Friday, November 30, 2012

The Devil Inside

Double-barrel 1911 lands ATF approval, importation to begin next year

arsenal af2011-a1

By Max Slowik

( The ATF has given Arsenal the green light to import their double-barreled, double-everything 1911. Arsenal turned a lot of heads a few months back when they announced their truly unique handgun, the AF2011-A1, but many assumed that the gun would never wind up for sale in the U.S., because it fires two cartridges with one pull of the trigger, making it a machine gun according to federal law.

Arsenal maintained that their double trigger design, and matching pair of sears and hammers, would not raise the hackles of the gatekeepers of the guns, and they were right on the money. From their press release:

"The US Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) has officially granted import permission and sale in the United States of America of the AF2011-A1 Second Century double barrel pistol, with a total score of 120 Points, according to Form 4590.

"Arsenal Firearms Group proudly announces the official distribution to America of the whole line of double barrel firearms and dedicated accessories starting on January the 1st 2013, through the appointed US Importer of Record, Apex International LLC of Middletown, CT and according to a 'Direct Dealer Distribution.'

"The Company wishes to take this opportunity to thank warmly the millions of followers, enthusiasts and supporters in the United States of America and worldwide: they are part of the dream and indeed our main reason to be."

We can't help but be excited about this crazy handgun. Yes, it's ridiculous, we completely agree with that. It's two inches thick and weighs four pounds unloaded. Even with a full set of magazines it's got a capacity of 8+8+1+1 rounds, and it's probably going to cost a cubic foot of money.

It's just… we're so surprised that this gun is going to even be available. How can we not want to get behind one?

Arsenal says that they will have a full line of firearms and accessories and they will launch all of it at the 2013 SHOT Show. This may mean just the AF2011-A1, but we hope it means their Second Century double 1911 chambered in .38 Super and also their highly-anticipated Strizh pistols.

Their Strizh, or Strike One as they plan to market it in the U.S., is a truly 21st century handgun, a striker-fired pistol built on either a polymer or alloy frame designed for law enforcement and competition use. The Russian ministry of defense has already announced that they intend to retire the Makarov and replace it with the Strizh.

Arsenal is a joint Russian and Italian firm that's still just a couple of years old, but they have our attention to say the least. Their designs are innovative and promising, and the wait between now and SHOT Show is going to kill us.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Officer Larry DePrimo, who gave homeless man warm boots, honored by NYPD


 (Newsday) NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo -- an instant hero after a photograph showing him giving shoes to a barefoot man went viral -- said he didn't expect anything in return.

But when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly honored the young officer from Holbrook Thursday, presenting him with a special set of cuff links, DePrimo beamed.

"This, I am never letting go," he said afterward at police headquarters. "He gave me police department commissioner cuff links . . . He showed me his, and they were identical. So I have to buy a little more dress shirts to wear them with."

DePrimo, 25, an officer with less than three years' experience, rocketed to fame when a tourist's snapshot was posted on the NYPD's Facebook page. It shows him in uniform, giving shoes and socks to an unidentified man the night of Nov. 14 near Times Square. The photo has been viewed 1.9 million times to date, the department said.

Concerned about the man's well-being in frigid weather, DePrimo said he paid $75 out of his own pocket for the insulated shoes and thermal socks.

"It is surreal right now . . . a humbling experience," he said of the hubbub. "I did it just because I felt it was what I had to do."

DePrimo credited his parents for bringing him up right.

"They raised me extremely well. A lot of what I am today is because of my upbringing," he said, adding that his mother cried when she learned of his act of generosity.

His neighbors in Holbrook have offered their own congratulations, and the Town of Islip is drafting plans to issue its own commendation, a spokesman said.

As news of his good deed spread, DePrimo said he was expecting jokes from fellow officers at the Sixth Precinct station house. They congratulated him instead.

"It is a humbling experience to have real heroes who have been on this job a lot longer than I have shaking my hand," he said.


Gingrich: The key ‘R’ word is Republican, not Romney

Gingrich: The key ‘R’ word is Republican, not Romney

By Newt Gingrich

(Human Events) With all the efforts to understand the recent election defeat, a lot of the focus has been on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his campaign.

That is exactly the wrong way to begin analyzing the outcome of the 2012 campaign.

The focus on Romney as a candidate is profoundly misleading for those who want to prepare for future Republican victories.

Any analysis of recent Republican presidential results will reveal a systemic failure which can’t be ascribed to Romney.

The last clear Republican presidential victory was in 1988 when Vice President George H W Bush won with 53.37 percent over Dukakis.

Since then we have lost the popular vote in five out of six elections for president and dramatically underperformed in re-electing a president with the lowest margin in the history of presidential re-elections. (Other incumbents were defeated for re-election but none was re-elected with a narrower margin than President George W. Bush in 2004.)

Consider the results:

President George H. W. Bush lost re-election in 1992 in a three way race with then-Gov. Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The Republican got 38 percent in a three way race.

Senator Bob Dole got 41 percent against President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Then-Gov. George W Bush got 543,816 fewer votes than Vice President Al Gore, but won because of a fluke in the electoral college. It was the fourth weakest winning performance in American history.

President George W Bush was re-elected with 50.73 percent of the vote in 2004. It was the weakest Presidential re-election in American history. This was against a candidate who on 53 issues averaged being in the minority position by 77 to 17 percent as a senator and whose record was more liberal than Senator Ted Kennedy’s.

By contrast, President Richard Nixon got 60.17 percent of the vote for re-election in 1972 and President Ronald Reagan got 58.77 percent of the vote for re-election in 1984. So the Republicans in 2004 were running between eight and ten per cent behind the norm for re-election.

Then Sen. Obama beat Sen. McCain in 2008 with the Republican only getting 45 percent and losing by 9,549,000 votes.

The defeat of Romney with 47.61 percent of the vote running 5,910,000 behind President Obama is about the norm for recent Republican candidates.

Instead of looking at the Romney campaign in isolation Republican activists and analysts should be looking at the culture, structure and system of the GOP and its consultants, people who are paid for campaign advice without long term institutional responsibilities.

Republicans need a thorough systematic lessons-learned approach because the problem is systemic rather than personality-based.

