Friday, July 22, 2011

Organization Helps To Bring Free Health Care To Virgina

The Remote Area Medical Health Expedition is making its twelfth visit to Wise County on July 22.

The number of people needing free healthcare seems to be greater than ever. Before all of the medical equipment is unloaded and set up, lines are already beginning to form for free eye, dental and medical care.

Its offered by the organizers of the Remote Area Medical Expedition based in Knoxville.

Of all of these types of events held by RAM worldwide, this is one of the largest. "I think we did 38 of these things last year, of which this was one of the largest. Every time we come to Wise County, Va. we reckon we're going to see somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 patients," RAM organizer Stan Brock said.

"I think you can probably take this event and have it anywhere in the nation because there's such extensive health care need. [You can] certainly use this as the poster child but you could take this and replicate it anywhere in the nation," said Teresa Gardner, the executive director of the local Health Wagon.

There will be screenings and basic health checkups, but there are a couple of needs that are most in demand. "Dental and vision, actually dental because there's such a big need for dental care here in the Appalachian region," said Paula Meade, the Health Wagon clinical director.

Even though the medical staff won't see the first patients until Friday morning, the line for tickets to get treatment is already forming. "If you want a ticket to get in and get out you need to come early. I don't have insurance, this is the way I get my mammogram done. I did a breathing treatment here last year that's how I found out I have COPD," said Linda Allen, one of the first in line.

Volunteers have another health concern as well. They hope people don't get too hot standing in line for hours as they wait to be seen.

The event opens Friday morning and runs through the weekend at the Wise County Fairground.

Last year more than 1,400 people were helped with dental problems and more than 1,000 got an eye test. More than $2 million of free medical care was provided.

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VA's Reaction To Censoring Veterans From Saying "Jesus" Or "God" Hits All Time Low

A Texas-based Christian law firm that defends First Amendment freedoms says the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' reaction to accusations of religious censorship at the Houston National Cemetery stoops to a "new low."

As previously reported on OneNewsNow, Liberty Institute has filed suit on behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and The National Memorial Ladies over allegations of religious hostility and unlawful censorship by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and its director of the Houston National Cemetery.

The suit accuses officials of closing the cemetery chapel and banning the words "God" and "Jesus" from prayers during veterans' burial services, unless families put their requests in writing and submit prayers for pre-approval. But in a brief filed in federal court, the VA denies the allegations.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs, instead of fixing this religious censorship ... and [its] continued dishonoring of veterans, [has] stooped to a new low, referring [to the veterans groups] now as liars," reports Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute director of litigations. "And it's absolutely outrageous that they would attack these veterans, whose only thing they've ever done is that they have served our country well. And now, because these veterans have spoken up, [the Department of Veterans Affairs is] attacking these veterans and stooping to a new low. It's absolutely hideous."

Read More From One News Now

California "Gay History" Law On Hold For Now

California's plan to teach children to accept and appreciate homosexuality is on hold.

Last week Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 48, which requires public schools -- kindergarten through 12th-grade -- to teach about homosexual role models in history and sociology. According to a pro-family coalition that opposes the measure, it requires "a selective treatment of history by requiring that only events that reflect positively on people in the LGBT community may be discussed."

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute has received a stay blocking introduction of the curriculum this fall.

"This is not only going to effect the textbooks being produced one or two years out, but it was also going to be impacting the curriculum, bringing outside speakers, transsexuals, homosexuals to talk about themselves or historical figures," the attorney explains.
LinkPacific Justice Institute has prepared and filed a referendum to go on a future ballot that would repeal the law. The state attorney general is reviewing the petition, and once approval is obtained a drive to obtain signatures will begin.

"Parents, moms and dads out there are outraged and they're ready to go," says Dacus. "We have 90 days to get half a million signatures, but I'd like to think that we have enough people in California with their heads on straight to protect our children."

The PJI president says he is depending in part on the church in California to rise to the occasion and provide sufficient volunteers to obtain the signatures.

Read More From One News Now

Texas Seeks To De-Fund $64 Million From Planned Parenthood

Initial estimates of the amount of taxpayer funds the Planned Parenthood abortion business in Texas stands to lose for a bill Gov. Rick Perry signed were in the $30-40 million range. Now, one pro-life group says that number could be as high as $64 million.

“The final version of the state’s budget bill and the subsequent agency adjustments yielded $64.2 million reallocated away from the abortion industry,” says Texas Right to Life director Elizabeth Graham. “In Texas, Planned Parenthood has been dealt the greatest defeat in their 95-year history by Texas Right to Life and several heroic Pro-Life Texas state legislators.”

“In the State House, all eight of Texas Right to Life’s amendments to redirect family planning funds away from the abortion industry passed overwhelmingly (the highest vote total the pro-abortion opposition could garner was 40 of the 150 House members),” she explained. “The final amendment earned 113 votes to snatch the last $9 million.”

Although Graham says federal law prohibits further reductions, she says Texas state legislators ultimately cut out 37 percent of the Planned Parenthood funding the abortion business gets in Texas — in what she says will be a “blow” that “will severely hamstring the Texas abortion industry.”

