Archive for October 29th, 2009

The Beatitudes

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:1-12 (New International Version)

Obama Signs ‘Hate-Crimes’ Bill Into Law

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

A “hate crimes” bill opponents claim will be used to crack down on Christian speech, even the reading of the Bible, was signed into law today by President Obama.

The Senate approved the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act by a vote of 68-29 on Oct. 22 after Democrats strategically attached it to a “must-pass” $680 billion defense appropriations plan.

Most Republicans, although normally strong supporters of the U.S. military, opposed the bill because it hands out federal money to states and local governments in pursuit of “preventing” hate crimes. The bill creates federal protections and privileges for homosexuals and other alternative lifestyles but denies those protections to other groups of citizens.

Obama signed the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act at a White House ceremony today. Prior to signing the act into law, Obama spoke briefly of the hate crimes bill.

“After more than a decade, we’ve passed inclusive hate-crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are,” he said. “I promised Judy Shepard when she saw me in the Oval Office that this day would come, and I’m glad that she and her husband, Dennis, could join us for this event. I’m also honored to have the family of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who fought so hard for this legislation. I just want you all to know how proud we are of the work that Ted did to help make this day possible.”

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon warned that the new law “creates a kind of caste system in law enforcement, where the perverse thing is that people who engage in non-normative sexual behavior will have more legal protection than heterosexuals. This kind of inequality before the law is simply un-American.”

Wildmon said the legislation creates possible situations where pastors may be arrested if their sermons on sexuality can be linked in even the remotest way to acts of violence.

“It threatens free speech and freedom of religion and is totally unacceptable,” he said.

As WND reported, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder admitted a homosexual activist who is attacked following a Christian minister’s sermon about homosexuality would be protected by the proposed federal law, but a minister attacked by a homosexual wouldn’t be.

The Alliance Defense Fund blasted the “hate-crimes” bill, calling it “another nail in the coffin of the First Amendment.”

“All violent crimes are hate crimes, and all crime victims deserve equal justice,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. “This law is a grave threat to the First Amendment because it provides special penalties based on what people think, feel, or believe. ADF will be on the front line to defend those whose free speech or free exercise of religion rights are violated by this unconstitutional law and to ultimately overturn this attack on freedom.”

Opponents point to cases in Canada and Sweden, where Christians have faced criminal prosecution for preaching that homosexual behavior is a sin.

“ADF has clearly seen the evidence of where ‘hate crimes’ legislation leads when it has been tried around the world: It paves the way for the criminalization of speech that is not deemed ‘politically correct,'” Stanley explained. “‘Hate crimes’ laws fly in the face of the underlying purpose of the First Amendment, which was designed specifically to protect unpopular speech.”

Stanley said such crimes are already punishable under existing federal, state and local laws.

“Bills of this sort are designed to forward a political agenda and silence critics, not combat actual crime,” he said. “The bottom line is that we do not need a law that creates second-class victims in America and that gives the government the opportunity to ignore the First Amendment.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, testified before Congress against the hate crimes bill in 2007.

“It is fundamentally unjust for the government to treat some crime victims more favorably than others, just because they are homosexual or transsexual,” Dacus said. “This bill is an unnecessary federal intrusion into state law enforcement authority, and it is an unwise step toward silencing religious and moral viewpoints.”

He said the adoption of hate crimes legislation has led to widespread suppression of speech deemed politically incorrect. The Pacific Justice Institute noted that in California, hate crimes laws are commonly invoked as a basis for further laws pushing acceptance of homosexuality in public schools and the workplace. The group also warned that use of “hate speech” terminology is also now being employed by minority religious groups in America to encourage suppression of free speech, as a prominent Hindu group called on Congress and major Internet service providers to shut down websites critical of Hinduism, including websites of Christian mission organizations.

The Pacific Justice Institute pledged to come to defend anyone who is prosecuted under the new hate crimes law because of their religious expression.

Liberty Counsel litigation counsel Matt Krause told WND, “It’s a very sad day for America and for religious liberties in general.”

He said the law will not deter crime or help the law-enforcement system.

“The only thing it will do is silence and scare Christians and religious organizations,” Krause said. “It will penalize thoughts and actions, and it will not stop crime. It should be called the ‘thought-crimes’ bill.”

He continued, “We encourage pastors and church leaders to keep doing what they’re doing and preach the gospel. If they run into any barriers, they can contact us because we are ready and willing to defend them in any way we need to.”

The White House announced it will host a reception this evening to commemorate the enactment of the hate crimes legislation. Obama’s remarks will be aired live on the White House website.

Original Link.

AARP: Reform Advocate and Insurance Salesman

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The AARP has lost the spirit of what it was founded to do; keeping the best interest of our seniors at heart.

The nation’s preeminent seniors group, AARP, has put the weight of its 40 million members behind health-care reform, saying many of the proposals will lower costs and increase the quality of care for older Americans.

