Wednesday, August 31, 2011

COMMENTARY: Elmhurst College's "Minority" LGBT Policy Is a Joke

It was revealed this week that an Illinois college -- affiliated with the United Church of Christ -- will become the first college in the nation to ask prospective students their sexual orientation.

Elmhurst College -- located just west of Chicago -- said its decision to add sexual orientation to the 2012-13 admissions applications is aimed at promoting diversity on its campus.

The sexual orientation question -- which prospective students are not required to answer -- asks: "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?" Applicants answering "yes" are eligible for a minority scholarship that covers one-third of tuition.

That's right -- a "minority" scholarship. In other words, a person who is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual is considered a "minority," while a person who is heterosexual is considered a "majority" in this situation.

This labeling of "minority" individuals -- due to their sexual orientation -- is a misnomer and has no pragmatic basis whatsoever. Being a "minority" because of one's sexual orientation makes no more sense than being a religious "minority" because one is a Roman Catholic, a Greek Orthodox, or a Jew, instead of being a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant).

To add fuel to the fire, Elmhurst College is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. It is surprising that this Christian denomination would agree to Elmhurst mocking Christianity by promoting -- and even rewarding -- this unChristian LGBT policy.

Moreover, the fact that no other American college or university asks about one's sexual orientation on its admissions applications indicates that such a question is personal and unethical, if not illegal.

It's bad enough that Elmhurst College is the only college in the United States to ask about one's sexual orientation on its admissions applications. Even worse, Elmhurst is providing large scholarships to LGBT students because it considers them to be a "minority" that promotes "diversity" on its campus.

The fact is that such a scholarship is a joke -- some prospective students who are not LGBT will most-likely claim to be so on their applications, in hopes of receiving a "minority" scholarship -- but the joke is on Elmhurst College itself, as many people laugh at its one-of-a-kind "minority scholarship policy."

New Report Details Billions Wasted in War Zones; Graft, Fraud, Poor Planning Cost Taxpayers $60B

The Commission on Wartime Contracting has found that some $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds have gone to waste -- due mainly to poor planning, corruption, and fraud -- in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 31, 2011).

In a report to Congress, the commission cites numerous examples of waste -- like an Afghani agricultural program that cost the U.S. $1 million a day.

The commission said government agencies need to overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones.

Among the report's 15 recommendations are the creation of an inspector general to monitor contracting, and the appointment of a senior government official to improve planning and coordination.

Eight Killed, 22 Hurt in Chechnya Suicide Attacks; Attacks Occur on Most Sacred Day for All Muslims

The RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports that at least eight people were killed and 22 injured today (August 31, 2011) in the largely Muslim-populated North Caucasus region of Russia, with two suicide attacks in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

The attacks took place during celebrations to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov said six policemen, an emergency official, and a civilian were killed. Five of the 22 injured are in critical condition.

Kadyrov said the attackers had "shown their real faces" by choosing "the most sacred day for all Muslims."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Burial Box Is Found Relating to Jesus' Crucifixion; Names Priest Who Questioned Jesus on His Deity

The Christian Post website reports today (August 30, 2011) that scientists at a university in Israel believe they have discovered an ancient burial box belonging to the family of the high priest who played a part in the crucifixion of Jesus as described in the Bible.

The burial box -- or ossuary -- was recovered from looters three years ago by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The ossuary was found to have a rare inscription mentioning the names "Miriam," "Yeshua," and "Calaphus." Researchers say the Calaphus mentioned in the carved-in inscription may very well be the same Calaphus noted in the Gospels.

In Matthew 26:57-68, readers are told that after His arrest, Jesus was taken to "Calaphus, the high priest" who questioned Him about His divinity.

Pakistani Man Is Killed Outside a Danish Mosque; Fight of Young Men Occurs after Ramadan Service

The Copenhagen Post website reports that a shooting outside a mosque in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen today (August 30, 2011) has killed a 21-year-old man of Pakistani origin. Two other men were seriously injured in the incident.

The shooting -- which occurred immediately after the end of prayer service celebrating the end of Ramadan -- was part of a conflict among young men in the Pakistani community.

According to police reports, a scuffle between two groups of young men broke out as the congregation of about 1,000 people left the building.

Some 20 shots were fired in the incident, which also resulted in a second man being shot, and a third stabbed.

Holocaust Survivor Dies in Hurricane Floodwaters; "She Survived Hitler, But Couldn't Survive Irene "

An 82-year-old Brooklyn grandmother -- who was a survivor of the Holocaust -- drowned in a Catskills cottage that flooded when Hurricane Irene roared through, the New York Daily News website reports today (August 30, 2011).

Rozalia Stern-Gluck had been vacationing in Fleischmanns, NY, where she was trapped last Sunday in her cottage when a nearby creek overflowed.

New York State Police Investigator Jeffrey Moore said more than 6 feet of water filled the woman's cottage at the Valkyrian Motel.

Isaac Abraham -- a Brooklyn Hasidic community leader -- said Stern-Gluck was born in Russia and survived the Holocaust. "She survived Hitler, but she couldn't survive Irene," Abraham said.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Artist Will Alter Unpopular Statue of John Paul II; Many Church, State Leaders Sought Its Removal

The sculptor of a highly controversial image of Blessed John Paul II has agreed to modify the statue, in response to a wave of public hostility, the Catholic Culture website reports today (August 29, 2011).

Oliviero Rainaldi says that he will make some changes to the statue -- which is now on display outside Rome's busiest rail station -- but insists the changes will be "minimal."

The abstract image has drawn intense criticism, with some leaders -- both of church and state -- suggesting that it should be removed.

Adding insult to injury, many Italians have said the statue resembles Benito Mussolini -- the fascist Italian dictator who was an ally of Nazi Germany during World War II -- more than it resembles Pope John Paul II.

Bachmann: Hurricane, Earthquake Are from God; God Wants US Govt. to Cut Its Wasteful Spending

The Huffington Post website reports today (August 29, 2011) that Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told Floridians yesterday that Hurricane Irene -- as well as the earthquake felt along much of the East Coast last week -- were messages from God to warn politicians to start heeding divine guidance.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake, we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?'" Bachmann told a crowd of about 1,000 people in Sarasota.

"Listen to the American people, because the American people are roaring right now," Bachmann said. "They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

The main goal of Bachmann's comments is to link God's will with those who believe the U.S. government is too large, and intrudes too much on people's lives.

College to Ask Students Their Sexual Orientation; Elmhurst College in Ill. Is First in Nation to Do So

The Ethics Daily website reports today (August 29, 2011) that an Illinois College -- affiliated with the United Church of Christ -- is poised to become the first school in the U.S. to ask prospective students about their sexual orientation.

Elmhurst College -- located just west of Chicago -- said its decision to add sexual orientation to the 2012-13 admissions applications is entirely optional and is aimed at promoting diversity on campus.

Dean of Admissions Gary Rold said, "We are trying to recruit students who are academically qualified and diverse, and we consider this another form of diversity."

The sexual orientation question -- located in the same section of the application that asks students about their religious affiliation -- asks: "Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community?"

Applicants who answer "yes" are eligible for a minority scholarship that covers one-third of tuition.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Turkey to Return Hundreds of Properties It Seized; Govt. To Return Assets to Greeks, Armenians, Jews

The Newsvine website reports today (August 28, 2011) that Turkey's government is returning hundreds of properties confiscated from the country's Christian and Jewish minorities over the past 75 years, in a gesture to religious groups who complain of discrimination that is likely to thwart possible court rulings against the country.

A government decree published yesterday (August 27) returns assets that once belonged to Greek, Armenian, or Jewish trusts and makes provisions for the government to pay compensation for any confiscated property that has since been sold.

The properties include former hospital, orphanage, school buildings and cemeteries. Their return is a key European Union demand, and a series of court cases has also been filed against predominantly Muslim Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights.

Last year, Turkey returned an orphanage to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, after the European Court ordered it to do so.

Miss. School District Stops Prayers Before Games; FFRF: Supreme Court Ruling Bars School Prayers

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 28, 2011) that a school district in DeSoto County, Mississippi has stopped prayers over the public address system before its high school football games and other school functions, in response to complaints from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF).

The atheist organization -- which has successfully challenged public prayers in other school districts around the country -- complained that the U.S. Supreme Court decisions prohibiting school-sponsored prayer were being violated.

The first home football game of the season -- which was played last Friday -- did not include pregame prayers over the speakers.

"We have had a whole slew of violations in the South, and we have been able to remedy them without going to court," FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said.

Billy Graham's Daughter Sees Christ Coming Soon; Says She Expects to Live to See His Return to Earth

The daughter of Billy Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, believes recent world events are proof that Jesus' return is nearing, according to the Christian Today website.

