"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
Friday, June 30, 2017
Alberta school board serves notice it will stop operating controversial Christian academy
Camrose board, school society battling over Bible verses
proposed for student handbookCBC News
A dispute about Bible verses has led to a decision by the public school board in Camrose to stop operating a Christian K-12 school in nearby Kingman, Alta. (CBC)
Camrose school board, Christian academy no closer to resolution over contentious Bible verse Alberta Christian school worried school division could ban Bible verses
The public school board in Camrose, Alta., southeast of Edmonton says it will stop operating a Christian school next year after the school refused to drop Bible verses that could be considered offensive from its student handbook.
In a letter dated Thursday, the Battle River School Division said it will no longer operate Cornerstone Christian Academy School after June 30, 2018.
A lease agreement for the school building in Kingman, 27 kilometres north of Camrose, is also being terminated as of next June.
The school has operated as an alternative program under the Battle River division since 2009.
The decision to close the school next year is the latest move in an ongoing battle between the board and the school society over what can be taught to the K-12 Christian academy's 160 students.
Trustees voted in favour of the move at a special board meeting Thursday.
Several Bible verses were to be included in a handbook for students. One reference from Corinthians suggests that neither "fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate ... shall inherit the kingdom of God."
Battle River board trustees have said they believe the verses might contravene Alberta's human rights code.
Will they take it to the Alberta Human Rights Council? Will they declare the Bible to be hate literature? Not very likely, but then, there is an NDP (read far-left) government in Alberta and a far-left Liberal government in Ottawa, so anything is possible.
In her Thursday letter to Cornerstone chair Deanna Margel, Battle River board chair Laurie Skori said the current arrangement "cannot continue on the current basis" until both sides can agree on the "appropriate roles and involvement at the school level.
"As a public school board we must ensure that any educational programming provided complies with board policy and procedure, provincial legislation including the Alberta Human Rights Act and the School Act," the letter said.
"Unless those concerns can be resolved, we are unable to maintain the current relationship."
John Carpay, a Calgary lawyer working with the Cornerstone Christian Academy Society, dismissed the concerns that the school's use of Bible verses might violate Alberta's human rights code.
"It's a stupid claim," Carpay said. "The school board's lawyer was asked to cite one section of the Alberta human rights law that prohibits a Christian school from reading, studying, teaching Bible verses and the lawyer was asked repeatedly and could not cite a single section."
Resolution could still come
But Skori leaves open the possibility that "a mutually acceptable resolution to our respective concerns can occur over the next weeks or months."
In a news release, Cornerstone Christian Academy said it wants to continue working with the school board to operate the academy.
"We are deeply saddened by the BRSD's decision to terminate our agreement," Margel said in a statement.
She said the board's decision "makes no sense if they truly desire to continue working together. It seems unwise, and completely unnecessary, to throw away years of productive co-operation in mere weeks because we've simply hit an unusual bump in the road. Things just don't add up."
Some of you will not read this post or watch the video because it is from RT and they are interviewing a Russian representative to the Organisation for Prohibited Chemical Weapons. If you don't, you will deny yourself the opportunity to learn a great deal about the chemical weapon attack and its aftermath.
It is not the easiest interview to listen to, Mr. Shulgin's English is quite broken, but it is certainly worth the effort. A few excerpts are below, but the there is much, much more in the interview video.
FILE PHOTO: Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria April 5, 2017 © Ammar Abdullah / Reuters
The latest OPCW report on the April Idlib chemical incident lacks sufficient evidence and is based on data provided mostly by only one side of the Syrian conflict without necessary verification, the Russian OPCW representative, Aleksandr Shulgin, told RT.
“The conclusions of this report are based on questionable data provided primarily by all kinds of the Syrian armed opposition groups and NGOs, including the infamous White Helmets,” Shulgin said, referring to the report of the fact-finding mission (FFM) reviewed by the UN’s chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), on Thursday.
This blog has shown where the White Helmets have faked news stories on several occasions, always in an effort to demonize the Syrian Army.
The Russian representative drew attention to the fact that the report itself repeatedly says that the FFM investigative team decided not to visit the incident scene due to “security factors” and was thus unable to gather the necessary material evidence directly on the spot.
The team then had to rely on evidence provided by “various NGOs” that were working on the scene and testimonies of the alleged attack victims as well as those of the medical specialists, who treated the victims in “one of the neighboring countries.”
The report further says that the team was unable to implement the chain of custody for the samples they obtained from third parties, despite the fact that it is a standard basic procedure for such types of investigation, Shulgin noted.
The FFM report seen by RT indeed says that “the team was unable to implement a complete chain of custody, by the team, for samples from source.” Shulgin explained that the lack of the full chain of custody makes such evidence questionable, as its source cannot be verified with certainty.
What? No Russian link? Or is Corbyn the Russian link? Aha!
Senior Tories are accusing left-wing youngsters of breaking the law during the general election, with claims they cast their vote twice.
The government has signaled it will be reviewing electoral rules amid reports of students boasting on social media about casting their vote twice – once in their home constituency and again in their university town.
Under the current system, people are allowed to register to vote in two different places, but it is a criminal offence to vote twice.
The Tories suffered a blow in the general election, losing their 17-seat working majority, forcing leader Theresa May to sign a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to help prop up a minority administration.
It is thought that an unusually high turnout among young voters gave May’s Labour opponents a significant boost. Now senior Tories are suggesting Labour benefitted from voter fraud.
Former Tory leadership contender Andrea Leadsom told MPs there is a need to investigate any potential abuse of the democratic system.
