Without a Wedding Garment

Christ's Object Lessons
Narrated by Ralph Martin

Chapter 24: Without a Wedding Garment

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Activity at NKorea site hints at nuke test preps

Matthew Pennington Associated Press

Posted: 04/22/2014 12:28:58 PM PDT
 Updated: about 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Commercial satellite imagery shows increased activity at North Korea's nuclear test site but not enough to indicate an underground atomic explosion is imminent, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday.

North Korea last month threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test and there's been speculation it may do so as President Barack Obama travels to Asia this week.

The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said that recent images, the latest taken Saturday, appear to show movement of crates and possibly lumber near tunnel entrances at the northeastern mountain site of Punggye-ri. But it said in an analysis published on its website — 38 North — that more movements of vehicles and equipment were detected in the weeks before previous detonations.

South Korea's Defense Ministry also said Tuesday it has detected "various activities" at Punggye-ri, where North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006, the latest in February 2013.

In Seoul, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters that the South Korea military was keeping in mind that North Korea can conduct a nuclear test suddenly, or could be just pretending to prepare for one "and deceive us, like they did in the past."

In Washington, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday that there have been signs of increased activity but had no details. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. was closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula and continued to urge North Korea "to refrain from actions that threaten regional peace and security."

It is notoriously difficult to divine the intentions of North Korea's isolated regime, particularly on nuclear tests, as the most crucial activity happens underground and out of aerial view. 38 North also cautions that commercial satellite imagery is relatively infrequent so it provides only a snapshot of what's going on at Punggye-ri.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated over the past month, as North Korea has objected strongly to the U.S. and South Korea conducting annual military exercises that ended last week. The North has test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles and exchanged artillery fire with South Korea at their sea border.

In a briefing ahead of Obama's departure Tuesday on his four-nation trip, that will include South Korea, the White House senior director for Asian affairs, Evan Medeiros, told reporters: "Right now we are going into an environment where there's a growing number of threats and risks of provocation." He said North Korea's threat to conduct a nuclear test showed it wasn't interested in credible negotiations.

Another test explosion would deepen international concern about the North's development of weapons of mass destruction, and doubtless anger and embarrass the North's only major ally, China. Washington and its allies would push to tighten U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

In its analysis, 38 North said that in addition to the materials seen outside two tunnel entrances in the south of the site, over the past six weeks, there's been an uptick in activities at a support area at Punggye-ri that was used for managing operations for the last test. An April 19 image also shows a large trailer truck traveling down the road away from the test site.

"Based on available information, activities at the Punggye-ri test site could represent an early stage of preparations for a test or may be intended for a less dangerous purpose, to conduct maintenance with the end of winter," 38 North says.


Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.


Biden in Kiev: Ukraine Faces 'Humiliating Threats'

from AP 22 Apr 2014, 7:24 AM PDT

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that "it's time to stop talking and start acting" to reduce tension in Ukraine, offering a show of support for the besieged nation as an international agreement aimed at stemming its ongoing crisis appeared in doubt.

Standing alongside acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden called on Moscow to encourage pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to vacate government buildings and checkpoints, accept amnesty and "address their grievances politically."

Biden said Russia needs to act "without delay," adding, "We will not allow this to become an open-ended process."

Yatsenyuk was harsher in his characterization of Russia. "No country should be able to behave like an armed bandit," he said. "Russia should stick to its international commitments and obligations. They should not behave as gangsters in the modern century."

The warnings for Russia from both leaders demonstrated the fragility of the multinational agreement reached last week.

Biden also announced the United States will provide an additional $50 million to help Ukraine's beleaguered government with political and economic reforms.

The money includes $11 million to help conduct the May 25 presidential election, including voter education, administration and oversight. It also will help fund expert teams from U.S. government agencies to help Ukraine to reduce its reliance on energy supplies from Russia. Other technical advisers will help fight corruption.

The White House also announced $8 million in nonlethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles.

In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since the crisis erupted, Biden met privately with Yatsenyuk and acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov. He also met with democracy activists and spoke to TV cameras to tell the people of eastern Ukraine he had urged the nation's leaders to keep reaching out to them.

"I know the men and women who hide behind masks and unmarked uniforms, they do not speak for you," he said. "All are welcome as equals in shaping a new Ukraine. We count on you to be the voice for rights and freedoms."

Earlier, he told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms.

"The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine, getting it right, is within your grasp," Biden said. "And we want to be your partner, your friend in the project. And we're ready to assist."