In her book, "Expecting to See Jesus: A Wake-Up Call for God's People," Lotz details the signs of the Second Coming and the implications it could have on the world.

"I have held the conviction with intense focus since I was in my early 20s that if I live out my natural lifetime, I will live to see the physical return of Jesus on earth," Lotz said.

Lotz launched her own ministry in 2000 and has spoken on seven continents -- in more than 20 foreign countries -- proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, conferences, and prisons.

Her father, Billy Graham -- now 92 and in poor health -- is considered by many theologians and others to be the most famous evangelist the world has ever known.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

COMMENTARY: Greece Is Correct in Abolishing Islamic Law for Its Muslims

Under the scope of reforms in the Greek Family Law, Greece this month decided to abolish Shariah (Islamic Law) for Greek Muslims.

This is good news for Greece, because it eliminates a double standard in Greek jurisprudence -- one law for Christians and another law for Muslims -- in that country.

The fact is that Greece should have eliminated Shariah years ago. Even in Turkey, this law was abolished in 1926.

Shariah established the right of polygamy and gave only to Muslim men in Greece the right to divorce their wives, thus discriminating against Muslim women.

Moreover, the Islamic Law did not comply with the Greek constitution, which provides for the equality of men and women.

The National Committee on Human Rights in Greece has long contended that Shariah abuses the rights and values of all Greek Muslims.

Consequently, the family and hereditary relations of all Greek citizens -- including Muslims -- will now be regulated by Greek laws.

All in all, the abolition of Shariah will allow Greece to maintain a more equitable legal system for all of its citizens.

Indeed, nothing less should be expected regarding equality in Greece -- the nation that gave birth to democracy, which the world still cherishes par excellence to this very day.

Minister Calls on Obama to Remember the Poor; Says Obama's Track Record Shows Disinterest

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (August 27, 2011) that a Christian minister led a small band of demonstrators in front of the White House on August 25 to call on President Obama to remember the poor and needy while he is on his $50,000-a-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard.

The Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition said, "We set up -- especially this week -- because the president has chosen, in these difficult times, to spend 10 days in one of the most lavish and exclusive places in the world in Martha's Vineyard.

Mahoney also said President Obama's track record shows that he "has completely ignored the poor."

The event was called "The Matthew 25 Project," Mahoney said because it is based on Christ's words in Matthew 25:40 where He says, "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."

Exclusive: Gadhafi Forces Massacre 180 Prisoners; Killed When Rebels Overran Gadhafi's Compound

The Washington Times website -- in an exclusive article -- reports today (August 27, 2011) that troops loyal to longtime Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi massacred more than 180 prisoners at two locations south of Tripoli this week, according to eyewitnesses and a survivor.

The incidents took place on August 23 and 24 as rebels overran Col. Gadhafi's fortified compound, Bab al-Azizia, in Tripoli and closed in on other regime strongholds.

Eyewitnesses and a survivor told the Washington Times that pro-Gadhafi troops lobbed grenades and shot the prisoners.

It is an international war crime to kill or torture prisoners.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Victims of Clergy Abuse Slam Cardinal O'Malley; Say His List of Abusers Omits at Least 91 Priests

Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their attorney slammed Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Boston Archdiocese today (August 26, 2011) for omitting the names of their abusers from a new list of 159 priests and deacons publicly accused of molestation, according to the Boston Herald website.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian -- who served as the lawyer for scores of victims -- called the list released yesterday on an "inadequate attempt to satisfy a moral imperative" because it doesn't include the names of 91 priests who are now dead or who were members of a religious order.

Leaders of -- an organization that tracks accused priests and posts court records from clergy abuse lawsuits online -- said: "There are many victims of Boston priests who will not find the names of their perpetrators on yesterday's list. Their misery and isolation will be deepened by yesterday's disclosure."

Muslim Chaplain Arrested in a Prostitution Sting; Imam Aziz Bilal of NYC Corrections Dept. Is Held

The Europe News website reports today (August 26, 2011) that a Muslim chaplain with New York City's Department of Corrections was arraigned yesterday as part of a Queens prostitution sting.

Authorities say Imam Aziz Bilal of Queens was arrested last Tuesday night for allegedly patronizing a prostitute.

Bilal -- who has an arrest record that includes robbery and bribery -- was held without bail yesterday and is due back in court in October.

He has been a chaplain with the Department of Corrections since 1990.

Israeli Experts Restoring the Walls of Jerusalem; $5M Project Set to Be Completed By End of 2011

The Washington Post website reports today (August 26, 2011) that Israeli experts are nearing completion of restoring the five-century-old walls of Jerusalem -- the holy city's dominant architectural feature and a unique record of its eventful and troubled history.

The $5 million undertaking -- which began in 2007 -- is set to be completed by the end of this year.

Jerusalem's stone walls are two and one-half miles in length. They include seven gates.

"On these walls you see the whole history of this city," said Avi Mashiah, the Israel Antiquities Authority architect in charge of the project.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Coptic Orth. Church in Hungary Consecrated; Pope Shenouda Sees Church as Europe Milestone

Pope Shenouda III -- the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Christian community -- consecrated the first Coptic church in Hungary last Sunday, the Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (August 25, 2011).

The Coptic Pope consecrated the church in a three-hour ceremony in the presence of Coptic bishops and hundreds of faithful in Budapest's 18th district amid tight security measures.

The church was dedicated to Mother of God, the Holy Virgin Mary, and Archangel Michael.

Pope Shenouda -- whose headquarters are in Alexandria, Egypt -- called the consecration an important milestone from the perspective of his church's presence in Eastern Europe.

Mexican Presbyterians End Ties with US Church; Decision Is Due to PC (USA) to Allow Gay Clergy

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (August 25, 2011) that the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has voted to end its 139-year relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA), in response to the US church's decision three months ago to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.

The decision came on a 116 to 22 vote of the Mexican church assembly on August 19.

The Mexican Presbyterian Church said the split will likely jeopardize the continuation of the work that 11 US church mission co-workers have been doing in Mexico -- including work along the US-Mexican border.

The split will also end more than two dozen partnerships.

Rabbi's Claim He Saved Holocaust Torahs a Hoax; Menachem Youlus Charged with Mail, Wire Fraud

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (August 25, 2011) that Menachem Youlus -- a Maryland rabbi who claimed he rescued Torah scrolls lost during the Holocaust -- was arrested on fraud charges and accused of fabricating the stories.

Youlus -- founder of Save a Torah -- was arrested yesterday and charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud.

Federal prosecutors also accused Youlus -- who had never even traveled to Europe -- of embezzling money from his charity for personal use and making up stories of rescuing Torahs seized by the Nazis.

The U.S. Attorney's office said that Torah scrolls Youlus claimed to have rescued had been purchased from local dealers and had no connection to the Holocaust. The Attorney's office also said that Save a Torah had raised $1.2 million in contributions from 2004 to 2010.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

COMMENTARY: Iranian President's Call for Israel's Destruction Is Insane

In an effort to destroy Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week urged the worldwide Muslim community -- as well as non-Muslim nations -- to stage massive participation in the International Quds Day rallies on August 26, 2011.

Having an obsessive hatred for Israel, Ahmadinejad said that nations can get rid of "the infected tumor of the Zionist regime" by mobilizing their beliefs and ideals.

He also expressed his hope that this year's Quds Day rallies lead to "the elimination of the Zionist regime and freedom of mankind from evils."

If Ahmadinejad really wants to free mankind from evils, the first thing the Iranian tyrant must do is resign his position as president of Iran. The fact is that most Iranians did not vote for him in Iran's last presidential election, but he "won" the presidency only because he rigged the vote count.

To refer to Israel as "the infected tumor of the Zionist regime" conveys Ahmadinejad's lack of finesse and his ignorance of international relations.

Unless he is a total idiot -- which he very well may be -- Ahmadinejad must realize that his goal of destroying Israel is unrealistic.

Israel had very little difficulty in defeating several Arab nations in the Six-Day War of 1967, and to conquer much Palestinian land from that brief war that it has retained to the present day. Moreover, Israel has become stronger -- not weaker -- since the Six-Day War.

Ahmadinejad is probably making these hateful epithets of Israel for shock effects on the international community. But the international community -- including the Muslim community -- is not paying much attention or responding to the Iranian president's anti-Semitic rants.

Indeed, the leaders of the nations of the world are ignoring Ahmadinejad's hateful rhetoric on Israel because they know that his rhetoric is insane.

Off-Duty Policeman Catches Offertory Box Thief; Many Similar Thefts Soaring Due to Poor Economy

The Austrian Times website reports today (August 24, 2011) that an offertory box thief was caught by an off-duty police officer.

The policeman discovered the 56-year-old criminal trying to empty an offering box at a church on August 22, police in the Viennese district of Mariahif said today.