Leadsom was responding to Wellingborough MP Peter Bone, who claimed left-leaning students had announced on social media they had voted twice in the June 8 election.
“It has been brought to my attention that people can be registered to vote in a general election in two places.
“I am registered in London and in my constituency,” Bone said, according to the Daily Express.
“However, a number of students are bragging on social media that they voted not only where they live, but where they go to university. That is an abuse, so could we have a statement from the Cabinet Office on that matter next week?”
Bone also said an investigation is needed to verify whether groups such as Momentum, a grassroots Labour campaign, could be behind students’ double voting.
Responding to Bone, Leadsom said: “We must get to the bottom of people deliberately voting twice, which I understand is illegal.
“We need to investigate that and ensure that parliamentary democracy, for which this country has been famous—this is indeed the mother of all Parliaments—upholds the rights of one person and one vote.”
The accusation against young voters, however, was first raised by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
In an interview with US media, Farage said voters had been so attracted by Labour’s “Marxist” policies that they voted for its leader twice.
Farage said the reason why so many people are flocking to Labour is that they are yet to understand the implications of Marxism. He claimed they had been lured by Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist promises, such as the scrapping of university tuition fees.
“Marxism is very appealing if you’ve never been exposed to it before or seen what history has done with it,” said Farage.
“Corbyn went around saying to our students ‘look, I will wipe away all your tuition fees, I will promise you a land where there’ll be money for this, and money for that, and it’ll all be absolutely lovely’ and young people were very attracted by it.”
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's hapless president, is obviously pulling the strings of the judges in the country's supreme court. Cudos to CP Diaz for standing up to them. The country needs to rally around her.By Andrew V. Pestano
Venezuela's Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz has been banned from leaving the country by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice. Photo courtesy of Luisa Ortega Díaz
UPI -- Venezuela's high court has frozen the assets of Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz and banned her from leaving the country.
The Plenary Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, or TSJ, issued the order on Wednesday, saying a hearing will be held July 4. The TSJ said it issued the order for the "alleged commission of serious misconduct in the exercise of her office."
"The precautionary measures agreed by the Plenary Chamber in order to guarantee the respective procedural channels consist of the following: prohibition of leaving the country of the citizen Luisa Ortega Díaz; prohibition of disposing or filing of all her assets, and a freeze all her bank accounts," the TSJ said in a statement.
The court transferred Ortega Díaz's powers of investigation as the head of Venezuela's Public Ministry to Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek William Saab.
On Thursday, Ortega Díaz said she will ignore the TSJ's orders.
"This is a provocation against me, with dark purposes. The TSJ is repealing the Constitution and I will not allow it," Ortega Díaz said.
Ortega Díaz was a fierce ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's regime but in March she criticized the TSJ after the court said it would assume the National Assembly's duties -- a ruling it later reversed. The TSJ's ruling also led to nearly daily protests, which are ongoing.
Ortega Díaz has since criticized Venezuelan security forces over what she argues is excessive use of force against protesters. Members of the Venezuelan opposition accuse Maduro's regime of attempting to push out Ortega Díaz from her position because she no longer faithfully aligns herself to the socialist government.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
I have featured Neil MacDonald's writings on this blog a few times. He is intelligent and thoughtful when it comes to politics, but his inability to conceive of the possibility of there being a real God makes him a stereo-typical MSM reporter - one who thinks religious people believe a fantasy and are therefore idiots.
I could tell him how very real God is, but I'm quite sure he would not listen.
The CBC’s Neil Macdonald is an ignorant bigot
By Jonathon Van Maren
Neil Macdonald, one of those smug, elitist drones bestowed upon us by our government-funded state broadcaster to tell us what’s best for us, has just written a column that should win scores of awards in the categories of cluelessness and snottiness.
Macdonald, who happens to be the brother of the far more insightful comedian Norm MacDonald, has decided to hop on board with the Liberal Party’s official line that Andrew Scheer has the potential to be a dangerous fundamentalist, indicating simultaneously that he is aware of the Liberal Party’s ongoing support for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as well as why that is.
Macdonald starts off his column by congratulating himself on his open-mindedness, noting that he reads both the Weekly Standard and the National Review “regularly.” As a subscriber to the National Review myself, I can only assume this means that Macdonald has missed the vast majority of the essays the fine writers there publish, or that he is impervious to reasoning from those who are not members of his “own intellectual cohort,” as he puts it.
Macdonald then moves seamlessly from self-congratulation on his free-thinking and ability to be extraordinarily well-read into the main point of his column: “Religion…is by definition not fact-based. It is a pure belief system.”
Which is, in fact, one of the stupidest sentences I’ve read in a long time. Clearly, Macdonald is unaware of the intellectual traditions of Christianity—traditions, I might point out, that actually created the scientific method he worships and pioneered most of the scientific fields a man as well-read as he presumably grazes in—not to mention the intensive historiography that accompanies the Christian accounts of history.
But Macdonald makes that point to make a far more nefarious one: “To be clear here, I am all for a person’s right to believe in whatever he or she desires, to embrace foundational myths of aliens [a shot at Scientology], or miracles, or extreme positions of love or hatred, so long as it remains in a place of worship, with the door closed.”
Got that? Everyone else—be it the drag queens and nudists waving their genitals to the crowd at the Pride Parade, or the Black Lives Matter rioters shutting them down, or abortion activists screaming at families attending the March for Life—they have the right to express their views in public and to advocate for those views in the political sphere. But that’s because they’re not Christian. Macdonald thinks Christians should not have such rights. They can only speak to each other, in their churches.
