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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Franklin Graham, Evangelical Minister: Obama's 'Problem Is That He Was Born A Muslim' (VIDEO)

Obama keeping public expressions of religion to a minimum

As he flew aboard Air Force One to Chicago on his 49th birthday earlier this month, President Obama dialed three Christian pastors to pray with him.
On an airborne conference call, he kidded with the religious leaders about being abandoned by his wife and daughters, who were away on vacation and at camp. As he celebrated his birthday, he was in a reflective mood. He told them he wanted to pray about the year that had passed, what's really important in life and the challenges ahead.
"That was simply something that he wanted to do at his initiative because it was important to him," said Joel Hunter, an evangelical pastor who was on the call and who is part of a small circle of spiritual advisers who frequently talk to Obama by phone.
The prayer session, which was not publicized and which neither the White House nor the ministers sought to bring to light, reflects Obama's decision to keep his public expressions of religious faith to a minimum. Hunter said the president often reaches out to pastors for private spiritual conversation.
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I believe the results of the recent Pew institute poll showing a 18 percent of Americans think Obama is a Muslim derives in large part from racial bigotry. It is much more acceptable in America to say negative things about Muslims as opposed to negative things about African Americans. Witness the sinister statements by Reverend Franklin Graham, son the the famous evangelist Billy Graham who recently said Obama was “born a Muslim” because the religion’s “seed” is passed from the father".

This statement clearly contradicts the express words of the bible he professes to believe in which says upon accepting Christ as your lord and savior "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" 1Peter 1-3 New American Translation.

The problem with many evangelical pastors is that they tend to be poorly educated, poorly read and intellectually dead. As a result they are steeped in the same bigotry and prejudices as other similarly situated citizens. The problem is that many Christians and non Christians hear there statements and believe this is Christianity. These types of statements chase many people away from the church, good people who do not want to be associated with this type of ignorance and bigotry. Reverend Billy Graham was notorious for his open support for the corrupt President Richard Nixon and also the unpopular and morally indefensible War in Vietnam. No wonder so many highly educated and well read people reject organized religion.

John H. Armwood

Though President Obama has explained in his memoirs that his father was indeed born a Muslim, according to a Time Magazine article by Barack Obama in 2006, Barack Obama Sr.'s deep skepticism of religion eventually led to his atheism:

My father was almost entirely absent from my childhood, having been divorced from my mother when I was 2 years old; in any event, although my father had been raised a Muslim, by the time he met my mother he was a confirmed atheist, thinking religion to be so much superstition.

 

 

Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign? – This Just In - CNN.com Blogs

Is Assange the target of a U.S. smear campaign? – This Just In - CNN.com Blogs
[Update 11:30 a.m.] Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange is "no longer wanted" and "is not suspected of rape," Chief Prosecutor Eva Finne said in a statement published by the Swedish prosecutor's website Saturday.
[Original post] Reports of criminal accusations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought instant suspicion of a U.S. government-led smear campaign.
Assange, a citizen of Australia, has been accused in Sweden of rape and molestation, or harassment, the Swedish tabloid Expressen reported.

What's Behind A Surge In Anti-Muslim Rhetoric? : NPR

What's Behind A Surge In Anti-Muslim Rhetoric? : NPR
The controversy surrounding the proposed mosque near Ground Zero is the most visible sign of what may be growing anti-Muslim sentiment around the country -- from protests over proposed mosques in California and Tennessee to plans for anti-Islam protests and Quran burnings on Sept. 11. What may be fueling the anti-Muslim rhetoric?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Staten Island Grapples With Attacks Against Mexicans : NPR

Staten Island Grapples With Attacks Against Mexicans : NPR

The national debate over immigration is hitting especially close to home for one small neighborhood on Staten Island, New York City's least-populated borough.
Police are investigating a string of at least 10 alleged hate crimes in the borough's Port Richmond area since April — all violent, and all perpetrated against Mexicans.
Police have beefed up their presence in the neighborhood, with a mobile command center, a watchtower and officers on horseback. But down the street from all that, in a parking lot where day laborers wait to get picked up for work, Ismael Fabian says crimes like this are nothing new — only the 24-hour police posts are.

