Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Surviving World War 1 Veteran Dies At 110 Years Old

Frank Buckles, who drove an Army ambulance in France in 1918 and came to symbolize a generation of embattled young Americans as the last of the World War I doughboys, died on Sunday at his home in Charles Town, W. Va. He was 110.

His death was announced by a family spokesman, David DeJonge, The Associated Press said.

He was only a corporal and he never got closer than 30 or so miles from the Western Front trenches, but Mr. Buckles became something of a national treasure as the last living link to the two million men who served in the American Expeditionary Forces in France in “the war to end all wars.”

Frail, stooped and hard of hearing, but sharp of mind, Mr. Buckles was named grand marshal of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington in 2007. He was a guest at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day 2007 for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He was honored by Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon and met with President George W. Bush at the White House in March 2008.

United States Senators played host to him at the Capitol in June 2008 for the impending 90th anniversary of the World War I armistice. And he appeared before a Senate subcommittee in December 2009 to support legislation named in his honor to bestow federal status on a World War I memorial on the National Mall built in the 1930s.

Sought out for interviews in his final years, Mr. Buckles told of witnessing a ceremony involving British veterans of the Crimean War, fought in the 1850s, when he was stationed in England before heading to France. He remembered chatting with General John J. Pershing, the commander of American troops in World War I, at an event in Oklahoma City soon after the war’s end.

And he proudly held a sepia-toned photograph of himself in his doughboy uniform when he was interviewed by USA Today in 2007. “I was a snappy soldier,” he said. “All gung-ho.”

Frank Woodruff Buckles was born Feb. 1, 1901, on a farm near Bethany, Mo. He was living in Oakwood, Okla., when America entered World War I and he tried to enlist in the Marine Corps at age 16, having been inspired by recruiting posters.

The Marines turned him down as under-age and under the required weight. The Navy didn’t want him either, saying he had flat feet. But the Army took him in August 1917 after he had lied about his age, and he volunteered to be an ambulance driver, hearing that that was the quickest path to service in France.

He sailed for England in December 1917 on the Carpathia, the ship that helped save survivors of the Titanic’s sinking in 1912. He later served in various locations in France, including Bordeaux, and drove military autos and ambulances. He was moved by the war’s impact on the French people.

“The little French children were hungry,” Mr. Buckles recalled in a 2001 interview for the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress. “We’d feed the children. To me, that was a pretty sad sight.”

Mr. Buckles escorted German prisoners of war back to their homeland after the Armistice, then returned to America and later worked in the Toronto office of the White Star shipping line.

He traveled widely over the years, working for steamship companies, and he was on business in Manila when the Japanese occupied it following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He was imprisoned by the Japanese, losing more than 50 pounds, before being liberated by an American airborne unit in February 1945.

After retiring from steamship work in the mid-1950s, Mr. Buckles ran a cattle farm in Charles Town, and he was still riding a tractor there at age 104.

In April 2007, Mr. Buckles was identified by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as one of the four known survivors among the more than 4.7 million Americans who had served in the armed forces of the Allied nations between April 6, 1917, when the United States entered World War I, and the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.

Two of the four — J. Russell Coffey and Harry Landis — had served stateside in the American Army. Mr. Coffey died in December 2007 at 109; Mr. Landis, in February 2008 at 108. John Babcock, who was Canadian born, served in Canada’s army in Britain in World War I and held dual American and Canadian citizenship, died in Spokane, Wash., in February 2010 at 109.

The last known veterans of the French and German armies in World War I, Lazare Ponticelli and Erich K√§stner, respectively, died a few months apart in 2008; Harry Patch, the last British soldier, died in 2009. Claude Choules, who served in Britain’s Royal Navy and now lives in Australia, and Florence Green, a member of Britain’s Women’s Royal Air Force and who lives in England, are thought to be the only two people still living who served in any capacity in the war.

Mr. Buckles is survived by his daughter, Susannah Flanagan. His wife, Audrey, died in 1999.

Read More from The New York Times

High Gas Prices Putting The Squeeze On Drivers' Wallets

NEW YORK (AP) -- High fuel prices are putting the squeeze on drivers' wallets just as they are starting to feel better about the economy. They're also forcing tough choices on small-business owners who are loathe to charge more for fear of losing cost-conscious customers.

Gasoline prices rose 4 percent last week to a national average of $3.29 per gallon. That's the highest level ever for this time of year, when prices are typically low. And with unrest in the Middle East and North Africa lifting the price of oil to the $100-a-barrel range, analysts say pump prices are likely headed higher.

Bryon Gongaware, an owner of The Floral Trunk and Gifts in White Bear Lake, Minn., didn't raise his $7 flower delivery charge when gas prices spiked in 2008, and he doesn't plan to do so this time, either.

"I don't think the economy is solid enough that you can be careless about raising prices," he said, standing among the flower clippings on the floor of the shop he has run for 21 years.

That means the extra costs that come from driving the store's delivery van 70,000 miles a year come from only one place: "right out of the bottom line," he said.

For drivers such as Robert Wagner, 51, a high school teacher from Thornton, Colo., the higher fuel costs mean cutting back on movies and dinners out for him, his wife and their two children. "We're very, very frugal right now," he said as he trickled enough $3.09-per-gallon gasoline into his Chevrolet Suburban to get him to his next pay day.

Analysts and economists worry that by lowering profits for businesses and reducing disposable income for drivers, high gasoline prices could slow the recovering economy.

Over a year, analysts estimate, oil at $100 a barrel would reduce U.S. economic growth by 0.2 or 0.3 of a percentage point. Rather than grow an estimated 3.7 percent this year, the economy would expand 3.4 percent or 3.5 percent. That would likely mean less hiring and higher unemployment.

Americans are less prepared to absorb the spike in gasoline prices than they were the last time prices rose this high, in 2008, because unemployment is higher and real estate values are lower, says David Portalatin, an analyst for the market research firm NPD Group.

It has been four months since gasoline rose beyond $3 per gallon. During that time, drivers have spent $14 billion more on gasoline than they did a year ago, Portalatin says.

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, says this year's cut in payroll taxes offers consumers a buffer against higher fuel prices. Still, she expects all but the wealthiest Americans to cut back on discretionary spending. And the longer prices stay high, the more damage they do.

