Thursday, December 30, 2010

Katie Couric: 'Maybe We Need a Muslim Version of The Cosby Show' her @katiecouric Web show analyzing the trends of 2010, the CBS Evening News anchor made a serious speech (in her serious, deep-thinker glasses) against the deep "seething hatred" against Muslims in America:
I also think sort of the chasm, between, or the bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface this year. Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn't enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong -- and so disappointing. 
She really winced on that last word. When comedian Mo Rocca said he went to "really fancy schools" and "I cannot tell you five things about Islam," Couric shot back "Maybe we need a Muslim version of The Cosby Show." She continued:
I know that sounds crazy, I know that sounds crazy. But The Cosby Show did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of what they don't understand -- like you, Mo. said "I think religion should be taught as an academic subject in public schools." Couric said "I totally agree with you." But left unsaid is this: how well do network news people do in explaining the tenets of Islam or any other world religion? If there's great ignorance of Islam in America, Katie Couric has done nearly nothing to solve it -- and nominating Hollywood to solve the problem with a lovable family comedy isn't really taking responsibility.

No one on the set wondered if Couric was being reckless in taking the idea that many Americans had -- that a mega-mosque two blocks from the hole of Ground Zero was insensitive and should merely be located somewhere farther away -- and wildly extrapolating that with "seething hatred" of "1.5 billion Muslims worldwide."

This is not new for Couric. In a quote that made our Best Notable Quotables of 2010, Couric devoted a "Couric & Co." commentary to denouncing the Islamophobes: might be Islamophobia, Obamaphobia, or both, but when loud speakers are blaring ‘Born in the USA’ and signs say ‘No Clubhouse for Terrorists,’ it’s clear we aren’t just talking about a mosque anymore. There is a debate to be had about the sensitivity of building this center so close to Ground Zero. But we can not let fear and rage tear down the towers of our core American values. 
Earlier in the show, Couric did talk about other things CBS failed to accomplish on the air:
What about the Nashville floods? Larinda Sue [sp] on Twitter asks if the Nashville floods will make our list, and it made all of us think, as w're preparing for the show...what other stories were underreported? The Nashville floods were really underreported. Anything else come to mind that we should have been paying attention to that we didn't? I would say we're probably not paying enough attention to Iraq. Does anyone else agree with that?
Martin agreed and said "We're in danger in the media, but also as a people, of becoming inured to war, sort of a permanent war," and "because there's no draft, a lot of us don't have skin in the game, as they say."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pope: every child needs the love of a family

Pope Benedict & Vatican Photos
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Mich. man faces charges for reading wife's e-mail

A Rochester Hills man who says he learned of his wife's affair by reading her e-mail on their computer faces trial Feb. 7 on felony computer misuse charges.

Thirty-three-year-old Leon Walker used his wife's password to get into her Gmail account. Clara Walker filed for a divorce, which was granted this month.

Leon Walker tells The Oakland Press of Pontiac he was trying to protect the couple's children from neglect and calls the case a "miscarriage of justice."

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sydney Turner says the charge is justified.

Privacy law writer Frederick Lane tells the Detroit Free Press the law typically is used to prosecute identity theft and stealing trade secrets. He says he questions if a wife can expect privacy on a computer she shares with her husband.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Urbi et Orbi
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A just married couple kisses as Pope Benedict XVI finish his Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message from the central balcony of Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican December 25, 2010.
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Pope Benedict XVI delivers the 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the City and the World) blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican on December 25, 2010. Benedict XVI urged an end Saturday to conflict in the Middle East and support for the region's Christians, saying those living in Iraq needed comfort from their pain after deadly attacks.
Reuters Pictures

A Swiss guard stands at attention as Pope Benedict XVI delivers Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Christmas Day message from the central balcony of Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican December 25, 2010.

Baptist Church Conversion



Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Frank Sinatra

O Holy Night - Jewel

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/It Came Upon The Midnight Clear - Bing Crosby

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays - Perry Como

The First Noel - Bing Crosby

Christmas Auld Lang Syne - Bobby Darin

Prelate Who Saved Some 10,000 Jews Dead at 98

Archbishop Ferrofino Assisted Pope Pius XII

ROME, DEC. 23, 2010 ( An archbishop who saved some 10,000 Jews during the Second World War in his collaboration with Pope Pius XII died Monday. He was 98.

Archbishop Giovanni Ferrofino was the former apostolic nuncio to Ecuador and Haiti. He was born in Alessandria, Italy, on Feb. 24, 1912.

Gary Krupp, founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, told ZENIT that the archbishop “was perhaps the greatest living eye witness to Pius XII’s life-saving efforts on behalf of Jews interviewed by PTWF."
PTWF is a New York-based foundation, a non-sectarian organization whose mission is to identify and try to eliminate obstacles between religions and to initiate positive gestures in order to improve interreligious relations. It has been working to discover the facts regarding Pius XII and his efforts to help Jews during World War II.

“Pius XII sent [Archbishop Ferrofino] to the president of Portugal to request visas for Jews entering Portugal, and then when he was posted as secretary to the nuncio in the Dominican Republic,” Krupp explained.