Any team which has had 20 straight years of underperforming ought to review the entire system and not simply focus on the newest scapegoat.

In the first weeks of our “Lessons to be Learned” project at Gingrich Productions, we have already begun to develop insights that are systemic rather than personality driven.

There are big problems from the failure to think strategically about issues, to the unwillingness to engage the proliferation of infotainment outlets, to the methodical failure to include minorities even when they agree with us on values and issues.

Over the next few months we will be issuing a series of reports on different aspects of the Republican failure to modernize.

As George Santayana warned: “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

We do not need to lose five of the next six presidential elections to learn that we have some serious thinking to do.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hitler’s Pope, Nazi Crimes, and The New York Times

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

New evidence unmasks a myth that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope:’ and a shocking failure of The New York Times to tell the world of the Holocaust.

These Stone Walls might seem a strange place to be reading this story, but in a way it might make sense. Too many Catholic writers today seem to fear The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream news media.

It’s a subtle fear that I laid out in “The Catholic Press Needs to Get Over Its Father Maciel Syndrome.” There are courageous exceptions, of course, and notable among them are Bill Donohue of The Catholic League and David F. Pierre of The Media Report. Both have repeatedly and forcefully called The New York Times to task for its distortions of news pertaining to the Catholic Church. Nowhere have these distortions been more evident than in the Catholic sex abuse scandal, a drama I have lived every day for the last 18 years. It’s also a drama that leads the late 20th Century litany of anti-Catholic agendas in the news. I gave several examples in a post entitled “Catholic Scandal and the News Media.”

Running a close second in that litany is the story of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. You have all read or heard the claims that Pope Pius XII was silent, at best, during the Holocaust, and at worst secured an accommodation with the Third Reich that saved the Catholic Church at the expense of the Jews. It’s not at all true, but the truth has had an uphill climb against the pervasive story, told again and again, that Pope Pius XII failed to confront Hitler during his systematic genocide of over six million European Jews and millions of others. You’ve heard the story of this supposed silence in a slanderous media sound bite that Pope Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope.” Next to the “pedophile priest” propaganda, it is probably the most often used and abused modern anti-Catholic slur. But simply put, it is a lie.

Newly emerging evidence reveals that the entire story was the result of an organized propaganda effort sponsored by the Soviet KGB to discredit Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church. It’s a shocking story, the stuff of Tom Clancy novels and wild conspiracy theories, but it’s also true, and I’ll unravel that truth in a few moments... (continued)



Vatican City, 25 November 2012 (VIS) - At midday today, following his concelebration of the Eucharist with the new cardinals, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to recite the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Pope began by recalling that the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, which closes the liturgical year, "summarises the mystery of Jesus, 'first born from the dead and the ruler of all the powers of the earth'".

"The entire mission of Jesus and the content of His message consists in proclaiming the Kingdom of God and establishing it among men through signs and wonders", the Pope said. "But, as Vatican Council II observes, 'the Kingdom is first manifested in the very person of Christ', a kingdom He founded through His death on the cross and resurrection, by which He is revealed as the eternal Lord, Messiah and Priest. This Kingdom of Christ has been entrusted to the Church, which is the 'seed' and 'beginning' and has the task of proclaiming it and spreading it among all the nations with the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the determined time the Lord will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father and present to Him all those who have lived according to the commandment of love. ... We are all called to extend the salvific work of God, converting to the Gospel and committing ourselves to serving the King Who came not to be served but to serve and give testimony to the truth".

Benedict XVI then invited those present to pray for the six new cardinals, created yesterday, so that "the Holy Spirit may strengthen them in faith and in charity and fill them with His gifts in order that they live their new responsibility as a further commitment to Christ and His Kingdom".

"May the Virgin help all of us to live this present time awaiting the Lord’s return, imploring God, 'Thy Kingdom come', and fulfilling those works of light that bring us ever closer to heaven, aware that, through the troubling vicissitudes of history, God continues to build His Kingdom of love", the Pope concluded.

Following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI mentioned the fact that Maria Troncatti was beatified yesterday in Macas, Ecuador. The new blessed was a religious of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and born in Val Camonica, Italy; she served as a nurse during the World War I, after which she went to Ecuador where she "dedicated herself fully to the service of the people of the forest, evangelisation and human development".


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Publicly Calling Abortionists to Repent

By Fr. Frank Pavone


(Priests for Life) One of the most effective ways to stop abortion is to dry up the supply of abortion providers. This happens to a large extent by itself, as the already relatively small band of abortionists grows older and young doctors seem more reluctant to use their skills to destroy babies. However, the abortion industry aggressively recruits doctors for its purposes. Incidentally, this is a major reason for their push toward chemical abortions.

There are a number of things the pro-life movement can do to see to it that although abortion is legal, fewer and fewer people will be willing to provide it.

One of those things is actually a very old practice in the Christian world: admonish the sinner. This is one of the spiritual works of mercy. An aspect of charity is to alert the sinner to the harm that sin does to him/her, as well as to the victim. In fact, the Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, says that crimes like abortion do more harm to those who practice them than to the victims themselves!

Abortion is a public activity, and is publicly advertised. There is nothing against charity to publicly call for prayers for the abortion provider, by name, and to publicly call upon the abortionist to repent.

The demands of charity in this case include being absolutely sure that the person in question does in fact provide abortions, and saying nothing untrue about the person. They also include making it clear that we in the pro-life movement and the Church always have the door open to those ready to repent of child-killing, as so many have already done. Approaching the individual, and providing opportunities for confidential dialog, are activities that also need to be included.

Besides the repentance of the individual, however, there is another side to the activity of publicly admonishing abortionists that the Church cannot afford to ignore. Even when a particular abortion provider does not repent, the public identification of that person as an abortionist sends a clear signal to other abortionists and to those in medical school who might consider becoming abortionists: Perform this activity, and you will face the spotlight, with all the discomfort that entails! We have evidence that this works in dissuading actual and potential abortion providers.

One thing the abortion movement can never do is to remove the stigma from abortion. When we point out that specific people perform abortions, we capitalize on the biggest weakness of the other side.

