Mon 25 Dec 2006
Posted by Dave under ReligionNo Comments
Hope that you have a very Merry Christmas! And may the real of spirit of Christmas fill your heart this year.
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Sun 24 Dec 2006
Posted by Dave under ReligionNo Comments
God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
Was born upon this day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy!
In Bethlehem in Jewry
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn;
The which his mother Mary
Nothing did take in scorn. Refrain
From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came,
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name. Refrain
‘Fear not,’ then said the angel,
‘Let nothing you affright;
This day is born a Saviour
Of virtue, power and might,
So frequently to vanquish all
The friends of Satan quite.’ Refrain
The shepherds at these tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed Babe to find. Refrain
But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this Infant lay,
They found him in a manger
Where oxen fed on hay;
His mother Mary, kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray. Refrain
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace.
The holy tide of Christmas
All others doth efface. Refrain
Fri 22 Dec 2006
Please explain to me again, why “Guilty, But Insane” doesn’t make sense, but “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” does…
Via CNN: Mom threw boys in bay, wrote to God:
A woman who claimed God ordered her to make a human sacrifice chose to kill her three children instead of herself, making her guilty of murder, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments at the woman’s trial.
Prosecutor Linda Allen asked jurors to use their heads, not hearts, to determine Lashuan Harris’ fate.
The mentally ill Oakland woman threw her children into San Francisco Bay last year but has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder by reason of insanity.
Defense attorney Teresa Caffese said Harris believed completely that she was sending her children — 6-year-old Trayshun Harris, 2-year-old Taronta Greeley, Jr., and 16-month-old Joshoa Greeley — to heaven when she threw them over a railing and into the bay’s cold waters.
If Harris believed her delusions were real, Caffese argued, she is innocent of murder.
She said her client was, by many accounts, a good mother and gentle person whose lifelong struggle with mental illness finally overwhelmed her.
The jury begins deliberations on Thursday.
Sane or insane, there is no question that she killed her children.
While Harris believes she heard God’s voice, it took a series of rational decisions to take her children from Oakland to the pier, undress the boys — one of whom struggled with her — hoist them over the railing and drop them into the water, [Prosecutor Linda] Allen said.
Before breaking out all of the legal logic about not being able to premeditate a crime if you are not able to understand your actions… just remember that the children have been sent to their death because of this woman. And it was no accident. Treat her in a mental hospital if that’s appropriate, but do not let her out into society just because she’s insane! If she becomes well enough to be discharged from mental health care, then return her for the balance of any sentance to prison. Period.
Fri 22 Dec 2006
Thu 21 Dec 2006
Indictments have been handed down for four illegal immigrants involved in large scale methamphetamine and cocaine trafficking. The arrests in November netted a $9 million haul of drugs.
Arnulfo Nunez-Villanueva, 26, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, 20, Rafael Garcia-Nunez, 33, and Mauricio Medina-Mojica, 26, all undocumented aliens believed to be from Mexico, were indicted by a federal grand jury late Wednesday.
Search warrants yielded over 145 pounds of Ice, over 135 pounds Of Cocaine and a AR-15 Style Rifle.
“We are coming after those responsible for the scourge of methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs that undermine the well being of our community and our country,” said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. “We will also seek additional charges and longer sentences for anyone possessing or using a firearm in conjunction with their drug trafficking activities.”
The indictment charges the defendants in relation to 5 separate search warrants that were executed in Gwinnett and Barrow Counties on November 21. A search of 4 residences in those counties yielded a total of 145 pounds of crystal methamphetamine (“ice”), 135 pounds of cocaine, and a .223 caliber AR-15 style rifle.
The indictment charges all four defendants with engaging in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine. In addition, Miguel Angel Gonzalez is charged with the actual possession of cocaine and methamphetamine and the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Thu 21 Dec 2006
It was just the other week, when the lawyer for Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson was salavating over the civil lawsuit that the couple was bringing against Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and Richard Armitage.
