Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Short Break

I must apologize to both of my beloved readers. I will be taking a few days off from blogging as other events are demanding a great deal of my time. Having just returned from a vacation, I am now planning a large remodel of my house, and later today will be going into surgery to remove a (small and non-dangerous) tumor from my head. Not wanting to blog under the influence of anesthesia, I will give it a couple of days to wear off.

In the meanwhile, visit the places I have linked in my sidebar. Also, here are a few of my favorite blogs. These should give you plenty to read and think about.

Little Green Footballs by my friend Charles Johnson

discarded lies by my friends evariste and zorkmidden

Power Line


The fabulous Michelle Malkin

Read and enjoy. And, since health is an issue of mine, I want to offer this workout video for you to exercise with;

Weird Workout Video

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The ACLU and Free Speech

We are often told that it is a "fact" that our free speech rights, both on the right and on the left are protected by the ACLU. I hold this notion to be false, but have never really addressed it on this blog.

The great John Leo, four weeks ago, wrote a piece on this very matter.

ACLU's free-speech defense depends on who's speaking
Many people believe that the American Civil Liberties Union no longer cares much about free-speech cases. Now, the organization is thinking of curbing the speech of its own officers. It has drawn up standards, not yet promulgated, that would discourage public dissent on ACLU policies and forbid open criticism of anyone on the board or the staff. Nat Hentoff, a former board member who writes frequently about the ACLU, called it a "gag order."

The organization said it feared that internal criticism might harm its fund-raising and public support. Yes, dissent can affect a group's reputation, but not as much as the squelching of dissent by alleged advocates of free speech.

One trigger for the no-criticism standards was the loud, open dissent by board member Wendy Kaminer on the ACLU's backing of a bill calling for federal regulation of ads placed by anti-abortion counseling centers. The bill, introduced in Congress by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D.-N.Y., would instruct the Federal Trade Commission to ban ads, under headings like "abortion" and "clinics," by centers that oppose abortion and try to convince women to keep their child. Kaminer, a Boston attorney who is "very strongly pro-choice," said, "I don't believe the pro-choice movement has the copyright on the term 'abortion services.' That seems to me a very clear example of government being the language police."
Meyers leveled many criticisms at Romero, among them: that he is intolerant of dissent, withholds financial information from the board, and cuts funding of ACLU affiliates if they are critical of him. He also says Romero instructed Nadine Strossen, president of the ACLU, to create a policy restricting board members' rights to speak directly to staff. Meyers said that policy was twice changed. Now questions by board members have to be voted on and agreed to by a majority of the executive committee before Romero will agree to answer.

Meyers thinks the ACLU's backing of the Maloney bill is an indication that the organization has strayed from its "traditional free-speech roots" and turned to "identity politics." It's hard to imagine the ACLU of 10 or 20 years ago asking government to monitor advertising.

But the ACLU now has issue-oriented lobbies inside it. They are called "projects" and include the "Reproductive Freedom Project," the "Women's Rights Project" and the "Lesbian and Gay Rights Project." The influence of the projects, and the money they bring in, often tend to sway the ACLU away from its once primary concern about free speech.
Read it all, there is much more.

The ACLU long ago gave up its interest in protecting free speech unless that speech supports some flavor of identity politics. And, if you are engaging in speech that goes against the causes of pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-whatever, anti-Americanism, then you can expect no support from the ACLU. In fact, you may see them move against you. [read at least the first few pages of this, you will be astounded - ed.]

A Nice Vacation Stop

I have been on vacation in Richmond, Virginia for the past week. We are having a wonerful time, of course. Yesterday I went to Fort Lee to visit and shop in the PX.

Since I retired from the Navy, I have not spent much time on military bases other than Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. I must say that being at Fort Lee with U.S. Army soldiers was a very comfortable feeling. These guys and gals are the salt of the earth.

