"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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Criticism After Danish School Cancels Christmas to Avoid ‘Preaching’ to non-Christian Children

The New Normal - Denmark at Christmas

© Global Look Press

Parents of local children, education officials and leading Danish politicians have criticized a primary school after it chose to cancel the traditional Christmas service, due to the presence of students of immigrant backgrounds.

"We took the decision because we have children who are not Protestant,” Marianne Vederso Schmidt, the head of Gribskolen in Graested, a town of fewer than 5,000 people in eastern Denmark, wrote in an intranet posting earlier this month.

Schmidt noted that the decision may have been overdue, as the education law forbids preaching “and it must be left to the individual families whether they want to privately attend a service.”

Syria Week at the same school back in 2016 © syriensuge / Facebook

Ten parents complained to the primary school, and the story was immediately picked up by national media, which speculated that the move was aimed at appeasing the sensitivities of Muslim students. 

Some accused Gribskolen of double standards, considering that last year it staged a 'Syria Week' in which Danish children immersed themselves in Middle Eastern culture, and were given lessons by immigrants.

“I don’t see why our tradition has to be taken away from us, just because someone else at the school believes in something else,” Mette Brüel-Holler, a parent of two enrolled daughters, told TV2. “I come from a small community, where the church is important, and these traditions are beautiful. I remember enjoying them myself as a child, and they are a fundamental part of Christmas.”

The cancellation has also been condemned by the local church pastor, who was due to perform the service and complained that Christmas was being “drained of its deeper meaning” and the mayor of the Zeeland town, who called it a “misguided decision.”

Politicians from across the ruling center-right coalition have joined in the chorus of criticism.

“Danish primary schools have a duty to spread education – and teaching the cultural values and knowledge connected to Christmas is an essential part of that,” Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby wrote on her Facebook page. “What benefits from this decision? Not the culture or level of integration within the country.”

“We have a critical lack of self-esteem. We are a Christian country with our own traditions. We should not sacrifice this in the name of multiculturalism,” wrote Marie Krarup, of the Danish People's Party, asking social media users whether similar initiatives had been undertaken by other institutions.

The chairman of the School Leaders Association, Claus Hjortdal, has said that there is no provision that there must be a church service at Christmas at the end of term, and pointed out that many schools do not have one at all.

Meanwhile, the local school board has called an emergency meeting for the upcoming Thursday, where a compromise may be suggested. The board pointed out to the media that they have no means of forcing Gribskolen into a decision.

The most famous native of Graested, current Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who himself attended Gribskolen as a child, waded into the debate when he took to Facebook to plead with his alma mater for a “re-do.”

Drug Company Raises Everyday Vitamin Price by 800 Percent

Astonishing Corporate Greed

© Global Look Press

Following the lead of pharma-bro Martin Shkreli, a US drug company has hiked the price of a prescription version of vitamin B3 pills by over 800 percent. A drug used to treat respiratory ailments also got a price hike of nearly 2,500 percent.

Avondale Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Niacor, a prescription-only version of niacin (vitamin B3), by 809 percent last month. This means a bottle of 100 tablets went from costing $32.46 to $295, according to figures sent to the Financial Times.

While the drug is available over the counter, some doctors prefer to prescribe a version that has US Food and Drug Administration approval. The drug is used to lower cholesterol to reduce the chance of having a heart attack.

Doctors need to stop prescribing Niacor and recommend over the counter versions of B3.

The company also acquired another generic, SSKI, and increased its price by 2,499 percent, taking a 30ml bottle from $11.48 to $295.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based company raised its prices shortly after acquiring the rights to the drugs in a “buy-and-raise” deal made notorious by Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund investor recently convicted of securities fraud.

Shkreli became mired in controversy when he raised the price of a drug used by cancer and HIV patients by 5,500 percent.

The price hikes by Avondale were first noticed by Truven Health Analytics, according to The Independent.

According to the Financial Times, Avondale Pharmaceuticals was set up in August by a registered agent, Acrogen Pharmaceuticals, seemingly for the sole purpose of drug acquisition. Acrogen was started in 2016 by Mark Pugh, an executive behind several pharmaceutical companies.

“This is the latest example of an inefficient US market where the consumer, payer, and doctor don’t have all the information available to make a financially sound choice,” Michael Rae, CEO of Rx Savings, told FT. “They are caught in a web of inefficiency and are being taken advantage of.”

Price gouging is a controversial but established strategy whereby firms buy up the rights to a drug that faces little or no competition, before massively inflating the price and enjoying the profits.

It can't be that difficult to make this spectacular expression of greed illegal. These companies buy up rights, probably at inflated prices, and then dramatically raise their prices without adding anything to the product. Don't monopoly laws apply? 

At least, there should be a special tax, a dramatically inflated tax on the profit from the increase in prices of these drugs. The entire increase should be considered profit and therefore taxable. 