Besides a fondness for his family, the photos also capture [Wilson’s lawyer Joe] Cotchett’s close relationship with leaders of the Democratic Party, for whom he is an active donor and fundraiser. In one picture taken aboard Air Force 2, the 6-foot 4-inch attorney stands behind Hillary Clinton, who is seated, wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses.
Cotchett plans to reach into a dark chapter in the Clintons’ life to propel the Wilsons’ civil suit. The court ruling that required President Bill Clinton to testify in a lawsuit brought by Paula Jones serves as a precedent to compel testimony from Libby and his co-defendants, Cotchett said.
Libby is also the subject of a criminal case, brought by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, that charges him with perjuring himself and obstructing justice in the course of a federal investigation into the leak of Plame’s identity.
Plame’s employment with the CIA was first revealed in an article by columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003. Joseph Wilson charged that Libby, Rove and other officials deliberately spread that information to Novak and other reporters in retaliation for an article he had published a week earlier in The New York Times.
But in the criminal case, ">Joseph Wilson is not so eager to be put on the stand.
Sloan has asked Walton to quash Wilson’s subpoena to testify, because she says, “We`re concerned that they might be trying to use this opportunity to get information that they couldn’t otherwise get for use in their civil case, in the defense of the civil case.”
Even worse, Wilson is worried about being harassed:
“Mr. Libby should not be permitted to compel Mr. Wilson’s testimony at trial either for the purpose of harassing Mr. Wilson or to gain an advantage in the civil case,” Wilson’s attorneys wrote.
Former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson has filed a motion to quash the witness subpoena issued last week for his testimony for the defense in the Lewis “Scooter” Libby trial, arguing the defense has no right to call a witness whose testimony would not be helpful to the defense.
“Mr. Wilson is such a witness,” the motion to quash said. “He personally observed none of the events that led to Mr. Libby’s indictment and he has no direct personal information regarding Mr. Libby’s defense, i.e., the matters Mr. Libby worked on at the White House or Mr. Libby’s memory or veracity.
“Thus, Mr. Wilson’s testimony would not be relevant or material to the defense and, therefore, should not be compelled.”
This is all very interesting. All of the parade of witness will testify in the obstruction of justice case, including Cheney, and Wilson’s lawyers are geared up to try to compel the world to come to testify in Wilson’s civil case. Meanwhile, when they found out that Richard Armitage was the one who gave information to Robert Novak, not someone from the White House, didn’t Libby become irrelevant to the civil case? Forget for a moment that it turns out that a crime was not commited and the witch-hunt within the administration got stalled when it turned out the wrong guy was the source… it just still seems inconceivable that Wilson & Plame should get money for being harmed in a conspiracy that did not happen.
Thu 21 Dec 2006
As we come closer towards Christmas, it seems that “real news” is going on vacation as well… and there has been a lot less to write about. I mean, I really find it hard to get worked up about the latest silly thing said on The View, since I don’t watch the show nor really care what any of the hostesses think. Maybe there is just a little pleasure when Rosie steps into a deep pile of her own making… but it’s not something that upsets me. I’m also not even curious whether or not Tara Conner gets to keep her crown as Miss USA despite underage drinking and other misbehavior, because before this week and that NBC/Donald Trump media machine put it out there, I did not even know that Tara Conner was Miss USA. And I guess Jennifer Aniston didn’t break up with anyone this week, and Britney Spears kept her pants on, and Terrell Owens just continued his typical unsportsmanlike behavior.
I do care that the Associated Press still hasn’t acknowledged that the questions about Jamil Hussein really points out some fundamental flaws in the way that news is being collected and reported. But instead of looking at it critically, they seem to essentially be ascribing to the Dan Rather School of Journalism (”Fake, but accurate”). Sure, it sounded better to have a legitimate-sounding name thrown in as the source of the reports of mayhem, but the guy (who ever he is, if he does actually exist) does seem to get around an awful lot. Anyway, this week there really are no developments in the story, despite some excitement (ala the possible existance of either Sgt. Jamail Hussein or Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim / Ghulaim), it hasn’t developed much more. Regardless, the AP is not standing up on this in public, and simply can change their stories in the future to refer to unnamed annonymous “sources” and rewrite their existing stories.
