http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-06-23-us-jews-delta-airlines-...

 


 
Says real disclosure in political ads addresses a "profound moral issue"

SACRAMENTO, CA - An organization representing 21 denominations with 1.5 million members within the mainline and progressive Protestant communities of faith is the latest major organization to support the injection of transparency into the election campaign process. The group, California Church IMPACT, joins the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, and the California Nurses Association in endorsing AB 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act.

Authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, AB 1148 will require millionaires, corporate CEO's and other Big Money contributors who buy political ads to reveal their true identities in those ads, rather than hiding behind innocuous sounding names like "Stop Hidden Taxes" or the "California Jobs Initiative". Under AB 1148, the largest funder of an ad would have to appear in the ad, identify themselves, and say that they "helped pay for this message and approve it".

"The overwhelming power of money to mislead voters is a profound moral issue," said the Reverend Dr. Rick Schlosser, Executive Director of California Church IMPACT. "Voters deserve real disclosure in political ads so they know which powerful special interests are trying to buy elections and can make more informed decisions on which messages to believe."

The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed unlimited, anonymous corporate and other spending on campaigns. In California, nearly $200 million was spent on November 2010 ballot measures alone, most by corporations hiding behind committees with misleading names. Studies have shown that anonymous spending groups are significantly more likely to fund negative advertisements.

"AB 1148 is a far-reaching effort to lift the veil on the hidden Big Money political campaign spenders in California," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of the California DISCLOSE Act. "It would stop special interests from being able to influence elections without voters knowing who's really behind the ads they're seeing."

AB 1148 applies to all ads supporting or opposing ballot measures or ads supporting or opposing candidates paid for by independent expenditures. California already has strong reporting requirements on candidates, so AB 1148 imposes no new reporting requirements on them, but requires candidates to "stand by their ad" like federal candidates have to. As an amendment to the Political Reform Act of 1974, AB 1148 can either be put into effect by a 2/3 vote of the legislature or by a majority vote placing a measure on the ballot for the voters to decide.

"The California DISCLOSE Act is a critical piece of legislation to fight unregulated corporate influence over California elections", said Jo Seidita, Chair of the California Clean Money Campaign. "Californians have a right to know who is financing the ads that they are constantly bombarded with during election season."

There is overwhelming support of legislation requiring greater disclosure in political ads, as indicated by the 89% of voters who favored legislation requiring ads to say which corporations paid for them, in a national poll done by Hart Research in June 2010.

#####

The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization dedicated to lessening the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns. For further information, visit www.CAclean.org.

 


 

MINOT FLOOD: Disastrous. Unstoppable. Historic. Unprecedented... http://www.minotdailynews.com/

 


 
Since the late 1970s, 163 million female babies have been aborted by parents seeking sons

Written By JONATHAN V. LAST

Mara Hvistendahl is worried about girls. Not in any political, moral or cultural sense but as an existential matter. She is right to be. In China, India and numerous other countries (both developing and developed), there are many more men than women, the result of systematic campaigns against baby girls. In "Unnatural Selection," Ms. Hvistendahl reports on this gender imbalance: what it is, how it came to be and what it means for the future.

In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. This ratio is biologically ironclad. Between 104 and 106 is the normal range, and that's as far as the natural window goes. Any other number is the result of unnatural events.

Yet today in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, the number is 121—though plenty of Chinese towns are over the 150 mark. China's and India's populations are mammoth enough that their outlying sex ratios have skewed the global average to a biologically impossible 107. But the imbalance is not only in Asia. Azerbaijan stands at 115, Georgia at 118 and Armenia at 120.

What is causing the skewed ratio: abortion. If the male number in... http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405270230365740457636169116563136...

 


 

A girl of nine has told how she escaped Pakistani terrorists who tried to use her as a human bomb.

Sohana Jawed said she was kidnapped on her way to school in Peshawar, and forced to wear a remotely-controlled suicide jacket. But she escaped her captors as they prepared to send her towards a paramilitary checkpoint.