At best, these people should be thrown in jail and never allowed to work in the industry again. It is people like these who give the free-market system a black-eye and give ammunition to countries where there is no free-market system to criticize America and maintain their own forms of corruption.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bermuda Bans Gay Marriage Months After Supreme Court Approval

By Ray Downs 

The Bermuda Flag flies in Sandy's Parish, Bermuda, on May 30. This month, Bermuda's Parliament voted to ban gay marriage just months after the Supreme Court voted to allow them.
File Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA-EFE

UPI -- Just months after gay couples in Bermuda were allowed to marry under a Supreme Court ruling, the island country's government reimposed a ban under a new law.

Member of Parliament Lawrence Scott said the Domestic Partnerships Act of 2017 helps the LGBTQ community by giving gay couples "benefits it has been asking for," while keeping traditionalists happy because it doesn't change the the "traditional definition of marriage."

"As it stands now, they can have the name marriage but without the benefits. But after this bill passes, they have the benefits and just not the name marriage. The benefits are what they really want," Scott said, the Royal Gazette reported.

Is it? Or is it recognition, acceptance, and moral justification?

The bill passed Bermuda's Parliament 24-10.

According to Pink News, Bermuda became the first country to re-ban gay marriage.

Shadow Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons, who voted against the bill, said it marked a step backwards for Bermuda.

"This is a human rights issue. We are taking away marriage equality rights from the LGBTQ community," Gibbons said, according to the Jamaican Observer.

Gay marriage has been a controversial topic in Bermuda.

In 2016, 69 percent of voters rejected a referendum to approve gay marriage. But less than 50 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, making the vote invalid.

But in May, Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé, Greg DeRoche, won a legal ruling in Bermuda's Supreme Court to allow gay marriages to take place in the country. That paved the way for gay marriages until Friday's vote.

Those already married before Friday will not be affected by the new law.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

ISIS Out of Iraq But Driven Into Syria by the U.S.

Iraqi government: Islamic State 'completely defeated' in country
By Allen Cone 

Iraqi soldiers hold up the Iraqi national flag after totally liberating central Mosul on July 10. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Saturday announced the remaining Iraqi region under Islamic state control, near the Iraqi border with Syria, was now under complete control of Iraq's armed forces. Photo by EPA

UPI -- Iraq's prime minister announced Saturday that the country's defense forces completely liberated the nation from the Islamic State.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Haider al-Abadi posted on Twitter. "We defeated Daesh [Islamic State] through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

Last month, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias began a final campaign against the militants along the country's Syrian border. The targeted area, largely desert, was about 11,000 square miles.

In all, the Islamic State controlled more than 34,000 square miles from the Mediterranean coast to south of Baghdad. Rawa was the last liberated city since the Islamic State took control in 2014.

More than 3.2 million people were displaced from the country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In a post on Twitter, the government said that the armed forces have secured the west desert and the entire Iraq-Syrian border. "This marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq," the post said.

Desert offensive Maj. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said the forces liberated the desert between the provinces of Nineveh and Anbar. "And, thus, the liberation of all Iraqi territory has been completed from the rule of the [Islamic State] gangs," Yarallah said in a statement.

The Global Coalition conducted about 25,000 airstrikes during military operations there.

Thousands of ISIS fighters left Syria in secret deal with U.S., defector says
By Dominic Evans and Orhan Coskun Reuters

Then Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo speaks during a news conference in Hukoumiya village in Raqqa, Syria, June 6.

REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo

A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city’s fall, saying thousands of ISIS fighters – many more than first reported – left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal.

Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the SDF arranged to bus all remaining Islamic State militants out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling diehard foreign jihadists in the city.

U.S. officials described Silo’s comments as “false and contrived” but a security official in Turkey, where Silo defected three weeks ago, gave a similar account of Islamic State’s defeat in its Syrian stronghold. Turkey has been at odds with Washington over U.S. backing for the Kurdish forces who led the fight for Raqqa.

Silo was the SDF spokesman and one of the officials who told the media in mid-October – when the deal was reached – that fewer than 300 fighters left Raqqa with their families while others would fight on.

However, he told Reuters in an interview that the number of fighters who were allowed to go was far higher and the account of a last-ditch battle was a fiction designed to keep journalists away while the evacuation took place.

He said a U.S. official in the international coalition against Islamic State, whom he did not identify, approved the deal at a meeting with an SDF commander.

At the time there were conflicting accounts of whether or not foreign Islamic State fighters had been allowed to leave Raqqa. The BBC later reported that one of the drivers in the exodus described a convoy of up to 7 km long made up of 50 trucks, 13 buses and 100 Islamic State vehicles, packed with fighters and ammunition.

The Turkish government has expressed concern that some fighters who left Raqqa could have been smuggled across the border into Turkey and could try to launch attacks there or in the West.

“Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families,” Silo said, adding that all but about 500 were fighters.

He said they headed east to Islamic State-controlled areas around Deir al-Zor, where the Syrian army and forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad were gaining ground.

