"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Iran Capable of Making and Delivering Nuclear Bombs to Israel and US

From  Joel Rosenberg's Blog:

An Iranian worker at the Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan,
410 kilometers, south of Tehran.
The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate,
known as yellowcake, into uranium hexaflouride gas.
The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment.
(photo credit: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi/Times of Israel)
 (Washington, D.C.) -- In a game-changing development, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence delivered Senate testimony on Wednesday stating that the Iranian regime has all the scientific and technical information, industrial infrastructure and practical know-how to build nuclear weapons. 

The Director said Iran also has ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads against regional actors, including Israel, and is developing long-range missiles capable of hitting the United States.

The long-expected and long-feared news does not mean Iran has operational nuclear weapons yet -- at least U.S. intelligence doesn't think they have them yet -- but Washington now believes that once the Ayatollah makes the political decision to build them his scientists and engineers will be fully able to carry out his orders.

The sobering news comes one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the P5+1 deal with Iran merely set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program by six weeks.

“Although there are internal disagreements in Iran, there is no dispute in the regime about developing nuclear weapons and the goal of wiping Israel off the map,” Netanyahu told the crowd at a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, reported the Times of Israel. "This agreement merely set Iran back six weeks — no more — according to our assessments, in relation to its previous position, so that the test, as to denying Iran the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, has been and remains the permanent agreement, if such [a deal] can indeed be achieved."

The big question is: Now what -- will the U.S. or Europe take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat, will Israel, or will Iran be allowed to build The Bomb unimpeded?

There seems little evidence the U.S. will attack Iran in 2014, given how deeply invested the Obama administration is in this newly negotiated deal with Iran. Europe won't act on its own. Does that mean Netanyahu will, or has the deal tied his hands for the foreseeable future?

"Iran now has all the technical infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons should it make the political decision to do, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wrote in a report to a Senate intelligence committee published Wednesday," noted a separate Times of Israel report. "However, he added, it could not break out to the bomb without being detected."

In the “US Intelligence Worldwide Threat Assessment,” delivered to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper reported that Tehran has made significant advances recently in its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear bombs should it be so inclined.

“Tehran has made technical progress in a number of areas — including uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles — from which it could draw if it decided to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.”

In the past year alone, the report states, Iran has enhanced its centrifuge designs, increased the number of centrifuges, and amassed a larger quantity of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride. These advancements have placed Iran in a better position to produce weapons-grade uranium.

“Despite this progress, we assess that Iran would not be able to divert safeguarded material and produce enough WGU [weapons grade uranium] for a weapon before such activity would be discovered,” he wrote....

Clapper told the Senate committee that the interim deal will have an impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program’s progress and “gets at the key thing we’re interested in and most concerned about,” namely, Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium.

Iran had also worked hard to advance its program at the Arak heavy water facility, wrote Clapper. Its ballistic missiles, he noted, of which it has “the largest inventory in the Middle East,are “inherently capable of delivering WMD.” And its space program gives it the means to develop longer-range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” Clapper wrote. But he noted that Iran’s overarching “strategic goals” were leading it to pursue the capability to do so.

The national intelligence director reiterated that imposing additional sanctions against Iran would be “counterproductive” and would “jeopardize the [interim] agreement.” He advised that additional sanctions against the Islamic Republic should only be kept “in reserve.”

Last Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of mischaracterizing the terms of an interim nuclear deal. “We did not agree to dismantle anything,” Zarif told CNN.

See: http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/11/deal-or-no-deal-iran-still-on-target.html

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Christian Grammy Nominee Natalie Grant Walks Out of the Grammys

Christian Contemporary music star Natalie Grant was nominated for two Grammys.

Natalie Grant - Christian Singer/Songwriter
Grant was up for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for “Alive (Mary Magdelene),” a song she wrote with her husband Bernie Helms, and Best Christian Music Song for the chart-topping “Hurricane.”

The couple went to the Grammys proud to represent gospel music. Little did they know when they arrived at the Los Angeles Staples Center that they’d be going to church.

To warm up the congregation and open the service, Beyoncé twerked her ample bethonged derriere to the delight of millions. After that, Natalie and Bernie were subjected to Mrs. Carter sitting astride a chair in, shall we say, an extremely come-hither position.

Next the high-powered billionaire, Jay-Z ,and his bodacious bride left little to imagination about what goes on in their boudoir when nobody’s looking.

From there, Natalie got to see pop star Katy Perry, who used to sing about Jesus. However, since crossing over into showbiz stardom she’s been circling the vortex of hellish behavior for years. Katy, wearing an illuminated Knights Templar cross on her chest, pushed the envelope beyond ‘kissing a girl’ in what even the secular media described as a Satanic Ritual, or at best, witchcraft.

Right about that time Natalie and Bernie were probably starting to feel out of place among people winning awards for being “Up all night to ‘Get lucky.’

It’s unclear which debauched performance prompted Natalie Grant and Bernie Helms to call it a night.

Hopefully, they were already gone and missed the church-like mockery that was overseen by Reverend Latifah. Wedding music was compliments of a menopausal Madonna on behalf of 34 same- and mixed-sex couples who tied the knot on what’s supposed to be a music awards show.

Refusing to pass judgment on the debacle, after she left Natalie had this to say on her Facebook page, which in a few words said so much:

"We left the Grammy’s early. I've many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen."

Gracious words, Natalie. So proud of you and Bernie.

Meanwhile, Christian singer, Mandisa, won two Grammies, but didn't even attend.

Among her reasons for not attending, the singer admitted that she has struggled lately as a Christian living in a world filled with temptation.

“Yes, both times I have gone to the Grammys I have witnessed performances I wish I could erase from my memory, and yes, I fast forwarded through several performances this year; but my reason is not because of them, it’s because of me,” Mandisa wrote. “I have been struggling with being in the world, not of it lately. I have fallen prey to the alluring pull of flesh, pride, and selfish desires quite a bit recently.”

She said that putting herself in an environment that celebrates some of the elements she’s trying to avoid was “risky,” so she decided to stay home, as she is trying to renew her mind “to become the Heavenly Father-centered, completely satisfied with Jesus, and Holy Spirit-led woman” she once was.

God bless you, Mandisa. May His Spirit be strong in you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Harper's Knesset Speech One of the most Important Ever - Netanyahu

Today, I believe, is holocaust remembrance day.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday berated the international community for showing indifference to the threat posed by Iran, comparing Tehran to the Nazi regime and implying that the world was not fulfilling its obligation to prevent a second Jewish holocaust," reported the Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center),
Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 
"Even today, when there is broad agreement that the Holocaust should have been prevented, the world is not crying out in the face of a regime that calls for our destruction and even receives with open arms the man who represents it," Netanyahu said, referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

 "In the face of a state that openly calls for the destruction of the state of the Jews, everyone clears their throat in the face of the smiles. The attitude toward the State of Israel is not proportionate to the issues that are on the agenda. It also shows us that in the harassment of Jews there is thousands of years of continuity to the phenomenon of anti-Semitism."