Graham applauded State Senator Tommy Williams, a Republican from The Woodlands, who implemented the second phase of our two-prong strategy to incapacitate the abortion giant. he successfully added a rider “to establish a priority so that entities and agencies not involved in abortion are to be the top priority for family planning grants and contracts.”

“Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers would only qualify under the last priority, meaning that little or no family planning funds would be left for them after the other “clean” contracts have been awarded,” the TRTL director says.

“This removal of over $64 million of our Texas tax dollars marks the culmination of five years of work by Texas Right to Life’s legislative team and interns. We identified the funding streams, studied the rules, sought legal counsel about state compliance with federal laws, and obtained a copy of the state’s family planning budget,” Graham concludes. “The 82nd Texas Legislative session brought historic Pro-Life victories to Texan women, unborn children, and families.”

Read More from Life News

More and More Churches Having Services In Public Places

Churches are holding worship services in public places with greater regularity than some might think. It is not uncommon today to see portable church signs outside public buildings and schools on Sundays.

Thousands of believers today are gathering more often in public schools, skating rinks, parks and empty buildings to avoid the financial burden.

As additional housing opens and property rental fees go up, churches often rent non-traditional spaces until they can build a permanent facility or develop a congregation large enough to support one.

However, some Americans continue to fight over the place of religion making the debate between church and state one of the more recent battlegrounds in the public forum.

Critics, including the courts, are concerned that making arrangements for churches to worship in public places is unconstitutional.

One such case involves a religious group in New York’s Bronx borough that is fighting to use a local school for Sunday religious services.

New York City officials recently said churches that meet in public schools must leave by the end of the school year. The announcement is bringing the issue back into the news again.

The decision came after the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled 2-1 last month that churches meeting in schools are unconstitutionally converting the schools into state-sponsored Christian churches, basically barring worship services from public buildings.

Some church advocates worry that the decision will spread to other parts of the country and prohibit church planters from keeping their doors open to Christians.

The justices wrote that it is "reasonable for the board to fear that allowing schools to be converted into churches might foster an excessive government entanglement with religion that advances religion."

Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian legal group representing the Bronx church, says it is appealing the court's ruling.

"Religious groups, including churches, shouldn't be discriminated against simply because they want to rent a public building just like other groups can," ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence said in a statement.

"The idea that people of faith may be singled out for discrimination is flagrantly contrary to the U.S. Constitution," he said. "The 2nd Circuit greatly erred by not putting an end to the board's continued defiance of the First Amendment."

Read More From Christian Post

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Memphis Tennessee School Board Refuses To Open Schools Until City Pays $55 Million

(CNN) -- Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, will not open for the new school year until the school board receives at least $55 million of the money it is owed by the city.

The Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners voted on the delay Tuesday night. However, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. told CNN Wednesday he is working toward a resolution, and "the children will not be caught in the middle."

The board vote indefinitely delayed school opening "pending the resolution of a long-standing funding dispute with the City of Memphis," school system attorney Dorsey Hopson said in a statement.

The board says it is owed a total of $151 million, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis. That includes what the city still owes for the 2008-09 school year, shortfalls on two subsequent school years and $78 million for the upcoming year.

The board wants $55 million immediately to open the schools, Martavius Jones, school board president, told CNN Wednesday. That "is the magic number," he said.

Board members passed a resolution asking that the remaining $23 million be paid after the city collects the funding in taxes, according to CNN affiliate WMC. Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash was directed last week to cut that $78 million from the current budget, WMC said.

Schools had been set to open August 8, with teachers due to report August 1.

"Someone has to assume responsibility for the collective education of the children in the city of Memphis, and I don't think the City Council can be exempt from that responsibility," board member Sara Lewis told WMC Tuesday night.

The school district sued the city in 2008 because of the funding dispute, Hopson said.

Read More from CNN

Ohio Educators Take Back Scolding Of Mount Vernon School Teacher

The Ohio Department of Education is rescinding a "letter of admonishment" from the record of a Christian teacher who was fired for integrating his beliefs in the classroom, according to a report.

The state agency also is looking into the Rutherford Institute's charges that the due process Linkrights of the teacher, John Freshwater, were violated and Education Department regulations were broken. The institute said Freshwater was not notified properly, nor was he given the opportunity to defend himself.

WND has reported on Freshwater's fight several times, including when the Rutherford Institute decided to join the case involving the Ohio teacher who was fired after he kept a Bible on his desk and suggested that students "think critically about the school's science curriculum, particularly as it relates to evolution theories."

Freshwater, a 24-year veteran in the classroom, was suspended in 2008 by the Mount Vernon School District in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Campus Crusade For Christ Changes It's Name To "Cru" Removes Christ

Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the largest Christian ministries in the world, announced on Tuesday that it is ditching its old name and adopting a new one – Cru.

The 60-year-old organization decided on the name change partly because of the negative associations that the word "crusade" carries.

"It acts as a barrier to the very people that we want to connect with. It’s also a hindrance to many Christians who would like to partner with us but find the word Crusade offensive," the ministry said in a statement.

As many as one in five persons who were willing to consider the Gospel became less interested in talking to CCC after hearing the name, the organization found.

"We are changing the name for the sake of more effective ministry."

Over the past two years, a team of 30 staff worked with branding agencies and came up with hundreds of new name suggestions. In all, there were 1,600 names that were proposed.

