"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
(Matthew 17:5)

Hear Ye Him

Dear Friends,

      Greetings. As we are sure you are aware the world is changing at a breakneck speed, unlike anything any of us have witnessed in the past. With such rapid changes emerging all around us, it is necessary more than ever that we are closely aligned with the ability to hear the voice of God. How do we react to the multitude of changes taking place before us at a pace hitherto not seen in our lifetimes?

      Now, even more than ever before, it is imperative that we make our decisions based upon our ability to hear God's voice, not only for ourselves and our families but also for the multitudes who will be searching to hear the words of the Lord.

      In Amos, chapter eight, verse twelve, it says; "And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it."

      What a blessing it is, to be able to find the Word of the Lord and to make our decisions based upon hearing His voice.

      Proverbs, chapter three, verses five and six, tell us; "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." In Isaiah, the Lord tells us; "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

      Proverbs16:25, goes so far as to say that; "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." and "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Romans 8:7)

      So, as someone once said, "When we see these things happening around us, our first reaction should not be to start talking and making plans, but to pray and hear what God's plan is for us."

      If you have trouble hearing God's voice, there is a lot of material available on this web site that can help instruct you.

      May we be able to say, as King David did in Psalms 85; "I will hear what God the Lord will speak."


Bloody Sunday, 2010:

House OKs health bill

GOP: 'This is not about unisured; it is about socialized medicine'

March 21, 2010

By Drew Zahn

Democrats in the House needed 216 votes to pass the Senate's version of a sweeping health-care package Barack Obama has been pushing with all his presidential might.

They tallied 219.

Democrats hailed the vote as a landmark victory.

"Today is the day that is going to rank with the day we passed the civil rights bill in 1964," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "Today we're doing something that ranks with what we did with Social Security or Medicare. This is a day of which we can all be proud."

"This is an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., summing up the initiative in one word: "opportunity."

"I know this wasn't an easy vote for a lot of people. But it was the right vote," added President Obama. "This isn't radical reform. But it is major reform. This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health-care system. But it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like."

Republicans in Congress, however, who voted in a solid block to oppose the measure that many argue grants the federal government far too much power at far too much of a cost, blasted the bill during the debate as the "mother of all unfunded mandates."

"The American people know you can't reduce health-care costs by spending $1 trillion or raising taxes by more than one-half trillion dollars. The American people know that you cannot cut Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars without hurting seniors," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. "And, the American people know that you can't create an entirely new government entitlement program without exploding spending and the deficit."

Promoters of the bill have long touted the millions who will be added to health-care rolls and claimed that long-term, the trillion-dollar bill will eventually lead to deficit reduction.

Critics say that the bill's supporters have used accounting tricks to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses out of the fine print. They cite several strikes against the reform attempt, from the cost of yet another taxpayer-funded entitlement to the general principle that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution - which sets limits on the federal government's powers - is there an authorization to force people to buy the health-insurance program a federal bureaucrat picks out.

The clowns in Washington obviously have no clue about our founding document. Send them copies of the Constitution today!

Above all, Republicans countered Pelosi's contention that the health-care bill is "an American proposal that honors the traditions of our country."

"This debate is not about the uninsured; it's about socialized medicine," argued Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on the House floor. "Your multi-trillion-dollar health-care bill continues the Soviets' failed Soviet socialist experiment. It gives the federal government absolute control over health care in America. ... Today Democrats in this House will finally lay the cornerstone of their socialist utopia on the backs of the American people."


'This is a big f****** deal': Jubilant Joe Biden gaffes again as Obama signs historic healthcare reforms into law


23rd March 2010

Secret Service called in as Twitter users demand 'a bullet to Barack Obama's head'

Republicans in 12 states vow to sue over healthcare reforms

There's always somebody - and that somebody is quite often Joe Biden.

The U.S. Vice President is becoming increasingly well known for his verbal gaffes, and today was no exception.

Mr Biden appeared to get carried away today as he watched his boss Barack Obama sign into law sweeping health reforms that have been compared to civil rights legislation for the 21st century.

'This is a big f******* deal,' he whispered jubilantly in the president's ear - farcically underestimating the power of technology as cameras picked up the sound.

'Big f****** deal': Barack Obama makes history as he signs healthcare reform into law in Washington today

It was a jarring note of comic relief as the president made history.

Mr Obama signed the bill - the political price for which he and his party may pay for years to come - alongside 11-year-old Marcello Holmes.

The young boy's mother, who did not have adequate healthcare insurance, died, and he has since become an advocate for Mr Obama's cause.