"Last week the Knesset witnessed one of the most important speeches that have ever been made within its walls," Netanyahu continued in a prepared statement. "In this speech, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the singling out of the State of Israel is extreme and disproportionate by any reasonable standard, that it also undermines the foundations of Western civilization which is supposed to fight for both our rights and those of others. Against the attempt to deny the legitimacy of the state of the Jews, we must fight for and demand our rights."

President Shimon Peres called on the world "not be satisfied by condemning the Holocaust but rather join our hearts and hands to ensure that we live in a world where another Holocaust is impossible," the Times reported. "The Holocaust is a great warning to us all. Forgetfulness is a menace, we must remember and remember to love and respect everyone no matter the color of their skin or the origin of their birth.

Moses taught us that every human being was made in the image of the Lord; no one has the right to take that away. We have a duty to remember the past but also to improve the future; this is not just a memorial day but a call to us all to move ahead, never forgetting the past but never losing hope in the future.”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pope’s Peace Doves Viciously Attacked by Seagull and Large Black Crow

Oh my gosh, this cannot be a good sign!

Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.

As tens of thousands of people watched in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves right after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace.

One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull. But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove.

It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off.

While speaking at the window beforehand, Francis had appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pakistan, A Nuclear Power, in Chaos

Pakistan is in trouble as this excellent article by Ahmed Rashid warns. The violence and chaos in that country cannot be permitted to persist much longer. I expect the military will have to step in and take control before the Taliban does. The prospects of a Taliban government with nuclear weapons is frightening indeed.

A bus full of Shia pilgrims returning from Iran was
completely destroyed in a bomb attack on 21 January.

Violence is soaring to new levels in Pakistan, with militants unleashing a wave of deadly attacks - and the government is dithering about what to do, writes guest columnist Ahmed Rashid.

Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist and author based in LahoreHis latest book is Pakistan on the Brink -
The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan

Earlier works include Descent into Chaos and Taliban,
first published in 2000, which became a bestseller
Tuesday 21 January was a fairly normal day in Pakistan. Twenty-nine Shia Muslims were killed by Sunni militants near Quetta in Balochistan province after a suicide bomber rammed a car filled with explosives into the bus they were travelling in. Meanwhile, in Karachi, three Shias were shot dead, in another attack claimed by Sunni extremists.

And on the same day, renowned Urdu writer and professor Asghar Nadeem Syed was wounded by unknown gunmen in Lahore.

Meanwhile three anti-polio vaccinators, including two women, were gunned down in Karachi by Taliban militants - the third such attack in Karachi in a week.

Meanwhile, the army claimed it had killed 40 militants in a bombing raid that was itself retaliation for a suicide attack near army headquarters in Rawalpindi the day before. That attack left 13 people, including eight soldiers, dead.

A day earlier, 20 soldiers were killed in a bomb attack on an army convoy in the north-west of the country.

That attempted army show of force only encouraged further attacks by the Taliban, who killed 12 security personnel in different incidents on 22 January.

The violence is unsparing, unprecedented and reaching frightening proportions.

There has been a flight of capital in recent months and many of the elite are sending their children out of the country.

For months, Nawaz Sharif's government has had a fruitless policy of wanting to negotiate with the militants, but that has made no headway and now lies in a shambles.

 Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
Yet Mr Sharif appears paralysed, with no sense of urgency over tackling the crisis, which would entail abandoning the false hope of talks and giving the army orders to go after the extremists.

Since he came to power last June, Mr Sharif has moved very slowly on his entire promised agenda of economic reform, making peace with India, encouraging reconciliation in Afghanistan and countering militancy at home. He appears overweight and ill, and many people fear he has given up.

 Strains between the army and the civilian government are multiplying - with the army now extremely frustrated at the government's policy paralysis while its soldiers die in unprecedented numbers.

However, neither the army nor the government have shown any signs of adopting a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism, which would mean going after all terrorist groups, including those Punjabi groups who fight against Indian rule in Kashmir.

Yet the militants are gaining ground every day by demoralising the public and the security forces with their persistent attacks.

Pakistani Taliban attacks on military personnel and civilians now include mass bombings of mosques, churches and bazaars. And in recent months the Taliban have become adept at targeted killings of politicians, bureaucrats and senior officials in the army and police, too, using suicide bombers, gunmen on motorbikes or mines laid in the road.

Meanwhile the Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, whose leaders live openly in Punjab but have not been arrested, is carrying out a virtual genocidal campaign against Shias across the country.

The anti-Shia campaign is now nationwide and affecting every city and province, including Punjab, which was considered safe until recently.

''Militant groups... operate with virtual impunity across Pakistan as law enforcement officials either turn a blind eye or appear helpless to prevent attacks,'' said Human Rights Watch in its annual report released on 21 January. The report says that Taliban attacks now amount to war crimes.
Volunteers search the site of the Rawalpindi suicide bomb attack on 20 January
 So dire is the situation that Bill Gates, whose foundation is helping fund the campaign to make Pakistan polio-free, has suggested suspending that aim because of the violence, with nearly 30 polio vaccinators killed in the past 24 months by the Taliban. ''The Pakistan violence is evil,'' Mr Gates told reporters in New York on 22 January.

It is clear to everyone what needs to be done.

People think Mr Sharif needs to address the nation on TV and describe how dire the situation is. He then needs to rally as many opposition political parties to his side as will join him - and those which do not can be deeply embarrassed by the government and the army for supporting terrorism. Finally, he needs to order the army to clear up the main hub of militancy in North Waziristan.

However, the problem has become more complicated in recent months as Islamic extremists in Karachi, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan, who were once separate, isolated and operating independently, now appear to have come under the banner of the Movement of Pakistani Taliban. Collectively, they are aiming at toppling the system, defeating the army and imposing a caliphate in the country.

The world has seen the dramatic resurgence of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, which has greatly complicated the civil war in Syria. Nobody would have thought that al-Qaeda had the power to conquer cities, but that is exactly what it has done in Iraq with the capture of Falluja and Ramadi.

Similarly, so bad is the security situation in the Pakistani border towns of Peshawar and Quetta, as well as the sea port and trading hub of Karachi, that it may not be far off when an urban area - or part of one - falls into the hands of the Pakistani Taliban.

If the present security situation worsens, the next step for the Taliban is an urban insurrection, while tensions between the military and civilians could lead to a military-led state under emergency or even martial law.

Friday, January 24, 2014

CNN Reporter Sees Iran Nuclear Deal as 'Train Wreck'

This just in from Joel Rosenberg's Blog:

CNN's Fareed Zakaria interviews Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani forcefully asserted that Iran would not destroy its nuclear centrifuges 'under any circumstances,'" reports the Washington Beacon.

"Rouhani’s comments come just days after the U.S. and Iran began to implement a deal which the White House claims will scale back Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration claims the goal of the deal is to prevent a nuclear Iran, yet Rouhani’s comments show Iran views the deal much differently."

"Reacting to Rouhani’s position, Zakaria told CNN that the Iranian President’s comments struck him as a 'train wreck,'" the Beacon reported.

“This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart,” Zakaria said.

Below is a full transcript of the exchange:

HASSAN ROUHANI: So in the context of nuclear technology, particularly of research and development and peaceful nuclear technology, we will not accept any limitations. And in accordance with the parliament law, in the future, we’re going to need 20,000 mega watts of nuclear produced electricity and we’re determined to get it at the hands of our Iranian scientists. And we are going to follow on this path.