Gasoline prices rose throughout last fall as the developing nations of Asia and the recovering economies of the West began using more oil.

In recent weeks, upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa stoked fears that oil supplies would be disrupted, and oil prices exceeded $100 per barrel for only the second time in history.

Much of the most dramatic unrest took place in countries that are not big producers of oil. But when Libya plunged into chaos, there were disruptions in shipments of its high-quality crude, which is well-suited to making gasoline. That sent refiners scrambling to find other sources of high-quality oil. Gasoline prices rose further.

Gasoline prices typically fall in the winter and rise in the spring as refiners switch to more expensive summer blends of gasoline. Since 2000, prices in May have been 52 cents per gallon on average higher than in February, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, believes that the normal seasonal rise in prices has been pulled ahead by events in the Middle East, but he still expects prices to rise further. He predicts prices will reach $3.50 to $3.75 per gallon, barring more chaos in the Middle East.

"When we get over $3.75 we are looking at very serious consequences for the economy," he says.

For every 25-cent increase in the price of gasoline, the nation spends an extra $3 billion filling up its cars and trucks, Kloza says.

Read More From Yahoo News

Gadhafi Denies That There Are Protests In Lybia Saying His People Love Him

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Monday denied the existence of the protests that have threatened his hold on power.

In an interview with ABC News' Christiane Amanpour, Gadhafi also denied using force against his people, Amanpour reported.

"My people love me. They would die for me," he said, according to the network.

Government forces have repeatedly clashed with demonstrators over the past two weeks, fired on crowds and at times fired indiscriminately at people in the streets, numerous witnesses have told CNN. The death toll has topped 1,000, according to an estimate from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Gadhafi's regime has lost control of parts of the country, and with each passing day more Libyan officials around the world have defected, joining calls for his ouster.

Even as Gadhafi sought to project confidence Monday, reports came in that a military jet bombed a military base in an area controlled by protesters.

The base is near Ajdabiya, 90 miles south of Benghazi, a stronghold of government opponents. Some bases in the area have fallen into the hands of protesters as more members of the military have abandoned Gadhafi's regime and joined demonstrations.

Several soldiers told CNN they switched their allegiance after refusing to use weapons against peaceful demonstrators.

CNN saw the military jet fly above and heard the sounds of explosions. Witnesses reported a bombing at the base.

But Libyan state television later denied any such bombing. The Temporary General Committee for Defense denied reports that the Libyan air force conducted strikes on the ammunition depots in the cities of Ajdabiya and Rajima, state TV reported.

While CNN has staff in some cities, the network can not independently confirm reports for many areas in Libya. CNN has also compiled information through telephone interviews with witnesses.

Pro-Gadhafi forces have tried to attack a radio station in Misrata, a city controlled by protesters, a witness said. A military chopper has tried to land a couple of times in the past three days with soldiers on board, but the opposition fired at the soldiers and kept them away, the witness said.

The international community launched new efforts Monday to pressure Gadhafi to halt the violence.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council, said, "Col. Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern. And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Gadhafi to go, now, without further violence or delay."

Clinton said the United States is exploring "all possible options," and that "nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens."

Asked at a news conference Monday whether the U.S. planned an imminent military response, Clinton said "no."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that "exile is certainly one option" for Gadhafi. Carney also said the U.S. government is considering the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

The Obama administration is "actively reaching out to those in Libya who are working to bring about a government" that respects the rights and reflects the aspirations of the Libyan people, Carney said. "Col. Gadhafi needs to step aside."

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the United States is "repositioning" naval and air forces in the region to be prepared for any option that it may need to exercise. He would not comment on whether any ground forces are being put on alert or having leaves cancelled because of Libya.

The United States became the latest country to announce it had frozen Gadhafi-related assets. The U.S. government froze at least $30 billion in Libyan government assets under U.S jurisdiction after enacting sanctions on Friday, a Treasury official said Monday. It marked the largest amount ever blocked under a sanctions program, according to Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen.

Read More From CNN

Boehner Tells Christian Media Leaders National Debt is A "Moral Threat" to the Country

NASHVILLE - House Speaker John Boehner told Christian media leaders Sunday that the national debt is a moral threat to the country.

Boehner national religious broadcaster
(Photo: AP /Mark Humphrey)
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at the National Religious Broadcasters convention on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. In his speech, Boehner made his case for the GOP plan to prevent a shutdown of the federal government.

Speaking at the Media Leadership Dinner at this year's National Religious Broadcasters Convention, Boehner referred to the nation's $14.1 trillion debt as America's “Sputnik moment” - the moment that shocks the nation.

"Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country. It is also a moral threat," said the Ohio Republican.

"It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China. No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily."

In addition to citing statistics that show a child born today in the United States inherits $45,000 in debt to make his case, Boenher, a Christian, also cited the Bible.

"A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, as Proverbs reminds us."


Read More at The Christian Post

Wisconsin Govenor To AWOL Democrats "You Have 24 Hours To Return"

(Reuters) - Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker said on Monday that absent senate Democrats have 24 hours to return and vote on a measure to reduce the power of public sector unions or the state will miss out on opportunity to refinance its debt.

"Now they have one day to return to work before the state loses out on the chance to refinance debt, saving taxpayers $165 million this fiscal year," Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said in a statement.

"Failure to return to work and cast their votes will lead to more painful and aggressive spending cuts in the very near future," the statement said.

Walker's budget proposal has sparked nationwide protests from labor unions who fear it could be a harbinger of things to come in other states. To balance the state's budget, Walker wants to require public sector employees to pay more for pensions and health care, and to strip their unions of bargaining rights except for wages up to the rate of inflation.

The measure has passed the state Assembly but is stalled in the Senate because the 14 Democrats have fled the state to avoid a vote.

Under Walker's proposal, Wisconsin's general obligation bonds would be restructured and that would push debt service payments due by March 15 into future years to save the current state budget $165 million. The deadline is because it takes a couple of weeks for the state to prepare to go to the bond market and implement the refinancing before the payment is due on March 15.

Read More from Reuters

4.7 Earthquake Hits Arkansas Largest To Hit Since 1969

Residents across the entire state were awoken by the strongest earthquake yet Sunday night.

According the the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a preliminary magnitude 4.7 hit 4 miles northeast of Greenbrier just after 11:00 p.m.

