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Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two-Thirds of Americans Object to Online Tracking

NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Stephanie Clifford - September 29, 2009 ABOUT two-thirds of Americans object to online tracking by advertisers - and that number rises once they learn the different ways marketers are following their online movements, according to a new survey from professors at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Berkeley. The professors say they believe the study, scheduled for release on Wednesday, is the first independent, nationally representative telephone survey on behavioral advertising. The topic may be technical, but it has become a hot political issue. Privacy advocates are telling Congress and the Federal Trade Commission that tracking of online activities by Web sites and advertisers has gone too far, and the lawmakers seem to be listening. Representative Rick Boucher, Democrat of Virginia, wrote in an article for The Hill last week that he planned to introduce privacy legislation. And David Vladeck, head of consumer protection for the F.T.C., has signaled that he will examine data privacy issues closely. Marketers are arguing that advertising supports free online content. Major advertising trade groups proposed in Julysome measures that they hoped would fend off regulation, like a clear notice to consumers when they were being tracked. The data in this area, however, has been largely limited to company-financed research or Internet-based research, which survey experts say they believe is not representative of all Americans. So the study - among the first independent surveys to examine this issue - has attracted widespread interest. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/media/30adco.html?th=&adxnnl=1&emc=th&adxnnlx=1254316646-aKun0OM1VaGiFVEuPECy5w FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The shopping experience of the future? RFID Tracking from Start to Finish

How Destiny would track shoppers at Carousel Center expansion THE POST-STANDARD, Syracuse, New York [Advance/Newhouse] - By Rick Moriarty - August 24, 2009 Syracuse, NY -- Hidden in a secret location deep inside the Carousel Center mall is what Destiny USA officials believe is the future of the retail industry. A 1,000-square-foot room with translucent flooring contains what appears to be a small clothing store with just two products -- T-shirts and cloth handbags with the words "Surrender the past" printed on them. But what makes the "store" unique isn't the see-through floor. It's the technology behind the walls, under the shelves and attached to each T-shirt and handbag. Through the use of a radio frequency identification system, the store can track what products a customer picks up, instantly send detailed information and customer reviews of those products to the shopper's iPhone, and make suggestions, via nearby computer screens, of other products that might interest the customer. The system even tracks customers as they walk through the store and displays on the computer screens items, in their size and preferred fabrics, that they might want to consider, based on their past shopping habits. At the self-checkout desk, the customer just drops merchandise on the desk and an antenna built into the desk picks up a radio signal from a sticker attached to each of the items and rings them up. There are no UPC symbols to scan. The customer swipes a credit card through a reader and the sale is complete. It's paperless, too. The system e-mails a receipt to the customer and records the purchase on the customer's account. Shoppers in this store cannot actually buy anything. It's set up just to give select visitors a demonstration of the technology behind Destiny's new retail concept, which it calls Arendi. Destiny partner Bruce Kenan said the model combines the convenience of Internet shopping -- the instant availability of detailed product information and comparisons from multiple manufacturers and user reviews -- with the ability to touch, smell and try a product. "This is a marriage of Internet and physical retail," said Kenan. "People are going to like it. They're going to demand it." Kenan and three executives from Terakeet Corp., the Syracuse company that is assembling the technology behind Arendi, gave a Post-Standard reporter and photographer a tour of the "store." The only condition was that the newspaper could not reveal where in the mall the room is located. Developer Robert Congel, the man behind Carousel's stalled expansion into Destiny USA, envisions the addition as a giant consumer research and development center where consumer shopping habits are tracked by a network of computers. The name Arendi is a play on the term "R&D," short for research and development. Retailers and brand makers who become part of the center would share all of the consumer insight data collected at Arendi -- in exchange for all of their profits. It's a concept that has never been tried before on a mall scale, and it has not been easy to sell the idea to a retail industry that saw sales fall 10.8 percent in the second quarter, compared with the same quarter last year. The secret "store" hidden inside Carousel Center was created to show off Arendi's technology to potential tenants. Destiny officials had planned to open a 50,000-square-foot version of Arendi to the public late this summer with a limited, undisclosed number of tenants who have agreed to be part of the demonstration. The hope was that the public demonstration would help the developer lure enough tenants to eventually fill the three-story, 1.3 million-square-foot mall expansion. Construction, which began in 2007, came to a halt in early June after Citigroup stopped advancing money on a $155 million loan to the project. The bank said it was concerned that the project was a year over schedule, at least $15 million over budget and had not a single signed lease. Congel is suing Citigroup, alleging it breached its loan agreement. The sudden halt to construction has not dimmed the development team's enthusiasm for Arendi, however. Kenan said it's amazing no one thought of combining e-commerce with stores in this way before. The goal of Arendi will be to give shoppers at the mall all of the things they like about online shopping -- primarily instant access to product information -- while they walk through a store, touching and feeling the merchandise, he said. And it will benefit retailers and product makers because they can personalize their in-store sales promotions to customers as they shop. The system also can help retailers keep instant track of when to reorder popular merchandise, he said. "One of the worst things for retailers is to run out of a product that is in demand," he said. Customers would have to register at an Arendi Web site, providing their name and e-mail address. If they'd like, they could also provide personal information such as age, clothing sizes and preferred fabrics. In return, they would be given customer ID tags, plastic cards about the size of credit cards. They would carry the cards with them when they go shopping at Arendi, just as they carry shoppers club cards to grocery stores. "Once you're registered, you can just walk around and shop as you normally would," said Ryan Garver, lead developer for Terakeet. In a demonstration of the technology, Garver walked with the card to a shelf full of T-shirts and a large computer screen in the middle. As he approached the shirts, the screen displayed a picture of one of the shirts, in his size. An antenna under the display read an electronic signal from his customer ID tag and called up information he provided about himself when he registered. If a group of customers approached a merchandise display, the system would know who they are and display information that it believed would be of interest to a majority of them, he said. To find out more about the merchandise in front of him, Garver glanced at his iPhone. Terakeet has written an application for the iPhone that will talk to Arendi's computer network through the Internet to provide customers with more detailed information about the products they are looking at. Garver said the company plans to write similar applications for other hand-held communications devices, too. If a store in Arendi did not have the size and color of the product a customer wants, it could be ordered from the interactive computer displays in the store or through the customer's iPhone or other Web-based communication devices, he said. Kenan said retailers will be able to use information collected at Arendi -- not just data collected in their own stores or display areas -- to improve the customer experience at all of their locations. "We'll have a knowledge base that no other retailer can get by themselves," he said. Staff writer Rick Moriarty can be reached at 470-3148 or rmoriarty@syracuse.com http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2009/08/how_destiny_would_track_shoppe.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dollar loses reserve status to yen & euro

NEW YORK POST [News Corporation/Murdoch] - By Paul Tharp - October 13, 2009 Ben Bernanke's dollar crisis went into a wider mode yesterday as the greenback was shockingly upstaged by the euro and yen, both of which can lay claim to the world title as the currency favored by central banks as their reserve currency. Over the last three months, banks put 63 percent of their new cash into euros and yen -- not the greenbacks -- a nearly complete reversal of the dollar's onetime dominance for reserves, according to Barclays Capital. The dollar's share of new cash in the central banks was down to 37 percent -- compared with two-thirds a decade ago. Currently, dollars account for about 62 percent of the currency reserve at central banks -- the lowest on record, said the International Monetary Fund. Bernanke could go down in economic history as the man who killed the greenback on the operating table. After printing up trillions of new dollars and new bonds to stimulate the US economy, the Federal Reserve chief is now boxed into a corner battling two separate monsters that could devour the economy -- ravenous inflation on one hand, and a perilous recession on the other. "He's in a crisis worse than the meltdown ever was," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital. "I fear that he could be the Fed chairman who brought down the whole thing." Investors and central banks are snubbing dollars because the greenback is kept too weak by zero interest rates and a flood of greenbacks in the global economy. They grumble that they've loaned the US record amounts to cover its mounting debt, but are getting paid back by a currency that's worth 10 percent less in the past three months alone. In a decade, it's down nearly one-third. Yesterday, the dollar had a mixed performance, falling slightly against the British pound to $1.5801 from $1.5846 Friday, but rising against the euro to $1.4779 from $1.4709 and against the yen to 89.85 yen from 89.78. Economists believe the market rebellion against the dollar will spread until Bernanke starts raising interest rates from around zero to the high single digits, and pulls back the flood of currency spewed from US printing presses. "That's a cure, but it's also going to stifle any US economic growth," said Schiff. "The economy is addicted to the cheap interest and liquidity." Economists warn that a jump in rates will clobber stocks and cripple the already stalled housing market. "Bernanke's other choice is to keep rates at zero, print even more money and sell more debt, but we'll see triple-digit inflation that could collapse the economy as we know it. "The stimulus is what's toxic -- we're poisoning ourselves and the global economy with it." http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/dollar_loses_reserve_status_to_yen_hFyfwvpBW1YYLykSJwTTEL FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pay with a wave of your hand?