FAREED ZAKARIA: So there would be no destruction of centrifuges?

ROUHANI: Not under any circumstances. Not under any circumstances.

CHRIS CUOMO: I mean, Fareed, what is the deal? That’s supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the United States perspective is that they scale back, they dismantle, all this stuff we've been hearing. How do you interpret what you just heard from the president?

ZAKARIA: Well, I was as struck by it as you were, Chris. This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges.

For the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. He also made clear in the interview with me that the two heavy water reactors would continue in operation. So this seems like — you know, this is stillborn — I’m not even quite sure what they’re going to talk about if these are the opening positions. And it’s very hard to walk back from as absolutist a position as the president of Iran laid out.

See: http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/10/prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahus.html
and http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/11/deal-or-no-deal-iran-still-on-target.html

"No Professional, Career or Social Discrimination against Gays" -- Putin

Andrew Marr: A lot of British politicians and celebrities, including Elton John, express concerns over the attitude towards homosexuals in Russia. I would like to ask you, do you think there are fundamental differences between the attitude towards homosexuals in the West and in Russia? Do you think homosexuals are born or made? And what does the concept of propaganda imply, is it philosophical?

Vladimir Putin: You know, I am not in a position to answer the part of your question concerning homosexuals being born or made. This is beyond my professional interest, and I just can’t give you a qualified reply. And as I can’t give you a qualified reply, I would just prefer to leave it at that. And as for the attitude towards individuals of non-traditional sexual orientation, yes, I can give you quite a detailed reply.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact, that in Russia, as opposed to one third of the world’s countries, there is no criminal liability for homosexuality. 70 countries in the world have criminal liability for homosexuality, and seven countries out of these 70 enforce the death penalty for homosexuality. And what does that mean? Does it mean that we should cancel all major sport events in those countries? I guess not.

The Soviet Union had criminal liability for homosexuality, today’s Russia doesn't have such criminal liability. In our country, all people are absolutely equal regardless of their religion, sex, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Everybody is equal.

We have recently only passed a law prohibiting propaganda, and not of homosexuality only, but of homosexuality and child abuse, child sexual abuse. But this has nothing in common with persecuting individuals for their sexual orientation. And there is a world of difference between these things. So there is no danger for individuals of non-traditional sexual orientation who are planning to come to the Games as guests or participants.

Andrew Marr: And as for the Orthodox Church, it calls for returning criminal liability for homosexuality. What is your opinion about that?

Vladimir Putin: According to the law, the church is separate from the state and has the right to have its own point of view. I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that almost all traditional world religions are in full solidarity on this topic. And is the position of the Holy See different from that of the Russian Orthodox Church?

And does Islam treat individuals with non-traditional sexual orientation in a different manner? It seems so, but this other position consists in a much tougher approach. Those 70 countries I have mentioned mostly belong to the Islamic world, and the ones enforcing death penalty all have Islam as state religion. 

Thus, there is nothing strange in the Russian Orthodox Church’s opinion as compared to that of other traditional world religions, there is nothing strange in that, but I repeat once again: the opinion of the church is one thing, and the opinion of the state is another thing. The church is separate from the state.

Sergey Brilev: Vladimir Vladimirovich, perhaps, to add to the issue. You know, once I was lucky to meet the smartest and the most beautiful girl, and I have been married to her for a long time, well, generally speaking, my sexual orientation removes me a bit from being able to discuss this issue, but the thing is as follows.

All Russians of non-traditional sexual orientation, who I know, ok - not all, but the vast majority are people with excellent careers, who have never in their life-time faced any job restrictions and so on, though against the background of our bill to ban gay propaganda among minors, our country is getting the reputation of being just about the most anti-gay country on the planet, however, to a certain degree quite the opposite.

Vladimir Putin: It is not getting the reputation, there are attempts to create it.

Sergey Brilev: Yes, I agree. I wonder whether we should review this bill causing all the fuss that has, actually, little to do with its name or content, and to adjust it a bit? Probably with a view to offering not less sex education needed for children, but less sex, in general, available to minors, no matter if it is homosexual or heterosexual, what would be demanded by many people who are quite heterosexual. Or, probably, to really examine this notion. Frankly speaking, I have never come across gay propaganda among minors. Basically, I agree that I do not understand what it is in practice.

Vladimir Putin: Why so? Could you read the bill thoroughly, and pay your attention to its name. The bill's name is "Ban on propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality". The bill banning pedophilia, propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality.

There are countries, including European, where public discussions – I have just talked about this at the meeting with volunteers – for instance, on the possibility to legalize pedophilia currently take place. Public discussions in parliaments.

They may do whatever they want, but peoples of the Russian Federation, the Russian people have their own cultural code, own tradition. It's not our business and we do not poke our nose into their affairs, and we ask for the same respect for our traditions and for our culture.

My personal view is that the society should look after its children at least to be able to reproduce and not only thanks to migrants, but on its own base. We achieved what we had not experienced for a long time. In 2002, 2003, 2004 it seemed that we would never redress that absolutely terrible situation we had with the demographic crisis (deaths far exceeding births). It appeared that it was a demographic pit that would prove to have no bottom and we would continue investing in it endlessly.

And at that time we developed and adopted a program aimed at supporting demography, to increase birth rates in the Russian Federation. Frankly speaking, I was much worried myself: we allocated a big volume of resources, and many experts used to tell me: "Don't do this, anyway, there is such a trend, which is experienced by many European countries. And we won't avoid it as well".

This year in Russia, the number of newborns has exceeded the number of deceased for the first time. We achieved a specific positive result. If anybody would like to focus on, so to say, developing the cemetery, they are welcome. But we have different goals: we want the Russian people and other peoples of the Russian Federation to develop and to have historical prospects. And we should clean up everything that impedes us here. But we should do this in a timely and humane manner without offending anybody and without including anybody in a group of secondary people.

It seems to me that the bill we adopted does not hurt anybody. Moreover, people of non-traditional sexual orientation cannot feel like inferior people here, because there is no professional, career or social discrimination against them, by the way. And when they achieve great results, such as, for instance Elton John achieves, who is an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him with no regard to his sexual orientation, and his sexual orientation does not affect attitudes to him, especially as to a distinguished musician. I think that this quite democratic approach to people of non-traditional sexual orientation alongside with measures aimed to protect children and future demographic development is optimum.

Junyi Shui: I also would like to proceed on discussing this issue of homosexuality.

Irada Zeynalova: And I would like to ask why we are discussing this issue in the context of Sochi when we gathered to speak about Sochi?

Junyi Shui: But I would like to continue.There were talks that the snow of 2014 in Sochi would be lonely because many Western countries spoke about homosexuality, about oppression of homosexuals in Russia, and those messages reached China. By the way, in 1980 there were also attempts to boycott the Soviet Olympic Games in Moscow for different reasons, and it was the same case at the Beijing Olympic Games. Why do such voices appear when a country is developing, for instance, China is developing, Russia is developing? What do you think, may be these are manifestations of the "cold war"?
Gay Activist

Vladimir Putin: I don't think that these are manifestations of the "cold war", but it is a demonstration of competition. When such a powerful country, potentially powerful country as China starts showing rapid pace of growth, it becomes a real competitor in global politics and in the global markets, and, of course, tools to restrain such growth are switched on.