Blackwater Reaches $42 Million Settlement With U.S. - NYTimes.com

Blackwater Reaches $42 Million Settlement With U.S. - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — The private security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide, long plagued by accusations of impropriety, has reached an agreement with the State Department for the company to pay $42 million in fines for hundreds of violations of United States export control regulations.
The violations included illegal weapons exports to Afghanistan, making unauthorized proposals to train troops in south Sudan and providing sniper training for Taiwanese police officers, according to company and government officials familiar with the deal.
The settlement, which has not yet been publicly announced, follows lengthy talks between Blackwater, now called Xe Services, and the State Department that dealt with the violations as an administrative matter, allowing the firm to avoid criminal charges. A company spokeswoman confirmed Friday that a settlement had been reached. The State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said he could not immediately comment.
The settlement with the State Department does not resolve other legal troubles still facing Blackwater and its former executives and other personnel. Those include the indictments of five former executives, including Blackwater’s former president, on weapons and obstruction charges; a federal investigation into evidence that Blackwater officials sought to bribe Iraqi government officials; and the arrest of two former Blackwater guards on federal murder charges stemming from the killing of two Afghans last year.

Giant Oil Plume Found Below Surface Of Gulf : NPR

Giant Oil Plume Found Below Surface Of Gulf : NPR

Scientists have mapped out, for the first time, the underwater path that some petrochemicals took after gushing from BP's oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an important new piece in a huge scientific puzzle.
Researchers are trying to figure out where as much as half of the spilled oil has gone.

Rudy Giuliani Weights In Against Mosque As Expected

 Unfortunately Giuliani has weighed in on the Mosque issue with his usually politically opportunist  positions.  He is pathetic.  He is a lawyer, he knows better.  In the future we will look back at this episode with shame.  It is shameful to see how so many Americans are willing to throw away our basic values simply to be politically expedient.
John H. Armwood

The John Armwood Weekly News Podcast Friday August 20, 2010

This podcast is for the week ending Friday August 20th 2010.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Israelis and Palestinians to Resume Talks, Officials Say - NYTimes.com

Israelis and Palestinians to Resume Talks, Officials Say - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to announce Friday that Israel and the Palestinians will return to direct negotiations for the first time in 20 months, delivering the Obama administration a small victory in its protracted effort to revive the Middle East peace process, two officials briefed on the situation said Thursday evening.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, have agreed to place a one-year time limit on the talks, these officials said.
More...


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Imam Behind NYC Islamic Center Absent Amid Debate : NPR

Imam Behind NYC Islamic Center Absent Amid Debate : NPR
Listen NPR Audio Story


The 9/11 Commission Report



In all the debate over the proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan, one voice has been noticeably silent: that of Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind the mosque.
Right now, the imam is traveling, and in his absence, opponents are using past statements to criticize future plans.
Rauf already has a mosque in lower Manhattan. Masjid al-Farah is about 12 blocks from ground zero, and for 15 years the mosque has struggled to accommodate people in its small prayer space. In an interview about his plans for the new building earlier this year, Rauf said having a Muslim presence so close to the site lets him reach out to non-Muslims and counter the terrorists' ideology.
"By participating in lectures, by having sports together, this is how people bond across the religious divides, and this has been a very important factor in bridging relationships between the various factors of the Christian and other Abrahamic faith traditions," Rauf said.

Official: Gulf Well To Be Killed After Labor Day : NPR

Official: Gulf Well To Be Killed After Labor Day : NPR
The government has given BP the go ahead to replace the failed blowout preventer in the Gulf of Mexico as a first step toward permanently plugging the Deepwater Horizon well that caused one of the worst oil spills in history.
Ret. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the disaster, gave the green light to replace the blowout preventer, or BOP, after engineers from the British oil giant expressed concern that they could break a temporary plug installed last month as part of the permanent "bottom kill" procedure.
In a letter addressed to top BP Group executive Bob Dudley, Allen said that based on meeting of the Government Scientific Technical Team on Wednesday, he was authorizing the company to "proceed with the course of action to replace [the] BOP."
The bottom kill involves using a relief well drilled into the side of the main bore as a conduit to drive cement in, making the plug permanent. That was supposed to take place this month, but the replacement of the blowout preventer would delay the final capping by a few weeks, Allen said.