The Board of Directors signed off on the name Cru this year.

While Cru – a nickname that began at the local level in the mid-90s – effectively removes the word "crusade" and its negative connotations from the organization's name, it also does away with the word "Christ."

The ministry insists that they are not trying to eliminate "Christ" from its name. In fact, the name change allows them to more effectively serve its mission of taking the Gospel to the world, the organization maintains.

"Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name."

Steve Douglass, president of CCC, stressed, "Our mission and DNA remain the same." That mission, he explained, is "to give every person on the planet the opportunity to say yes to Jesus."

"It is all about fulfilling The Great Commission."

Read More From Christian Post

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Liberty: By Tim Lawson

We have talked a lot this past weekend about liberty. Certainly, the liberty that we enjoy and just celebrated is worth celebrating. Many men and women serve today and some have paid the ultimate price so that you and I could worship as we please, travel as we please, and elect our own leaders as we please. I had the privilege of spending some time with a young member of our armed forces who fight every day so that we can remain free. Liberty is not free, it comes with a price.

With all that being said, the liberty from sin that we Christians enjoy came with a price as well. It came with the highest price tag that would ever be paid. Unfortunately, so many of us still remain bound. We continue to allow ourselves to be bound by drugs. We allow ourselves to be bound by pornography. We allow ourselves to be bound by things that are destructive to our lives, our marriages, and our spirit.

Christ does not intend for it to be like this. Paul, in Galatians 5:1 tells us, "Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” In other words, you do not have to be bound by the things of this world. You have a way out through Jesus Christ. Only He can make you free from the things that are keeping you from experiencing the fullness that Christ wants you to have through Him. If you need help in overcoming addictions or problems that are keeping you down, Jeremy and Miranda at JMC Ministries as well as me are here to talk to you, pray with you or even try to get you the help that you need. We love you and want you to experience true liberty in Jesus Christ. When you are made free through Jesus, you are truly free.

Tell Someone Ministries

Tim Lawson

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Georgia Police Shut Down Girls' Lemonade Stand Outside Their Home

Michigan To Put A Limit On Welfare Benefits

Group Of Omaha Pastors Say Homosexuality Is NOT A Sin

(One News Now)A group of Omaha pastors has issued a proclamation that states homosexuality is not a sin.

More than 100 ordained Christian ministers have signed the proclamation, including leaders from Lutheran, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, and Presbyterian churches.

David Bydalek is executive director of Family First, the family policy council for the state of Nebraska. He deems this effort troubling for many Nebraskans and contends the ministers involved are from liberal denominations that do not respect the orthodox biblical teaching on homosexuality.

"When they come out with this sort of statement, I think they really do not reflect the mainstream feeling in the state of Nebraska," Bydalek suggests. "When we passed our marriage amendment years ago, we had about 70 percent of those in Nebraska who opposed 'gay marriage.'"

But when Christians take a stand to support traditional biblical teaching on the issue, the Family First executive director laments that they are often perceived as "bigots" or "homophobes." He suggests, however, that the loving response to those trapped in homosexuality teaches that the lifestyle is indeed sinful, but that freedom can be found through Christ.

"It's going to be more difficult, the more these…activists [gain] inroads into our culture and the more common it becomes," Bydalek warns. "So we have a very difficult task ahead of us as those who stand for truth."

Read More From One News Now

Thousands Of Vietnam Christians Murdered Or Imprisoned Over Rapture Prediction On May 21st

(World Net Daily)The executive director of a ministry that works with the persecuted church in the northern reaches of Vietnam says he's outraged that a "prophecy" by an American preacher apparently cost the lives of many tribal Hmong people who believed it.

The prediction by Harold Camping, 89, of Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio, was that Jesus Christ would return to Earth to "rapture" his followers to heaven on May 21. Camping said mankind had run out of time, and the Creator of the universe would arrive on that Saturday.

The horrific aftermath of the unfulfilled prophecy was reported by James Jacob Prasch, a key leader of Moriel Ministries, which emphasizes the "last days apostasy" discussed in the Bible and ministers to persecuted church members.

The organization describes itself as a "teaching ministry to believers" that brings awareness of issues such as the "social gospel" and ecumenical efforts that "masquerade" as Christianity.

Prasch routinely travels and meets with members of the Christian body worldwide. A recent trip took him to Vietnam, where a large number of the Hmong tribal peoples of the nation's Central Highlands are Christian.

They are referred to in the West as Montagnards.

They had heard of Camping's prophecy and not having sophisticated methods for evaluating its validity, took it literally, he explained.

The result, for many, was death, Prasch reported in an email to supporters:

After listening to a translation of Camping's prediction 7,000 of these people (known in the West as Montagnards) gathered on a mountain praising God their suffering at the hands of the communist regime was about to end because Jesus was returning that day in May to establish a new kingdom,.

The police and military police slaughtered many of them at gunpoint – beheading two pastors. Others were arrested. I am told by Hmong pastors that so many were shot dead that they were buried in mass graves bulldozed over in an episode that I read about in Britain but did not understand the magnitude of until I got here.

Prasch reported that he spoke to a secret meeting of Hmong pastors to explain to them "false prophets and false teachers."