It was felt across the state as well as into Missouri and Mississippi. Two aftershocks where reported afterwards, a 3.8 magnitude then a 3.6 magnitude.

So far, there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

"We probably wouldn't see structural damage until a 5 or 5.5," says Bekki White, Director of the Arkansas Geological Survey. "What you're going to see now is pictures sway, things fall off the wall, shaking, maybe some windows break."

The USGS is asking anyone who felt the earthquake to report it at their Did You Feel It? website.

According to White, this 4.7 magnitude quake was felt more prominently than last week's quakes because it was at a more shallow depth. Previous quakes were reported at 6 kilometers while last night's quake was at 3 kilometers.

Scott Ausbrooks with the Arkansas Geological Survey says this is the largest quake we've had outside of the New Madrid Fault System since 1969.

Read More from Todays THV.com

Christians Deprived of Food, Water in Laos at ‘Critical Stage’

A total of 62 Christians forced from their village to crude shelters at the edge of the jungle in Saravan Province, Laos, are at a “critical stage” from lack of food and water, an advocacy group warned.

“The wells are drying up as they are going into the dry season, and their food supplies are exhausted” after villagers thwarted their attempts to plant new crops, a source from Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) told Compass. “The authorities have successfully gotten them into a situation where they feel defeated.”

Officials marched 11 Christian families, totaling 48 people, out of Katin village in Ta-Oih Province at gunpoint in January 2010 after they repeatedly refused to give up their faith. The officials left them to find shelter about six kilometers (nearly four miles) outside the village and confiscated the Christians’ homes, livestock, and essential registration documents.

Read more at Compass Direct News

UK: Judge Rules That Christian Couple Cannot Be Foster Parents Due To Religious Beliefs On Homosexuality

United Kingdom: Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable.

The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application, believing they would never be approved because of the social worker's attitude to their religious beliefs.

Today they asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.

But Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation "should take precedence" over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the decision was given, Mrs Johns stood alongside her husband as she said: "We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled today.

"All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need. We have a good track record as foster parents.

"But because we are Christians, with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable as foster parents.

"We are unsure how we can continue the application process following the court's ruling today.

"We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics.

"The judges have suggested that our views might harm children.

"We have been told by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that our moral views may 'infect' a child.

"We do not believe that this is so. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.

"Worst of all, a vulnerable child has now likely missed the chance of finding a safe and caring home at a time when there are so few people willing to foster or adopt.

"We feel excluded and that there is no place for us in society.

"We have not received justice. We believe that an independent inquiry is needed to look into this."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, said: 'We're delighted that the High Court's landmark decision has favoured 21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice.

"In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent."

"Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns's out-dated views aren't just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service, you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone."

The Christian Legal Centre reacted to today's ruling with dismay and warned "fostering by Christians is now in doubt".

The organisation said the judges had effectively ruled "homosexual 'rights' trump freedom of conscience in the UK".

The judges had stated that "biblical Christian beliefs may be 'inimical' to children, and implicitly upheld an Equalities and Human Rights Commission (ECHC) submission that children risk being 'infected' by Christian moral beliefs".

The CLC said the judgment summary "sends out the clear message that orthodox Christian ethical beliefs are potentially harmful to children and that Christian parents with mainstream Christian views are not suitable to be considered as potential foster parents".

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and the CLC, said: "The judges have claimed that there was no discrimination against the Johns as Christians because they were being excluded from fostering due to their sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs.

"This claim that their moral beliefs on sex have nothing to do with their Christian faith is a clear falsehood made in order to justify their ruling.

"How can judges get away with this?

"What has happened to the Johns is part of a wider trend seen in recent years.

"The law has been increasingly interpreted by judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience.

"Britain is now leading Europe in intolerance to religious belief."

Read More From The Telegraph

Thursday, February 24, 2011

U.S Agent Murdered In Mexico Mourned

Feb. 22, 2011

(CNN) -- Mourners came to pay their last respects Tuesday at a funeral for slain U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata.

Attendees overflowed the Brownsville Events Center in Texas, where Bishop Daniel Flores said during the funeral Mass that no life lost in service is ever in vain.

Zapata, 32, was gunned down on a Mexican highway last week in an ambush believed to have been orchestrated by the Zetas drug cartel. A second Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Victor Avila, was wounded in the incident.

The killing marked the first time in 25 years that a U.S. law enforcement agent was killed in Mexico.

The young man's flag-draped coffin was placed in front of the altar.

"Words are not capable of expressing at moments like this the depth of loss," Flores said.

Zapata was always smiling or laughing in pictures, the bishop said.

"He translated this joy for life to the commitment he made to serve for us," Flores said, calling him "un muchacho muy noble"-- a very noble man.

But the translation to English doesn't fully express the meaning of the term, Flores said, which means goodness, justice and compassion in Spanish.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano lauded Zapata's work.

"He embodied the devotion and integrity of all those who carry the ICE badge in service of their country," she said during the Mass.

She vowed to capture those responsible for Zapata's killing, which she said "occurred without provocation or warning."

The United States will continue to support Mexico in its fight against the drug cartels, Napolitano said.

Attorney General Eric Holder also spoke, and echoed Napolitano's vow for justice.

"We will win this struggle. This is our pledge to you," he said.

Read More From CNN

Many Worried About SSI Benifits In Fear That U.S Government May Shutdown

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- What happens to Social Security if the government shuts down?

"People don't get their Social Security checks." That was President Obama at a press conference last week.

And this is Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, in a statement on Tuesday: "A shutdown could ... mean no Social Security checks for seniors."

The Democrats are saber rattling, hoping to portray Republicans as irresponsible. And the claim has been repeated by other top Democrats.

Here's the rub: It doesn't appear to be true.

During the last major shutdown, which lasted about a month starting in late 1995, the Social Security Administration mailed checks throughout the crisis, and a close reading of established law makes clear the agency has the legal authority to do so again.

"I am absolutely sure the checks would be sent out," said John F. Cooney, a partner at law firm Venable who designed shutdown plans for the government while employed at the Office of Management and Budget.

Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and a trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, backed that view, saying claims that benefits won't be paid are "not true."

The legal case is pretty clear. In 1995, President Clinton's lawyers in the Department of Justice laid out how federal agencies should operate if Congress failed to appropriate funds.