But the bitter backlash against the so-called Pyrrhic victory has begun.

The Secret Service has been called in to investigate assassination threats against the president on Twitter as angry Americans made their stand against the reforms, which have been likened to civil rights legislation for the 21st century.

'ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the Assassinations and Lincoln & Kennedy. We'll surely get over a bullet to Barrack Obama's head,' wrote one user who identified himself as 'authentic African American' and conservative blogger Solly Forrell.

Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff applaud as the health reform bill is passed

Victory: President Barack Obama walks to the White House podium to deliver his address with Vice President Joseph Biden

Shortly after, Forrell posted a message that actively called for someone with 'a clear shot' to kill Mr Obama.

'The next American with a Clear Shot should drop Obama like a bad habit. 4get Blacks or his claims to b[e] Black. Turn on Barack Obama,' he wrote.

Another user, identified by ABC News as Jay Martin, wrote: 'You Should be Assassinated!!

He added chillingly: 'If I lived in DC. I'd shoot him myself.'

The Secret Service told ABC that the threats are being investigated.

'We respect the right of free speech, but in such instances we have a right and an obligation to ask questions and determine intent,' a spokesperson said.

The threats came as Republican lawyers in 12 states vowed to repeal the bill guaranteeing all Americans access to medical care.


States rebel against Washington

The pushback against federal power began under Bush, but may now be accelerating.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

March 27, 2009

There's an old joke in South Carolina: Confederate President Jefferson Davis may have surrendered at the Burt-Stark mansion in Abbeville, S.C., in 1865, but the people of state Rep. Michael Pitts's district never did.

With revolutionary die-hards behind him, Mr. Pitts has fired a warning shot across the bow of the Washington establishment. As the writer of one of 28 state "sovereignty bills" - one even calls for outright dissolution of the Union if Washington doesn't rein itself in - Pitts is at the forefront of a states' rights revival, reasserting their say on everything from stem cell research to the Second Amendment.

"Washington can be a bully, but there's evidence right now that there are people willing to resist our bully," said Pitts, by phone from the state capitol of Columbia.

Just as California under President Bush asserted itself on issues ranging from gun control to medical marijuana, a motley cohort of states - from South Carolina to New Hampshire, from Washington State to Oklahoma - are presenting a foil for President Obama's national ambitions. And they're laying the groundwork for a political standoff over the 10th Amendment, which cedes all power not granted to Washington to the people.

The movement's success will largely depend on whether Washington sees these legislative insurgents as serious - or, as Pitts puts it, as just "a bunch of rednecks."

"There's a lot of frustration when someone quite distant from you forces you to do something you don't want to do," says Steve Smith, director of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy at Washington University in D.C. "That's the root cause, and it ends up being rationalized in constitutional terms."

WorldNetDaily Exclusive

Rush Limbaugh: Elections could end thanks to Obama

'The Constitution has been ripped to shreds, so why is anything safe?'

March 22, 2010

Talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh today suggested the existence of U.S. elections are now threatened by a move he expects President Obama to pursue - a mass amnesty for illegal aliens - following the passage of his historic health-care reform plan.

"The next big push will be amnesty for ... millions of illegal immigrants who are here," he said on his radio program.

"Obama's gonna need their votes in 2012. The Democrats are going to need their votes in every election from now on - if we have elections, and I'm not joking.

"The Constitution has just been ripped to shreds, so why is anything safe?" he said.

Read the stunning report on how the unthinkable - the theft of an American election - may be on the horizon!

Limbaugh told radio listeners Democrats "must be hounded out of office."

"Every single Democrat who voted for this needs to know, safe district or not, that they are going to be exposed and hassled and chased from office. We now have leftist radicals in charge of your health care decisions rather than doctors. I got up today and I said, "We're hanging by a thread," and there's a difficult balancing act on this program today: Dealing with the reality of what has happened, which can't be candy coated, with the need to fight on. The need to fight on and the urging to fight on must have some substance to it and not just be rhetoric and language and lingo. It has to have some substance behind it, because we really are facing the prospect that our country will never be the same after yesterday, if this stands. It will never be the same, and a majority of the American people understood it.

"They won because they held Congress and the presidency, and therein lies the lesson: We need to defeat these bastards. We need to wipe them out. We need to chase them out of town. But we need to do more than that. We need to elect conservatives. If there are Republican primaries, elect conservatives and then defeat the Democrats - every last one of them - and then we start the repeal process."

