Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wars We Choose to Ignore Come Back to Haunt Us

Rwanda,  Darfur,  Democratic Republic of Congo, the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy  --  On the final judgment day we will all be held just as accountable for the things that we didn't do as the things that we did. 
"The country's  ( Congo)  first real election in 40 years is scheduled to take place this summer, and international troops have arrived to keep the peace. But the suffering of Congo's people continues. Fighting persists in the east, where rebel holdouts loot, rape and murder. The Congolese army, which was meant to be both symbol and protector in the reunited country, has cut its own murderous swath, carrying out executions and razing villages. Even deadlier are the side effects of war, the scars left by years of brutality that disfigure Congo's society and infrastructure. The country is plagued by bad sanitation, disease, malnutrition and dislocation.   Routine and treatable illnesses have become weapons of mass destruction.  Yet Congo's troubles rarely make daily news headlines, and the country is often low on international donors' lists of places to help."  from The Deadliest War in the World
Ask yourself:
  • Why were some so committed to ending ethnic cleansing in one part of the world while turning a blind eye to genocide in another?
  • Why does the world respond so generously to a natural disaster in one part of the world and have to begged to give to one in another?
  • How can a super-power be so committed to over-throwing a tyrant in one part of the world and turn a blind eye to murderous regimes in another part of the world?
  • Why did it take so long to bring the need to battle HIV-AIDS to the forefront of the public agenda?
  • Why are we just beginning to discuss the tragedies in the Sudan, the Congo, Uganda and Kenya.
  • Who decides whose life is worth discussing, caring about, fighting and dying for?
"Congo represents the promise of Africa as much as its misery: its fertile fields and tropical forests cover an area bigger than California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas combined. Its soils are packed with diamonds, gold, copper, tantalum (known locally as coltan and used in electronic devices such as cell phones and laptop computers) and uranium. The waters of its mighty river could one day power the continent.  Yet because Congo is so rich in resources, its problems, when left to fester, tend to suck its neighbors into a vortex of exploitation and chaos. And so fixing Congo is essential to fixing Africa. Says Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch: 'If you want peace in Africa, then you need to deal with the biggest country right at its heart.' " ..  a quote from The Deadliest War in the World
Reading Anneke Woudenberg's theory that "fixing Congo is essential to fixing Africa"  one can not help but wonder if the neglect of the Congo is a conscious plan to let the current inhabitants of that region perish so the region can be re-populated, hence changing the demographics and shifting control of the region's resources.   Kind of like a post Katrina New Orleans on a larger scale.  
While Kanye West was off base with his extemporaneous pronouncement during a Hurricane Katrina fundraising event that "George Bush does not like Black people",  he was not that far off.  The sentiment implied in Kanye's statement was that decisions were made  that intentionally left those without sufficient resources to fend for themselves.    However,  George Bush was not the only one making decisions both pre and post Katrina.  The President made decisions.  The Governor made decisions.  The Mayor made decisions.  Mike Brown made decisions.  The media made decisions. 
A statement that is closer to the heart of the matter is that  those at the top of the socio-economic pyramid ( those making the decisions)  place a lower value on the lives of those at the bottom of the pyramid..  In the case of Katrina, some believe that it will be more cost effective to let nature wipe out those parts of New Orleans that are at high risk rather than spend billions to reinforce the levees and restore the natural barriers against flooding.   The painful truth is that we all made decisions.  If not a conscious decision, then we all made an unconscious decision not to care about the poverty in that region, the dangers of the long neglected levees,  and the erosion of the natural flood barriers.  The truth is our society is teaching us to all hate ( or at least not care about ) those that we perceive to be at the bottom of the pyramid.  
"Does this somehow sound familiar?  Did the builders of the Titanic design it in such a way that they aimed to kill the occupants of steerage? Not at all. They did, however, design it so that if anyone was going to die, it would be those in steerage. Their deaths were acceptable for the builders of the Titanic. After all, those in steerage were considered a less-relevant population than the rich on the upper decks."   a quote from The Titanic of Our Era  by Bill Fletcher Jr..
Simply put decisions are made every day based on.:
  1. the need to perpetuate the socio-economic class pyramid.   In order for there to be a small group at the top of the pyramid there must be a vast number at the bottom to support it.  As the group that was at the bottom group starts to advance up the pyramid, there must be another group at the bottom to replace them ( do the jobs that Americans won't do).   
  2. the love of money and the justification for acquiring and maintaining it by virtually any means necessary.   The privileged group must have fuel for their Hummers and enough bling to flaunt no matter the human cost.  I'm not Hummers, diamonds or gold.   But we all have to ask ourselves -- At What Price?
  3. the disdain for those that don't have money or the education to know how to capitalize on what they do have.  Society often blames the poor for their misfortune.  While I believe in personal responsibility, it must be recognized that many people are born into circumstances that stack the odds overwhelmingly against them.  See a previous post on this subject.
  4. the unwillingness of the haves to share with the have nots.  
There are people out there trying to make a difference. Won't you join them?  Please help !
Pamela Lyn

An Excerpt from the Time Magazine June 5th Cover story

The Deadliest War In The World
Simmering conflict in Congo has killed 4 million people since 1998, yet few choose to cover the story. TIME looks at a forgotten nation--and what's needed to prevent the deaths of millions more


Sitting on a bed in a refugee camp in Katanga, a cursed province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaïre), Mukeya Ulumba, 28, recounts the epic losses she has suffered in recent months. Several of her relatives and neighbors were killed when antigovernment rebels stormed their village last November, moving from house to house in a murder spree that lasted for hours. Ulumba and her husband managed to flee with their four children, leaving behind their life's possessions, a ravaged community of torched houses and the bloodied corpses of family members and friends. Now Ulumba is struggling to save another life: that of her 6-month-old son Amoni Mutombo. The baby lies whimpering in a clinic run by the aid organization Doctors Without Borders. His belly is distended by malnutrition, and although he appears to be in pain, he has no energy to cry. A nurse tries for half an hour to inject antibiotics into Amoni's twiglike arm, its wrinkled skin wrapped loosely around the bones. Without the drugs, he will die, wasting away from starvation.

