Monday, March 29, 2010

9 Tied to Christian Militia Charged in Plot to Murder Officers

9 Tied to Militia Charged in Plot to Murder Officers
March 29, 2010

WASHINGTON — Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an anti-government uprising.

In court filings unsealed Monday, the Justice Department accused the nine people of planning to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer, then plant improvised explosive devices of a type used by insurgents in Iraq to attack the funeral procession.

Eight of the defendants were arrested over the weekend in raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. A ninth remained at large, the Justice Department said. The indictments against them were returned last Tuesday. The defendants were identified as members of Hutaree, described by federal prosecutors as an anti-government extremist organization based in Lenawee County, Michigan, and which advocates violence against local, state and federal law enforcement. The group saw local and state police as “foot soldiers” for the federal government, which it viewed as its enemy, along with participants in what they deemed to be a “New World Order,” according to the indictment...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Anger in schools and beyond: Are some of these people actually motivated by other problems?

Sometimes people are actually angry about something different from what they're yelling about

A lot of kids have been given less-than-stellar educations by our local school districts, and many of their parents are angry. I agree entirely with these parents' demands for better treatment for students. I also agree that many parents who complain have been bullied shamefully by school lawyers. Some of these lawyers have violated professional codes of conduct and state law to the extent that they deserve severe reprimands, even disbarment or jail time. Of course, these lawyers are unlikely to be called to account for their unethical and illegal actions.

But some of these parents are too angry, in my opinion.

I suspect that some parents are angry about situations that have nothing to do with schools, but they unleash this anger on a handy, accessible target: their kids' school. Sometimes it's really hard to keep track of exactly what these people are furious about.

Recently one of these parents sent me, for no apparent reason, an email claiming that President Obama was "first born"* in Kenya. Apparently the theory is that he was first born in Kenya, then born for a second time in Honolulu. (Sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly what these "Birthers" are trying to say.) The email I received included a photo of Obama's elementary school application to an Indonesian Catholic school. Very clearly on the application, right after his name, Obama's place of birth was listed as Honolulu. The person who filled out the form, Obama's Indonesian stepfather, was in no way trying to make his stepson sound more American.

Obama's birthplace was a matter of record, and no one had yet cooked up a plan to pretend otherwise. Yet this email was sent to me, as the sender indicated in the subject line, "to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications." How does the human brain malfunction so spectacularly?

If anything, this San Diego parent should be angry at her own teachers for not training her adequately as a critical thinker.

But I must say that many teachers and administrators were not taught how to be critical thinkers, either. During my years of teaching I saw plenty of teachers and adminstrators spewing anger (at kids, parents and each other). Many of them made no more sense than the confused parent who emailed me. To top it off, I heard teachers make disparaging remarks about high intelligence itself. Smart people were not considered cool by the most popular and powerful teachers at my schools.

My suggestion? Critical thinking classes for school professionals.

Everyone involved would benefit from better decision-making by school personnel, and students would benefit from the improved thinking skills of their teachers.

*Quote from the email:
"This document provides the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking - that he is NOT a natural-born citizen of the United States - necessary to be President of these United States . Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya , here we see that there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship...Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation..."

Next installment: Muslims versus Mormons: whom do Americans trust less?


Here's a story about another nasty email. The woman who sent the racially offensive email in the first place was angry that a recipient forwarded it to the NAACP, and caused that recipient to be fired. This is just the sort of thing that happens in schools, in my experience. School officials want bad behavior covered up, and they take action NOT against the bad actors, but against those they fear might reveal the truth about the bad actions to the public. That's what Chula Vista Elementary School District and its lawyers did to cover up the crimes of Robin Donlan and Linda Watson. In the end, the district committed felonies like perjury and alteration of documents to cover misdemeanors. Things really get out of control once the cover-up starts. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

NAACP: SunTrust Mortgage worker fired over e-mail
March 18, 2010

The NAACP says a 14-year employee was fired from SunTrust Mortgage Inc. in Richmond after she was accused of sending a chain e-mail she received at work that ultimately was forwarded to the NAACP.

The fired African-American employee said she found the e-mail offensive.