God bless them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Taep'o-dong Is Not For Satellites

The Leftist™™ site Think Progress posted a piece that supports North Korea in her efforts to launch a missile, and criticizes the U.S. for activating the missile defense shield. Administration Responds to North Korea Missile Stunt With Missile Defense Stunt. Included in this is the following;
Fortunately, the missile the North Koreans may test does not work either. The last time they fired a long-range missile was in 1998, it went about 1300 killometers (sic) and failed to put its tiny payload into orbit.
This is clear proof that the Lefties™™ do not know what they are talking about. Neither the Taep'-dong 1 nor any other North Korean missile was intended to place a payload in orbit. The North Koreans know what is necessary for that. These are built to be weapons. One does not orbit a weapon. One drops them on targets.

For more about the Taep'o-dong missiles, The Taep'o-dong Missile Series. Read both links. There is a lot of good information there.

So, where did this notion that this is all related to satellite launches come from? It came from the liberal government of South Korea, which routinely covers for North Korean actions as part of her "Sunshine Policy". This is why the liberals lost in such a big way in the recent elections, and now the Sunshine Policy will soon be history. The people of South Korea have gotten tired of kidding themselves about the North.

So, as part of the Sunshine Policy, the South Korean government covers for the North by announcing that these are satellite launches. Nothing to worry about. This is willfullyly blind position. The North Koreans know perfectly well what is required to place a payload into orbit, and did not design these missiles to do that. North Korea is all about weapons and weapon sales (in addition to counterfeiting American $100 bills and manufacturing illegal methamphetamines and heroin) to make money for Kim Jong-Il and friends.

Of course liberals tell us that it is wrong to call North Korea a criminal government, reserving that designation only for the United States.

The people of South Korea are getting sick of their government and it is beginning to show up even in liberal news outlets. An editorial in the Digital Chosunilbo, I Say Satellite, You Say Missile
The government has reportedly concluded that what North Korea is preparing to test-launch is likely a satellite rather than a ballistic missile. The North Korean regime has starved millions of citizens to death or driven them into modern-day slavery and prostitution in China, but, our government says, it now merely wants to launch a satellite to compete in the noble field of science and technology.

We have no way of knowing exactly on what grounds the government makes a judgment that differs so markedly from that of the U.S. and Japan. Everyone knows that more than 90 percent of our information about the North relies on U.S. intelligence satellites. Since when has the government developed its own intelligence capability? If it did, it would be a spectacular achievement.
This administration also offered an "independent" assessment on the North'’s nuclear arms program, namely that it was "“for defense purposes"” and therefore had some justification. Along the same lines, it has now decided to call a satellite what the entire world says is a missile. A missile, it seems, is a crisis, and a satellite is its resolution. Naive or stupid, who knows? But it'’s a shame the people have no government but this one to rely on.
Not for long.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Left Makes Up the News

Of course it does not come as a shock to clear thinking people, and it should not come as a shock to Liberals that this should catch up with them. There are many examples of this, the most obvious and well known one being this, Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators, By Jason Leopold Of course that one has been discussed already by many other bloggers, including Charles over at LGF. The Lefties™ were very disappointed. This is all stuff that you already knew.

The great John Leo wrote and excellent column about the tendency of liberals to write fiction, The Left promotes assertions that turn out to be false
Writing in Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. assures us that the 2004 presidential election was stolen. This popular conspiracy theory has attracted many Democrats, from the clearly unbalanced to John Kerry himself. (Professor and activist Mark Crispin Miller of NYU says Kerry told him he believes the election was stolen.)

Kennedy thinks it's fishy that the recorded vote didn't match the exit polls in four battleground states where Kerry was supposedly ahead. He also thinks the Republicans discouraged voters by creating long lines at voting stations in heavily Democratic areas. But bitter surmise isn't proof. And according to a long and detailed analysis on -- no hotbed of Republican thought -- the evidence Kennedy cites isn't new, and his argument is filled with distortions and the deliberate omission of key data.

Why would Kennedy damage his credibility this way? This may not be breaking news, but if an assertion reflects a widely shared emotion, it can make great headway in this culture without any need to prove its truth. We have been through this many times. The 2000 election was allegedly stolen, though no credible investigation backed up the claim, not even the one by the Civil Rights Commission, which was then firmly in Democratic hands.
Assertion doesn't always beat facts, but it happens a lot. For example, many of President Bush's detractors are saying that his argument for keeping troops in Iraq -- to achieve a democratic transformation -- is a new rationale meant to distract from the missing WMDs. The New York Times made that charge in an editorial on April 27. But it isn't true. Bush listed democratic transformation in Iraq as one of his aims before the war, as the Times acknowledged in an editorial on Feb. 27, 2003. Distilling the president's various arguments on Iraq down to the one on which a lot of people think they were snookered -- the WMDs -- is a distortion, but it accurately expresses a popular feeling, so who cares if it isn't so? Not the Times, apparently.
Read it all.