In an interview with PTWF, the archbishop spoke of an occasion of Pope Pius XII's frustration -- he slammed his hand on the table -- when the Americans did not help to "save this vibrant community," speaking of the Jews.

When sent to the Dominican Republic in 1939, Archbishop Ferrofino would regularly receive double encrypted telegrams directly from Pope Pius XII, from 1939-1945. He personally decoded these messages and would travel a day and a half with the nuncio, Archbishop Maurilio Silvani, to General Rafael Trujillo, president of the Dominican Republic, and hand deliver the requests "in the name of Pope Pius XII" to General Trujillo.

“The Pope would ask for over 800 visas for the Jews," Krupp explained. "The Vatican was able to gain transatlantic crossing out of Europe. This happened at least twice a year, asking for over 1,600 visas per year for Jews escaping from Portugal and Spain. Archbishop Ferrofino also further helped these refugees to get into Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Cuba. He saved, through Pius XII's direct instructions, over 10,000 Jews."

Krupp recalled how in January 2008, he went to France to permanently preserve the archbishop's testimony, with the collaboration of the French PTWF director, Costantino Fiore.

In 2010, after Archbishop Ferrofino returned to Italy, the president and director-general of PTWF in Italy, Daniele Costi and Rolando Clementoni, both obtained his written notarized testimony, which is now in the hands of Yad Vashem. The Yad Vashem is the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, which investigates and honors those who were instrumental in saving Jews from the Nazis.

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On the Net:

Archbishop Ferrofino's interview (with English subtitles):

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Pictures
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vatican official says no punishment expected for dissenting nuns under investigation

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

ROME, December 22, 2010 ( - After decades of dissent by large numbers of American nuns against Catholic doctrines on life and family, including the Church’s condemnation of abortion and homosexuality, a Vatican official says that they will not be punished, and that Rome should pursue a “strategy of reconciliation” with the wayward religious.

In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper dedicated to promoting left-wing dissent against Catholic teaching, the Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said that an ongoing Vatican investigation of American nuns was unlikely to result in disciplinary action.

“I can say that I would be very surprised if anybody would purport to give any punitive or overly prescriptive norms as a result of this visitation,” said Archbishop Joseph Tobin. “If the visitors, in dialogue with the sisters, have identified some specific issues that need to be dealt with, okay. But forcing people into habits or something like that? That’s not what this is about.”

The Archbishop was referring to the fact that many American nuns do not wear the habit of a religious.

Tobin also said that a major shake-up of women’s religious orders “would be really disrespectful of what women religious in America have accomplished,” and that the “depth of anger and hurt that exists among the sisters ... can’t be ignored.”

The Archbishop’s words are in sharp contrast to statements made by then-Archbishop, now-Cardinal Raymond Burke, in a speech earlier this year, in which he condemned American nuns who have promised “resistance” to the Vatican and have endorsed the Obama health care plan despite its potential to fund abortion procedures.

Denouncing “the public and obstinate betrayal of religious life by certain religious,” Burke asked: “Who ever could have imagined that religious congregations of pontifical right would openly organize to resist and attempt to frustrate an apostolic visitation, that is, a visit to their congregations carried out under the authority of the Vicar of Christ on earth, to whom all religious are bound by the strongest bonds of loyalty and obedience?”

“Who could imagine that consecrated religious would openly, and in defiance of the bishops as successors of the Apostles, publicly endorse legislation containing provisions which violate the natural moral law in its most fundamental tenets, the safeguarding and promoting of innocent and defenseless life, and fail to safeguard the demands of free exercise of conscience for healthcare workers?” he added.

High-profile acts of public dissent against Catholic doctrine on life and family by American nuns in recent years include public speeches given by the leading figures in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, implying that homosexual behavior should be accepted by the Catholic Church. They also include the actions of nuns like Sr. Joan Chittister, who openly “questions” the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, as well as Sr. Donna Quinn of the Sinsinawa Dominican community, who acted as an escort for an abortion clinic and continued to defend her activities even after she was removed by her congregation.

Contact information:

To respectfully contact the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life:

His Eminence the Cardinal Prefect +39. 06. 69884121
His Excellency Archbishop Secretary +39. 06. 69884584
receptionists +39 06. 69884128 and +39. 06. 69892511
FAX +39. 06. 69884526
E-mail: (Prefect) (Secretary) (information)

To respectfully contact the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

His Eminence William Joseph Levada, Cardinal, Prefect
His Excellency Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy

Guttenberg demands Ronald Reagan memorial in Berlin

German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Wednesday called on Berlin to honour Ronald Reagan by naming a square or a street after the late US president.

“I would welcome naming a street after this great honorary citizen and it would be evidence that the gratitude of (the city’s left-wing government) didn’t stop at (leftist student leader) Rudi Dutschke,” Guttenberg told daily Bild.

Guttenberg and other conservative politicians are upset that the German capital has no plans to mark what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday on February 6. The former US president, who died in 2004, famously demanded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tear down the Berlin Wall in a speech before the city’s Brandenburg Gate in 1987.