Limbaugh's comments followed House approval last night of the president's strategy for a government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The legislation includes a requirement that every citizen purchase government-specified health insurance or face financial penalties.

Already, a long list of challenges are being prepared - from states whose officials say the government doesn't have the authority to issue such demands to activist organizations who say Washington's plan is unconstitutional on a number of levels.

WND reported over the weekend when Democrats in the U.S. House, who needed 216 votes to pass a Senate version of Obama's plans, tallied 219.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., boasted, "We're doing something that ranks with what we did with Social Security or Medicare. This is a day of which we can all be proud."

The approval came after Obama issued an executive order essentially banning the use of federal funds for abortions, even though analysts contend Sunday's decision effectually will be reversed when Obama signs the program into law Tuesday.

Obama's move was to secure the support of a handful of House Democrats who objected to government funding for abortion. Without their support, the proposal would have died.

Promoters of the bill have long touted the millions who will be added to health-care rolls and claimed that long-term, the trillion-dollar bill will eventually lead to deficit reduction.

Critics say that the bill's supporters have used accounting tricks to keep hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses out of the fine print. They cite several strikes against the reform attempt, from the cost of yet another taxpayer-funded entitlement to the general principle that nowhere in the U.S. Constitution - which sets limits on the federal government's powers - is there an authorization to force people to buy the health-insurance program a federal bureaucrat picks out.

Limbaugh said Obama is getting what he wanted - a complete makeover of the U.S. into a country with bureaucratic control over individual lives.


Sioux Falls Conservative Examiner

The Healthcare bill was always about gaining more control


If there was any doubt as to the American People not having true representation in Congress, I hope the passage of this bill makes it crystal clear. One of the latest polls leading up to the vote found that as high as 87% of the people were against it.

Even though the majority of people from all political persuasions were against Socialized medicine, many were not aware of the more egregious assaults on our liberties that were contained in this monstrosity. It was never about health care! It was about further control of our lives. Let us cover the real dangers contained in this bill, the things that mainstream media will not widely report on, if at all.

I want to first state as I have in past articles that the States don't have to play ball and abide by this unconstitutional act. Congress was supposed to handle matters between the States and between us and foreign countries. State Legislatures were supposed to handle matters within a State and We The People were to be the ultimate authority. The Constitution is very clear that no Federal Government was to have supreme power over the States. They were supposed to decide separate types of matters, therefore not causing conflicts between the two Obviously, trying to fight the health care bill made the popular misconception of having a supposed supreme federal government even more evident. Our founding fathers set up a Republican form of government, not a Democracy where the majority rules or a central government is the supreme law of the land. In a Republic, the Constitution is the law of the land and ours insures rights and guarantees of each individual citizen.

With all that said, if your State feels compelled to submit to this health care bill, let us now cover what is hidden in it that most are not talking about or don't even realize.

It is not free.

It is mandatory payments of premiums which will not only be enforced by the IRS, but will give the federal government open and unfettered access to every American's bank accounts.

If your State had fought off the intrusion of a National ID card, this bill contains a National Medical ID card planned to have an RFID chip in it. It's purpose is to tie together your health records, bank accounts, financial records, criminal history and can track your movements throughout the country.

Any health care plan that you currently have can be determined by the new federal health care commission to be not adequate and force you or your employer to change to whatever plan the federal authority dictates to you. The consequences of not changing are fines, forced payments and even possible jail time.

All medical privacy is officially gone.

It is mandatory to have a health care plan deemed by the federal government to be appropriate. If you are young, healthy and don't want it......too bad! All Medicaid eligible will be automatically enrolled and your income records and intrusion applies.

Your health care will be rationed.

The Commission will decide what treatments can be performed and if they are cost-beneficial.

The government will decide your "end of life" plans and deem whether it is cost effective to do treatment or what manner of death would be appropriate. They decide how you die.

All doctors will get paid the same regardless of medical specialty causing many doctors to leave the profession.

Employers that are self-insured will be audited.

Employers must cover part-time employees.

Government will restrict enrollment and care of "special needs" individuals.

15 new taxes or "fees" imposed on employers and individuals.

Prohibition on hospital expansions.

Establishes a Ready Reserve Corps which can be called into active duty whenever national disaster is proclaimed.

Yes, this bill is "historic" but not for the reasons touted in mainstream media. I would advise contacting your State Representative and Governor to urge your state to ignore or block this ridiculous take over of not only medical care, but our civil liberties.


Kills The Constitution

A retired Constitutional lawyer has read the entire proposed

'healthcare bill.' Read his staggering conclusions.