If this is true it is a deliberate attack on Syrian forces by sending 3500 armed men to Deir al-Zor to counter the Syrian offensive. It didn't work, Deir al-Zor fell anyway, but it was obviously a hostile act intended to prolong the war in Syria.

For three days the SDF banned people from going to Raqqa, saying fighting was in progress to deal with militants who had not given themselves up.

It was all theater,” Silo said.

“The announcement was cover for those who left for Deir al-Zor”, he said, adding that the agreement was endorsed by the United States which wanted a swift end to the Raqqa battle so the SDF could move on towards Deir al-Zor.

U.S. at odds with Turkey

It was not clear where the evacuees from Raqqa ended up.

The Syrian Democratic Forces deny that Islamic State fighters were able to leave Raqqa for Deir al-Zor, and the U.S.-led military coalition which backs the SDF said it “does not make deals with terrorists”.

“The coalition utterly refutes any false accusations from any source that suggests the coalition’s collusion with ISIS,” it said in a statement.

However, a Turkish security official said that many more Islamic State personnel left Raqqa than was acknowledged. “Statements that the U.S. or the coalition were engaged in big conflicts in Raqqa are not true,” the official added.

He told Reuters Turkey believed those accounts were aimed at diverting attention from the departure of Islamic State members and complained that Turkey had been kept in the dark.

Ankara, a NATO ally of Washington’s and a member of the U.S.-led coalition, has disagreed sharply with the United States over its support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters who spearheaded the fight against Islamic State in Raqqa.

Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.

Silo spoke to Reuters in a secure location on the edge of Ankara in the presence of Turkish security officers. He said the security was for his own protection and he denied SDF assertions that he had been pressured into defecting by Turkey, where his children live.

A member of Syria’s Turkmen minority, Silo said his decision to speak out now was based on disillusionment with the structure of the SDF, which was dominated by Kurdish YPG fighters at the expense of Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian allies, as well as the outcome in Raqqa, where he said a city had been destroyed but not the enemy.

The Raqqa talks took place between a Kurdish SDF commander, Sahin Cilo, and an intermediary from Islamic State whose brother-in-law was the Islamic State “emir” in Raqqa, Silo said.

After they reached agreement Cilo headed to a U.S. military base near the village of Jalabiya. “He came back with the agreement of the U.S. administration for those terrorists to head to Deir al-Zor,” Silo said.

The coalition said two weeks ago that one of its leaders was present at the talks but not an active participant in the deal which it said was reached “despite explicit coalition disagreement with letting armed ISIS terrorists leave Raqqa”.

ISIS re-enters Syria’s Idlib after clashes: monitor

Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib. (File photo: Reuters)

AFP, Beirut

The ISIS group has seized territory in Syria’s Idlib province after clashes with rival militants, nearly four years after being expelled from the region, a monitor said on Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIS had captured the village of Bashkun after clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a force dominated by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The capture comes after days of fighting between ISIS and HTS in neighbouring Hama province, during which ISIS captured a string of villages in the northeast of the region, the Observatory said.

The capture of Bashkun puts ISIS back in Idlib nearly four years after it was first expelled from the province in northwestern Syria after battles with rival militants and rebel groups.

ISIS has seen the so-called “caliphate” it declared in 2014 across parts of Syria and Iraq crumble in recent weeks, losing key cities such as Raqa and Mosul.

It now holds just a few patches of territory in Syria, and on Saturday Iraq’s prime minister declared the war against the jihadist group in his country was now over.

More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria’s multi-faceted war since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

American's, allegedly, have 2000 troops in Syria - 4 times as many as previously reported, and an unknown number of 'contractors'. All are there, allegedly, fighting ISIS. The middle report above makes it clear that the Americans are not just fighting ISIS, but are attempting to ensure that Assad does not win back control of Syria. 

There are a couple of possible reasons for this: 1. They want to reduce Iran's influence in the region; 2. Saudi Arabia wants to reduce Iran's influence in the region; 3. They want to prolong the fighting for commercial reasons.  

Whatever the reason, Europe should be screaming blue murder at the prolonging of the civil war. Many a Syrian migrant in Europe would go home if it was safe to do so, even to a destroyed country. At least, the flow of war refugees would slow. Is it the BS report that Assad was responsible for using chemical weapons in Khan Sheikoun that has them refusing to allow Assad to be part of a Syrian solution? 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Argentina Judge Issues Arrest Warrant for Former President Kirchner for 'Treason'

Corruption is Everywhere - Certainly in de Kirchner's Argentina

By Daniel Uria

A judge in Argentina issued an arrest warrant for former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, accusing her of treason. Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

UPI -- A judge in Argentina issued a warrant for the arrest of former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on Thursday on charges of treason.

Judge Claudio Bonadio accused Kirchner, 64, of seeking to negotiate a deal with Iran to obtain trade concessions in exchange for covering up Tehran's role in a 1994 terror attack on the AMIA Jewish center that killed 85 people.