Many thefts of offertory boxes have occurred across Austria in the past few months.

Police believe that the number of offertory box thefts is soaring, as people are still feeling the impact of the economic crisis.

Exclusive: "Son of Sam" Killer Won't Seek Parole; David Berkowitz: "Jesus Has Already Forgiven Me"

Convicted serial killer David Berkowitz -- who killed six people and wounded seven others in New York in the late 1970s -- will not seek parole during his next opportunity in May, Berkowitz told Fox News exclusively in a two-page letter.

Berkowitz -- nicknamed the "Son of Sam" -- wrote he has "no interest" in parole thanks to forgiveness by Jesus Christ.

Berkowitz, 58 -- who has been in prison since 1977 -- wrote to Fox News: "I am already a free man...Jesus Christ has already forgiven and pardoned me, and I believe this."

He is serving six sentences of 25 years to life at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY, where he has been incarcerated for 34 years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

National Cathedral in DC Damaged by Earthquake; Cathedral Is Evacuated, Masons Assess Its Damage

The Huffington Post website reports today (August 23, 2011) that at least three of the four pinnacles on the central tower of the Washington National Cathedral have fallen off, and the central tower appears to be leaning, as a result of today's 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Richmond, Virginia.

The pinnacles are the top stones on the cathedral's towers.

Richard Weinberg -- director of communications for the cathedral -- said the cathedral has been evacuated and stone masons are assessing the damage.

The Washington National Cathedral -- one of the tallest buildings in the city -- is an Episcopal Church landmark in the capital.

Catholic Church in Tripoli Reports Break-in Today; Libyan Rebels Now Control Most of Libya's Capital

A Roman Catholic church in Tripoli -- the capital of Libya where heavy fighting continues to rage -- reported a break-in today (August 23, 2011), according to the Ecumenical News International website.

"My priest has told me that one of the Catholic churches in Tripoli had been broken into, but everyone is fine," said Bishop Bill Musk today.

There are Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Anglican, and some Pentecostal churches in Libya that have been supporting each other, and have been in good fellowship, according to Bishop Musk.

Libyan rebels today took control of most of Tripoli -- including the compound of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. Gadhafi is believed to be hiding in Tripoli.

Iranian President Urges Nations to Destroy Israel; Must Be Rid of "Infected Tumor of Zionist Regime"

The Europe News website reports today (August 23, 2011) that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week urged the worldwide Muslim community -- as well as non-Muslim countries -- to stage a massive participation in the International Quds Day rallies on August 26.

He said that nations can get rid of "the infected tumor of the Zionist regime" (Israel) through mobilizing their beliefs and ideals.

The Iranian president described the city of al-Quds in the occupied Palestinian land as "the key point in resolving historical issues."

He expressed hope that this year's Quds Day rallies lead to "the elimination of the Zionist regime and freedom of mankind from evils."

King Memorial to Be Dedicated in DC on Aug. 28; King Will Be First Black Honored on National Mall

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- whose mission in advancing the rights for minorities had a greater impact on America than any other in the 20th century -- is being recognized for his accomplishments with a national monument in his honor in Washington, DC.

According to the Christian Post website, the King memorial will be officially dedicated on August 28, 2011 -- the 48th anniversary of King's "I have a dream" speech -- on the Washington Mall, with President Obama being one of the speakers.

The memorial includes a 30-foot-high sculpture of King's likeness, arms folded across his chest and standing tall, hewn on a "Stone of Hope" just beyond a mountain-like portal.

The memorial makes King the first African American -- and the first person not elected as a U.S. president -- to be honored on the National Mall.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thugs Damage Europe's Largest Jewish Cemetery; Vandalize 16 Graves, Steal 47 Metal Items in Berlin

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency website reports today (August 22, 2011) that vandals struck the Weissensee Cemetery in Berlin -- Europe's largest Jewish cemetery -- where they damaged 16 gravesites and stole 47 wrought-iron objects.

Renovations on some of the tombs had been completed as recently as last April. The stolen items are worth about $16,000.

"Theft in general is a serious offense," Grigory Kristal -- head of cultural affairs for the community -- said. "But to destroy graves at the Jewish cemetery demonstrates a lack of respect and lack of understanding of the past."

The cemetery is the subject of a recent award-winning documentary called "Im Himmel unter der Erde," or "In Heaven Underground."

Greece Abolishes Shariah Law for Greek Muslims; Violated Constitutional Equality of Men, Women

The Greek Reporter website reports today (August 22, 2011) that -- under the scope of reforms in the Greek Family Law -- the Shariah (Islamic Law) has been abolished for Greek Muslims.

The Muslim law had established the right of polygamy and gave only to men the right to divorce their wives, which caused discrimination against women in Greece.

Moreover, Shariah did not comply with the Greek constitution which established the equality of Greeks regarding the application of the laws and the equality of men and women.

Under the reforms of the new law, the Mufti will only be religious leaders of Greek Muslims, and will no longer have judicial authority.

Presbyterians May Create "New Reformed Body;" Conservatives Upset Church Allows Gay Clergy

The Christian Post website reports today (August 22, 2011) that the Presbyterian Church (USA) -- three months after allowing the ordination of openly gay clergy -- is headed for a split, as nearly 2,000 conservative Presbyterians are gathering in Minneapolis on August 25 and 26 with the creation of a "new Reformed body" on its agenda.

Making preparations for the conference is the Rev. Paul Detterman, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal -- an independent organization based in Louisville, Kentucky -- where the denomination's headquarters are.

Jack Haberer -- editor of the independent Presbyterian Outlook Journal -- said the conference is "a potentially historic event, perhaps the beginning of yet another denomination division."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Exclusive: NY DA's Office in Shocker on DSK Case; Will Ask Judge to Dismiss Court Case on August 23

The New York Post website -- in an exclusive article -- reports today (August 21, 2011) that the Manhattan DA's office will ask a judge to dismiss all charges against Dominique Strauss-Khan when he appears in court on Tuesday, August 23.

Prosecutors plan to file what's called a Dismissal on Recommendation motion, which will say the indictment against Strauss-Khan cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because of credibility problems with the sole witness in the case, Strauss-Khan's hotel-maid accuser.

The expected move was slammed today by a lawyer representing Strauss-Khan's alleged victim, who questioned prosecutors' motives and called the dismissal request "incomprehensible."

The prosecutors' motion -- which will ask Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus to dismiss the indictment -- will probably be granted immediately, according to law experts, who have experienced similar motions in the past.

1.5 M Young People Finish Church Youth Festival; Pope Tells Youth to Share Joy of Faith with Others

Pope Benedict XVI urged more than 1.5 million young people in Madrid to become missionaries for the faith today (August 21, 2011), giving them words of encouragement as he concluded a church youth festival and announced that the next edition will be in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

Benedict told the pilgrims at a Madrid airfield hosting World Youth Day (WYD) that they should not keep their faith private, but participate fully in the life of their parishes and remain in communion with the church.

"So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith," he said.

World Youth Day -- the gathering of young Catholics from around the world once every three years -- was launched a quarter-century ago by Pope John Paul II, in an effort to reinvigorate and spread the faith among the young.

Italian Lawmaker Wants Prostitution Legalized; Says Prostitution Is Moral If Hookers Pay Taxes

The Catholic Culture website reports today (August 21, 2011) that an Italian lawmaker has called for legalizing prostitution in Italy, in order to regulate the profession and collect taxes.

Maurizio Marchetti -- a member of the ruling People of Freedom Party -- asks: "Is it moral for a person to work illegally -- earning 10,000 euros a month and feeding a criminal underworld -- while there are people who are working honestly and cannot get to the end of the month?"

He added, "Prostitution is immoral because hookers don't pay taxes. Tax them, and the moral problem disappears."

Marchetti believes that with at least 70,000 prostitutes in Italy today, the cash-strapped Italian government could use the tax revenue.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

COMMENTARY: Teen Flash Mobs Must Be Punished to Full Extent of the Law

This week, the 17-year-old leader of a Philadelphia teen "flash mob" that assaulted and robbed people at random on July 29 was sentenced to confinement in a juvenile detention facility, where he could be held until the age 21. Other teens involved in the flash mob were sentenced as well.

In sentencing the teens, Family Court Judge Kevin Dougherty told them, "Your actions, behavior, and attitude are appalling and disgusting for civilized society."

Judge Dougherty is right. Needless to say, these teens would not like it if other teens attacked and robbed their parents.

Destructive flash mobs have become a problem in several other cities -- besides Philadelphia -- during the past few months. New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and other cities have witnessed such nonsensical incidents recently.

If these black teens think it's fun and all right to commit these repugnant attacks and robberies, they are sadly mistaken.

Indeed, such acts are not only illegal -- and can result in convicted teens having a criminal record for the rest of their lives -- but they are also a stigma that tends to portray these teens as barbarians.