“Ronald Reagan’s determination and clear message brought down the Iron Curtain in Europe,” said Christian Democratic MP Ruprecht Polenz, adding he believed German reunification would not have been possible without Reagan. “We should permanently remember this great friend of Germany in a prominent place.”

Martin Lindner, a state legislator in Berlin for the pro-business Free Democrats, said city officials were being “blind to history” by overlooking the Republican president. “Germany and especially Berlin owe a lot to Ronald Regan,” he told Bild.

Lindner attempted to no avail in 2004 to have Washington-Platz in front of Berlin’s main train station renamed for Reagan.

Philipp Mißfelder, the head of the Christian Democrats’ youth wing, called the German capital’s decision not to celebrate Reagan’s upcoming birthday “shameful.”

Mambo Italiano - Rosemary Clooney

Do They Know It's Christmas - Band Aid

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Mother cuts out the heart of her daughter, four, as she listens to recording of Koran in ritual killing'

By Daily Mail Reporter

A mother has been arrested after a four year old girl was found stabbed to death with her heart and other organs cut out and strewn around her flat.

Muslim mother Shayna Bharuchi, 35, was allegedly sitting in a her kitchen chanting verses of the Koran as her daughter Nusayba's disembowelled corpse lay next to her.

The little girl's heart and other organs were found in different rooms around the flat in Clapton, east London.

Police suspect she she carried out the killing as a religious offering as she listened to the Muslim holy book on an MP3 player at full volume.

Bharuchi, who is understood to have two teenage children of 14 and 16, has since been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and is in a secure unit.

The gruesome scene was discovered by Nusayba's father Jerome Negney, 36, when he arrived home to the flat on Thursday to find his partner clutching a kitchen knife.

Mr Negney, believed to be a Muslim convert, dialled 999 and paramedics pronounced the girl dead at the scene.  Police said next of kin have been informed.

One neighbour, who lives in the downstairs flat and asked not to be named, said: 'I was feeding my daughter her lunch at about 3pm and suddenly heard horrific screaming. It is shocking and so upsetting.'
He said the couple have lived in the flat for about a year.

A post-mortem examination will take place on Saturday at Poplar mortuary in east London.

The Metropolitan Police's Child Abuse Investigation Command is leading the murder inquiry. They are not believed to be looking for anybody else.

Yesterday another shocked resident, a mum in her 30s, said Mrs Bharuchi always wore a black headscarf with a veil.

She added: 'Usually you could only see her eyes.

'I often heard shouting coming from the flat as she and a man argued.

'Their quarrels would become very heated.'

The tragic incident comes after a man was charged with attempted murder following the stabbing of two police officers in Ealing, west London, yesterday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Top pastry chef recreates Washington's national shrine in gingerbread

The gingerbread Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS/Four Seasons Hotel)
By Richard Szczepanowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington has sometimes been called "a hymn in stone." This year, it can also rightly be called "a hymn in gingerbread."

That is because Charles Froke, the executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, has recreated the national shrine as the hotel's 2010 massive gingerbread replication of a Washington landmark.

The gingerbread shrine will be on display in the hotel's lobby through the Christmas season.

"I've made a lot of cool buildings (out of gingerbread) in the past, but nothing like this," Froke told the Catholic Standard, Washington's archdiocesan newspaper. "In the past, I've done the National Cathedral, the Smithsonian Castle, the White House, the Capitol and Healy Hall at Georgetown University, but this is the most ambitious one to date."

Froke, a Catholic who attends St. Ann Church in Washington, crafted the gingerbread shrine out of more than 125 pounds of a specially prepared gingerbread dough.

"It is a little more sturdy and not as sweet as regular gingerbread," the pastry chef explained.

The creation also includes about 55 pounds of icing and 20 pounds of sugar. He used dyes to create the shrine's ornate blue dome. The stained-glass windows -- which are illuminated by electric lighting -- are made from colored liquid sugar.

"I was delighted to learn that Mr. Froke chose the national shrine as his subject for this year's gingerbread artistry," said Msgr. Walter Rossi, the shrine's rector. "My hope is that by depicting this great patronal church of the United States, the attention of those who view the 'gingerbread shrine' is called to the sacred meaning of Christmas, not only the secular."

Msgr. Rossi added that he visited the Four Seasons Hotel to view what he called the "masterpiece."

"I called Mr. Froke to congratulate him on his work and to thank him for choosing the shrine," Msgr. Rossi said. "Our selection testifies that in addition to being a center of worship for the Catholic Church in the United States, the national shrine is a Washington landmark."

Froke said it took him about 70 hours to create the gingerbread replica.

But, before he started baking, he spent hours at the shrine, taking photos and making blueprints. Hundreds of individual gingerbread pieces were baked and then put together with "mortar" made of icing.

Although he has been executive pastry chef at the Four Seasons for almost eight years, Froke said he has been making gingerbread houses almost all of his life.

"My mom and I started making gingerbread houses when I was 3 or 4," he said.