See also:

"There's no crime, there's no case. Bonadio knows it. The government knows it. President [Mauricio] Macri also knows it," Kirchner said.

Her arrest warrant stems from a 2015 investigation by federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead at his home less than a week after accusing Kirchner of the coverup.

Kirchner previously called the accusations "absurdity" and claimed they were part of a conspiracy to undermine her presidency.

Kirchner was granted legal immunity after being sworn in as a senator in October. Bonadio has also asked lawmakers to remove her immunity, which would require a two-thirds majority vote by Congress.

The judge also called for the arrest of Kirchner's former aide, Carlos Zanni, social activist Luis D'Elia and Muslim cleric Jorge Alejandro Khalil, all of whom were arrested in raids Thursday morning.

Hector Timerman, the former foreign minister, was held on house arrest due to health issues.

Kirchner faces trial in several other cases of corruption and money laundering during her time as president.

The treason charge is the most serious and carries a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Amnesty Intl Risks Criminal Probe after Taking Soros' Funds for Pro-Abortion Campaign in Ireland

Soros and left-wing organizations don't seem to have any respect whatsoever for a country's laws. It is one thing to oppose a law, and something else altogether to break another law in order to oppose the first. Yet they claim the high moral ground.

© Amnesty International Ireland / Facebook

Amnesty International Ireland could face criminal charges after an Irish regulatory body found that it broke the law by accepting a donation from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation for an abortion rights campaign.

Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission informed the human rights organisation that it had breached Irish law by accepting funds from a foreign donor and may face criminal investigation, Amnesty International Ireland said in a statement.

The organisation says the €137,000 grant received from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) last year was used to support a campaign to ensure abortion laws in Ireland comply with human rights.

Abortion is a 'human right'???? "Life' is a human right; the most basic and fundamental of all human rights! Abortion is the death of a human - the opposite of a human right! What lunacy!

Amnesty has blasted the law as draconian and defiantly stated it would not comply with the order to return the funds.

“Amnesty International will not be complying with the instruction from the SIPOC and will deploy every means at its disposal to challenge this unfair law,” Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman said.

O’Gorman claimed on Twitter that Irish law was “being weaponized by those opposed to our work.”

The Electoral Act 1997, as amended in 2001, forbids overseas donations of more than €100 to “third party” organisations for “political purposes”. Violation of this law can carry a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.

Earlier this year, it emerged that three organisations including the Abortion Rights Campaign and Amnesty International had received funds from the Open Society Foundation.

The Abortion Rights Campaign were ordered by SIPO to return the funds or face criminal investigation – an order they duly complied with, however, no such order was made against Amnesty International.

The organization said it was using the grant to carry out opinion polling and “research into models of abortion law reform that might bring Ireland into compliance with its international human rights obligations” – an explanation apparently accepted at the time, reported The Irish Times.

O’Gorman says it is unclear why the body reversed its decision, but noted that some groups and media have been framing their campaign to reform Ireland’s abortion law as ‘controversial’ or ‘too political.’ “They have also portrayed foreign funding as somehow sinister,” he said.

If it comes from Soros, it probably is sinister!

Amnesty International is now calling on the Irish government to urgently amend the Electoral Act so that civil society groups are not so “punitively” restricted in their access to funding.

'Punitively'??? Aren't both sides restricted by the same law? How then can it be punitive to one side?

Soros’ Open Society Foundation is the second largest charity in the US and said to be the most influential around the globe. It has been accused of undermining democracy in several countries – a charge denied by the NGO.

And if it is true, it's justified. Many a liberal believes that the end justifies the means, regardless of how illegal or onerous those means.

Chief Investigator Names Police and Municipal Clerks as Most ‘Corruption Prone’ Professions in Russia

But also investigated anti-corruption officials for corruption

Corruption is Everywhere - Certainly in Russia

© Global Look Press

The head of the Russian Investigative Committee has revealed the latest statistics on corruption crime, which show that most cases involve law-enforcement agents, military servicemen, municipal clerks, teachers and doctors.

“Representatives of law-enforcement agencies, officials from municipal bodies and enterprises, people working in the spheres of education and healthcare, and also the military,” said Aleksandr Bastrykin, listing the professions most often involved in cases of corruption.

In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the chairman of Russian federal agency that deals with high-profile crimes said that there were currently more than 7,000 people facing corruption charges. Of these, 845 worked for the Interior Ministry, 571 occupied posts in state and municipal bodies, 490 were military servicemen, 227 worked in science and education, and 221 worked in healthcare.

“Another 400 suspects are people to whom we had to apply a special mode of criminal trial. These used to work as prosecutors, judges, investigators, legal attorneys and the like. Some of them are quite senior officials, I don’t think that it makes sense to name them all, as we know their names from mass media,” Bastrykin added.