Sohana, wearing her a blue and white school uniform, recounted her ordeal during a news conference with police in Lower Dir district. Militants in Pakistan have often used young boys to carry out attacks, but the use of young girls is rare.

Sohana said she... http://www.independent.ie/breaking-news/world-news/girl-nine-used-as-hum...

 

Written by Rachel Sheffield

For many Americans, poverty is hidden from view, and its reality is conveniently tucked out of sight and out of mind in places like inner cities or across rural landscapes. The effects of poverty, though, are all too real for those suffering in the shadows.

Consider one startling fact: Children from single-parent families... http://blog.heritage.org/2011/06/17/morning-bell-fathers-day-and-the-imp...

 

St. Peter Express, Part II

Of the abridged adventures of one of the 1.5 million pilgrims that descended upon Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II: an account of everything but the beatification itself.

By F. Ferguson

Stampede
The moment before I fall into the arms of Morpheus, a voice cries out the most hateful words I can hear in this moment: GET UP! I’m immediately on my feet, blindly shoving my bed into my bag, mindful of the thousands of people mobilizing to cross this bridge. No time to pack my mat—this is four hours earlier than I expected. By the time I’m upright with my belongings, I’m totally surrounded by a mob of Poles of all ages. I scan the horizon of heads for my French comrades and manage to find some of my group at the end of the Via Conciliazione, where security personnel let people through individually at five or six entry points. Thus begins the all-night six-block marathon up the street.

It’s a battle: our small disoriented company losing men in the fray, getting separated, identifying comrades in the crowd by their clothing, flag, or language. These things are enough to bond when you’re up against obnoxiously loud Italians, groups of Spaniards enacting a Running of the Fools, and endless throngs of fearless Polish grandmas determined to press forward. Halfway to St. Peter’s Square, we hit a gridlock and settle down, trying not to get crushed.

Reaching the toilets in the nearest crossroad is an incredible ordeal. Although volunteers escort us through the body-strewn street, it’s inevitable to step on people as we tiptoe through the mass of immobilized bodies, reminiscent of a Dantean vision of Inferno.

We manage to return to our nebulous camp in the human amoeba that plasters the street. For two hours we huddle in the middle of what is usually a very busy thoroughfare, twisting our bodies to fit whatever crevice we can fill, hoping to catch some sleep. But it escapes most of us.

I’m more or less facing St. Peter’s, which rises before us like the Emerald City, only it isn’t green. Still, the cobblestones beneath us might as well be the Yellow Brick Road. Which I guess would make us a horde of homeless Munchkins. You can imagine a lot of things at 3, 4, 5, 6 am in the midst of 1.5 million people storming the smallest city-state in the world.

In the last leg of the race as the sky lightens, there’s no pretense of civility. Between falling asleep standing up and leading my group (the constituents of which have changed dramatically through the night) in song or joining in with the Parisian parish group that happens to be nearby, it’s a series of violent bag- and body-pushing towards the Vatican City. Normally, I’d hate this. But this is beyond normal. It’s rather exciting. With our bags and mats in testudo formation, we bulldoze through, two meters at a time.

In The Elliptical Square of St. Peter
Past the X-ray machines at the entrance, we’re hit with a devastating reality: the Square is already packed, and irritable sleep-deprived Catholics are jumping barricades and arguing loudly, fighting to shortcut the passage. The immense power of the crushing crowd steers us up against the barricade, then around a column; we creep down the shallow steps, discerning paths among bodies and blankets. In the bustle, we start losing each other one by one; I keep in sight of a student (tactical strategy: blue sweatshirt=friend), who spots a chaplaincy encampment. But it’s impossible to reach them with the human tangle on the ground and the constant incoming waves of people shoving us on. When we see one of our chaplains on the other side of our stream of traffic, we dodge all sorts of sleeping and smoking forms to reach the small Parisian oasis. Unfortunately, my raised mat is futile against the smoking girls sitting in front me; I weakly wrestle the great vexation that engulfs my sleepy mind. Sometimes, such as when I’m being forced to inhale carcinogens, carbon monoxide, tar, and ashes, I’m tempted to go soft on the Christian principles of forgiveness and forbearance.