Reaction to the gingerbread national shrine has been overwhelmingly positive, the pastry chef added.

"People have gone crazy for it," he said. "I got a call from someone who wanted to fly me out to California to reproduce the national shrine there."

As a Catholic and a pastry chef, Froke said it was his hope that his gingerbread national shrine "earns me some brownie points in heaven."

Lawsuit targets toys in Happy Meals
If Monet Parham gets her way, McDonalds will be forced to remove the toys from its popular Happy Meals.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, filed a complaint in San Francisco
Wednesday accused the fast food giant of "deceptive marketing and business practices", according to an article at Business Week.

Parham, a California State employee, told Business Week, “I don’t think it’s right to entice children into wanting Happy Meals with the promise of a great toy.”

Apparently, Parham's 6 year old daughter, Maya, is a big fan of the toys included in the meals, especially those "based on Barbie, i-Carly, Shrek, or Strawberry Shortcake", according to the UK Daily Mail.  Parham said:
"What kids see as a fun toy, I now realise is a sophisticated, hi-tech marketing scheme that's designed to put McDonald's between me and my daughters.
"For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald's to stop interfering with my family.
"This litany of requests [to eat at McDonald's] is draining and very frustrating for children. I would like this practice to stop."
In other words, Parham thinks that McDonalds is somehow preventing her from saying "no" to her daughter when she demands a Happy Meal.

But the New York Daily News reports that when Parham said "no", her children "pouted".  Somehow, this is all McDonald's fault, and rises to the level of a class action lawsuit.

The article also reports that Parham is not the average "mom" concerned about her children, but rather, a long-time advocate of "child nutrition issues" - read, nanny state food police:
Much of the interviewing press was happy to treat Monet Parham as a random (if oddly well-informed) California mom, but it didn’t take the blogosphere long to discover that she is apparently anything but random. Ira Stoll, who blogs at Future of Capitalism and used to put out the New York Times-tweaking, soon discovered (via a commenter) that she is in fact the same person as Monet Parham-Lee, who is a “regional program manager” on the state of California payroll for child nutrition matters.
Specifically, she works on a federally funded program that campaigns to exhort people to eat their vegetables and that sort of thing. The comment:
“Interestingly, her name has been scrubbed from the website of Champions for Change, the Network for a Healthy California. She has given numerous presentations and attended conferences on the importance of eating vegetables and whatnot.
“She presents herself as an ordinary mother. She is not. She is an advocate, and an employee of a California agency tasked with advocating the eating of vegetables. To the extent that Monet Parham-Lee has EVER taken her daughter to a McDonald's, she should have known better.”
The suit was filed by the advocacy group on behalf of all California children under 8 years of age who have seen any McDonalds advertising for the meals since December 2006.

The group does not seek money, but wants a judicial fiat preventing McDonalds from advertising the meals.
“The lawsuit is about the change, not the money,” Gardner said.

Business Week reports the center sent McDonalds a letter in June demanding it stop including the toys as premiums in meals.

“McDonald’s is engaged in a highly sophisticated scheme to use the bait of toys to exploit children’s developmental immaturity and subvert parental authority,” the organization alleged in its complaint.
Clearly, Parham is exploiting her child to push a political agenda.

If this case is successful, other companies that use any advertising aimed at children for anything will become targets for other liberal causes.

Ron Paul Appears Poised to Irk the Fed Chief
 Ron Paul is author of the best-selling book “End the Fed.” He has denounced the Fed as a cause of inflation.


A congressman from Texas, long a dissident critic of the Federal Reserve, is scheduled to become the chairman of a House panel with jurisdiction over the central bank. It promises to be a miserable time for the Fed chairman as he is peppered with hostile questions at oversight hearings and with legislation to force complete audits of Fed operations.

So it is now, with Representative Ron Paul about to take over as chairman of the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee. Mr. Paul campaigned against big banks, arguing that concentrated financial power goes hand in hand with concentrated political power.

If the Fed were abolished, he wrote last year, “the national wealth would no longer be hostage to the whims of a handful of appointed bureaucrats whose interests are equally divided between serving the banking cartel and serving the most powerful politicians in Washington.”

It is not hard to imagine Mr. Paul lecturing the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a committee room: “You can absolutely veto everything the president does. You have the power to veto what the Congress does, and the fact is that you have done it. You are going too far.”

And so it was back in 1964, when that lecture was actually given by the then-new chairman of the House Banking Committee, a Texas congressman named Wright Patman. As Time magazine then wrote: “For three decades, Wright Patman has fumed and fussed that the Federal Reserve system is too secretive, too independent, too insensitive to the hopes of small borrowers. A sharecropper’s son, he often charges that it is a tool of Wall Street bankers.”

A joke during Mr. Patman’s tenure was that the reason he chose a bright red carpet for his office was to hide the blood stains after William McChesney Martin Jr., then the Fed chairman, emerged from private meetings.
Mr. Paul is well aware of the precedent. His 2009 best-selling book, “End the Fed,” quotes Patman’s lecture and then adds, “I actually consider this an understatement, because in the past year or so during this bailout process, the Federal Reserve has garnered an unbelievable amount of power, making it much more influential around the world than the Congress or the president has ever been.”