Corrupt anti-corruption officials

Russia was hit by several major corruption scandals in 2016. Among them was the arrest of Economy Minister Aleksey Ulyukayev on suspicion of taking a $2-million bribe from the CEO of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft. Also in 2016, investigators detained several top officials from the anti-corruption directorate of the Interior Ministry, following an incident in which they found over $122 million in cash in an apartment linked to one of the officials.

No reference here to the systemic doping scandal that got Russia kicked out of the next Olympic Games. It is both hopeful and alarming that 7,000 people have been charged and that some are even senior officials. But the corruption at the highest levels of Russian society and government is not likely to be cleaned up in my lifetime.

Is this a consequence of 70 years of godless communism, or was there this much corruption before the revolution?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Court Orders Halal Supermarket in Paris to Close Because it Sells No Pork or Wine

Islamization - in France

 © Loic Venance / AFP

A French court has ordered a halal grocery store in Paris to shut down because it did not sell pork and alcohol, and failed to cater for the needs of the customers.

The Court of Nanterre ruled on Monday that the “Good Price” mini-market in Colombes failed to comply with the conditions of its lease, according to which the grocery must act as a "general food store,” La Liberation reported.

The court ordered the termination of the store's lease and the eviction of the tenants. In addition, the owner must pay €4,000 to the local authority in respect of legal costs.

The court ruled that the owner of the store had failed to meet “the needs of all inhabitants of the residential area.” The products that the shop stocked were "restrictive and did not fit the broad concept of general goods,” it added.

Local residents complained that after the halal mini-market replaced a regular supermarket they were not being served properly, with halal products constituting 96 percent of what the grocery shop sold.

The landlord said it was impossible to find bottles of wine or pork on the shelves, even though the lease had been granted for a "general food store." When the owner of the store was questioned at the time, he said, as cited by 20minutes.fr: "It's business. I look around me and I target what I see."

The grocery store’s owner and his lawyer argued that, while being “accused of not selling wine, wine is not part of the general diet." The store has “no obligations to sell it, as it was only a complement to food,” the lawyer said. 

That's almost blasphemy in France! This story fits into Dr. Peter Hammond's scale of effects of an increasingly Muslim society: 

From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply.

Three Charged in Murder of Maltese Journalist

Corruption is Everywhere - Even in Malta
By Daniel Uria 

Three men were charged in the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Tuesday.
Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA

(UPI) -- Three men have been charged in the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb last month.

The three suspects include brothers George Degiorgio,55, and Alfred Degiorgio, 53, as well as Vincent Muscat, 55.

All three pleaded not guilty and were remanded in custody after a preliminary court hearing.

They were among 10 Maltese nationals arrested on Monday in connection with Galizia's murder.

Investigators focused on the three suspects based on telephone intercepts including a call from a mobile phone that allegedly triggered the bomb, the Times of Malta reported.

Galizia, 53, was killed when a car bomb exploded in her vehicle in October, after she filed a police report 15 days earlier to reveal she had been threatened.

Prior to her death she accused Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of wrongdoing, linking him and his wife to the Panama Papers -- some of which detailed financial information including fraud and tax evasion.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

220+ Flights To Repatriate Rejected Asylum Seekers from Germany Canceled

Protest against deporting migrants who were denied asylum at Duesseldorf Airport.
© Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
Looks like 7 people to me. Why Reuters thought this was newsworthy is beyond me?

German pilots refused to fly flights to deport rejected asylum seekers in 2017, leading to the cancellation of more than 220 flights over “security” concerns.

A freedom of information request revealed that some 222 flights scheduled to repatriate rejected asylum seekers back to their countries of origin were forced to be canceled over the course of 2017. 

Deutsche Welle reports that 140 of the canceled flights were to take off from Frankfurt Airport, which is the largest in the country. Dusseldorf Airport, where activist groups regularly hold demonstrations against deportations, saw 40 flights canceled.

According to Lufthansa, however, its staff view deportees as regular passengers, and any flight cancellations are made “on a case by case basis” and only due to “security reasons.”

“The decision not to carry a passenger is ultimately made by the pilot on a case by case basis. If he or she had the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse to transport the passenger,” spokesman Michael Lamberty was quoted by the Westdeutsche Allgeimeine Zeitung as saying. “Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board.”

An anti-deportation protester is denied entry into Duesseldorf Airport. © Wolfgang Rattay / Reuters
Despite a recent increase in deportations, Germany remains by far the most popular destination in the European Union for refugees and migrants. In 2017, it processed more asylum applications than all other EU countries combined.

I keep associating the word 'insane' with 'asylum' here. It somehow seems appropriate.

The most recent statistics from the immigration office reveal Germany has accepted nearly 170,000 asylum seekers this year. It has also rejected approximately 210,000, however nearly half of those decisions have been appealed and about 25 percent of them have been overturned.

In order to reduce the number of appeals and speed up the deportations the German Interior Ministry has started offering rejected asylum seekers up to €3,000 (US$3,550) to return to their countries of origin.