"Due to a combination of poverty, ignorance and persecution these poor Christians don't understand much so they believed Camping's shortwave broadcast which is how most get their teaching," he said.

Now "their families don't know if their missing loved ones are among the many shot dead, among those arrested and imprisoned, or among those from the 7,000 hiding in the jungle," he said.

"These people already suffering for their faith in Jesus had it bad enough. They are not like the undiscerning whackos in the West who should have known Camping was a crackpot and a proven false prophet and false teacher," Prasch reported. "This is a persecuted church who just had no means to know any different. This is why … I warn so much about false teachers and false prophets."

He continued, "Of course we can blame Satan and the communists but their blood is on the hands of Harold Camping and his Family Radio. Women without husbands, children without parents, husbands without wives."

A WND request of Family Radio for comment did not generate a response.

California First State To Require School Books Include "Gay History"

ov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday making California the first state to require that school textbooks and history lessons include the contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Brown took the action as lawmakers sent him scores of bills, including one that would allow undocumented immigrants access to privately financed student aid at state universities and colleges.

Before adjourning for a monthlong summer recess, the Legislature also proposed changing the way California holds presidential primary elections and awards its electoral votes.

In accepting a mandate that California students be taught the accomplishments of gays and lesbians, Brown said that "history should be honest." The bill, he said in a statement, "revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books.''

The measure had sparked hot debate in the Legislature, where Republicans argued that it would force a "gay agenda" on young people against many of their parents' wishes. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said the new law, which he wrote, will reduce the bullying of gay students by showing role models in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens.

"Denying LGBT people their rightful place in history gives our young people an inaccurate and incomplete view of the world around them," said Leno, whose bill, SB 48, also covers the role of the disabled in history.

The governor's action drew criticism from conservative groups.

Benjamin Lopez of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition said schools should be focused on improving students' reading, writing, math and other skills.

"It's a sad day for the state of California," said Lopez, a legislative analyst and advocate for the organization. "We have failed at our core educatio mission, and yet we are now going to inject gay studies into the classrooms. It's absurd and offensive."

Controversy also surrounds the proposal to give undocumented immigrants a shot at privately funded financial aid in the California State University, California Community Colleges and University of California systems.

Read More From LA Times

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sgt. Petry Receives Medal Of Honor

Rhode Island Makes Sexting Illegal

Washington D.C Unarmed Firefighters Forced To Patrol Streets With Police

(NBC Washington)Both D.C. firefighters and police officers are upset over a new program that forces the fire department to help fight crime.

For the past three weeks, D.C. Fire and EMS personnel have been parking their trucks at high crime neighborhoods.

"It's to prevent things from bubbling up. The idea is that if you have a fire engine with adults there no one is going to commit a crime," said D.C. Deputy Mayor Paul Quander.

City officials said they just want firefighters to call 911 if they see suspicious activity.

The D.C. police union and firefighters union say the plan is not safe.

"I think it is a disaster," said D.C. Police Union spokesman Kris Baumann. "You're putting untrained, unsupervised, unequipped firefighters in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in town to perform a law enforcement function."

Right now, the plan is to keep the policy in place at least through next spring.

Read More From NBC Washington

Georgia Looking To Pass Legislation To Crack Down On Child Sex Crime Offenders

(One News Now)In this taped audio excerpt from a study on child sex demand, a man tells a woman posing as a 16-year-old escort that she is too old. When she reveals to the caller that she just "turned 16...a couple of days ago," he tells her he would like her to be "about 12."

Some Georgia legislators are making efforts to accomplish a balance between tougher penalties for criminals and better treatment for victims, like one sex trafficking survivor who thought of a painful way to get away from being sold for her body.

"I was hoping that I would get in a car accident and have my face disfigured because I thought if I was ugly, then nobody would want me anymore and nobody would have sex with me," she shares.

Another survivor, Keisha Head, adds that victims are often intimidated by their captors.

"They would beat you; they would make you feel like they would cause you...or your family harm," she accounts. "And another thing...some of the girls don't have anywhere else to go."

Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, reports that the official numbers are in dispute, but child sex trafficking in the U.S. is a serious issue.

"This is America's dirty little secret," he notes. "These are crimes that the public doesn't see, that the public doesn't want to believe exist. These are hidden victims."

The proposed legislation calls for a 25-year minimum sentence for those convicted of coercing children under the age of 18 into trafficking, and it slaps a minimum sentence of five years on those who pay for sex with a 16-year-old. Pursuing sexual encounters with younger children could lead to at least ten years behind bars.

Read More From One News Now

Atheist Group Files Lawsuit Against Texas Governor Due To Upcoming Prayer Rally

(Christian Post)An atheist-agnostic group filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in an effort to block Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s upcoming prayer rally next month.

The Madison, Wis.-based group Freedom From Religion Foundation called the prayer rally unconstitutional, saying it violates the Establishment Clause “by giving the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs and non-beliefs…”

Perry is partnering with the American Family Association and other faith groups to hold “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Aug. 6.

"Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters,” reads the letter from Perry posted on the event’s website. “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy."

In response to the lawsuit, Perry’s office issued a statement Wednesday declaring that the Aug. 6 prayer event will continue as planned.