Pageantry
With my Japanese emblem draped over my shoulders and a small Union Jack in my hand, I take in the sight of the other flags represented: one or two of the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, Greece, Slovakia, Switzerland, Spain, Lebanon, and about a billion of Poland. Even non-Polish looking banners reveal themselves to be in fact, Polish, once their texts come into view.

Ceremony
This is better recorded by others. Suffice it to say we’re overjoyed to celebrate the achievements of one of our brothers, thrilled to see Pope Benedict XVI beatifying his dear friend. I’m mumbling prayers of thanksgiving and petition—yes, including for the cessation of smoking but also for more compassion in my own heart—through my somnolent daze.

Exeunt
We leave the square (easily!) when Communion begins. Volunteers in the streets hand out packs of bottled water labeled “San Benedetto” as we power-march past landmarks and stride through Piazza Navona to picnic near Termini. Happily munching on Polish sausage for the occasion, I observe Rome in the sunshine. It’s as strange for me to see tourists and locals going about their day just as we backpacking pilgrims must appear strange to them: international sojourners who camp in the street for a short ceremony.

No Italy without gelato; I waltz off and board the train with pineapple and peach sweetness. Immediately I’m enlisted to block the doors from two Tunisian men trying to sneak into France on our train. We nervously follow the unsettling instruction to search the bunks, storage spaces, and bathrooms for “undesirable passengers.” The border security stint over, I dig into an avocado with a gelato paddle and introduce the French to Reese’s peanut butter cups. When the train begins to nap, tranquility itself rolls by in the golden evening light on the other side of the window and bids us farewell. Arrivederci, Italia.

Bonjour, Paris
There’s nothing like beating the crowds to early-morning teeth brushing, watching the landscape flash past at 75 kilometers per hour. After Lauds, our voices continue weaving four-part harmonies down the hallway, searching for wisdom, reveling in beauty. This isn’t a dorm fieldtrip but a makeshift cloister on wheels, a koinonia of bright youths fervent in their walks of faith, part of, and yet apart from, the world.

We’re back at Austerlitz at 10:30 am. The two brothers from my group rocket down the platform, shouting exultantly. The rest of us take pictures and exchange see-you-soons before taking to the transports of Paris, very much looking forward to a nice shower. It’s been a great weekend: we’re renewed in spirit and we’ve grown in friendship with some great memories shared between us—and the rest of the world who joined us—in the great adventure of attending the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome.

 

Parents, mark your calendars for our annual Vacation Bible School which will be held July 25 to 29, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Church of Christ, 219 Mountain View Street at Highway 126. Children from four years to fifth grade are invited to PandaMania, “Where God is Wild about You!” This will be an exciting week with many faith-building activities! Plan now to attend.

 

Written by Jonathon M. Seidl

Two Palestinian teens have been charged in the brutal, horrific death of an Israeli family. And one of those teens not only has no remorse, but he said he would do it all again.

The Fogel family was attacked back in March. The two young Fogel boys, aged four and eleven, were stabbed, one in the heart, while the family’s 3-month-old baby had its throat slashed. During the attack, the parents were also stabbed while in bed. The father died of knife wounds while the mother was shot.

17-year-old Hakim... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/teen-accused-of-brutally-stabbing-israel...

 

The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank's attempt to show inclusiveness in the workplace by flying the rainbow flag outside its building has reignited a divisive gay-rights debate.

Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, is calling on the bank to remove the flag, terming its presence "a serious deficiency of judgment by your organization, one not limited to social issues."