The e-mail contains pictures of 40 bumper stickers such as, "Clinton ruined a dress, Obama ruined a nation," "So I guess we're even on that slavery thing eh?" and, "Diversity -- It killed 13 at Fort Hood."...

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a copy of what it said was the e-mail sent by a SunTrust official to 13 office employees and one outside recipient under the subject line "FW: Bumper Stickers that Make Sense."...

Russ, an accountant, said SunTrust conducted an internal investigation and then brought her into a meeting. There, she was told she was being terminated because her supervisor had "trust issues" with her and because of the e-mail, she said in a telephone interview.

She said SunTrust accused her of trying to go public with the e-mail by forwarding it to someone who would give it to the NAACP.

The official who sent the e-mail collected Russ' belongings and escorted Russ out of the building immediately after the Feb. 18 meeting, Russ said. She said she was paid through March 4...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

CNN debunks false report about Obama

CNN debunks false report about Obama
January 23, 2007

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Allegations that Sen. Barack Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a "madrassa" are not accurate, according to CNN reporting.

Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam.

Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and stepfather and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa. (Watch video of Obama's school Video)

Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by "researchers connected to Senator Clinton." A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

He called the story "an obvious right-wing hit job."

Insight stood by its story in a response posted on its Web site Monday afternoon.

The Insight article was cited several times Friday on Fox News and was also referenced by the New York Post, The Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News and a number of political blogs. (Watch how the Obama "gossip" spread Video)
School not a madrassa

But reporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.

He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

"This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."

Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

"I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the "Situation Room" Monday. "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto, who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."

"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."

The Obama aide described Fox News' broadcasting of the Insight story "appallingly irresponsible."

Fox News executive Bill Shine told CNN "Reliable Sources" anchor Howard Kurtz that some of the network's hosts were simply expressing their opinions and repeatedly cited Insight as the source of the allegations.

Obama has noted in his two books, "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope," that he spent two years in a Muslim school and another two years in a Catholic school while living in Indonesia from age 6 to 10.

Obama's Catholic School Ready for Possible Visit
Voice of Indonesia
Monday, 15 March 2010 21:31

Jakarta, VOI News - The Catholic school Barack Obama attended as a child in Jakarta is getting ready to receive a possible visit when the US president comes to Indonesia later this month.

“We do not know for sure if President Obama will visit this school, but we are prepared for the visit,” Maria Yohana of Santo Fransiskus Asisi Elementary School told Union of Catholic Asian News. “We will serve fried rice and rambutan, his favorite food."
She said students had also prepared a number of performances, including a traditional Jakarta Betawi dance, the Balinese pendet, and Sundanese angklung music. Yohana said the school would also like to show Obama its new leadership laboratory, "whose vision is to produce future leaders based on love".

Obama attended Santo Fransiskus Asisi from 1968 to 1970, before transferring to Menteng 01 elementary school. While the latter has a statue of the child then known as "Barry", Santo Fransiskus has set aside the desk and chair he used. “I want to shake hands and get his signature," said current student Stefanus Febrian, 10. "I also want to ask him about his favorite subject."

Meanwhile, the latest Indonesian book about Barack Obama was launched in Jakarta on Monday, the week before the US President is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia. The book titled "Obama Anak Menteng" ("Obama The Menteng Kid") was written by Damien Dematra. During a launching at Obama's former elementary school in Menteng, Damien said he hoped the book would inspire Indonesian children to dare to dream.

Obama was successful “because of the power of dreams," he told Trijaya Radio. Damien wrote the 206 page book in five days after spending two weeks interviewing Obama's childhood friends and relatives in Indonesia. He said the book would be made into a movie in June. Several books have been written about Obama in Indonesia. The US leader spent part of his childhood in Menteng after his mother married an Indonesian. jg

Obama's Early Days in Jakarta

Former Teacher Remembers 'Barry' as a Good Student, Leader

...Fermina Katarina Sinaga Suhanda, Obama's third-grade teacher, remembered him distinctly because he looked different.

"He's the only black, he's the only one with curly hair," she said, adding that he was also bigger than the other children.

She also remembered a telling essay from the Illinois senator.

