Friday, March 31, 2006

A Letter From a Pro-Life Hero -- Your Prayers Respectfully Requested

Dear Denny & Claire,

Last Saturday morning I was awaken by the knocking at my door by a deputy sheriff. He was delivering papers informing that I was being brought into court by the security manager of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota(PPMNS) under Minnesota's harassment/domestic abuse laws. With completely absurd and false accusations, this PPMNS employee whom I have rarely spoken with during the past five or six years, is asking a judicial referee to grant what the Ramsey District Court refused to grant in a previous lawsuit; an order forcing me to stay away from the PPMNS abortuary in St. Paul. Clearly, this is being done to keep me away from that abortuary on Good Friday and during my regular sidewalk counseling efforts.

Beginning in 2002, the security manager for PPMNS has employee increasingly bizarre tactics to keep us away on Good Friday. She started off with hiring a landscaping company to fill the public boulevard area in front of their building with top soil and seed. This area, which we have used for our cross stand, musicians and speakers area, was roped off to bar our using it. Having failed to deter us two years in a row with this method, she then obtained a demonstration permit to conduct a picket of her own building. Last year, the St. Paul City Attorney agreed with our attorney that an equal permit must be granted for us to use a portion of the public area in front of that building. Now this security manager is claiming I have harassed her without even offering one incident in which I have communicated with her.

The law which the security manager of PPMNS is abusively using against me is intended for relief for those who are being truly harassed, most often relating to actual or seriously potential domestic abuse. Unfortunately, court referees in these cases almost automatically grant some sort of a restraining order pending the outcome of a future court hearing. Should this normal course of action be taken by the referee, the security manager of PPMNS would get exactly what she is seeking, keeping me away on Good Friday. Our prayers on Good Friday must bother PPMNS officials to no end. Apparently, authentic Christian prayer and witness is harassment in their eyes.

Please keep me in your prayers for the hearing on Monday, April 3 at 8:30 a.m. Pray that the referee see through this abuse of her court and dismiss this action immediately. If she does not dismiss, pray that no restraining order be granted that would keep me away on Good Friday or during my weekly sidewalk counseling shift. Also, join us on Good Friday, April 14 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Not only is this the 25th anniversary of the ministry, your prayerful presence has an impact at this abortuary; God is honored, lives are saved, and the officials at PPMNS don't like us there.

In Christ,

Brian Gibson
Executive Director
Pro-Life Action Ministry

More on Belarus

A note I received today from a Belarusian friend adds a word about one repurcussion from the post-election protests that is not being reported. It seems that many of the arrested students are subsequently being thrown out of their schools -- a devestating economic punishment with lifelong results. This has also happened with students who were not arrested but whose presence at the protest gatherings was reported to school officials by others. Injustice and vengeance, paranoia and hatred remain hallmarks of the Lukashenka system in Belarus.

World Magazine has a pretty good report on the post-election protests in Belarus. You can read it here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This Time, It's Jail

A medical sting operation is responsible for the first jail sentences in India for doctors performing sexual determination tests on preborn children. The test is extensively used in male-dominated societies to eliminate by abortion unwanted girls. And, yes, the doctors who performed the gender tests also did the subsequent abortion.

Here is the story reported, respectively, by the Turkish Press and the India Gazette.

The Hammer Falls in Belarus

Some 500 of those arrested in Minsk on March 23, 24, and 25 stood trial in nine district courts in Minsk on March 27 and 28 and were jailed for up to 15 days under an article penalizing the organization of or participation in unsanctioned rallies, Belapan reported. Further trials were expected to take place on March 29. (Among those arrested were even journalists and foreigners.)

Human rights activist Uladzimir Labkovich claimed that the Belarusian authorities are violating the UN Convention Against Torture. "People were beaten up and threatened when they were arrested. They were not given food and even water for many hours, and not allowed to go to a lavatory," Labkovich alleged. "Transporting people in paddy wagons, handcuffing them like dangerous criminals, forcing them to stand with their faces against the wall in courts, ordering them not to report their names -- these are all torture. Torture is also being applied to their parents. They are denied information about their children's whereabouts for several days."