But not advertised in this lobbying campaign have been the group’s substantial earnings from insurance royalties and the potential benefits that could come its way from many of the reform proposals.

The group and its subsidiaries collected more than $650 million in royalties and other fees last year from the sale of insurance policies, credit cards and other products that carry the AARP name, accounting for the majority of its $1.14 billion in revenue, according to federal tax records. It does not directly sell insurance policies but lends its name to plans in exchange for a tax-exempt cut of the premiums.

The organization, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, also heavily markets the policies on its Web site, in mailings to its members and through ubiquitous advertising targeted at seniors.

The group’s dual role as an insurance reformer and a broker has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks from congressional Republicans, who accuse it of having a conflict of interest in taking sides in the fierce debate over health insurance. Three House Republicans sent a letter to AARP on Monday complaining that the group was putting its “political self-interests” ahead of seniors.

GOP lawmakers point to AARP’s thriving business in marketing branded Medigap policies, which provide supplemental coverage for standard Medicare plans available to the elderly. Democratic proposals to slash reimbursements for another program, called Medicare Advantage, are widely expected to drive up demand for private Medigap policies like the ones offered by AARP, according to health-care experts, legislative aides and documents.

Republicans also question the high salaries and other perks given to some top AARP executives, who would not be subject to limits on insurance executives’ pay included in the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform package. Former AARP chief executive William Novelli received more than $1 million in compensation last year.

“We are witnessing a disturbing trend of handouts to special interests like AARP,” said House Republican spokesman Matt Lloyd, referring to Democratic negotiations over health reform. “In return, AARP is lobbying for a government-run health-care bill that will pad their own executives’ pockets at the expense of its own members and other vulnerable seniors.”

Original Link.

Pelosi Unveiling Health Bill With Gov’t Option

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Pelosi still doesn’t get it!! What planet does this woman live on? The majority of people do not want this!!
One more time, for the benefit of Speaker Pelosi: “No Health Care with a Government Option”. Period.

WASHINGTON — After months of contentious negotiating, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to unveil a retooled health care overhaul plan intended to bridge differences among Democrats and open a history-making floor debate on extending health insurance to nearly all Americans.

Pelosi, D-Calif., wants to have the legislation on the floor next week, with a final vote before Veterans Day, Nov. 11, that would give President Barack Obama a bill to sign by year’s end, numerous Democratic officials said. She planned a formal announcement of the bill Thursday in front of the Capitol.

The bill would require nearly everyone by 2013 to sign up through their employer, a government program or a new kind of purchasing pool called an exchange. Tax credits would be available for most of those buying coverage through the exchange. They would have the option of picking a new government plan or private insurance.

During the transition years from 2010-2013, a temporary government program would help people turned down by private insurers because of medical problems, lawmakers said. After that, insurers no longer could refuse to provide coverage to the sick, nor could they charge more because of poor health of the insured.

The plan also calls for a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income people. And it would impose a requirement on employers to offer insurance to their workers or face penalties.

A concession to Democratic moderates appears to have cleared a path for Pelosi to move forward. Democratic leaders agreed to the moderates’ demand that the new government insurance plan must negotiate payment levels with hospitals and doctors, instead of imposing its rates, as liberal lawmakers would have preferred.

“This has always been a matter of trying to pull together 218 votes,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., referring to the number needed to guarantee passage on the House floor. “There is growing confidence that we can pass it with strong Democratic support.”

No Republicans are expected to vote for the sweeping legislation, which would raise taxes on upper-income earners and cut Medicare payments to insurers, hospitals and other providers to cover a price tag that tops $1 trillion over 10 years.

“Americans’ health care is too important to risk on one gigantic bill that was negotiated behind closed doors,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. “The Medicare cuts will hurt seniors, the tax increases will kill jobs and the government takeover of health care will increase premium costs.

Original Link.

Radical Islamic Group Leader Killed in FBI Raid

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The FBI seems to be doing a good job staying on top of the “terrorist in America” problem. Keep up the great work!!!

DETROIT — Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested several members of a radical Sunni Islam group in the U.S., killing one of its leaders at a shootout in a Michigan warehouse, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Agents were trying to arrest Luqman Ameen Abdullah, 53, at a Dearborn warehouse on charges that included conspiracy to sell stolen goods and illegal possession and sale of firearms. Authorities also conducted raids elsewhere to try to round up 10 followers named in a federal complaint.

Abdullah refused to surrender, fired a weapon and was killed by gunfire from agents, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said.

In the 43-paged complaint unsealed Wednesday, the FBI said Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, was an imam, or prayer leader, of a radical group named Ummah whose primary mission is to establish an Islamic state within the United States.

No one was charged with terrorism. But Abdullah was “advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States,” FBI agent Gary Leone said in an affidavit.