An implantable chip could allow you to charge purchases or even start your car. It'd be convenient, to be sure. But would it be too creepy? CREDITCARDS.com - By Jay MacDonald - September 11, 2009 It's a simple concept, really: You inject a miniature radio frequency identifier the size of a grain of rice between your thumb and forefinger and, with a wave of your hand, unlock doors, turn on lights, start your car or pay for your drinks at an ultrachic nightspot. The problem is, the whole concept is a little geeky for most of us, nauseating for some, Orwellian for a few and even apocalyptic for a smattering of religious fundamentalists. Forget the science of it -- and yes, it does work remarkably well. Forget the convenience of it. Forget that similar identifying technologies, from bar codes to mag stripes, overcame similar obstacles and are now ubiquitous. Radio frequency ID implants face a hurdle the others did not: ickiness. "There is sort of an icky quality to implanting something," says Rome Jette, the vice president for smart cards at Versatile Card Technology, a Downers Grove, Ill., card manufacturer that ships 1.5 billion cards worldwide a year. How RFID devices work The RFID technology is un-yucky, however. The implanted tag -- a passive RFID device consisting of a miniature antenna and chip containing a 16-digit identification number -- is scanned by an RFID reader. Once verified, the number is used to unlock a database file, be it a medical record or payment information. Depending upon the application, a reader may verify tags at a distance of 4 inches up to about 30 feet. The RFID implant has been around for more than 20 years. In its earliest iteration, it provided a convenient way to keep track of dogs, cats and prized racehorses. Few took note or voiced much concern. ... Then, in 2002, Applied Digital Solutions (now Digital Angel) of Delray Beach, Fla., deployed to its foreign distributors a beta version of its patented VeriChip technology for human use. Two years later, the VeriChip became the first subcutaneous RFID chip to receive FDA approval as a Class 2 medical device. One VeriChip distributor in Spain sold the concept to the ultratrendy Baja Beach Club, which offered its patrons in Barcelona and Amsterdam the option of having an implant inserted in their upper arms to pay for their drinks without having to carry wallets in their swimsuits. Judging by the ensuing outrage, you would think VeriChip had given the pope a wedgie. 'Mark of the beast'? Web sites sprouted like mushrooms, accusing VeriChip of being the biblical "mark of the beast" predicted in the Book of Revelations as a foreshadowing of the end of the world. CEO Scott Silverman was equally vilified as being tied to Satan or, worse, Wall Street. Big Brother was surely coming, though he'd have to get pretty close to read your implant. Claims that the tags cause cancer based on lab rat tests upped the amps of outrage. Were people suddenly curious about RFID implants? "Curiosity is probably an understatement," Silverman concedes. "People have always taken interest in VeriChip. Part of the lore and part of the trouble of this company over the past five years has been just that." Though VeriChip played no part in using its implant as a payment device, the company quickly moved to calmer waters. Today, it markets its VeriMed Health Link patient identification system to help hospitals treat noncommunicative patients in an emergency. Its future may include more advanced medical applications, including a biosensor system to detect glucose levels. "A lot of the negative press that we received was a direct result of people having a misconception of what this technology is all about," says Silverman. "We believe that the medical application was and still is the best application for this technology. "That said, if and when it does become mainstream and more patients are utilizing it for their medical records or for diagnostic purposes, if they want to elect to use it for other applications, certainly they'll be able to do that. But it's going to take a company much larger than us to distribute the retail reader end of it into the Wal-Marts of the world." Versatile's Jette has watched contactless RFID battle for acceptance in the credit card arena. Just as Silverman suggests, the dynamics and scale of the payment industry tends to work against widespread deployment. "Mobil Speedpass tried to do it; they got some traction and decided to see if there was any mileage to take this to a Walgreens or McDonald's. You used to be able to use your Speedpass at McDonalds, but that ended because, at the end of the day, you still only have two gigantic payment processors out there, Visa and MasterCard," he says. "To me, the idea of any kind of payment device having ubiquity requires an awful lot of back-end cooperation, of people willing to say, 'I don't need my brand in the customer's wallet.'" Although the coolness factor is effective from a marketing standpoint -- American Express Blue with its smart (if largely unused) chip is a good example -- Jette says most cardholders would balk at the very thought of a needle. "With the implanting in the nightclubs, there is a cache of exclusivity there, especially among a certain demographic where people are piercing themselves and getting tattoos. But those are things that really only 20-somethings do a lot. I really doubt that there will be any market for injectable RFID tags or even any single point-of-sale payment device." "A lot of times, the technology is a solution looking for a problem. Sometimes people fall in love with the technology for its own sake and then try to evangelize a home for it. My business group is just smart cards, and I never forget that although we make money with smart cards, the bills are paid with mag stripe cards. As backwards and old-fashioned as they are, that is still the bulk of what the transactions are going to be in America for a very long time." This article was reported by Jay MacDonald for CreditCards.com. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/FinancialPrivacy/pay-with-a-wave-of-your-hand.aspx FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Benny Hinn: 'I Would Not Do This for Money'

Evangelical Leader Under Senate Investigation Sits With 'Nightline' for Rare Interview ABC NEWS [American Broadcasting Companies, Inc./The Walt Disney Company] - By Dan Harris - October 19, 2009 Miraculous cures for cancer and AIDS, people in wheelchairs getting up and dancing. It's business as usual for Benny Hinn, perhaps the world's most famous, successful and controversial televangelist. Hinn is a faith-healer who almost never grants interviews -- until now. "I'll try to explain it to you," said Hinn in a wide-ranging interview with ABC's "Nightline." "The anointing, which is God's power, comes on me. ... I can actually feel it. And people start getting healed. 'From the cancer, the pain is gone. ... I was sitting on my wheelchair and I can walk now,' such things like that." Hinn took questions about disillusioned followers and about the U.S. senator who is investigating him. The questions clearly dismayed Hinn's handlers. He was born Toukif Benedictus Hinn to a Greek Orthodox Christian family living in Israel. As a child, he moved with his family to Canada, where he became an extremely devout evangelical. In his 20's, Hinn moved to Florida, where he married a preacher's daughter -- and then went into the family business. Hinn said he realized early on that something extraordinary was happening. "In fact, I was shocked, really I was, when people came up to me claiming they were healed back in the 70s," he said. "And the crowds grew. Uh to, goodness, we would have 2,000 or 3,000 show up on Monday nights. And then the word spread." Hinn's ministry exploded. Within a few years, he was traveling the world, preaching to millions of people. In the early '90s, he started a television show, which now airs in more than 200 countries. Along the way, he has made a series of truly extraordinary claims. In one video clip on YouTube, he said he had seen a dead man resurrected. "Well, Ghana. It was in Akra, Ghana," Hinn explained to "Nightline." "I didn't exactly ... I had no proof he was dead. That's what they told me. They laid him on the platform, and at one point he got up. But that's not the question, the question is, can God raise the dead? Yes or no? And the answer is yes. He has. It's in the Bible, so if God did it then, why shouldn't he do it today?" 'I Would Not Do This for Money' Benny Hinn now controls an empire. His ministry collects an estimated $100 million a year in donations from people whom Hinn has convinced that God heals through him. "Nightline" asked Hinn directly if he isn't taking advantage of people who are profoundly religious, and vulnerable because they're in physical pain, for his own personal enrichment. "I'm glad you're asking," Hinn said. "Let me tell you something. I would not do this for money. If people think I would do this for money, after all the misery I've had to go through..." "What misery?" I asked Hinn. "Oh dear God, what misery? You name it. You're a human being like me, how would you like to be called all those names. Who wants that? What you're asking is am I using the so-called lie, that healings really happen so I can make money? "Of course not. You cannot fool all the people all the time, right? ... "I will tell you this. I think that if I was fooling the people over 35 years of it now, I would be caught already fooling them." Hinn admits he doesn't have medical verification of any of the healings. In fact, some of his supposed healings have turned out not to have been real. At a 2001 Hinn crusade, William Vandenkolk, a 9-year-old with damaged vision, claimed that his eyesight had been restored. Vandenkolk is now 17 -- and he's still legally blind. His uncle and legal guardian, Randy Melthratter, said that after the crusade no one from the ministry followed up to see how the 9-year-old was doing. "I said, 'Will, honey, does it still seem like your eyes are getting better? Is it getting better? Do you notice anything better at all?' And he just kind of cocked his head to the side and said 'I think God's just taking a break,'" Melthratter said. "And that just tore, that just hurt. That hurt a lot ... a little boy making excuses for God." "I got caught up in the moment," Vandenkolk says now. "Being as young as I was, thinking this could actually be possible. ... I just started feeling sad a little upset that this really didn't happen." Hinn was at a loss. "These are things that I cannot explain because I am not the healer," Hinn said. "I am human like you. I make mistakes like anybody else." Hinn's answer is that God heals people in their seats, and that he, Hinn, is not responsible for what people claim once they get onstage. "Over the years, there's been some cases where people did come up who said they were healed, but really they were not healed," Hinn said. "I do believe it's possible for individuals to mentally convince themselves they are, but that does not deny the real healings. That doesn't dismiss the fact that a lot of people are really cured." Hinn Ministries told "Nightline" that they set up an account in Vandenkolk's name that now holds more than $15,000, to provide for his "education and health." Hinn may be more confident than the team that surrounds him. Over the course of the "Nightline" interview with Hinn, his publicist started to interrupt, angrily. The atmosphere got charged when talk turned to an ongoing probe of Hinn by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Two years ago, Grassley launched an investigation into six major televangelists, including Hinn. Grassley is asking whether Hinn and his colleagues are using tax-free donations from believers to fund lavish lifestyles. Hinn, for example, flies on a private jet and has lived in a beautiful home on the Pacific Ocean. 