BBC News - Wikileaks encryption use offers 'legal challenge'

BBC News - Wikileaks encryption use offers 'legal challenge'
Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange responds to a BBC question about why it provides encrypted files for download. (Video: Frontline Club)
A novel use of encryption by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks could "challenge the legal system for years to come," according to an influential observer of the hacking community.
Some suspect the file - as yet unopened - contains further sensitive material.
It has been reposted around the web and is available for anyone to download.
"If you release it in encrypted form, nobody really knows if you've released it or not - or even what the material is," Mr Goldstein told BBC News.
"Then, if something happens to you, all it takes is the revelation of a simple spoken phrase known by a select group of people and everyone who has this mystery file now has all of the secrets."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If You Build It, Nothing Bad Will Happen - Forbes.com

If You Build It, Nothing Bad Will Happen - Forbes.com


You've probably heard about "The Ground Zero Mosque," an Islamic community center planned in Lower Manhattan. But I bet you haven't heard of The Ground Zero Strip Club.

There are actually a couple of adult entertainment venues that show up on Google ( GOOG - news - people ) Maps if you search around the former site of the World Trade Center. Internet reviewers seem to like New York Dolls best, due to its sexy, disproportionately Russian staff, mirrored stage and purportedly high-quality lap dances.

As yet, I haven't heard anyone wonder why our political class is silent as the sex industry operates on sacred ground. It would be a bizarre complaint: It's Manhattan, where you can find anything mere blocks from a given location. The closest strip club to Ground Zero happens to be two blocks away, a fact that has nothing to do with our reverence for the place where so many Americans were killed by terrorists. As you've probably noticed, it doesn't even make sense to call it The Ground Zero Strip Club

The National Republican Trust PAC - Home Page

The National Republican Trust PAC - Home Page
This video represents the unashamed, unpatriotic voice of hate in America. The people who are building the New York City mosque condemned the 9/11 attacks when it occurred. The "National Republican Trust" is lying and stirring up hate. This is immoral. This is un-American. Thank god we have a wonderful constitution that protects even hate speech like theirs as well as the religious freedom of those who are planning to build the mosque a few blocks away from ground zero, not on the ground zero site. The opponents of this mosque failed to understand that Americans have fought and died for centuries to protect the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority. That is the purpose of our constitution. That is why so many immigrants came to this country for religious freedom. This group betrays their legacy. Remember the Pilgrims, remember the quakers. They came to this country for religious freedom. That is what America is about. Watch this video. It's producers are the real enemy of American freedom. They, through there legally protected words can, if we let them, do more damage than the 9/11 terrorists ever did to freedom in America. They can frighten people away from cherishing our most sacred values and principles. They prey on the injured, the hurt, the victims of the 9/11 tragedy. That is a strong statement but it is true. These people are seeking to undue rights that many hundreds of people and have fought and died for. American patriots must stand up and speak against this rising tide of hate.

Black Woman Receives Honorary Degree 60 Years After Racist Rejection - BV Black Spin

Black Woman Receives Honorary Degree 60 Years After Racist Rejection - BV Black Spin

The story of Mary Price Walls (pictured), a 78-year-old Missouri woman born slightly ahead of her time, is the type of tale that makes you joyous and angry at the same time.
In an symbolic attempt to right a past wrong, Missouri State University administrators bestowed an honorary degree on Walls, who was denied her rightful entry to the then-all-white school 60 years ago because of racism.
The sight of Walls in her graduation cap and gown accepting congratulations from school officials and soaking in the cheers from the audience is truly heartwarming.




Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BBC News - Pakistan aid 'will not fall to extremists'

BBC News - Pakistan aid 'will not fall to extremists'
Pakistan has sought to reassure international donors that funds to help victims of its devastating flooding will not fall into extremists' hands.
The comments come as the UN said it had received less than half the $460m (£294m) it needs for the relief effort.
The shortfall has been blamed on fears over corruption and Taliban influence.
But Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the BBC the Taliban would not be allowed to take advantage of the crisis to increase its support.
"I assure the entire international community who would be supplying aid in any form, we give them assurance we will be auditable, he said, adding that the government was considering hiring international auditors to oversee the use of funds.