The Truth About The Health Care Bills

By Michael Connelly

Retired Constitutional Attorney


Well, I have done it!

I have read the entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009.

I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of expertise, constitutional law. I was frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional. What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected.

To begin with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying the law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession.

The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictlycontrolled by the government.

However, as scary as all of that is, it just scratches the surface. In fact, I have concluded that this legislation really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or even been contemplated. If this law or a similar one is adopted, major portions of the Constitution of the United States will effectively have been destroyed.

The first thing to go will be the masterfully crafted balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the US Government. The Congress will be transferring to the Obama Administration authority in a number of different areas over the lives of the American people, and the businesses they own.

The irony is that the Congress doesn't have any authority to legislate in most of those areas to begin with! I defy anyone to read the text of the U.S. Constitution and find any authority granted to the members of Congress to regulate health care.

This legislation also provides for access, by the appointees of the Obama administration, of all of your personal healthcare, direct violation of the specific provisions of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution information, your personal financial information, and the information of your employer, physician, and hospital. All of this is a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. You can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated into oblivion regardless of what the 3rd and 4th Amendments may provide.

If you decide not to have healthcare insurance, or if you have private insurance that is not 'deemed acceptable' to the Health Choices Administrator appointed by Obama, there will be 'tax' imposed on you. It is called a tax instead of a fine because of the intent to avoid application of the due process clause of the 5th Amendment. However, that doesn't work because since there is nothing in the law that allows you to contest or appeal the imposition of the tax, it is definitely depriving someone of property without the due process of law.

So, there are three of those pesky amendments that the far left hate so much, out of the original ten in the Bill of Rights, that are effectively nullified by this law. It doesn't stop there though.

The 9th Amendment that provides: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people;

The 10th Amendment states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are preserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Under the provisions of this piece of Congressional handiwork, neither the people nor the states are going to have any rights or powers at all in many areas that once were theirs to control.

I could write many more pages about this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights. Article 6 of the Constitution requires the members of both houses of Congress to "be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution." If I was a member of Congress, I would not be able to vote for this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the American people would hold me accountable.

For those who might doubt the nature of this threat, I suggest they consult the source, the US Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

There you can see exactly what we are about to have taken from us.

Michael Connelly - Retired attorney, - Constitutional Law Instructor - Carrollton, Texas

The Washington Post

Lawmakers concerned as health-care overhaul foes resort to violence

By Philip Rucker - Washington Post Staff Writer - Thursday, March 25, 2010; A01

The pitched battle over health care has unleashed a rash of vandalism and attacks directed at politicians, with at least 10 House Democrats reporting death threats or incidents of harassment or vandalism at their district offices over the past week.

More than 100 House Democrats met behind closed doors Wednesday afternoon with representatives of the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police. The lawmakers voiced what one senior aide who was present described as "serious concern" about their security in Washington and in their home districts when they return this weekend for the spring recess.

Usually only the congressional leadership has regular personal protection from the Capitol Police. But at least 10 lawmakers have been offered increased protection by law enforcement agencies, said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).

Asked whether members are endangered, Hoyer said: "Yes. [There are] very serious incidents that have occurred."

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer e-mailed senators and staffers Wednesday telling them to "remain vigilant." Gainer, a former Capitol Police chief, said in an interview that the warning was meant to "assuage people's fears."


Obama Transportation Secretary: 'This Is the End of Favoring Motorized Transportation at the Expense of Non-Motorized'

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that federal transportation policies will no longer favor "motorized" transportation, such as cars and trucks, over "non-motorized" transportation, such as walking and bicycling.

LaHood signed the new policy directive on March 11, the same day he attended a congressional reception for the National Bike Summit, a convention sponsored by a bicycling advocacy group, the League of American Bicyclists. LaHood publicly announced his agency's new direction four days later in a posting on his blog--"Fast Lane: The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation"--where he effusively described it as a "sea change" for the United States.

"Today, I want to announce a sea change," LaHood wrote. "People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized."

LaHood's policy statement not only called for this change to take place in programs funded by the federal government, but also said the federal government would "encourage" state and local governments to do the same in their own programs.

"The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments," said LaHood's policy statement.

"Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes," it said.

LaHood's policy statement envisions the development of a transportation system in which people walk and bike for short distances and rely on mass transit for longer trips. "The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods," said LaHood's statement. "Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance."