Some wars go on killing long after they end. In Congo, a nation of 63 million people in the heart of Africa, a peace deal signed more than three years ago was supposed to halt a war that drew in belligerents from at least eight other countries, producing a record of human devastation unmatched in recent history. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in Congo began in 1998, making it the world's most lethal conflict since World War II.

By conventional measures, that conflict is over. Congo is no longer the playground of foreign armies. The country's first real election in 40 years is scheduled to take place this summer, and international troops have arrived to keep the peace. But the suffering of Congo's people continues. Fighting persists in the east, where rebel holdouts loot, rape and murder. The Congolese army, which was meant to be both symbol and protector in the reunited country, has cut its own murderous swath, carrying out executions and razing villages. Even deadlier are the side effects of war, the scars left by years of brutality that disfigure Congo's society and infrastructure. The country is plagued by bad sanitation, disease, malnutrition and dislocation. Routine and treatable illnesses have become weapons of mass destruction. According to the IRC, which has conducted a series of detailed mortality surveys over the past six years, 1,250 Congolese still die every day because of war-related causes--the vast majority succumbing to diseases and malnutrition that wouldn't exist in peaceful times. In many respects, the country remains as broken, volatile and dangerous as ever, which is to say, among the very worst places on earth.

Yet Congo's troubles rarely make daily news headlines, and the country is often low on international donors' lists of places to help. After Sudan, Congo is the second largest nation in sub-Saharan Africa, a land so vast and ungovernable that it has long been perceived as the continent's ultimate hellhole, the setting for Joseph Conrad's 1899 book Heart of Darkness. It is in part because of that malign reputation--and because the nation's feckless rulers have consistently reinforced it--that the world has been willing to let Congo bleed. Since 2000, the U.N. has spent billions on its peacekeeping mission in Congo, which is known by its French acronym, MONUC, and it is at the moment the largest U.N. force anywhere in the world. But troops number just 17,500, a tiny presence in such a large country. In February the U.N. and aid groups working in Congo asked for $682 million in humanitarian funds. So far, they have received just $94 million--or $9.40 for every person in need. By comparison, the aid group Oxfam estimates that the U.N.'s tsunami appeal last year raised $550 for each person.

There are various explanations for the neglect. Perhaps the global reservoir of wealth and goodwill runs only so deep. Perhaps the attention and outrage directed toward another African tragedy, the genocide in Darfur, have left the world too exhausted to take on Congo's. But a choice like that comes with a cost. Congo represents the promise of Africa as much as its misery: its fertile fields and tropical forests cover an area bigger than California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas combined. Its soils are packed with diamonds, gold, copper, tantalum (known locally as coltan and used in electronic devices such as cell phones and laptop computers) and uranium. The waters of its mighty river could one day power the continent. Yet because Congo is so rich in resources, its problems, when left to fester, tend to suck its neighbors into a vortex of exploitation and chaos. And so fixing Congo is essential to fixing Africa. Says Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch: "If you want peace in Africa, then you need to deal with the biggest country right at its heart."

That task is enormous. Over the past year, TIME reporters who visited the worst-hit areas in the east of the country found much of it in ruins. Roads and railway lines have washed away or simply disappeared into the jungle. Hospitals and health clinics have been destroyed. Electricity, for those lucky enough to receive it, is patchy. Refugees fleeing fighting between government troops and rebels talk of beheadings, rapes, massacres and torched villages. Their stories, coming eight years after the start of fighting in Congo, sound eerily similar to the reports of atrocities committed in Darfur. In that sense they are powerful admonishments to those who believe the West's responsibilities in Darfur may have been lifted with the signing of a peace agreement in early May: Congo's warring parties too say they are abiding by a peace deal, monitored by U.N. troops. But the dying continues. Congo provides tragic proof that in some places peace and war can look a lot alike.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Can Bloggers Get Real? - New York Times

"If you think you're too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."
-Bette Reese
Can Bloggers Get Real? - New York Times
Published: May 28, 2006

Read the entire article at: 

Las Vegas, as the ad campaign likes to remind us, is a place people go to untether themselves from reality --- to become, if only for a weekend, anonymous and uncensored.

It's odd, then, that Vegas is about to play host to a gathering of ordinary Americans whose objective is precisely the reverse.

Next week, 1,000 devotees of the liberal blogging universe --- people who know one another only as pseudonyms on a screen, connected by only their running commentaries --- will descend on the Riviera Hotel in hopes of affixing names and faces to their online personas.

The event has been dubbed the YearlyKos convention, and it is the first-ever corporeal assemblage of the bloggers at the Web site Dailykos.com.

These are the people who are said to be changing the very nature of American politics, transforming the old smoke-filled room of insiders into an expansive chat room for anyone who wants in.

And so it's not surprising that Democratic luminaries like the party's chairman, Howard Dean, and its leaders in Congress, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, have arranged their schedules to address the convention, along with at least a few 2008 presidential contenders.