At the time, Clinton's lawyers pointed out that Social Security checks could be mailed during a shutdown, because the program doesn't need Congress to authorize funds for it each year. Instead, Social Security benefits are paid from the program's trust fund.

"The shutdown refers to discretionary spending, and Social Security is mandatory spending. It doesn't need an appropriations bill to go forward," Reischauer said.

And because Social Security benefits -- which go to roughly 60 million Americans -- are paid out of the trust fund, the agency has the implied legal authority to keep paying staffers who administer them.

That's exactly what happened in 1995-1996. While some Social Security Administration employees were sent home, the agency's official written history notes that essential staff stayed on to make sure benefits were paid.

"The majority of the employees retained were in direct service positions to ensure the continuance of benefits to currently enrolled Social Security," the document reads.

According to Cooney, that legal interpretation has been supported by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

What does happen in a shutdown

To be sure, a government shutdown would have severe consequences. In 1995-1996, the government closed 368 National Park Service sites, along with national museums and monuments, and cleanup at toxic waste sites stopped, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Each government agency is required to produce a plan that it would implement in the event of a shutdown and to file it with the Office of Management and Budget.

OMB declined to make those plans available to CNNMoney, but it is likely the Social Security Administration's plan would result in a sizeable number of non-essential employees staying home.

But even once a shutdown goes into effect, agencies have some room to maneuver.

During the Clinton-era shutdown, new Social Security claims weren't being processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees. As the shutdown wore on, the agency adjusted its plan and recalled workers to start processing new claims

The good news, if you can call it that, is that Congress has come down to the wire many times before and has usually managed to pass a funding bill.

But with Congress in recess this week, lawmakers will have only four working days to pass a spending bill before the current temporary measure expires.

The starting point for negotiations is a bill approved by the House just before dawn on Saturday that would cut $60 billion in federal spending for the current fiscal year.

But that bill would set spending below levels acceptable to Democrats. President Obama said last week he would veto the House measure should it reach his desk.

Read More From CNN Money

U.S Coast Guard Admiral Survives New Zealand Earthquake

Oklahoma Police Captain Refusing To Attend Islamic Event Faces Disciplinary Actions

FOX NEWS--The Tulsa Police Deptartment is investigating a captain who refused an order to assign officers to attend an upcoming Islamic event because he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

Capt. Paul Fields was reassigned after he refused to order officers under his command to attend the Islamic Center of Tulsa’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, a spokesman for the department said.

“It is my opinion and that of my legal counsel that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my Civil Rights,” Fields wrote in an internal police department memo obtained by Fox News.

“I have no problem with officers attending on a voluntary basis; however, I take exception to requiring officers to attend this event,” Fields wrote in an e-mail to his superior officer obtained by Fox News. “I believe this directive to be an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions.”

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told FOX23-TV the event was about community relations, not religion.

“This was not religious,” he said. “I would never assign a police officer to participate in religious service,” he told the TV station. “This is about a group who bonded together because of their religion. We are not going there because they are Islamic. We are going there because they are Tulsa citizens.”

However, according to a promotional flyer, the Islamic event included not just food and entertainment, but “presentations” on “beliefs, human rights, and women.” They would also be able to watch a Muslim prayer service and take a tour of the mosque.

“It’s up to you,” the flyer stated.

Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the incident an example of “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

“It’s a symptom of the unfortunately rising level of anti-Muslim sentiment we have in our society,” Hooper said. “It sends a message of marginalization that somehow Muslims aren’t part of American society.”

Hooper said he was satisfied with the way the police department handled the matter but said the incident signals a bigger issue.

“When somebody feels empowered to say ‘I’m not going to take part in a community outreach event at a mosque because I basically don’t like Muslims,’ it’s all part of that rise in Islamophobia in our society,” he said.

Gary Allison, a professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law, said the case poses a dilemma.

“It is true that individuals have their own religious beliefs and that they come to their workplace with their own religious beliefs,” Allison said. “The question is, how far can an employer go to require people to go against their religious beliefs for something to do the job that they are supposed to do?”

Pray that Libyan Christians will be bold, says Arab ministry

Pray that Libyan Christians will be bold, says Arab ministry

The best way that Christians in the UK can support their brothers and sisters in Libya is not to pray for their safety but for their "boldness", says Arab World Ministries.

by Maria MackayPosted: Thursday, February 24, 2011, 14:22 (GMT)
Pray that Libyan Christians will be bold, says Arab ministry Libyan protesters shout slogans against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during a demonstration in Tobruk, Libya, Wednesday, February 23, 2011. AP

The ministry says prayer is the best way Christians in the UK can support the church there, which is heavily restricted and exists largely underground.

AWM is asking Christians to pray that in the midst of the chaos “God would bring down the proud and raise the humble, and see his will done in Libya as it is done in heaven”.

“In Revelation, we read that there will be people from every tribe before the throne in eternity, praising God. We can learn the names of the tribes in Libya and claim members of each of them for Christ," the ministry said.

“And the response of the church in Acts 5 to threats and danger was not a prayer for safety, but for boldness.

“In the last month, we have seen evidence of boldness among Tunisian and Egyptian Christians.

“We should pray similarly for those in Libya.”

AWM said it hoped that whatever shape the political system took after the revolution, Christians would be free to learn more about the Christian faith, and free to worship and witness.

“We do not know what will come from these uprisings but we are concerned that the Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed, whether the societies are freer in the end or not.”

It added: “Boldness is required to take advantage of such times.”

Read more at Christianity Today

FIRST-PERSON: The Christian divorce rate myth (what you've heard is wrong)

Posted on Feb 15, 2011 | by Glenn T. Stanton

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)--"Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!" It's one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it's perhaps one of the most inaccurate.

Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.

Here's the truth....

Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith -- be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.

The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes -- attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples -- enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.

Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced [1].

1 Bradley R.E. Wright, "Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You've Been Told," (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.

READ more at Baptist Press

U.S Fears Lybia Will Fire Chemical Weapons On Protestors As Chaos Mounts

WASHINGTON—The government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi hasn't destroyed significant stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical-weapons agents, raising fears in Washington about what could happen to them—and whether they may be used—as Libya slides further into chaos.

Tripoli also maintains control of aging Scud B missiles, U.S. officials said, as well as 1,000 metric tons of uranium yellowcake and vast amounts of conventional weapons that Col. Gadhafi has channeled in the past to militants operating in countries like Sudan and Chad.