'Every Man of God ... Has a Nice House' Hinn had never before granted an interview on the topic of the investigation. He said he was "absolutely" confident that he is using the money appropriately. In response to criticism that he leads a lavish lifestyle, Hinn said, "it's always been that by the way. That criticism is nothing new." He flies in a private plane, stays in fancy hotels, wears nice clothes and jewelry. Does he not have any misgivings about that? "No. Look, you know there's this idea supposedly that we preachers are supposed to walk about with sandals and ride bicycles. That's nonsense." Jesus Christ may have lived in poverty, but Benny Hinn makes no apologies for living large. "I mean look, every man of God that I know today has a nice house," Hinn said. "And they drive cars, and they have BlackBerrys or iPhones or whatever. It's what we need today to simply exist. ... Absolutely I need a private plane. For the ministry it's a necessity, not a luxury. ... It's a necessity for me to have my own private plane to fly so I can go and do what God called me to do around the world. If I should fly commercial I would wear out. With my schedule? It would be madness." What is his salary? I asked. "I'm not gonna give you the exact amount, but it's, uh, over a half-million." Hinn said he'd like to cut his salary to zero. "Let me just tell you this, my aim in life is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, that's all I care about," said Hinn. "And if somebody comes along, or if there's a way where I can be completely taken care of financially, I won't let the ministry pay me a cent. I'll make you a deal. Right here on camera. Let 'em all see me do this with you. If somebody comes along and says, 'OK Benny Hinn, I'm gonna help you financially so you can pay your own bills,' or if I can do it on my own and get a job and do something on the side like I'm doing now, it would be a pleasure." "Nightline" asked Hinn whether he ever had moments, when people are writing out checks to him or filling out cards with their credit card information, that he thinks the people can't afford it, they're doing it because they're desperate and that he shouldn't take this money. "If I was fake I would absolutely give them back their money," said Hinn, "but I believe that God called me to preach the gospel which is very important." Grassley's office said that Hinn has cooperated fully with the investigation into whether Hinn and other televangelist are using the tax-free donations they collect appropriately. The senator has not yet released the results of his investigation. "The senator himself says we gave them more information than he thought we would," said Hinn. But when "Nightline" asked for the same information, Hinn said the ministry could not turn it over because "we have an agreement with the senator to keep things confidential." After the interview, Grassley's office told ABC News that Hinn is free to release any information he wants. But the ministry said it didn't have time to edit out personal information from its donors in time for "Nightline"'s broadcast. And therefore the ministry turned over nothing. But Hinn said he was glad to get the chance to answer his skeptics. "The questions [you] asked me, I've wanted someone to ask me for the last 20 years of my life," Hinn told me. "I think what this man did is fantastic and thank you for doing it. No, really, I'm very pleased. ... because it's time for me to tell it all. I don't want people talking for me. I want to talk for myself." http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=8862027 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Drought Reveals Iraqi Archaeological Treasures

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO [NPR, US] - By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro - March 20, 2009 Iraq is suffering one of the worst droughts in decades. While this is bad news for farmers, it is good news for archaeologists in the country. The receding waters of the Euphrates River have revealed ancient archaeological sites, some of which were unknown until now. For Ratib Ali al-Kubaisi, the director of Anbar province's Antiquities Department, the drought has opened up a whole new land of opportunity. He explains that civilization began in Anbar, next to the Euphrates River. "Everyone … thought that Anbar was only desert with no historical importance. But we discovered that this area is one of the most important archaeological areas in all of Iraq. This part of Iraq was the first to be settled," he says. Flooding Covers Sites In the mid-1980s, Saddam Hussein's government dammed the Euphrates in the area, flooding a 120-mile-long stretch of land near Iraq's border with Syria. What once was an enormous reservoir that stretched as far as the eye could see has shrunk an astonishing 90 percent since summer, officials say. Ratib says that at least 75 archeological sites had been partially excavated before the area was flooded. They ran the gamut of civilizations - from 3,000 B.C. to the Sumerian and Roman periods. Ancient Jewish settlements were also submerged in the area. But because of the receding waters, Ratib has been able to access some sites for the first time - including, for instance, a cliff with a series of pre-Christian tombs carved into its face. Though they have been heavily damaged by the water, Ratib says they still have value. "I wish we could excavate these sites again. If we had the money and the resources, we could complete the work we began all those years ago," he says. Exciting New Finds But it's not only previously discovered archaeological sites that the drought has made accessible. Ratib and a colleague are suddenly excited by something they've seen on this particular day. They kneel next to what looks like an old stone wall, shards of pottery everywhere. Ratib says he believes it is a Roman-era irrigation ditch. "I've never seen this site before," he says. "When we excavated this area decades ago, this was all buried underneath the soil, but the receding waters uncovered it." Area Vulnerable To Looters It's an unexpected discovery, but on the heels of their elation comes concern. Ratib says he is worried the area will be looted. In all of Anbar, just 10 guards protect vulnerable archaeological sites. "The area is rich with things. You can find jewelry, coins and documents - all these things are temptations for professional thieves," he says. Or others who are just struggling to survive. While the drought has been good for archaeologists, it has been terrible for the fishermen who rely on the Euphrates for their livelihood. "The river level is very low, it's the lowest it has ever been that we can remember," says fisherman Sa'ad Naji. "It's frightening. The fishermen have no work anymore." The river here is only about 3-to-4-feet deep. Sa'ad says strange structures now jut out of the water. He points to what looks like a stone arch that stands crumbling, lapped by muddy waves. He says those aren't the only things archeologists have discovered. "About a year ago when the waters started to recede, these artifacts began to show up. We began looking around the area, and we found clay jars and old bones, coins and even some gold jewelry," he says. For now, he says, the looting is confined to mostly local people who don't know the value of what they've taken. Money Another Challenge Back on shore, Ratib says excitedly he will ask Baghdad's central government for money to begin new excavations and to protect the sites. "I will demand that we rescan the whole area. And if they have the budget, we will start work on it immediately," he says. But he acknowledges there will probably not be enough money. If we can't excavate, he says ruefully, we can at least announce our new discoveries. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102184336 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 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Prophetic Signs Everywhere -- Picture Addendum

Second Temple Pilgrimage Route Uncovered
Stone Vessel with 'Priestly Inscription' Uncovered In Jerusalem
Passage Found, May Have Been Used by Abraham
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Interfaith Dialogue: The Great Unmentionable

THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR - By Doug Bandow - May 19, 2009 President Barack Obama has called for an improved dialogue with Islam and is planning a major speech in Egypt. He is not alone in his efforts to reach out. Pope Benedict recently visited Jordan, where he acknowledged "the burden of our common history so often marked by misunderstanding." Certainly all faiths would benefit from greater understanding. Yet no conversation will have any meaning if it does not address Islam's brutal reality: the consistent persecution of Christians, Jews, and members of other minority faiths. Indeed, Islamic governments long ago learned that a good offense is the best defense. For instance, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan held hostage the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO Secretary General because as Denmark's prime minister the latter had defended a newspaper's legal right to run cartoons critical of the Prophet Mohammed. To win Ankara's acquiescence, Rasmussen abased himself, affirming his "respect" for Islam and explaining how "distressed" he was that many Muslims saw the cartoons as an effort to "insult" their faith. Moreover, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, made up of 56 Muslim-majority nations, led the UN campaign to denounce the "defamation" of religions. Last November the General Assembly approved a resolution targeting speech criticizing Islam, in particular, explaining that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." All governments were enjoined "to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs." Let us specify that some U.S. government actions offend many Muslims (in fact, I have criticized a number of those policies). Let us also specify that most Muslims neither engage in nor support terrorism. Nevertheless, past Western dialogue with Islam has consistently missed the elephant in the room: Pervasive religious persecution. Who persecutes religious minorities around the world? Communist and former communist states are big offenders: China, Cuba, Vietnam, and North Korea. There's a motley mixed group, including India, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Then there are Islamic states. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released its latest report. Of 13 states named Countries of Particular Concern, seven have overwhelming Muslim majorities: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Two, Eritrea and Nigeria, have narrow Muslims majorities. Of 11 countries on the Commission's Watch List, six have majority Islamic populations: Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia, Tajikistan, and Turkey. Of three countries being "closely monitored," two, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan, are majority Muslim. That is 17 of 27. International Christian Concern publishes a "Hall of Shame" naming the ten worst persecutors. Six of them -- Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia -- have Muslim majorities. In fact, it is unusual to find an Islamic nation where religious minorities are not discriminated against, both legally and socially. One of the best predictors that a government persecutes, or fails to protect religious minorities from persecution, is that the majority faith is Islam. Obviously, there is a range within the Islamic world. Some of persecutors, such as Eritrea and the Central Asian countries, for instance, seem driven more by ideology than theology. Moreover, not all Islamic states imprison or kill dissenters. But even the good isn't very good. Of Morocco, reported the State Department last year: "The Government places certain restrictions on non-Islamic religious materials and proselytizing." State added that "There were reports of societal abuses or discrimination toward those with different religious beliefs, and converts from Islam to other religions." Although foreign Christians generally worship freely, missionaries "whose religious activities become public face expulsion" and the regime "generally confiscates Arabic-language Bibles and refuses licenses for their importation and sale despite the absence of any law banning such books." Consider Jordan, the site of the Pope's recent visit. State observed: "The status of respect of religious freedom by the government declined during the period covered by this report. The government's handling of apostasy cases, expulsion of approximately thirty foreign Christian religious workers, and instances of individual and organizational harassment based on religious affiliation all contributed to the decline. Members of unrecognized religious groups and converts from Islam face legal discrimination and risk the loss of civil rights, including threats to their person and/or family." Last month President Obama visited Turkey where he declared: "Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not at war with Islam." Worthy sentiments, but not all Turks agree. Two years ago a gang of Islamic extremists tortured and murdered three Christians in the city of Malatya. The State Department pointed to "reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Violent attacks and continued threats against non-Muslims during the reporting period created an atmosphere of pressure and diminished freedom for some non-Muslim communities." Moreover, converts from Islam "sometimes experienced social harassment and violence from relatives and neighbors." USCIRF says "the Turkish state's interpretation of secularism has resulted in religious freedom violations for many of Turkey's citizens, including members of majority and, especially, for minority religious communities." Far worse is Egypt, where the president will be speaking. ICC places the country in its Hall of Shame, noting pervasive legal discrimination and violent harassment against Christians: "Coptic Christians, a native group of Egyptian Christians that traces its existence back to the beginning of Christianity, are widely discriminated against as a result of the discriminatory policies of the country and the bias of Muslim officials. There have been many instances in which, in some localities, Muslim extremists looted and burned down Christian owned businesses and homes, maiming and killing Christians." State warned that "respect for religious freedom by the government declined overall." In Afghanistan discrimination and persecution are increasing. USCIRF warns that "Conditions for freedom of religion or belief in Afghanistan have become increasingly problematic." Three years ago a Muslim convert to Christianity, Abdul Rahman, barely avoided execution and had to flee abroad. ICC warns that "Pakistan has increasingly cut away at the rights of the Christian minority, treating them as second-class citizens and largely relegating them to a life of poverty." State offered a similar assessment: "Law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody. Security forces and other government agencies did not adequately prevent or address societal abuse against minorities. Discriminatory legislation and the Government's failure to take action against societal forces hostile to those who practice a different religious belief fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities." In Iraq, explains the USCIRF, "there have been alarming numbers of religiously-motivated killings, abductions, beatings, rapes, threats, intimidation, forced resettlements, and attacks on religious leaders, pilgrims, and holy sites." Although members of all religious groups have suffered, the Commission notes that "those from Iraq's smallest religious minorities have been among the most vulnerable." As many as half of Iraq's Christians have been driven from their homes. The State Department reported that Iranian "government rhetoric and actions created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-She's religious groups, most notably for Baja's, as well as Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, and members of the Jewish community." The USCIRF reports that Tehran's "poor religious freedom record has deteriorated," with "intensified physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrest, and imprisonment. State observed that in Saudi Arabia "There is no legal recognition of, or protection under the law for, freedom of religion, and it is severely restricted in practice." The USCIRF says that Riyadh has been "engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief." The Saudi monarchy "persists in banning all forms of public religious expression other than that of the government's own interpretation of one school of Sunni Islam and even interferes with private religious practice." Indeed, Saudi Arabia, which ranks high in ICC's Hall of Shame because of the intensity of persecution, "does not acknowledge the presence of any Christians in the country." The list goes on. Although Islamic states are not monolithic, many of them routinely and sometimes savagely repress religious minorities. In contrast, there is a dearth of Christian states which persecute. Cuba and Venezuela are repressive, but their depredations are political, not theological. Only in Russia does official discrimination -- bothersome but not deadly -- seemingly reflect a religious bias, in this case in favor of the Orthodox Church. Obviously the president cannot center U.S. foreign policy on the issue of religious liberty. But the freedoms of conscience and of religious faith are basic human rights, the promotion of which is an important objective of American policy. Moreover, no genuine dialogue with the Islamic world can overlook the Muslim record on religious persecution. If Islamic governments expect the Western states "to take all possible measures to promote tolerance and respect for all religions and beliefs," then the former need to do so as well. And that means protecting the liberty of those who believe and worship differently in their own countries. By all means, let's encourage dialogue with Muslim nations. But let's put all issues on the table, including religious persecution. Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of Beyond Good Intentions: A Biblical View of Politics (Crossway). http://spectator.org/archives/2009/05/19/interfaith-dialogue-the-great/print FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Status in Africa Empowers an Ever-Eccentric Qaddafi

Daniel 7:7 "After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Michael Slackman - March 22, 2009 TRIPOLI, Libya - Forty years after he seized power in a bloodless coup d’état, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader once called the mad dog of the Middle East by President Ronald Reagan, has achieved the international status he always craved, as chairman of the African Union. Colonel Qaddafi’s selection last month to lead the 53-nation African Union coincided with his emergence as a welcomed figure in Western capitals, where heads of state are eager to tap Libya’s vast oil and gas reserves and to gain access to virgin Libyan markets. Once vilified for promoting state terrorism, Colonel Qaddafi is now courted. But Colonel Qaddafi remains the same eccentric, unpredictable revolutionary as always. He has used his new status to promote his call for a United States of Africa, with one passport, one military and one currency. He has blamed Israel for the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, defended Somali pirates for fighting “greedy Western nations” and declared that multiparty democracy was not right for the people of Africa. “This is a role that Qaddafi has been looking for for 40 years,” said Wahid Abdel Meguid, deputy director of Egypt’s largest research institute, the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “He kept shifting and changing directions in search of this role.” Each step of Colonel Qaddafi’s calculated transformation from terrorist sponsor to would-be statesman has bolstered the next. The thaw in relations with the West, which began in 2003 when he gave up Libya’s nuclear weapons program, gave him more credibility in Africa; and his rising status in Africa has made him more acceptable to the West. All of which has been aimed at one primary objective: bolstering his image. At one time, Colonel Qaddafi, who was born in 1942, tried to position himself as the next pan-Arab leader. But he was rejected, at times mocked, for his eccentric style and pronouncements. His country was isolated for decades