He told them it was their “duty to oppose the FBI and the government and it does not matter if they die,” Leone said.

Abdullah regularly preached anti-government rhetoric and was trained, along with his followers, in the use of firearms, martial arts and swords, the agent said.

Leone said members of the national group mostly are black and some converted to Islam while in prisons across the United States.

“Abdullah preaches that every Muslim should have a weapon, and should not be scared to use their weapon when needed,” Leone wrote.

Seven of the 10 people charged with Abdullah were in custody, including a state prison inmate, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Three were still at large. Another man not named in the complaint also was arrested.

The group believes that a separate Islamic state in the U.S. would be controlled by Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado for shooting two police officers in Georgia in 2000, Leone said. Al-Amin, a veteran of the black power movement, started the group after he converted to Islam in prison.

“They’re not taking their cues from overseas,” said Jimmy Jones, a professor of world religions at Manhattanville College and a longtime Muslim prison chaplain. “This group is very much American born and bred.”

The movement at one time was believed to include a couple of dozen mosques around the country. Ummah is now dwarfed in numbers and influence by other African-American Muslim groups, particularly the mainstream Sunnis who were led by Imam W.D. Mohammed, who recently died.

By evening, authorities still were working the scene near the Detroit-Dearborn border and the warehouse was surrounded by police tape.

The U.S. attorney’s office said an FBI dog was also killed during the shootout.

Abdullah’s mosque is in a brick duplex on a quiet, residential street in Detroit. A sign on the door in English and Arabic reads, in part, “There is no God but Allah.”

Several men congregated on the porch Wednesday night and subsequently attacked a photographer from The Detroit News who was taking pictures from across the street. Ricardo Thomas had his camera equipment smashed and had a bloody lip from the attack.

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Dearborn, said the FBI had briefed him about Wednesday’s raids and told him they were the result of a two-year investigation.

“We know that this is not something to be projected as something against Muslims,” Hamad said.

The complaint shows the FBI built its case with the help of confidential sources close to Abdullah who recorded conversations.

A source said that Abdullah regularly beat children inside the mosque with sticks, including a boy who was “unable to walk for several days,” Leone said.

The source, according to the agent, regularly listened to a recording of a 2004 sermon in which Abdullah said, “Do not carry a pistol if you’re going to give it up to police. You give them a bullet!”

In January 2009, members were evicted from a former mosque for failing to pay property taxes. An FBI search turned up empty shell casings and large holes in the concrete wall of a “shooting range,” Leone said.

Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the federal authorities’ description of Abdullah’s extremist links didn’t match what he knew of Abdullah.

“I knew him to be charitable,” Walid said. “He would open up the mosque to homeless people. He used to run a soup kitchen and feed indigent people. … I knew nothing of him that was related to any nefarious or criminal behavior.”

Original Link.

Larry David Blasted for ‘Curb’ Episode Where He Urinates on Jesus Painting

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

As usual, Hollywood believes it’s OK to insult Jesus and Christians.

Comedian Larry David is under attack from critics who say he pushed the mocking of religion and Christian belief in miracles over the edge in the latest episode of his HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which the cable network defended as “playful.”

On the show’s most recent installment, which aired Sunday, David urinates on a painting of Jesus Christ, causing a woman to believe the painting depicts Jesus crying.

Deal Hudson, author and publisher of InsideCatholic.com, said he doesn’t find any humor in the episode.

“I don’t think it’s funny,” Hudson told Foxnews.com. “Why is it that people are allowed to publicly show that level of disrespect for Christian symbols? If the same thing was done to a symbol of any other religions — Jewish or Muslim — there’d be a huge outcry. It’s simply not a level playing field.”

Hudson said an apology from the show’s producers and writing team should be issued.

“Somebody should [apologize],” Hudson said. “When is it going to stop? When is common sense going to dictate that people realize this willingness of artists to do to Christianity what they would never do to Judaism or Islam?”

In a statement to Foxnews.com, HBO downplayed the controversy.

“Anyone who follows Curb Your Enthusiasm knows that the show is full of parody and satire,” the statement read. “Larry David makes fun of everyone, most especially himself. The humor is always playful and certainly never malicious.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, also criticized the episode, saying David should “quit while he’s ahead,” and that the show is proof that the comedian’s best years are behind him.

“Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it’s comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother?” Donohue said in a statement. “This might be fun to watch, but since HBO only likes to dump on Catholics (it was just a couple of weeks ago that Sarah Silverman insulted Catholics on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’) and David is Jewish, we’ll never know.”

During Sunday’s episode, David, who created, wrote and produced “Seinfeld,” visits a bathroom in his assistant’s home and splatters urine on a picture of Jesus. Instead of wiping it off, David leaves the restroom. Minutes later, David’s assistant enters the bathroom and concludes that Jesus is crying. She then summons her mother to the bathroom, where both women kneel in prayer.

Original Link.