It is interesting that many who perform abortions do not want to be called abortionists. Those who practice psychology are called psychologists. Those who practice neurology are called neurologists. There is nothing unusual, therefore, if we call those who practice abortion abortionists. The difference, of course, is that abortion carries a stigma which no amount of money or power can take away. That is a fact we should use to our advantage.


Holy Shoot

Churches offering gun training to attract members

By Justin Rocket Silverman


A neighbor’s sign “has been an attendance driver,” preacher Jeff Copley says of a critic of his church’s gun classes.

(The Daily) MARENGO, Ohio — Salvation isn’t automatic — but it might be semiautomatic.

In an effort to increase membership, a number of U.S. churches — including the Church of Christ congregation in this rural village 30 miles north of Columbus — are offering an unconventional public service: Concealed weapons training.

“Church has done a good job with coffee klatsches or whatever, but we haven’t really reached out to guys,” said Jeff Copley, a preacher at the church. “And guys in Morrow Country, they shoot and they hunt.”

Hundreds of students have enrolled in the 10-hour course, which meets the state requirements for earning a concealed weapons permit. The training includes two hours on a church member’s private shooting range.
“I grew up going to church, but hadn’t attended in a number of years,” said David Freeman, 52, a local engineering manager who attended a firearm safety class at the church. “Always considered myself a Christian. I came for the gun classes and have been coming back for two years.”

The Marengo church launched its program several years ago and was likely among the first in the country to offer concealed weapons training. But from Texas to North Carolina, a smattering of congregations have recently followed suit, as ministers seek to capitalize on local enthusiasm for gun culture and demand for carry permit classes to expand their flocks.

Central Baptist Church in Lexington, N.C., held its first concealed weapons classes in March, in what the Rev. Ryan Bennett described as just “another avenue to reach people.”

“We want to draw people in to our campus,” Bennett told a local newspaper at the time. “And we’re going to try anything that we can to do that.”

While conceding that he carries a 9mm pistol with him at all times, he said he doesn’t want his congregation to be labeled “gun-toting.”

“We promote responsibility. We don’t endorse violence,” he said. “It’s just another way to draw people in.”
In Texas, where it’s legal to carry guns into any church without a specific no-firearms policy, Heights Baptist in remote San Angelo began offering concealed carry classes in June. The class was a response to security concerns among congregants.

“We’re about 150 miles from the border with Mexico and we’re very unsure about our insecure borders — about what’s coming into our cities,” Pastor James Miller told NRA News. “Personally, I feel more secure that should our worship time be interrupted by a life-threatening intrusion, that we would at least stand some kind of a chance in stopping either a mass killing or terrorizing experience.”

Preacher Jeff, as Marengo Christian’s Copley is called by his flock, likewise emphasizes the spiritual importance of being able to defend oneself.

“Jesus advises his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword,” he told The Daily. “He instructed his people to be prepared to defend themselves. It’s really hard to find someone in our congregation that doesn’t shoot somehow.”

In part, the new offerings represent a response to broadly declining religious enthusiasm. Across the country, about 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as unaffiliated with any church, up from 15 percent five years ago, according to a study released this month by the Pew Research Center.

Against that backdrop, the classes “may reflect the desperation of some churches to attract members in a time of decline,” said Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University.

But gun training remains out of step with mainstream doctrine. For example, the National Council of Churches of Christ, which represents about 100,000 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Evangelical churches comprising 45 million members nationwide, endorsed strict gun control in a 2010 position paper.

Conceding the need for an armed police force, the council wrote that “to allow assault weapons in the hands of the general public can scarcely be justified on Christian grounds. The stark reality is that such weapons end up taking more lives than they defend, and the reckless sale or use of these weapons refutes the gospel’s prohibition against violence.”

But advocates of gun ownership rights cast the new classes as a reflection of widespread public support for gun rights.

“The Ohio church’s classes are an example of the general cultural shift in the United States over the last two decades, in which people who support responsible gun ownership have become less timid about speaking up in public,” said David Kopel, a policy analyst at the conservative Cato Institute.

Concealed carry licenses have seen a boom in demand in recent years. In Ohio, for example, county sheriffs issued 49,828 new licenses last year, compared to 22,103 in 2007.

But judging from a sign posted in the yard next door to the Church of Christ property, not everyone in Marengo agrees that houses of worship should be offering gun training.

“Some think the Bible is a hunter’s guide,” the sign says. “They are lost.”

For his part, Copley was unfazed by the criticism.

“Frankly the sign has been an attendance driver,” he said. “We’ve had two families come and place memberships because they said this is the kind of thing we’d like to support.”


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shopper who pulled gun at San Antonio mall within rights, cops say

By Ana Ley

(San Antonio Express-News) A shopper who brandished a handgun during a Black Friday scuffle at South Park Mall was within his rights, according to San Antonio police.

Officers were dispatched to the mall's Sears store about 9 p.m. Thursday  in response to a call about a shooting, according to an incident report. When they arrived, they detained Jose Alonzo Salame, 33, who was holding a black 9 mm semi-automatic handgun with a black holster.

"We don't see this very often," Officer Matthew Porter said, adding that Salame did not break the law by displaying the weapon. "He was within his rights."

Police confiscated the gun, which was loaded and had one round in a chamber, the report says.

Salame reportedly showed proof that he had a concealed handgun license, and he told officers that he pulled the gun out to defend himself because he was punched in the face by Alejandro Alex, 35. Salame, who did not fire the weapon, said he feared further injury by Alex.

The store had opened its doors to Black Friday shoppers about an hour before the incident, which occurred as crowds packed into the store.

Witnesses reportedly told police that Salme had behaved rudely that morning and had provoked the situation before pulling the handgun and pointing it at Alex, though San Antonio Police Sgt. Rob Carey said at the scene of the incident that he had actually pointed it at the ground.

Roger Rivera, who was shopping in the Sears, said Salame was punched then pulled a gun. Everyone scattered, "tumbling over things, dropping boxes," Rivera said. The man who was trying to cut in line ran and hid behind a refrigerator before he fled the store.

"It kind of went a little crazy in there," Carey said.

Rivera told his kids to get down. While everyone was panicking, the man with the gun stood there, he said, and looked around, lowering the weapon.