No small contingent of political professionals and journalists will show up as well.

Barely four years after Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, a former American soldier who grew up in El Salvador and Chicago, started Daily Kos from his home in Berkeley, Calif., the site is now less a blog than a civic phenomenon.

With some 600,000 visitors a day, Daily Kos reaches more Americans --- albeit like-minded Americans --- than all but a handful of the largest daily newspapers.

The Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly, recently profiled a 23-year-old law student who writes on Daily Kos's front page under the pseudonym Georgia10, positing that she may well be the most-read political writer in the city, even though few people know her real name.

(For the record, it's Georgia Logothetis, and she lives with her parents.)

In this way, Daily Kos and other blogs resemble a political version of those escapist online games where anyone with a modem can disappear into an alternate society, reinventing himself among neighbors and colleagues who exist only in a virtual realm.

It is not so much a blog as a travel destination, a place where what you have to say can be more important --- at least for a few hours each day --- than who you are or what you do.

It shouldn't be so surprising, then, that the lead architect of the YearlyKos convention is a married, 36-year-old Memphis native named Gina Cooper, who until recently taught high-school math and science.

Ever since Dean became the first candidate created by the Internet, Democratic candidates have struggled to understand and exploit this new online movement in their party --- as well as to raise funds through its channels.

For the politicians, YearlyKos would seem to put online activism into a familiar rubric.

Here, at last, is the impersonal ballroom with garish lighting and folding round tables, the throng of attendees whose hands can be shaken and shoulders gripped.

New technology may change the way partisans organize and debate, and it may even spawn an entirely new political culture.

All of this suggests that for all the philosophizing about the meaning of online campaigns and the passing of the 20th-century political model, this next iteration of American politics won't really look so dissimilar from the ones that came before.

Matt Bai, a contributing writer, last wrote for the magazine about Mark Warner, the former governor of Virginia and a potential presidential candidate.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Political Amnesia

Quote of the Day
"The blogger Billmon writes: 'I don't know if it's a byproduct of decades of excessive exposure to television, the state of America's educational system, or something in the water, but the ability of the average journalist -- not to mention the average voter -- to remember things that happened just a few short months ago appears to be slipping into the abyss. "If this keeps up, we're going to end up like the villagers in "One Hundred Years of Solitude," who all contracted a rare form of jungle amnesia, so virulent they were reduced to posting signs on various objects -- 'I AM A COW. MILK ME' or 'I AM A GATE. OPEN ME' -- just so they could get on with their daily lives.'
quoted from: Political Amnesia Is the Enemy
Well it's high time that we all pinch, kick or slap ourselves (and our friends and family if necessary ) if that's what it will take to regain our memories.     I can understand that it can be easy to forget events when so many critical issues are thrown at us in rapid succession.   However with the very survival of this planet at stake it's time to make a concerted effort to regain consciousness.
Each of us needs to create two important lists:  
1.  A list of the top twenty issues that we care the most about.   Twenty may sound like a lot but once you get started you can come up with twenty items in no time.
    For example here's a quick list of 24 items that quickly came to my mind:

1.      decelerating the rate of global warming

2.      reducing dependency on fossil fuels

3.      improving the quality of public education

4.      making a secondary education more affordable

5.      honoring and taking care of the elderly in our society

6.      fighting the spread of HIV

7.      ending world hunger

8.      fighting poverty

9.      fighting terrorism

10.  ending genocide and ethnic cleansing

11.  border security

12.  immigration reform

13.  healthcare reform

14.  reducing infant mortality

15.  sheltering the homeless

16.  ending adult illiteracy

17.  protecting wildlife and their natural habitats.

18.  fighting racial, ethnic, sexual discrimination 

19.  protecting the family farmer

20.  rooting out corporate corruption

21.  ending government corruption

22.  protecting children from internet predators

23.  fighting domestic abuse

24.  ending the proliferation of abortion

2. A score card of how our elected representative have voted on those issues since coming into office.  
Once we've compiled our two lists we need to take them with us the next time that we have occasion to visiting our local voting place.

Friday, May 26, 2006

House Votes to Allow Drilling in Arctic Refuge

1. Protection or shelter, as from danger or hardship. 2. A place providing protection or shelter. 3. A source of help, relief, or comfort in times of trouble.
Polar bears are dying due to currently unconfirmed causes, animals are changing their migratory patterns,  the ice caps are slowly melting and some people still just don't get it.   If man cannot learn to live in harmony with nature, man will not continue to live.   All for the sake of driving your SUVs and Hummers a few years longer.   plk
House Votes to Allow Drilling in Arctic Refuge


The House voted 225 to 201 yesterday to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, with proponents arguing that new domestic production will ease the nation's energy crunch.

Twenty-seven Democrats voted for Pombo's bill, which proponents say would add 10.4 billion barrels to the nation's oil reserves, and 30 Republicans voted against it.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.), a key opponent, said that if the nation had adopted stricter fuel economy standards for vehicles when they were first proposed 11 years ago, they would have saved more oil than could be produced in the Arctic refuge.

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), also a Resources Committee member, called "The American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act" a shortsighted approach to address rising gasoline prices.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


WSJ.com - EPA Scientists Cite Pressure In Pesticide Study

from The Wall Street Journal.

A letter from EPA scientists to the agency's administrator alleges that managers and pesticide-industry officials are exerting "political pressure" to allow continued use of a family of pesticides that might be harmful to children.