And why? Because Macdonald doesn’t happen to believe what Christians believe, and because in spite of his alleged open-mindedness, he doesn’t have the faintest clue what Christians believe on any topic.
He objects to pro-life laws, for example, without mentioning the fact that it is legal to abort a baby at any time during pregnancy in Canada. I don’t know if Macdonald is a father and has felt a baby kick in the womb, but it is the abortion activists who have the weird religious belief that it is some sort of alien rather than a human being developing in the womb of his or her mother, not pro-lifers. Pro-lifers are merely requesting science-based human rights policy.
Macdonald is also mind-boggled that there are those who objected to gay marriage—a vast majority that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton until very recently, in fact—even though every nation on earth affirmed that marriage was between a man and a woman until the year 2000. But whatever—fortunately thousands of years of ignorant morons have culminated in the arrival of a luminary named Neil Macdonald, who is paid by the government to inform traditionalists that they are stupid. Tradition may be the democracy of the dead, as Chesterton once put it, but the dead are no match for a snarky CBC columnist.
Macdonald even takes a shot at those who do not believe that men can become women and women can become men, even though there is not a single shred of scientific evidence to support his snobbery. Screw the opinion of the psychiatrists at John Hopkins University and mental health professionals across the country. And silence anyone who might have questions to ask based on research that contradicts the baseless position of Macdonald and his cohort. They have no right to the public square, because they do not agree with Macdonald—and he promptly demonizes those who disagree with him as bigots, haters, and the possessors of various phobias.
How does Macdonald accomplish this? By lazy slander. “’Faith,’ apparently, confers licence to discriminate, bully, marginalize, and deprive someone of liberty (such as the liberty to end an unwanted pregnancy),” writes McDonald, as he discriminates against Christians, suggests they be marginalized and confined to their churches, and says they should be deprived of the liberty to have their voices heard in the public square. It’s ironic, isn’t it–Christians are always trying to legislate their values, says the guy who believes that his values should be reflected in legislation because he says so.
“And whenever someone calls them on what is often plain old hatred-laced bigotry,” he continues, “they smile and say, ‘No, no, you don’t understand. It’s a matter of ‘faith.’”
No. We don’t say that, although it’s a convenient straw man for Neil to be thrashing around with so as to avoid actually making an argument. When we make the case that late-term abortion is barbaric, we’re making a case that every other Western nation has already heeded and legislated. And when Maacdonald says that we do things “inexplicably,” he doesn’t mean that we don’t have articulated reasons for our beliefs. He means he hasn’t read them, or doesn’t understand them, and very probably both.
While feigning humility, progressives like Macdonald don’t realize the astronomical arrogance of their core assertion: That those who disagree with them should be silenced and the debate swept away because they cannot fathom the possibility that perhaps they might be wrong. Macdonald’s column did not contain a single argument, only the assumption that he and his intellectual cohort are our enlightened superiors, content to let us air out our crazy as long as we are confined to places where no one can hear us. His opinion, of course, was funded by us—the maligned taxpayers.
This airtight worldview is precisely the reason that the arrogance of the elites has left them so unprepared for what is happening across the Western world. When you silence your opponents with condescension and name-calling, you ensure that the only response can be political. And perhaps one day, Macdonald will be plucked from the government teat and forced to find a job where he isn’t paid with funds extracted from those he enjoys belittling.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
This sick and unfortunate wife and mother of two young children, who promises to attack again and again when she is released, can't be deported from Canada because Trudeau is repealing the law that allows us to deport jihadists. Thank you Justin for keeping Canada safe, for jihadists, at least.
Dugmosh is in green with the full hijab. Unbelievable that you can wear a full-face veil
while on trial in Canada.
A Scarborough woman accused of swinging a golf club while screaming threats and Islamic chants inside a hardware store last month pledged her allegiance to ISIS in a Toronto courtroom on Monday.
Global News reported 32-year-old Rehab Dughmosh told Justice Kimberley Crosbie: “I meant to harm those people.
“I reject all counsel here. I only believe in Islamic Sharia law,” she reportedly said through an Arabic interpreter. “I would like to revoke my Canadian citizenship that I received. I don’t want to have any allegiance to you.”
She would do it again and again
Dughmosh, who faces charges including two counts of assault with a weapon, told court she would do it “again and again” if released, according to Global News.
Sources have told the Toronto Sun that a woman was wearing an ISIS bandana and ranted “Allahu Akbar” — God (Allah) is greater — when she entered a Canadian Tire store at Cedarbrae Mall in Scarborough earlier this month. She was eventually restrained by several employees.
One of the women she threatened to attack was also a Muslim, but was probably not wearing an hijab so was either not recognized or dismissed as not a true believer.
During her initial court appearance, Dughmosh pledged her allegiance to ISIS, saying “I pledge to the leader of the believers — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
— Toronto Sun staff
Muslim teacher awarded €7k compensation for hijab job rejection
© Frank May / Global Look Press
The state of Berlin has been ordered to pay a Muslim teacher €6,900 after she was rejected from a job because her hijab contravened a German law restricting religious symbols in the workplace.
A Berlin labor court awarded the woman two months’ salary in compensation, Zeit Online reports.
German courts have held other similar proceedings this year challenging the workplace neutrality law.
In a separate case, a second woman also rejected over her headscarf is in the process of arguing her case in the Berlin Labor Court.
The two women applied to work at schools in Berlin and were told they wouldn’t be allowed to wear their headscarves at work.
Berlin’s Neutrality Act says state employees, like teachers, nurses and police aren’t allowed to wear religious symbols when at work.