Biden spoke to nine Ukrainians in a hearing room with gilded moldings at the parliament, or Rada, as the media looked on. The group included three candidates running for president in the May 25 election — most notably billionaire chocolate magnate and front-runner Petro Poroshenko. Biden told the candidates he hopes that they have more luck than he did in two presidential runs.

Sen. John McCain, who recently visited the region, described U.S. allies in Eastern Europe as "extremely nervous" about the intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In an MSNBC interview, the Arizona Republican called on Obama to give the Ukrainian government "some weapons to defend themselves."

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said America must show more support for countries under siege. That doesn't mean the United States "must fight" every war, he said, but "the only thing that Putin understands is a strong, viable alliance."

Biden's visit comes at a critical time, days after a tenuous international agreement was reached to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia insurgents oppose the government in Kiev.

"You face very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats that are taking place indirectly," Biden told the Ukrainian lawmakers.

He said the United States is an example of people from different cultures united as one nation, although he said Ukraine has a big difference. "We're not sitting against a border of another powerful nation," Biden said.

Biden told the lawmakers a priority for the U.S. is to help them become independent from Russian energy supplies. "Imagine where you'd be today if you were able to tell Russia, 'Keep your gas,'" Biden said. "It would be a very different world you'd be facing today."

Biden said they have an historic chance now that former President Viktor Yanukovych has fled the country.

"This is a second opportunity to make good on the original promise made by the Orange Revolution," Biden said in a reference to 2004 protests that overturned a widely criticized election that had given Yanukovych the presidency. Yanukovych later took office but left the country after violent protests in February.

Biden added, "To be very blunt about it, and this is a delicate thing to say to a group of leaders in their house of parliament, but you have to fight the cancer of corruption that is endemic in your system right now." He mentioned reforming the courts and finding the right balance of power between the president and Rada.

"I want you to know I do not underestimate the incredible pressure you all are under," Biden said. "I do not underestimate the challenge that you all face. And I do not underestimate the frustration you must feel when someone like me comes along and says this is a great opportunity for you."

But he added that the upcoming election may be the most important in the country's history. "The truth of the matter is your fellow countrymen expect a whole lot of you right now," he said.


New Jersey school district sued for using ‘under God’ in Pledge of Allegiance


The American Humanist Association is suing Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District on behalf of an anonymous family from Monmouth County. The family claims the school is discriminating against non-believers.

BY Carol Kuruvilla

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 2:44 PM

Fuse/Getty Images/Fuse  
The words 'under God' were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, as part of a McCarthy-era tactic to combat communism.

A New Jersey school district is under fire for pledging allegiance “under God.”

A family in Monmouth County lashed out against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District with a lawsuit on Monday, claiming that asking children to recite the words “under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance is tantamount to discrimination.

“The exercise instills in children the idea that true patriots are god-believers and those who don’t believe are a second-class of citizens,” David Niose, legal director for the American Humanist Association, told The News.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization filed the lawsuit on behalf of a family, who wished to remain anonymous. Niose said the student involved in the case attends Matawan-Aberdeen schools. But he refused to reveal the student’s gender or grade, claiming that atheists who speak out in this manner are often “subjected to great hostility.”

New Jersey state law requires students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every school day. The phrase “under God” is in the full text mandated by state law, but it wasn’t a part of the original Pledge of Allegiance. The religious reference is in fact a relic of the McCarthy era. The words were added to the Pledge in 1954 to combat the threat of godless Communism.

Students who have “conscientious scruples” do not have to salute or say the Pledge, but they are required to show respect for the flag by standing.

Niose says the option of not participating is not the right solution.

“If the pledge said, ‘One nation under Jesus,’ I imagine that Jews, Muslims and Hindus would feel quite excluded,” he said. “There is an element of stigmatization when the school is conducting an exercise that defines patriotism in a way that excludes your particular worldview.”

If the pledge said, ‘One nation under Jesus,’ I imagine that Jews, Muslims and Hindus would feel quite excluded.

The AHA is hoping that the courts will find that the current form of the Pledge of Allegiance violates New Jersey's constitution because it discriminates against people of no faith. After that first step, the organization suggests that the school can revert to the original Pledge or find another way for students to show patriotism.

A similar AHA-sponsored lawsuit is currently before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

In a statement released to The News, Matawan-Aberdeen schools accused the national organization of unfairly targeting their district for following a state mandate.

“Instead of directing their arguments to the State, which has imposed this statutory requirement on all 590 school districts throughout New Jersey, they are forcing one district to divert time, energy and resources from the education of its students to defend this case,” the statement said.