The Enron Scandal and Public Attitudes Toward Business -- A Public Agenda Report

Public Agenda Alert -- May 25, 2006
* The Enron Scandal and Public Attitudes Toward Business

* The Enron Scandal and Public Attitudes Toward Business

Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling may face jail
time, but the energy company's collapse has already taken its toll
on public attitudes about business. A federal jury convicted
the two on fraud and conspiracy charges today, but American
business is still coping with the consequences of the case.

Enron was the largest of several corporate scandals in the past
few years. The public remains skeptical of the business world
in some ways. In surveys, half say wrongdoing among corporate
executives is a widespread problem. With Enron in particular,
what seems to outrage the public most was the idea of executives
enriching themselves while employees lost their jobs and retirement
savings. Six in 10 told a Gallup survey that in the wake of the Enron
bankruptcy and participants in Public Agenda focus groups
felt much the same way.

Majorities tell surveys they are dissatisfied with the size and influence
of major corporations. And few Americans give business executives
high ratings for honesty and ethical standards. On the other hand,
large majorities believe the success of American business has a lot
to do with the strength of this country. And in their experience,
majorities believe their employer is loyal to them.

Public Agenda's focus groups on this issue suggest one important factor
in public attitudes. We've found that average citizens seem to
define business ethics differently than corporate executives.

Citizens believe preserving jobs should be a major ethical priority
for business and layoffs should be a last resort, our study found.
In contrast, most business leaders told us that sometimes layoffs
are an inevitable part of staying competitive. When executives
talked about ethics, they were concerned about the damage recent
scandals have done to business' reputation and the need to restore
public trust.

Focus group participants often said greed and poor values were at
the root of many scandals, believing that executives at some of
these corporations had either lost their moral bearings or never
had them to begin with. Business leaders we interviewed also cited
the problem of greed and declining values in society as a whole.
But they also stressed that by far, most business executives act
ethically, and that a company’s ethical stance is set at the very top.

Download a free copy of our research on business ethics, "A Few Bad Apples,"
conducted in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation:

Read our Red Flag on Trust in Business:

Read the Associated Press story about the Enron verdict:

In his new book, "Profit With Honor," Public Agenda chairman and co-founder
Dan Yankelovich talks about the convergence of cultural and business
trends that has led inexorably to corporate scandals. Yet he offers
reassurance that opportunity exists for positive change.

Find out more about "Profit With Honor":

Public Agenda
6 East 39th Street
9th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Big Brother's History

By John Prados
May 25, 2006

Read the entire article at: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/05/25/big_brothers_history.php

What needs to happen before Americans understand that government surveillance is about more than protection against terrorism?

The National Security Agency’s warrantless domestic wiretaps and its logs of Americans’ phone calls are the most controversial, but by no means the only, surveillance initiative underway that has chilling implications for all Americans. American history is littered with examples of similar instances of security programs gone awry. It is three decades now since the Church Committee concluded, “The tendency of intelligence activities expanding beyond their initial scope is a theme which runs through every aspect of our investigative findings.”

In the 20th century, this history of misuse of security programs begins with World War I. A government-sponsored volunteer (read: vigilante) group, the American Protective League, was created to assist the Justice Department and military intelligence, resulting in nearly 2,000 prosecutions for allegedly “disloyal” utterances by Americans.

Immediately after the war, the “Palmer Raids,” named for then-Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, rounded up 10,000 persons for supposed anarchist or revolutionary views. These became a milestone in the creation of the FBI and the career of its first director (and Palmer’s chief assistant) J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover went on to keep books on all manner of Americans; he used the information collected to exert political pressure at various times.

Domestic intelligence programs were revived in 1936 and steadily increased in intrusiveness, impelled first by World War II, then by the Cold War. These began with the intention of monitoring foreign influence on American politics and ended up investigating “loyalty.” We hardly need mention the internment of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans on hysterical suspicions of contact with the enemy in World War II.

Though the two statutes are far different in detail, both the Internal Security Act of 1950 and today's Patriot Act represent encroachments on constitutionally guaranteed rights.Title II of the Internal Security Act actually permitted the detention of any person suspected of sabotage or espionage during invasion or insurrection and half a dozen holding camps were prepared. The Truman and Eisenhower administrations initiated “loyalty oaths” with boards to review the records of several million government employees—estimates of those fired or forced to resign range from about 2,500 to roughly 7,000. Although it never came to pass, the list of Americans to be rounded up under the Internal Security Act in the event of a national emergency numbered 26,000 persons in 1954.The inquiries carried out under the loyalty program were FBI-controlled. By 1960 it had opened approximately 432,000 files on groups or individual Americans, under guidelines that permitted investigation based on suspicion of “anarchistic or revolutionary beliefs” even if membership in any group had “not been proven” and in the absence of evidence of any current “activity of a subversive nature.”

Read the rest of this article at: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/05/25/big_brothers_history.php

John Prados is a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., and author of Hoodwinked: The Documents that Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War (The New Press).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay, Skilling convicted in Enron collapse on Yahoo! News

Justice has been served. It certainly doesn't bring back the lost pensions or jobs but it is a measure of closure. plk

Lay, Skilling convicted in Enron collapse on Yahoo! News
By KRISTEN HAYS, AP Business Writer
Former Enron Corp. chiefs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were convicted Thursday of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud in one of the biggest business scandals in U.S. history.

The verdict put the blame for the 2001 demise of the high-profile energy trader, once the nation's seventh-largest company, squarely on its top two executives.

It came in the sixth day of deliberations following a federal criminal trial that lasted nearly four months.