For about 10 minutes, the shopping stopped, said Rivera, and his wife Teresa, who was also in Sears but in another part of the store. She raised concerns about whether Sears had enough security, noting that she only saw men at the store wearing "Security" vests.

Salame was released from police custody and asked to leave the store with the rest of his family. A manager gave him a store voucher, the report says.

"We're glad the incident was resolved peacefully," said Sears spokeswoman Kim Freely. "The safety of our customers and associates are our No. 1 priority."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The First Thanksgiving: A Tale of Squanto of The Dawn Land

By Father Gordon J. MacRae

The True Story of Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pilgrims, and the Pope” is one of our most widely read and most often reproduced posts on These Stone Walls where it has become a sort of Thanksgiving tradition. Some readers told me last year that they handed out copies to the guests at their Thanksgiving table. Others sent links to everyone they know. The tale that post tells is not at all like the story of the first Thanksgiving in America that our grade school history books told. It’s a story of real pilgrimage, and it’s the truth.

It’s a truth, however, that has an even better Thanksgiving story than the one we knew – or thought we knew. The tale’s hero is the Native American, Tisquantum – aka “Squanto” – from a place on the shores of Massachusetts his people called “The Dawn Land.” The winds of change and the gravity of grace required much from Squanto before he stepped into the lives of the Puritan Pilgrims we are accustomed to honoring on Thanksgiving. The short of it is that Squanto rescued them from annihilation... (continued)


Church of England rejects female bishops by six votes

Church of England rejects female bishops by six votes
Reverend Marie-Elsa Bragg (R) hugs Reverend Angie Nutt after leaving Church House on November 20, 2012 in London, England. The Church of England's governing body, known as the General Synod, has voted against allowing women to become bishops.

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– After decades of debate, the Church of England formally voted down draft legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops.

Debate on the draft legislation Tuesday spanned seven hours and saw more than 100 people voice support or opposition for the draft legislation.

At its General Synod meeting, despite the ardent support of the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, the measure failed to secure a two-thirds majority in all of the three voting bodies of the church, the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity...

 Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Justin Welby. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

"The ministry of women priests," Welby, the current Bishop of Durham and archbishop-designate, told the Synod, "has been powerful in all areas of the church except as part of the episcopacy."

"It is time to finish the job and vote for this measure. But also the Church of England needs to show how to develop the mission of the church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division; diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity," he said, according to a copy of his statement posted on the church's website.

During the debate, Jane Pattison, from the Diocese of Sheffield, voiced opposition to the measure, according to the Episcopal News Service. She told the assembly that it would “promote the loss of conservative evangelical and traditional catholic ministry in the Church of England. I suggest that the church cannot afford this loss. … England cannot afford this loss if we are serious about sharing the Gospel with the nation...”

The legislation titled "Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure" received broad support by the House of Bishops with 44 votes for, three against and two abstentions. The House of Clergy was similarly supportive with 148 in favor and 45 against. Both votes cleared the needed two-thirds majority.  But the 132 for and 74 against vote in the House of Laity came up six votes shy needed for the measure to pass.

The Bishop of Bristol said in a statement the vote was disastrous.

"Whilst I have never believed it necessary for anyone to leave the church on the basis of the measure before us today, others clearly took another view," the Rt. Rev. Mike Hill said in a statement posted by the Diocese of Bristol.

“It will be very difficult for those of us who have supported the ordination of women bishops to process our disappointment in the days ahead. My prayers are with the many people who are hurting, particularly women in our churches and those within and outside the church who are bemused and disillusioned by such a failure," Hill said.

The House of Bishops of the Church of England will hold an emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote on Wednesday morning according to a statement by the Church of England.


Dumb Ways to Die - Greatest PSA... Ever

From The Daily:

Australian Metro creates a brilliant safety video entitled ‘Dumb Ways to Die’

The Australian Metro wanted to get out the message about being safe around its tracks in the most memorable way possible. Behold their catchy masterpiece of adorable mayhem, entitled “Dumb Ways to Die.”


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Twinkie Changed For Good Thanks To World War II

By Dina Spector Insider) Hostess Brands announced yesterday it was shutting down operations after failing to reach an agreement with thousands of striking bakery workers.

The 82-year-old company manufactured all kinds of confectionery goodies, including Ding Dongs, Sno Balls, and Ho Hos, but is perhaps best known for the iconic vanilla creme-filled Twinkie. The golden sponge cake Americans have come to love, however, is slightly different than gooey snack that was first introduced by James Alexander Dewar in 1930.
That's because the original Twinkie was made with banana filling. Then World War II came along and bananas were rationed. Hostess was forced to come up with a different creme flavor. They settled on vanilla.
And the rest, as they say, is history. The vanilla flavor was an instant hit, once helping to secure Hostess' spot as the largest wholesale baker in the country. That era has now come to an abrupt end. The company plans to sell its snack cakes and other products until supplies run out, sparking Twinkie runs from coast to coast.

Let the hoarding begin!


News station confirms that UFO sighting is neither bird nor plane

(MSN) Who doesn't love a UFO sighting on a slow news day? A Denver FOX31 news crew has confirmed a local man's report of unidentified flying objects regularly zipping around the sky. Like the man, the crew was able to capture on camera the mysterious objects. The Federal Aviation Administration and the North American Aerospace Defense Command both shrugged, saying they had no records or reports of such activity, so the station summoned an aviation expert, who was also stumped. "That is not an airplane. That is not a helicopter. Those are not birds. I can’t identify it," he said. But while he allowed that it might be some kind of debris, "as it fits the definition, it's an unidentified flying object." Cue the creepy music. [Source]


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Malicious Mangling of the Virgin Mary

By Brent Bozell

Brent Bozell( A Christian can be crushed gazing at the picture of Mary standing at the foot of the cross, watching her beloved son suffocate and die. But in that vision, she stands there for hours, patiently enduring her suffering.

For two millennia, she has been a role model for Christians, a woman who practiced obedience in the most difficult of human circumstances, with fervent hope for what this sacrifice will offer all mankind as it struggles with sin.

This is why it seems so hard to reflect that vision of patience when black-hearted "artists" practice character assassination on the Blessed Virgin Mary to strip her of every virtue: her patience, her obedience, her courageous love and her prayerful faith in God. On Nov. 13, Simon and Schuster launched a vicious little 96-page novella titled "The Testament of Mary."