Among the bills Patman pushed was one to audit the central bank. The Dodd-Frank Act passed this year allows for limited audits, and extending them is a centerpiece of Mr. Paul’s agenda. Patman bitterly fought big bank mergers, while Mr. Paul condemns allowing banks to become too big to fail.

There are major differences between them, aside from the fact one is a Republican, while the other was a Democrat. Mr. Paul is a sound-money man who longs for the gold standard and thinks the collapse of paper money is inevitable. Patman was far more sympathetic to printing money, even voicing outrage during the Depression at the idea that government would pay interest to borrow money. Why not just print it, he asked?
Mr. Paul denounces the Fed for causing inflation, saying that producing inflation is the major reason for its existence. In 1937, Patman proposed legislation to require the Fed to stabilize the purchasing power of money, but he had something different in mind. He wanted to restore price levels to what they had been in 1926. To do that would have required inflation of about 25 percent to reverse the deflation of the Depression.
Another difference is the role a landslide played in regard to both men. In 1974, the Watergate wipe out produced a flood of liberal Democrats who were determined to put aside seniority as a strict determinant of chairmanships. Patman, who had been in the House since 1929, was ousted in a move that no doubt pleased the Fed. He died in 1976, just before Mr. Paul entered Congress.

The Republican landslide this year elected several representatives sympathetic to Mr. Paul’s views, and weakened the party establishment that had previously kept Mr. Paul from being chairman of a subcommittee. This week Representative Spencer T. Bachus of Alabama, the incoming chairman of the Financial Services Committee, announced that Mr. Paul would have the job.

Mr. Bachus has endorsed Fed audits that go beyond the limited review called for by the Dodd-Frank Act, but he is anything but hostile to banks. He told The Birmingham News last week that “my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” The News said he “later clarified his comment to say that regulators should set the parameters in which banks operate but not micromanage them.” His press secretary said he was too busy for an interview.

Mr. Paul takes on the subcommittee post at a time when the Fed is far better known than it was in the 1960s, and after its reputation has alternately soared and plunged. It was given credit for the long booms of the 1990s and earlier this decade, and for steering the economy out of the mild 2001 recession. There was criticism of its role in the technology stock bubble that preceded that downturn, but it was mild compared with the excoriation the Fed received for its failure to counteract the housing bubble that led to the recession that began in 2007.

In the end, neither Patman nor a later Fed-doubting Texas chairman of the committee, Henry Gonzalez, had much impact on the Fed. “We did not achieve a whole lot,” Mr. Paul said in an interview this week, recalling his work with Gonzalez. “But I think things are changing.” 

In the past, the majority in Congress, whether Republican or Democrat, was generally supportive of the financial establishment. That is still true, but the support has frayed amid resentment over big bonuses going to bankers whose jobs might have vanished had the government not bailed them out. Many Republicans embrace Mr. Paul’s criticism of the Fed’s role in the bailout and in the current monetary easing, which involves buying $600 billion in longer-term Treasury securities.

Fortunately, for both the Fed and the economy, the signs seem encouraging. The retail sales report this week was stunningly good, signaling a strong economy in the current quarter and into next year. The tax deal worked out between President Obama and Republican lawmakers will provide economic stimulus, even if it is not particularly efficient.

One sign of economic optimism is surging interest rates on long-term Treasuries. During the first 10 trading days of December, the yield on 10-year Treasuries rose from 2.8 percent to almost 3.5 percent. It has been nine years since yields rose that much over so short a time. Then markets were beginning to suspect the 2001 recession was ending, as it was. Markets now seem to expect a much better recovery next year than we saw this year.

There is another available interpretation. “Did these rates move higher because the economy is getting stronger,” asked Bernard Baumohl of the Economic Outlook Group, “or because bond investors fear the Fed is about to err by continuing to pump too much money into an economy that is in the midst of accelerating? Our concern, after talking to clients, is that it’s the latter.”

So far, however, you can’t find much evidence of that in the markets. The breakeven inflation rate on Treasury securities — the rate investors seem to expect based on the relative yields of regular five-year Treasuries and inflation-indexed bonds — has risen only a little, to 1.7 percent a year. As the Fed said this week in announcing no change in policy, “longer term inflation expectations have remained stable.”

Mr. Paul was careful not to predict legislative success. “I’m not making any rash promises,” he told me. “I’m up against a lot of influential and very powerful people. They’ve been able to work in secrecy since 1913,” the year the Fed was established.

The idea of hostile Congressional hearings making a Fed chairman miserable may seem surprising to those with memories that go back only to the era of Alan Greenspan as oracle. But there is a rich precedent. Paul Volcker took his share of lumps when he was driving up interest rates to stop inflation, and bringing on a severe recession in the process. Now he is revered, in large part because he was successful.

