Archive for December 14th, 2009

Book Aims to End Clash over Temple Mount

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Yeah, good luck with that.

TRANSCENDING the bitterness of the confrontation between their nations and faiths, Israeli and Palestinian scholars have come together for an unprecedented joint history of the most contested religious site on earth.

A new book, Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Jerusalem’s Sacred Esplanade is an antidote to extremism about the holy city’s Temple Mount, revered by Jews as site of the biblical temples and sacred to Muslims as the site of the al-Aksa mosque.

Just last month there was fresh violence at the site between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police sparked by rumours spread by Islamic fundamentalists that Jewish fundamentalists were coming to invade the mosque as part of their proclaimed effort to prepare for a third temple there.

The site in the East Jerusalem area occupied by Israel in 1967 overlooks the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a remnant of the Second Temple. It has been a major flashpoint in recent years as well. A provocative visit there by the then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon triggered the second intifada uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The book, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University and the Ben-Zvi Institute on the Israeli side and al-Quds University in the West Bank, could, if widely read, lower the flames of conflict.

One of its most remarkable features is an essay in which Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University, suggests reimagining and recasting the disputed site as a venue for reconciliation, broadmindedness and mutual respect among Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Mr Nusseibeh has little patience for Jews and Muslims killing each other because of the perceived holiness of the site.

“It is hard to see how God can ‘be made to feel better’ by men fighting over that spot, killing and getting killed over it, dismantling or demolishing it, or whatever. The only ‘party’ or ‘parties’ that can hope to ‘feel better’ by such gruesome contestations must surely be men themselves,” he writes.

“In the final analysis spilling (human) blood over the Rock can only be a secular practice, not a divine wish or command!”

Mr Nusseibeh then voices the hope that each religion would be able to step into the shoes of the other in perceiving the site. That may sound mundane, but it is breaking new ground in the Muslim context, where denial of any Jewish tie to the site is the norm.

Original Link.

Houston Becomes Largest U.S. City with Gay Mayor

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Just for the record, I didn’t vote for her. Of course I live in the county, so I couldn’t vote for or against her in any case, but if I could have voted for or against her, I would have voted against her.

HOUSTON – Houston became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker after a hotly contested runoff.

Parker defeated former city attorney Gene Locke with 53.6 percent of the vote Saturday in a race that had a turnout of only 16.5 percent.

“This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that’s what my administration will be about,” Parker told supporters after Locke conceded defeat.

Original Link.

‘Marriage Penalty’ Buried in Healthcare Bills

Monday, December 14th, 2009

No surprise here.

Former Minnesota state legislator Allen Quist points out that two single people each making $30,000 per year would pay $1,320 combined for private health insurance if the Pelosi House bill was in effect now. However, if the two individuals were to marry, they would pay a combined cost of $12,000 a year for the same level of insurance under the Pelosi bill.

Quist notes this “marriage penalty” extends all the way from a two-person combined income of $58,280 to $86,640. The GOP candidate notes that that $28,000 spread encompasses a large number of Americans.

“Let me be very blunt,” says the House hopeful. “Tyrants know that marriage and family are the basic core of society and the basic foundation of government — and if people are going to control others, they see marriage and family as their number-one threat.

“So tyrants always want to weaken the family,” he concludes, “and that’s what this bill is designed to do. And it’s designed to do it very effectively.”

Original Link.