Sen. Reid Opposes Mosque in Lower Manhattan

Sen. Reid Opposes Mosque in Lower Manhattan
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has become the most prominent Democrat to oppose the construction of a mosque and Islamic center in lower Manhattan two blocks from Ground Zero. A spokesperson for Reid said Monday, "The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else." Reid’s comments come at a time when he is facing a tough reelection battle in Nevada with tea party favorite Sharron Angle. Here in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to be a vocal supporter of the Islamic center. On Monday, Bloomberg said it would be "a sad day for America" if the rising criticism killed the proposal. Meanwhile, Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has said the effort to block the mosque could harm US relations overseas. Wilkerson told Media Matters, "The impact on our military people would be injurious if we say 'no.' It would put another instrument in the hands of those who want to exploit the fear that Americans are at war with Islam and not the radical elements within it."
This is a shameful, cowardly position taken by Harry Reid. His opposition to the building of the mosque puts him in the company of un-patriotic Americans like Newt Gingrich who have opposed basic First Amendment rights for the Muslims who want to build their Mosque on private property a few blocks from ground zero. The Fist Amendment says;
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
James Madison wrote this amendment. He was a Presbyterian who lived in Virginia, a state that was dominated during colonial times by the state religion of Virginia, the Church of England also known as the Anglican Church. This church is now known in America as the Episcopal church.
Specifically the First Amendment was put in place so believers could build religious institutions and practice their chosen faith without interference of the government. It was put in place to protect minority religions as the Presbyterians were in 1776.
Patriotism is not simply waving a flag or supporting our troops. More fundamentally patriotism is supporting the values and principles embedded in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Republican New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it well;
"The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right - and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question - should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another."
Newt Gingrich said "there should be no mosque near Ground Zero if there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia". This is both intellectually dishonest and incredibly unpatriotic. We live in America. Does Newt Gingrich want America to be as intolerant as Saudi Arabia? If so let him live somewhere else. He has the right to speak his opinion here but what he is speaking is in opposition to both the law and the moral values of this country
Our values and our constitution are what makes America a better country than Saudi Arabia. They are our greatness. They make America a unique beacon in the world. This is incredibly important in the "War on Terrorism" that we are now fighting. Hypocrisy is a valuable tool that can and will be used by our terrorist enemies. Gingrich knows this but he is cynically playing to peoples fears and bigotry for the political benefit of the Republican party. He is sacrificing and attacking American values, our national interest and our constitution for his narrow political agenda. This is fundamentally evil. It is wrong. It is un-American.
How could Harry Reid join forces with Gingrich and this crowd of politicians who are unwilling to stand up for America?. Reid, a Mormon, should and does know better. He is in a tough Senate race in Nevada and he is taking this cowardly position cynically to gain votes. This is shameful. By doing this he has forfeited his moral right to lead the Democratic party in the Senate. He should step aside.
The issue of the placement of this mosque is a test of true American patriotism. America was founded as a place of religious freedom. Do we really believe in our constitution and our values or do we simply only believe in them when they serve our own, selfish, narrow interest. As a Christian American I stand with America and our constitution. As a patriot you cannot have one without the other.

G.O.P. Sees Mosque Near Ground Zero as Campaign Issue - NYTimes.com

G.O.P. Sees Mosque Near Ground Zero as Campaign Issue - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — Republican Congressional candidates on Monday intensified efforts to inject the divide over construction of an Islamic center near ground zero into the midterm campaigns while the Senate’s top Democrat said he objected to the mosque being built there.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader and a Democrat facing a difficult re-election fight, said through a spokesman that those who plan to erect the Islamic center should look elsewhere. That separates Mr. Reid from President Obama’s support of the developers’ right to build the center.
“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion,” said Jim Manley, a top adviser to Mr. Reid. “Senator Reid respects that but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”
In a number of releases and statements, Republican House and Senate candidates challenged Democrats like Mr. Reid to make their positions clear on the construction of a mosque and community center about two blocks from the site of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.
“Ground zero is hallowed ground to Americans,” Elliott Maynard, a Republican trying to unseat Representative Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat, in West Virginia’s Third District, said in a typical statement. “Do you think the Muslims would allow a Jewish temple or Christian church to be built in Mecca?”
Republicans said Mr. Obama’s defense of the right of the developers to pursue the project showed that he was out of touch with average Americans.
“It is very troubling to see President Obama again turning a deaf ear to the thoughts and concerns of a majority of Americans,” said James Renacci, a Republican candidate in Ohio’s 16th District, who said people at a recent public meeting were furious about the mosque proposal.
The remarks were a rare instance in this campaign season when Republicans have strayed from a focus on economic issues in their push for substantial gains in the House and Senate in November. The intensity of their attacks showed that they do not appear worried about the risk of being seen as intolerant or not supportive of the right to freedom of religion.
Some leading Democrats said it was the president’s role to stand up for constitutional rights in the mosque dispute.