One area that Mr. Leo did not cover in this piece, but has discussed before is another technique that the liberal press has for slanting and distorting the news - story selection. There are many stories that simply do not get reported because they do not fit the political agenda of most of the liberal press. I will cover that in a later post. And, think about how polling data is published. For instance, the majority of Iraqis want the U.S. out of their country. No doubt that that is true. You are not told that they want us out after they are strong enough to govern without us. THAT is a big secret. Also, most Americans want us out of Iraq. Of course they do, I do to, after Iraq is secure. We don't want to stay any longer than necessary, but we need to finish what we are doing. You won't hear that angle from the press either.

Now, how about that Rove indictment?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Taep'o-dong Missile Series

This is the class of missile that North Korea, in her game of brinksmanship, is unwisely preparing for launch. For details see;

Taep'o-dong 2 (TD-2) from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).


Taep'o-dong 2 (TD-2) from

ACLU Supports Christian Song?

Yes, strangely enough. Yet, credit where credit is due. This news is a bit old, but I have been traveling and haven't had a chance to blog on it yet.

ACLU backs student's right to sing Christian song
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a legal brief yesterday supporting a Frenchtown elementary school student's right to express her religion by singing a pop Christian song at a school talent show.

Maryann and Robert Turton sued the district last year after the school struck the act from its performance list. School officials said the Turtons' daughter, Olivia, then in second grade, could not sing the song "Awesome God" at the evening talent show because it was too religious for a school setting.
The School's idiotic position is;
School officials banned Olivia from singing the song, arguing its content was unsuitable for the school-run talent show held on a Friday night in May 2005. Concerned about crossing the line separating church from state, they said the performance might lead the audience to believe the school endorsed Olivia's religion.
In court documents filed last week, the school board said the song was not appropriate for several reasons, including "violent imagery," and cited lyrics that read, "There is thunder in his footsteps and lightning in his fists" and "It wasn't for no reason that He shed his blood."
In a reversal of the usual, the ACLU takes the reasonable position;
The ACLU argued in its motion filed yesterday that no reasonable person could conclude the school endorsed religion simply by allowing Olivia to sing her song. The ACLU cited other similar cases.
I seriously doubt that the ACLU will ever take the next reasonable step - let Christian students pray as freely as Muslim students are permitted to pray.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tolerance of the RoP

This is an excellent piece by Ramesh N. Rao on the tolerance for Hindus shown by Islam.

Hinduism in Islamic republics
Commentary: Of Karma and Dharma
FARMVILLE, June 16 (UPI) — Islam, we are told, is a religion of peace but that a few people have hijacked it and given it a bad name. Others say that Islam is the problem, and that fascism and authoritarianism are codified in Islam. I will leave it to the experts to debate the validity of the contending claims. While that debate rages on, I would like to present some disturbing information about the attacks against other religions, religious symbols, and religionists in Islamic Republics, and especially attacks on Hindus and Hinduism.

India was partitioned in 1947 by the British into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and India, a secular, democratic republic. Pakistan chose Islam as its state religion, and living in the two parts of Pakistan - West and East - was a large minority of Hindus. In West Pakistan (now Pakistan), the Hindu population was estimated to be anywhere between 15 and 24 percent of the population, and in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Hindus constituted 30 percent of the population.

Sixty years later, the Hindu population in Pakistan has been reduced to about 1.6 percent, and in Bangladesh (a.k.a. East Pakistan, formerly East Bengal) to about 9 percent. "They just migrated to India because they felt more secure in India," or "they migrated because of economic opportunities" are the assertions of those who wish to side-step the hegemonic nature of the monopolistic claims of Islam, or the authoritarian bent of Islamic regimes.
Read the whole thing for good information on the benevolence shown to the Hindus by pratitioners of the Religion of Peace™. Also discussed is the approach taken by "progressives" in multicultural matters and how helpful that has been.
They say, "Also needed are multicultural policies that recognize differences, champion diversity and promote cultural freedoms, so that all people can choose to speak their language, practice their religion, and participate in shaping their culture — so that all people can choose to be who they are."