Judge Dougherty has taken the appropriate action to discourage teens in Philadelphia from taking part in similar incidents in the future.

Judges in other cities where flash mobs have occurred must also take severe punitive action against these teens to ensure additional incidents do not reoccur.

Islam Worshipers Surpass Catholics in France; More Than 150 Mosques Are Being Built in France

The Europe News website reports today (August 20, 2011) that Islamic mosques are being built more often in France than Roman Catholic churches, and there are now more practicing Muslims in France than practicing Catholics.

More than 150 new mosques are currently under construction in France -- home of the biggest Muslim community in Europe -- according to Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Muslim Council of France.

The total number of mosques in France has doubled to more than 2,000 during the past 10 years.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has closed more than 60 churches -- many of which will become mosques.

Only 1.9 million people in France are practicing Catholics, while 2.5 million people are practicing Muslims, according to a report released August 1, 2011 by the French Institute of Public Opinion.

Philly "Flash Mob" Head Gets Detention Sentence; Mayor to Blacks: "You Have Damaged Your Race"

The Washington Times website reports today (August 20, 2011) that the leader of a Philadelphia teen "flash mob" -- that assaulted people at random and provoked the mayor to lecture black youths of personal responsibility -- has been sentenced to confinement in a juvenile detention facility.

A judge berated the 17-year-old and two other youths on August 18 for beating four people and robbing them. The teens admitted their involvement in the July 29 rampage.

Destructive flash mobs -- in which youths often congregate by texting each other or using other social media -- have become a problem recently for many communities.

The July 29 attack prompted Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- who is black -- to deliver a church sermon in which he told black teens, "You have damaged your own race."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wall St. Journal: Hotel Maid May Settle for Money; Lawyers Seek Deal to Trash Criminal Case of DSK

The Euro News website reports today (August 19, 2011) that lawyers for the woman who accused former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan of sexual assault have explored a deal in which they would scuttle the criminal case in exchange for a monetary settlement in the civil lawsuit.

Kenneth Thompson -- the woman's lawyer -- denied the report, which appears in today's Wall Street Journal. The Journal -- sourced to unidentified people briefed on the matter -- stands by its report.

The report comes less than a week before the August 23rd scheduled court hearing in which Strauss-Khan is due to appear before a judge for the first time since he was freed from house arrest on July 1.

Nafissatou Diallo -- the hotel maid who alleged Strauss-Khan sexually assaulted her on May 14 -- filed a civil claim against him last week in New York, while the separate criminal case has been floundering due to her damaged credibility, resulting from her lies to investigators.

Judge in Poland OKs Singer's Ripping Up of Bible; Judge Ruled Singer's Actions Were "A Form of Art"

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 19, 2011) that a judge in Poland has found a death metal singer innocent of offending religious feeling, ruling that his ripping up a Bible during a show was a form of artistic expression.

Video of the concert in northern Poland shows Adam Darski of the band Behemoth throwing torn pages of the Bible to the audience and asking fans to burn them.

He also called the Bible "a deceitful book" and the church "a criminal sect" -- strong language in a predominantly Roman Catholic Poland.

But a judge ruled yesterday that Darski's actions were "a form of art" consistent with the style of his band.

Russian Court Bans Mickey Mouse Jesus Painting; Mickey Mouse Painted in "Sermon on the Mount"

The RIA Novosti (Russian) website reports today (August 19, 2011) that a court in central Russia has ruled that a painting of the Sermon on the Mount that features Mickey Mouse -- instead of Jesus Christ -- is extremist.

The painting will now be banned from exhibitions, newspapers, magazines, and television.

The case was heard in a court in the Kaluga Region, after a local resident complained to authorities.

The court agreed with the prosecutor that Alexander Savko's Sermon on the Mount painting is an extremely cynical and mocking insult to the religious beliefs and feelings of Orthodox Christian believers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Violence in Karachi Pakistan Kills 39 in 2 Days; Victims Tortured, Shot, Stuffed in Burlap Sacks

Suspected gang members killed 39 people in the past two days in Karachi, Pakistan -- with many of the victims tortured, shot, and stuffed in sacks that were dumped on the streets -- the Washington Post website reports today (August 18, 2011).

The government has been unable -- or unwilling -- to stop the violence, as it grapples with a dismal economy and a raging Islamist insurgency.

Seventeen people were killed in Karachi yesterday and another 22 today, said Saud Mirza, police chief of Karachi.

Many of the victims were tortured, shot in the head, and stuffed in burlap sacks, Mirza said.

Pope Arrives in Madrid to Join World Youth Day; Says WYD Is "Like a Pure and Youthful Breeze"

The Catholic Culture website reports that Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Madrid, Spain today (August 18, 2011) to join in the World Youth Day (WYD) observances there, and immediately sent a message to the young participants: "Let nothing and no one take away your peace. Do not be ashamed of the Lord."

The spirit of WYD is "like a pure and youthful breeze, with refreshing scents," the Pope said on his arrival.

Pope Benedict arrived in Madrid after a short morning flight from Rome.

At an airport ceremony, the Pope thanked King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia for their greeting, then thanked all those who helped to plan the WYD festivities, and to host the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have swarmed to Madrid.

Seven Israelis Killed in Palestinian Terror Attacks; Israel Blames the Attacks on Egypt, Will Retaliate

Palestinian gunmen today (August 18, 2011) attacked an Israeli bus traveling near Eilat -- the first in a series of attacks that have left seven Israelis dead -- according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website.

Palestinian infiltrators from Gaza struck the bus shortly after noon today.

Two other attacks -- roadside bombs detonated as a vehicle drove past and another on Israeli troops -- occurred in the same area shortly afterwards.

Israeli media reported that Israeli soldiers have killed three of the terrorists.

Israel has blamed the attacks on Egypt, and said it will retaliate against the attacks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

COMMENTARY: Buffet's View of Wealthy Is Harmonious with That of Jesus

In a New York Times op-ed this week, billionaire Warren Buffet -- one of the world's three richest men -- writes that he and his mega-rich friends should pay more taxes.

Buffet adds that he and his mega-rich friends have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress, and -- in fairness to the American body politic -- it is time for extremely wealthy Americans to pay more taxes to the federal government.

Buffet must be commended for taking such an honest, self-sacrificing, and realistic position on the need for the rich to be taxed more, despite the fact that his position means that he would be taxed several million dollars more by the federal government each year.

Buffet also emphasizes in his op-ed that it is the poor and middle class Americans -- not the upper class -- who are fighting and dying in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while the extremely wealthy Americans enjoy their freedom and continue to live a luxurious lifestyle.

In fact, Buffet's view of the wealthy is harmonious with the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus emphasizes that wealthy human beings must help people who are less fortunate.

Jesus conveys His support of this attribute very emphatically in the Bible when He says: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." --Matthew 19:24

Buffet's call on Congress to immediately raise the tax rate for households with taxable incomes of more than $1 million -- with an additional hike for those making $10 million or more -- is indeed a fair and reasonable way to implement this tax plan.

President Obama has already agreed with Buffet's recommendation to tax the rich more, as he believes it is an effective and fair way to help close the U.S. deficit.

In fairness to our society -- in which most Americans are struggling to make ends meet -- let's hope that Congress quickly passes a tax law that includes Buffet's recommendation.

Imam Is Charged with Sexual Assault in Toronto; Charges Involve Five Male and Female Victims

The Cybercast News Service website reports today (August 17, 2011) that police have charged an imam at a Toronto mosque with 13 counts of sexual assault, and say there may be more victims in several other countries.

Detective Karen Armstrong said today that Mohammad Masroor, 48, abused his position of authority when he taught the Quran to students at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society and in private homes in Toronto since arriving in Canada in 2008.

Armstrong said Masroor also worked in France, Germany, Bangladesh, Hungary, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and most recently Florida and Michigan in the United States.

She said the charges involve five victims -- both male and female -- and that the investigation is ongoing.

Eight Killed as Bomb Explodes in Afghan Market; Bomb Was Hidden in Parked Motorcycle at Sunset

The Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 17, 2011) that a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing eight people.

Uruzgan provincial council director Amanullah Otaq said the explosives had been stowed in a parked motorcycle.

He said the bomb was detonated in a busy market area yesterday, just as the sun was setting and people were breaking their fast for the holy month of Ramadan.

Otaq said eight people were killed in the blast and dozens were wounded.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lakers Star Bryant May Be Charged with Assault; Allegedly Injured Man's Wrist in San Diego Church

San Diego police have launched an investigation into an alleged confrontation Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant had at a San Diego church, the Yahoo News website reports today (August 16, 2011).

Police say they want to interview Bryant who allegedly grabbed a phone out of another man's hand because he thought the man was taking pictures of him and his wife.