The author, an Irish ex-Catholic named Colm Toibin,  presents us instead with a Bible-burning "reimagination" of an alienated Mary who fled the scene of her son's death in fear for her own life. Two decades after the Resurrection -- or was there one? -- this anti-Mary is filled with bitterness and rage. She describes herself as "unhinged" and bubbling with contempt for her son's demented followers, to the extreme that she threatens the Gospel writers with a knife. She lives as a bandit, stealing to survive.

Her son's followers must be stopped from making Jesus a god, "or else everything that happened will become a sweet story that will grow poisonous as bright berries that hang low on trees." Toibin describes the scene of the crucifixion in mercenary terms: "It was like a marketplace, but more intense somehow, the act that was about to take place was going to make a profit for both seller and buyer."

Christ's disciples are "fools, twitchers, malcontents, stammerers," while her son's preaching sounded to her "false, and his tone all stilted, and I could not bear to hear him, it was like something grinding and it set my teeth on edge."

There is no God in her father or her son. She proclaims of the death of Jesus only: "when you say that he redeemed the world, I will say that it was not worth it. It was not worth it."

Toibin's last book of literary criticism was titled "New Ways to Kill Your Mother." In this book, he murders the mother of God.

In a positive critique in The New York Times, reviewer Mary Gordon explained "The making of the Gospels is portrayed not as an act of sacred remembrance but as an invasion and a theft. The Evangelists -- which are they? Luke, perhaps, or John? -- are portrayed as menacing intruders, with the lurking shadowy presence of Stalin's secret police."

In our nation's most prestigious newspaper, an author and his feminist reviewer can conjure up the apostles of Christ as Stalinist torturers. But when a Danish newspaper published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad as a freedom-of-speech test in 2005, the Times would not show them as "a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols."

This is what Toibin's book is: a gratuitous assault on Christianity and its central drama of salvation. The Times reviewer recognized that and enjoyed it.

"Mary, the mother of Jesus, has given Christianity a good name. None of the negatives that have made Christianity a byword for tyranny, cruelty and licensed hatred have attached to her," Gordon began. "The problem with all this is that it has led to centuries of sentimentality -- blue and white Madonnas with folded hands and upturned eyes, a stick with which to beat independent women."

Washington Post book reviewer Ron Charles was less laudatory: "If you'd enjoy a tale predicated on the idea that Christian faith is a toxic collection of 'foolish anecdotes' based on a 'fierce catastrophe,' Merry Christmas!"

Charles found it refreshing this garbage bag of words "hasn't sparked outrage or boycotts -- a reassuring testament to the West's tolerance for such artistic license and Toibin's prominence. Some of us are a lot calmer nowadays about creative re-imaginings of sacred figures."

He somehow left Catholics out of the picture as he expressed relief that "Evangelicals in this country may finally have caught on to the fact that fiery condemnation plays right into the marketing plans of books that would otherwise ascend into oblivion." He notes Toibin's tome has been "widely praised in England, but Toibin is a larger presence there, and churchgoing isn't."

Somehow, he's not making the obvious connection: Toibin and other God-hating authors are consciously conspiring to empty out the churches, and Christian believers cannot always refuse to condemn them. Speaking up for Christ and his mother (and ours) is a solemn duty, not an option.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Voyager 1 Enters Interstellar Space

By Father Gordon J. MacRae at These Stone Walls

....This milestone for Voyager is a very big deal for science and for planet Earth, but there’s also something humbling about it. TSW readers of a certain age will remember the great 1968 film masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey” for which producer/director Stanley Kubrick won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1969. Based on a novella by science fiction legend, Arthur C. Clarke entitled, The Sentinel, “2001: A Space Odyssey” was Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 vision of what human space travel would look like by 2001.

It included commercial airline shuttle flights to a giant space station in orbit around Earth, excavations on the dark side of the Moon, and a science crew sent in cryogenic stasis to the moons of Jupiter shepherded by two pilots played by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. They were guided on the mission by HAL-9000, a computer (Mac or PC? You decide!) suffering a nervous breakdown. “Open the pod bay doors, Hal,” ordered stranded astronaut, David Bowman (Keir Dullea). “I’m sorry, Dave, but I can’t do that,” HAL-9000 calmly replied.

When the real 2001 came and went, the reality of space travel was not even close to what Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick envisioned. NASA’s manned Apollo lunar landings had been abandoned decades earlier, and the only orbiting space station, a tin can next to Kubrick’s vision, was Russia.

Voyager’s real space odyssey of 2012 might be a lot less glamorous than manned flights to the moons of Jupiter, but it’s still a great moment in human history. For the very first time, an object created by human beings has left our Solar System to begin a journey into space beyond the influence of our star, the Sun. Voyager has passed at last into what Star Trek called “The Final Frontier.” For science fiction buffs, that might seem one small step for man, but for science itself, it’s one giant leap for mankind.
WHY 1977?

Once every 176 years, the five outer planets of our Solar System – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and the now downgraded Pluto – are aligned in such a pattern that a spacecraft launched from Earth to Jupiter at just the right time would be able to visit the other planets using a slingshot trick of physics called “gravity assist.”

The Voyager 1 and 2 planetary probes were launched in the summer of 1977 to take advantage of this rare alignment. The next opportunity would have been the year 2153. Voyager 2 was actually launched first on August 20, 1977 followed by Voyager 1 on September 5. They were named in reverse order because it was calculated that Voyager 1 would overtake Voyager 2 after reaching Jupiter in March of 1979.

The slingshot effect of “gravity assist” shot Voyager 1 away from Jupiter for a flyby of Saturn in 1980, Uranus in 1985, and then Pluto in 1989, while Voyager 2 took a slingshot from Uranus to Neptune. After visiting Pluto in August of 1989, it took Voyager 1 another 23 years to reach and break through the outer limits of the Solar System, something that happened last month... (continued)

Notorious Church-Suing Lawyer Obtained Clients by Phoning Parishioners and ‘Fishing for Victims’

John Manly Catholic abuse lawyer John C. Manly
Unethical conduct for financial gain? Southern California contingency lawyer John C. Manly

From The Media Report:

Southern California contingency lawyer John Manly, who has pocketed millions of dollars by suing the Catholic Church, has now admitted that his office has obtained clients for abuse lawsuits by making unsolicited phone calls to Catholic Church parishioners.