Interesting as it may sound, does it mean that a Muslim living in the U.S. is allowed to divorce through "talaq" or marry four wives, or that Muslims can demand that Arabic be the language of instruction in public schools where there are large groups of Muslim students, or that Hispanics can demand Spanish, and Indian-Americans can demand Hindu and the seventeen other official languages of India for Indian students?

In India, the demand to have a common civil code governing practices like marriage, etc., has been labeled as an attack against Muslims made by "Hindu nationalists," ignoring the fact that such a demand is completely logical, fair, and rational. This attitude of the liberal/progressive groups is what enables the extremists from the other end of the political spectrum then to demand an America for "whites only," or the Christian fundamentalists to make the world "Christian."

Amartya Sen and the U.N. committee are mum, however, in their report about diversity and democracy in Islamic republics. It is this strange blindness and inexplicable tied tongues that make progressives the object of racist and extremist derision if not hatred. When we recognize the strange blinders that progressives wear evaluating the "functioning" of Islamic regimes or the influence of Islam on peoples of the world we recognize ideology overwhelming sanity and logic.
Read the whole thing, there is much, much more.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth - for Al Gore

The inconvenient truth is that Al Gore uses junk science in his new propaganda film. When he is not using junk science, he is just making stuff up.

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe
"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.
And even in that tiny fraction most of then are climate impact scientists, i.e. the impact of a change in tempurature on a plant or animal species or designers of computer models. He did not include the scientists who actually study global climate change over time.
Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and "hundreds of other studies" reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore's dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. "The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier," says Winterhalter. "In Antarctica the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front, so if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough icebergs will form."

Dr. Wibjörn Karlén, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems."

But Karlén clarifies that the 'mass balance' of Antarctica is positive - more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the 'calving' of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans. When Greenland and Antarctica are assessed together, "their mass balance is considered to possibly increase the sea level by 0.03 mm/year - not much of an effect," Karlén concludes.

The Antarctica has survived warm and cold events over millions of years. A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future.
But...but...but..., what about the disappearing Arctic Ice Cap?
Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."

Karlén explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. "For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years," says Karlén
But, we see higher temperatures worldwide. And what about all of those cities that had record high temperatures last year?!?!?!?
Concerning Gore's beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India. Morgan explains, "Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (which doubled the area of warming in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Ocean) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance."

Gore's point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records," he says. "The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual."
Of course, this is liberal religion and politics. Dissenting views are not permitted and are shouted down when they are heard. The people who point out the failings of Mr. Gore's "science" are subjected to ad hominem attacks. The real truth is;
Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."
Al Gore and the Left™ would have us commit to the worthless Kyoto Accords even though they would have no efect but to damage the U.S. economy. Of course, weakening the United States is another goal of those politics.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

An Explanation for North Korean Belligerence

Is there a purpose behind Kim's nuclear madness?

Economy root to N Korea crisis
The focus of the international community's alarm over North Korea is the isolated nation's nuclear arsenal, and its refusal to talk about it.

An aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the dire state of its economy, and yet this could be at the heart of the nuclear crisis.

The regime, with few allies in the world, cannot appeal to the sort of humanitarian emotions that African or South Asian nations have in the past.

To ensure the flow of food and oil, it must have a bargaining chip, and its nuclear arsenal is that chip.

Therefore Pyongyang's diplomatic bluster is inextricably linked to its need to keep what remains of its economy propped up by donations.
When you are a pariah, the only thing left is blackmail.
As for the economy today, it has to all intents and purposes collapsed.

The reforms were limited, and benefited just the elite of the country rather than ordinary people.

The basic structure remains in place and continues to erode the economy.

However, as long as the regime can keep the country isolated, it can survive on this drip-feed indefinitely.

The endgame is simple - regime survival. It is a long-term strategy using diplomatic belligerence and military threat to secure enough aid to maintain power and isolation.

