Monday, August 15, 2011

Thousands Line Up At Church To Get Free Dental Services

Thousands of people stood in line for free dental services Friday at a church in Woodstock.
he two-day clinic at First Baptist Church of Woodstock on Hwy. 92 is being sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association and its Foundation for Oral Health.

"The line went around the building, all the way through the parking lot and around a warehouse," said Dr. Richard Smith, who practices in Atlanta. He estimated the line at 2,000 yards and said that at its peak, 4,000 people were in line.

UGA student Jasen Scrivens, 24, of Winder arrived at 1 a.m. hoping to have some unfinished dental work completed.

"About three months ago I had some work done and it cost me a good bit of money and I never got it finished -- I couldn't afford the rest of it -- so I came to see if I could get the rest of it done," he said. He estimated he had spent $3,800 on the work so far.

Stephanie Brazzell of Fairburn said she arrived at the church at 10:45 p.m Thursday and "slept on the concrete." She said it had been two years since she had any dental work done. "I have a couple of missing teeth and I need some extractions," she said. Brazzell said she lost her job a couple of years ago and had no dental insurance.

Smith said hard enonomic times have created a huge need for dental services.

"A bunch of us started looking around and realized that with this economy we had to do something. We are not responsible for the problem that's there, but we're the only ones who can fix it.

"A lot of these people are in pain, they have infections, they're missing front teeth ... there's a huge need just to get people back to work. Mothers can't take care of their children, fathers can't earn a living ... we've got to help them."

He said there were 100 dental chairs set up at the church and more than 1,600 volunteers, including 300 dentists. "We've got hygienists we've got dental assistants working, there's oral surgeons extracting teeth, we have endodontists doing root canals ... we've got people here to feed them; it takes an army and this church has just been absolutely incredible."

He said it is the first such event in Georgia on this scale.Link

Smith said the people are in line who do not get treated Friday can return on Saturday. Police were not allowing any more people to get in line Friday.

Dr. Michael Vernon of Augusta said he was moved by the patients' response to the massive effort.

"Two the first three patients that I saw actually sat in the chair and cried because they were so appreciative of what we're doing here and it just made me feel good about being here," he said.

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FBI asking Surplus Store Owners To Spy On Their Customers

Just days after the White House announced a community-based approach to combating terrorism in the United States, the FBI and other agencies are asking managers of surplus stores to spy on their customers, watching whether they pay in cash, make "extreme" religious statements or purchase products such as waterproof matches.

And the request from the government also is going to gun shops, fertilizer suppliers, motels and hotels, authorities say.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced a new plan titled "Empowering local partners to prevent violent extremism in the United States." In it, Obama wrote, "Communities – especially Muslim American communities whose children, families and neighbors are being targeted for recruitment by al-Qaida – are often best positioned to take the lead because they know their communities best."

The report warns that while the Constitution recognizes freedom of expression, "even for individuals who espouse unpopular or even hateful views," it also is the responsibility of government to deter "plots by neo-Nazis and other anti-Semitic hate groups, racial supremacists, and international and domestic terrorist groups."

"The best defenses against violent extremist ideologies are well-informed and equipped families, local communities, and local institutions. Their awareness of the threat and willingness to work with one another and government is part of our long history of community-based initiatives and partnerships dealing with a range of public safety challenges," the report says.

One of the apparent elements of the White House strategy is a series of brochures being handed out to farm supply stories, gun shops, military surplus stores and even hotels and motels. The brochures ask proprietors, clerks and others to watch out for "potential indicators" of terrorism, including "paying with cash," having a "missing hand/fingers," making "extreme religious statements coupled with comments that are violent or appear to condone violence" and making bulk purchases of "Meals Ready to Eat" or "night flashlights."

The following was handed out to surplus stores by agents of the FBI in Denver in recent days.

The flyer was reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security's 2009 report "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" that suggested "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups."

The report from the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis defined right-wing extremism in the U.S. as "divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

The DHS report had followed only by weeks a report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center that linked conservative groups to domestic terrorism.

The Missouri report warned law enforcement agencies to watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers for presidential candidates such as Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. It further warned law enforcement to watch out for individuals with "radical" ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.