However, in 2015, Germany’s Constitutional Court found blanket bans on state teachers wearing headscarves were unconstitutional.
In its ruling, the court told teachers concerned about freedom of religious expression that "strict and nationwide prohibition of a religious outward statement" is “unreasonable,” except in cases where the headscarf “constitute[s] a sufficiently specific danger of impairing the peace at school or the state’s duty of neutrality,” Spiegel reported.
In February, a teacher was also awarded €8,680 in an appeal after she was rejected for a job due to her headscarf.
The labor court found the basis for her 2014 job application rejection fell under religious discrimination. Her rejection letter stated she would not be given a job at a general education school because of the Neutrality law.
About as many Americans are expected to die this year of drug overdoses as died in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined
Credit Dominick Reuter/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
For more than 100 years, death rates have been dropping for Americans — but now, because of opioids, death rates are rising again. We as a nation are going backward, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
“There’s no question that there’s an epidemic and that this is a national public health emergency,” Dr. Leana Wen, the health commissioner of Baltimore, told me. “The number of people overdosing is skyrocketing, and we have no indication that we’ve reached the peak.”
Yet our efforts to address this scourge are pathetic.
We responded to World War II with the storming of Normandy, and to Sputnik with our moon shot. Yet we answer this current national menace with … a Republican plan for health care that would deprive millions of insurance and lead to even more deaths!
More on President Trump’s fumbling of this problem in a moment. But it’s bizarre that Republicans should be complacent about opioids, because the toll is disproportionately in red states — and it affects everyone.
Mary Taylor, the Republican lieutenant governor of Ohio and now a candidate for governor, has acknowledged that both her sons, Joe and Michael, have struggled with opioid addiction, resulting in two overdoses at home, urgent calls for ambulances and failed drug rehab efforts. Good for her for speaking up.
It should be a national scandal that only 10 percent of Americans with opioid problems get treatment. This reflects our failed insistence on treating opioids as a criminal justice problem rather than as a public health crisis.
A Times investigation published this month estimated that more than 59,000 Americans died in 2016 of drug overdoses, in the largest annual jump in such deaths ever recorded in the U.S. One reason is the spread of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is cheap and potent, leading to overdoses.
Another bad omen: As a nation, we’re still hooked on prescription painkillers. Last year, there were more than 236 million prescriptions written for opioids in the United States — that’s about one bottle of opioids for every American adult.
Even with all that’s at stake, there are three reasons to doubt that Trump will confront the problem.
First, Trump and Republicans in Congress seem determined to repeal Obamacare, which provides for addiction treatment, and slash Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the G.O.P. House plan would result in an additional 23 million Americans being uninsured in a decade — and thus less able to get drug treatment. Other, more technical elements of the G.O.P. plan would also result in less treatment.
Second, Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, last month seemed to belittle the medication treatments for opioid addiction that have the best record, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions still seems to think we can jail our way out of the problem.
Third, Trump’s main step has been to appoint Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to lead a task force to investigate opioid addiction. But we needn’t waste more time investigating, for we know what to do — and in any case Christie talks a good game but bungled the issue in his home state.
Among experts, there’s overwhelming evidence of what works best: medication in conjunction with counseling. This doesn’t succeed in every case, but it does reduce deaths and improve lives. It also saves public money, because a result is fewer emergency room visits and inpatient hospital stays. So the question isn’t whether we can afford treatment for all people fighting addiction, but whether we can afford not to provide it.
The bottom line is that we need a major national public health initiative to treat as many Americans abusing drugs as possible, with treatment based on science and evidence. We also need to understand that drug overdoses are symptoms of deeper malaise — “deaths of despair,” in the words of Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton University, stemming from economic woes — and seek to address the underlying issues.
Above all, let’s show compassion. Addiction is a disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure. We would never tell diabetics to forget medication and watch their diets and exercise more — and we would be aghast if only 10 percent of diabetics were getting lifesaving treatment.
Innumerable people with addictions whom I’ve interviewed haunt me. One was a nurse who became dependent on prescription painkillers and was fired when she was caught stealing painkillers from a hospital. She became homeless and survived by providing sex to strangers in exchange for money or drugs.
She wept as she told me her story, for she was disgusted with what she had become — but we as a society should be disgusted by our own collective complacency, by our refusal to help hundreds of thousands of neighbors who are sick and desperate for help.
Corruption impoverishes the poor and engorges the rich. Brazil normally has a quarter of a million child prostitutes who would starve if they didn't prostitute themselves. Instead of dealing with the incredible poverty in the country, President after President of Brazil have given inflated contracts to those who bribe them. This increases taxes and the cost of living which increases the level of poverty and subsequently, the level of child prostitution in Brazil.
Brazilian President Michel Temer reacts during a credentials presentation ceremony for several new
top diplomats at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
By Brad Brooks and Ricardo Brito | BRASILIA
Brazil's top federal prosecutor charged President Michel Temer with taking multimillion-dollar bribes on Monday in a stinging blow to the unpopular leader and to political stability in Latin America's largest country.
Rodrigo Janot submitted the charge in a document presented to the Supreme Court, saying "he fooled Brazilian citizens" and owed the nation millions in compensation for accepting bribes.
Under Brazilian law, the lower house of Congress must now vote on whether to allow the top tribunal to try the conservative leader, who replaced impeached leftist President Dilma Rousseff just over a year ago.
Lawmakers within Temer's coalition are confident they have the votes to block the two-third majority required to proceed with a trial. But they warn that support may wane if congressmen are forced to vote several times to protect Temer - whose popularity is languishing in the single-digits - from trial.