because he sent his agents to kill civilians, including in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. But now in Africa, he has found traction. African heads of state view him suspiciously, and his one-Africa agenda is generally dismissed as unworkable. But he is embraced for his growing status in the West, the lack of credible alternatives across the continent and his money. Many stories are told in Tripoli of African leaders visiting Colonel Qaddafi and leaving with suitcases full of cash, stories that cannot be confirmed but that have become conventional wisdom. “They don’t want to lose him because he is a gold mine for solving crises, usually financial crises,” said Attia Essawy, an Egyptian writer with expertise in African affairs. “He is searching for a role; he wants to have a role regardless of where.” While Libya’s strongman is enjoying his burnished image, it has come at a cost to his nation of 5.5 million people and to the approximately two million Africans who have flocked to Libya believing that they would find warm receptions, good jobs and, perhaps, an easy path to Europe. Instead, they found a hostile environment and a struggle just to eat. “It is a burden,” Ali Abd Alaziz Isawi, who served for two years as the minister of economy, trade and investment, said of the army of illegal immigrants living in Libya. “They are a burden on health care, they spread disease, crime. They are illegal.” All over this capital city, illegal African immigrants line up along roadways, across bridges and at traffic circles hoping to be selected for menial day jobs that pay about $8. They call the areas where they congregate “the hustling grounds,” which are always crowded with desperate faces from early morning until well past sundown. Many people in Tripoli said they resented the presence of so many illegal workers. “We don’t like them,” said Moustafa Saleh, 28, who is unemployed, echoing a popular sentiment. “They smuggle themselves through the desert, and the way they deal with us is not good.” For the African migrants themselves, life in Libya is often a dead end. “They call us animals and slaves,” said Paul Oknonghou, 28, a Nigerian who lives with about a dozen other Nigerians in a house under construction that lacks glass in the window frames, running water, a bathroom or a kitchen. He said he and his friends considered themselves lucky that they did not have to sleep on the streets. Thomas Thtakore, 26, who is from Ghana, entered Libya illegally a year ago after a three-month journey across mountains and desert. “I have no help; I sleep under a bridge near the river,” He said. He said his younger brother died on the way. “If I stay here, I will die.” Mr. Thtakore was about to be flown back to Ghana by the International Organization for Migration, a nongovernmental group that helps migrants return home. Since 2006, the group has helped about 3,000 travel home. “If they find a job it can be good, but if they don’t, it can be a nightmare,” said Michele Bombassei, an official with the migration group, adding that most do not find jobs. That hostile reality contrasts sharply with the image that Colonel Qaddafi likes to portray. His capital city is filled with billboards showing Libya as the one bright spot on the continent. In one billboard, Colonel Qaddafi appears as a savior as sun rays break over his shoulder and a crowd of black men and women reach toward him with outstretched arms. His Africa agenda helps empower him in other ways, too. Diplomats here said it gave him leverage in keeping African and European leaders listening and their doors open. If Libya sent all the migrants home, they would become a burden to poorer African nations, which would have to absorb them while losing out on the remittances they send home. At the same time, diplomats here said, Libya has made it plain to European countries, especially Italy, that if Libya chose to look the other way, most of those migrants would head for European shores. “It’s a kind of soft power they use,” said one Western diplomat who works on Libyan affairs but requested anonymity for fear of antagonizing Libyan authorities. Colonel Qaddafi will serve only a one-year term as chairman of the African Union, but his quest to use Africa as a stepping stone to greater world influence and credibility is likely to continue well past that. Last August, 200 kings and traditional African leaders traveled to Libya and anointed him with a more permanent moniker; they crowned him king of kings. Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/world/africa/23libya.html Also: Gaddafi, Newly Elected African Union Head, Strongly Opposes Darfur Indictment CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE (CNSN.com) [Media Research Center] - By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor - February 3, 2009 African nations have elected Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as head of the African Union, a move likely to further bolster the 53-nation bloc’s opposition to a war crimes trial for Sudan’s president. The Libyan, a former international pariah whose leadership aspirations include founding a “United States of Africa,” has strongly opposed attempts by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges relating to the conflict in western Sudan’s Darfur region. Shortly after prosecutors in The Hague last July accused Bashir of involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and murder and asked judges to issue an arrest warrant, Gaddafi discussed with Sudanese leaders ways to block what he described as the “false” charges. Apart from their A.U. connection, Libya and Sudan are both members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has closed ranks around Bashir while accusing the ICC of “double standards” for focusing on Sudan rather than other countries, notably Israel. At an A.U. summit in Addis Ababa on Monday, Gaddafi was elected as chairman for the next year. A group of traditional leaders accompanying his delegation hailed him as the “king of kings.” In an inaugural speech, he said that during his term, he would “continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.” Gaddafi has been pushing the concept for many years, and he was a key mover behind the creation of the A.U. to replace the looser Organization for African Unity in 2001. Over the past four years his campaign for full political and economic integration has picked up steam, with 2015 identified as a target date for a United States of Africa with a single union government. ... http://www.cnsnews.com/public/Content/Article.aspx?rsrcid=42904 Gadhafi pledges to resolve Darfur crisis as head of African Union ASSOCIATED PRESS - February 4, 2009 ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday that the crisis in Sudan's western region of Darfur is his personal responsibility now that he has been elected to head the African Union. Gadhafi, whose history in brokering peace between Sudan and neighboring Chad has been plagued with foibles and failures, warned the two countries not to use the vast western Sudan region as a battleground. A conflict between rebels and government forces in Darfur that began in 2003 has killed as 300,000 people and caused a humanitarian crisis that has seen 2.7 million flee their homes, some entering neighboring Chad. In recent months, Darfur rebel groups believed to be supported by Chad have taken key positions in the region, prompting counterattacks by Sudanese forces. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1233304684634 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ethiopian church speaks out on Ark of the Covenant

Statement says Ten Commandments box won't be displayed WORLDNETDAILY - June 29, 2009 There was considerable confusion last week when the leader of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church apparently told an Italian news agency of an upcoming announcement about the possible public display of the Ark of the Covenant - the box holding the Ten Commandments - and then the prescribed time passed with no word. However, there was no equivocation today in an e-mail received by WND from the webmaster of a church website in response to an inquiry about the truth of the matter. "It is not going to happen so the world has to live with curiosity," said the statement, signed only "Webmaster" in response to the WND inquiry. The webmaster statement described the tempest as being caused either because of a translation mistake or "a slip [of the] tongue from the patriarch." WND reported first when the apparent "revelation" was to be announced and then again later when the scheduled time came and went without word. Ark hunters and Bible enthusiasts had been buzzing for days on the report from the Italian news agency Adnkronos that Patriarch Abuna Pauolos, visiting in Italy last week for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, was quoted, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries." He apparently had suggested the possibility the artifact might be viewable in a planned museum. "I repeat (the Ark of the Covenant) is in Ethiopia and nobody … knows for how much time. Only God knows," he said in the Adnkronos report available online. The report said Pauolos reported the artifact "is described perfectly in the Bible" and is in good condition. "The state of conservation is good because it is not made from man's hand, but is something that God has made," Pauolos said, according to the report. The agency had reported an announcement would be made at the hotel Aldrovandi in Rome, and a hotel spokeswoman told WND Pauolos had been in residence there, but no news conference or event was scheduled. "The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries," said Pauolos in the report. "As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now." Bob Cornuke, biblical investigator, international explorer and best-selling author, has participated in more than 27 expeditions around the world searching for lost locations described in the Bible. A man some consider a real-life Indiana Jones, he has written a book titled "Relic Quest" about the Ark of the Covenant and participated in History Channel production called "Digging for Truth." Cornuke will travel to Ethiopia soon for the 13th time since he began his search for the Ark. He told WND he believes it is possible Ethiopia could have the real artifact. "They either have the Ark of the Covenant or they have a replica that they have believed to be the Ark of the Covenant for 2,000 years," he said. Cornuke said, if it is genuine, there's a plausible explanation of how the Ark may have come to the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia. "The Ark could have been taken out of the temple during the time of the atrocities of Manasseh," he said. "We have kind of a bread crumb trail that appears to go to Egypt, and it stayed on