The man claims his wrist was injured when Bryant took the phone from him in the incident which occurred at the St. Therese of Carmel Church in Carmel Valley last Sunday, August 14.

Bryant left the church when he did not find any pictures. The man was treated and released at a San Diego hospital for a wrist injury.

Movie in a Park of Jesus Upsets Pakistani Muslims; Muslims Attack Christians, Smash Film Projector

In Abbottabad -- the eastern Pakistani city where Osama bin Laden was killed in May -- members of a Protestant church were beaten today (August 16, 2011) for showing a movie on Jesus in a city park.

In addition, angry Muslims smashed the film projector, according to the Catholic Culture website.

Police questioned Father Akram Javed Gill -- the local parish priest -- after he took a friend to the rooftop of bin Laden's compound.

"I learned a lot from that experience," said Father Gill. "Christians cannot afford to get involved in risky situations -- especially after the bin Laden episode."

Austrian Bus. Owners Want Shops Open Sundays; Govt.: Sunday Opening Destroys Social Structure

The Austrian Times website reports today (August 16, 2011) that the Austrian government argues that opening shops on Sundays would "disturb the social structure," family cohesion, and recreation.

The reaction came after mall owner Richard Lugner and other business owners demanded the ban to opening shops on Sundays be lifted by a lawsuit in front of the Austrian Constitutional Court.

The government responded with a statement sent to the Constitutional Court. An 11-page writ signed by Chancellor Werner Faymann said opening shops on Sunday would disturb the "social structure and common recreational activities."

Christian Neuwirth -- spokesman of the Constitutional Court -- said that the court's decision would probably come in the spring of 2012.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ohio Pastor to Lead Breakaway Lutheran Church; North American Lutheran Church Split from ELCA

Members of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) have elected an Ohio pastor as their new head bishop, making him the first non-provisional leader of the year-old denomination, the Ecumenical News International website reports today (August 15, 2011).

The Rev. John Bradosky was elected August 11 by 800 NALC members who met in Columbus, Ohio, to elect new leaders and conduct official church business during the church's annual meeting.

The NALC was founded in 2010 as part of a split from the more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), after the ELCA voted to allow openly gay clergy.

The breakaway body now numbers more than 100,000 members nationwide -- most of whom were previously affiliated with the ELCA.

Billionaire Buffet Wants Tax Hikes for Mega-Rich; "Friends and I Coddled Long Enough by Congress"

In a New York Times op-ed today (August 15, 2011), billionaire investor Warren Buffet, 80, writes that he and his mega-rich friends should pay more taxes -- a very unusual desire and a Christlike attribute for an extremely wealthy person to recommend in our society.

Buffet -- one of the world's three richest men -- writes, "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

In the op-ed, Buffet calls on Congress to immediately raise the tax rate for households with taxable incomes of more than $1 million, with an additional hike for those making $10 million or more.

"While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks," Buffet writes.

Buffet revealed that his last federal income tax bill was $6,938,744, which was only 17.4 percent of his taxable income.

President Barack Obama -- who has called for significant tax increases for the rich, as well as spending cuts to close the U.S. deficit -- today said he agrees with Buffet's recommendation to tax the rich more.

Vandals Spray Jewish Memorial in Czech Republic; Police Are Investigating the Case as Hooliganism

The Prague Daily Monitor website reports today (August 15, 2011) that unknown vandals sprayed a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Ostrava, Czech Republic over the weekend.

"The perpetrators sprayed the memorial with anti-Semitic symbols," said police spokeswoman Gabriela Holcakova.

Police are investigating the case as hooliganism -- damage to others' things and defamation of a nation, race, and an ethnic or other group of persons.

"The perpetrators face up to two years in prison," Holcakova said.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Copts to Leave Church If Not Allowed to Divorce; Church Only Permits Divorce in Cases of Adultery

The Orthodox Church Info blog reports today (August 14, 2011) that the Right to Life Movement -- a Coptic group in Egypt -- said a large number of its members will collectively leave the Coptic Orthodox Church, while retaining their Christianity, in response to the Church's refusal to permit divorce and second marriages, except in cases of adultery.

Mariam al-Naggar -- a leading figure in the Right to Life Movement -- said they were resorting to this move because all doors "were shut in their faces."

Naggar said they reject the church law which limits reasons for divorce to adultery only because it has negative psychological consequences on children, while changing religion to get a divorce causes sectarian strife.

Pope Shenouda III -- head of the Coptic Orthodox Church -- recently amended the law to restrict divorce to cases of adultery or conversion to another religion or to a different Christian sect.

Palestinians to Seek UN Recognition on Sept. 20; Lebanon to Hold Presidency of Sec. Council Then

The Eurasia Review website reports today (August 14, 2011) that the Palestinians will submit their bid for membership of the United Nations on September 20, according to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.

"Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will personally present the request to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the sixty-sixth session," on September 20, Malki said.

The Palestinian Authority chose September because Lebanon -- which will hold the presidency of the Security Council -- would be in a strong position to push the bid forward.

"Lebanon will hold the presidency of the Security Council in September and this will help us because the president of the council has special prerogatives, which is crucial," Malki stated.

COMMENTARY: Press Must Not Exploit Bachmann's Belief in Marital Submission

At a Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa on August 11, 2011, Byron York -- a reporter for the Washington Examiner -- asked GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann if she would be submissive to her husband in the White House.

The crowd at the GOP debate booed York for asking such a personal and inappropriate question. As a reporter, York should have realized that his question would "cross the line" from professional to unprofessional journalism -- and that he never should have asked it.

The inappropriate question was sparked by the fact that Bachmann -- several years ago -- had said that the biblical phrase, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord" had influenced her to be submissive to her husband.

This belief of Bachmann relates to her marital relationship with her husband, and not with her political decision-making, if she were to be elected president. Bachmann obviously has not applied this religious belief to her current political position of U.S. Representative from Minnesota.

A similar type of situation arose some 50 years ago when John F. Kennedy was elected president of the United States. Many Americans feared that Kennedy -- the first Roman Catholic to be elected U.S. president -- would be required to abide by the rulings of the Pope. Of course, Kennedy did not do so, as he governed the U.S. totally independent of the Pope's preferences.

As was the case with Kennedy, Bachmann would make her own decisions -- independent of her husband's preferences -- if she were the executive head of the United States.

In fact, to be subject to preferences of her husband -- and to make her presidential decisions based on his ideas instead of her own -- would mean that Bachmann was relinquishing her mandate of the American voters, if she were president. In reality, she would be playing the role of a figurehead.

In the final analysis, Bachmann's religious belief in being submissive to her husband in their marital relationship is her own personal belief. It is not a belief that can be distorted or exploited by the press.

Indeed, the press does not have the right to exploit any religious belief of any presidential candidate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gunmen Kidnap US Industries Expert in Pakistan; Warren Weinstein Worked There for Past 7 Years

Several gunmen kidnapped an American development expert after overpowering his guards and breaking into his home in Lahore, Pakistan today (August 13, 2011) -- a brazen pre-dawn raid that alarmed aid workers, diplomats, and other foreigners who already tread carefully in Pakistan rife with Islamic militancy and anti-U.S. sentiment, according to the Associated Press website.

The U.S. Embassy identified the victim as Warren Weinstein. Weinstein is the Pakistan country director for J.E. Austin Associates -- a development contractor that has received millions of dollars from the aid arm of the U.S. government.

Police declined to speculate on the motive; however, kidnappings for money -- by criminal gangs and by Islamic militants -- are common in Pakistan, with foreigners being the favored targets.

Weinstein -- who has worked in Pakistan for the past seven years -- headed a program designed to strengthen the competitiveness of Pakistani industries. He has worked as a development expert for 25 years, and holds a Ph.D. in international law and economics.

"Submissive" Question to Bachmann Was Inept; Women's Org. Head: Question Was "Ignorant"

A reporter's question to presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on August 11, 2011 -- relating to her marital submission -- has ignited talk about the biblical role of husbands and wives, and fueled a debate over sexism in the media, according to the Christian Post website.

The crowd at the GOP debate in Ames, Iowa booed after a panelist from the Washington Examiner asked Bachmann if she would be submissive to her husband in the White House.

Bachmann, a Christian, once spoke of how the biblical admonition "Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord" influenced her to be submissive to her husband.

Bachmann answered the question during this week's debate by saying, "What submission means to us... it means respect. I respect my husband... and he respects me as his wife."

Penny Nance -- president of the conservative organization Concerned Women of America -- said: "Byron York's question to Michele Bachmann about her relationship with her husband was incredibly inappropriate and downright ignorant. Perhaps he should study theology a bit."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jewish Inmate Sought $10B for 1st Amend. Denial; Claimed Entitled to Unleavened Bread, Grape Juice

The Reuters website reports today (August 12, 2011) that a federal judge has ruled that a Jewish inmate in a New York jail does not have a constitutionally-protected right to matzoh and grape juice.