The conviction was a major win for the government, serving almost as a bookend to an era that has seen prosecutors win convictions against executives from WorldCom Inc. to Adelphia Communications Corp. and homemaking maven Martha Stewart.

The charges for which Lay was convicted carry a maximum penalty in prison of 45 years in the corporate trial and 120 years in the personal banking trial.

The charges for which Skilling was convicted carry a maximum penalty of 185 years in prison.

Jurors found through their verdict that both men had repeatedly lied to cover a vast web of unsustainable accounting tricks and failing ventures at Enron.

The government's victory caps a 4 1/2 year investigation that garnered 16 guilty pleas from ex-Enron executives, including former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow and former Chief Accounting Officer Richard Causey.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Endangering a Natonal Wildlife Refuge Is NOT The Answer

Join me in protecting the Arctic Refuge!
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 5429, the so-called "American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act."  This bill uses wildly inflated numbers to claim that drilling the Arctic Refuge is good for labor and good for the federal treasury.
The truth? The big winner in this plan is ExxonMobil; who will be stuffing its already bloated coffer with billions more in profits. And the biggest losers are the American people; we'll sacrifice our greatest wildlife sanctuary while feeding our addiction to high-priced oil.
Click below to join me in expressing outrage at this bill by emailing your member of Congress right now.
The federal government estimates that oil from the Refuge wouldn't be available for at least another ten years.  Drilling wouldn't lower gas prices for at least twenty years and then only by ONE penny per gallon!
This Arctic destruction bill is being rushed to the floor for a vote tomorrow! Click below to express your outrage at this bill by emailing your member of Congress before it's too late!
Please spread the word to your friends and family and ask them to join you in contacting their representatives, too.

Christianity Has Passed The Test of Time

"...true Christianity has passed the test of time"

Pastor Gregory Dickow answers questions about the Da Vinci Code


There is much debate these days about the book and film—The Da Vinci Code. And many people are asking my view of it.

While it is important that we understand how to respond to friends and family when they ask about it, we don’t have to be experts on it, and we don’t have to taste poison to know not to eat it.

Most importantly, we need not be afraid that this movie can somehow damage Christianity and undermine the Bible. For 2000 years people have tried to discredit the Bible claiming that it wasn’t authentic or it wasn’t the Word of God, etc. Yet for 2000 years it has continued to save souls and change the lives of the millions who read it with an open heart toward God.

A legendary poem put it this way:
“Truth crushed to earth will rise again!
The eternal years of God are hers.
But error wounded writhes in pain.
And lies amid her worshipers”

Since the Bible is the truth, even if the Da Vinci Code tries to crush it, it will rise again. In a few weeks, the buzz about the Da Vinci Code will end, but the Word of God will continue to save souls and change people’s lives.

Let's trust God’s ability to defend Himself and be light-hearted about the criticisms that others try to make about our faith and about Christianity. Error will writhe in pain. Truth will rise again!

Now some answers to questions people have:

1. Should I see this movie? Like any movie, you have to decide if it's worth the time and money. I personally don’t need to see it to understand its attempts to undermine the gospel, and put into question the integrity of Jesus, and the Bible.

From an entertainment perspective, the previews didn’t grab me, intrigue me or interest me. From an economic perspective, do you want to spend your time and money on something that claims to be truth, when it is only fiction? I’d rather go bowling! From a spiritual perspective, do you need to see it to reach your friends and families with the gospel? No. But if you think you should, then you should be informed of the main heresies or lies that the book and movie promote, as follows:

2. Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? No. But Mary had a close relationship with Jesus after she was delivered from the power of sin and the devil. This shows us that God forgives and cleanses and accepts those who trust Him.

Mary Magdalene shows us that anyone can be forgiven and have a close relationship with God. She wept at Jesus' tomb (John 20), but that shows her love. Can a woman love her Savior without being physically married to him? Of course! That is the testimony of millions of women (and men) who have been forgiven of so much, and are now so in love with Him. For Jesus to have married Mary, He would have been showing favoritism toward one woman over another. And clearly the Bible says that God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34). He loves all equally, and marriage would have contradicted His integrity and equal love for all men and women.

Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown, says that in Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, the figure to Jesus' right, traditionally known as the apostle John, is actually Mary. Not true. Artists often gave characters feminine features to portray youth. John was the youngest of the disciples. Brown correctly observes that few Jewish men of Jesus' day did not marry. But why, then, did the apostle Paul, himself celibate, not mention Jesus and Mary when he argued that apostles could marry (1 Cor. 9:5)?

A marriage in the Bible was a greatly celebrated event—Jesus attended one in John, chapter two, and turned water into wine. For an event so celebrated by God, why would Jesus hide this secret? It is preposterous to imagine.

Furthermore, the Bible clearly reveals that Jesus is waiting for His marriage to the Church, the Bride of Christ, which will take place after the rapture. Revelation 19:7 says “Let us rejoice and be glad, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.” It doesn’t say, “His wives, referring to the “Church” and “Mary Magdalene”. It says, “His wife”, which is the church, clothed in fine linen---in verse 8, which is the righteousness of the saints.

3. What about these alternative gospels that aren't in the New Testament? It’s true that the Bible did not arrive as a "fax from heaven," as Brown writes. The New Testament canon in its current form was first formally attested in the year, 367 AD. Nevertheless, church leaders applied important standards when compiling the Bible. Authors of accepted writings needed to have walked and talked with Jesus, or at least with his leading disciples. Their teaching could not contradict what other apostles had written, and their documents had to be accepted by the entire church, from Jerusalem to Rome.