“He (Perry) believes it will serve as an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God, seeking his wisdom and guidance as our nation navigates the challenges before it.,” reads the written statement. “The pending litigation does not affect plans for the prayer event.”

Read More From Christian Post

Prisoner Accused Of Child Sex Crimes Is Allowed To View Child Porn

TACOMA, Wash. -- A Washington state man accused of child sex crimes is allowed to view child pornography in jail.

The sheriff and the prosecutor don't like it. But Weldon Marc Gilbert is acting as his own lawyer in the case, and that means he's allowed to review the evidence.

More than 100 videos and photographs were seized from Gilbert's Lake Tapps home after his 2007 arrest. Authorities say some of them were shot by Gilbert.

Gilbert worked as a pilot and is accused of using money and alcohol to lure more than a dozen boys to his home, where police say he molested them.

KIRO-FM reports that when Gilbert views his videos in the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma, he's with an investigator in a separate room visible to jail guards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pennsylvania Mayor Under Attack For Praying

Pennsylvania Pastors Network is supporting the civic leader servant in her time of need.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is in a quandary over its budget, as several parties are in disagreement and disarray over the city's financial state and the possibility of bankruptcy. So Mayor Linda Thompson turned to God for prayer and three days of fasting for help in deciding what to do for the city and its future.

"I would argue that that is an entirely wholesome undertaking, and she should be commended for it," contends Colin Hanna, president of the pastors network and Let Freedom Ring. "But instead, she's being chastised for it."

Atheist groups protested Thompson's efforts, and the Harrisburg mayor has been attacked for opening staff meetings with prayer.

"Every president that the nation has ever had, I think, and I am happy to say that, has encouraged the citizens of the country to pray. And there's nothing wrong with that," Hanna argues. "The notion that it is is totally twisted. What [Thompson is] doing as a mayor is the same kind of thing that presidents have done since George Washington."

The Pennsylvania Pastors Network is a group of biblically faithful clergy and church liaisons, whose objective is to build a permanent infrastructure of like-minded clergy who affirm the authority of scripture and engage their congregations in taking part in the political process on a non-partisan basis.

Read More From One News Now

Flying Car Cleared For Road Use

Monday, July 11, 2011

Syrian Protestors Attack U.S and French Embassy In Damascus

EIRUT - Syrian government supporters smashed windows at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on Monday, raised a Syrian flag and scrawled graffiti calling the American ambassador a "dog" in anger over the envoy's visit to an opposition stronghold, witnesses said.

French Embassy guards in the Syrian capital fired in the air to hold back loyalists of President Bashar Assad's regime who also attacked that compound to protest the French ambassador's visit last week to the same restive city, Hama, in central Syria. Protesters smashed embassy windows and shattered the windshield of a diplomatic SUV outside the compound. The French Foreign Ministry said three embassy workers were injured.

Both the U.S. and France accused Syrian security forces of being too slow to respond to the attacks. And France said Syria was not living up to its international commitments to protect diplomatic missions and allow envoys freedom of movement.

"The people want to kick out the dog," read graffiti written on the wall of the U.S. embassy, along with another line cursing America. The protesters smashed the embassy sign hanging over one gate.

Assad's regime called the French and American ambassadors' visits to Hama last week interference in the country's internal affairs and accused the envoys of undermining Syria's stability.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford on Thursday visited Hama where he was greeted by friendly crowds who put flowers on his windshield and olive branches on his car, chanting: "Down with the regime!" The State Department said the trip was to support the right of Syrians to demonstrate peacefully.

The protests erupted after Ford harshly criticized the Syrian government's crackdown on a popular uprising that has raged over the past four months.

The U.S. said no embassy personnel were hurt in the melee and there was no immediate word on any other casualties.

Read More from Yahoo News

Fast Food Chains Burger King and Sonic To Offer Alcoholic Drinks

Some fast-food chains are now offering options beyond burgers, salads, and soft drinks. In some locations, customers will soon be able to get an adult beverage with their meals.

Burger King recently opened "Whopper Bars" in Miami, Las Vegas, and Kansas City. Beginning this summer, Sonic will offer beer and wine at new locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Rev. Mark Creech is executive director of the Christian Action League and president-elect of the American Council on Alcohol Problems. He believes this is an irresponsible decision that goes against the whole concept of fast-food restaurants.

"Fast-food restaurants have long been about providing families with quick and inexpensive food in a family-friendly environment," he notes, adding that "alcohol always has considerable potential for diminishing that kind of atmosphere."

Creech mentions Chuck E. Cheese's as one example. The pizza party chain, which is geared toward children, voluntarily stopped serving alcohol in Milwaukee after the city requested its beer and wine license be revoked because of repeated problems. Chuck E. Cheese's also took alcohol off its menu in Flint, Michigan, after a fight of more than 80 people.

"We also know that the best studies done of late reveal that underage drinking is the number-one drug problem among our nation's youth," the reverend notes. "And the more alcohol ads adolescents are exposed to, the more they drink."

A spokesman for Sonic tells USA Today that the chain has no plans to expand alcohol sales outside of South Florida and that the Miami location will only serve alcohol to customers eating on the patio. Further, the Fort Lauderdale location will only serve beer and wine inside. Even so, Creech says, "You still have the same opportunity for problems."