"He wrote like this," Suhanda said in Bahasa, the local language. "I am Barry Soetoro. I am in third grade [at] Fransiskus Asisi Elementary School."

He wrote about his friends, parents, Indonesia and ended the essay with "I want to be the president."

The president of what, the third-grader did not specify.

"To be President Taxi or where I don't know," Suhanda said.
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Obama's teachers said he was already showing signs of leadership at a young age. They described him as a "number-two teacher," sharing how he used to lead his classmates to line up after recess and volunteer to erase the chalkboard.

They remembered how his mother walked Obama to school in the mornings and occasionally exchanged words with them in Bahasa.

His best subject, in a school taught in the local language, was math. Referring to teachers as "ma'am," he dressed neatly with his shirt tucked in and wore shoes and socks, while some of the other children wore sandals or flip-flops, his teachers remembered.

Friends said that Obama is left-handed, a noticeable trait in a predominately Muslim country, where the left hand is reserved for bodily hygiene.

He was fast and agile, good at playing ball, and hide and seek. In many ways, he was just like his energetic classmates.

"Some boys [were] always running around and teas[ing] the girls, and Barry was one of them," Kisjanto said, recalling how Obama sometimes pulled their long, braided hair.

Over time, Obama's mother's Indonesian husband landed a better job, and the family moved into another home in a better neighborhood. With a long side hallway connecting them, the rooms of their house were lined up back-to-back like a train. A bench the family of four sat in for a family portrait still sits in the front room.

In third grade, Obama transferred to Besuki Elementary School, a school political opponents would later proclaim was a "madrassas." Classmates who attended the school know otherwise and said the mosque that is there now wasn't there before.

"Everybody is exposed to both religion[s] -- both Muslim and Christian. So it was a very open, very tolerant school," said Kisjanto, who is Christian.

"Because our class[rooms] are open, we don't have air conditioning at that time, so we can hear [when] the Muslims are reciting the Koran, and I can still remember it, and I can recite it because I hear[d] it," she said. "It's lovely that we are exposed to both religion[s]."

Obama detailed in his book his recollection of living in a world with his mother so distant from America.

Harmless Creature Killed Because of Superstition

Harmless Creature Killed Because of Superstition
Updated: 9 hours 4 minutes ago
David Knowles
AOL News
(March 27) -- For some residents of the African island nation of Madagascar, encountering the tiny mammal called the aye-aye is as bad as meeting death itself.

The 4- to 6-pound animal is believed to creep into the houses of villagers and use its peculiarly long middle finger to lance the hearts of sleeping victims, according to Discovery News.
Rob Cousins, Bristol Zoo via Getty Images
Natives of Madagascar often kill harmless aye-ayes over fears of what the animal represents.

For that reason, locals often kill the harmless animals on sight. Along with the loss of habitat caused by deforestation, superstition is a major reason the aye-aye is now considered to be at risk. Aye-aye population estimates range from 1,000 to 10,000.

Found only on Madagascar, aye-ayes are nocturnal primates that tend to live high in the trees of the rain forest, where they build nests of leaves and twigs. They use their long middle fingers to extract insect larvae from tree bark, according to National Geographic.

Some locals believe the legend that the appearance of an aye-aye -- which does not seem to fear the presence of human beings -- is a sign that a villager will soon die.

The animal, the largest nocturnal primate in the world, is now officially protected by law, but that often does not protect the aye-aye from residents convinced of its evil nature...

Ex-Scientology Lawsuits Reveal Elite Sea Org Group

Ex-Scientology Lawsuits Reveal Elite Sea Org Group
Mar 27, 2010 10:31 am US/Pacific
Ex-Scientology Lawsuits Reveal Elite Sea Org Group
GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer
SAN JACINTO, Calif. (AP) ― At the edge of arid foothills far outside Los Angeles, hundreds of Scientology followers live on a gated, 500-acre campus and work long hours for almost no pay reproducing the works of founder L. Ron Hubbard and creating the church's teaching and promotional materials.

The church says its 5,000 so-called Sea Organization members are religious devotees akin to monks who are exempt from wage requirements and overtime. But two lawsuits filed by two former Sea Org members, as they are known, allege the workers are little more than slave laborers, forced to work 100-hour weeks for pennies and threatened with manual labor if they cause trouble.