Legal doubts surface as court extends California gay marriage ban | Richard Adams | World news | guardian.co.uk

Legal doubts surface as court extends California gay marriage ban | Richard Adams | World news | guardian.co.uk
Federal appeals court extends the block on gay marriage in California but opens question of who can appeal Prop 8 ruling
Gay marriage in California is delayed further by 9th District Court of Appeals ruling. 
The saga of gay marriage in California took another twist last night when senior federal judges demanded that opponents of gay marriage must justify why they can set foot in a courtroom.
The 9th District Court of Appeals yesterday extended the temporary ban on gay marriages in California – which was to have run out this week – until the end of the year.
But the court also opened up the crucial question of who can legitimately appeal the overturning of California's Proposition 8 amendment – a legal issue that could derail the case before it reaches the Supreme Court.
In its ruling to extend the ban on gay marriage while legal action is underway, the three judges revealed that they wanted to explore the arguments that those bringing the appeal lack "standing" – legal status – to take the case to court.
In addition to any issues appellants wish to raise on appeal, appellants are directed to include in their opening brief a discussion of why this appeal should not be dismissed for lack of Article III standing.
Normally, only those directly affected by a judge's order have standing to appeal. The unusual legal tangle has arisen because the original case – brought by two gay couples who wanted to marry – named California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and attorney general Jerry Brown as the defendants.
Neither Brown nor Schwarzenegger wants to appeal the decision two weeks ago to overturn the ban – and in fact both offered support for lifting it. Instead, the legal defence was offered by the backers of Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed by California's voters in 2008.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Gay Marriage on Hold as Case Is Appealed - NYTimes.com

California Gay Marriage on Hold as Case Is Appealed - NYTimes.com
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court panel on Monday ruled that same-sex couples could not marry in California while the court considers the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban.
But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel set a relatively aggressive schedule for hearing the case, ordering lawyers to produce a series of briefs between Sept 17 and November 1.
The Monday decision by the appellate panel reverses a ruling last week by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who had said marriages could resume while higher courts considered the matter.
The appeals court also is weighing Walker's main decision that struck down California's voter-approved ban.
(Reporting by Peter Henderson, Editing by Stacey Joyce)

Triumph on Racial Gap Withers in New York Schools - NYTimes.com

Triumph on Racial Gap Withers in New York Schools - NYTimes.com
Two years ago, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel I. Klein, testified before Congress about the city’s impressive progress in closing the gulf in performance between minority and white children. The gains were historic, all but unheard of in recent decades.
“Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap — and we have,” Mr. Bloomberg testified. “In some cases, we’ve reduced it by half.”
“We are closing the shameful achievement gap faster than ever,” the mayor said again in 2009, as city reading scores — now acknowledged as the height of a test score bubble — showed nearly 70 percent of children had met state standards.
When results from the 2010 tests, which state officials said presented a more accurate portrayal of students’ abilities, were released last month, they came as a blow to the legacy of the mayor and the chancellor, as passing rates dropped by more than 25 percentage points on most tests. But the most painful part might well have been the evaporation of one of their signature accomplishments: the closing of the racial achievement gap.
Among the students in the city’s third through eighth grades, 40 percent of black students and 46 percent of Hispanic students met state standards in math, compared with 75 percent of white students and 82 percent of Asian students. In English, 33 percent of black students and 34 percent of Hispanic students are now proficient, compared with 64 percent among whites and Asians.
“The claims were based on some bad information,” said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a research group that studies education policy. “On achievement, the story in New York City is of some modest progress, but not the miracle that the mayor and the chancellor would like to claim.”