This startling new revelation in the Catholic Church abuse narrative was exclusively reported by Sue Nowicki at The Modesto Bee newspaper.

According to Nowicki's piece, numerous individuals in the Diocese of Stockton (Calif.) have said that they received unsolicited phone calls to their homes from a woman hired by Manly. These calls, they claim, left them to conclude that Manly was "fishing" for victims in the case of an accused Catholic priest, Fr. Michael E. Kelly.

Manly has admitted that he hired the woman, but only to "investigate" Kelly.


The obvious question for Manly is this: For what other reason would a Church-suing contingency lawyer "investigate" a Catholic priest except to garner clients?

Confronted with the charge that he was "fishing for victims," Manly, of course, denied the claim.

"We don't call people and ask if they want to be in lawsuits," Manly said in part to Nowicki. "That's not happening; it's not what we do. What we are doing is investigation. 'Did you ever see anything that was odd with Father Kelly?' That's how we got our first client."

So Manly has pretty much admitted that he found his first client against Fr. Kelly by "investigating" areas where the cleric worked. Wow.

The phone calls revealed

Some recipients of the phone calls from Manly's employee say the calls left them "infuriated and disgusted."

Nowicki reports:
"[One recipient said] she was given the 'strong impression' that if she said her son, now 32, was interested in filing a lawsuit, 'they would have jumped all over that. They were going to find something (against Kelly), regardless if there was any cause for action.'"
And another:
"[Another woman] tried to tell [the caller] that she has known Kelly for three decades and described his positive influence on her sons. 'She told me she has found 10 more victims … She was going on and on and tried to convince me that I was stupid and didn't realize this was going on. I finally had to hang up on her.'"
Are these calls legal?

In her article, Nowicki reveals, "According to the state Bar Association, it is unethical for attorneys to make calls soliciting clients for financial gain." Indeed, it will be interesting to see if the California bar says anything about Manly's actions. (In 2006, by the way, Manly was sanctioned by a judge for "unacceptable" conduct.)..

Mitt Romney’s legacy: No ‘Romneyists’


(The Washington Post) In a New York magazine piece this week, Benjamin Wallace-Wells eulogizes Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The headline pretty much sums it up: “So long, Mitt: In love with America, terrified for its future, relegated to its past.” But in the final paragraph, Wallace-Wells made a good observation about Romney’s lasting legacy as the GOP nominee. “[J]ust a week after Romney seemed poised to become president,” he writes, “there is no segment of the Republican Party that could be called Romneyist.” That’s part of the reason why he lost.

Many times during the campaign, I slammed Romney for his ideological promiscuity. His flip-flopping was a character flaw that engendered mistrust among the Republican base and disbelief among the general electorate. As I wrote last month, politicians changing their minds on a core issue isn’t uncommon and should be respected. What Romney did during his six years running for president was change his mind on everything.

Romney’s change of position on abortion, gay rights, gun control, immigration, climate change, his own health care law — collectively, they called into question whether he had a core at all. They also made it impossible for those who believed in the former Massachusetts governor to point to anything he really believed in.
That’s why there’s no discernable Romney philosophy from 2012 that will define the Republican Party for decades to come. That’s why there are no Romneyites.

In the end, what befell Romney is his problem, not his party’s. Everyone knows where the GOP stands, even if they haven’t a clue where Romney does.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Priest: "I want to start a Catholic Church television station that has the Latin Mass every day."

From Shawn Tribe:

Here is an interesting story I picked up on from a private mailing list I on:

RIPON — After a decade of shepherding the faithful at St. Patrick’s Parish in Ripon, Father Peter Carota is moving on to the next chapter of his spiritual service to the Lord.

That next chapter is a yearlong sabbatical. His last official day as pastor of the parish is Tuesday, Nov. 13.


Father Carota is planning to pursue a dream that he has nurtured for a long time.

“I want to start a Catholic Church television station that has the Latin Mass every day. That’s my dream,” he said.

Like the early pioneers who came west in search of their dream – “we don’t know where we’re going but we’re on our way,” was their common refrain – Father Carota is on his way to fulfill his dream although, he admits, “I don’t know how that’s going to happen...”  (continued)


South Carolina Episcopal Parish Members to Convert to Catholic Church

(The Post and Courier) The breakup in the Episcopal diocese has led some members of one local parish, the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Holy Communion, to make a move of their own.

Five families will follow the Rev. Patrick Allen, curate at Holy Communion, into the arms of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Dow Sanderson, rector of Holy Communion, will remain part of the Episcopal Church, along with most of the congregation, and strive to be neutral as the drama plays out, he said.

The fracture comes as no surprise; worshippers at this historic downtown parish at 218 Ashley Ave. have long preferred to uphold Catholic traditions.

Holy Communion adheres to the Oxford Movement’s assertion that the Church of England (and other Anglican Church bodies) has been, and is now, an apostolic church, a direct descendant of St. Peter’s church, a true inheritor of the word of Christ.

Protestantism, instead, holds that there is no “one true church,” that individuals have the authority to forge a personal relationship with Christ and don’t really require the aid of an institution.

The 19th-century Oxford Movement asserts that the doctrine of apostolic succession accommodates “One True Church” with three branches: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Its ideas were promoted in a series of pamphlets called “Tracts for the Times” (1833-41).

Allen said the process of becoming Catholic will take several months.

“I will continue to serve as curate at Holy Communion through the end of the year,” he said. “Of the families who are making this move, several adults are involved in ministry and leadership positions here, so they will serve out their terms.”

In January, Allen and the others will join the congregation at St. Mary Catholic Church on Hasell Street to worship. Allen said he hopes to be confirmed as a priest in the Catholic Church by late spring or early summer.

“At that point, we will begin having our own ordinariate (Catholic community of former Anglicans) and Mass,” he said. The group will share St. Mary’s.

More than a year ago, Holy Communion, as a parish, considered opting out of the Episcopal Church and joining the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, but that possibility faded, according to Allen, who addressed the matter in a Nov. 7 letter to the congregation.