Marc Headley and his wife, Claire, are seeking back pay and overtime that could add up to $1 million each, according to their attorney, Barry Van Sickle.

Experts say the plaintiffs face an uphill battle; one similar lawsuit in state court has already been dismissed, although the plaintiff plans to appeal.

But the dispute has nonetheless focused unwelcome attention on the Sea Org, which operates as a nerve center for the church's most important business. While Sea Org members hold positions of authority within the international church, from the public relations team to the top leadership, lower-ranking members make up much of the work force.

The members are Scientology's most devoted followers: they sign a billion-year pledge, vow not to have children and live and work communally.

Scientology has been sued by disgruntled members before, but experts believe these suits are the first to use labor law to challenge the premise that the Sea Organization is akin to a fraternal religious order.

A victory for plaintiffs would "certainly go to the heart of Scientology's self-identification as a religion," said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion and author of a scholarly book on Scientology.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

US geneticist wins $1.5 million religion prize

US geneticist wins $1.5 million religion prize

March 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — A one-time priest who later became an evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist and helped scientifically refute creationism with his research was honored Thursday with one of the world's top religion prizes.

Francisco J. Ayala, 76, a U.S. citizen originally from Spain, will receive the 2010 Templeton Prize, valued at $1.53 million, the John Templeton Foundation announced at the National Academy of Sciences.

It is the largest monetary award given each year to an individual and honors someone who made exceptional contributions to affirm spirituality. Officials increase the value each year to exceed the Nobel Prize.

"I see religion and science as two of the pillars on which American society rests," Ayala told The Associated Press, saying the United States is one of the world's most religious countries. "We have these two pillars not talking, not seeing they can reinforce each other."

Ayala is a notable choice because he opposes the entanglement of science and religion. The former Dominican priest is adamant that science and religion do not contradict each other.

"If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters, and each is essential to human understanding," he said in remarks prepared for the acceptance ceremony.

Ayala is a top professor of biological sciences at the University of California, Irvine. His pioneering genetic research led to revelations that could help develop cures for malaria and other diseases.

In January, he co-authored a paper that established gorillas and chimps may serve as reservoirs for parasites that cause human malaria, showing that even if a vaccine is developed, humans will be vulnerable to re-infection.

Ayala has long worked to foster dialogue between religion and science and said tension between the fields has subsided over time.

In 1981, Ayala was an expert witness in a U.S. federal court challenge that helped overturn an Arkansas law mandating the teaching of creationism alongside evolution. Three years later, the National Academy of Sciences asked Ayala to serve as principal author of "Science, Evolution and Creationism," which categorically refuted creationism and intelligent design.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

How God created light

George Musser
Scientific American 301, 96 (2009)

In the book of Genesis, all God had to do was say the word. In modern cosmology, the creation of light took rather more effort.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Killing for a Higher Cause: Political Violence in a World in Crisis

Merari notes that many suicide bombers are not mentally ill, in fact, they're well adjusted to the society they live in. It's normal to be influenced by people around us. All I can say is, nature clearly knows what it's doing when it creates people who go against the grain. But perhaps nature does not consider going-against-the-grain people to be abnormal. Maybe it's our beliefs about normalcy that are off.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Expert Shares Suicide Bomber Research March 4
The lecture is part of a semester-long lecture series on political conflict.
Event Details

* 4:30 - 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4
* Nasitir Hall 100
* Free and open to the public

Ariel Merari will present his research of suicide bombers during his presentation, "In their own voice: Interviews with, and psychological tests of suicide bombers, their commanders and families." Merari speaks at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 4, in Nasatir Hall, room 100. The event is free and open to the public.

About Merari

Ariel Merari is professor emeritus, Department of Psychology, at Tel Aviv University in Israel. He has studied every suicide bombing in the Middle East since the U.S. Marine barracks attack in Beirut 25 years ago.