This morning, however, I was hit with a reminder of a “blast from the past”. Just yesterday, we heard that VP Dick Cheney will be called to testify in the trial of Scooter Libby, still charged with perjury and obstruction in the “CIA leak case” that really turned out to not be a CIA Leak, and with the wrong target. So this trial continues. Then this morning, I see that Clinton’s National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and his National Archives classified document grab has come back to light. Says the article:
Berger pleaded guilty to unlawfully removing and retaining classified documents. He was fined $50,000, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and was barred from access to classified material for three years.
Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that National Archives employees spotted Berger bending down and fiddling with something white around his ankles.
The employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger’s stature, the report said.
Later, when Berger was confronted by Archives officials about the missing documents, he lied by saying he did not take them, the report said.
Brachfeld’s report included an investigator’s notes, taken during an interview with Berger. The notes dramatically described Berger’s removal of documents during an Oct. 2, 2003, visit to the Archives.
Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.
“He headed toward a construction area. … Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone,” the interview notes said.
He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.
“He was aware of the risk he was taking,” the inspector general’s notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.
The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials. Also, the employees had made copies of some documents.
In October 2003, the report said, an Archives official called Berger to discuss missing documents from his visit two days earlier. The investigator’s notes said, “Mr. Berger panicked because he realized he was caught.”
The notes said that Berger had “destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash.”
After the trash had been picked up, Berger “tried to find the trash collector but had no luck,” the notes said Lewis.
So here’s a guy, on the eve of the 9/11 Commission stealing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives, and he gets a fine and some community service time. And prompted his boss Bill Clinton to say:
“Anybody that ever saw Sandy Berger’s office at the White House would not be surprised that he gets the papers mixed up or takes the wrong ones away,” Clinton grinned. “He’s got a well-organized mind and a disorganized desk.”
I guess he routinely took “smoke-breaks”, hid documents under construction trailers, retrieved them to destroy them in his office… because he had a disorganized desk.
100 Hours of Community Service… ha.
Wed 20 Dec 2006
Sat 16 Dec 2006
Back in 2004, I could not believe that college scholarships were actually being set aside to be awarded to illegal immigrants here in Georgia. It didn’t make sense then, and still doesn’t today.
But amazingly enough, it took until the closing days of 2006 for Georgia to finally end the practice of allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
I’m sure that the activists and their lawsuits will soon follow. Already, at least one state senator can’t understand it:
State Sen. Sam Zamarripa (D-Atlanta), who fought SB 529, said the change sends a devastating message to some of the best and brightest in communities already suffering from soaring high school dropout rates. Many of the students have lived in Georgia nearly their entire lives but know their families can’t pay out-of-state tuition rates, he said.
“It’s unconscionable to punish children for the sins of their parents,” Zamarripa said. “This initiative is essentially going after kids that are more Georgian than anybody who has moved here in the past five years. They like boiled peanuts. They like southern rock. They like the Braves.”
It’s unclear how many students will be directly affected. The university system doesn’t track the number of illegal immigrants attending state universities. And records at individual institutions are often spotty.
Mr. Zamarripa, it’s not unconscionable at all. A college education is a priviledge, not a right. If you are here illegally, some things are not available to you. And certainly a subsidy for in-state students, given under the assumption that the family has been contributing state taxes (which is clearly unknown in the case of an illegal family), is a big leap to make.
Even if the kids, however many there may be, are Braves fans.
Fri 15 Dec 2006
John Kerry is now on his way on his trip to the Middle East, visiting Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Israel. (Although Iran is not on his itinerary, he also said he’d be happy to go there “when the time is right”. I’d be happy to send him there as well!)