Read More From One News Now

South Sudan Officially It's Own Country After Years of Civil War With North

Messages of solidarity and felicitations from religious freedom organizations have poured in for the newly created nation of South Sudan that broke away – partly on religious lines – from its northern counterpart Saturday, even as the nation takes stock of its challenges.

he Institute on Religion and Public Policy congratulated the world’s youngest nation and assured its support.

In a statement issued Friday, the IRPP chairman Joseph K. Grieboski said that the institute “reaffirms its commitment to their peace, security, and development, and guarantees its ongoing partnership to build a free, open and transparent system in South Sudan."

Grieboski, the founder of Alexandria, Va.-based institute, has been involved in both Muslim-majority north and Christian and animist south Sudan.

Over 2 million have died in two long civil wars that pitted the north against the south, on issues ranging from more regional autonomy for the southern Sudan region to resistance to imposition of Shariah law there.

In 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between the warring groups, which also stipulated a referendum. On January 9, 2011, nearly 99 percent southern Sudanese voted in favor of a new nation.

Read More From Christian Post

Copper Thefts In U.S Costing Churches Millions In Losses

MANASSAS, Va., July 11, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- The theft of copper has hit epidemic proportions in this country and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates losses of over $1 billion a year.
Christian Security Network (, an organization with a mission to assist churches and ministries to become safer and better secured is warning churches that the number of incidents is increasing and gives advice on their website to reduce risks and ensure monetary losses are limited.
Criminals have stolen from churches items such as downspouts, gutters, bells, pieces of cemetery markers, and crosses - basically anything made of copper. Construction sites of churches have been hit with plumbing and wires being stolen. And air conditioning units are being taken at an alarming rate, in some areas dozens of thefts a week in almost every area of the country.
"Unfortunately a.c. units are the main targets and we have seen everything from small window models to large units weighing as much as five tons stolen from churches," stated Jeff Hawkins, executive director.
Hawkins continues, "This has hit epidemic proportions and churches are losing millions of dollars each week and having church services disrupted and sometimes even halted because of these thefts."
Why churches? Hawkins explains "Because of the reason churches are targets of every other crime: they are predictable, they have what every other business has (such as a.c. units), and because churches generally do not have security measures in place (surveys show over 75% of churches do not have security)."
"All churches are vulnerable and the price of copper has not even peaked, so these thefts will only increase. There are measures that churches need to do immediately to help curb this nationwide trend," said Hawkins.
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Drug Wars Kill 40 In Mexico In Just 24 Hours

MEXICO CITY — Battles between the vicious Zetas gang and other drug cartels killed more than 40 people in a 24-hour span, a government official said Saturday.

At least 20 people were killed when gunmen opened fire in a bar late Friday in the northern city of Monterrey, where the gang is fighting its former ally, the Gulf Cartel, said federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire.

Eleven bodies shot with high-powered rifles were found earlier Friday, piled near a water well on the outskirts of Mexico City, where the gang is fighting the Knights Templar, Poire said. That is an offshoot of the La Familia gang that has terrorized its home state of Michoacan.

He said another 10 people were found dead early Saturday in various parts of the northern city of Torreon, where the gang is fighting the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

"The violence is a product of this criminal rivalry ... surrounding the intent to control illegal activities in a community, and not the only the earnings that come with it, but also with transporting drugs to the United States," Poire said in a news conference.

He repeated the government insistence that the criminals, not the government's crackdown on organized crime, are causing the violence. More than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon stepped up the attack on organized crime in 2006, according to official figures. Some groups put the number at more than 40,000.

"The violence won't stop if we stop battling criminals," Poire said. "The violence will diminish as we accelerate our capacity to debilitate the gangs that produce it."

Federal authorities apprehended La Familia's alleged leader in late June, claiming the arrest was a debilitating blow to the gang. Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas was alleged to be the last remaining head of the cartel, whose splinter group, the Knights Templar, continues to fight for control of areas La Familia once dominated.

Mexican authorities also arrested Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, a co-founder of the Zetas drug cartel who is suspected of involvement in the February killing of a U.S. customs agent.

Poire provided no more details on the killings in Torreon in the border state of Coahuila.

In Monterrey, 16 people died at the Sabino Gordo bar in the worst mass killing in memory in the northern industrial city, where violence has spiked since the Gulf and Zetas broke their alliance early last year. Four others died later at the hospital and five were injured, said Jorge Domene, security spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located.

Other downtown businesses closed earlier than usual after news of the massacre broke.

In Valle de Chalco, a working class suburb southeast of Mexico City, a man was found alive among the dumped bodies and was taken to a hospital, said Antonio Ortega, a spokesman for the Mexico State police.

He said some of the bodies were blindfolded and had their hands tied.

State officials said police found another body nearby a few hours later but could not confirm it was related to the mass attack.

Ortega said he didn't know if the victims were shot at the scene or were taken to site.

The capital region has been largely spared the widespread drug violence that grips parts of Mexico.

But some poorer areas of the sprawling metropolis of 20 million people have begun to see killings and decapitations committed by street gangs that are remnants of splintered drug cartels.