Belarusian human right defenders have reportedly drawn up a list of 53 judges all over Belarus who handed down jail sentences to pro-democratic activists during the country's presidential campaign and ensuing protests. They defenders are going to suggest that these judges be banned from traveling to the EU.

Is It a Native American Value to Kill Children?

Cecilia Fire Thunder, the current president of the Oglala tribe, has come out with a weird and brutal plan to keep abortionists in the business of killing in South Dakota. She promises that if the legislature's move to ban abortion in South Dakota ever becomes law, she will "personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the state of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

For sharp and insightful commentary on this despicable proposal, check out Jill Stanek's column over at World Net Daily.

Whose Country Is This?

In the wake of the huge public demonstrations against any government action on (dare I say it?) illegal immigration, this Cal Thomas column is an important read.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another Case of the MSM's Double Standard

Here's David Limbaugh's look at how conservatives are pilloried by the mainstream media for their religion -- while the public religiosity of the Clintons get a free pass.

...Do the God-mocking among us doubt the Clintons' sincerity and thus not perceive them to be a threat to their sacred church-state separation doctrine? Or could there be some other reason we don't see hysterical editorials when the power couple mention Jesus Christ, as when Hillary recently dragged Him and the Good Samaritan into the immigration debate?

Why is no one calling Hillary an "American Taliban"? Why don't the media pillory Hillary like they did John Ashcroft for saying, "We have no king but Jesus?" Shouldn't someone step forward and ask, "Can a deeply religious person be president?" like Tony Mauro, then of USA Today, inquired concerning Ashcroft: "Can a deeply religious person be attorney general?"...

Patricia Heaton at Pepperdine

Actress Patricia Heaton, who rose to national fame through the television series "Everybody Loves Raymond," spoke to a few hundred students at Pepperdine University in California and told them to support life. Heaton discussed ways that both sides in the abortion debate could work together to reduce the number of abortions. She said students should focus on providing resources for pregnant students on campus so they don't feel forced by career or finances to have an abortion.

Heaton, a spokesomwan for Feminists for Life of America, used feminism's history as a backdrop for relating her personal, present-day experiences with the audience. As a pro-life supporter, Heaton experiences numerous tensions with her colleagues in Hollywood. Yet the tension hasn't fazed her yet. “I enjoy the controversy. I like to stir stuff up,” she said. Heaton closed by referring to a bumper sticker produced by FFL that reads, “Peace in the Womb.” “After all,” she said, “that should be the safest place to be.”

Disabled Newborns Routinely Killed in North Korea

In this Reuters story published in the Washington Post, Jack Kim describes the recent testimony of North Korean defector Ri Kwang-chol before a human rights organization.

North Korea has no people with physical disabilities because they are killed almost as soon as they are born, a physician who defected from the communist state said on Wednesday. Ri Kwang-chol, who fled to the South last year, told a forum of rights activists that the practice of killing newborns was widespread but denied he himself took part in it.

"There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," Ri told members of the New Right Union, which groups local activists and North Korean refugees. He said babies born with physical disabilities were killed in infancy in hospitals or in homes and were quickly buried. The practice is encouraged by the state, Ri said, as a way of purifying the masses and eliminating people who might be considered "different."

Pope Benedict XVI: Abortion Is "Today's Gravest Injustice"

For those "peace and justice" Catholics who can't read Italian, here are a few highlights from a meeting Pope Benedict XVI held a few days ago with representatives of the Vatican to international organizations. The Pope emphasized that spiritual truth alone can be the foundation for social justice AND that the most severe injustice in the world today is abortion.

"Relations between States and within States are just in so far as they respect the truth. When, however, the truth is offended, peace is threatened and rule of law is compromised, then, as a logical consequence, injustices arise."