Probably, you know that once Napoleon said that China was sleeping, and let it sleep as long as possible. This is a traditional attitude of Western Civilization towards the East, and towards China, in particular. But China has awakened. And I think that the right option to develop relations with such a big, potentially powerful and great country as China is to search for shared interests, but not to restrain. I believe that some old approaches towards Russia still exist from the perspective that there is a need to restrain something.

And as for the issue that we cannot leave, I would like to say the following. I explained that homosexuality is a criminal offence in 70 countries. The same is in the USA. It is still a criminal offence in some states of the United States, for instance in Texas, and may be in another three states. But what the heck, we shouldn't hold any international competitions, should we? Why does nobody speak about this and why do they speak about us, though we do not have criminal liability for this. What is this, if not an attempt to restrain? This is a remnant of the previous, old way of thinking and this is bad.

It is even worse when it comes to major sports events, especially Olympic Games. I know what many top US politicians that I respect and that are respected across the world think. They believe that the boycott of the Moscow Olympics, for all the serious grounds it had — I mean the introduction of Soviet troops in Afghanistan — was a great mistake even in those circumstances. Indeed, any major international competition, and Olympic Games first and foremost, are intended to depoliticize the most pressing international issues and open additional ways to build bridges. It is unwise to miss such opportunities, and it is far more unwise to burn such bridges.

Ed Hula: President Obama has appointed Billie Jean King and other members of the delegation who would represent the United States in Sochi. There are homosexual athletes. Do you believe it to be a political component of the Olympic Games? What political background does it create for the Olympic, if there are homosexuals there? Will you meet Billie Jean King as the head of the US Delegation in Sochi?

Vladimir Putin: People have different sexual orientation. We would welcome all athletes and all guests at the Olympics. At some point President Obama asked me to help make arrangements for a large US delegation to come. His request was related to a limited membership of relevant national teams, including both athletes and members of various administrative bodies.

The International Olympic Committee has its rules, but we did the best we could. We found solutions to that, bearing in mind that the US has traditionally had a larger delegation at the Olympic Games than other countries, they have a large team and many representatives. We complied with their request. So, I certainly will be glad to see the representatives of any countries, including the United States, there can be no doubts as to that. If they would like to meet me and discuss anything, they are welcome, I see no problems about it.

Billie Jean King
 George Stephanopoulos: President Obama said he was offended by the act on gay propaganda. He has also recently said that if there are no gay sportsmen and sportswomen in Russia, its team will be weaker. However, if they start protesting, meaning gays and lesbians, will they be prosecuted under this anti-propaganda act if they decide to hold protest actions?

Vladimir Putin: … protest actions and propaganda are after all two slightly different things. They are similar but if we look at this from the legal point of view, a protest against a law is not propaganda of homosexuality itself or child sexual abuse. That is first point.

Second point, I would like to ask our colleagues – my colleagues and friends – before trying to criticize, to solve the problem in their own home first. But I have already said that it is well known. In some US states, homosexuality is criminally punishable. And how can they criticize us for a far gentler and more liberal approach to these issues compared to the one they have at home?

However, I understand that it is difficult to do since there are a lot of people in the US itself that share the view that the laws of their state or of their country are just, reasonable and correspond with the sentiments of the larger part of its citizens. But we need to discuss this in some more appropriate international forums, to elaborate some common approaches. Anyway, we have got the message. And I am telling you that none of our guests will have any problems.

We remember how some African-American citizens of the US protested during the Olympic Games – a large-scale international competition – against segregation. I saw that myself on the TV screen. But that is all in all a general practice aimed at stating one’s rights.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Model X Ford, The Prodigal Beebs, No Wonder Canadians are Humble, eh

Ever wonder why Canadians are so humble? Could it be because the best of us often turn out to be the worst of us?

Justin Bieber, the most popular musician in the world right now, was someone who many Canadians were proud of. But several embarrassing incidents have occurred in the past several months to temper that pride including today's arrest for DUI, drag racing, etc., in Florida.

Last year, the Beebs got off-track and on drugs and followed in the footsteps of those prodigal daughters Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.

Once proud examples of Christianity, all three have taken their God-given talents and ventured far and wide from Christian virtues. 

Britney may be on her way back 'home', I don't know, but the other two haven't realized that they are heading straight for the pig pen. Let's hope and pray that when they get there they will wake up before the pigs trample them.

I can't think of any other Canadian rock-star who embarrassed himself publicly, although the Beebs is undoubtedly the youngest. 

Rob Ford
Not so with the other object of Canadian embarrassment, Rob Ford, rock-star mayor of Toronto, Canada's biggest city. He gets more attention on American late-night talk shows than the President.

Mel Lastman
He was back in the news yesterday after apparently falling off the wagon and delivering a vulgar and absurd performance at a fast-food joint where he was visiting with his mobster buddy. What could possibly be wrong with that?

While Ford has contributed greatly to the great Canadian humility, he, unlike the Beebs is not without precedent. A former mayor of Toronto, Mel Lastman, didn't have a problem with alcohol or drugs (that I know of), but managed to embarrass Torontonians and Canadians with remarkable ingenuity.

You can read his antics at: http://northwoodsministries.blogspot.ca/2013/11/forget-rob-ford-remember-mel-lastman.html

Hope you enjoyed this. If not, sorry.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

UAE Dad Tortures Daughter to Death in Exorcism Attempt

Dubai: An Emirati father brutally tortured his eight-year-old daughter to death and injured her seven-year-old sister because he wanted to exorcise jinn from their bodies, Gulf News learnt yesterday.

This story is a follow-up to one I just posted at http://northwoodssaveachild.blogspot.ca/2014/01/child-sexual-abusers-may-face-more-than.html. In that piece it was revealed that a new 'child's rights' law was drafted, originally named Wadeema's Law, it was later changed to Child Rights Law.

The 29-year-old father, Hamad S., thought jinn possessed his daughters so he tortured them more because he was provoked every time the girls laughed when he beat them, said a police lieutenant during prosecution questioning.

Prosecutors charged Hamad and his 27-year-old Emirati girlfriend, Al Onoud A., with illegally grounding the two daughters in a flat and torturing eight-year-old Wudeema to death and injuring seven-year-old Meera. The latter sustained 10 per cent permanent disability.

Gulf News obtained a copy of the charges, in which the lieutenant cited Hamad alleging that he used excessive beating and torturing to exorcise the jinn from his daughters’ bodies. Jinn, apparently, is evil, perhaps demonic spirits.

Hamad and Al Onoud entered their pleas before the Dubai Court of First Instance on Wednesday.

“I did not torture Wudeema to death. I took Meera to Rashid Hospital to treat her broken arm… I didn’t torture her. I did not confine them, but I used to take them out,” Hamad told Presiding Judge Maher Salama Al Mahdi yesterday.