Christian VS Atheist In New Movie Thriller

Atheists Rally Behind New Movie Thriller:

HOUSTON - It’s Christian vs. Atheist in a new thriller released Friday.

Except the Christian is the bad guy. And atheists are saying this film could be their “Brokeback Mountain,” which broke down barriers for gays six years ago.

The atheist director of “The Ledge” is hoping to start a similar conversation on behalf of non-believers.

“Really, The Ledge is at the beginning of a movement toward more open discussion of atheism and agnosticism,” says Matthew Chapman, who also wrote the film.

In Chapman’s cliffhanger, Christianity is wielded as a weapon. And the hero may be Godless but he’s not gutless.

There’s a lot to like, for the organizer of Houston Atheists.

“I'm just excited that it's going to be showing an atheist in a positive light,” says Staise Gonzalez. “Films don't do that. Ever.”

But the film is taking flak from religious groups, including the Catholic League.

“People of faith, especially Catholics, are used to being trashed by Hollywood,” said Bill Donohue, the organization’s president. “But they are not accustomed to films that promote atheism."

Gonzalez says, she can relate to having her belief – or lack thereof – “being trashed by Hollywood.”

“Usually the atheist, or the person that's not the Christian, usually ends up being the villain,” she says.

For Chapman - a Brit - the real villain in American culture is the elevation of faith over reason.

His great-great-grandfather was none other than Charles Darwin, who sketched out the foundations of evolutionary biology back in 1859.

“I never really thought about being Darwin's great-great-grandson,” Chapman told FOX 26 News, “until I came to America and saw that creationism was still at war with evolution.”

In any case, it’s a war that won’t be decided on celluloid, points out Staise Gonzalez.

Presbyterians Officially Allow Gay Clergy

(RNS) Presbyterians who support gay rights are prepping sanctuaries this Sunday (July 10) to celebrate the passage of a new church policy that allows gay pastors to serve openly for the first time in the denomination's history.

As the new policy for the Presbyterian Church (USA) becomes official that day, several left-leaning churches "will mark the moment with prayer and rejoicing" in their Sunday services, according to a press release from More Light Presbyterians, which advocates for gay rights in the church.

"The Presbyterian Church enters a new era of equality on Sunday," said Michael Adee, the group's executive director. "It is a historic moment. It returns us to ordination standards that focus on faith and character rather than one's marital status or sexual orientation."

The new policy removes language from the denomination's constitution that had barred homosexuals from serving as church ministers, elders and deacons. It allows each presbytery - or regional governing body - to decide what sexual standards to place on ordination.

The resolution, which had failed in different forms in recent years, needed approval from both the PC(USA) General Assembly as well as from presbyteries; 97 of the denomination's 173 presbyteries voted to approve the new policy.

But despite Sunday's celebrations, gay ordination remains a contentious issue for many within the church.

"In passing (the policy), the denomination removed all sexual behavior standards from its constitution," said the Rev. Parker T. Williamson, editor emeritus of the conservative publication The Layman, which actively opposed the change. "Scripture is very clear that there are standards relating to our sexual behavior ... but this denomination has decided it doesn't have any standards."

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Somali Pirates Charged By U.S In Yacht Murder Of Christian Missionaries

THREE Somali men have been charged with kidnapping, hostage-taking and murder in the deaths of four US citizens during the hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Oman.

The Justice Department said a superceding indictment adds to the charges already filed of piracy against a group of Somalis and one Yemeni in the February 22 attack on the S/V Quest.

The owners of the yacht, Jean and Scott Adam, were Christian missionaries based in California who were sailing around the world at the time of the hijacking.

They were shot to death, along with their companions Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay from Seattle, Washington, several days after being taken hostage and as negotiations were taking place with US Navy officials.

Named in the indictment were Ahmed Muse Salad, 25, Abukar Osman Beyle, 20, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 29.

The indictment contends that they were part of a group armed with firearms and a rocket-propelled grenade which boarded the Quest on February 18 and took the four American citizens as hostages before killing them.

"Today's superceding indictment charges three men from Somalia with brutally murdering four American citizens held hostage for ransom," said US Attorney Neil MacBride.

"This past March, the grand jury returned an indictment against these defendants, and others, with piracy in the armed hijacking of a US-flagged yacht.

"The superseding indictment accuses these three men of summarily executing the hostages - without provocation - while the military was attempting to negotiate their release."

With the additional charges, the defendants now potentially face a death sentence if convicted.

To date, 11 of the 14 defendants charged in connection with the attack on the Quest have pleaded guilty to charges which call for mandatory life in prison.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Montana Governor To Tour Oil Spill At YellowStone River

CNN) -- Montana's governor is scheduled to tour polluted areas of the Yellowstone River on Tuesday, days after a pipeline break sent thousands of gallons of oil gushing into the river's rushing waters.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer also will join state disaster response and environmental officials for a media briefing on the spill at noon ET, according to his office.

The crisis began late Friday, when ExxonMobil reported that 750 to 1,000 barrels (32,000 to 42,000 gallons) of oil escaped through a crack in one of its pipelines in the Yellowstone River in Laurel, about 16 miles southwest of Billings. The company said it shut down the line within minutes, but not before toxins had been dumped in the water.