Officials with Oath noted the document was similar to one earlier given to gun store managers in Utah. Authorities in Denver confirmed to WND that related brochures are going to surplus stores, hotels and motels, farm supply companies that handle fertilizer and gun shops.

"This new handout expands the absurdity by now also targeting customers of military surplus stores, and by specifically targeting the purchasing of very common, and very popular, preparedness items such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) as 'potential indicators of terrorist activities,'" said a statement from Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

"Islamic terrorists are not known to hang out in local Army-Navy surplus stores, stocking up on MREs, high capacity magazines and bi-pods for their long range rifles," the statement said. "As Brandon Smith, over at notes, 'These are very common purchases, not for terrorists, but for Preppers and Survivalists, who are obviously the targets of the FBI profile, not secret al-Qaida agents.'

"Spot on," Rhodes wrote. "Obviously, the current crop of FBI 'leadership' considers anyone who wants to be self-sufficient and prepared to be a 'threat' that should be relentlessly tracked and reported."

An FBI spokesman in Denver confirmed to WND that the flyer is genuine.

"It has been disseminated throughout the United States by the FBI. The flyer and the information on it, stands on its own merit. It was created by FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Denver Division has placed our contact information on the flyer and distributed it to local businesses within the states of Colorado and Wyoming.

"I assure you the process and the information has been well vetted by the Department of Justice before being released."

In addition to contact information for the FBI, the flyer also had a telephone number for the Colorado Information Analysis Center, a law enforcement "fusion" center where director Dana Reynolds told WND it's just part of the information-collecting done by the government.

He said when tips are turned in about suspicious activity, they are evaluated to determine whether there should be a police investigation.

"If it turns out to be nothing, if there's no probably case, then the contact is ended there."

However, when asked about profiling for suspicious behavior, such as that done successfully by security authorities in Israel, he said that was not being done, and why it is not being done "is a good question."

One-time Colorado congressional candidate Rob McNealy, who also is a decision-maker in the Libertarian Party, told WND he came across the flyer to surplus stores among his circle of friends and quickly confirmed it was genuine.

He pointed out to WND the irony that the government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, specifically advises citizens to collect "ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables" as well as "flashlight and extra batteries" and "matches in a waterproof container."

Then the FBI asks store managers to report the "suspicious" activity of buying the same items.

"It's almost like entrapment," McNealy said.

Jerusalem: Scholars Are Tracing The Bible's Evolution

JERUSALEM (AP) — A dull-looking chart projected on the wall of a university office in Jerusalem displayed a revelation that would startle many readers of the Old Testament: the sacred text that people revered in the past was not the same one we study today.

An ancient version of one book has an extra phrase. Another appears to have been revised to retroactively insert a prophecy after the events happened.

Scholars in this out-of-the-way corner of the Hebrew University campus have been quietly at work for 53 years on one of the most ambitious projects attempted in biblical studies — publishing the authoritative edition of the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible, and tracking every single evolution of the text over centuries and millennia.

And it has evolved, despite deeply held beliefs to the contrary.

For many Jews and Christians, religion dictates that the words of the Bible in the original Hebrew are divine, unaltered and unalterable. For Orthodox Jews, the accuracy is considered so inviolable that if a synagogue's Torah scroll is found to have a minute error in a single letter, the entire scroll is unusable.

But the ongoing work of the academic detectives of the Bible Project, as their undertaking is known, shows that this text at the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam was somewhat fluid for long periods of its history, and that its transmission through the ages was messier and more human than most of us imagine.

The project's scholars have been at work on their critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, a version intended mainly for the use of other scholars, since 1958.

"What we're doing here must be of interest for anyone interested in the Bible," said Michael Segal, the scholar who heads the project.

The sheer volume of information makes the Bible Project's version "the most comprehensive critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in existence at the present time," said David Marcus, a Bible scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, who is not involved with the project.

But Segal and his colleagues toil in relative anonymity. Their undertaking is nearly unknown outside a circle of Bible experts numbering several hundred people at most, and a visitor asking directions to the Bible Project's office on the university campus will find that many members of the university's own staff have never heard of it.

This is an endeavor so meticulous, its pace so disconnected from that of the world outside, that in more than five decades of work the scholars have published a grand total of three of the Hebrew Bible's 24 books. (Christians count the same books differently, for a total of 39.) A fourth is due out during the upcoming academic year.