On May 21, LaHood told reporters at the National Press Club that the "Partnership for Sustainable Communities' his department had formed with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing--sometimes known as the "livability initiative"--was designed to "coerce" people out of their cars.

"Some in the highway-supporters motorist groups have been concerned by your livability initiative," said the moderator at the National Press Club event. "Is this an effort to make driving more torturous and to coerce people out of their cars?"

"It is a way to coerce people out of their cars," said LaHood.

The moderator later asked: "Some conservative groups are wary of the livable communities program, saying it's an example of government intrusion into people's lives. How do you respond?"

"About everything we do around here is government intrusion in people's lives," said LaHood. "So have at it."

Jerusalem Post

'Jerusalem should be at world's center'

LONDON - Jerusalem should return to the role it played in history, when it was the center of the world and a major destination for tourists and pilgrims from all religions, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told an audience at the prestigious London think-tank Chatham House on Monday evening. - - "I want to return the role Jerusalem played 2,000-3,000 years ago to the front of the table, when it was the center of the world, where modern civilization started, a destination for tourists, for pilgrims from all religions. Jerusalem has that potential today," he said. - - "The challenge we have is to open up Jerusalem for the benefit of the world, open up its economy, to expand freedom of religion," he said. - - Today around 2 million tourists visit the Israeli capital each year. Barkat said he wanted to reach 10 million tourists in the next decade, adding that this would lead to 140,000 new jobs that would benefit all of Jerusalem's residents. - - "When people understand it's boosting the economy, they play ball," he said. "Carrots [incentives] and economy is the best way to promote the city of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

"There is not one instance in history in which a city has split that ever worked," he said. "Understanding the needs of the different sectors of the city and the role that Jerusalem must play, it has to stay united and we have to focus; rather than the division, we must focus on the whole." - - Barkat declared that "if there is one city in the world that has to work as a whole, it is Jerusalem. If there is one city in the world that making it work better, for the benefit of all its residents, can make an impact on the world, that is the city of Jerusalem."



Fear and foreboding in the Middle East

The Middle East is full of talk of war. Not today, tomorrow or perhaps even next year but the horizon is dark, and people who have to live with the Middle East's grim collection of smouldering problems are finding it hard to look ahead with anything other than foreboding.

The future of Jerusalem is one of the most emotive issues in the Middle East

By the end of this year, if sanctions have not persuaded Iran to stop what many countries insist is a nuclear weapons programme, the war party in Israel will be pushing for military action.

South Lebanon is once again looking like a tinderbox.

Insults and threats have been bandied back and forth between Syria, Israel and Hezbollah.

In Washington DC, where I have been this week, analysts say Syria has been shipping bigger and better weapons to Hezbollah, its Lebanese ally.

'Disastrous visit'

Israel assumes that there will be another war in Lebanon, and has been training its army to win it, which it could not do last time in 2006.

And then there is the crisis between the United States, Israel and the Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu's disastrous visit to Washington DC has exposed just how bad this crisis and current US-Israeli relations are.

What is even more serious is that it is centred on the future of Jerusalem, which is about the single most emotive issue in the entire Middle East.

Mr Netanyahu returns home weakened, though his ministers are declaring their support. US President Barack Obama seems to see him as part of the problem.

The precise details of what happened in Washington between Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu are emerging only slowly.

But it is clear that the Americans want Israel to freeze building for Jews in those parts of the holy city that Israel occupied and annexed in 1967.

The Obama administration has concluded that it will be impossible to negotiate peace while Israel continues to settle its people on occupied land.

Mr Netanyahu insists, long and loud, that he wants a peace deal if it guarantees Israeli security.

The Americans agree with that, but not with his insistence that Israel has the right to build whatever and wherever it wants in Jerusalem.

Israel's claim that that the city is its sovereign capital is not accepted by its allies.


Irish response to the pope's letter

The pope's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics met with mixed reactions: some were scathing, others relieved

Breda O'Brien

22 March 2010

Last week, it was revealed that the head of the Irish Roman Catholic church, Cardinal Sean Brady, had as a young priest taken statements from two boys abused by notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth. While Brady acted swiftly, and within weeks his bishop had removed the right to practise as a priest from Smyth, the fact that Brady had not reported the case to the police, and had demanded an oath of secrecy from the boys, was seen as a possible case for resignation 35 years later.

In that atmosphere, expectations for the pope's pastoral letter to Ireland were low. Some abuse survivors, notably Christine Buckley of the Aislinn Centre, had written it off before it appeared. Somewhat surprisingly, the pope's letter was welcomed by some survivors as an "overdue but emotional apology", and in general, was received reasonably well by church-going Catholics.