Al Onoud surprised the crammed court when she contended: “Hamad did not do anything to the girls. I beat and tortured them with hot water, electric wire, an iron… I electrocuted them with the taser gun.”

Senior Chief Prosecutor Mohammad Ali Rustom, Head of Family and Juveniles Prosecution, asked the court to implement a capital punishment against the suspects. The couple was also accused of hiding Wudeema’s body by burying it without obtaining proper permission.

“I was present with Hamad when he buried Wudeema,” claimed Al Onoud, who is believed to be pregnant.
Hamad admitted that he buried his dead daughter in Al Badayer area in Sharjah.

Concerning the charge of torturing Meera and causing her a permanent disability, Hamad maintained: “The Taser gun was not working. I didn’t torture her.”

The father asked the court to get a copy of the medical report from Rashid Hospital to prove that he took Meera for treatment when her arm was fractured.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, the mother was heard shouting at Al Onoud: “You will go to hell and be tortured there.”

Two lawyers will be appointed to defend the suspects and prosecution witnesses will testify when the court reconvenes on Wednesday.

Saood Juma’a Saeed, grand father of Wadeema shows her photo
who was allegedly killed by her father, as grand mother
Eida Mohammad Salman and uncle Mohammad looks on


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Love It When People Listen to God

This is a follow-up to: Listening to the heart of God

At a dinner just before Christmas, an amazing young Christian man told me that I was under 'tremendous' spiritual attack. I agreed with him without hesitation. It has to do with my other blog (see the link above), and maybe my soon-to-be-published book, and maybe, also, my wife's ministry with Pulmonary Hypertension sufferers. See: God answers prayer

At any rate, this past weekend it became obvious that the attack had expanded to include some of my children. Two of our children on consecutive days suffered significant trauma in their lives. It became obvious that we needed people praying for us.

However, we were too sick to go to church Sunday, and I was too sick to go to the intercessory prayer meeting that I usually attend on Monday evening. I was thinking that I would have to wait for Saturday night before finding people to pray for us.

Then the phone rang. It was a friend from the apartment building we just moved out of. She and another good friend had felt that they were supposed to call a prayer meeting for Thursday evening to pray for my wife and I and our ministries.

Wow! That's listening to God! 

I am quite looking forward to what He is going to do. God doesn't call a prayer meeting for fun; it's very likely that He plans to do something. I'll report back Friday or Saturday.

Meanwhile, if you could think of us occasionally in your prayers, it would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Get a Backbone, Canada: The Country Needs to Regain its Cultural Confidence


This story out of Halifax is really bothering me.

Sonja Power is a 17-year-old girl who was told her Aikido class would be divided by gender, men on one side, women on the other, in order to accommodate a Muslim man who enrolled in the class.

The class was run out of the Lakeside Community Centre, owned by the city of Halifax. The city and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission both supported this gender segregation.

All of that bugs me, but it was what Sonja and her mother, Michele Walsh, told Sun News was the reaction of the sensei when they complained.

“You better get used to it because this is going to happen more and more in Canada,” is how Walsh remembers sensei Steve Nickerson responding.
Sonja Power and Michele Walsh
My initial reaction was, “I bloody well won’t get used to it,” but now I realize I may not have a choice.

Gender segregation and other unreasonable accommodations will happen more and more, but not because I want it or you want it. It will happen because of cowardly political leaders and bizarre, twisted human rights commissions that no longer believe in real human rights.

Look at the York University decision.

A male Muslim student in an online course that required some group work asked not to work with women. 

This wasn't a group program that required contact, he wouldn't have to hug the women or even be alone with them.

The professor said no, the student thought about the professor’s reasoning and the student decided the prof was right.

The university administration and the Liberal provincial government say the prof is wrong and the student must be accommodated.

Another victory for gender apartheid.

These two accommodations on their own will not change the face of Canada, but as they say on the infomercials — wait, there’s more.

We already have what are essentially Muslim-only swims at public pools across Canada.

Windows are blacked out, change rooms are locked and male lifeguards relieved of duty so men and women cannot swim together nor see each other.

It’s an Islamic accommodation, one that happens across the country, including my neighbourhood.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that Muslim women can testify in court with veils over their faces, denying the accused the right to face their accuser in an open court.

In Canada, the right to a fair trial is secondary to religious accommodation.

We allow veiled voting which can only encourage voter fraud. The Conservatives did try to ban this when the issue came up a few years ago, but that was during their minority government days and the Liberals and NDP blocked it.

Canada, and the western world in general, needs to find its backbone, it needs to regain its cultural confidence that stood for basic rights for all.

In the 1840s, when Sir Charles Napier was governing a large part of India, he is said to have witnessed an attempt to practice suttee, the burning of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre. His response could instruct us today in standing up for our principles.

“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them.

“Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

We need to find that backbone again before Canada is no longer recognizable.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lyndon B. Johnson Arranged John F. Kennedy's Assassination - Roger Stone

Remarkable interview by the Voice of Russia and Roger Stone. 

In his new book, political operative and strategist Roger Stone has claimed that former president Lyndon B. Johnson set up John F. Kennedy's assassination, which occurred on November 22, 1963.

A former aide to President Reagan and confidante of Richard Nixon makes the claim in his book 'The Man who killed Kennedy - the case against LBJ.' No one man benefited more from the assassination than Vice President Johnson, the author claims. He spoke to the Voice of Russia about the book

For those, who don't know of Lyndon Johnson's personality and demeanor, could you describe why he would be the most logical mastermind behind JFK's assassination?

I think the reason why he is the most logical murderer of John Kennedy is that in November of 1963 Lyndon Johnson was a man, who was looking into the abyss. He was tangled up in at least two of the major public corruption scandals of the day: the Bobby Baker scandal – Baker was Johnson's right-hand man, who was taking huge bribes on Johnson's behalf in the US Senate and then Billie Sol Estes scandal. Estes was a Texas wheeler dealer businessman who had got millions of dollars in Federal contracts thanks to Lyndon Johnson.

Both of those investigations were coming to a head, both of them pointed to corruption by Johnson, corruption of Biblical proportions. And Johnson knew he was going to be dumped from the ticket and probably sent to prison. So, time was running out for Lyndon Johnson. He knew that Life magazine – a very prominent American magazine at the time – planned a major expose of his financial situation and his corruption.

A week after the assassination and that the information for the Life magazine article had been sent to them by attorney general Robert Kennedy who very very much wanted Lyndon Johnson off the national ticket in 1964, so he, Lyndon Johnson is your most likely perpetrator.

You said in your book that Lyndon Johnson's biographer would panic if he's reminded about Wallace. Who was that man and what role did he play in the assassination?

I believe that Malcolm Wallace, who was a long-time associate and hitman for LBJ is the actual killer, I tie Johnson to at least eight murders in Texas prior to John F. Kennedy. These were murders to cover up corruption, they were murders to cover up voter fraud through theft of elections.

Johnson had murder in his repertoire. In fact I would go so far as to say that Johnson could order a murder the way you and I would order a sandwich. The knowledge of this likely seeped through Washington and helped with the cover-up. Who is going to stand up and be counted when that makes him a target. 