All ‘botched jokes’ aside, it does take a certain amount of guts to show up in front of the troops after his ‘botched joke’. He does explain:
“I’ve talked to plenty of guys who’ve come back from Iraq, who are there now, who understand exactly what happened,” Kerry said of his joke in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. “They laugh at it.”
I wish they could explain it to me… but that’s another story.
Anyway, although Kerry says “Blame’s not where I’m at right now. Let’s get the policy right in Iraq.” … he’s now blaming Bush as soon as he landed in Egypt. I found part of that critique as reported by Reuters particularly interesting:
The U.S. administration of President George W. Bush has argued that high-level talks with Syria are pointless because the Syrians do not respond to U.S. policy requests.
But Kerry said: “That’s a mistake… It is nonsensical to set up not talking as some kind of reward/punishment barrier. I think we are shortchanging ourselves in that process.”
The senator also found fault with Bush’s campaign to make Middle East countries more democratic, which for a time was at the forefront of U.S. diplomatic rhetoric in the region.
“I don’t think it’s been particularly effective, in fact it has been counterproductive in certain quarters. It’s created turmoil and uncertainty,” he said.
“We will always be a nation that advocates democracy…but we need to be smart about the steps we take and the pace at which we demand people make transitions,” he added.
So Senator Kerry has asked a good question here. What should be the foreign policy of the United States? Do we actively promote democratic change in the region or return to a policy based on finding a strongman dictator to support.
We know which side outgoing U.N. honcho Kofi Annan would take. It was just the other day when he said he thinks life under Saddam must have been more pleasant:
In the BBC interview, Annan agreed when it was suggested that some Iraqis believe life is worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
“I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi’s life,” Annan said. “If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison, that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, ‘Am I going to see my child again?’
As James Taranto so accurately observed: “Annan isn’t just claiming that Saddam, though brutal, made the trains run on time. He is saying that Saddam actually looked out for the safety of the Iraqi people, the very people his regime was gassing, setting ablaze, tying to tanks, torturing and raping. Is Annan just ignorant, or is he depraved? We suppose it could be a little of both.”
But let’s get back to Kerry for a moment. He says the US should be a supporter of democracy. Except when it’s counterproductive. We should advocate, but not be demanding. We should approach transition, but not if there’s turmoil.
Which is it exactly? Maybe he’s saying he is for democracy before he was against democracy.
Reports of the death of the so-called “Bush Doctrine” have been circulating for years now. With the exit of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Iraq Study Group report, the pronouncements have been even louder.
You know, they say that the worst part of the ISG report is that it didn’t actually say anything new. In that spirit, I looked way back to May 2003 to a speech given by President Bush, when he discussed freedom in Iraq and Middle East.
So what do you think, is it feasible to even talk about increasing the spread of democracy?
A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the President. According to one editorial of the time, “It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan.” (Laughter.) Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan’s words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct. (Applause.)
The great democratic movement President Reagan described was already well underway. In the early 1970s, there were about 40 democracies in the world. By the middle of that decade, Portugal and Spain and Greece held free elections. Soon there were new democracies in Latin America, and free institutions were spreading in Korea, in Taiwan, and in East Asia. This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America had collapsed. Within another year, the South African government released Nelson Mandela. Four years later, he was elected president of his country — ascending, like Walesa and Havel, from prisoner of state to head of state.
As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world — and I can assure you more are on the way. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan would be pleased, and he would not be surprised.
That’s fine, you might say, but many of those countries were escaping Soviet rule. The Middle East is not like that. Democracy can’t work in a society like theirs.
Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This “cultural condescension,” as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would “never work.” Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, “most uncertain at best” — he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be “illiterates not caring a fig for politics.” Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.
Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are “ready” for democracy — as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.
But, like Kerry and Annan, you might point out that removing the dictator was a dangerous thing to do. It caused turmoil. And, by the way, there are not guarantees. There’s risk involved.
Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it’s the only path to national success and dignity.
As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop — as did our own. We’ve taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice — and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.
There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military — so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying — selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions — for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty — the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.
Call me naive as well, but I think it’s worth taking a chance. Turmoil or not.
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