In the past, opponents have attempted to attack the Pledge on the basis of the First Amendment, which forbids Congress from making laws that establish a state religion. But this recent lawsuit suggests a shift in tactics and a move toward the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

It’s the same constitutional right that allowed African-Americans and women to make important strides toward equality during the 20th century.

“For some reason, instead of looking at the pool that everyone else uses to defend their rights, atheists and humanists have resorted to the establishment clause,” Niose said. “But whenever any minority has asserted rights, they’ve done so through equal protection. It’s time to use it — in fact, it’s long overdue.”


How retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens would amend the constitution

April 21, 2014 at 6:25 PM EDT

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens talks to Judy Woodruff about his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.” In his book, the 94-year-old liberal justice calls for major changes to the Constitution on issues such as the death penalty, firearms, redistricting and campaign finance.



JUDY WOODRUFF: Now: A former Supreme Court justice takes on the U.S. Constitution and the court he stepped away from.

John Paul Stevens was known in his 35 years in office for views that evolved from the time he was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford to one of the court’s most outspoken liberal voices.

Today, four years after retiring, the 94-year-old continues to make waves with an ambitious new book. It’s titled “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

I talked to him last week in his chambers at the Supreme Court.

Justice John Paul Stevens, thank you for talking with us.

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS, U.S. Supreme Court: Well, I’m happy to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re asking to amend the Constitution six different ways. How practical is that?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, it certainly would take time to do that job completely, but there’s no reason why — one or two amount amendments might be adopted before the others.

And I think the issues in each of the ones I discussed are sufficiently important that it’s worth spending time debating them and thinking about it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You single out rules, Justice Stevens, that were handed down, as you point out, by a slim majority of the court over the last 40 years that you say — and I’m quoting you now — “have had such a profound and unfortunate impact on our basic law, that resort to the process of amendment is warranted.”

You’re essentially taking on the modern Supreme Court.

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, because I have been trying to do that for a good many years.

But I think there were incorrect — incorrect decisions that were profoundly unwise, and really contrary to a lot of things that our country stands for. And I think they should be changed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You’re speaking in a mild mannered way, Justice Stevens, but I can tell you feel pretty strongly about this.



FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: There’s no doubt about that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let’s talk about some of the ways that you would like to see the Constitution changed.

Among other things, you want an amendment that would require the states not to draw legislative or congressional districts in a way to increase partisan strength. We know, clearly, there is partisan redistricting. But most redistricting is done around where populations live, whether it’s an urban area, a suburban area. Why isn’t this something that is better left to the political process?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, because the political process has misfired.

And in a number of states, the dominant party has redistricted with its own objective of strengthening its control of the state in the future and of its congressional delegation at the time by drawing bizarre districts that have no purpose whatsoever, other than to enhance the political strength of the party in power.

Now, it’s my very profound view that a person in public office has a primary duty to follow — to make impartial decisions, not motivated by personal profit or personal gain or advantage just to the political party of whom — of which he is a member.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying take it out of politics?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, not entirely. But don’t allow districts to be drawn for no reason other than political advantage.

There are times when political — political considerations can be taken into account in making certain minor adjustments such as that.

But the examples that I talked about in the book are examples of districts that are bizarre in shape and have absolutely — obviously no justification, other than the impermissible justification of partisan advantage to those who drafted the districts.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You also want to amend the Constitution to abolish the death penalty. People who have always opposed the death penalty lament how long they say it took you to change your mind, from the time you came on the court in 1975 until 2008.

Why do you think it took you as long as it did to change your mind? And was it for humane reasons or constitutional reasons?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, I think that what has happened in the period that I have been on the court is that the court has used death penalty litigation to develop rules that make conviction more likely than it should be, the rules governing the selection of the jury, for example, rules governing the admissibility of victim-impact evidence at the penalty phase of the trial.

Those rules have slanted the opportunity for justice in favor of the prosecutor. And I think it’s particularly incorrect to do it in the capital context, because the cost is so high. If you make a mistake in a capital case, there is no way to take care of it later on.

And the risk of an incorrect execution in any case to me is really intolerable. And the system shouldn’t permit that possibility to exist.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Another controversy you’re jumping right into is campaign finance. You believe Congress should be able to put limits on the amount of money candidates spend on their campaigns…


JUDY WOODRUFF: … and that the Supreme Court has made mistakes in several decisions, allowing corporations, labor unions to advocate and spend money on candidates.

Considering all the court has done, Justice Stevens, to open the door for huge money to pour into American politics, including the recent McCutcheon decision, what effect does all this have on American politics?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, I don’t think it’s a healthy effect.