Current and former U.S. officials said in interviews that Washington's counterproliferation operations against Libya over the past decade have scored gains, in particular the dismantling of Tripoli's nascent nuclear-weapons program and its Scud C missile stockpiles. But the level of instability in Libya, and Col. Gadhafi's history of brutality, continues to make the U.S. focus on the arms and chemical agents that remain, they said.

"When you have a guy who's as irrational as Gadhafi with some serious weapons at his disposal, it's always a concern," said a U.S. official. "But we haven't yet seen him move to use any kind of mustard gas or chemical weapon" during the unrest.

The George W. Bush administration reached a key agreement with Tripoli in 2003 that called for Libya to scrap its weapons of mass destruction programs in return for normalized diplomatic relations. The deal followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein and was viewed as a major victory in the push to rid the Middle East of advanced weapons.

Within months of the pact, Col. Gadhafi's government sent to the U.S. the critical infrastructure for its nuclear-weapons programs, including uranium hexafluoride stockpiles, centrifuge machines and parts for a nuclear fuel-conversion facility. Libya also destroyed its longer-range missiles and 3,300 aerial munitions used to disperse mustard gas and other chemical agents. In 2004 Tripoli joined the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW.

But the program to eradicate Libya's chemical agents, as well as its chemical weapons production facility, was delayed by spats between Washington and Tripoli over funding and logistics, according to U.S. officials.

Libya initially said the U.S. could convert a weapons facility outside Tripoli into a pharmaceutical factory, but then demanded an Italian firm do the work, extending the process. Libya also was reluctant to provide U.S. and British officials visas to monitor the process and cited environmental concerns for the slowed process.

Libya was to have destroyed all 23 metric tons of its mustard gas by the end of last year, according to the OPCW, but 9.5 metric tons remain. The Hague-based body said Libya was granted an extension until May to destroy the rest.

Libya also possesses more than half of the 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals used for developing chemical agents. The material is believed to be stored in jugs at the former Rabta chemical-weapons facility.

A spokesman for the OPCW said the utility of such chemical agents is lessened without the delivery systems. But officials in Washington said they remain concerned about the security of these materials. They wouldn't rule out the possibility Col. Gadhafi could seek to use them.

Read More from The Wall Street Journal

Gas Prices Surge To $4.51 A Gallon In California

OS ANGELES (CBS) — A Covina gas station may have the highest prices in the nation.

KNX 1070′s Mike Landa reports customers are questioning what’s going on at a Mobil station on Azusa Avenue that’s selling regular unleaded at $4.51 a gallon.

Thursday marks the 22nd increase in 23 days, pushing the average price 10.2 cents higher than a week ago, 24.6 cents above what it was one month ago and 66 cents greater than it was one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

Further increases are expected because of the rising price of Brent crude oil, which is used to price the imported oil used by California refineries.

The chaos in Libya is among the reasons for increasing crude oil prices, according to oil analysts.

In fact, Moneywatch.com editor-at-large Jill Schlessinger says $5-a-gallon gas is not out of the question as political uncertainty hangs over the world’s most volatile region.

Read More from CBS Los Angeles

Saudi Arabian College Student Arrested in Texas On Terrorist Charges

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets.

The arrest and the criminal complaint, which was unsealed in the Northern District of Texas, were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.

Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.

“As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further,” said Assistant Attorney General Kris. “This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad.”

“Yesterday’s arrest demonstrates the need for and the importance of vigilance and the willingness of private individuals and companies to ask questions and contact the authorities when confronted with suspicious activities. Based upon reports from the public, Aldawsari’s plot was uncovered and thwarted. We’re confident we have neutralized the alleged threat posed by this defendant. Those reports resulted in the initiation of a complex and far-reaching investigation requiring almost around the clock work by hundreds of dedicated FBI agents, analysts, prosecutors and others. Their effort is another example of the work being done to protect our country and its citizens. These individuals are deserving of our respect and gratitude,” said U.S. Attorney Jacks.

“This arrest and criminal charge is a result of the success of the FBI's counterterrorism strategy, which is to detect, penetrate, and disrupt terrorist plots in the United States and against U.S. interests abroad. In this case, FBI Agents and other FBI experts worked tirelessly to neutralize the imminent terrorist threat described in the criminal complaint. The public can be justifiably proud of the national security expertise shown by the FBI in this investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Casey.

Purchases of Chemical Ingredients and Other Equipment

The affidavit alleges that on Feb. 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khalid Aldawsari. According to the affidavit, phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. The affidavit alleges that other ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.

Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police. Later, Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for “off-campus, personal research.” Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari cancelled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol. The affidavit alleges that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.

Research on Potential Targets

According to the affidavit, Aldawsari conducted research on various targets and e-mailed himself information on these locations and people. One of the documents he sent himself, with the subject line listed as “Targets,” allegedly contained the names and home addresses of three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In another e-mail titled “NICE TARGETS 01,” Aldawsari allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. In another e-mail to himself, titled “NICE TARGETS,” he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. On Feb. 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled “Tyrant’s House,” in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush. The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.

The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari created a blog in which he posted extremist messages. In one posting, he expressed dissatisfaction with current conditions of Muslims and vowed jihad and martyrdom. “You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path,” he wrote.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Dallas Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Lubbock Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Baker and Denise Williams from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorney David Cora from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Read Full Story From 33TV.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Israel: Iranian Ships in Suez Canal a 'Provocation'


Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Wisconsin Dems: Heroes or Cowards?


Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Somali Pirates Kill Four American Hostages

pp

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Pennsylvania Man Refuses To Take Down 24 Foot Cross

A 24-foot illuminated cross on a western Pennsylvania man's front lawn is in violation of a local ordinance, but the structure isn't going anywhere, he told FoxNews.com.

Carl Behr, 45, of Baldwin, Pa., said he was told during a borough council meeting late Tuesday that he needed a permit to build the structure. He plans to apply for such a permit Wednesday or Thursday, he said, but won't be disassembling his cross anytime soon.

"I'm not removing the cross regardless," Behr said as to whether the permit would likely be approved. "No man is going to tell me about God."

Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett told FoxNews.com that the cross on Behr's lawn and possibly another on his roof violate the borough's ordinance for the installation of structures due to size and placement requirements.