In fact, many people died of 'natural' and unnatural causes who knew things about the assassination. A writing teacher of mine had been an investigative journalist in the late '60s looking into JFK's death. Every lead he followed lead to a dead body. He abruptly dropped the investigation and moved to Canada.

And it is very important historically to understand that in the immediate aftermath of Kennedy's assassination in order to justify the cover-up to many in the government, in order to get them to go along with the fiction that Lee Harvey Oswald had killed Kennedy, Johnson tried to give the impression that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was done by the Russian State.

Johnson told this lie repeatedly in order to get people to go along with the cover-up, because you see, if we don't blame Oswald and we don't claim that he is a lone communist acting by himself and people learn that he is really an agent of a foreign government – the Russian government – then it would cause a major national incident, needless to say that's all a lie.

In fact the KGB according to declassified documents that we got in 1985 the KGB conducted their own totally independent investigation to determine who killed Kennedy. You know what they determined?
They said: it was Lyndon Johnson.

What about French intelligence? I mean, Jackie Kennedy asked the France intelligence to determine who killed her husband. So?...

Jackie Kennedy couldn't get any satisfaction from US intelligence services; nobody would tell her what was going on. She went to French intelligence, where she had some relationships – you remember Jackie Kennedy was the toast of Paris – and she asked them to conduct an investigation. They did.

They published that investigation in book form. It's called "Farewell, America!" by James Hepburn and that investigation also pointed the finger at Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Johnson had the unique motive, means, and opportunity to kill. Although he did not act alone. 

It's very important to understand that Johnson was merely the lynchpin of the conspiracy that I believe involved the CIA – they were upset with JFK over the Bay of Pigs fiasco, involved American organized crime. They had given Kennedy 1 million dollars for his 1960 election and then they have promised to steal votes for him and successfully in Chicago, which they did.

And in return Bobby Kennedy – The Attorney General, and the President's brother - had launched an all-out attack on organized crime and was trying to deport many of the same mafia figures, who had been instrumental in his own brother's election. So, the mob had the motives.

And then, of course, there's big Texas oil. President Kennedy was on the cast of repelling the oil depletion allowance and that would have cost Texas oil literary billions. So, everyone in Dallas on the 22nd of November 1963 had a motive for the murder of John Kennedy.

Could you, please, tell me, how you discovered the evidence that the opaque bubble top was removed and JFK never asked for that and actually Vice Presidential aid Bill Moyers said that he did…

Bill Moyers is a very prominent American journalist today, but at that time he was on the staff of Vice President Lyndon Johnson. At Love Field he goes to the Secret Service, Moyers goes to the Secret Service and he says – and this is quote: "Get that Goddamn bubble, the President wants that goddam bubble top taken off now."

Well, two Kennedy aids testified that the president never gave any such an order about removing the opaque top for the Presidential limousine. Although the bubble-top is not bullet-proof, it would have prevented a gunman from a high building from getting an accurate shot because he would not have been able to see the President.

And therefore the question that one must ask mister Moyers is: since the President didn't give that order, was it the Vice-President that gave that order? It certainly sounds like it to me.

And in that case, just out of curiosity: what do you think – did Kennedy know or at least feel about what was going on around him – if so many people were against him?

We know that he did not want to go to Dallas, we know that he was fighting with Lyndon Johnson, we know that the morning before the motorcade Johnson went to President's Kennedy hotel room and he tried to persuade Kennedy to let governor John Connally who was a Johnson protégé ride in the Vice-president's car and let Senator Ralph Yarborough who was his enemy ride in the President's car – in other words – in the Death car. And the President refused.

He didn't like the symbolism of that, he thought the governor should ride with the President. And they then fought, they had an argument, Johnson stormed out of the room. He was merely trying to move his protégé out of dangerous way and he failed.

But it is important to know that it was Johnson, who insisted on President Kennedy goes to Texas, it was Johnson, who insisted that they take a specific route – they drove through Dealey Plaza – a rout which required secret service to violate all their own procedures in terms of sealing the buildings at both sides of the street.

Any time the President's car drops below forty miles per hour – that's supposed to be a requirement – they did it in Houston, they did that in San Antonio the day before, but the buildings weren't sealed in Dallas. It's supposed to be 6 motorcycle policemen – three on either side of the President's car: there were in Huston, there were in San Antonio, there were in Chicago the week before, there were in Miami two weeks before, but in Dallas that day there were only two police officers on motorcycles and they were ordered to ride behind the rear bumper of the President's car.

There're supposed to be two Secret Service agents on the rear bumper – riding the rear bumper – they were ordered off in Dallas. There supposed to be two Secret Service agents walking on either side of the car, when it drops below 20 miles per hour – they were ordered off. So, there's a lot of anomalies, a lot of violations of standard procedure that are very hard to explain other than say: I believe the US Secret Service also played a role laying down on President Kennedy that day in November.

 How did JFK's death affect society, people's minds? Is the impact still present in your opinion?

I think it certainly changed our policy very dramatically – I think we moved it back into the Cold War. After the death of John F. Kennedy the important conversations between the Russian State and the United States were damaged.

We know, because it was historically recorded that Nikita Khrushchev wept, when he heard of the death of Kennedy. There was an American journalist who was with Fidel Castro, when he was distraught when he learned: he said over and over again "this is very bad, this is very bad"

I think we were engaged – we were beginning to engage in some fruitful conversations in terms of easing the tensions between our countries and I think there were those in the Pentagon, those in the US military, those in our US-based intelligent services who were very unhappy about that direction. I think it is a major factor – not the factor, - but a major factor in getting John F. Kennedy killed.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_08/Lyndon-B-Johnson-arranged-John-F-Kennedys-assassination-Roger-Stone-5591/

Friday, January 17, 2014

Uganda President Blocks Anti-gay Law

Some gay Ugandans have fled the country, saying they are being persecuted
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has refused to approve a controversial bill to toughen punishments for homosexuals.

He has written to the parliamentary speaker criticising her for passing it in December without a quorum.

Homosexuals were "abnormal" or were so for "mercenary reasons" and could be "rescued", a local paper quotes his letter as saying.

The bill provides for life imprisonment for homosexual acts and also makes it a crime not to report gay people.

The promotion of homosexuality - even talking about it without condemning the lifestyle - would also be punishable by a prison term.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital, Kampala, says the president is aware that if he signs the bill there will be an international outcry, which could see some countries suspend aid to the country.

Uganda already has legislation banning gay sex, specifically between men, lesbianism wasn't considered under a provision of the 1950 Penal Code. The new law would add female-to-female sex to banned practices.

The Penal Code also never made it an offence for someone to identify himself or herself as a homosexual. It was the act that was illegal. Gay activists have been able to state their sexuality in public and advocate for their rights without being prosecuted.
Catherine Byaruhanga, BBC Uganda

This, legislators felt, endangered Uganda's culture and family structure, centred around marriage between a man and woman.

There's been a battle here, well captured in the international media, between gay activists and Evangelical Christians over the rights and wrongs of homosexuality.

So what MPs are trying to do is to create the "idea" of homosexuality in the law. Once you specify that homosexuality is wrong, you then ban its promotion.

If the law is passed, standing up saying "I am gay" would become illegal.

Citizens would also have to report anyone who they believe is gay to the police. And it would be illegal to provide advisory services to homosexuals.