In a letter to Richmond... http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/news/2011/jun/04/marshall-asks-richmo...

 

St. Peter Express

The abridged adventures of one of the 1.5 million pilgrims that descended upon Rome for the beatification of Pope John Paul II: an account of everything but the beatification itself.

By F. Ferguson

Exodus and Exile
The last hours before departure, I’m playing with fire: rushing to iron a pillowcase, drying and straightening my hair, baking cookies. Everything goes smoothly until the discovery that the last metro connection to Austerlitz Station is closed. The clock is ticking… terrified of missing my train, I race across the Seine heaving my big backpack, but on the platform, my cohort of 80 university students decked out in white and blue are milling about excitedly. Apparently, there’s still a half hour before departure. I get some funny glances—I probably look like how I feel: a packcamel after a Saharan sprint.

Self-ostracized in my sweaty and gross state, I nervously make my way to the couchette listed on my ticket. At a compartment stuffed with backpacks and a bunch of girls, I muster a friendly, “Hi, I’m bunk #96.” They’re not impressed. “The bunks are all taken; we’re not actually assigned anywhere, so you’re free to pick whatever spot you find.” Oh. Heat transfer: burn. I drift down the train peering into body-less but backpack-filled compartments, the lone new kid on the school playground.

Constructing a Sun in a Moving Train
Somehow my bunk is re-rendered to me, so I drop off my backpack and wander down the narrow hall in search of friendly faces. And I find one: a fellow in a classy blazer who answers, “engineering” when asked what he studies. His response and general friendliness inspire my soliciting help to transform my pillowcase into an unmistakable symbol of national identity. He kindly accepts. While he sets up a compass, three roommates swoop in on this quest to create a perfect circle—we consider tracing a round of Camembert, but it’s proportionally inadequate. Replacing the compass’ weak fiber with dental floss, the operation continues, and finally, the train finally begins to inch towards Italy. Cheers erupt from throughout the train; exuberant students stick their heads out the windows, waving at startled people on the platform.

But I, I stay put, observing the team of gallant Frenchmen at work making me a sun, which I eventually snip out with a tiny hot pink Swiss Army knife. Some of this brigade also stick their heads out the window, notably the fellow who drains his carton of pork rillettes into the rushing evening wind. Mirth and merriment abound. Visitors pop in frequently, asking what we’re doing with newspaper and scarlet fabric all over the place. The guys grin, “Making a Japanese flag, obviously!”

As dinner winds down, one of our accompanying priests leads vespers over the loudspeaker. We pull out our booklets. Chant, hymn and prayer fill the train.

Romeward Bound
A group leader arrives to herd his errant flag-making sheep from the far end of the car. I meet the people with whom I will be deployed in Rome. Ten of us, including a just-engaged couple and two brothers who’ve come from the coast of France for this trip, cram cozily into a compartment. The space is decked out with giant French and Vatican flags, much to the delight of the priest who stops by. We hold a discussion on love and forgiveness; a passage from one of John Paul II’s homilies: “Is not mercy love’s ‘second name’?” particularly strikes us. We pray Compline with the rest of the train before splitting.

Then the priest’s voice invites us to pray the rosary. I slip into the nearest quiet compartment, where the girls graciously gesture to a seat. How wonderful this trip is: strangers so freely praying together.

Later while I’m chatting with the girls in my own compartment, an American exchange student finds me and we talk briefly before the beds are set up. I climb into the middle bunk in the direction of movement (toss-up between slamming into the wall or into the two vertical straps in place to keep bodies from falling). But it’s actually exceedingly peaceful. I’m flying through the night on my back across the countryside in an insulated roller coaster. In my pajamas!

In the Morning
I wake up to what seems like one of the miracles required for the beatification to be valid: I could swear that we’re traveling in the opposite direction. What I am sure of is that most of us are awake, but no one moves until the priest’s voice informs us that soon it’ll be time for Lauds. To dress in the space of about two squashed square meters and chant morning prayer from our bunks, we become contortionists. (Yet another miracle?) After breakfast, we break to meet with our small groups to further discuss Divine Mercy.