Christopher Henry -- who was convicted of first-degree sodomy -- claimed permanent trauma and malnourishment, and requested nearly $10 billion in damages for what he called a violation of his First Amendment right to religious freedom.

Henry claimed he had the right to have the unleavened bread served daily and grape juice every Friday.

But on August 2, U.S. Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin held that Rikers Island jail could deny Henry his request in the interests of maintaining order and keeping costs reasonable.

Abp. of Canterbury Condemns Riots in England; "We Need to Educate Youth to Be Good Citizens"

The Christian Today website reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the criminality unleashed in English cities earlier this week.

Addressing the House of Lords yesterday (August 11, 2011), Dr. Rowan Williams said: "In the events we have seen in recent days, there is nothing to romanticize, and there is nothing to condone, in the behavior that has spread our streets. This is indeed criminality."

He added that one of the "most troubling" aspects of the violence had been the sight of not only young people, but children as young as seven taking part in the carnage.

Calling for a careful analysis of recent days, the Archbishop said there was a need to educate young people to be good citizens.

WCC to Participate in World Youth Day in Madrid; To Do So Helps Improve Relations with RC Church

The Ekklesia website reports today (August 12, 2011) that the World Council of Churches (WCC) will participate in the World Youth Day (WYD) in Madrid, Spain, August 16-21, 2011, in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.

The theme of the 2011 WYD is "Rooted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith."

The event is a joint initiative of the International Young Catholic Students (IYCS), the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana, the Juventud Estudiante Catolica (JEC), and the Echos Commission Youth in the Ecumenical Movement.

The WCC says its decision to participate in WYD "is consistent with our commitment to strengthen long-standing relations with the Roman Catholic Church." The Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC -- a Christian ecumenical organization -- which is comprised of some 350 Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Churches worldwide.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vatican Bank President: US Still Has Highest GDP; S&P's Credit Rating Drop Makes US More Humble

"The United States remains the most technologically advanced country in the world, with the highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product), surpassing one and a half times that of Europe, four times that of China, and ten times that of Italy," wrote Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican Bank, in the Vatican's newspaper, "L'Osservatore Romano."

His August 9, 2011 comments came in the middle of a week of global financial uncertainty due in large part to concerns over the U.S. economy, according to the California Catholic Daily website.

Last week, the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor (S&P) marked down the U.S. credit rating for the first time in its history amid fears over the nation's ability to pay its debts.

"The fact that it has been declassified does not flatten it to the ground, but probably will cause it to be more humble and open to collaborating with Europe," said Gotti Tedeschi.

Koran-Burning Pastor to Be in NYC on Sept. 11; Terry Jones to Visit Site of Ground Zero Mosque

The Washington Times website reports today (August 11, 2011) that the Florida pastor who made world headlines and sparked deadly riots abroad after he threatened to burn the Koran -- which he later did after putting it on trial -- is planning to visit the Big Apple to speak out against radical Islam on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Rev. Terry Jones -- along with his associate, Pastor Wayne Sapp -- will take their anti-Islamist message to New York City on September 11, including a planned rally and visits to Ground Zero and the controversial site of the Park 51 "Ground Zero mosque."

Rev. Jones -- who leads the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center -- is the author of a book that is critical of Islam titled "Islam Is of the Devil."

Obama Honors Muslims at White House Dinner; Praises Muslims' Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Huffington Post website reports today (August 11, 2011) that President Obama honored the sacrifices that Muslim Americans have made for the country last night at the White House's annual Ramadan dinner.

With only one month to go before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Obama emphasized the role that Muslim Americans played in the wake of the attacks, and their contributions to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Muslim Americans were the first responders... the EMTs... the nurse who tended so many victims, the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety," the president told about 100 guests before the meal.

Obama also paid tribute to the "brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans... and some who made the ultimate sacrifice."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

COMMENTARY: Clerics Who Transfer Abusive Priests Must Face Court Trials

A Philadelphia judge this week ordered a retired cardinal to testify in court next month, in order to determine what he knows about child sex abuse cases of priests in his archdiocese.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88, is expected to testify in a case involving Monsignor William Lynn, 60, who was Secretary for the Clergy. Fr. Lynn is facing trial on September 12 on child endangerment charges as a result of transferring abusive priests who later abused again.

This case is significant and unique, because it marks the first time that a priest not directly accused of molesting children -- but rather in transferring abusive priests to different locations -- will be tried.

The fact is that until the past year, the Roman Catholic Church -- going all the way back to the Vatican -- had a "secret policy" in which priests who molested children were simply transferred to churches in other locations. This ridiculous modus operandi resulted in a vicious cycle in which hundreds of abusive priests were transferred several times.

The Vatican now claims that it has ended this policy, and that abusive priests are now automatically defrocked. It's about time the Vatican finally implemented this new policy.

Hopefully, Philadelphia's unique court case next month will set a precedent, in which high-level clerics -- who transfer abusive priests to other locations to "remedy" abuse -- will be held accountable for their decisions, and will be subject to punitive treatment with judicial justice.

Black Teens Take Part in Mob Attacks on Whites; Attacks Occurred in Milwaukee, Chicago, Philly

The Christian Science Monitor website reports today (August 10, 2011) that in three large U.S. cities -- Milwaukee, Chicago, and Philadelphia -- flash mob attacks have recently occurred allegedly by black youth.

Officials in these cities are enforcing curfews and requiring chaperones for teens. Teen-perpetrated crimes in these cities have been part opportunistic, part thrill-seeking, and part racially motivated: dozens of black teenagers collectively targeting -- and attacking -- white people they don't even know.

On August 8, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he would add street patrols, and start enforcing a 9 p.m. weekend curfew for 13- to 18-year-olds.

In a message this week to the black mob suspects, Mayor Nutter -- Philadelphia's third black mayor -- said, "You have damaged your own race."

Catholic Priest Refuses to Recant Due to His View; Will Be Expelled for View to Ordain Women Priests

The Ethics Daily website reports today (August 10, 2011) that a Roman Catholic priest -- who has campaigned for the ordination of women -- has been told he will be expelled from his religious order, if he does not publicly recant.

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois was issued a "second canonical warning" on July 27, and told that he would be dismissed from the Maryknoll Order within 15 days if he continues to advocate for women priests and does not recant.

The warning letter -- signed by Maryknoll Superior General Edward Dougherty -- said Bourgeois has "remained unmoved" despite being asked "to consider the effects of your actions on the Society and the Church."

Bourgeois said he will not retract his statements.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thugs Paint Swastikas on Many Toronto Buildings; Data: Jews in Canada Face Increased Acts of Hate

The Jewish Week website reports today (August 9, 2011) that B'nai Brith Canada has called for vigilance and action, following three incidents of vandalism in the Toronto area during the past three days.

The incidents -- which appear to be related -- involve the use of stencils to spraypaint black and red swastikas, most recently at Beth Tikvah Synagogue with the words "Islam will rule."

Frank Dimant, CEO of B'nai Brith Canada, said, "We need no reminder that Jews in Canada -- as documented in our annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents as well as police statistics -- face an increase in acts of hate."

After a two-year study, the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism released a report last month calling for the federal government to do more to fight anti-Semitism in Canada, which it said is rising.

Faith Leaders Hold Vigil of Hope to End Rioting; Church of England Parishes Grant Help in London

The Christian Today website reports that as violent rioting continues throughout London, Christian leaders and politicians held a vigil of hope last night (August 8, 2011) in response to the carnage.

In several areas of the city flames are ripping through shops and cars, as hundreds of hooded looters take to the streets intending to cause damage.

Despite the horrors, faith leaders and politicians united in an effort to bring peace to the capital.

Held at The High Cross in Tottenham, the peace vigil was organized by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, as well as Pentecostal and independent churches.

Church of England parishes in Tottenham are providing practical help for members of the community.

Russia Calls on EU, NATO, UN to Watch Pristina; Deems It Seeks to Control Serb Regions in Kosovo

The Russian Foreign Ministry called on the European Union (EU), NATO, and the United Nations today (August 9, 2011) to prevent a possible attempt by Pristina to regain control over Serb-populated regions in Kosovo by force, according to the RIA Novosti website.

"Unfortunately, chances are great that despite the August 5 agreements to refrain from military actions, Pristina would fall into temptation of regaining control over Serb-populated areas in Kosovo by force," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

"We call on the EU, NATO, and the UN, who have their offices in the region, to show maximum responsibility with the goal of preventing such a scenario," he added. "The concerns of residents in Northern Kosovo municipalities should not be ignored."