The new program, dubbed ‘Your country. Your future. Now!’ promises generous payouts to those who decide to return voluntarily. Families are eligible for up to €3,000 and individuals for up to €1,000.

Trinity Western University ‘Optimistic’ After Supreme Court Hearing

War on Christianity - Canadian Front

Supreme Court considers accreditation of proposed law school

Trinity Western University (TWU), in Langley, British Columbia, said it was “optimistic Canada’s highest court will arrive at a decision that supports the freedom of all faith groups and other minorities in Canada” following two days of legal arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa concerning a proposed faith-based law school at the Langley campus.

The case involved two appeals concerning accreditation of the TWU law school, one involving a decision of the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) and the other a decision of the Law Society of Ontario (LSO).

At issue is the university community covenant that requires students and staff to abstain from non-heterosexual relationships, something critics say violates the Canadian charter of rights.

It actually requires students to abstain from any sexual relationships outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

Both the B.C. and Ontario bodies refused to recognize the proposed law school.

In BC, the decision was overturned by the lower courts, while in Ontario, the LSO’s refusal to accredit was upheld.

The last time the university went to court over the covenant, it won a 2001 case over its teacher training program when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled there was no evidence to suggest that the religious views of TWU graduates would lessen their competence to practice their profession in Canada’s pluralistic society.

During the two days of arguments that ended on Friday, the high court heard multiple submissions from people on both sides of the law school issue.

Among the detractors were the BC Humanist Association, an atheist group which argued that TWU cannot claim its religious freedom has been infringed as organizations do not have religious rights in Canada, and West Coast LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, which defended the decision to deny accreditation to TWU’s proposed law school on the basis that it would engage in discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, and sexual orientation.

“As the gatekeeper to the legal profession and the judiciary, and as a public entity whose decisions must comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, law societies cannot condone a law school that will through its admissions practices widen the gap between historically disadvantaged groups and the rest of society,” said a LEAF statement issued before the hearing began.

I would hope that the Supreme Court Justices would have enough wisdom to see that this is vexatious, an act of hostility against all religion and Christianity in particular.

In his opening statement, Trinity Western University (TWU) Counsel Kevin Boonstra framed the matter as a freedom of religion issue.

“The Charter protects the right to establish communities of faith like TWU,” Boonstra said.

“In order for any religious community to exist and thrive, it has to be able to define itself. In the evangelical context, this includes defining religiously appropriate conduct while individuals are part of the community.”

Outside court, TWU president Bob Kuhn said the case was about more than just a law school.

“It is about freedom for all faith communities and other minorities in Canada,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn led the legal team that won the 2001 Supreme Court case concerning the TWU covenant and the BC College of Teachers refusal to recognize their teacher training program.

“As the BC Court of Appeal stated when it decided in favour of the law school, ‘a society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society’,” Kuhn said.

A statement issued by TWU following the hearing said the university “welcomes any student who is prepared to live and learn according to the values and principles of its community – regardless of race, religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, or place of origin” and said the covenant was “not so different from a code of ethics or a code of conduct, which most universities have.”

The covenant, TWU said, calls on all who attend and work at TWU to live by “virtues such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness, peacemaking, mercy and justice;” it also defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The court’s decision is expected within the next several months.

Baker's Refusal to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake now Before U.S. Supreme Court

War on Christianity - American Front

Two major battles happening in the Supreme Courts of America and Canada.
It's time to pray people!
Thomson Reuters 

The U.S. Supreme Court justices including Anthony Kennedy, front row second from left, are hearing arguments in the case of whether certain businesses can refuse service to gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

The U.S. Supreme Court appears closely divided in the case of a Christian baker's refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, with likely pivotal vote Justice Anthony Kennedy posing tough questions, including whether a Colorado civil rights commission that ruled on the issue was unduly biased against religion.

The nine justices heard arguments in Washington on whether certain businesses can refuse service to gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

The case concerns an appeal by Jack Phillips, a baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. A state court had ruled that Phillips's refusal violated a Colorado anti-discrimination law.

Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes sides with the court's four liberals in major cases, raised concerns about issuing a ruling siding with the baker that would give a green light to discrimination against gay people.

He mentioned the possibility of a baker putting a sign in his window saying he would not make cakes for gay weddings and wondering if that would be "an affront to the gay community."

But citing comments made by a commissioner on the state civil rights panel that ruled against the baker, Kennedy said there was evidence of "hostility to religion" and questioned whether that panel's decision could be allowed to stand.

Hostility to religion, ya think?

In one of the biggest cases of the conservative-majority court's nine-month term, the justices must decide whether the baker's action was constitutionally protected, meaning he can avoid punishment under the Colorado law.

Phillips, represented by the conservative Christian advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, contends that law violated his rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion under the Constitution's First Amendment. The Supreme Court arguments focused on his free speech claim, based on the idea that creating a custom cake is a form of free expression.