Later, some students lead singing over the speakers and introduce our Roman itinerary. The useful narration is interspersed with some wry commentary as well as spontaneous karaoke until a rather doleful voice informs us that the mic has been reappropriated by the proper train authorities.

On the walls hiding the beautiful city of Florence, there’s gigantic graffiti that reads, “YOGURT,” with a “v” in place of the “u.” How Latin.

Flag-Making, Reprise
One car over, an assistant helps me center and pin the sun to the pillowcase with red safety pins. During our industry, we sing with another girl. When it’s time to work on the Polish side of the flag, someone from my group shows up and offers help. Thus while poking fun at the Parisian accent, we fuss with the large swath of red fabric, folding, cutting, pinning, and occasionally yelping in pain as we clumsily pierce our fingers. Well, he just pretends. I bear the injuries.

Rome
We leave Termini Station at 3 pm in our groups for the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. It’s a brief visit, as the second train carrying our mass’ celebrant, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, is delayed four hours. Our group settles on a bench-lined walkway between the Carcalla baths and the Circus Maximus to discuss charity and compassion. Then we break out our rain gear and head to the Forums, snacking on satisfyingly chewy chocolate chip cookies. The rain lets up as the chaplaincy meets at one of the oldest churches in Rome, the Basilica of Saint Clement. In the courtyard, our chaplains describe the building’s conversion from house to church, and the role of families in evangelization.

We then convene at the Lateran Obelisk—the largest standing in the world—waiting for others of the 1,500 from the Paris diocese to arrive. We’ve secured the basilica for our own French mass, and we enter singing joyously. After the mass, students linger to continue singing. The gilded ceiling and exquisite paintings in the apse and transepts are lit beautifully.

Nightfall
After picnicking near the Coliseum, we begin our trek towards the Vatican City. Other flag-bearing pilgrims cross our path that features clocks marked with numerals that couldn’t be more Roman. Near 11 pm, we arrive at the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II. From my plot in the gutter, I can see the glowing cupola crowning St. Peter’s basilica above the housetops and the illuminated Castel Sant’Angelo lying at my feet. Not bad for a first outdoor sleepover. We’re just a drop in this river of bodies and sleeping bags lining the street; on the sidewalk, steady streams of Poles—some in cultish metallic red capes—parade past in both directions.

The priest takes his post at the intersection with a loudspeaker, rallying the morale of his French flock. Flags and banners dance above us in the night sky; we cheer as the bus carrying a company of cardinals—the Cardinal Car—creeps past. Traffic finally gives way to the multitude steadily filling the streets. Our territory secured, we pray Compline and sing the beautiful chant Totus tuus, the motto of John Paul II’s pontificate. Then we party like we just traveled 1,104 kilometers to celebrate the beatification of our favorite Polish pope of all time. Out come the guitar, violin, drums, and jubilant hymns… Some people actually fall sleep, but plenty don’t even try, opting to sit on the wall with the intention of singing through the night. Unfortunately, the post-hymn repertoire attracts an audience of smokers and the wind sends smelly toxic fumes in my direction. I muffle my aggravation, burrowing into my sleeping bag.

 

Devotedly washed and sprinkled with rose petals, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb lies prepared for burial.

But the rituals of death cannot wipe away the horrific injuries that have mutilated his body almost beyond recognition.

Nor do they blot out that Hamza - riddled with bullets, kneecapped and with neck broken and penis hacked off - has the rounded cheeks and gentle face of a child... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392684/Hamza-Ali-al-Khateeb-chi...

 

The situation is becoming increasingly grim for Pakistan’s Christian population. Unimaginable fits of violence and acts of desecration against sacred lands barely begin to describe the horror and devastation that non-Muslims face in a nation that is becoming increasingly less tolerant. Last week, the Asia Times reported on two alleged instances that perfectly illustrate how the situation has devolved:

Christian tombs were recently... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/report-police-refuse-help-after-christia...