If the pace is maintained, the final product will be complete a little over 200 years from now. This is both a point of pride and a matter of some mild self-deprecation around the office.

Bible Project scholars have spent years combing through manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek translations on papyrus from Egypt, a printed Bible from 1525 Venice, parchment books in handwritten Hebrew, the Samaritan Torah, and scrolls in Aramaic and Latin. The last member of the original team died last year at age 90.

The scholars note where the text we have now differs from older versions — differences that are evidence of the inevitable textual hiccups, scribal errors and other human fingerprints that became part of the Bible as it was passed on, orally and in writing.

A Microsoft Excel chart projected on one wall on a recent Sunday showed variations in a single phrase from the Book of Malachi, a prophet.

The verse in question, from the text we know today, makes reference to "those who swear falsely." The scholars have found that in quotes from rabbinic writings around the 5th century A.D., the phrase was longer: "those who swear falsely in my name."

In another example, this one from the Book of Deuteronomy, a passage referring to commandments given by God "to you" once read "to us," a significant change in meaning.

Other differences are more striking.

The Book of Jeremiah is now one-seventh longer than the one that appears in some of the 2,000-year-old manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some verses, including ones containing a prophecy about the seizure and return of Temple implements by Babylonian soldiers, appear to have been added after the events happened.

The year the Bible Project began, 1958, was the year a priceless Hebrew Bible manuscript arrived in Jerusalem after it was smuggled out of Aleppo, Syria, by a Jewish cheese merchant who hid it in his washing machine. This was the 1,100-year-old Aleppo Codex, considered the oldest and most accurate version of the complete biblical text in Hebrew.

The Bible Project's version of the core text — the one to which the others are compared — is based on this manuscript. Other critical editions of the Bible, such as one currently being prepared in Stuttgart, Germany, are based on a slightly newer manuscript held in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Considering that the nature of their work would be considered controversial, if not offensive, by many religious people, it is perhaps surprising that most of the project's scholars are themselves Orthodox Jews.

"A believing Jew claims that the source of the Bible is prophecy," said the project's bearded academic secretary, Rafael Zer. "But as soon as the words are given to human beings — with God's agreement, and at his initiative — the holiness of the biblical text remains, even if mistakes are made when the text is passed on."

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Illinois To Ban Protests Near Military Funerals

Though similar measures have been ruled unconstitutional by federal judges, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he will sign a bill that bans protests near military funerals on Sunday.

The "Let Them Rest In Peace Act" targets groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which hold signs that say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," near military funerals and blame the tolerance of homosexuality for the loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Kane County Chronicle reports that House Bill 180, which Quinn is expected to sign at the Illinois state fair, "expands the perimeter of privacy protecting grieving families from protesters to 300 feet from 200 feet" and also bans protests 30 minutes before and after a funeral service.

The Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, which was signed by former President George W. Bush in 2006, bans such protests outside of national cemeteries, and the U.S. Senate took steps to expand that protection to all cemeteries this spring. The constitutionality of the laws, however, have been debated.

In 2010, a federal judge in Missouri tossed the state's military funeral protest ban, saying it violated the First Amendment. And while the American Civil Liberties Union does not defend the Westboro Baptist Church's message, it has defended them in court.

“The problem is, in this instance, that this is essentially a ban on images and words that folks like the Westboro Baptist Church use when they protest across the street from funerals,” ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka told the Kane County Chronicle. “We believe it is an erroneous interpretation of the ‘fighting words’ doctrine.”

The initial ban on such protests in Illinois was signed into law by former Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2006, and the bill Quinn plans to sign Sunday will expand the existing legislation, according to the Associated Press.

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Wiltshire Church In Great Britian To Protect Original Copy of King James Bible

A special lectern is being built in a Wiltshire church to protect its original copy of the King James Bible.

The Bible dates back to 1611, and was found in St Lawrence Church near Calne earlier in the year by residents researching the building's history.

The Alan Tilbury-designed glass case will keep the Bible safe whilst allowing visitors to look at it.

There are fewer than 200 original printings of the King James version known to exist.