The regime may survive, and may under pressure begin another round of tentative reform, but it seems unlikely that life will improve for ordinary North Koreans any time soon.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Holy Pentecost

Icon of the Feast of Holy Pentecost

Today is the Feast of Holy Pentecost. This day is the birthday of the Church. It is the day when the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles and gave then the ability to speak in all of the languages of the world, so that they may go out and teach the good news of Jesus the Christ. On that day, three thousand people were baptized into the Church, receiving forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The same is possible today for all who believe.

The event is described in Chapter 2 of The Acts of the Apostles (this from the Revised Standard Version)

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phryg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 `And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day.

21 And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
22 "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know -- 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, `I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.

27 For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption.

28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.'
29 "Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says,
`The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand,
35 till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.'
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." 40 And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Here are two excellent articles about Holy Pentecost.

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Feast of Holy Pentecost

From Bishop Alexander (Mileant) of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad; Pentecost, The day of descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

I wish everyone a blessed and joyous Holy Pentecost.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dutch Troops Kill Taliban

The Dutch have troops? I thought that this war was an American unilateralist effort to oppress the peaceful Afghanis and extend American power for the benefit of the BushChimpyMcHilterHalliburtonites. So, why would the Dutch be involved? Maybe it has something to do with these guys (yes, we really are working with our allies).

Colonel says Dutch troops have killed "dozens" of Afghan militants in recent months
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Dutch troops in Afghanistan's restive southern province of Uruzgan have killed "dozens" of suspected Taliban fighters in the past two months, the Dutch commander in the region said in an interview published Saturday.

Col. Henk Morsink, who is leading a task force preparing a camp for more than 1,000 troops who will travel to the region in August, told national daily the NRC Handelsblad that one of the victims of the fighting was believed to be a senior Taliban leader, but he gave no further details of the leader's identity and said that all figures for casualties were estimates that cannot be confirmed.

Morsink told the paper that Dutch patrols had been involved in six firefights with suspected Taliban insurgents, including one on May 30 when Apache helicopters were called to open fire on the attackers.

So far the Netherlands has suffered no casualties in the region.

"We've had a guardian angel watching over us a few times," Morsink said. (AP)
Good for them.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Nudity, Profanity, and ... Faith?

Yes, these are the things that can get a movie a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Narrow focus draws 'PG' rating for Baptist-backed film

What is the PG rating?
The Motion Picture Association of America is crystal clear when it describes why its "PG" rating exists _ it's a warning flag.

"The theme of a PG-rated film may itself call for parental guidance," states the online explanation of the rating system. "There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity. ... The PG rating, suggesting parental guidance, is thus an alert for examination of a film by parents before deciding on its viewing by their children. Obviously such a line is difficult to draw."
A movie titled "Facing the Giants" has earned a PG rating. This came as a surprise to the moviemakers as this movie is "squeaky clean". So what is it that would be dangerous enough to caution parents about letting their children see it?
Disagreements are a given. The Christian moviemakers behind a low-budget film called "Facing the Giants" were stunned when the MPAA pinned a PG rating on their gentle movie about a burned-out, depressed football coach whose life _ on and off the field _ takes a miraculous turn for the better.

"What the MPAA said is that the movie contained strong 'thematic elements' that might disturb some parents," said Kris Fuhr, vice president for marketing at Provident Films, which is owned by Sony Pictures. Provident plans to open the film next fall in 380 theaters nationwide with the help of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which has worked with indie movies like "The Squid and the Whale."

Which "thematic elements" earned this squeaky-clean movie its PG?

"Facing the Giants" is too evangelistic.
Yep, that's it. Just too much for Hollywood to let it go by.
The movie includes waves of answered prayers, a medical miracle, a mysterious silver-haired mystic who delivers a message from God and a bench-warmer who kicks a 51-yard field goal to win the big game when his handicapped father pulls himself out of a wheelchair and stands under the goal post to inspire his son's faith. There's a prayer-driven gust of wind in there, too.

But the scene that caught the MPAA's attention may have been the chat between football coach Grant Taylor _ played by Alex Kendrick _ and a rich brat named Matt Prader. The coach says that he needs to stop bad-mouthing his bossy father and get right with God.