Church leaders considered earlier letters and reports more credible than later documents. Finally, they prayed and trusted the Holy Spirit to guide their decisions, which is exactly what Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:20: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For it came, not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. The scriptures, as they are—are profitable. They need no addition to make them profitable and to fulfill what God intended for them to accomplish.

The so-called Gnostic gospels, many of which were discovered recently, did not meet these criteria. Many appeared much later than the Bible and were falsely attributed to major Christian leaders. Their teachings contrasted with what apostles like Paul had written. For example, many Gnostic writings argued that Jesus did not appear in the flesh, because flesh is evil, or they rejected the Old Testament.

More importantly, the gospels, as we have them, are complete. They address as many real life issues as we will ever face. They consistently reflect Jesus' compassion, His power, and His purity. And they need no additional help to reflect that. Those who believe the gospels and the Bible, as they are written, have experienced life-changing power that cannot be refuted. We have experienced life-changing mercy and forgiveness that is all a result of believing the gospels, as they are written.

4. Were there really competing Christianities during the early church? Yes—just as there are many disputing denominations today. But true Christianity has passed the test of time. Paul said he delivered of first importance what he received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried and that on the third day, He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Any “Christianity” that competes with this reality, along with the reality of Jesus' deity, is not Christianity at all. “Christianity” is rooted in “Christ”. Anything that contradicts the authority, purity and integrity of Jesus the “Christ”, is not “Christianity”.

Historically, after the resurrection of Jesus, later church councils convened to discuss other threats to Christian orthodoxy (the purity of the Christian faith, as the Bible describes it).

Constantine, the first Roman emperor to make Christianity legal, called the most important of these meetings in 325 AD. Leaders from around the Christian world gathered in Nicea, where they debated Arianism, which taught that God created Jesus. Brown writes that Constantine called this council so he could introduce a new divine Jesus on par with the Father. On the contrary, documents from before Nicea show that most followers of Jesus already called him LORD, the Yahweh of the Old Testament. The church leaders at Nicea rejected Arianism and affirmed that God and Jesus existed together from the beginning in the Trinity. This council produced the first drafts of what became the Nicene Creed, a landmark explanation of Christian belief.

5. What is Opus Dei? A conservative religious group within the Roman Catholic Church. Opus Dei urges priests and laypeople to strenuously pursue sanctification through everyday discipline. The group has taken criticism for its conservative views, zeal, and secretive practices. There is no evidence whatsoever that Opus Dei has resorted to murder; nor has the Vatican entrusted Opus Dei to violently guard the church's deepest secrets, as Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code.

Opus Dei's work of spiritual formation complements the work of local churches.

Opus Dei's main activities are classes, retreats and spiritual direction.

Opus Dei has around 87,000 members, both men and women; 98% are laypersons, most of whom are married.

Membership involves a commitment to receive spiritual formation from Opus Dei and to participate in its mission.

6. Does the Priory of Sion really exist? Yes, but not as described by Brown. Researchers suspect that members of the real-life Priory of Sion, founded in 1956, forged documents that placed major historical figures—such as Isaac Newton and Leonard da Vinci—in an ancient secret society. There is no evidence for this group beyond dubious documents. Any story relating this group to a dynasty begun by Jesus and Mary Magdalene is an imaginary work of fiction.

In Conclusion, there will always be conspiracy theories about Jesus and the Bible. Conspiracy theories sell books and movie tickets. That’s what the Davinci Code is trying to do—make money.

But is the money going to advance the cause of humanitarian needs? Doubtful. Is it going to be used to help ease the suffering of children with AIDS around the world? No. Is it going to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners and heal the hurting? No. Is it going to bring hope, answers and solutions to real people with real needs? No.

Yet, that is exactly what authentic Christianity does. And that is why Christianity and the Bible, in their current and God-given form have changed the world, saved many in the world, and will continue to spread around the world in an unquenchable fire of love and power that cannot be quenched by books, movies, conspirators or devils…

“Truth crushed to earth will rise again!
The eternal years of God are hers.
But error wounded writhes in pain.
And lies amid her worshipers”

The Dangers of Gossip and a Sanctimonious Attitude

1) gossip. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
...Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
2. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
3. Trivial, chatty talk or writing....

They say public confession is good for the soul so I am going to indulge a little here.

A few weeks ago I posted a message Beware of The Gossip . This is an issue which is near and dear to my heart because I have personally experienced how hurtful it can be. Therefore, I am normally very good about avoiding the tendency to gossip and people who indulge in it as a hobby. However since I have not yet evolved into the woman I strive to be, I occasionally slip into the act of gossiping just like everyone else.

Several days ago I received a call which was primarily to make me aware of a sad event. However during the course of the conversation the caller offered an invitation to indulge in a little family gossip. You know -- the kind of gossip that involves two or more family members
getting together and pointing out everything they know about another family member's shortcomings. :o)

Well, having been on my family's gossip topic menu for many years, I was able to resist the invitation to gossip, change the subject and get the point across that I really didn't care to discuss the matter. Yet, the next day I was still a little annoyed about the call and quite frankly
feeling a little sanctimonious.

After all a dog that will bring a bone will also carry one!


If someone talks about someone to you that means that they talk about you to someone else!


Christians should not be going around gossiping about people's past or presents shortcomings. After all Christ died so we could all be forgiven
and God would no longer remember our sins!


And while all of this is true, can you tell that my self-righteous attitude was setting myself up for a lesson?