"If he wants the structure on his property, like anyone else, he has to apply for a permit," Barrett said. "We haven't seen anything."

f the cross is not removed by Friday, Barrett said Behr will be issued a citation and could face fines of up to $300 for each day it remains displayed.

"Our ordinances spell out a process for applying for a permit for structures," he said.

Neighbor Lisa Fera, who lives across the street from Behr, has said the cross shines directly into her home and was built after she complained about Behr parking vehicles from his construction business in front of her residence.

"I'm not looking to be a bad neighbor. I believe in God, I believe in being Christian, but if you are truly Christian, then you would be supporting and respecting your neighborhood," Fera told WTAE.com. "I feel that this is a direct intimidation of me, that each time you call the police or do something, a cross goes up."

Despite the complaint, Behr, who said he has also received several "positive comments" regarding the cross, vows to continue displaying his devotion.

"They basically said that I needed to apply for a permit, so that's what I'm going to do and see what happens," he said. "I'm going to carry it as far as I can."

Somali Pirates Kill 4 American Hostages After Hijacking Yacht

Four Americans aboard a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates have been killed, Fox News has confirmed.

U.S. forces responded to gunfire aboard the yacht Quest at approximately 1 a.m. Tuesday, but discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite attempts to save their lives, all four hostages died of their wounds.

“We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest,” said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander in a news release.

Two pirates died during the confrontation and U.S. forces found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel. Thirteen pirates were captured and detained, along with two already in custody. A total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

The yacht Quest was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman and U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the vessel.

Unlike most pirate incidents, these pirates boarded the Quest directly from their mother ship, rather than using faster skiffs. The mother ship remains free.

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, Commander of Centcom's Naval Forces, explained the timeline of events during a press briefing with Pentagon reporters. According to Fox, there was "absolutely no warning" before the hostage situation turned deadly.

On Monday two pirates boarded the USS Sterett (one of four U.S. Naval ships monitoring the situation) to conduct negotiations for the release of the American hostages. They stayed on board overnight and it's unclear if any ransom was offered before the killing took place.

At 8:00 am local time Tuesday morning a rocket propelled grenade was fired at the Sterett from pirates on board the Quest. The shot missed, but immediately after gunfire erupted inside the cabin of the Quest.

"Several pirates appeared on deck and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender," Fox said. That's when SOF approached on small boats and boarded the yacht.

When U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) soldiers -- from a classified Navy SEALS unit -- reached the yacht, they found two pirates had already been killed by small arms fire. As they went below deck there was an exchange of fire that killed one pirate. The other pirate was killed by an SOF member who used a knife in close combat, Vice Adm. Fox said.

The SOF found some of the Americans still alive, but all four soon died of their wounds. Vice Adm. Fox called it the deadliest pirate incident to date.

"We did everything we could," said a senior military official. "But I don't think our guys would see this as a good outcome."

There is no word yet where the pirates in custody will be taken for trial. They could go to Kenya or they could come back to the US. There is a precedent for both.

The organizers of an international yacht race called the Blue Water Rally said the Quest had been taking part in the race but left it Feb. 15 to chart an independent course from India to Oman.

Christchurch earthquake: 150 feared dead on New Zealand's 'darkest day'

At least 65 were killed, according to John Key, the prime minister.

Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, added that more than 100 are believed to be trapped in buildings.

The Queen, who is also New Zealand's head of state, expressed her sadness at the 6.3 magnitude quake, saying she was "utterly shocked" by the news.

"Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event," she said.

"My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts."

A state of emergency was declared following the quake, which struck at 12.51pm on Tuesday local time (2351GMT Monday), when office blocks and shopping centres in the city centre were bustling with people.

Rescue workers scrambled to free scores of people trapped in buildings, some crews arriving by helicopter because streets were blocked by rubble and jammed traffic.

Officials fear the death toll could double amid reports that more than 200 were trapped in collapsed buildings and wreckage of homes. Bodies were seen lying in the streets, untended until emergency services were able to reach them.

A special "person finder" established by Google, the search engine giant, said it was currently tracking more than 3,600 "records".

Twelve Japanese students, from a foreign language school and originally from Toyama city, have been reported missing in the rubble of a Christchurch building.

Bystanders dug with bare hands to rescue survivors trapped under piles of rubble. Some reports said the city had ran out of ambulances, with rescuers forced to use private vehicles.

As night fell, welfare centres become full with locals who could not return to their homes. All Christchurch schools were closed until further notice.

Late on Tuesday the military was sent in to help with rescue efforts as rain started falling and temperatures fell.

Mr Key, the prime minister who has flown to the city, described what he saw as "utter devastation".

"We may be witnessing New Zealand's darkest day," he told reporters.

"The death toll I have at the moment is 65 and that may rise.

"So it's an absolute tragedy for this city, for New Zealand, for the people that we care so much about."

No area throughout the country's second largest city was considered safe as strong aftershocks sent dislodged masonry raining down on to the streets below. Power and water has been cut to most of the city.

All Christchurch schools and early childhood services are closed until further notice.

Police warned there would be "multiple fatalities" throughout the region and the fire service said numerous people were trapped and that two buses had been crushed. There were reports of bodied pulled from a youth hostel and bookshop in the city.

The Australian government quickly scrambled rescue and medical teams to area, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain stood "ready to provide any assistance that we can".

“I was shocked and saddened to hear of the devastating earthquake that struck Christchurch earlier today killing so many people," he said.

"The ties that bind the UK with New Zealand are very close and my thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who have lost their lives and been affected by the earthquake.

“Many people in the UK with links to New Zealand will be watching anxiously as the situation develops."

He added: "Our High Commissioner in New Zealand is on her way to Christchurch and we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can to the authorities and to any British Nationals who have been caught up in the earthquake.”

Hundreds of doctors from around the world gathered in Christchurch for a conference are helping in makeshift hospitals established throughout the city.

The power of the quake, which was far more violent one that struck the city in September, caused the cathedral's spire in the centre of Christchurch to crumble and knocked out phone lines.

Several large building were reduced to piles of twisted debris, pipes burst across the city and large holes had appeared in roads.

The city's hospital and airport were evacuated and dozens of shocked and injured residents gathered in open spaces as alarms and sirens sounded across the city.