The boy replies: "You really believe in all that honoring God and following Jesus stuff? ... Well, I ain't trying to be disrespectful, but not everybody believes in that."

The coach replies: "Matt, nobody's forcing anything on you. Following Jesus Christ is the decision that you're going to have to make for yourself. You may not want to accept it, because it'll change your life. You'll never be the same."

That kind of talk may be too blunt for some moviegoers, said Kendrick, but that's the way real people actually talk in Christian high schools in Georgia. Sherwood Baptist isn't going to apologize for making the kinds of movies that it wants to make.
Too blunt and too dangerous for liberal, amoral Hollywood.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Wonder If They Read This

I discovered that I have been linked to on a blog that is written by communist anti-semites.

I have to wonder if they actually read the post that they linked, or if they know where I stand with regard to the Dear Murderer-Freak Kim Jong-Il and the cruelty of the enormous concentration camp that he calls a "country"

U.S. Oppression of Religion Criticized

The government of North Korea (that is, Kim Jong-Il) has criticized persecution of Muslims, citing themselves as the model of religious freedom [see this, this, and this, - ed.].


Pyongyang hits out as US "religious repression"
Rome (AsiaNews) - The US war on terrorism "is a hideous war aimed to abuse human rights of Iraqi and Afghan people" as well as being a "ruthless way to destroy religious freedom of Muslims". The charge was made today by the Korean Central News Agency, the official press agency of North Korea, one of the most oppressive and anti-liberal regimes in the world.

"The United States is contemplating expanding the theatre of the war of aggression to such Islamic countries as Iran and Syria, under the pretexts of development of nuclear weapons and support to terrorism, but its only aim is to arrest, imprison and persecute blameless Muslims."

The document continues: "The marines throw Muslims into detention camps reminiscent of the concentration camp operated by Nazi fascists. Not content, they commit such blasphemy as throwing a Koran into a chamber pot." The dispatch ends with a "warning" to Washington against pressing ahead with the war, given that "the international community is beginning to realize its true intentions: religious repression and clash of civilizations under the pretext of democracy". [The same international community that wants the North Korea to stop building nuclear weapons. - ed.]
So how does this paragon of virtue do with regard to religious freedom?
In North Korea, only the cult of the leader Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung is allowed. The regime has always sought to hinder the practice of religion and forces believers to register with organizations controlled by the party. Brutal and violent persecution of believers who do not register, and of those who undertake missionary activities, is frequent.

For its part, Pyongyang says religious freedom is present in the country and guaranteed by the Constitution: according to official government estimates, there are around 10,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Catholics. Government estimates only take into account those believers enrolled in recognized associations.

Since the Communist regime was installed in 1953, around 300,000 Christians have disappeared and there are no longer any priests or sisters, who may well have been killed during the persecutions. Currently there are around 80,000 in work camps, subjected to hunger, torture and even death.
So when is the "international community" going to hold North Korea to account?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Conservatives Win in South Korea

And, Kim Jong-Il is not liking it. This spells real trouble for the North, as it is unlikey that the Grand National Party (GNP) will continue the "sunshine" policy or offer continued massive support.

Conservatives Enjoy Landslide in Korea
( - South Korea's liberal ruling party has suffered a stunning defeat in nationwide local elections, and that could have implications for the government's sensitive policy of engagement with its Stalinist northern neighbor.

Chung Dong-young, chairman of the Uri Party, resigned Thursday, after Uri won just one of 16 posts up for grabs for nine provincial governors and mayors of seven major cities.

The pro-U.S. conservative Grand National Party (GNP), which is reviled by the North Korean regime, took 12 of the 16.

At a lower level, results were equally devastating for Uri, which won only 19 out of 230 contests for heads of smaller city councils and wards, compared to the GNP's 155.
North Korea and its Dear Murderer have relied heavily on the South,
Uri backs the "sunshine" policy of engagement with North Korea, formulated by former President Kim Dae-jung and pursued by Roh.

As the three-and-a-half year crisis over Kim Jong-il's nuclear programs has dragged on, Roh has repeatedly disagreed with any calls for the U.S. to take punitive steps against the North, saying it was not in the South's interests for the communist regime to collapse.