His spokesman told the AFP news agency that Mr Museveni believes that gay people are sick but this does not mean they should be killed or jailed for life.

"What the president has being saying is that we shall not persecute these homosexuals and lesbians. That is the point," said Tamale Mirudi.

He denied that the president had changed his mind under pressure.

"The president's position has been the same for a long time, nothing has changed," he added.

Our reporter says Mr Museveni is trying to reach a compromise with MPs, because if he refuses to sign the bill, parliament can still force it through with a two-thirds vote.

But in contrast to Nigeria, where earlier this month the president signed a bill banning same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection, Mr Museveni is politically strong and so more able to resist pressure from conservative groups, she says. See post immediately below re: Nigeria and also for map of gay rights in Africa.

Mr Museveni said the bill was forced through despite his advice to shelve it until the government had studied it in depth, Uganda's private Monitor newspaper reports.

"Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing [sic] homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons," he is quoted as saying.

The president's eight-page letter to speaker Rebecca Kadaga said they could be "rescued" by improving the economy.

He also disputed the view that homosexuality could be described as an "alternative sexual orientation".

"You cannot call an abnormality an alternative orientation. It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people," he said.

He said another reason women became lesbians was because of "sexual starvation" when they failed to marry, the Monitor reports.
Gay Activist in Uganda
Ugandan gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme she had mixed feelings about Mr Museveni's comments.

"Him not assenting to the bill makes us happy but him calling us 'abnormal', 'nothing-doers', 'sexually starved', that is so derogatory," she said.

"It encourages the community to attack people like me."

There is meant to be a caucus meeting of ruling party MPs later this month to discuss the bill.

The government will try to persuade them to reject it, but some have already said they would go against their government's wishes, our correspondent says.

Human rights activists say the bill highlights the intolerance and discrimination the gay community faces in Uganda.

One gay activist was killed in 2011, although the police denied he was targeted because of his sexuality.

The bill has been condemned by world leaders since it was mooted in 2009 - US President Barack Obama called it "odious".

The private member's bill originally proposed the death penalty for some offences, such as if a minor was involved or the perpetrator was HIV-positive, but this clause has been dropped.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nigeria Islamic Court Tries Gay Suspects

Nigeria has tightened laws against homosexuals,
including a ban on shows of same-sex affection
An Islamic court in Nigeria's northern state of Bauchi has put on trial 11 Muslim men accused of being homosexuals in violation of their religion, a religious leader has told the BBC.

A 12th person arrested - a Christian - would be tried under secular law, a BBC reporter says.

Under Islamic law, a person can be sentenced to death by stoning if convicted of homosexuality.

It is also illegal to have gay sex in Nigeria, according to its secular laws.

Earlier this month, President Goodluck Jonathan signed a parliamentary bill which tightens laws against homosexuals, banning same-sex marriages, gay groups and shows of same-sex public affection.

The new legislation applies across Nigeria, affecting all citizens.

Most states in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria have adopted Islamic law, known as Sharia, since the end of military rule in 1999.

Nigeria is a deeply conservative country, with an influential Christian evangelical movement in the south and strong support for Islamic law among many Muslims in the north.

Hostility towards gay people has escalated since parliament debated the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act last year, Dorothy Aken'Ova, a rights activist with the Nigeria-based International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, told the BBC.

She said that she was aware of 38 people being arrested in Bauchi state last month, and was trying to confirm reports of more arrests in both the north and south of Nigeria since the new law was approved.

"What this act is saying is that they [gay people] do not deserve to exist," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

"It is heartbreaking that we have come to this point in Nigeria."

Jibrin Danlami Hassan, the commissioner of Bauchi state's Sharia Commission, said the alleged homosexuals were arrested by residents of Bauchi city.

They were handed to the Islamic police force, which interrogated them, he said.

"They accept that they are doing that dirty game," Mr Hassan said.

Ms Aken'Ova said some of those arrested had been beaten up and tortured, but Mr Hassan denied this.

The BBC's Ishaq Khalid in Bauchi says the Sharia Commission confirmed to him that a Christian had been arrested with the 11 Muslims, and would be tried in a "conventional court".

The Muslims could be sentenced to death by stoning if they are convicted, but the court would decide, Mr Hassan said.

Several stoning sentences have been handed down by Sharia courts in northern Nigeria since 1999; however, none have so far been carried out.

The UK, US and UN human rights chief Navi Pillay have condemned Nigeria's Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act as discriminatory and draconian.

Mr Hassan said told the BBC he was "happy" that Mr Jonathan had signed it into law, despite threats by Western powers to cut aid to Nigeria.

"The threat they are doing cannot make us change our religion," he said.

Map showing gay rights in Africa

The Order Behind the World - Heraclitus was Right, Sort of

An excerpt from Ann Voskamp's blog today. 

More than half a century before the Gospel of John was ever written, more than 500 years before God pulled on flesh and stretched out on straw, Heraclitus was the first Greek philosopher who used that word: Logos.

Heraclitus was this Greek philosopher who looked at the world, at the skies, at nature, and said that there had to be some unity, some governing principle, some harmonious order to the cosmos…and Heraclitus concluded that what gives the world all coherent structure — is a principle he called Logos.

Heraclitus said that the coherent structure of everything, the order behind the world, the order of all things — was Logos.

Heraclitus said that the principle of all cosmic organization — was Logos.

And for 500 years after Heraclitus, the Greeks lived by Logos. They lived their life by Logos, the principle of meaning and balance and profound order in the universe.

A slave was meant to serve, a cup was meant to contain, a horse was meant to haul. This was logic. This was Logos. This is why, Son, the clock needs to have batteries – it’s Logos is meant to tell time.

A slave didn't contain wine, a cup didn't haul bags, a horse didn't serve dinner. Life had a Logos, a logic of being, a reason for existence, and you aligned yourself with the Logos.

Align yourself with the Logos and your life was rightly organized.

And then 500 years after Heraclitus — John picks up picks up a pen, chooses his words carefully, purposefully, divinely, and his ink blows the top right off the whole down and out world:

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God — and the Logos was God. The first lines of John’s book reorients the cosmos:

The Logos isn't an organizing Principle — It’s an organizing Person.

The Absolute behind the universe is absolutely Jesus.

The order behind the World — is Jesus in the World.

The organizing structure of the world isn't a philosophy — the organizing structure of the world is the Word — the Word of God. The words of Jesus.

All cosmic organization is not around one principle – but around One Person.

You can read the full column by Ann Voskamp on her blog "A Holy Experience". The link is below right.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

US Side Deal with Iran Being Denied

The Whitehouse appears to have worked a side-deal with Iran that gives them just about everything they want:
- not a single Iranian nuclear facility will be shut down
- Iran will continue to enrich uranium
- Iran's nuclear research operations will actually expand; and
- new, state-of-the-art centrifuges will be allowed to come on-line in Iran

If Netanyahu doesn't go ballistic, I will be very surprised.

"Key elements of a new nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers are contained in an informal, 30-page text not yet publicly acknowledged by Western officials, Iran’s chief negotiator said Monday," reports the Los Angeles Times. "Abbas Araqchi disclosed the existence of the document in a Persian-language interview with the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency."