Extracts from the pope's letter were read at all masses. The first group addressed in the letter was the victims of abuse and their families. "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity violated." Pope Benedict acknowledged that when many survivors spoke out about what happened to them, no one would listen. He said it was understandable if they find it hard to even to cross the door of the church.

He expressed shame and remorse, and his readiness to meet victims of sexual abuse in the future, as he has done elsewhere, in the US and Australia.

He was particularly tough on abusive clergy. "You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God." He said that they must also be accountable to the processes of civil and canon law. He told them that their crimes brought shame, dishonour and damage to the church.

He told bishops to admit "that grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred" which have seriously undermined credibility and effectiveness. He emphasised the importance of continuing to "co-operate with the civil authorities". This was important, given that there is now no wriggle room for not reporting crimes.

He insisted that child protection policies should be fully applied and regularly updated. He announced an apostolic visitation of some dioceses, of seminaries and of religious congregations. This is an inspection team from the Vatican, and is seen as a sign of the Vatican's continued oversight of the problem.

Some victim advocacy organisations were scathing. Maeve Lewis, of One in Four, said that while she welcomed the instruction to co-operate with civil authorities, the letter fell "far short" of what was needed. Others criticised the lack of reference to the Vatican's own responsibility. Mary Raftery, a journalist who has made ground breaking documentaries on abuse, called on all the bishops to resign. Andrew Madden, a prominent abuse survivor, called on the pope to resign.

In contrast, Irish Soca, an organisation representing victims of institutional abuse, said the letter contained "an unambiguous acknowledgment that the Irish Catholic church sinned most grievously against the young over many decades".

The group said it was heartened by Benedict's open acceptance that the abusive behaviour by priests constituted a criminal act and that those who abused children should submit themselves "to the demands of justice".

Archbishop Martin of Dublin, recognised by all sides as an important force for change, emphasised that it was but one step in a process, and that it "is not a commentary (on) or guidelines about the management of sexual abuse". He also said that "The truth must come out; without the truth we will never be truly free."

If Benedict's injunctions and those of Archbishop Martin are heeded, ultimately this letter, although not without its trenchant critics, may be seen as a positive turning point in the turbulent history of how the church in Ireland has dealt with child abuse.


Supremes: Music can be banned if it even sounds religious ...

Supremes won't hear case where officials censored melody

March 22, 2010

By Chelsea Schilling

U.S. Supreme Court

A public school has banned performance of an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" at its high-school graduation simply because the superintendent fears it might sound religious - and the U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the ban to stand by refusing to hear the case.

Kathryn Nurre, a former student at Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett, Wash., brought the action against Carol Whitehead, superintendent of Everett School District, alleging that she engaged in unjustified censorship of expression.

Nurre, a member of the Jackson High School Wind Ensemble who played alto saxophone, received her high school diploma in June 2006. The group was expected to perform at the graduation ceremony, and 17 students unanimously chose Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" as their selection.

Their performance would be purely instrumental, with no singing or lyrics.

However, upon learning of the selection, Jackson High School Principal Terry Cheshire contacted District Executive Director Lynn Evans, who in turn contacted Superintendent Whitehead.

"Without student input or involvement, the administrators unilaterally decided to prohibit the seniors from playing 'Ave Maria' at the graduation," the complaint states.

Whitehead testified, saying "We made the decision that because the title of the piece would be on the program and it's 'Ave Maria' and that many people would see that as religious in nature, that we would ask the band to select something different."

According to court documents, no one at the meeting admitted to knowing the meaning of the words "Ave Maria" - "Hail Mary" in Latin. However, they agreed that it seemed to have a religious connotation.

At Whitehead's direction, an e-mail was sent to high school principals with guidelines on music selections for graduation ceremonies. It insisted that the music be "entirely secular in nature."

The students asked if they could play "Ave Maria" if they identified it only as "A selection by Franz Biebl" on the program. But Principal Cheshire said doing so would not be "ethical."

Instead, the students were forced to perform a movement from Gustav Holst's "Second Suite for Military Band" at the commencement ceremony.

Attorneys for the Rutherford Institute filed suit against the school district in June 2006. Nurre alleged the school district deprived her of her rights under 1) the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, 2) the Establishment Clause of the 14th Amendment and 3) the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The district court ruled against Nurre, and the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment.