an island there for a couple hundred years called Elephantine Island. The Ark then was transferred over to Lake Tana in Ethiopia where it stayed on Tana Qirqos Island for 800 years. Then it was taken to Axum, where it is enshrined in a temple today where they don't let anybody see it." Cornuke said he traveled to Tana Qirqos Island and lived with monks who remain there even today. "They unlocked this big, four-inch thick wood door," he said. "It opened up to a treasure room, and they showed me meat forks and bowls and things that they say are from Solomon's temple. When the History Channel did this show, they said it was one of the largest viewed shows. People were fascinated." He said Ethiopians consider the Ark to be the ultimate holy object, and the church guards the suspected artifact from the "eyes and pollution of man." "In Ethiopia, their whole culture is centered around worshipping this object," Cornuke said. "Could they have the actual Ark? I think I could make a case that they actually could." The webmaster earlier told WND that members of the clergy and indeed, members of the church, would never allow the Ark to be taken from their custody in order to be made public. "An (artifact) should not be shown or touched other than the clergies but to put it on display is a reckless comment let alone doing it," the statement said. "Not only the local clergies but the people of Ethiopia won't allow it and it is not going to happen." The webmaster noted there were artifacts moved from Ethiopia to Britain over the years, and even those are not allowed to be displayed. Pauolos in the Adnkronos report said any display would need the approval of the supreme court of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. A spokesman for a U.S. branch of the church, Mehereto Belete of Los Angeles, told WND he had been given no word of any major change in the status of the Ark. "It is news for us just as it is for you," he said. Cornuke explained that a special guardian lives inside the church which reportedly holds the Ark and never leaves. Once a guardian is appointed, he stays until he dies and another man replaces him. "We know for a fact that there have been 30 guardians in history who have never left that enclosure," Cornuke said. "I know the guardian. When CNN and BBC went over there, he wouldn't see anybody but me. So I went and talked to him, and he's getting very aged. He told me they have the real Ark and he worships 13 hours a day in front of it. When he gets through, he is covered in sweat and he's exhausted." He said he met a 105-year-old man who claimed to have seen the Ark 50 years ago when he was training a replacement guardian. "It frightened him to death when he got a glimpse of it." Cornuke said he also met with the president of Ethiopia nearly nine years ago and had a one-on-one conversation with him in his palace. He asked if Ethiopia had the Ark of the Covenant. According to Cornuke, the president responded: "Yes, we do. I am the president, and I know. It's not a copy. It's the real thing." However, Grant Jeffrey, host of TBN's Bible Prophecy Revealed and well-known author of "Armageddon: Appointment With Destiny," does not believe claims that the Ark is in Ethiopia. He told WND he spoke extensively with Robert Thompson, former adviser to former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. Jeffrey said Thompson told him the Ark of the Covenant had been taken to Ethiopia by Menelik, purported son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. When Menelik became emperor, he claims royal priests entrusted him with the Ark of the Covenant because King Solomon was slipping into apostasy. A replica was then left behind in Israel. "The Ethiopian royal chronicles suggest that for 3,000 years, they had been guarding the ark, knowing that it had to go back to Israel eventually," Jeffrey said. He claims that after the Ethiopian civil war, Israel sent in a group of commandos from the tribe of Levi and the carried the Ark onto a plane and back to Israel in 1991. "It is being held there secretly, waiting in the eyes of the religious leaders of Israel, for a supernatural signal from God to rebuild the temple," he said. "They are not going to do it before that. When that happens, they will bring the Ark into that temple." But author and Bible teacher Chuck Missler, founder of Koinonia House, told WND the theory of Menelik obtaining the Ark is not biblical, though he believes there is a possibility that the Ethiopians may have the real deal. "The fact that the Ethiopians may have been guarding the Ark of the Bible is very possible," he said. "They cling to a belief that is clearly not biblical in terms of how the Ark got down there. But that doesn't mean they don't have it." Missler said there is no biblical basis for the Menelik account, and he believes there was a reason for that version of events. "What everybody overlooks is that there's a reason that particular story was cooked up in early times," he said. "It was to give their kings Solomonic descent. There's reason why they would try to sell that. But just because the official belief in how it got down there is not biblical, doesn't mean they don't have it." Tennessee historian and "Time is the Ally of Deceit" author Richard Rives, searched for the Ark and participated in excavations beneath Mount Moriah outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem. His group was trying to verify claims by relic hunter Ron Wyatt that he actually saw the Ark there several decades ago after tunneling through a small passageway. While they found Roman ruins from the first century, Rives told WND they were unsuccessful in confirming Wyatt's account. Nonetheless, Rives does not believe the story of Menelik obtaining the artifact or that Ethiopia ever had the real Ark. "God's presence was on the mercy seat. That was the throne of God," he said. If the account were accurate, Rives said God would have been dwelling on an Ark replica in Jerusalem. "I just don't believe they could have persuaded him to sit on a fake Ark of the Covenant," he said. Many theories exist about the ultimate fate of the Ark, including that it has been hidden in a still unknown location, it was destroyed by enemies of the Israelites, taken by Egyptian invaders to Egypt or removed by divine intervention. The quest for the artifact received additional publicity in 1981 when actor Harrison Ford searched for it in Steven Spielberg's "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Cornuke said Ethiopians claim their purported Ark is kept in a large stone sarcophagus lined in ornately hammered silver. The Ark itself is made of acacia wood and laminated with a thin veneer of gold. The mercy seat sits atop the Ark and is made of pure, hammered gold and includes two cherubim facing one another. Whether the artifact is real or simply a copy, Cornuke said an unveiling might leave the world with more questions than answers. "We have only typology to go on," he said. "We could probably have some people analyze the wood samples and come up with some kind of dating protocol on it because it is acacia wood to see if that is it." Rives said a close inspection of the Ten Commandments would be necessary to ensure they are in accordance with true text and not later versions of the Ten Commandments. Cornuke said experts would also need to determine whether the artifact itself fits biblical description and trace its path to Ethiopia. "We are peeking behind the veil of history," he said. "We're taking a glimpse of an artifact that could be a very holy object." http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=102532 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sotomayor Supported Censoring Biblical Verse on Homosexuality from New York City Billboard

CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE (CNSN.com) [Media Research Center] - By Adam Brickley - July 8, 2009 Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is again drawing fire from conservative groups, this time as the result of a 2003 ruling against a Christian group. In the case of Okwedy v. Molinari, decided in 2003, Sotomayor sat on a three-judge panel that upheld a lower court’s ruling (from 2001) against Keyword Ministries and its pastor, Kristopher Okwedy. The ministry had purchased billboard advertisements featuring Bible verses that condemned homosexuality. The ads were taken down after a local government official complained about their message to the company that owned the billboard, and Okwedy sued both the company and the government official who wrote the complaint. He claimed his rights were violated under the Free Speech, Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment; the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and several state laws. The advertisements featured various translations of Leviticus 18:22, which reads in the King James Version, “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is an abomination.” Posted in the New York City borough of Staten Island, the messages were taken down after Guy Molinari, the borough president, sent a letter condemning them to PNE Media, LLC, which owned the billboards. His letter was printed on official New York City letterhead. “As Borough President of Staten Island,” Molinari wrote, “I want to inform you that this message conveys an atmosphere of intolerance which is not welcome in our Borough.” The advertisements were taken down later that day. In 2001, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed Okwedy’s lawsuit. An appeal was entered and the case went to a three judge panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in April 2002. The judges on the panel were Fred Parker, Chester Straub and Sonia Sotomayor. In their “summary order” the judges ruled that the district court was correct to dismiss Okwedy’s claim that Molinari’s letter violated free speech rights. “Plaintiffs contend that Molinari violated their rights under the Free Exercise Clause by criticizing the billboards’ message as unnecessarily confrontational and offensive, and by creating an atmosphere of intolerance. In order to prevail on a Free Exercise Clause claim, a plaintiff generally must establish that ‘the object of [the challenged] law is to infringe upon or restrict practices because of their religious motivation,’ or that its ‘purpose . . . is the suppression of religion or religious conduct,’” said the judges. They continued: “Plaintiffs have alleged no facts that suggest that Molinari’s purpose or the purpose of the New York law was to single out plaintiffs’ religious expression. In fact, plaintiffs acknowledge that Molinari acted pursuant to the general policy against ‘intolerance’ and ‘bigotry’ expressed in New York law and the New York City Administrative Code § 8-101. … Therefore, because plaintiffs have not shown that Molinari lacked a rational basis for enforcing that policy, the district court correctly dismissed the Free Exercise Clause claim." But Michael DePrimo, a former litigation counsel for the American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy, which argued the case on behalf of Mr. Okwedy, told CNSNews.com: “The Establishment Clause requires neutrality in religious matters by the government. They can’t be pro-religion; they can’t be anti-religion. You can’t favor religion; you can’t be hostile toward religion.” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), slammed the appeals court’s opinion. “The case raises troubling issues,” he said in a statement. “[T]he church was posting a purely religious message with no statements regarding public policy. The opinion suggests that Sotomayor may view the First Amendment through the lenses of political correctness.” “Would a billboard proclaiming ‘gay pride month,’ which is offensive to many Christians, have been similarly treated?” Perkins said. “Sotomayor should be asked.” DePrimo, now allied with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund, said the way in which Sotomayor and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the case is questionable. “This was an issue of first impression in the Second Circuit,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything that was remotely like it.” In legal terms, “first impression” is used to describe an issue which a court has never taken up before. “So, instead of analyzing the issue and writing on it, and publishing it, and therefore setting a precedent that lower courts would be bound to follow, they took the unprecedented step of issuing a summary order that was unpublished” at the time DePrimo added. “How do you do that on an issue of first impression?” DePrimo also noted that the court issued two different opinions on the case, dismissing most of the case with the summary order, but writing a published opinion on one portion of the case that was sent back to the district court. “I have never seen before a court bifurcate an opinion,” he said. Asked whether Sotomayor showed a pattern of issuing summary orders on controversial cases, as she also did recently in the reverse-discrimination case of Ricci vs. DeStefano (involving firefighters in New Haven, Conn.), DePrimo said: “It appears to me that Judge Sotomayor simply refuses to analyze those questions or those issues that may result in a result that she doesn’t like.” He also asserted that the summary order cited a district court analysis that did not exist. The three-judge panel, including Sotomayor, “said that they relied upon the district court’s analysis of the Lemon test,” said DePrimo, referring to the guidelines set out for Establishment Clause cases in the 1971 case Lemon v. Kurtzman. “The district court didn’t analyze the case under the Lemon Test,” said DePrimo. “The district court made no mention of the Lemon Test. So to say that they were accepting the lower court’s analysis and reasoning obviously is not correct,” The three-pronged Lemon test, used to determine whether government violates the constitutional prohibition against government “establishment of religion,” requires the court to ask whether a government action has a secular purpose, has the purpose of advancing or inhibiting religion, or entangles religion and government. Had Sotomayor and the other members of the panel actually employed the Lemon Test, DePrimo claimed, Okwedy would have won. Furthermore, he claimed that Okewedy v. Molinari may actually present more issues than Ricci v. DeStefano. “In the Ricci case,” he said, “the reason that people are defending Sotomayor is they were saying the law in the 2nd Circuit was established, and therefore she was bound to follow the law, and therefore there was no reason for her to elaborately write on the issue in Ricci.” “That wasn’t the case in Okwedy,” he said. “There was no established law. This was a case of first impression. This is what courts of appeal do.” William Marshall , a professor of law at the University of North Carolina, expressed a different opinion of the case. Referring to the court’s written opinion, in which Okwedy’s free speech claim was returned to the lower courts for a new ruling, Marshall said, “The part that I saw, the speech piece of it, is a very pro-religious expression piece.” He went on to say, “I think what the per curiam opinion did was take the strongest count by the plaintiffs and remanded that for further consideration, overruling the district court. In that sense, it was pretty sympathetic toward the plaintiffs’ position.” Asked about the splitting of the decision into both an opinion and a summary order, Marshall said, “You see that occasionally. The Second Circuit does an awful lot of its business by summary orders.” Rob Boston, a senior policy analyst for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, agreed with the court’s decision. “If you look at this case from the perspective of more of a church-state separation case,” he said, “I think it still is a difficult one for the churches to win, and here’s why: This is a case essentially that deals with a political issue that has religious overtones. It’s not pure religion.” Boston also said, “This is different because it’s an issue that the church was claiming they feel very strongly about. They have a sincere religious belief that homosexuality is wrong. But that’s not going to rise to the same level of a direct attack on a religious denomination by a government.” When asked whether Molinari’s action constituted an attack on the Bible, due to the fact that there was nothing but a Bible verse on Okwedy’s billboard, Boston said, “I can understand their argument. It’s a creative one, but I also can understand why it failed, because obviously in the context of an ongoing discussion on gay rights or same sex marriage or what have you, that quotation was designed to make a statement about a political issue.” “Some of the conservative groups that don’t like Sotomayor are casting around looking for something to use against her,” Boston said, “and this is one of a couple of cases that they’ve brought up recently.” “But, to be honest, I think the facts of this case are somewhat esoteric, they’re not really easy to grasp,” said Boston. “I doubt it’s going to resonate with the public, and I think, barring any unusual revelations at the last minute, Sotomayor’s going to go on the Supreme Court.” http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=50678 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Bilderberg Group: Are the people who 'really run the world' meeting this weekend?

The Bilderberg group, the topic of many conspiracy theories, is now meeting behind closed doors in Greece. HAARETZ [Schocken/DuMont Schauberg] - By Adam Abrams - May 14, 2009 From today until May 17, approximately 150 of the most influential members of the world's elite will be meeting behind closed doors at a hotel in Greece. They are called the Bilderberg Group or the "Bilderbergers," and you have probably never heard of them. The group, co-founded by Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, has been meeting in secret every year since 1954. This year, says the British broadsheet The Times, they are meeting at the Nafsika Astir Palace in Vouliagmeni. The individuals at the meeting come from such power houses as Google and the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate and European royalty. Governments, the banking industry, big oil, media and even the world of academia are amongst the Bilderberg ranks. Those reportedly in attendance at last year's conference in Virginia include former U.S. senator Tom Daschle; Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and his predecessor Henry M. Paulson; former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice; Microsoft executive Craig Mundie; senior Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot; World Bank President Robert Zoellick and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. There is no official list of who's who in Bilderberg and there are no press conferences about the meetings. This is because the group operates under the "Chatham House Rule," and no details of what goes on inside are released to the press. This secrecy has led to many claims that the Bilderberg Group are the world's real "kingmakers," and, some even suggest, behind the global financial crisis. There are also rumors concerning Bilderberg's 2008 conference in Virginia, claiming that the recent U.S. presidential election was decided upon in a secret meeting between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, courtesy of Bilderberg. Those involved in Bilderberg reject such claims outright, arguing that the forum offers a chance for world leaders to discuss international affairs openly and honestly. Former British cabinet minister, Lord Denis Healey, who was one of the founders of the group, branded assumptions of world domination as "crap!" and said that the group's aims were much purer. In an interview to journalist Jon Ronson of the Guardian, Healey said: "Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing." Veteran Bilderberg-watcher Daniel Estulin says that the big topic on the agenda for this year is the global depression. Estulin quotes sources connected to the group as saying that the group is looking at two options, "either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline, and poverty... or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency." As the BBC's Jonathan Duffy noted in 2004, the air of mystery has fueled the increasingly popular conspiracy theory that the Bilderberg meetings are where decisions affecting the entire world are made. "No reporters are invited in and while confidential minutes of meetings are taken, names are not noted," Duffy wrote. "In the void created by such aloofness, an extraordinary conspiracy theory has grown up around the group that alleges the fate of the world is largely decided by Bilderberg." Recently, mainstream press coverage of the Bilderberg meeting has grown, largely due to the internet. This year's conference may have been covered by British broadsheets, but don't expect to see any coverage from U.S. news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post - they will most likely be at the conference. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1085589.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Dark Roots of the EU