"The Bible is so beautiful," said Mr Tilbury, who created special chairs for the former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey.

"The pages are so beautifully produced and amazingly clear in their print and legibility.

"It's a great privileged in many respects, from my point of view, to make something that is going to be simple and important to St Lawrence Church."

Human interference

Described as a fragment, despite most of the Bible being intact, it was first "rediscovered" in the 1800s.

Since then it has suffered from both the ravages of time and some human interference.

The Reverend Francis Fisher found it in 1857 and carved a cover from oak but trimmed the pages, so that the tops are missing.

"Having now got the prototype complete, and the various viewing angles, I think general approval of the design is given," Mr Tilbury added.

"It's go ahead now really with the real piece, which will be made in English oak, and hopefully will be made this year."

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Merger to speed up, strengthen Bible translations

Bible League International and the World Bible Translation Center are merging to combine their strengths and to complement each other.

Bible man pointing at scriptureBible League International contributes strength in the areas of administration and relationships internationally with networks in the field, but seeks better access to translations. World Bible Translation Center focuses on easy-to-read Bible translations along with printing and publication of new Bible translations.

Robert Frank, CEO of Bible League International, says the ministries complement one another. "We don't duplicate efforts but we complement," he explains. "For example, WBTC is actively involved in translations and in the development of Christian product that serves the church. We are in the business of distributing that and being able to train the church in using those materials.”

There are now 6,000 languages in the world with 95-percent of the population speaking the top 100 languages. World Bible Translation president Eric Fellman has a goal of translating the top 100 languages of the world.

“We were on pace to do that in about 50 years. Now we're on pace to do it in about 20 more years,” says Fellman. “We've finished 30 of those languages and have 70 left to go, and so just the strength of combining with another organization puts us on a faster pace to accomplish our mission.”

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Another Ten Commandments court fight hits Florida

CROSS CITY, FL - The folks who live in Dixie County along Florida's Gulf coast don't like outsiders butting in, especially when it comes to their religious beliefs.

County officials are appealing a federal judge's order to remove by Sunday a five-foot-high granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse in Cross City. It's the latest skirmish in a years-long conflict across the United States over whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits such displays in public forums.

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Casual, Consensual Sex Has Hurt America, Greg Laurie Says

Casual sex between consenting adults is cool and doesn’t hurt anyone is a phrase one hears frequently from those who practice it, but it hurts, at least it has hurt America in a big way, Pastor Greg Laurie said at a mega crusade in Southern California Saturday night.

“Think of what kind of a world we would live in today if this was not committed, think of how many divorces would have been avoided, think of how many families would still be together, think of how many children would still have a daddy to come home to, and in some cases a mom,” Laurie said at the Harvest Crusade at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

“I am not speaking from an ivory tower,” the lead pastor at Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif., told the thousands of people who came to listen to him on the second day of the three-day event that began Friday night.

“I was conceived out of wedlock. My mom, married and divorced seven times with lots of boyfriends in between, had a little fling down a long beach and I was conceived. I was not planned. I was, what you call, an illegitimate child.”

Laurie said thankfully his mom did not abort him. “But I was planned… by God, as is every child.” He added that there could be illegitimate parents, but there were no illegitimate children.

Greg Laurie added that due to sexual immorality America had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world. “Each year, more than one million teens become pregnant and many of these babies never make it to term. One out of every five abortions is performed on a woman under the age of 20. It doesn’t hurt anyone? What about the baby who is aborted? That’s taking an innocent life.”

That’s not all. What about AIDS? “Do you know AIDS is a leading killer of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44?” he asked. “Twenty five percent of all HIV infections are found in people under the age of 22. Twenty percent of those who have HIV in America don’t know it. There are 236,000 people in America who have the disease and don’t know it… and are spreading it.”

Above all, it is sin, that’s what the Bible says. Adultery and fornication are sin, he stressed. “Adultery is having sex with someone besides your wife. Let’s say you are married and you have sex with someone else, that’s adultery… It’s such a serious sin… it’s in the Ten Commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’”

Sex is not evil, Greg Laurie clarified. “God created sex. It was His idea and there’s a right place for sex, and it’s in a relationship between a man and a woman who have committed themselves to one another in marriage.”

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