ExxonMobil said Monday night that more than 280 people have converged on the area near Billings, including workers from the Texas-based oil company and the Clean Harbors environmental firm. Schweitzer told CNN the cleanup effort has been "pretty good" thus far, though he criticized the speed and comprehensiveness of the response.

"Not all the assets that we wanted are here, and we're going to find out why," he said.

Lloyd Webber, a Laurel rancher, said the spill left a "pretty heavy" smell of oil hanging over the area.

Schweitzer noted that roughly one year ago, several state, county and local agencies held a "mock pipeline spill" drill on the Yellowstone River. Many of those organizations, including the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, the state Environmental Quality Department and various Yellowstone County officials, are involved in the current effort in the southern part of the state.

Historically high water levels and rapid currents have made things difficult for those trying to clean up the spill. On Saturday, levels near Billings reached their peak for the season at 13.95 feet, nearly a foot above flood stage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

While the water conditions helped break up and dilute the oil spill, they also left cleanup workers with fewer options. Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County's emergency services director, said Sunday that crews have been forced to work from onshore for fear of being swept up in the water.

"It's too dangerous to do anything on the river, to put out any sort of boats or anything," Winslow said.

ExxonMobil said late Monday that many areas remained unsafe, adding that it has eight boats ready to go should conditions improve.

In terms of evacuations, flooding has -- and continues to -- affect more people in the region, thanks largely to the residual effects from the melting of massive winter snowpacks. About 200 residents were ordered out Friday night, and then allowed back in the next morning. That's significantly less than the hundreds who have been forced from their homes because of the persistent, far-reaching flooding in the area.

"We haven't seen a lot of issues around here (due to the spill)," said Nathan Hammond, who works at the Yellowstone River Campgrounds in Billings. "But there has been a lot of flooding, that has been a big issue."

Still, ExxonMobil reported in a statement that it had received 94 calls to its community claims line as of Monday night -- 36 of those coming from landowners reporting oil had washed up on their property.

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Surge In Support For Faith Based Movies Doesn't Look To Die Down Anytime Soon

— Producers of faith-based movies have a message for Hollywood studios: Make the movies and customers will pay to watch them.

The enormous success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in 2004 shocked Tinseltown when it grossed $611 million worldwide. Despite the huge profit, the production of faith-based movies became stagnant, arguably because of low box office numbers.

Support for such films has picked up in recent years with the success of movies like "Fireproof" in 2008 and now this year's "Jumping the Broom" and "Soul Surfer."

"Fireproof," about a couple's struggle to save their marriage, cost $500,000 to make and earned about $34 million domestically. "Jumping the Broom" focused on forgiveness and the attempt by two families to meld despite their differences. It was made with a budget of a little over $6 million and has taken in about $37 million since it hit theaters in May. "Soul Surfers" cost $18 million to make and has brought in more than $42 million since its release in April.

Backers of faith-based movies say the figures indicate people are turning out for films that reflect their beliefs and they don't expect the support to wane.

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Florida School District Drops "God Bless" Ban

Officials in the Santa Rosa County, Fla., School District have agreed to gut an ACLU-inspired consent decree they imposed on students and faculty several years ago and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to settle a legal challenge to their decision that banned ordinary phrases such as "God bless" from their campuses.

Officials in the Santa Rosa County, Fla., School District have agreed to gut an ACLU-inspired consent decree they imposed on students and faculty several years ago and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to settle a legal challenge to their decision that banned ordinary phrases such as "God bless" from their campuses.

Word of the settlement was announced yesterday by the nonprofit Liberty Counsel, which represented faculty and students in the district after the ACLU decree was adopted several years ago.

The restrictions were so draconian that employee Michelle Winkler in 2009 was charged with contempt after her husband, who is not employed by the district, offered a meal prayer at a private event in a neighboring county.

During testimony in the case, she also described how she and a co-worker, who recently had lost a child, had to hide in a closet to pray.

Further, former Pace High School Principal Frank Lay, now retired, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman were tried for contempt after the ACLU demanded that they be punished. Freeman had been accused of offering a blessing for a lunch for some 20 adult booster club members.

While the battle over their own rights were raging in court, members of the 2009 graduating class at Pace expressed their objections to the ACLU restrictions on statements of religious faith by rising up en masse at their ceremony and reciting the Lord's Prayer.

The consent decree that led to criminal indictments against school employees for prayer and banned 'God Bless' will now be gutted and revised, according to the announcement from Liberty Counsel.

"The amended consent decree will restore dozens of constitutional religious freedoms that were previously denied. In addition, Liberty Counsel and Christian Educators Association International will be awarded $265,000 in attorneys' fees and costs from an insurance provider, not the taxpayers, to compensate them for the litigation caused by the ACLU and the district," Liberty Counsel reported.

"We are pleased that freedom has been restored to Santa Rose County," said Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law. "It is appropriate to celebrate these restored freedoms as America celebrates Independence Day. From the beginning we contended that this consent decree went too far and swallowed up the rights of teachers, staff, students and members of the community. The Constitution is not some relic that can be discarded at will."

Staver told WND that the school's policy prompted the Florida legislature to adopt a law that will prevent school districts from adopting any agreements that infringe on the rights of their students or employees without written permission from those parties.