If the economy fails to revive and inflation surges — in other words, if Ben Bernanke’s term as chairman looks like a failure — pressures for fundamental changes at the Fed could become irresistible. But for the time being, it is likely that Mr. Paul’s new post will provide more entertaining hearings than actual legislation.
Natalie Dee

Daydream Believer: Literal Video Version

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New York City YMCA Gives Santa the Boot

He's a lost Claus.

A politically correct West Village YMCA has fired Ol' St. Nick in favor of Frosty.

Kids who once thrilled at sitting on Santa's lap at the 14th Street McBurney YMCA's wildly popular annual holiday luncheon will now suffer the icy embrace of a talking snowman and his sidekick, an anonymous penguin, at today's event.

Forget about bringing a list or checking it twice -- Frosty doesn't take gift
requests, and doesn't care if you're naughty or nice.
YMCA officials, who say they are in the midst of "rebranding" the Young Men's Christian Association to "The Y," defended their decision.

"It wasn't replacing; it was transitioning," said John Rappaport, executive director of the McBurney YMCA. "We realized that change is sometimes good, and that Frosty is a great winter
character who would appeal to a broader number of kids."

The decision to ditch Father Christmas came down from McBurney branch administration, not the Y's Chicago headquarters.

A chilly reception greeted the news that the YMCA -- an organization founded to spread Christian values in 1844 -- was replacing the Christmas icon with a secular cartoon character.

"Christmas is not about Jack Frost; it's not about snowmen," fumed Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. "We're not talking about some secular organization that has no religious roots. If they can't celebrate Christmas, then they should check out. What a bunch of cowards."

Ultimatum: Phoenix bishop set to revoke Catholic status of hospital that performed abortion

PHOENIX, December 15, 2010 ( - The Catholic bishop of Phoenix has warned that a local hospital where doctors directly killed an unborn child late last year will lose its status as a Catholic institution unless it submits to a review to ensure it will comply with Catholic church teaching.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted issued the warning to Lloyd Dean, president of the San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), in a November 22 letter obtained by The Arizona Republic. CHW is the parent company of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, where the abortion was performed.

The conflict began in May of last year, when Olmsted announced that Sr. Margaret McBride, then the hospital’s vice president of mission integration, and any other staff member that directly facilitated the murder of the unborn baby had automatically excommunicated themselves from the Church by doing so.

Hospital officials claimed that killing the unborn child at 11 weeks gestation was necessary to save the life of its mother, who was suffering from pulmonary hypertension, a condition that can be aggravated by pregnancy.

Though the details of the case remain confidential, other experts deny that it would be necessary to perform an abortion even in the case of severe pulmonary hypertension, and say that the mother should have been able to remain stable at least until the baby could be prematurely delivered.

The Catholic Physicians Guild of Phoenix came out in support of Olmsted the same month, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops supported Olmsted’s assertion that a direct abortion - unlike forms of therapy that may indirectly lead to the child’s death - is always a grave transgression of Catholic moral guidelines.

Olmsted’s letter, which copied San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, warned Dean that he expected allowance to oversee the Catholic identity at the hospital in his diocese, and that, “Until this point in time, you have not acknowledged my authority to settle this question.”

“There cannot be a tie in this debate,” the bishop wrote, according to The Republic. Olmsted said he “must act now” to prevent further abuses and “repair the grave scandal to the Christian faithful that has resulted from the procedure.”

Olmsted said that, in order to remain in good standing with the diocese, the hospital would have to backtrack on its endorsement of the abortion, submit to a diocesan review and certification for compliance with Catholic moral teaching, and agree to ongoing training for medical staff on the U.S. bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives.

Both the hospital and CHW have yet to respond publicly to the letter.

'Fats' Putin over the top of 'Blueberry Hill' with piano solo

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

O Holy Night - Celine Dion

Beacons of Courage and Faith: The Catholic Martyrs of Lubeck

Soon-to-be beatified priests, along with fellow martyred Lutheran pastor, were ‘shining lights on our common ecumenical path.’, Germany (CNS) — As the Nazi executioner beheaded three Catholic priests and a Lutheran pastor, one after another in a matter of minutes, their blood flowed together, creating a powerful symbol for ecumenism in northern Germany.

On June 25, the three Catholic martyrs of Lubeck — Fathers Johannes Prassek, Eduard Muller and Hermann Lange — will be beatified in the historic city’s Sacred Heart Church, a stone’s throw away from the Lubeck Cathedral, the ministerial home of the Rev. Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, their Lutheran counterpart. Rev. Stellbrink will be honored in a special way that day as well.

The four were executed in Hamburg Nov. 10, 1943. All had been found guilty of disseminating anti-Nazi material — such as the homilies of Cardinal Clemens von Galen of Munster — and other “treasonous” activities.

Although they were just four of more than 1,600 victims of Nazi political executions that year, their case drew the particular attention of Adolf Hitler and propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Hitler reportedly intervened personally in the case of the four clerics, formulating the charges and instructing prosecutors on their strategy.

After the four were sentenced to death June 23, 1943, in a trial widely considered a farce, Goebbels wrote in his diary: “I urge that the death sentences will in fact be carried out.” An appeal for clemency by Catholic Bishop Hermann Berning of Osnabruck was rejected.