In a 2009 dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Milan Smith expressed his view that Nurre's First Amendment rights were violated and his fear that the decision could lead "public school administrators to chill - or even kill - musical and artistic presentations by their students ... where those presentations contain any trace of religious inspiration, for fear of criticism by a member of the public, however extreme that person's views might be."

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit legal group, asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in December, but the Court has now refused the request.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito blasted the court for rejecting the case.

"When a public school purports to allow students to express themselves, it must respect the students' free speech rights," Alito stated in his six-page opinion on the case. "School administrators may not behave like puppet masters who create the illusion that students are engaging in personal expression when in fact the school administration is pulling the strings."

Likewise, John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, said he is disappointed in the Court's decision to let the lower court ruling against Nurre stand.

"Free speech in the public schools is on life support," he said. "With this decision, the Supreme Court may have pulled the plug. It's a sad day for freedom in America."

The Reykjavík Grapevine

Private Army Sets Sights on Iceland


Words by Paul Nikolov

A private company offering military support has expressed interest in working with the Icelandic government. Many Icelanders are strongly opposed to the idea.

The company in question is known as ECA Program. They are a private company that works in military training and support for governments around the world, and have most recently worked with India. Their interest in Iceland is apparently strong enough to warrant the use of images from Keflavík - where the NATO base used to be located until it closed in 2006 - on their website. They have already asked the Icelandic government if they can utilize the base for their private air force, and are willing to pay 200 billion ISK to do so.

However, the Campaign Against Militarism - in Icelandic group originally founded in opposition to the NATO base - is strongly against the idea. They point out that the comany's background is shrouded in mystery, and that they amount to a mercenary group. Furthermore, the company was denied operation permission in Canada.

Iceland, although a NATO country, does not have a military of its own. In fact, the vast majority of Icelanders polled have expressed opposition to supporting military efforts in Iraq,


Sandstorms hit Beijing

Sandstorms have hit much of northern China, leaving the capital Beijing in an orange haze and forcing workers in Tiananmen Square to cover their faces.

20 Mar 2010

There were few people out on streets where pedestrians could taste the dust. Photo: AFP

Many of those who had ventured from their homes were wearing face masks, and some left footprints in the yellow film that had settled on the city's streets. Photo: AFP

Tonnes of sand from deserts in China's interior blew into Beijing in the biggest sandstorm this year, shrouding China's capital in a yellow-orange haze that authorities warned made the air quality "hazardous".

There were few people out on streets where pedestrians could taste the dust.

Many of those who had ventured from their homes were wearing face masks, and some left footprints in the yellow film that had settled on the city's streets.

Beijing's weather forecasting bureau gave the air quality a rare "5", or hazardous, rating and added that it was "not suitable for morning exercises".

Parks and open spaces are usually packed from early in the day with enthusiasts doing martial arts, ballroom dancing and other activities.

The sandstorms underline the environmental degradation investors identify as one of the long-term constraints on growth in China, and concern about its impact has made a less resource-intensive model of growth a priority for Beijing.

China's expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought.

The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms - the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States.

The government has spent millions of dollars on projects to rein in the spread of deserts, planting trees and trying to protect what plant cover remains in marginal areas.

But the battle is being fought against a backdrop of rising average temperatures and increasing pressure on water resources after three decades of booming growth.

The sandstorm hit Beijing around midnight, carrying huge amounts of dust and heading south east, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In northern Changping district, the wind reached speeds of up to 100km per hour (60mph).

The swirling clouds of dust and sand had blanketed the interior provinces of Qinghai and Gansu, and western Xinjiang region, before sweeping over the capital, Xinhua said.


Waiting for the end of the world: Georgia's 30-year stone mystery

By Matt Smith

March 22

Elberton, Georgia (CNN) -- In the beginning, there was the stone.

The blue-gray vein of granite that courses through northeastern Georgia spawned jobs in the quarries and finishing sheds of Elberton, where generations of stonecutters have turned slabs of rock the size of refrigerators into statues, tombstones and tile.

And one day, it brought a visitor who gifted the town with a landmark that leaves visitors scratching their heads decades later.

The nearly 20-foot high series of granite slabs known as the Georgia Guidestones are inscribed with a series of admonitions for a future "Age of Reason." Billed as "America's Stonehenge," it's an astronomically complex, 120-ton relic of Cold War fears, built to instruct survivors of an Armageddon that the mystery man feared was all too near.

The identity of the man who called himself "R.C. Christian" is a secret that Wyatt Martin, the banker who acted as his agent in Elberton, vows to take to his grave.