Uri has also taken issue with Washington's handling of the nuclear standoff. Senior party members were especially critical of the passage of legislation promoting freedom in North Korea, and of the U.S. decision late last year to impose financial sanctions on banks linked to counterfeiting and other illicit North Korean activity.

The GNP, by contrast, has been skeptical of the sunshine policy, accusing the government of being too willing to make concessions to Pyongyang that aren't reciprocated.

Conservatives were appalled when Roh, during a visit to Mongolia earlier this month, said he was willing to provide the North with more aid, without conditions, and make "many concessions." He also said he was ready to meet with Kim Jong-il "anytime, anywhere."

Wednesday's election result comes as a blow not just to Roh, but to Pyongyang too.
"For Kim Jong-il and his regime, the possibility that a conservative government will take over after the next election is the worst-case scenario," a columnist wrote in the conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper last week.

"Pyongyang has had enormous help from the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations," he wrote. "If the [GNP] conservatives come to power and the Bush administration's and Japan's efforts against the North persisted, it would rock the Kim Jong-il regime to the core."
The next President of South Korea is almost certain to be Park Geun-hye.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Islamic Honor-Murder Embarrassing

All this honor killing is just soooooo embarrassing.

Pakistanis try confronting shame of honor killing
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) - Ayesha Baloch was dragged to a field, her brother-in-law held the 18-year-old down, her husband sat astride her legs and slit her upper lip and nostril with a knife.

They call such assaults on women a matter of "honor" in some Pakistani communities, but for the majority it is a source of national shame.

Married less than two months ago in Pakistan's central district of Dera Ghazi Khan, Baloch was accused of having sexual relations with another man before marriage.

"First they tortured me and beat me. I started screaming. Akbar then caught my hands and pulled me to the ground. Essa sat on my legs and cut my nose and lips," Baloch mumbled through her bandages at hospital in the city of Multan.

"I was bleeding and started screaming after they fled on a motorcycle. People heard me and rescued me and took me to my mother's home."

At least she wasn't killed.
The same week, a world away from Baloch's village, social activists, parliamentarians and community leaders gathered in the suburban, leafy capital of Islamabad to launch a campaign -- "We Can End Honor Killing."

Farhana Faruqi Stocker, country director of international aid agency Oxfam, said some 10,000 people called "change-makers" had signed up so far.

But Stocker knows two constituencies will be vital to the campaign's success.

"The mindset of legislators has to be changed in order for good legislation to come out," Stocker told Reuters.

But she is well aware that there are many remote rural areas of Pakistan where maulvis, or clerics, exert more influence than local government and federal law.

"In order to bring change, we have to engage with clerics."
Since, of course, honor killing is so important a part of the religious practice of Islam.
Honor killings are known as "karo-kari" killings.

A woman is deemed a "black woman," a "kari," once she is accused of having sex outside of marriage and is liable to be killed. "Karo" is the male version.

The custom is rooted in tribalism, although a strict interpretation of Islam's hudood penal code also rules that adulterers should be stoned to death.
For more on this see Religion of Mercy.This happens everywhere in Pakistan, and in Islamic populations generally, but is particularly bad in the rural areas. That is a lot of area.
Mukhtaran Mai, an icon for oppressed women and herself the victim of a gang rape in 2002, said police should enforce the law without bias, but getting more girls into school was crucial, too.

"Until women are allowed to get educated ... these crimes will continue," said Mai, whose rape was ordered by village elders after her 12-year-old brother was accused of having sexual relations with a woman of another tribe.

Some 70 percent of Pakistanis live in rural areas where feudalism and tribalism still thrive and traditional codes apply.
Is there a chance of success in any effort to end honor-murder? No.
Police face an uphill battle even to stop an increase in honor killings, never mind eradicate the crime, according to Fida Hussain Mastoi, assistant inspector-general of police in the southern province of Sindh.

Days earlier, Nur Jehan died in Karachi, a month after being shot four times by relatives who accused her of loose morals.

They tracked her down in the city, having traveled from a village in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, then seized her, shot her and left her for dead in a ditch. She survived for a month in hospital, until a stomach wound became infected.

She was 14.