Father Franz Mecklenfeld of Sacred Heart Church told Catholic News Service that news of the beatification was received with “immense joy” by his parishioners.

It also is being followed “with great interest in the city of Lubeck,” traditionally a Lutheran stronghold. In September, the daily Lubecker Nachrichten published a series of articles on the lives of the four martyrs.

“The martyrs have a great significance for the city,” Father Mecklenfeld said. “They have become ‘shining towers’ in the city of Lubeck,” where the skyline is famous for its seven Gothic church spires.

The notion of beatifying the three Catholics when their Lutheran companion cannot be honored in the same way has given rise to some controversy. The Rev. Heinz Russmann, a Lutheran pastor in Lubeck, wrote that the beatification would represent a painful division that would be harmful to ecumenism.

Either all four should be beatified, or none, he wrote.

His view is shared by the conservative local politician Hans-Lothar Fauth, a Catholic, who has said that all four have long been publicly acclaimed as saints, regardless of denomination, and therefore require no official recognition.

Father Mecklenfeld said his parish always has been sensitive about maintaining the ties among all four martyrs.
Ecumenical relations in Lubeck are marked by the shared martyrdom. Pope Benedict XVI, a German, has recognized the significance of that friendship.

In an address to the German ambassador to the Vatican Sept. 13, he said the friendship among the clerics while in jail “represents an impressive witness to ecumenical prayer and suffering which in many places flowered among Christians of different denominations during the dark days of national socialism. We may regard these witnesses as shining lights on our common ecumenical path.”

Father Lange’s writings bear out the Pope’s sentiment. In a July 1943 letter, he wrote: “The suffering borne in common over the last years has brought the two Christian churches closer to one another. The shared imprisonment of the Catholic and the evangelical (Lutheran) clergy is a symbol of this community of suffering, but also of reconciliation.”

Rev. Stellbrink, 49 when he died, has been described as a prickly character who initially was an eager supporter of the Nazi party. The World War I veteran soon became disillusioned with Nazism, especially its anti-clericalism, and began to criticize it. He was expelled from the party in 1937 for refusing to denounce his friendship with Jews.

In 1941, he met Father Prassek at a funeral and increasingly began speaking against the Nazis by building a friendship with the younger priest, who had resolutely opposed Hitler’s regime.

Rev. Stellbrink was the first Protestant cleric to be executed in Germany. Unlike his Catholic friends, he received no support from his church, which rehabilitated him only 50 years later, noting its “pain and shame” at the disgraceful treatment of the heroic pastor.

Father Prassek, 32, regularly preached against Nazism and ministered illegally to forced laborers from Poland, even learning Polish for that purpose. Just before his arrest, Father Prassek was honored for his courage in rescuing people during the carpet bomb attack on Lubeck — the first on any German city — on Palm Sunday 1942.

Like his companions, he expected to be executed after their arrest. On the day of the court’s judgment, he wrote: “God be praised, today I was sentenced to death.”

Later, physically broken after more than a year of torture and hardship in jail, he looked forward to his execution.

“To be allowed to die fully conscious and quietly prepared is the most beautiful thing of all,” he wrote.
Father Muller, also 32 and a priest for just three years when he was executed, was a quiet man, popular among local youth. Though regarded as mostly apolitical — he never preached publicly against Nazism — he acknowledged Hitler’s ideology as irreconcilable with Christianity and refused to collaborate with the Hitler Youth, which had courted him.

Father Lange, 31, was parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Church and ministered to youth and men at the parish. A reform-minded Catholic, he was perhaps the most politically active of the four. He distributed pamphlets and privately accused Germany of war crimes. He even told a soldier that a true Christian could not fight on the German side in the war. Father Lange’s residence was raided by the Gestapo a year before his arrest.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Navy Sets World Record With Incredible, Sci-Fi Weapon

By John R. Quain
Published December 10, 2010 -

A theoretical dream for decades, the railgun is unlike any other weapon used in warfare. And it's quite real too, as the U.S. Navy has proven in a record-setting test today in Dahlgren, VA.

Rather than relying on a explosion to fire a projectile, the technology uses an electomagnetic current to accelerate a non-explosive bullet at several times the speed of sound. The conductive projectile zips along a set of electrically charged parallel rails and out of the barrel at speeds up to Mach 7.

The result: a weapon that can hit a target 100 miles or more away within minutes.

"It's an over-used term, but it really changes several games," Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr, Jr., the chief of Naval Research, told prior to the test.

For a generation raised on shoot-'em-up video games, the word "railgun" invokes sci-fi images of an impossibly destructive weapon annihilating monsters and aliens. But the railgun is nonetheless very real.

An electromagnetic railgun offers a velocity previously unattainable in a conventional weapon, speeds that are incredibly powerful on their own. In fact, since the projectile doesn't have any explosives itself, it relies upon that kinetic energy to do damage. And at 11 a.m. today, the Navy produced a 33-megajoule firing -- more than three times the previous record set by the Navy in 2008.