Temer's office and his attorney, Antonio Mariz, declined to comment on the charges. Temer has repeatedly said he is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Investigators have uncovered stunning levels of corruption in recent years engulfing Brazil's political class and business elites. Much of it centers on companies paying billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and executives at state-run enterprises in return for lucrative contracts.
Temer and one-third of his cabinet, as well as four former presidents and dozens of lawmakers are under investigation or already charged in the schemes. Over 90 people have been convicted.
Political analysts had warned, long before Monday, that the scandals reduced the chances Temer could push through reforms crucial for Latin America's biggest economy to rebound from its worst recession on record.
Temer was charged in connection with a graft scheme involving the world's largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Executives said in plea-bargain testimony the president took bribes for resolving tax matters, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters.
Monday's charging document alleges Temer arranged to eventually receive a total of 38 million reais ($11.5 million) from JBS in the next nine months.
Joesley Batista, one of the brothers who control JBS, recorded a conversation with Temer in March in which the president appears to condone bribing a potential witness. Batista also accused Temer and aides of negotiating millions of dollars in illegal donations for his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.
Brazil's federal police released a separate document on Monday about that conversation with Batista. Police recovered a previously inaudible portion of the recording in which Temer is heard telling the scandal-plagued billionaire that it was mainly because of his influence that he chose to appoint Henrique Meirelles as finance minister.
The significance of the comment about Meirelles, who is widely respected in financial markets, was not immediately clear and the finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
Key lawmakers in Temer's alliance told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, they would halt work on proposed labor reforms if forced to vote on charges against the president.
Temer's supporters say they have between 250 and 300 votes in the 513 seat lower house to block a trial. But the president is expected to soon face charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice, each requiring a separate vote. Prosecutors have said they may also file other charges, which they have not yet given details on.
On Monday, the federal police recommended charging Temer with obstruction of justice - the first step toward a likely round of other charges in addition to graft.
Top lawmakers said Janot's expected strategy of presenting charges one at a time would throw Temer's future into uncertainty.
With all of congress facing re-election next year, many said that if public outrage boiled over, it would be hard to maintain support for Temer.
"If this grinds on with multiple votes, you may start to see a lack of governability," said one top lawmaker in Temer's coalition. "In that case, there will be defections, and colleagues may start to move against Temer."
Carlos Melo, a political scientist with Insper, a Sao Paulo business school, said Janot knew he would lose the first corruption charge against Temer "but he is like a chess player, thinking two or three votes down the line."
Melo said the votes by lawmakers, many of whom are facing their own corruption investigations, would be a test of how alienated Brazil's political class was from an increasingly angry population.
"If Congress has any connection left whatsoever with the society it represents, then Janot's strategy of wearing lawmakers down with multiple votes will win and you will see the president put on trial," Melo said.
If congressmen rally around Temer, Melo said, "then we must face the horrific fact that what we have is a political system entirely detached from society, and it will pay the price in next year's election."
(Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia and Tatiana Bautzer in Sao Paulo; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Brown)
Monday, June 26, 2017
One of the very few sane and reasonable voices in Congress regarding Syria
U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard © Mike Segar / Reuters
Most media outlets and politicians often ignore the deadly consequences of US regime change policy, including the rise of Islamic State, according to Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
“I think that there has been a concerted effort both on the part of some in the media, as well as many in politics, and many in our foreign policy establishment seem to have been advocating for a continuance of these regime change wars, really ignoring the fact of what has been the consequence of these wars in countries like Iraq and Libya and Syria, where each time we have waged these wars, [it] has resulted in the strengthening of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or the creation of ISIS, and it has resulted in a tremendous amount of suffering and death for the people of these countries,” said Gabbard at a press conference, answering a question from RT’s Caleb Maupin.
Gabbard’s remarks come as the Hawaiian representative, who is a former Iraq war veteran herself, tries to build support for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act that she introduced in Congress in January of this year. The bill would prohibit the US from backing armed factions linked to terrorist groups such as IS, Al-Qaeda, and the Al-Nusra Front. It is based on legislation from the 1980s that aimed to stop the CIA from illegally arming the Contra rebels during Nicaragua’s civil war.
“We must stop this madness,” Gabbard said speaking before Congress back in December, stressing, “We must stop arming terrorists.”
The bill has only been supported by 14 other lawmakers so far, however – six Democrats and eight Republicans. A companion bill has also been put forward in the Senate by Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Can there be any doubt that arms manufacturers are lobbying hard against the bill? Arms dealers don't care who they sell to as long as they sell. They are quite happy to sell to all sides of a complex war, even if American soldiers are being killed or maimed because of it.
This bill is the most sane and decent of its kind in decades, but it will never get through Congress.
In January, Gabbard set out on a fact-finding mission in Syria, where she visited Damascus and Aleppo. While there, she met with Syrian students, entrepreneurs, academics, aid workers, religious leaders and members of the opposition. She said some of them told her they felt that the originally peaceful anti-government protests in 2011 were hijacked by jihadists “funded and supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the United States.”
There is no question that Syria is a proxy war between the USA and Shea and Salafist Muslims. As evil as Assad is, things could easily get much worse if he is toppled.
“Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent: There is no difference between ‘moderate’ rebels and Al-Qaeda (Al-Nusra) or ISIS — they are all the same,” Gabbard wrote in a blog post, describing the essence of the Syrian conflict as “a war between terrorists under the command of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda and the Syrian government.”
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Swedish PM tells priests to carry out same-sex marriages
‘or do something else’
© Enrique Castro-Mendivil / Reuters
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has suggested that all Church of Sweden priests be compelled to perform gay marriages, despite the Lutheran church’s position that clergy members should have the right to refuse.