And I think it’s a change from what the people who direct — framed our basic government envisioned. For the — as the chief justice said, I think, in the first sentence of his opinion in the McCutcheon case the other day, there is nothing more important than participation in electing our representatives.

But the law that developed in that case and in a number of other cases involved not electing the representatives of the people who voted for them, but electing representatives of — in other jurisdictions where the financing is used. In other words, that was a case that involved the right of the — of an individual to spend as much of its money as he wanted to elect representatives of other people. He didn’t use any of that money to elect his own representatives.

And I think that’s a distortion of the concept that we started with many, many years ago.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The last area that I want to ask you about is what this country should do about guns. You would change the wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution to say the right of people to bear arms to own a gun should apply only when serving in the militia.

Is it your ultimate hope that there would be no right to own a gun for self-defense?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, it would be my ultimate hope that legislatures would decide the issues, and not be hampered by constitutional restrictions, because, clearly, legislators are in a much better position than judges are to decide what could be permissible in different contexts.

And the effect of the Second Amendment as it is now construed is to make federal judges the final arbiters of gun policy, which is quite, quite wrong, I think, and quite contrary to what the framers intended when they drafted the Second Amendment, to protect states from the danger that a strong federal armed force would have been able to the states of their own militias.

JUDY WOODRUFF: When you look at all of these changes that you would like to see in the Constitution, and whether it’s campaign finance, redistricting or something else, do you believe the more conservative members of the Supreme Court have a partisan agenda? Do you think they are actually trying to get conservatives elected to office?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t question their motives at all.

I think they have come to the incorrect conclusion, but I do think they have — where they have had chances to take a different tack, I think they have acted incorrectly. But I wouldn’t suggest that any of them were improperly motivated.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think you should have stayed on the court longer?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Should I have stayed on — no.


FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: If anything, I stayed on too long.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How does a justice know when it is the right time to retire? What do you think?

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, in my case, the time — I can remember the events that triggered the specific decision.

I announced my dissent in the Citizens United orally, and I stumbled in my announcement. I had a little difficulty expressing myself. And that was out of character. And I used to have no problem at all being articulate and coherent.

And I took that as a warning sign that maybe I had been around longer than I should.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Justice John Paul Stevens, thank you very much for talking with us.

The book is “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution.”

FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure being here.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Vatican announces logo, motto for papal trip to Korea

April 8, 2014 By CNA Daily News

Vatican City, Apr 8, 2014 / 07:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See has released the official motto and logo for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to South Korea, which is the first time a Roman Pontiff has traveled to the country in since John Paul II went 25 years ago.

“Arise! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you” is the motto, taken from Isaiah 60:1, for Pope Francis’ upcoming Apostolic Voyage to Soth Korea, which will take place August 14 – 18, 2014.

According to an April 8 article published on Vatican Radio, the motto and logo were officially presented to the Holy See by members of the Korean Bishop’s Conference, who are the organizing the trip and are present in Rome this week in order to finalize the most recent details of events to take place.

The logo for the apostolic voyage display two intertwining flames, one red and the other blue, which rise from two light blue waves representing a boat.

Indicating the two Korea’s, the flames wind together in order to emphasize a desire for the reunification of the two nations, Vatican Radio reports, and the blue waves that form the boat hold the shape of knife blades, which is a symbol of the sacrifice the Korean martyrs made for the Church. The waves are blue in order to represent God’s mercy, which is as great as the ocean.

Among the key purposes of Pope Francis’ visit are two main events, the first being to participate in the celebration of the 6th Asian Youth Day, which is being held August 13 – 17 in the diocese of Daejeon.

Expected to gather young Christians from across the continent, the encounter will be celebrated under a motto that echoes the papal trip itself: “Asian Youth! Wake up! The glory of the martyrs shines upon you.”

This motto also draws attention to the second main reason for the papal voyage, which is to preside over the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs, whose causes he approved of in February. Among those slated to be canonized are Paul Yun Ji-chung, the first Korean martyr, and 123 companions who were executed between 1791 and 1888 for the Faith by the Joseon Dynasty.

Pope Francis’ upcoming visit will mark the first time in 25 years that a Pope has visited the Korean peninsula, the last visit occurring when Bl. John Paul II came in Oct. of 1989, following a 1984 trip where he canonized 103 Korean martyrs, including Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean native priest.

Vatican Radio also reports that Asia contains the world’s fastest growing Catholic community, which has more than doubled in the last century, despite remaining a religious minority.

It is estimated that Catholicism has grown by 70% in Korea over the past decade – who now number more than five million faithful – which is about ten percent of the national population.