"It bursts radially, but it's hard to quantify," said Roger Ellis, electromagnetic railgun program manager with the Office of Naval Research. To convey a sense of just how much damage, Ellis told that the big guns on the deck of a warship are measured by their muzzle energy in megajoules. A single megajoule is roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph. Multiple that by 33 and you get a picture of what would happen when such a weapon hits a target.

Ellis says the Navy has invested about $211 million in the program since 2005, since the railgun provides many significant advantages over convention weapons. For one thing, a railgun offers 2 to 3 times the velocity of a conventional big gun, so that it can hit its target within 6 minutes. By contrast, a guided cruise missile travels at subsonic speeds, meaning that the intended target could be gone by the time it reaches its destination.

Furthermore, current U.S. Navy guns can only reach targets about 13 miles away. The railgun being tested today could reach an enemy 100 miles away. And with current GPS guidance systems it could do so with pinpoint accuracy. The Navy hopes to eventually extend the range beyond 200 miles.

"We're also eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits," Ellis said. In other words, there is less danger of an unintended explosion onboard, particularly should such a vessel come under attack.

Indeed, a railgun could be used to inflict just such harm on another vessel.

Admiral Carr, who calls the railgun a "disruptive technology," said that not only would a railgun-equipped ship have to carry few if any large explosive warheads, but it could use its enemies own warheads against them. He envisions being able to aim a railgun directly at a magazine on an enemy ship and "let his explosives be your explosives."

There's also a cost and logistical benefit associated with railguns. For example, a single Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $600,000. A non-explosive guided railgun projectile could cost much less. And a ship could carry many more, reducing the logistical problems of delivering more weapons to a ship in battle. For these reasons, Admiral Carr sees the railgun as even changing the strategic and tactical assumptions of warfare in the future.

The Navy still has a distance to go, however, before the railgun test becomes a working onboard weapon. Technically, Ellis says they've already overcome several hurdles. The guns themselves generate a terrific amount of heat -- enough to melt the rails inside the barrel -- and power -- enough to force the rails apart, destroying the gun and the barrel in the process.

The projectile is no cannon ball, either. At speeds well above the sound barrier, aerodynamics and special materials must be considered so that it isn't destroyed coming out of the barrel or by heat as it travels at such terrific speeds.

Then there's question of electrical requirements. Up until recently, those requirements simply weren't practical. However, the naval researchers believe they can solve that issue using newer Navy ships and capacitors to build up the charge necessary to blast a railgun projectile out at supersonic speeds. Ellis says they hope to be able to shoot 6 to 12 rounds per minute, "but we're not there yet."

So when will the railgun become a working weapon? Both Ellis and Carr expect fully functional railguns on the decks of U.S. Navy ships in the 2025 time frame.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bishop Ricken approves Marian apparitions at Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Robinsonville concluded a year-long celebration marking its 150th anniversary on Oct. 9 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop David Ricken. (Sam Lucero photos)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (December 8, 2010) -- Bishop David Ricken announced today that he officially approves the Marian apparitions at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

The announcement was made during a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion.

Declared with moral certainty

Reading from his decree, the Bishop stated, "I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful."

Today’s declaration makes Our Lady of Good Help at Champion the first and only site in the United States of an approved apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Three apparitions in 1859

In October 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on three occasions to Adele Brise, a young Belgian immigrant. Brise stated that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the "Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners."

The Lady asked Brise to pray for sinners, as well as to gather the children and teach them what they should know for salvation. The Blessed Virgin followed the commands with these words of assurance to Adele Brise, "Go and fear nothing, I will help you."

Since 1859, countless faithful have made the pilgrimage to Champion, Wisconsin to offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition to Jesus and to ask for intercession from Our Lady of Good Help.

Fulfilling obligations

After receiving the apparitions, Adele Brise immediately began to fulfill the obligations the Blessed Virgin entrusted to her. She gathered local children and taught them how to pray, make the sign of the cross, and to give love, thanks, and praise to the Lord.

As part of her commitment to the Blessed Virgin, Brise set up a Catholic school and began a community of Third Order Franciscan women. Eventually, a school and convent were built on the grounds to further the mission entrusted to Brise.

Spared during Peshtigo fire

The 151-year history of the Shrine is rich with written and oral accounts of prayers that have been answered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. The sources document physical healings and conversions that have taken place as a result of pilgrimages to the Shrine.

In addition, as the Peshtigo fire of 1871 engulfed the surrounding area, the entire five acres of land consecrated to the Blessed Virgin remained unscathed. It is believed that the land was spared after Brise organized a prayer vigil that circled the area.

More information

Finding the Shrine

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help
4047 Chapel Drive
New Franken, WI 54229
Phone: (920) 866-2571
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Web site


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Who we are

The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay works to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ by helping people in need and by providing academic, leadership and spiritual formation opportunities to parish and school leaders. Established in 1868, the Diocese is composed of 345,000 Catholics in 16 counties: Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Forest, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara and Winnebago.


Deacon Ray DuBois
Director of Communications
Phone: (920) 272-8213 or 1-877-500-3580, ext. 8213
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