There were scenes of confusion and chaos as police tried to get people out of the city centre as the earth continued to shake during several strong aftershocks.

Streets were gridlocked, glass carpeted the pavements and power was out to 80 per cent of Christchurch.

Footage from the scene showed cars crushed underneath large piles of rubble and several seriously injured people being carried on makeshift stretchers from collapsed buildings.

Distressed people could be seen trapped inside damaged buildings and screaming could be heard as firefighters picked their way though the debris.

The earthquake caused a 30 million-tonne chunk of ice to break off from the Tasman Glacier, more than 150 miles away on the West Coast.

Bill English, the Deputy Prime Minister, said 35 military personal were on the ground providing first aid and support to the city's major most affected areas. Another 250 would arrive in first thing on Wednesday.

The chaotic scenes were far different from last September's "miracle", when no one was killed in a 7.1 magnitude quake.

Tuesday's much shallower quake, just two miles below the surface, caused several office blocks to collapse as well as destroying the 110-year-old Anglican cathedral. It has been described as the worst earthquake to hit the country in 80 years.

Bob Parker, the city's mayor, said the death toll could double. He urged residents to stay at home, conserve water and stay calm.

"We are in the middle of a major disaster on global terms," he said.

"There are people fighting for their lives at the moment but there are also people fighting for them.

"We're in the middle of an extremely serious situation."

He added: "We're preparing ourselves for what I think will be a really sad, bleak day for our city but be reassured everybody is doing what they can."

Read More From The Telegraph

Starving North Korea Asks For Food Aid From U.S

Tuesday, February 22, 2011; 2:03 AM

TOKYO - North Korea recently took the unusual step of begging for food handouts from the foreign governments it usually threatens.

Plagued by floods, an outbreak of a livestock disease and a brutal winter, the government ordered its embassies and diplomatic offices around the world to seek help.

The request has put the United States and other Western countries in the uncomfortable position of having to decide whether to ignore the pleas of a starving country or pump food into a corrupt distribution system that often gives food to those who need it least.

The United States, which suspended its food aid to North Korea two years ago amid concerns about transparency, "has no plans for any contributions at this time," said Kurt Campbell, the State Department's top East Asia official.

Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Program, responsible for much of the food aid in North Korea, said its current food supply could sustain operations in the communist country for only another month.

"We're certainly hopeful that new donations will be coming in the upcoming weeks," said Marcus Prior, the WFP's spokesman in Asia.

Next month, the WFP plans to complete an assessment of North Korea's food situation - a report that could influence how foreign governments respond. But few doubt that North Korea's 24 million people need food.

For two decades, since the collapse of a public distribution system that supplied food rations, Kim Jong Il's government has neglected to care for its people. In the early and mid-1990s, an estimated 1 million died in a famine.

North Korea has since developed a grass-roots network of private markets - a stand-in for government programs but also the target of occasional crackdowns from a leadership that views free-market activity as a threat.

Amid the food shortages, though, humanitarian experts describe another failure: the international aid effort. Outsiders have yet to devise a formula that reaches basic standards for monitoring or effectiveness. After 15 years and about $2 billion of aid efforts, one in four pregnant women is malnourished and one in three children is stunted.

The government places obstacles at every step of the distribution process - the top complaint from U.S. officials, who demand better transparency before aid resumes.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement this week calling it "essential" that U.S. assistance is "actually received by hungry North Korean children and their families, rather than reinforcing the North Korean military whose care is already a priority over the rest of the population."

Read More from The Washington Post


Lybia President Gaddafi Refuses To Step Down From Power Vowing To Die As A Martyr



TRIPOLI | Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:33pm EST

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Muammar Gaddafi vowed to die in Libya as a martyr in an angry television address on Tuesday, as rebel troops said eastern regions had broken free from his rule in a burgeoning revolt.

"I am not going to leave this land, I will die here as a martyr," Gaddafi said on state television, refusing to bow to calls from his own diplomats, soldiers and protesters clamoring in the streets for an end to his four decades at the helm.

"I shall remain here defiant," said Gaddafi, speaking outside one of his residences, which was heavily damaged in a 1986 U.S. bombing raid that attempted to kill him.

Outside the building stood a monument of a giant fist crushing a U.S. warplane.

In a trademark rambling address, Gaddafi urged his supporters to take to the streets, saying protesters warranted the death sentence. He also promised a vague overhaul of government structures

Earlier, witnesses streaming across the Libyan border into Egypt said Gaddafi was using tanks, warplanes and mercenaries in an effort to stamp out the growing rebellion.

In the eastern city of Tobruk, a Reuters correspondent there said sporadic blasts could be heard, the latest sign that Gaddafi's grip on the oil and gas exporting nation was weakening.

"All the eastern regions are out of Gaddafi's control now ... The people and the army are hand-in-hand here," said the now former army major Hany Saad Marjaa.

The White House offered its condolences for the "appalling violence" in Libya and said the international community had to speak with one voice on the crisis.

Read More from Reuters

11 Year Old Boy Arrested For Drawing Stick Figure Picture In Class



ARVADA, Colo. -- An 11-year-old Arvada boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs for drawing stick figures in school, something his therapist told him to do.

His parents say they understand what he did was inappropriate, but are outraged by the way Arvada Police handled the case. The parents do not want their real names used.

They say "Tim" is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and his therapist told him to draw pictures when he got upset, rather than disrupt the class. So that’s what he did.

Last October, he drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words "teacher must die."

He felt calmer and was throwing the picture away when the teacher saw it and sent him to the principal's office.

The school was aware that the boy was in treatment, determined he was not a threat, notified his parents and sent him back to class. His mother, "Jane" was shocked when Arvada Police showed up at their home later that night.

She says she told her son to cooperate and tell the truth, but was horrified when they told her they were arresting him and then handcuffed him and hauled him away in a patrol car. His mother says she begged police to let her drive her son to the police department and to let her stay with him through the booking process but they refused.

They put him in a cell, took his mug shot and fingerprinted him. He says he thought he was going to jail and would never be able to go home again.

According to the police report, "Tim" explained he made the drawing to release anger and would never hurt teachers or anyone. At first school officials did not want to press charges, but changed their mind when police called them later that night. A juvenile assessment report shows he's never been in legal trouble before and is at low risk to reoffend.