Same-sex weddings have been legal in Sweden since 2009, although priests can decline to carry out these ceremonies under the country’s marriage code.
This could now change, however, given Lofven’s recent comments about the role of priests in Swedish society.
The prime minister indicated in an interview with a church magazine that if a priest cannot bless a gay marriage, they should consider another vocation.
“We Social Democrats are working to ensure all priests will consecrate everyone, including same-sex couples,” Lofven told Kyrkans Tidning magazine.
“I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests,” he said.
Official documents from the church say it “offers” both heterosexual and homosexual marriage ceremonies. Although it is not against gay marriage, the Church of Sweden’s official stance is that “no priest should be obliged to officiate at the wedding of a same-sex couple.”
In the interview, Lofven, who is not religious, (no kidding) defended the perceived political incursion into the practice of religion, saying “the church must stand up for human equality.”
"The church will continue to play a major role, especially in times like these with terror and refugee crisis,” he added.
“The church binds society together and provides security,” he added.
His view of the church is that it is a social instrument not a spiritual one. This is what many people who don't believe in God think. It matters not to them what God says, because God doesn't exist in their minds.
That the Lutheran Church is not against gay marriage must have the great reformer for whom it is named rolling over in his grave. It seems obvious that many a Lutheran minister in Sweden has no relationship with Jesus Christ or there would be no same-sex marriages in the Church of Sweden.
How long before it will be illegal to refuse to marry a same-sex couple? How long before Sweden's blasphemy spreads to the rest of the western world? Probably not long!
Friday, June 23, 2017
There are very few caves to hide in in Syria and Iraq
FILE PHOTO © Stringer / Reuters
Islamic State terrorists are seeking to shift the main focus of their activity from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan and neighboring states, Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Anti-Terrorist Center (ATC) of the Commonwealth of Independent States has said.
The Islamic State terrorist group seeks to subdue some Taliban militants and other local extremist groups to create a new power base in Afghanistan and extend its influence to Central Asia, Novikov warned as he addressed two UN Security Council committees Friday.
The terrorist group “exports a new model of extremist and terrorist activity from the battle zones [in Syria and Iraq] to the Central Asian states,” he said, as cited by TASS. He particularly emphasized that the growing Taliban activity in the northern regions of Afghanistan, bordering the Central Asian, states could be indicative of some Taliban commanders switching their allegiance and joining Islamic State.
Novikov drew attention to the fact that the Taliban never laid claim to territories outside Afghanistan, while Islamic State in 2015 announced the creation of a new “province” with a center in Afghanistan that should also have included the territories of the Central Asian states.
“Analysis of the military clashes [in Afghanistan]… brings up the issue of the [local] militants adopting not only the strategy, but also tactical military concepts, which were previously typical for Islamic State,” he said. He added that Afghan extremists are now also trying to seize large settlements and then take the surrounding territory under control, thus preparing a bridgehead for further expansion.
At the same time, Islamic State fighters are engaged in a bitter confrontation with some Taliban forces over control over some Afghan territories.
“In the medium term, Islamic State set a goal of expanding its influence in the northern regions of Afghanistan and gaining access to the border regions of the Central Asian states as well as to the Chinese Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” Novikov concluded.
More than 7,000 citizens of member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States are now wanted for terrorism-related activities, including the more than 2,000 who are fighting for terrorist organizations as mercenaries, the ATC head pointed out.
On June 20, the Pentagon issued a report, in which it said Afghanistan is “at a critical point” in its battle against multiple insurgencies and terrorist groups. It also revealed that US and Afghan authorities are now seeking peace through talks with the Taliban.
The US defense department conceded that sixteen years after the US-led invasion, Afghanistan still faces a “continuing threat” from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks, calling it “the highest concentration of extremist and terrorist groups in the world.”
The US currently has 8,400 troops in the country, conducting “training, advising and assisting” of Afghan security forces as well as counterterrorism operations against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist formations.
Turkey to scrap Darwin’s ‘controversial & redundant’ theory of evolution from schoolbooks
Charles Darwin © Wikipedia
Turkey is set to drop the “controversial” theory of evolution from the high school curriculum to better reflect local and national values, making it the second predominantly Muslim country after Saudi Arabia to not teach students Darwin’s theory.
Educators in Turkey argue that Charles Darwin’s theory is too complex for teenagers to understand and that they should wait until they enter college to be able to comprehend and discuss secular scientific discourse. Starting from the 2019 school year, biology textbooks will, therefore, ditch a national curriculum chapter about the concept.
“We have excluded controversial subjects for students at an age unable yet to understand the issues’ scientific background. As the students at ninth grade are not endowed with antecedents to discuss the ‘Origin of Life and Evolution’ section in biology classes, this section will be delayed until undergraduate study,” head of the Education Ministry’s curriculum board, Alpaslan Durmus revealed this week, according to Hurriyet Daily.
Does everyone in Turkey actually reach undergraduate studies?
He added the new curriculum reflects the “local and national values” of Turkish society. The decision to drop Darwin got the thumbs up from the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We made the simplification of redundancies. Elements inappropriate to our values have been removed,” Durmus noted, as quoted by Turkish language Cumhuriyet.
Durmus also pointed out that “Religion and Morality” classes, which are now obligatory, would not be taught to first, fifth, and ninth graders unless they choose to take it.
The decision to ditch Darwin's theory came after a fierce debate on the issue. Since January, universities and academics have argued that evolution should be taught starting from fifth grade.