THE BRUSSELS JOURNAL [Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation] - From the desk of Paul Belien - December 5, 2005 Belgium was founded exactly 175 years ago, in 1830. The cover of A Throne in Brussels, the book I wrote for its anniversary, depicts the map of the European Union in the Belgian colours. This is no coincidence. As Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt recently said: “Belgium is the laboratory of European unification. Foreign politicians watch our country with particular interest because it can teach them something about the feasibility of the European project.” Two peoples live within the Belgian state: Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons. In 1830 the country was part of the Dutch-speaking Netherlands. The Belgian revolution was the work of French-speaking rebels who wanted to have it annexed to France. The international powers stepped in and, by way of compromise, decided to make Belgium an independent kingdom with at its helm a German prince, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who was a member of the British royal family. The French diplomat Talleyrand described the new country as “an artificial construction, consisting of different peoples.” His Austrian colleague Count Dietrichstein said that the Belgian nationality was “a political attempt rather than an observable political reality.” These are descriptions that fit the European project today. In 1865, the year of his death, Leopold I, the prince who had been given the crown of Belgium, told his son that “nothing holds the country together” and that “it cannot continue to exist.” To his secretary, Jules Van Praet, he said “Belgium has no nationality and […] it can never have one. Basically, Belgium has no political reason to exist.” Belgium’s history is the dramatic search of its leaders for unifying elements which would be able to compensate for the lack of nationhood and the absence of genuine and generous patriotic feelings in their country. By the late 19th century the Belgian political elite developed the ideology of “Belgicism.” This “Belgicism” bears a striking similarity to contemporary “Europeanism.” Just listen to what the Belgicist ideologue Léon Hennebicq, a Brussels lawyer, wrote in 1904: “Have we not been called the laboratory of Europe? Indeed, we are a nation under construction. The problem of economic expansion is duplicated perfectly here by the problem of constructing a nationality. Two different languages, different classes without cohesion, a parochial mentality, an adherence to local communities that borders on the most harmful egotism, these are all elements of disunion. Luckily they can be reconciled. The solution is economic expansion, which can make us stronger by uniting us.” His words foreshadow the Europeanist project of the 1950s which aimed for political unification through economic integration. Apart from a Belgicist, however, Hennebicq was also a socialist. He did not attach importance to economic growth for its own sake - the creation of wealth which would benefit the people - but because Belgium needed economic expansion in order to be able to literally buy the adherence of the Flemings and the Walloons to their artificial state. The Belgicists were aware that Belgium could only become a viable country, if it was turned into a huge redistribution mechanism, a welfare state. After the first World War the Belgicists imposed a social-corporatist system on Belgium. Since 1919, economic and social policies are no longer decided in parliament, but in consensus between the so-called “Social Partners.” These Social Partners include the Federation of Belgian Employers, which is the official representative of the employers versus the state. In addition it includes three specific trade unions (a Christian-Democrat, a Socialist and a Liberal one), which are recognised by the state as the only official representatives of the employees. The social partners are by nature Belgicist institutions: they operate in both Flanders and Wallonia and have huge financial and political interests in both parts of the country. Already at a very early stage, it dawned on the Belgicists that they could as easily apply their state-building experiment to Europe. Between 1900 and 1932, the Belgicist historian Henri Pirenne published a seven volume history of Belgium. Pirenne claimed that Belgium was not a 19th century “artificial construction” as Talleyrand had said. On the contrary, he described it as one of the oldest nations in the whole of Europe. Indeed, Charlemagne, the 8th century Frankish leader, had been a Belgian, Pirenne said. In Charlemagne’s Frankish Empire, people of Latin and Germanic origin had lived together. According to the Belgicists, Belgium, this union of Germanic Flemings and Latin Walloons, was the very core of the state of Charlemagne which in 1830 had reappeared like a phoenix. In order to fulfil its destiny it would have to expand into a united Europe, with the Germans in the position of the Flemings and the French in that of the Walloons. Pirenne created the myth of Charlemagne as the first Belgian and the first European. In the 1930s the idea of transplanting Belgicism to the European level, by creating a unified pan-European corporatist welfare state, was further elaborated on by Henri De Man, the leader of the Belgian Socialist Party, and by his deputy Paul-Henri Spaak. De Man called himself a national socialist, but explained that this had nothing to do with nationalism at all. In fact, one of his major books was called “Au delà du Nationalisme” (“Beyond Nationalism”). De Man knew that Belgium, as an artificial construct, did not really exist as a nation. The Belgian state was no more than the corporatist welfare system run by the “social partners.” All that being a Belgian nationalist meant was that one was attached to the Belgian welfare state. In a february 1937 interview De Man said: “What Spaak and I mean by national socialism is a socialism that attempts to achieve all that can be achieved within the national framework.” He went on to state that the Belgian welfare system could - and should - eventually be replaced by a pan-European or even a global welfare system. “I insist on being a good European, a good world citizen, as much as on being a good Belgian,” de Man said. He reckoned that if one had to live in an artificial welfare state, it would be better to live in one on as large a scale as possible. The Belgian model had to be applied at a European level. When Hitler invaded Belgium and France in May 1940, De Man saw this as a unique opportunity to establish a united Europe. He asked his followers not to oppose the German victory because “far from being a disaster, it is a deliverance. The Socialist Order will thereby be established, as the common good, in the name of a national solidarity that will soon be continental, if not world-wide.” In a speech in Antwerp on 20 April 1941 (Hitler’s birthday), De Man warned against Flemish secessionists who collaborated with the Germans in the hope that Berlin would abolish Belgium and grant Flanders its independence. De Man stressed that it was necessary to “transform Belgium, not abandon it”, through “an Anschluss to Europe.” What was needed, he added, “was as much federalism and as little separatism as possible,” so that “Belgium, exactly because it is not based on a unique national sentiment, can become the vanguard of the European Revolution, the principle on which the new European Order hinges.” De Man’s deputy, Paul-Henri Spaak, who had fled to France in May 1940, tried to return to Belgium during the Summer, but was not allowed in by the Germans. Hence, against his wishes he ended up in Britain. At the time he deplored this. Later it would turn out to have been his good fortune. Otherwise, like De Man, he would have ended up as a Nazi collaborator. Instead, Spaak survived the war on the winning side. Though Henri De Man is now forgotten by history, his political legacy is very much alive. Spaak remained loyal to De Man’s vision of Belgium as a multi-national social-corporatist welfare state that was to be elevated to the European level. Spaak became one of the Founding Fathers of the European Union. Though he was an arch-opportunist, with few loyalties, he did not betray De Man’s dream of one single European welfare state. According to Spaak’s 1969 memoirs, De Man was “one of those rare men who on some occasions have given me the sensation of a genius.” In 1956, Spaak authored the so-called Spaak Report which laid the foundation of the Treaty of Rome the following year. It recommended the creation of a European Common Market as a step towards political unification. From the beginning the views of the people about all this was deemed unimportant. In his memoirs, Spaak admits that “political opinion was indifferent. The work was done by a minority who knew what they wanted.” Given the roots of Europeanism in Belgicism, there is a lot to be learned from Belgium’s characteristics as an artificial non-national state. Verhofstadt is right when he says that foreign politicians watch his country with particular interest because it can teach them something about the feasibility of the European project. The European superstate shares more than just its capital with Belgium. If the so-called Europeanists have their way, it is also going to be a Greater-Belgium. In my book I describe three characteristics of Belgium that have already infected Europe. Firstly, as there is no genuine patriotism, the state has had to buy the adherence of the people by literally corrupting them. The absence of the virtue of generous patriotism forces the political leaders to make hard-headed calculated self-interest the foundation of the state. It is not a coincidence that Belgium is plagued by corruption to a degree that is higher than in neighbouring countries. It is not a coincidence that corruption is plaguing the European institutions also. A second characteristic of Belgium throughout its history has been the absence of the rule of law. If the existence of the state is at stake, laws and even the constitution will be ignored in order to secure the continued existence of Belgium. As the state is an artificial construct that is unloved by the people, this happens quite regularly. Many examples are to be found in Belgium’s 175 years of existence. In fact there never was a majority in the Belgian parliament to introduce the social-corporatist model of the Belgicists in 1919. About this episode the historian Luc Schepens wrote: “It is not inappropriate to state that the worst war casualties in Belgium were the Constitution and the parliamentary democracy - albeit out of necessity and in the name of the continuity of the State.” Today, out of necessity and in the name of the continuity of the European project, Europeanists want to ignore the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty by the peoples of Europe. The third characteristic of an artificially constructed state is its unreliability in international relations. A state that is not committed to the rule of law, is not committed to its friends and allies either. Original Report http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/542 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.