Baker Jack Phillips contends the 2015 landmark gay marriage law violated his rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion under the U.S. Constitution. (Associated Press)

'Licence to discriminate'

The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, call the baker's refusal a simple case of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation. Mullins and Craig are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has argued that Phillips's legal team is advocating for a "licence to discriminate" that could have broad repercussions beyond gay rights.

Several of the justices asked questions that suggested they are concerned about how far a ruling in favour of the baker might extend. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wondered whether a hairstylist, chef or a makeup artist could refuse service, claiming their services are also speech protected by the Constitution.

"Why is there no speech in creating a wonderful hairdo?" Kagan asked.

Let me explain this, Justice Kagan. A hairdo does not normally express ones sexuality. It is roughly equivalent to the baker refusing to sell the couple an already prepared cake or a newly created cake that does not reflect gay marriage. That's not what you are discussing. I hope you can see the difference.

Kennedy said many examples of other businesses that were implicated involved free speech rights. He asked U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the Trump administration lawyer who backed the baker, what would happen if the court rules for the baker and bakers nationwide then started receiving requests to not bake cakes for gay weddings.

"Would the government feel vindicated?" Kennedy asked.

"...receiving requests to not bake cakes for gay weddings?" Are you serious? 

Conservative members of the court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, appeared more sympathetic to the baker.

The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in a landmark 2015 ruling written by Kennedy, one of the court's five conservatives. The 81-year-old Kennedy, who has joined the court's four liberals in major decisions on issues, such as abortion and gay rights, could cast the deciding vote. Kennedy also is a strong proponent of free speech rights.

A ruling favouring Phillips could open the door for businesses that offer creative services to spurn gay couples by invoking religious beliefs, as some wedding photographers, florists and others already have done. Conservatives have filed other lawsuits also seeking to limit the reach of the 2015 gay marriage ruling.

The Denver couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, call the baker's refusal a simple case of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Hundreds of demonstrators on both sides of the dispute rallied outside the white marble courthouse. Supporters of Phillips waved signs that read, "We got your back Jack." As Mullins and Craig made their way into the courthouse, the two men led their supporters in chants of "Love Wins."

The case highlights tensions between gay rights proponents and conservative Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, as illustrated in comments made by demonstrators on Tuesday.

"Religious liberty is the most important right we have been given in the Constitution, and this case exemplifies it," said Paula Oas, 64, a Maryland resident. "I believe Jack is not harming others."

Sherrill Fields, 67, a gay Virginia resident, said she feared that if the court sides with the baker, different types of businesses will turn away gay customers.

"This kind of thing will come out of the woodwork," Fields said. "People and businesses of all sorts will deny us service. Restaurants, hairdressers, doctors, tow truck drivers, anybody that provides a service."

This is amazing!

The legal fight broke out in 2012 when Phillips told Mullins and Craig that due to his Christian beliefs, he would not be able to make a cake to celebrate their wedding.

The two men married in Massachusetts, but wanted to celebrate their nuptials with friends in Colorado. At the time, Colorado allowed civil unions but not marriage between same-sex couples.

Now I'm really confused! It was illegal to have a same-sex wedding in Colorado in 2012, so how can a baker be sanctioned for refusing to make a wedding cake for an event celebrating something that was illegal at the time? 

How is it that it got past the Court of Appeals? And why didn't the Colorado Supreme Court put an end to this farce? The US Supreme Court should have tossed this case out in 5 minutes!

The couple turned to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a complaint on their behalf, saying Phillips had violated Colorado state law barring businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Phillips had violated the law and ordered him to take remedial measures including staff training and the filing of quarterly compliance reports. In August 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against Phillips.

The Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the case, prompting Phillips to appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday, December 4, 2017

‘Illegal Migration Led to Terror in EU, Needs to be Stopped’ – Hungarian FM

Budapest has dismissed the possibility of compromise with the EU on the migrant rehousing issue, rejecting the proposed plan on “fair share” distribution of asylum seekers, designed to replace the mandatory quota system.

“Hungary's view on migration is clear and rock steady: We think illegal immigration is dangerous. Because of illegal immigration, Europe has never had to face the kind of terror threat it faces now,” Szijjarto told a news conference with ministers and officials from Eastern and Southern Europe.

The foreign minister stressed that any sort of “encouragement” for further migrant arrivals was against the interests of Europe, while the only acceptable solution for Hungary was stopping the illegal migration as far from the EU’s borders as possible.

He delivered the comments at a press conference, while responding to a question regarding the new plan on migrant distribution among EU states. The plan, drafted by Estonia, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, was advertised as “the mother of all compromises,” aimed at replacing the system of mandatory migrant relocation quotas, strongly opposed by Hungary and Poland.

“We have a good understanding where the possible middle ground lies,” an Estonian spokesman said Wednesday, while commenting on the prospects of the drafted plan.

