Archive for May 19th, 2009

The Parable of the Sower

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”

Jesus the Sower

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,
” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”

Mark 4:1-20 (New International Version)

Unemployment Could Cost Democrats in 2010

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Unemployment in March was 20 percent higher in so-called “blue states” won by Democratic candidate Barack Obama in last fall’s presidential election than in “red states” won by Republican candidate John McCain, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If unemployment numbers in the blue states do not begin improving soon, the Democratic Party may start expressing concerns about 2010 mid-term election losses in both governor races and in Congress, many political observers say.

The baseball statistician and political predictor at FiveThirtyEight.com already has forecast that Obama will need to sustain a 65-percent approval rating to avoid losing the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections in which voters traditionally weigh economic issues particularly strong.

WND has already reported that Obama’s 63 percent approval rating at the end of his first 100 days was about the same as registered by President Jimmy Carter in 1976 at the same benchmark moment in his presidency.

Obama’s average job approval rate is currently around 61 percent, according to poll composites reported at RealClearPolitics.com.

As the bureau statistics show, no red state had over 12 percent unemployment, while the two states with highest unemployment – Oregon with 12.1 percent and Michigan with 12.6 percent – both voted for Obama.

Original Link.

Abstinence Ed ‘Outperforms’ Comprehensive Sex Ed

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Irene Ericksen of the Institute for Research and Evaluation says that media reports continually claim that abstinence education is a failure and that comprehensive sex ed is the only way to reduce teen pregnancies and promote safe-sex practices. She adds that they continually site a federal study that is riddled with myths and did not find abstinence education effective.

“These same people aren’t aware that there are 16 studies of comprehensive sex education programs in the schools,” Ericksen points out. “Actually 64 percent of the studies that have been done of comprehensive sex ed in the schools have found that they have not been effective at increasing teen condom use.”

Ericksen notes that promoting condom use has not only proved to be ineffective, it also has adverse health effects.

“Even when teens use condoms consistently and correctly, they don’t provide complete protection from STDs,” she adds. “And there also is evidence that there is emotional harm that is occurring with teens when they’re having sex at this young age — that it’s not developmentally healthy for them.”

Original Link.

California Homosexuals Sue DOMA and Proposition 8

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

[Homosexual activist have] filed suit in federal court challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage, alleging that passage of both violates the U.S. Constitution. The two men are asking the court to issue a broad injunction “mandating the use of gender-neutral terms in all legislation affection marriage.”

“If the court finds that federal DOMA, for instance, violates the federal Constitution, then it will strike down federal DOMA and federal law will no longer define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” [Attorney Jim Campbell] explains. “If they strike down Proposition 8, then — under the federal Constitution — …all of the work and the voice of [more than seven million] California citizens in defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman will be nullified.”

Explaining its intervention into the case, ProtectAmerica.com says Prop. 8 would otherwise be “essentially undefended” because California Attorney General Jerry Brown, whose job it is to defend California law, has already argued that the amendment should be invalidated.

Original Link.

Obama Insists Palestinians Must Have State, Rejects Iran Deadline

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Emperor Obama seems intent on leaving Israel defenseless. “Palestine” will be nothing more than a terrorist puppet for the Arab world and Obama will sit on his hands until Iran has nuclear weapons. I promise you, this is the way the scenario is going to play out.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emerged from his first meeting with US President Barack Obama Monday confident that Israel has the right to defend itself from the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Following four hours of talks with Obama, Netanyahu told Israeli reporters gathered across from the White House that there are no green, red or yellow lights from the US but rather a shared sense that Iran must not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

Speaking side by side at the Oval Office earlier in the day, Obama stressed the importance the US places on Israeli security and its recognition of how the Jewish state perceives the threat from Teheran, even as he defended his policy of engagement.

Obama rejected the notion of “artificial timelines” in negotiations with Iran, which he indicated he expected would begin in earnest after the Iranian election on June 12 and could subsequently expand to include direct talks between Washington and the Islamic republic.

At the same time, he stressed that “we’re not going to have talk forever” and allow Teheran to develop a nuclear weapon while negotiations go on, offering that “we’ll probably be able to gauge and do a reassessment by the end of the year.”

He also noted that “we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious.”

Israel has been pushing for a timeline on the United States’s diplomatic efforts out of concern that Iran could use the talks to run out the clock. The notion of a timeline was just one subject where differences were expected to emerge between the two leaders as they sat down for their first meeting as respective heads of government in a visit deemed crucial for determining the contours of their relationship and personal rapport.

The policy differences were clear, with Obama emphasizing the importance of a “two-state solution” and an end to settlement growth even as Netanyahu made no reference to an independent Palestinian country. Instead, the prime minister spoke of the possibility of a “two peoples to live side by side in security and peace” if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state and agreed to an end of conflict.

Both men positively described the encounter, which was repeatedly prolonged to give the two more time together; their one-on-one meeting lasted for an hour and 45 minutes.

Netanyahu declared a desire to restart negotiations with the Palestinians immediately, saying, “We don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them. We want them to govern themselves, absent a handful of powers that could endanger the State of Israel.”

He also noted that “there’ll have to be compromises by Israelis and Palestinians alike. We’re ready to do our share.”

The talks, which Obama described as “extraordinarily productive” and Netanyahu called friendly, went on for much longer than the time the American president has usually devoted to foreign leaders this year. Israeli officials took this as a good sign.

Asked about reports in the media that Israel felt progress on Iran needed to be linked to progress with the Palestinians, Obama explicitly rejected the formulation, saying, “If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way: To the extent that we can make peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I actually think it strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the potential Iranian threat.”

But he added that both issues needed to be addressed independently on their own merits.