Relations between Belgrade and Pristina deteriorated in late July, when Kosovo sent special police forces to its Serbian-populated north to enforce a ban on imports from Serbia, but local Serbs opposed the move. Special units came under attack from local Serbs as they pulled out in the direction of the northern town of Mitrovica.

Serbs in northern Kosovo are the largest non-Albanian community remaining in the country, following the 1998-99 Kosovan war for independence.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Head Takes Charge of Tibet's Govt.-in-Exile; Lobsang Sangay Replaces the Dalai Lama in India

The Washington Post website reports that Lobsang Sangay -- a Harvard-trained legal scholar -- was sworn in today (August 8, 2011) as new head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, replacing the Dalai Lama, 76, as the official leader of the Tibetans' fight for freedom from China.

Sangay -- the first secular figure to ever lead the religious (Buddhist) Tibetan community -- was born in the eastern Indian town of Darjeeling, and has never visited Tibet.

"Tibetan leadership is far from fizzling out... We are here to stay," he said, adding that he would work to fulfill the Dalai Lama's vision to create a truly secular democratic society.

Tibetans played musical instruments, and hundreds of children, men, and women cheered as the Dalai Lama accompanied Sangay to the brief swearing-in ceremony at the Tsuglakhang temple in the northern Indian city of Dharmsala, where the exiled Tibetan administration is based.

Exclusive: Jackie Kennedy Felt LBJ Killed Spouse; New Tapes Just Released Reveal Jackie's Theory

Sensational tapes recorded by Jackie Kennedy -- within months after President John F. Kennedy's assassination -- reveal that she believed Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the 1963 assassination of her husband, the Daily Mail (British) website reports today (August 8, 2011).

In the tapes -- released ahead of schedule by her daughter Caroline -- Kennedy reveals her belief that Texas-born Johnson and a conspiracy of Texas tycoons orchestrated the murder of her husband by gunman Lee Harvey Oswald.

Kennedy -- who later became Jackie Onassis -- claims on the tapes that the Dallas murder was part of a larger conspiracy to allow Johnson to become American President in his own right.

The tapes were stored in a sealed vault at the Kennedy Library in Boston with orders from Mrs. Kennedy that they were to remain secret for 50 years after her death.

Now -- 17 years after her mother died of cancer -- daughter Caroline has decided to release the tapes to the ABC network which will air the tapes, in exchange for agreeing to cancel its planned Kennedy drama series which upset Caroline and the Kennedy families.

Cardinal Ordered to Court on Priest Abuse Trial; First Trial for a Cleric Who Moved Abusive Priest

The Irish Central website reports today (August 8, 2011) that a Philadelphia judge has ordered former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88, to testify in court next month regarding what he knows about child sex abuse cases in his archdiocese.

Irish-American Monsignor William Lynn, 60 -- who was Secretary for the Clergy -- is facing trial on child endangerment charges arising out of transferring priests who later abused.

It will mark the first time that a priest not directly accused of molesting children -- but of moving suspected pedophile priests to different locations -- will have been tried.

Judge Teresa Armina has ordered Cardinal Bevilacqua to attend a September 12 court hearing on the issue.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

COMMENTARY: Syrian President Assad Must Be Replaced for His Barbaric Atrocities

The United States State Department says that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been responsible for killing 2,000 Syrians since last March for opposing his rule.

Last week, at least 45 Syrians were killed in the city of Hama, as shelling by tanks and their machine guns could be heard for several days. Water and electricity have been shut off, and security forces have confiscated food in some cities.

Several nations -- including the United States, France, and Germany -- have condemned the barbaric tactics being used by the Syrian government against its tens of thousands of opponents.

To add fuel to the fire, these killings have prevailed in the month of August -- the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Assad considers himself to be a Muslim -- 87 percent of Syria's population of 22 million people are Muslims -- but one would never know it from the barbaric atrocities he has been responsible for during Ramadan.

The fact is that Assad has developed an obsession with political power as the dictator of Syria, and he will do anything necessary -- including mowing down Syrian opponents with tanks -- in a die-hard effort to retain his totalitarian rule.

The United States extended its sanctions against Syria last week, while Italy ended its diplomatic relations with Syria.

We can expect more international action to be taken against Assad in the ensuing days. A persistent bombing of Syrian key government targets by NATO -- as was the case with Libya -- is a realistic option.

In any event, the Syrian crisis will not end until Assad is replaced as president of Syria -- and the sooner he is replaced, the better for humanity.

Atheists to Hold "Godless" Event at Fort Bragg; Event to Feature Music, Speeches, "Godless" Lit.

A group of military atheists has announced that "Rock Beyond Belief" -- an event originally planned for last April -- will now be held next spring, as the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina has finally agreed to host the festival featuring music, speeches, and "godless" literature.

Modeled after the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's "Rock the Fort" evangelistic event last year, the atheist festival will be held on March 31, 2012, the Christian Post website reports today (August 7, 2011).

Sgt. Justin Griffith -- the man behind the festival -- says Fort Bragg commander Col. Stephen Sicinski has allowed the use of a centrally located parade field.

"This just might be the turning point in the foxhole atheist community's struggle for acceptance, tolerance, and respect," Griffith said.

Gov. Perry Hosts National Day of Prayer in Texas; To God: "As a Nation We Have Forgotten You"

The Washington Times website reports today (August 7, 2011) that Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted a national day of prayer yesterday at Reliant Stadium in Texas that drew about 30,000 people, and that was broadcast on cable Christian channels and the Internet nationwide.

In a 12-minute speech, Gov. Perry said, "Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us."

The moment gave Gov. Perry a national spotlight before a pivotal voting group in the Republican nomination fight.

His entrance into the field could shake up the contest, because Perry could attract both social and economic conservatives at a time when the GOP electorate is unsettled with the current slate of candidates.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

British Jesuits Sell 7th-Cent. Gospel for $14.7M; Gospel Had Been Placed in St. Cuthbert's Tomb

The Catholic Culture website reports today (August 6, 2011) that the British Province of the Society Jesus has sold the Cuthbert Gospel to the British Museum for L9 million ($14.72 million).

The book was placed in St. Cuthbert's tomb at the end of the seventh century.

"It has been our privilege to possess this book for nearly 250 years," said a Jesuit spokesman.

He added, "Now, in order to answer more of the many demands on our resources, the province trustees have decided to sell."

Three GOP Candidates Agree to Marriage Pledge; Support Statement of National Org. for Marriage

Three Republican candidates for president say they will support a narrowly-written pledge against gay marriage, the Christian Broadcast Network website reports today (August 6, 2011).

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, and Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum have all agreed to vow to the statement created by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

The Nom pledge supports a federal amendment, defends the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and supports the appointment of federal judges who "will respect the original meaning of the Constitution," and oppose gay marriage.

Romney had previously declined to support a more broadly written pledge against gay marriage.

Over 20,000 Christians Attend Prayer Rally in TX; Planned by Gov. Perry Since "We Need God's Help"

The Huffington Post website reports that more than 20,000 evangelical Christians -- mostly from Texas -- assembled at the Lone Star state's Reliant Stadium today (August 6, 2011) to attend a prayer rally spearheaded by Rick Perry, Texas Governor and a probable candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Many of those attending sang with arms outstretched in prayer -- many of them weeping -- to the songs from Christian music groups on the stage.

"You didn't come here to listen to speeches," Luis Cataldo, a Kansas City, Missouri pastor, said in opening the event today. "You came here to pray. Jesus wants to hear you. Jesus wants to hear your voice."

In a June video announcing the event -- called "The Response USA" -- Gov. Perry said, "With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis, and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God's help. That's why I'm calling on Americans to pray and fast, like Jesus did and as God called the Israelites to do in the book of Joel."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Over a Million Muslims in Spain Observe Ramadan; Faithful Pray Five Times Each Day Facing Mecca

The Europe News website reports today (August 5, 2011) that Muslims in Spain started the Holy month of Ramadan this week, during which time they must not eat, drink alcohol, smoke, or have sexual relations until sundown.

During the fasting period -- which starts when the sun comes up -- the faithful have to pray five times a day, facing the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca -- Mohammad's birthplace.

Around 95 percent of Spain's 1.5 million Muslims are expected to participate in this year's Ramadan, which ends on August 30 with the huge Aid al-Fitr -- a major Islamic fiesta.

Christians in Kerala, India Seek to Curb Alcoholism; Kerala Has Largest Number of Christians in India

The Ecumenical News International website reports today (August 5, 2011) that officials in Kerala -- a state in southern India -- have announced steps to curb the growing problem of alcoholism, but church groups and prohibition activists are seeking more stringent measures.

Kerala has the highest alcohol consumption figures of any state in India, as well as the largest number of Christians.