With the split in the Episcopal diocese, Allen saw a new opportunity to pursue his goal, though the controversies were not central to his decision, he wrote.

“Mine is a move forward to the Catholic Church, and I am nothing but grateful for my own years in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina,” Allen wrote.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Cardinal Dolan: Possible Re-institution of Abstinence on all Fridays of the Year

From Dr. Edward Peters:

Cardinal Tim Dolan just delivered an excellent address to the USCCB. It needs to be read, and even listened to, in its entirety. Here I’ll underscore just one of his points: “The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent” (my emphasis).

For what it’s worth, I unequivocally endorse the re-institution of Friday abstinence in the US. This decision lies quite within the authority of the USCCB (see 1983 CIC 455, and 1249-1253) and, among other things, would render moot, once and for all, nagging questions about whether the episcopal conference ever really got around to substituting “other forms of penance” for abstinence from meat back in 1966, or 1983/1984, or whenever.

Still I can hear it now: “Okay, Peters, if you’re so gung-ho in Friday abstinence, do you abstain from meat on Fridays now, and even if you do, why should it be made a law for everybody?” Fair enough... (continued)


‘Destroy the idols,’ Egyptian jihadist calls for removal of Sphinx, Pyramids

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”  (Courtesy: Dream TV)
Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.” (Courtesy: Dream TV) 


An Egyptian jihad leader, with self-professed links to the Taliban, called for the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt,” drawing ties between the Egyptian relics and Buddha statues, local media reported this week.

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”

“All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences.

“God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols,” he added. “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do.”

His comments came a day after thousands of ultraconservative Islamists gathered in Tahrir Square to call for the strict application of Sharia law in the new constitution.

But in retaliation to Gohary’s remarks, the vice president of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live program and told Gohary that famous historic military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt.

“So who are you to do it?” he wondered. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”

Gohary, 50, is well-known in Egypt for his advocacy of violence, Egypt Independent reported.

“He was sentenced twice, one of the two sentences being life imprisonment. He subsequently fled Egypt to Afghanistan, where he was badly injured in the American invasion. In 2007, he traveled from Pakistan to Syria, which then handed him over to Egypt. After Mubarak's fall in early 2011, he was released from prison by a judicial ruling,” the newspaper added.

In recent months, fears have surfaced that the ultra-conservative Salafi political powers may soon wish to debate new guidelines over Egyptian antiquities.

Islamists have swept the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in the country’s post-revolutionary stage, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists rising to political power.

“The fundamental Salafis have demanded to cover Pharaonic statues, because they regard them to be idols,” Egyptian author on ancient history Ahmed Osman told Al Arabiya English, explaining that Salafi Muslims follow conservative religious principles which view statues and sculptures as prohibited in Islam.

“But so far the government has done nothing to indicate what is the future of Egyptian antiquities,” adds Osman.

Many hope that Egypt’s new President Mohammed Mursi will help usher better preservation of Egypt’s proud cultural heritage. Egyptian officials have recently announced the country will reveal more of its ancient buried treasures.

The tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu, of Great Pyramid fame, is set to be opened to tourists later this year, with the last resting places of five high priests also slated to be put on show.

Officials are also believed to be reopening the underground Serapeum temple at Sakkara, to the south of Cairo.


No Meat on Mondays in Los Angeles

( - The Los Angeles City Council is urging all residents to observe "meatless Mondays" from now on.

A resolution adopted on Oct. 24 reads: "Be it resolved, that the Council of the City of Los Angeles hereby declares all Mondays as 'Meatless Mondays' in support of comprehensive sustainability efforts as well as to further encourage residents to eat a more varied plant-based diet to protect their health and protect animals."

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced the resolution, also wants to ban new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles.

"While this is a symbolic gesture, it is asking people to think about the food choices they make. Eating less meat can reverse some of our nation's most common illnesses," press reports quoted Perry as saying.

The resolution makes 15 points in support of meatless Mondays, including U.N. recognition that "livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems."

And if that's not enought, the resolution also mentions the growing obesity epidemic, the importance of reducing "our carbon footprint," health disparities in low-income communities, and animal cruelty.

The resolution plugs a vegetarian diet, noting that a nonprofit group in Los Angeles called Compassion Over Killing "encourages people to choose vegetarian foods as a way to help build a kinder, cleaner, and healthier world, and works with businesses throughout Los Angeles County to ensure vegetarian meals are readily available to consumers."

Los Angeles now becomes the largest city to endorse "meatless Mondays." The Washington, D.C., City Council also has designated "Meat Free Mondays," San Francisco has designated every Monday as "Veg Day," and a number of colleges and public schools also have adopted meatless Monday policies.

The text of the resolution endorsing "Meatless Mondays" in Los Angeles is printed below.

WHEREAS, in 2007, the City of Los Angeles adopted GREEN LA: a progressive action plan to lead the nation in fighting global warming, which includes the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting clean technology, reducing air pollution, conserving water, and more;

WHEREAS, the United Nations recognizes that "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems"; and

WHEREAS, recent studies and reports have demonstrated that we can lower our carbon
footprint simply by reducing the amount of animal-based foods we eat; and

WHEREAS, more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese in Los Angeles
County. Statistics show that low-income areas in Los Angeles are at higher risk for preventable diseases linked to obesity, including, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and even cancer; and

WHEREAS, poorer communities around Los Angeles have less access to healthy foods; and

WHEREAS, health disparities exist in various groups, with African-Americans and Hispanics at a higher risk of diseases linked to poor nutrition habits; and

WHEREAS, the American Dietetic Association recognizes that reduced meat consumption decreases the risk of various health problems, stating, "Scientific data suggests positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and some types of cancer"; and

WHEREAS, a growing number of people are reducing their meat consumption to help prevent animal cruelty; and
WHEREAS, in 2008, Californians overwhelmingly supported Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which banned some of the cruelest forms offarmed animal confinement; and

WHEREAS, Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit organization with an office in Los Angeles, encourages people to choose vegetarian foods as a way to help build a kinder, cleaner, and healthier world, and works with businesses throughout Los Angeles County to ensure vegetarian meals are readily available to consumers; and