Under the Estonian plan, unveiled last week, the European Commission would determine “fair shares” of asylum seekers that countries would be expected to take in to ease the burden on the EU member states overwhelmed by the migrant influx. The “fair shares” a country is expected to take would be largely determined by its population and wealth. The proposed system, however, has an “early warning” system used if the number of arrivals starts to surpass the drafted “fair share.”

At first other member states would be asked to provide material, financial and personnel support to the country experiencing the surging migrant influx. If the crisis persists, however, the other states might be obliged to show “solidarity” and take in the excess migrants. The main difference between the Estonian plan and the existing system of mandatory relocations is that the migrant transfer between the two states would only take place if both states involved voluntarily agreed to do so.

The issue of the migrant quotas dates back to the migrant crisis and the EU decision in 2015 to rehouse 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy within other member states over a period of two years. As of November 2017, only around 32,000 migrants had been resettled under the program. Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has become one of the most vocal critics of the mandatory quota system, arguing that its implementation would result in “tens of millions” of migrants flocking to Europe.

The program was strongly opposed by the countries believed to be not popular destinations for migrants. Hungary and Poland refused to take part in the program, while Slovakia has only taken in a small number from Greece.

Hungary and Slovakia also appealed to the European Court of Justice, asking it to reverse the EU decision to relocate migrants. On September 6, 2017, the court said that it had “dismissed in its entirety the actions brought by Slovakia and Hungary.” The ruling was slammed by Szijjarto as “appalling and irresponsible.” Hungary’s foreign minister said also that “politics has raped European law.”

The EU, in its turn, has also launched legal action against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for not “taking the necessary action” regarding the migrants and breaching their “legal obligations” by non-compliance with the EU resettlement plan.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Very Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth is Not Very Reverent

Anglican Minister Urges Prayers for
Prince George to Be Gay

This is one of the more disturbing stories you will ever read if you are a Christian. That a man could rise to the status of 'Very Reverend' in the Anglican Church and not have any clue about Who God is, is hardly conceivable. He is a disgrace and he ought to be fired!


A crowd outside St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, west of London, in June. The wedding of
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is to take place there in May. Credit Stefan Rousseau/Agence
France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — A prominent Anglican cleric and gay rights campaigner known for contentious gestures has urged believers to pray for Prince George — age 4, and third in line to the throne — to find the love “of a fine young gentleman” when he grows up so as to advance the cause of same-sex marriage in church.

Coming just days after Prince Harry — George’s uncle, and fifth in line — announced his engagement to Meghan Markle, a divorced American actress, the suggestion by the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth seemed to illuminate once more the role of royal romance in Britain’s imagination and conversation, especially when it collides with tradition.

Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have said they will marry in May at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, west of London. But it is only since 2002 that the Church of England has permitted church marriages for divorced people, “in exceptional circumstances” at the discretion of parish priests. The church teaching is that marriage is for life.

While same-sex marriage is permitted by law in most of Britain, the Church of England says on its website, “it remains the case that it is not legally possible for same-sex couples to marry” in its churches.

Mr. Holdsworth, the provost of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow, belongs to the Scottish Episcopal Church, a separate province of the Anglican Communion that voted in June to let its priests solemnize same-sex marriages.

In his campaign to expand on that change, Mr. Holdsworth wrote in a blog post on Thursday that believers could “pray in the privacy of their hearts (or in public if they dare) for the Lord to bless Prince George with a love, when he grows up, of a fine young gentleman.” Prince George is the elder child of Prince William and the former Catherine Middleton, now called the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Bible tells us very clearly what the Lord thinks of homosexuality. To even suggest that He might 'bless' someone by making them gay is the height of absurdity. The man has no clue Who Jesus Christ is and ought not to be able to represent Him.

“A royal wedding might sort things out remarkably easily, though we might have to wait 25 years for that to happen,” Mr. Holdsworth wrote. “Who knows whether that might be sooner than things might work out by other means.”

His suggestion was widely reported in the British media on Friday, though the blog on which he made it seemed inaccessible Friday morning.

Mr. Holdsworth caused a frisson among some of the faithful in January when he permitted a reading from the Quran during a service that included a rebuttal of the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God.

His latest comments also drew the outrage of more traditional clerics. The Rev. Gavin Ashenden, a former royal chaplain, called the comments unchristian.

“To pray for Prince George to grow up in that way” is to “pray in a way that would disable and undermine his constitutional and personal role,” he told Christian Today, an online news provider, particularly when part of the expectation that the prince would inherit would be “to produce a biological heir with a woman he loves.”

“It is an unkind and destabilizing prayer,” Mr. Ashenden continued. “It is the theological equivalent of the curse of the wicked fairy in one of the fairy tales.”

There was no immediate comment from the royal family. Prince Harry and Ms. Markle arrived in Nottingham, England, on Friday for their first official visit together — to raise awareness of H.I.V./AIDS and youth violence.