“The subjects of Science and Technology classes in elementary schools should be presented with a perspective that allows students to connect it to subjects they will encounter in future years. It should provide them with an evolutionary point of view,” the academics argued, according to Hurriyet.
Becoming more and more Islamic
Some Turkish publications suggested that the change reflects the overall effort by the government to reduce the influence of secularism introduced by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The theory of evolution, first revealed in the 1859 book ‘On the Origin of Species’, argues that life evolved through a natural selection, a process where organisms change over time because of heritable physical or behavioral traits.
In most countries in the Middle East and North, evolution and creationist theories are taught side-by-side. In the most extreme case, Saudi Arabia’s school education makes no mention of evolution besides a brief reference to it as a blasphemous theory. On the contrary, Iran teaches evolution as a crucial part of the school biology curriculum from 5th grade.
Becoming more and more like Saudi Arabia with its Salafist bent cannot be a good thing either for Turkey or anywhere else in the world.
According to an article titled ‘Islamic Theological Views on Darwinian Evolution’ published in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, Muslim scholars remain split on the acceptance or rejection of Darwin’s theory.
The so-called ‘rejectionist’ camp argues that evolution is “totally contradictory and incompatible with a literal reading of Islamic teachings.” The ‘pro-evolutionist’ camp, in turn is split into two factions, those who entirely embrace the scientific theory and those who argue that “some but not all aspects” can be accommodated by Islam.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
‘We don't need them’: Austrian FM wants to end Islamic kindergartens to boost integration
© Leonhard Foeger / Reuters
Shutting down Islamic kindergartens where children have little or no command of German would be an efficient way to ensure the integration of migrants, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.
The comment was made at a public event set up by Kurier newspaper.
“Of course, we don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,” Kurz said when asked whether he would agree to completely get rid of such facilities.
According to the foreign minister, proficiency in German must become a gateway to Austrian society.
Immigrant children and others “who have little or no command of German” would have to attend kindergarten one year longer than their Austrian peers, he said.
“Quality criteria” for childcare workers should also be introduced to improve the standards of language proficiency.
Consequently, many Arab or Chechen kindergartens will fail to meet the requirements for state benefits and will be left with no choice but to close, Kurz said, adding, “This is the easiest way in terms of the law.”
In the meantime, the government “does very much” to improve integration efforts, Kurz said. He added, however, that success “depends very much on the number of those [who should be] integrated.”
Controversy regarding Muslim kindergartens was recently stirred when a study by Austrian-Turkish Professor Ednan Aslan found more than 10,000 children aged from two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools in Vienna which teach the Koran and pave the way for “parallel societies,” according to AFP.
“Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran),” Aslan, who researches Islamic education at Vienna University, told AFP.
“But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society,” the scholar said. According to his estimates, up to a quarter of Islamic kindergartens were being sponsored or supported by ultraconservative Salafist groups or organizations.
The study, published last year, resonated widely in the community, but some rejected the findings citing the unreliability of Aslan’s methodology. Biber, a local magazine, dispatched an undercover reporter who posed as a Muslim mother looking for a place for her son at an Islamic kindergarten.
She found no evidence of Aslan's claims that Islamic preschools were nurturing future Salafists, but acknowledged many of those kindergartens were cutting off or isolating children from mainstream society. There were also questions about the “openness” of some staff and their command of German.
Kurz, the youngest foreign minister in the EU at the time of his swearing-in back in 2013, has previously advocated putting more curbs on immigration. In March, he proposed the opening of refugee centers outside the European Union, suggesting the Republic of Georgia and countries of the Western Balkans as possible locations.
Last year, he also made some incendiary remarks on refugees being rescued on their way across the Mediterranean, saying a rescue from a boat in distress should be “no ticket to Europe.”
Refugees who are rescued from boats in the Mediterranean Sea “must be returned immediately, ideally to their country of origin,” Kurz vowed at the time.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I like this guy more every day; he's smart and
doesn't seem all tied up in political baggage
French President Emmanuel Macron © Julien de Rosa / Reuters
There is currently no viable alternative to Bashar Assad to prevent Syria from turning into a failed state, the new French president has said, departing from his predecessor’s position that the Syrian leader must be toppled to stabilize the war-torn country.
“The new perspective that I have had on this subject is that I have not stated that Bashar al-Assad’s departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor,” Emmanuel Macron said in an interview with eight European newspapers.
The new approach is seen as a stark departure from the political discourse of former French President Francois Hollande, who openly advocated for regime change in Syria. Under Hollande’s leadership, France was ready to support the US to strike Damascus in the autumn of 2013, until Moscow stepped in to de-escalate tensions while also ensuring the liquidation of the Syrian chemical stockpile.
“Assad is the origin of this problem, and cannot be part of the solution,” Hollande told the UN General Assembly in 2015.
Macron says French policy towards Syria is now more aligned with Russian objectives in the country. “My lines are clear: Firstly, a complete fight against all the terrorist groups. They are our enemies,” he said. “We need everybody’s cooperation, especially Russia, to eradicate them.”
Macron said he will not allow US “neo-conservatism” to seep into France, and that the focus of French policy will be aimed at achieving “stability” in Syria, rather than getting dragged into a Libya-style conflict.
“What was the outcome of these interventions? Failed states in which terrorist groups flourished. I do not want that in Syria,” the French leader emphasized.
While adopting a more flexible approach to the Syrian conflict, Macron warned of red lines beyond which Paris would be ready to seek direct military intervention against Damascus.
“If it is proven that chemical weapons are used on the ground and we can trace their provenance,” Macron said France will conduct unilateral strikes “to destroy the stocks of identified chemical weapons.”