About the lecture series

SDSU’s spring lecture series, “Killing for a Higher Cause: Political Violence in a World in Crisis,” takes an in-depth look at political violence and conflict around the world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Judge Judith Hayes made a mistake of law on Feb. 19, 2010

Judge Judith Hayes made a mistake of law in San Diego Superior Courton February 18, 2010
California law prohibits the recording–without consent of all parties–of a “confidential communication.” (CA Penal Code Sec. 632(a)(emphasis supplied)).

The judge was concerned that I remembered what her clerk had said to me, and asked if I had recorded the conversation. I hadn't. But I did grab a scrap of paper and started taking notes when the clerk began to say repeatedly, "There is no injunction." I have received no apology from the clerk for misleading me, but I have received a $3000 contempt sanction for violating the injunction that supposedly didn't exist.

The judge had no problem with the clerk's misleading statements, although she acknowledged the accuracy of my report about the statements by saying that it seemed like I had recorded the conversation.

Then the judge made her mistake of law. She told me it would be illegal for me to record my conversation with her clerk when I called and asked for a hearing date. It seems Judge Hayes needs some law school refresher courses. There's nothing confidential about a request to a court for a hearing date.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Is money a sign of God's approval?

Lee Jenkins Financial Ministries
Money Myths and Old Sayings
Gospel Today Magazine
January / February 2008

...Myth #2: “Financial Prosperity is a sign of God’s approval.”
Truth: Financial prosperity is not always a sign of God’s approval. You and I both know people who go against God’s will (thieves, drug dealers, adulterers) and still make plenty of money. It’s a mistake to measure God’s approval by the amount of “stuff” you or your neighbor has. If God “blessed” you with a BMW or a big house, be thankful, but don’t get full of yourself and think it means you’re more special than the brother or sister cruisin’ in a Pinto.

Yes, there are instances when God rewards obedience. It’s been happening since biblical times when God gave material wealth to Abraham (Genesis 13:1-7), Isaac (Genesis 26:12-14), Jacob (Genesis 30:43), Joseph (Genesis 39:2-6), Solomon (1 Kings 3:13), and Job (Job 42:10-17). However, if you are struggling financially, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you. Remember Job’s “comforters” thought there must be hidden sin in his life to account for his loss of prosperity, but they were wrong. God approved of Job (Job 1:8; 42:7), yet he permitted Satan to destroy everything of earthly value that Job possessed...

Resources for Lectionary Preaching
SCRIPTURE: Mark 10:17-31

They have been taught that wealth is a sign of God's approval, so how can it be difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God?

That Which God Hath Lent Thee
The Puritans and Money

...The Puritans had no guilt about making money; to make money was a form of stewardship. The Weber thesis made mileage out of Baxter’s statement:

If God shows you a way in which you lawfully get more than in another way (without wrong to your soul, or to any other), if you refuse this, and choose the less gainful way, you cross one of the ends of your calling, and you refuse to be God’s steward...

What About Poverty?

If riches are a blessing from God, then poverty must be a curse and a sign of God’s disfavor—right? Wrong, said the Puritans, who disagreed with a whole tissue of assumptions often attributed to them in the twentieth century.

In the first place, the Puritans disagreed that godliness is a guarantee of success. Thomas Watson went so far as to say that “true godliness is usually attended with persecution .… The saints have no charter of exemption from trials.… Their piety will not shield them from sufferings.”

If godliness is not a guarantee of success, then the converse is also true: success is not a sign of godliness. This is how the Puritans understood the matter. John Cotton stated that a Christian “equally bears good and evil successes as God shall dispense them to him.” Samuel Willard wrote, “As riches are not evidences of God’s love, so neither is poverty of his anger or hatred.”...

Money--A Sign of God's Love: God's Abundant Supply for Every Need--Explained

About the Author

Jeff Wilburn has worked in the financial securities industry for the last twenty-two years, building wealth for his clientele by using divine principles. He lives in Katy, TX, with his wife of twenty-seven years and daughter. Jeff enjoys exercising, reading, and serves on various local church committees.

What does God's compassion for creation mean for you? Jeff Wilburn explains a revolutionary new view of money that can be proved in our everyday experience. Unseen divine laws have now been summarized, bringing supply in new and exciting forms.