He's charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The system says it's doing what's in the best interest of the child. But Tim's therapist says handcuffing an 11-year-old and putting him in a cell over something like this is "quite an overreaction" and does much more harm than good.

Arvada Police say because Monday was a holiday, they are not able to get hold of all the personnel and reports to make a response, but will be able to respond Tuesday. Tim is on probation and if he completes that successfully, the criminal charges will be dropped. But his parents say it has cost them thousands of dollars so far.

And if they had known that their son’s cooperation would be used as evidence against him, they would have hired a lawyer at the beginning and exercised his right to remain silent.

Read More From KDVR

Monday, February 21, 2011

Child prostitutes rescued in Ghana

Ghana (MNN) ― A million children get involved in the sex trade every year, and the country of Ghana is no exception to the rule.

Ghana does, however, have a problem that you may not have considered in regard to child prostitution: "Many underage girls--teenagers under 18--are turning to prostitution to make money to pay their school fees."

Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries says Ghanaian prostitutes from junior high ages and up often come from homes where one or both parents have died, and where they face extreme financial hardship. Often ECM has found that the young girls are hiding their side jobs from their parents, only working in order to continue attending school.

The numbers of girls involved in the trade are high. "We have seen statistics that show that girls who end up on the street (we minister to many like that) or run away from home usually end up in prostitution within 48 hours of landing on the street," says Rouster.

In response to this severe problem, ECM has been actively reaching out to underage prostitutes in Ghana for the last 10 months. Husband and wife teams are sent out to get to know the girls.

"Our workers usually go and approach the prostitutes on the streets where they're working, or at bars and hotels that are catering to that industry," says Rouster. "The workers go and chat with the girls. They try and find out what's driving them to prostitution, and then they try to win them to Christ."

This program is helping girls find self-esteem, a purpose, and the Truth, but it cannot expand without necessary funding. If you would like to help ECM's efforts to rescue child prostitutes in Christ's name, click here.

Read more of this article at Mission Network News

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament in their own language for the 1st time!

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.

China Stops Pro-Democracy "Jasmine Revolution" Protests

Last updated at 7:47 PM on 20th February 2011

Chinese authorities moved quickly and with force to quash a pro-democracy 'Jasmine Revolution', believed to have been inspired by the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

More police than usual were scrambled to line the streets today, and there were a number of activists detained after online sites had organised staged protests in Beijing, Shanghai and 11 other major cities.

Citizens were urged to shout: 'We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness' - a slogan that highlights common complaints among ordinary Chinese.

Many activists said they didn't know who was behind the campaign and weren't sure what to make of the call to protest, which was first posted on U.S.-based, Chinese-language website Boxun.com.

China's authoritarian government has appeared unnerved by recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and Libya.

It has limited media reports about them, stressing the instability caused by protests in Egypt, and restricted internet searches to keep people uninformed.

In Beijing and Shanghai, hundreds of people gathered today but were dispersed by police in both places.

In Beijing, people gathered in front of a restaurant in Wangfujing Street, but were ordered to leave by officers.

In Shanghai, crowds gathered around the People's Square at the same time - around 2.00 p.m.

Three people were detained by police, after a man aged around 30 began a speech at the intersection of Yunnan Zhong Road and Hankou Road.

However, yesterday's call to protest did not seem to garner much traction among citizens.

There were no reports of protests in other cities where people were urged to gather, such as Guangzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan and Chengdu.

Ahead of the planned protests, more than 100 activists in cities across China were taken away by police, confined to their homes or were missing, the Hong Kong-based group Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Families and friends reported the detention or harassment of several dissidents, and some activists said they were warned not to participate.

Today, searches for 'jasmine' were blocked on China's largest Twitter-like microblog, and status updates with the word on popular Chinese social networking site Renren.com were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with 'political, sensitive ... or other inappropriate content.'

And mass text messaging services was unavailable in Beijing due to 'technical issues', according to a customer service operator for leading provider China Mobile.

In the past, Chinese authorities have suspended text messaging in politically tense areas to prevent organising.

The call for a Jasmine Revolution came as President Hu Jintao gave a speech to top leaders yesterday, asking them to 'solve prominent problems which might harm the harmony and stability of the society'.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358834/China-quashes-pro-democracy-Jasmine-Revolution-force.html#ixzz1EcfIFFzH

Christians Making A Difference Behind The Scenes In Hollywood

LOS ANGELES – In a hotel suite overlooking Universal Studios in Hollywood this past week, a hodgepodge band of Christians from around the world gathered for prayer, asking God for servants' hearts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and for transformation of the entertainment industry.

And if the next day's red-carpet events in the same hotel are any indication, God has been answering those prayers.

Ministry leaders from New York City and Germany, scriptwriters from Wisconsin and New Zealand, representatives from as far away as Hong Kong and Japan were gathered with Hollywood insiders – and those who simply appreciate the power of cinema – at the Universal City Hilton outside Los Angeles to pray in preparation for Moveguide's 19th Annual Awards Gala and Report to the Industry.

The event marked more than two decades of prayer and hard work by Movieguide – since its inception in 1985 – to re-instill Christian values and faith-friendly messages into the movies.

In his organization's 80-page statistical analysis and report to the entertainment industry, Dr. Ted Baehr, founder of MovieGuide and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, gave evidence of the transformation he's been praying for:

  • According to the report, the number of R-rated films Hollywood produces has declined dramatically from 81 percent of the major movies released in 1985 to about 40 percent in 2010.

  • Among the year's top 25 best-grossing movies, 12 were R-rated in 1996, compared to only 4 in 2010.

  • And while R-rated films are in decline, the percent of films with positive moral content is on the rise, from 26 percent of major movies in 1991, to 62 percent in 2000, to 84 percent in 2010.

  • The percent of films with positive Christian content is also on the rise, from 10 percent in 1991, to 41 percent in 2000, to 60 percent in 2010.

"There is good news in Hollywood," the Movieguide report states. "Since we started to redeem the values of the mass media of entertainment, we have seen more and more of the results of our strategic efforts to clean the screens because 1) the number of pro-Christian movies has increased dramatically; 2) Hollywood studios have developed working relationships with us; and, 3) more and more top Hollywood executives and creative talent have joined with us to produce better movies and entertainment."

The report continues, "There are now more family movies and more movies with positive Christian content and positive Christian worldviews than since the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood in 1966."