 

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia‘s Orthodox Church teamed with Conservative parliamentarians Monday to push legislation that would radically restrict abortions in a nation struggling to cope with one of the world’s lowest birthrates.

The legislation would ban free abortions at government-run clinics and prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill without a prescription, said Yelena Mizulina, who heads a parliamentary committee on families, women and children.

She added that... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/russian-lawmakers-prepare-for-major-crac...

 

19-year-old Katya Koren is an attractive, young Muslim girl from Ukraine... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/19-year-old-muslim-girl-allegedly-stoned...

 

(Reuters) - Last January, Nazih Moussa Gerges locked up his downtown Cairo law office and joined hundreds of thousands of fellow Egyptians to demand that President Hosni Mubarak step down.

The 33-year-old Christian lawyer was... http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/27/us-egypt-christians-idUSTRE74Q...

 

Written by Rhonda Robinson

Never before have I walked into a church to be greeted by a barrier of armed police with metal detector wands. Nor have I had to let officers open my purse to search for weapons before I could enter a sanctuary—that is, until now.

That was when Geert Wilders came to speak at Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to warn America, to warn Christians. He came to wake up the Bible Belt to the threat of Islam. But before a single word was spoken, these ominous signs foreshadowed the truth of what was yet to come.

Geert Wilders is not a president, royalty, or anyone most of us would recognize on the street. And yet, as he took the podium to a loud applause and standing ovation, Wilders stood flanked with security constantly scanning the crowd, reminiscent of our own presidential secret service.

Why all the fuss for... http://www.newsrealblog.com/2011/05/20/geert-wilders-presents-5-steps-am...

 

Written by Diane Schrader

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that academic freedom really did reign on America’s college campuses. I know, it’s difficult to envision, but just for the sake of argument let’s pretend it exists.

So into our little fantasy, let’s introduce a character. Let’s make him one of the most influential young conservative Christians in America, who is also a teaching assistant and Ph.D. candidate at Yale. (Ha ha ha! A well-known conservative Christian teaching at Yale! This is one crazy fantasy!)

And let’s say that in a lecture one day, he says the following things:

1. The Bible teaches that Islam is evil. Evil, repugnant, futile and useless.

2. Muslims, therefore, are evil.

3. God says that Muslims are spiritually filthy.

4. The life and property of Muslims hold no value when we are battling them. Here in America, this is not the place and time where we can take their lives and property, but in other places, we can, and at another time, we may do it here, as well. But not here now. Not yet.

Let’s further pretend that we have audio of this teaching, widely... http://www.newsrealblog.com/2011/05/16/video-a-muslim-view-of-peace-and-...

 

Written by Scott Baker

NEW DELHI (AP) — Two Muslim mothers in a northern Indian town have been arrested on accusations they killed their daughters for dishonoring the family by eloping with Hindu men, police said Sunday.

Newlyweds Zahida, 19, and Husna, 26, were strangled when they returned home after getting married to men of their choice, said Anil Kumar Kusan, a police officer.

Marriages between Hindus and Muslims are not common in India and are frowned upon by both communities, although there are more instances of inter-religious marriages among the educated urban population.

Across India, many marriages are... http://www.theblaze.com/stories/india-mothers-accused-in-honor-killing-o...

 

Schools are helping teenage girls keep abortions secret from their parents. Imogen Neale reports.

A MOTHER is angry her 16-year-old daughter had a secret abortion arranged by a school counsellor.

Helen, not her real name, found out about the termination four days after it had happened. "I was horrified. Horrified that she'd had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn't talk to us," she said.

She had suspected something was wrong, but her daughter insisted her tears were over everyday teenage dramas.

But Helen confronted... http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/news/5005398/Schools-arrange-se...