What President Obama Should Do in Malaysia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
April 21, 2014

U.S. president Barack Obama makes a statement to the media in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on April 17, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy: Reuters).

On April 27, President Obama will become the first sitting American president to visit Malaysia in five decades. This trip, which already had been postponed from the fall, has been complicated by the Malaysian government’s recent crackdown on opposition politicians, and by Kuala Lumpur’s inept handling of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 tragedy. However, Obama still plans to highlight the growing strategic and economic relationship between Malaysia and the United States, the relationship between himself and Prime Minister Najib tun Razak, and Malaysia’s supposed credentials as a moderate, Muslim-majority state and emerging democracy. But on his trip, the president should try to maintain a balanced focus, hitting the following points:

1. Give Malaysia its due. Malaysia has clearly been one of the success stories of human development in the post-World War II era. Perhaps it has been overshadowed by other tigers in Asia like neighboring Singapore, but Malaysia has certainly accomplished a great deal in just fifty-plus years of independence. Its economy is more diversified than many experts give it credit for, it has boosted GDP per capita to over $10,000 (and GDP per capita is much higher in urban areas like Kuala Lumpur), and it has built an efficient and modern physical infrastructure on peninsular Malaysia. The country suffers from challenges with graft, particularly in state-controlled companies, but no more so than neighbors like Thailand and Malaysia. President Obama should rightly celebrate this impressive development.

2. But look into Malaysia’s future. Malaysia’s future is not assured, however. The country has struggled to move into higher value-added industries, and its education system remains much weaker than those in Singapore and other, wealthier Asian countries. Prime Minister Najib, after a strong start, has mostly given up on many proposed economic reforms. Investors still like Malaysia for certain types of manufacturing, and the government offers many incentives for foreign investment, but in the long-term many foreign investors wonder what Malaysia’s competitive advantage will be. President Obama is not going to, by himself, convince Najib to pick up the mantle of reform again, but making the argument for reform would be welcome among American businesses investing in Southeast Asia.

3. Clearly recognize that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country with many non-Muslims. Since last year’s parliamentary elections, in which the ruling coalition barely squeaked home (or, according to some analyses, stole the election), Prime Minister Najib has increasingly catered to hard-line and more conservative ethnic Malay voices in his coalition. The dismal showing of the coalition’s ethnic Chinese party further reduced the voice of non-Muslims and non-Malays in government. The past year has seen increasingly vitriolic rhetoric from government leaders and supporters against ethnic Chinese and non-Muslims in general, and many ethnic Chinese and Indians continue to take their capital out of Malaysia, or send their children abroad for school and, ultimately, to live. Prime Minister Najib’s plans to further boost economic preferences for Malays adds to this Chinese and Indian fear, and also distorts the economy. President Obama should clearly recognize that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society, and should meet leaders of the Chinese and Indian communities, including those from opposition parties.

4. Avoid the “big man” problem. American administrations, whether Democratic or Republican, too often tend to associate reform with one supposedly groundbreaking leader in a developing nation, a supposedly democratic “big man.” In rare cases, such a leader exists, but more often than not a supposedly reform-minded “big man” requires many factors to go in his direction to successfully push his or her country toward democracy. In the worst cases, “big man” leaders who initially look like reformers turn out, in power, to be as corrupt or autocratic as the men and women they replaced.

Prime Minister Najib, to many American officials, is the “big man” who has shifted bilateral relations and supposedly is leading reforms. But the reality is more nuanced, to be sure. Prime Minister Najib has skillfully wooed the Obama administration and Washington in general, both through his own diplomacy and through a series of effective ambassadors in the United States. Yet Najib himself is not Malaysia. If the American president focuses only on Najib, he risks alienating an entire generation of young Malaysians, who mostly support the opposition and voted for the opposition last year.

To avoid the “big man” trap, President Obama should meet not only with Najib but also with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was recently sentenced to five years in jail on highly dubious sodomy charges in a highly dubious (at best) trial. The president also could meet with leaders from Malaysia’s tough but embattled civil society.

What’s more, publicly highlighting some of the serious flaws in Malaysia’s system does not mean that the United States and Malaysia cannot continue to build a strategic relationship, as some analysts seem to believe. The United States has achieved such a balance with many other countries in the region, and many Malaysian elites already expect the American president to take a position on human rights.

5. Avoid discussion of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. After a bad start to the search for the plane, Kuala Lumpur has become more cooperative and seems to have given all its resources for the hunt. Enough people (including me) have dumped enough on Malaysia’s government for its inept handling of Flight 370 during the first week of the search. It is a tragedy, and President Obama should stick to other issues during his visit.