“France will, therefore, be completely aligned with the United States on this,” Macron added, referring to the unilateral American strike on Shayrat Air Base in April – the US’ response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib that was swiftly pinned on Damascus.
However, the 39-year-old French leader noted that he shares “convergent views” with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is “obsessed” with “fighting terrorism and avoiding a failed state” in Syria.
“I respect Vladimir Putin. I had a constructive exchange with him. We have real disagreements, on Ukraine in particular, but he has seen my position,” Macron said. He welcomed constructive dialogue with Moscow and said he is optimistic about cooperation between the two countries.
The French president made clear that France’s domestic security is directly linked to the ongoing war in Syria, as recent terrorist attacks in France, which killed over 230 people, were fueled by IS ideology which flourished amid the ongoing armed conflict.
“My deep conviction is that there needs to be a diplomatic and political roadmap. We won’t solve the question only with military force. That is a collective error we have made,” he said, reiterating Moscow’s long-standing policy towards Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011.
Romanian prime minister removed in no-confidence vote
By Ed Adamczyk
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu was removed from office by his own party Wednesday
in a no-confidence vote by Parliament. File photo by Robert Ghement/EPA
UPI -- Romania's Parliament ousted the country's prime minister Wednesday in a no-confidence vote, six months after he assumed office.
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's left-wing Social Democrat Party accused him of failing to undertake economic reforms, and Parliament voted him out in a censure motion. The vote was 241-10.
Wow! That's not even close!
The action is a first in Romanian politics, and came after a feud between Grindeanu and party chief Liviu Dragnea that angered some members of Parliament.
Grindeanu's party returned to power in November on promises to reduce government corruption. Demonstrations across the country came within weeks after a decree, seen as weakening anti-corruption measures, was ordered. Although the decree was rescinded after the protests and warnings from the European Union against "backtracking," the crisis debilitated the government and damaged the relationship between Grindeanu and Dragnea.
Dragnea is ineligible for the prime minister's position because he was convicted of vote rigging. He also faces charges of abuse of office.
Romania has had 13 prime minsters since it left the influence of the Soviet Union in 1990.
A spokeswoman for President Klaus Iohannis said he will meet with leaders of Romania's political parties next week to choose Grindeanu's replacement, as well as a new slate of Cabinet members.
While some of us who watch world events see the extraordinary migration of Muslims into Europe in the last couple years as being the first steps in the Islamization of the continent, Europeans, many of them, mostly liberals, believe European culture is strong enough to endure Islam. Germans, for instance, believe that Muslims will fit into German society in time.
This new mosque is probably seen as confirmation that they are correct. Their priorities seem to be equality and living together in harmony, which is laudable, but has little to do with Islam. That is born out by the venom and threats that have poured out upon the mosques leaders. I expect the mosque and it's leaders will be big targets for violence, not from neo-Nazis, but from traditional Muslims not willing to be westernized.
‘Islamist side’ issues death threats,
Berlin ‘liberal mosque’ co-founder says
Men and women pray together at the new liberal Ibn-Rushd-Goethe-Mosque in Berlin, Germany,
© Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
A co-founder of the first “liberal mosque,” which opened in the German capital last week, has faced intimidation, including death threats, she told RT Deutsch.
“Death threats, and other threats… are partly coming from the Islamist side,” Seyran Ates said. She is one of the seven founders of the unusual prayer site, which accepts everyone except those wearing a full face veil, such as a niqab or burka.
Ates, however, who is a women’s rights activist and lawyer, stated that the threats should not stop people’s fight for their values.
“As a civil society, we cannot let ourselves be guided by those who threaten us and who forbid us to do something, [threatening] to otherwise take our lives. It is only when we fight together against this hatred that we can change something.”
Earlier, the co-founder said that even before opening the mosque, she had already received some “very violent and obscene” threats. She even requested police protection at last week’s opening.
Thousands of people have reacted to Ates’ activities on Facebook, as a DW Arabic report about her gained more than a million views within just four days and received almost 16,000 comments. A large portion of the comments condemned the idea of the mosque.
“This is not the religion of our prophet,” one comment under the video reads.
“Is this a mosque or a club? A woman who is showing her breasts during praying? And who is serving as an example for all liberal Muslims and [as a female] Imam? Absurd,” another person said.
I think the term 'showing her breasts' might have a different connotation in Islam than elsewhere in the world. I expect the woman was fully clothed but the fact that she had breasts was not hidden in the Islamic tradition of women being invisible because men cannot control themselves otherwise.
Muslims need a culture to speak fearlessly to each other, another founder of the mosque and Islamic scholar, Abdel-Hakim Ourghi, told RT Deutsch earlier.
He said that the founders want people of all religions to live together peacefully. Although this path is difficult, it is only a matter of time, he added.
“We want our kids – both from the monotheistic religions, as well as children of atheists – to finally live in peace together… And I believe that it is a question of time. It is not an easy path, it is something new and I believe it is a challenge for the conservatives in Germany, the so-called established umbrella organizations,” Abdel-Hakim Ourghi said in an interview.
He added that Muslims need a culture in which they can peacefully talk to each other regardless of the branches of Islam they are representing.
The first mosque in Germany offering a place of worship to believers of all Muslim denominations, giving equal rights to male and female worshippers, and friendly to the LGBT community, opened on June 17 in the heart of Berlin.
Entering in niqabs and burkas, which is obligatory for women according to Muslim rules, is prohibited there.
I'm curious to know who funded the building of the mosque? It certainly wasn't Saudi Arabia.