And Netanyahu, with Obama nodding along, said each issue could be helpful in reaching a positive conclusion on the other, but that there was no “policy linkage.” Netanyahu also thanked Obama for his willingness to keep all options on the table when it comes to Iran.

And following the meeting with Obama, he told the Israeli media that he sensed a seriousness in the new American administration to push the Arab states to take meaningful steps toward peace with Israel that he had not seen before.

In his remarks to the press, Obama said “there is a recognition that the Palestinians are going to have to do a better job providing the kinds of security assurances that Israelis would need to achieve a two-state solution, [and] gain additional legitimacy and credibility with their own people, and delivering services.”

He also said, “The other Arab states have to be more supportive and be bolder in seeking potential normalization with Israel.”

But he cautioned Israel that it would have to make difficult steps, too, including improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and stressed that “there is a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements; that settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.”

Obama also said that the situation in Sderot was unacceptable, and that he’d seen the situation there himself. During that visit, during his electoral campaign over the summer, he first met with Netanyahu, though Monday was their first tete-a-tete as leaders of their respective countries.

Obama also noted it wasn’t the first time Netanyahu had come to the White House as prime minister, perhaps warning him about the possible mistakes that could come from sour US-Israel relations such as those the prime minister once experienced with US president Bill Clinton in his bid to coax him toward the peace process.

“I’m confident that he’s going to seize this moment and the United States is going to do everything we can to be constructive, effective partners in this process,” Obama said of Netanyahu.

Original Link.

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Obama Auto Plan Links Auto Emissions and Mileage Standards

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Have y’all figured out yet who gets to pay for all of Obama’s plans? It all comes straight off of our household’s bottom line. Every penny of it.
Do you have enough money? Do you ever have to budget, scrimp and save to afford large ticket items, or buy them on credit? Do you really have enough to continue paying for Obama’s whims?

WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to propose the first-ever national emission limits for cars and trucks as well as average mileage requirements of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 — all costing consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle.

Obama’s plan couples for the first time pollution reduction from vehicle tailpipes with increased efficiency on the road. It would save 1.8 billion barrels of oil through 2016 and would be the environmental equivalent to taking 177 million cars off the road, senior administration officials said Monday night.

The plan also would effectively end a feud between automakers and statehouses over emission standards — with the states coming out on top but the automakers getting a single national standard and more time to make the changes.

The plan still must clear regulatory hurdles at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department. The administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement by Obama was scheduled for Tuesday.

New vehicles would be 30 percent cleaner and more fuel efficient by the end of the program, according to officials familiar with the administration’s discussions. The officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because the formal announcement had not been made.

Administration officials said consumers were going to pay an extra $700 for mileage standards that had already been approved. The comprehensive Obama plan would add another $600 to the price of a vehicle, a senior administration official said.

The extra miles would come at roughly a 5 percent increase each year. By the time the plan takes full effect, at the end of 2016, new vehicles would cost an extra $1,300.

Original Link.

Pakistan Denies Reports it Is Expanding Nuclear Arsenal

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

It is very scary to have terrorist organizations that close to nuclear weapons.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan denied it was expanding its nuclear arsenal, a week after the top U.S. military officer said there was evidence it was doing so.

Pakistan is battling a growing insurgency by Islamist militants with links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Washington is considering giving it billions of dollars in aid to help fight the insurgents, who are also blamed for attacks on U.S. and foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

At a congressional panel last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether there was evidence that Pakistan was adding to its nuclear weapons systems and warheads. He simply replied: “Yes.”

But Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira denied that assertion Monday.

“Pakistan does not need to expand its nuclear arsenal but we want to make it clear that we will maintain a minimum nuclear deterrence that is essential for our defense and stability,” he said. “We will not make any compromise.”

Pakistan, a desperately poor country of 170 million people, is thought to posses more than 60 nuclear weapons under a program that began when its traditional enemy, India, started producing them.

The advance of the Taliban has raised some concerns in the West that the weapons may one day fall into militant hands. A more likely scenario, analysts say, is that Islamists may infiltrate its nuclear facilities and get hold of nuclear knowledge and material.

“I want to tell the world in categoric terms that, with the blessing of God, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are safe and will remain safe. No one, no matter how powerful and influential, eyeing on our national assets will succeed,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said earlier, apparently referring to a common Pakistan belief that the United States wants to seize the country’s weapons.

Pakistan is under intense international pressure to battle the insurgents. Last month it launched an offensive against between 4,000 and 5,000 militants in the Swat Valley area that the U.N. refugee agency says has so far driven nearly 1.5 million people from their homes. About 100,000 of them are now in sweltering refugee camps.

The offensive has so far enjoyed broad public support, but other military operations in the northwest, including one just last year in the Swat Valley, faltered amid criticism by lawmakers and the public, many of whom sympathize with the militant’s pro-Islam and anti-American rhetoric.

On Monday, the government convened a meeting of political parties to bolster support for the current operation.

Legislators approved a resolution that urged them to “to make efforts to unite the nation in the face of the insurgency” in the Swat Valley, Kaira said. But the 16 point document did not contain language explicitly supporting the military offensive there.

The offensive was launched after the extremists failed to abide by a peace deal and advanced on the capital, generating anger and alarm among many Pakistanis. But analysts warn opinion could quickly turn against the operation if the fighting dragged on or if the refugees crisis was badly handled.

Pakistan says more than 1,000 militants have been killed so far, a claim that has been impossible to verify because journalists have largely been barred from the battle zone. It has not given any figures for civilian casualties, but refugees say they have occurred.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said infantry troops were now moving into the main towns of the region after three weeks of mostly aerial bombardment of insurgent positions, camps and training grounds in the hills.

He said the army wanted a “quick and speedy operation so we can clear the area and allow the internally displaced people to return.”

Original Link.