"The new agreement, announced over the weekend, sets out a timetable for how Iran and the six nations, led by the United States, will implement a deal reached in November that is aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions," the Times notes. "When officials from Iran and the world powers announced that they had completed the implementing agreement, they didn't release the text of the deal, nor did they acknowledge the existence of an informal addendum. 

In the interview, Araqchi referred to the side agreement using the English word 'nonpaper,' a diplomatic term used for an informal side agreement that doesn't have to be disclosed publicly. The nonpaper deals with such important details as the operation of a joint commission to oversee how the deal is implemented and Iran’s right to continue nuclear research and development during the next several months, he said.".....

"Asked late Monday about the existence of the informal nonpaper, White House officials referred the question to the State Department," reported the Times. "A State Department comment wasn't immediately available.....A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, denied later Monday that there was any secret agreement."....

"In his interview, Araqchi touched on the sensitive issue of how much latitude Iran will have to continue its nuclear research and development," said the Times. "U.S. officials said Sunday that Iran would be allowed to continue existing research and development projects and with pencil-and-paper design work, but not to advance research with new projects. Araqchi, however, implied that the program would have wide latitude."

“No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative and nuclear research will be expanded,” he said. “All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.”

Saturday, January 11, 2014

See No Evil - Brilliant Column by John Gray

Some things we know but prefer not to think about, says John Gray - whether it's the truth about the invasion of Iraq or the failures of the financial system that led to the banking crisis.

We'd like to think the financial crisis is safely in the past. The events of 2007-2008, when the world's banking system was on the brink of collapse, seemed like a once-in-a-century upheaval, and it's natural to imagine we've returned to some kind of normalcy. Disaster has been averted, and there may be some signs of recovery in the economy. But have we emerged onto a sunny upland of stability, or are we fooling ourselves? History suggests an upheaval on this scale isn't left behind so easily. Could it be that we know the crisis hasn't been resolved, but prefer not to think about the fact?

We live on the basis of unknown knowns
- intractable facts that we prefer to forget”
"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know." Donald Rumsfeld

Former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld's distinction between known unknowns and unknown unknowns has passed into everyday speech. It's not the things of which we know we're ignorant that we should worry about, he pointed out. It's the things we're unaware of not knowing that can really cause trouble. It's a useful reminder of the vastness of human ignorance. But might there not be another kind of unknown, which Rumsfeld didn't mention - one that consists of things we choose not to know?

Looking back, the purpose of Rumsfeld's distinction may have been to lay the ground for the invasion of Iraq that followed just over a year later. Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction were the main justification for the war. As we now know, he had no such capability at the time of the invasion. He'd used chemical weapons in the past - in the war with Iran in the 1980s and later in attacks on the Kurds, for example. But as American-led forces found when they searched the country, any WMD programmes that had existed had long since been abandoned.

Even at the time of Rumsfeld's remark there were good reasons to doubt Saddam was supplying terrorists with weapons. The fact that Saddam had kept Al Qaeda out of Iraq was well known to diplomats, military strategists and security experts. Possibly this is why, when asked at the press conference if the link between Saddam and terrorism was an unknown unknown, Rumsfeld replied, "I'm not going to say which it is."

Anyone with a little knowledge of history understood that Saddam was unlikely to be in league with Al Qaeda. But for those who launched the war, the history of the country they were planning to invade was irrelevant. Partly this came from a misplaced sense of invincibility. Many 20th Century wars ended with massively superior forces being obliged to accept defeat - think of the French in Algeria or the Americans in Vietnam. Despite this record, few if any of those who supported the invasion considered the possibility of a long drawn-out conflict. They believed that once Saddam's forces had been defeated the whole country would unite in welcoming the occupiers and setting up a US-style democracy.

Gertrude Bell
Yet 80 years before the war, the British civil servant who as much as anyone created the state of Iraq knew it could never be democratic. Cobbled together from a former province of the Ottoman empire in the early 1920s, the state was to a large extent the work of a single British official - a remarkable woman, the first to have a senior position in the colonial service, called Gertrude Bell. A fluent speaker of the languages of the region and widely respected by its rulers and peoples, she recognised that because power had been placed in the hands of the Sunni minority, any move to majority rule would mean intense and protracted sectarian warfare, along with the secession of the Kurds.

Bell foresaw the chaos that was bound to ensue if there was ever any attempt at democratic regime change. She wouldn't have been surprised when the National Museum of Antiquities, which she had founded as a tribute to a civilisation she admired, was looted soon after the US-led invasion. Dying in 1926, Bell chose to be buried in the British cemetery in Baghdad, which was also vandalised at the time of the invasion. When he heard of the looting, Rumsfeld's only comment was, "Stuff happens." Insignificant events of this sort, he implied, couldn't upset the grand plan that lay behind the war.

Much has been alleged about disinformation in the run-up to the invasion. But if some of those who launched the war were presenting a distorted picture of the facts, they were also deceiving themselves. Contrary to a common view, it wasn't that Rumsfeld and his fellow war-planners failed to prepare for the situation that would come about in the country after the invasion. If they'd known the chaos and conflict that would follow, they might not have been able to launch the war. So rather than confront the facts, they chose to remain ignorant of them. For Rumsfeld and others who thought like him, the risks of the invasion weren't unknown unknowns. They belonged in another category of human ignorance: that of unknown knowns - things they decided weren't worth thinking about.
An Iraqi Museum official sits amid looted wreckage just after the 2003 invasion

It's an attitude that hasn't gone away. A similar denial of reality prevails today in Britain and many other countries in connection with the financial crisis and its aftermath. The bankers and politicians seem genuinely to have believed that a new type of capitalism had been invented in which booms and busts would no longer occur. In the new era we'd entered, they were convinced, a level of prosperity had been reached that would only increase for the foreseeable future.

Again, anyone with a passing acquaintance with history would have known that this had been believed many times in the past, and always mistakenly. Only days before the 1929 stock market crash, one of the best known economists of the time, Professor Irving Fisher of Yale University, announced that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau". Even after the crash occurred, Fisher insisted it was only a market correction that would soon be over. Losing most of his own fortune, the distinguished economist was as deluded as nearly everyone else. In case you're wondering who anticipated the crash, two who did were the mobster Al Capone, who described the stock market in the boom years as a racket, and Charlie Chaplin, who unsuccessfully pleaded with his friend, the songwriter Irving Berlin, to sell out the day before the market collapsed.
John Gray
A great depression of the kind that followed the crash of 1929 has been avoided, but we've not returned to anything like stability. Near-zero interest rates have led to the near-impossibility of saving, along with a bubble in the stock market and house prices. It's an abnormal state of affairs that can't last. It wouldn't take much to trigger another upset - a worsening in the European situation or a faster-than-expected slowdown in China, for example. But that's an unnerving prospect, so we've decided not to think about it.

We could add to that list the inexorable increase in the Muslim population in Europe, Africa and America. Many countries will wake up in a couple of decades and find that they are mostly Muslim and there's nothing they can do about it. Then the fundamentalists will come in and we will all be under Sharia law. But then, that's too heavy to think about.