WHEREAS, several colleges and universities in California and nationwide have added

Meatless Monday menus in their cafeterias including the University of California-Davis and the University of California-San Diego; and

WHEREAS, the Baltimore City Public School System in Maryland, became the first school district in the U.S. to adopt a 100% Meatless Monday policy in 2009, the Oakland Unified School District adopted this policy in 2010, along with other school districts in Arlington, VA, Oneida, NY, and Longmont, CO; and

WHEREAS, the Council of the District of Columbia has designated Mondays as "Meat Free Mondays" highlight the benefits of diets high in fruits and vegetables; and

WHEREAS, the City of San Francisco has designated every Monday as "Veg Day" to encourage restaurants, grocery stores, and schools to offer a greater variety of healthier and more sustainable plant-based options; and

WHEREAS, a growing number of cities, including Takoma Park, MD, Annapolis, MD, and Marin County, CA, have passed resolutions encouraging residents to explore vegetarian eating to help protect their health, the environment, and animals and the Green Cincinnati Plan recommends going meatless one day a week; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Council of the City of Los Angeles hereby declares all Mondays as "Meatless Mondays" in support of comprehensive sustainability efforts as well as to further encourage residents to eat a more varied plant-based diet to protect their health and protect animals.

Councilwoman, 9th District

Councilman, 1st District
OCT 24 2012

OCT 24 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bad Lip Reading of the 2012 US Presidential Debates


Satan went to Padre Pio pretending to be a penitent

From The Tenth Crusade:
Satan went beyond all the limits of deception when he went to Father Pio pretending to be a penitent. This is the Father Pio’s testimony:

 “One day, while I was hearing confessions, a man came to the confessional where I was.

He was tall, handsome, dressed with some refinement and he was kind and polite. He started to confess his sins, which were of every kind: against God, against man and against the morals. All the sins were obnoxious!

 I was disoriented, in fact for all the sins that he told me, but I responded to him with God’s Word, the example of the Church, and the morals of the Saints. But the enigmatic penitent answered me word for word, justifying his sins, always with extreme ability and politeness. He excused all the sinful actions, making them sound quite normal and natural, even comprehensible on the human level.. He continued this way with the sins that were gruesome against God, Our Lady, the Saints, always using disrespectful round-about argumentation.

He kept this up even with with the foulest of sins that could be conjured in the mind of a most sinful man. The answers that he gave me with such skilled subtlety and malice surprised me. I wondered: who is he? What world does he come from? And I tried to look at him in order to read something on his face.

At the same time I concentrated on every word he spoke, trying to discover any clue to his identity.. But suddenly; through a vivid, radiant and internal light I clearly recognized who he was.

With a sound and imperial tone I told him: “Say long live Jesus, long live Mary!” As soon as I pronounced these sweet and powerful names, Satan instantly disappeared in a trickle of fire, leaving behind him an unbearable stench.”

Mel Gibson 'saves group from snake attack'

Mel Gibson(Belfast Telegraph) Mel Gibson reportedly saved a group of people from a deadly snake while on a cleansing retreat...

He recently spent some time at the Miraval Resort & Spa in Arizona, which is when the incident occurred.

"Mel was on a cleansing retreat? and was on a five-mile hike into the desert mountains with eight other guests when he suddenly heard an ominous rattle he knew well as a long-time resident of the Malibu mountains! A split second later, a huge rattlesnake slithered onto the trail and went into attack mode. Instantly, Mel shielded three women next to him with his body, yelling, 'Stay back!'" a source told National Enquirer.

The serpent was six feet long and Mel's companions were reportedly frozen with fear. One managed to hand the actor a tree branch, which he used to fend off the snake.

"Mel charged the rattlesnake, yelling at the top of his lungs, and beat it back off the trail. Then he stood guard, keeping the snake at bay while everyone moved quickly past the danger point," the source added. "When all were safely distant, the group gave Mel a rousing cheer."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in row over water bill

Church of the Holy Sepulchre (2 November 2012)  
The church is a major pilgrimage site for millions of visitors to the Holy Land

(BBC) The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has warned that it may shut its doors to pilgrims in protest at a dispute with an Israeli water company. 

The church, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, has had its bank account frozen at the request of Hagihon over an unpaid $2.3m bill.

The dispute has left hundreds of priests, monks and teachers unpaid.
The church has traditionally not been charged for water, but Hagihon says it is owed money for the past 15 years.

'Unjustified step'

According to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, there was a tacit agreement between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem - which, along with the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Custos, is jointly responsible for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre's administration - and a former mayor of the city that the church would be exempt from water bills.

But in 2004, Hagihon sent a demand to the church for 3.7m shekels ($950,000; £590,000). It was backdated to when the company took over the water supply in the late 1990s.

The Patriarchate reportedly believed it was a mistake because Hagihon did not press it to pay. The company is now demanding that the bill, which has risen to 9m shekels ($2.3m; £1.4m) including interest, be settled. A Hagihon spokesman said Israeli law did not permit any exemptions.

The company had not taken other enforcement steps, such as shutting off the water supply, in order not to disrupt activities at the site, he added.

Father Isidoros Fakitsas, Superior of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, told the Associated Press that an agreement had been reached with Hagihon a few weeks ago.

Under the deal, various denominations of the church would pay their monthly bill and the 9m-shekel debt was to be forgotten, he said.

But to his surprise the Patriarchate's bank account was blocked, making it impossible to pay stipends to some 500 priests and monks, 2,000 teachers and the running costs of more than 30 schools.

According to Maariv, other services have also been affected, including telephones, internet and electricity, as well as companies supplying food.

Father Fakitsas said the Patriarchate would be able to function despite the frozen bank account and that it would try to find an alternative if matters became too difficult, such as opening another bank account.

Patriarch Theophilos III wrote a letter to Israel's prime minister and president warning that the "enforcement of this unjustified step undermines the sanctity and offends the sensitivity of the site".

He told Maariv: "If nothing changes we intend to announce... for the first time in centuries, that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed."

The other Christian denominations which jointly manage the church are said to support the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in its battle.

The Israeli tourism ministry said the issue was between the Patriarchate and the Jerusalem municipality, but that it was trying to mediate between them and hoped that the dispute would be resolved quickly.