"He told me, 'If you were to tell who put the money up for this, it wouldn't be a mystery any more, and no one would come and read it.' That had to be part of the attraction, to get people to come and read his 10 rules that he came up with," Martin said.

People in Elberton, about 100 miles east of Atlanta, are proud of their eccentric landmark. But 30 years after its dedication, it has drawn the attention of a new generation of conspiracy theorists with very different fears.

"There are a lot of people who don't feel about it the same way we do," said Phyllis Brooks, president of the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce.

The four vertical slabs that dominate the Guidestones are inscribed back and front with Christian's 10 principles, each side in a different modern language. The capstone is inscribed in the alphabets of early human civilizations -- Egyptian hieroglyphics, Babylonian cuneiform, Sanskrit and classical Greek.

The center column has a slot through which the transit of the sun throughout the seasons can be observed, while a hole higher up focuses on Polaris, the north star. Another hole in the capstone focuses a beam of sunlight onto the central pillar at noon. Those features would allow the survivors of Christian's feared apocalypse to reproduce three of the basic tools of civilization: the calendar, clock and compass.

Loris Magnani, an astronomy professor at the University of Georgia, questions how useful the Guidestones would be to survivors of civilization-ending cataclysm. The devices incorporated into the stones are "relatively easy stuff" that most human societies have developed early in their histories, he said.

"Don't get me wrong. As a monument, it's fine. There's nothing wrong with doing that," Magnani told CNN. But he added, "Every decent civilization going back to a couple of millennia before Christ has figured this out. How to make gasoline? Now that would be useful."

But it's the written messages of the Guidestones that have drawn the most criticism.

Most are innocuous, calling on readers to rule their passions with "tempered reason," avoid "petty laws and useless officials" and "prize truth, beauty, love ... seeking harmony with the infinite." They end with the advice, "Be not a cancer on the Earth -- leave room for nature."

But the first two -- which call for limiting human population to half a billion, less than 10 percent of today's numbers, and guiding reproduction "wisely" -- have led some to call the Guidestones a call to genocide and the "Ten Commandments of the Antichrist."

In recent years, the monument has been hit by vandals who see in it the creed of a shadowy "New World Order" bent on subjugating humanity. It has been tagged at least three times since 2008, leaving scrawls of "God is stronger than the NWO," vague threats of destruction and various crudities across the granite.

Four Words That Make Life Worthwhile

by Jim Rohn, March 22, 2010

Over the years, as I've sought out ideas, principles and strategies to life's challenges, I've come across four simple words that can make living worthwhile.

First, life is worthwhile if you LEARN. What you don't know will hurt you. You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed. Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences--negative or positive.

We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong. We call that a positive negative. We also learn from other people's experiences, both positive and negative. I've always said that it is too bad failures don't give seminars. Obviously, we don't want to pay them, so they aren't usually touring around giving seminars. But that information would be very valuable. We would learn how someone who had it all, messed it up. Learning from other people's experiences and mistakes is valuable information because we can learn what not to do without the pain of having tried and failed ourselves.

We learn by what we see, so pay attention. We learn by what we hear, so be a good listener. Now, I do suggest that you should be a selective listener. Don't just let anybody dump into your mental factory. We learn from what we read, so learn from every source. Learn from lectures. Learn from songs. Learn from sermons. Learn from conversations with people who care. Always keep learning.

Second, life is worthwhile if you TRY. You can't just learn. Now you have to try something to see if you can do it. Try to make a difference. Try to make some progress. Try to learn a new skill. Try to learn a new sport. It doesn't mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do if you just try. Try your best. Give it every effort. Why not go all out?

Third, life is worthwhile if you STAY. You have to stay from spring until harvest. If you have signed up for the day or for the game or for the project, see it through. Sometimes calamity comes; then it is worth wrapping it up and that's the end. But just don't end in the middle. Maybe on the next project you pass, but on this one, if you signed up, see it through.

And lastly, life is worthwhile if you CARE. If you care at all, you will get some results. If you care enough, you can get incredible results. Care enough to make a difference. Care enough to turn somebody around. Care enough to start a new enterprise. Care enough to change it all. Care enough to be the highest producer. Care enough to set some records. Care enough to win.


      We pray you will have a great time this week- hearing from God. If you do, however, have any problems getting His answers, we invite you to write one of our Christian mystics. We pray they may be able to help part the veil for you and help get His answers.

      We are always happy to hear from you on any comment or questions. Do write if you have the time, your correspondence means a lot to us.

      Until next week...

Almondtree Productions

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(John 1:1)


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