Well a few days later I was outside doing a little gardening and stopped to play with a neighbor's grandchild. My neighbors and I conversed for a few moments and as it often occurs when three women get together the conversation drifted into the latest neighborhood gossip.

I just could not resist catching up on the latest news and adding an item of my own. Well as soon as I got my little news item out of my month, BANG!!!! I caught myself. It was time to finish my gardening and go back into my home.

So much for my sanctimonious attitude :o)

This truly is a day by day journey.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

The truth is coming soon to a theater near you:
Al Gore’s New Global Warming Movie “An Inconvenient Truth”

Al Gore’s critically-acclaimed new film “An Inconvenient Truth” offers the best opportunity we’ve ever had to capture the immediate attention of all Americans and move this country forward quickly to stop global warming.

While the problem is urgent, the solutions are clear, and with American ingenuity and leadership, we can avert disaster and restore the world’s confidence in our values. Let’s work together to make this movie a success, and turn the audience interest into action.

One easy way to get involved as virtual marchers is to buy a ticket and bring a friend to see this movie. Then help spread the word. The more people go see this movie on opening weekend, the more theaters will pick it up.

Bring the power of the Virtual March to movie theaters across the country.

Marching forward,

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Watch the movie trailer here!
* Find the theater nearest you showing An Inconvenient Truth


* Email your friends and family to pre-purchase tickets for opening weekend.* Forward this e-mail to everyone in your address book.

* Tell your coworkers, book clubs, teachers, classmates, dinner party guests, neighbors, church groups, relatives…shout it from the rooftops!

* Organize a group to go (Call the Paramount Group Sales office at 323-956-8896).

* Sponsor your office or company to see the film. Sponsor a school, sponsor a science class, sponsor a youth club.

* Take someone who you don't think would be interested in going.

* Host post-viewing "Take Action" parties.

* Blog about the movie in advance, and after you’ve seen it with your reactions.

* Have your own website?

Are you on MySpace?
Post Online banners, icons, and other info about the movie.

* Ask your local theater to show “An Inconvenient Truth” if they aren’t planning to already. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thought for the Week

A Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know.

I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose.

I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

”Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids...”

”No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

”I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet.

I’ll never forget what she taught us.

She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success

You have to laugh and find humor every day.

You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing old.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old.

If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do.

The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it! d

These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.


---- author unknown
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

In Case You Missed It

Excerpt  from The Progress Report
a publication of  The American Progress Action Fund
by Judd Legum, Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney
Amanda Terkel and Payson Schwin
Politics in the Closet
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage, and likely prohibit civil unions and other forms of domestic partnerships. S.J. Res 1 -- the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment" -- passed the committee on a 10-8 party-line vote after Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), who said he was "totally opposed" to the bill, voted for it. The vote took place in a room just off the Senate floor that was closed to the general public. Instead of acting on the issues that most Americans indicate they are concerned about -- Iraq, gas prices, and stem cells among them -- the Senate is moving ahead with a divisive bill that growing numbers of Americans oppose. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the committee's ranking member, said the measure is "part of an election-year political agenda" to satisfy the right wing. "The Constitution's too important to be used for such base partisan politics." The Constitution has been amended to eliminate slavery, to give women the right to vote, and to secure for every person the equal protection of the laws. It has never been amended to mandate discrimination.

Yesterday's proceedings were removed from the public committee hearing room, where most Judiciary Committee actions take place, to a room that is "not open to the public and does not even have enough chairs for every senator on the committee to sit." Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) expressed his dismay at Specter's decision to pass such a consequential piece of legislation behind closed doors and indicated his desire not to assist the committee in reaching a quorum. "I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," shouted Specter in response. "If you want to leave, good riddance." Feingold rose from his seat to leave and said to Specter, "I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman. See ya." Feingold said in a statement afterwards, "Today's markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. ... I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection."Now that the Judiciary Committee has passed the amendment, it will go before the full Senate "on June 5 for what is expected to be a heated debate." The bill is unlikely to succeed because it must first be passed by two-thirds of the Senate, then two-thirds of the House, and finally, three-fourths of the 50 states. Last time the Senate considered the amendment, it failed to win even a simple majority.
CONGRESS -- HASTERT THINKS AMERICA'S MIDDLE CLASS DOESN'T PAY TAXES: In a late House session on Wednesday night, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) claimed that "if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two children, you don't pay any taxes. So you probably, if you don't pay any taxes, you are not going to get a very big tax cut." Hastert's attempt to justify conservatives' huge tax cuts for the rich doesn't hold water. While someone with a $40,000 salary and a family of four paid little or no federal income taxes last year, Hastert ignored the other taxes paid by all Americans -- payroll taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, etc. For example, a family whose entire $40,000 in salary came from wages directly paid $3,060 (7.65 percent of $40,000) in federal payroll taxes last year. (Note: The employer also pays an equal amount on behalf of the family, but most economists "believe that the portion of the payroll tax paid by the employer is borne by the worker.") Hastert, who earns a hefty $212,010 a year salary, doesn't seem to understand that families across America are facing higher health care costs, mortgage payments, and gas prices. And yes, they also have to pay their taxes.

Think Fast

The House yesterday voted to repeal $7 billion in subsidies for oil companies drilling in publicly owned waters. The vote was "approved 252 to 165 over the objections of many Republican leaders," and now goes to the Senate. "In a separate defeat for energy companies, the House voted 279 to 141 to reject a provision that would lift a 25-year ban on oil drilling in coastal areas outside the western Gulf of Mexico."