"We welcome these measures. But we want more concrete and stronger steps to address alcoholism, which is causing havoc here," said Rev. M.T. Tharian of the Christian Temperance Movement (CTM) of Kerala -- a movement against alcoholism organized by the Kerala Council of Churches.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

About 250 Syrians Killed by Gunmen Since July 31; Resident: "People Being Slaughtered Like Sheep"

Gunmen in plainclothes are randomly shooting people in the streets of the besieged Syrian city of Hama, and families are burying their loved ones in gardens at home for fear of being killed themselves if they venture to cemeteries, the Associated Press website reports today (August 4, 2011).

Military forces on July 31 launched an offensive against anti-government dissent in Hama and around 250 people have been killed there since then.

People are being forced to ration food and share bread to get by during August -- the holy month of Ramadan -- when many Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and then celebrate with large, festive meals after sundown.

"People are being slaughtered like sheep while walking in the street," said one Hama resident, who spoke by phone on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. He added, "I saw with my own eyes one young boy on a motorcycle who was carrying vegetables being run over by a tank."

A-Rod to Be Questioned by MLB in Poker Probe; Commissioner's Office Will Interview Him Soon

The Washington Times website reports today (August 4, 2011) that Yankees star -- and three-time American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) -- Alex Rodriguez will be interviewed by Major League Baseball as part of its investigation of his involvement in illegal poker games.

"We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation," MLB (Major League Baseball) said yesterday in a statement. "As part of the investigation, the commissioner's office will interview Mr. Rodriguez."

The 36-year-old Rodriguez -- usually referred to in baseball circles by his nickname A-Rod -- had right-knee surgery on July 14, and was not available for comment. He is expected to rejoin the Yankees today.

A-Rod ranks sixth on the career home run list with 626. He needs 137 more to break the record of Barry Bonds -- who has been accused of using steroids during his baseball career.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

COMMENTARY: Proper Church Clothing Shows Respect for God

Last week, the Archbishop of Leon, Mexico, Jose Rabago, called on Catholics to dress modestly at Mass, emphasizing they should show respect for a church as the home of God.

Archbishop Rabago's appeal for proper dressing of church worshipers really applies to all Christian churches, not Catholic churches per se.

It is not unusual today to see women attending church services dressed in slacks, miniskirts, sleeveless shirts, and low-cut blouses. Likewise, some men wear shorts, sweatshirts, jeans, and sandals to church.

This kind of clothing should not be worn at church services, because they convey a disrespect -- or at least an indifference -- toward the Lord, as we visit His home.

I can recall some 50 years ago when many Christians reserved certain clothing -- such as new shoes -- to be used for Sunday church services only. In those days, there was a greater sense of individual humility and an unequivocal respect for God, while worshiping in His home.

True, society has, by and large, become more acceptable of a more casual "dress code" of its citizens during the past few decades. Nonetheless, that does not justify our dressing inappropriately while attending church services.

Indeed, in deciding how they should dress for church, churchgoers need to keep in mind that they are praying in the home of God, where what they wear must not be determined by their comfort or convenience.

Rather, the spiritual love, honor, and respect for God must transcend any other reason in determining how they dress for church.

Study Says Porn Harms Women, Hurts Church; Men Viewing Porn See Sex as "Hiring Prostitutes"

The Christian Post website reports today (August 3, 2011) that 30 percent of women, and 65 percent of men are addicted to pornography.

These statistics -- provided by the Transparent Ministries and Morality in Media -- reveal how pornography is an epidemic within the church community.

Dawn Hawkins -- Morality in Media's executive director -- says the kind of video the porn industry produces has grown more violent in recent years. This has often resulted in the husband -- after viewing violent porn -- living out the pornographic scenes in his marriage, Hawkins said.

Patrick Trueman -- president of Morality in Media -- said that when men view violent porn, there is not only an increase in violent behavior toward women, but in sex-trafficking as well. He added that men who view pornography see sex as "hiring prostitutes."

Italy Approves Draft Law That Bans Face Veils; About 3,000 Women in Italy Wear the Niqab

The Europe News website reports today (August 3, 2011) that an Italian parliamentary commission approved a draft law yesterday that would ban women from wearing veils that cover their face in public.

The draft law will be forwarded to the Italian parliament following summer recess, and -- if it is passed -- Italy will be the third European country to ban face veils, joining France and Belgium.

The law was sponsored by Souad Sbai -- a member of the conservative Freedom People Party and a native of Morocco -- who said, "We have to help women to get out of this submission."

An estimated 3,000 women across Italy wear face veils.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Car Bomb Attack on Church in Iraq Wounds 14; Dozens of Homes in Kirkuk Damaged from Bomb

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website reports today (August 2, 2011) that a car bomb attack on a Christian church in the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq has wounded at least 14 people.

A priest was among those injured in the blast on August 2, which heavily damaged the church, forcing it to close.

Dozens of homes in the area were also damaged.

Iraqi Christians have often been targeted in attacks -- which have sent thousands fleeing the country -- since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Abp. Calls on Catholics to Dress Modestly at Mass; Women Should Avoid Miniskirts, Sleeveless Shirts

The California Catholic website reports today (August 2, 2011) that the Archbishop of Leon, Mexico is calling on Catholics to dress modestly at Mass.

"If you have any respect for this place (a church), dress appropriately," Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago told reporters after Mass on July 24.

Criticism of the archbishop's comments came after local newspapers featured photos of posters at some parishes in Leon that said, "Respect God's house. Don't come dressed like this." The posters said women should not come to church dressed in miniskirts, sleeveless shirts, or low-cut blouses.

The archbishop said men need to dress appropriately at Mass as well, and should not wear shorts or sandals.

Syrian Troops Kill Nearly 100 People in Two Days; EU Imposes New Sanctions on Assad's Regime

After killing nearly 100 people in the past two days, Syrian troops tightened their siege on the city of Hama today (August 2, 2011), by taking up positions near homes and sending residents fleeing for their lives, according to the Washington Post website.

The escalated crackdown on anti-government protests has already brought an international outcry and new European Union (EU) sanctions on members of President Bashar Assad's regime.

Today, Italy recalled its ambassador to Damascus, citing "horrible repression" of citizens.

President Barack Obama called the latest violence "horrifying." There was no immediate prospect, however, of a Libya-style bombing of Syria.

Monday, August 1, 2011

NYC Megachurch Backs Hotel Maid's Rape Charge; Church Pastor Urges D.A. Vance to Push for a Trial

The Christian Post website reports today (August 1, 2011) that Nafissatou Diallo -- the Manhattan maid accusing former International Monetary Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape inside his hotel room -- now has the support of the Christian Cultural Center, a megachurch.

Diallo -- a 32-year-old Guinean Muslim immigrant -- held a press conference at the church last week, and targeted the 62-year-old former IMF chief, as well as Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., who is investigating the case.

Ken Thompson -- Diallo's lawyer and a member of the megachurch in eastern Brooklyn -- is believed to be behind the press conference. The church has over 30,000 members.

The Rev. A.R. Bernard -- the pastor of the non-denominational church -- showed support, saying, "I think, and hope, that he (Vance) is intelligent enough to understand what has been implied here."

Vance has been considering dropping Diallo's case, because investigators uncovered several lies by Diallo, thus damaging her credibility in a trial. Also, the New York Post website stands by its exclusive report that -- in addition to being a maid -- Diallo was a hooker at the hotel.

Exclusive: Israel Agrees to Talks with 1967 Borders; Agrees Aiming to Stop a UN Vote on Palestine State

In a dramatic policy shift today (August 1, 2011), Israel's prime minister has agreed to negotiate the borders of a Palestinian state based on the cease-fire line that marks off the West Bank, according to an exclusive Newser website report.

In a speech about the Middle East last May, President Barack Obama proposed negotiations based on the pre-1967 war line with agreed swaps of territories between Israel and a Palestinian state.

Benjamin Netanyahu -- Israel's prime minister -- reacted angrily to Obama's plan at that time, but now is basically accepting it, according to a report on Israel's Channel 2 TV today.

The main reason for Netanyahu's agreeing to resume peace talks based on Obama's pre-1967 border plan now, is because Israel is seeking to persuade the Palestinians to drop their initiative to win United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state next month.

Clerics Arrested at U.S. Capitol for Budget Protest; Feared Congress Would Hurt Poor in New Budget

The Huffington Post website reports today (August 1, 2011) that Rabbi Arthur Waskow and several other members of the clergy were arrested by Capitol Hill police for protesting the Republican House budget-cutting plan.

The group -- organized by Common Cause's president, the Rev. Bob Edgar -- occupied the center of the historic Rotunda for over a half-hour on July 28, praying and singing until police closed the massive chamber and arrested the group of 11 people.

Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle said they were trying to make a simple point.

"They were trying to send the message to Congress that the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of the poor, the middle class, or the neediest in society," Boyle said.