“In the latest indication of the crushing hardships weighing on the lives of Iraqis, increasing portions of the middle class seem to be
doing everything they can to leave the country. In the last 10 months, the state has issued new passports to 1.85 million Iraqis, 7 percent of the population and a quarter of the country's estimated middle class.”

"The head of a group of Federal Air Marshals says the service is badly broken" and that it currently "
cannot protect the public." Air marshal management has reacted to the criticism by "retaliat[ing] against him, with four separate investigations, including one for misuse of his business card."

The United Nations Committee Against Torture issued a
report yesterday which called on the U.S. to “close any secret ‘war on terror’ detention facilities abroad and the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.” The report also said “detainees should not be returned to any country where they could face a ‘real risk’ of being tortured.”

In a
63-to-34 vote, the Senate yesterday designated English as America's national language. The Senate also approved a measure by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) declaring English the "common unifying language of the United States," but mandated that nothing in that declaration "shall diminish or expand any existing rights" regarding multilingual services.

Big Pharma up to no good:
“The Justice Department is accusing Abbott Laboratories of vastly inflating prices of its drugs as part of a fraudulent billing scheme alleged to have cost government health programs more than $175 million over 10 years.”

During hearings yesterday, CIA Director nominee Gen. Michael Hayden "shed some new light" on the inception of the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, "noting that he was asked by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet to provide a list of NSA's capabilities after the al-Qaeda attacks, even those that Hayden believed
would not be permissible under the law. Hayden suggested the scope of the program may go beyond what is publicly known."

"You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor," Hayden also
said yesterday in a "not-so-veiled reference to since-disappeared CIA chief Porter Goss."

The past two days in Afghanistan have had some of the "deadliest violence since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001." As many as
105 people were reportedly killed.

The Travel Industry Association of America yesterday said that high gas prices will add "
$30 and $50 to the gasoline cost of a typical trip this summer." The group also predicted that prices "will limit travel growth this summer to less than 1%."

And finally: "In another in a series of notable pronouncements, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year." "There well may be something as bad as a
tsunami in the Pacific Northwest," Robertson predicted. We sure hope the recent Pacific Tsunami Warning System test went off without a hitch.

Help Kick the Oil Habit


Gas prices are out of control. Our environment is at risk. Dependence on foreign oil endangers our national security. It is time to make a change.

Please go to http://www.KickTheOilHabit.org

Watch the video. Learn more. Take action. Join the campaign.

If we work together, we can have a better energy future.


Laugh Medicine

Actual Bible College quotes! 2001

"When you boil water in the cattle the steam is very hot." (For "cattle" read "kettle")

"Sometimes I have my quiet time before I wake up in the morning."

"The spirit of the diseased will haunt the family that are living until they have sacrificed." (For "diseased" read "deceased")

"We read in the newspapers how the Pop travels around the world." (For "Pop" read "Pope")

"We need to read the Bible as a hole to determine what God's will is..." (for "hole" read "whole")

"Jesus expects the world to bow beaver Him." (For "beaver" read "before")

"Freedom of Religion has allowed Buddhists... to influenza the society." (For "influenza" read "influence")

"They say Jesus is just a good person like Guatemala, Krishna and Confucius." (For "Guatemala" read "Gautama")

"When I was growing up I was exposed to all sorts of evil...things like girls..." (ASM Application)

"The call on me to save God was so intense such that I could not just help it." (For "save" read "serve"; ASM Application)

"The draft faculty policy document "is a complication of all the policies made over the past few years." (For "complication" read "compilation") Faculty Meeting Minutes

"God allows His people to go through tuft times to test their faith." (For "tuft" read "tough")

"People should do good things and live sin..." (For "live" read "leave")

"...And surly I am with you always to the very end of the age." (For "surly" read "surely")

"...Jesus resurrection will bring about... our waling in newness of life." (For "waling" read "walking")

"the greatest single cause of atheism today is those who acknowledge Jesus with their but..." (Read "acknowledge Jesus with their mouth, but deny him with their lives.")

'First I am trying to start a relationship with people and missionaries that stay in Madagascar so that I have a staring point when I get there." (For "staring" read "starting")

"God will show me in which aria he wants to use me in." (For "aria" read "area")

"He is helping me to start care-to-shear groups that can look after me while I am on the mission field. (For "shear" read "share")

"I got an extension due to a power failure from the lecturer." (Read "I got an extension from the lecturer due to a power failure!")

"We are not to put the yolk of tradition upon their heads." (For "yolk" read "yoke")

"Israel went into the dessert and at Sinai God made a covenant with them." (For "dessert" read "desert")
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There was a barber that thought that he should share his faith with his customers more than he had been doing lately. So the next morning when the sun came up and the barber got up out of bed he said, "Today I am going to witness to the first man that walks through my door."

Soon after he opened his shop the first man came in and said, "I want a shave!" The barber said, "Sure, just sit in the seat and I'll be with you in a moment." The barber went in the back and prayed a quick desperate prayer saying, "God, the first customer came in and I'm going to witness to him. So please give me the wisdom to know just the right thing to say to him. Amen."

Then quickly the barber came out with his razor knife in one hand and a Bible in the other while saying "Good morning sir. I have a question for you..........Are you ready to die?"
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A minister had several good illustrations that he used effectively in a sermon on "living water." At one point he said, "God's living water is like the water flowing in the Mississippi River. It's free."

After the sermon a skeptic came up to him and observed, "If the water in the Mississippi river is free, why do you pass the plate to take up a collection during the church service."

Unfazed the pastor replied, "Well, while the water is free, you do have to pay to
get it piped directly to your door."
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