Also in his remarks, he expressed the sad truth that "today's gravest injustice" is the suppression of nascent life. "These injustices can adopt many faces," said the Pope. "For example, the face of disinterest or disorder, which can even go so far as to damage the structure of that founding cell of society that is the family; or perhaps the face of arrogance that can lead to abuse, silencing those without a voice or without the strength to make themselves heard, as happens in the case of today's gravest injustice, that which suppresses nascent human life."

This is the case, he said, no matter what opposition may come from others..."even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses."

Monday, March 27, 2006

China's One-Child Policy Will Continue -- Sex Selection Abortions Will Be Increased

It's official -- again. Zhang Weiqing, the director of Communist China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, is boasting the effectiveness of the nation's coercive abortion policy and promising to expand their sex-selection abortions in order to correct the resulting gender imbalance. Here is a summary of recent news stories located on the web site of Pharma-Lexicon.

Will Moscow Continue to Back Lukashenka?

Claire Bigg is an Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty correspondent based in Moscow. This is her report on last week's election in Belarus and on the reasons why Russia continues to support such a totalitarian thug as Lukashenka.

While Western leaders have openly expressed their distaste
for authoritarian Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Russian President Vladimir Putin has consistently supported his regime, both politically and economically. Russia has been providing the country with cheap oil and gas, generous loans, and has cancelled customs duties for Belarusian exports to Russia.

According to official preliminary results, President
Lukashenka won a landslide victory in the March 19 presidential election, garnering 82.6 percent of the vote. An official victory would enable Lukashenka, a former collective-farm manager who has ruled Belarus since 1994, to win a third term and remain in office for five more years.

Putin formally congratulated Lukashenka on his victory in a
March 20 statement, saying that the "results of the elections point to voters' trust in your policies and to the further growth of the prosperity of the Belarusian people."

Opposition leaders are claiming the vote was rigged and have
called for new elections. Several thousand people have massed in a central Minsk square to protest the results. But while the huge margin of victory granted to Lukashenka by the preliminary results has raised some eyebrows, it is widely believed that he does enjoy enough support at home to have won a majority and avoided a runoff.

Many political observers say Lukashenka owes his popularity
not only to intense propaganda, but also to Russia's robust economic aid, which has allowed him to raise pensions and salaries. But why is Russia throwing its weight behind such a controversial figure as Lukashenka, who has been isolated by most Western leaders and branded a dictator by Washington?

Yevgeny Volk, director of the Heritage Foundation think tank
in Moscow, said Russia's support reflects its fears of losing its closest ally in opposition to NATO's eastward expansion. "From the point of view of the Russian political mentality, Belarus is a very important stronghold of resistance to NATO's eastward expansion, a containment of this NATO expansion that is often discussed in Russian political circles," Volk said. "In the Cold War paradigm that is still very present in Russian politics, Belarus plays an important role as a stronghold against NATO."

While the European Union on March 20 expressed its
disapproval of the way in which the presidential election was conducted and said it will likely impose sanctions, Russia hailed the vote as free and fair. Strategic interests aside, Russia has a number of reasons to back Lukashenka. The Kremlin has been anxious to prevent a repetition of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which swept the Western-leaning Viktor Yushchenko to power in 2005. Some observers also say that by allowing Lukashenka to step into the limelight, Putin's regime hopes to deflect criticism of its own rights violations.

Economically, Russia's warm ties with Belarus may have helped
the state-controlled Russian gas giant Gazprom to wrest control of the Belarusian section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline from a reluctant Lukashenka last December. This pipeline carries 10 percent of Russian gas exports to Europe. But Putin and Lukashenka have not always enjoyed a close relationship. While Russia and Belarus have long planned to join in a union state that would use the Russian ruble as its currency, Lukashenka was severely angered by a proposal Putin made in 2002 under which Belarus would virtually become a part of Russia.

Nevertheless, Heritage Foundation Director Volk said Moscow's support of Lukashenka is unlikely to falter in the future, provided the Belarusian president remains loyal to the Kremlin. "This [support] will take place until a person is found in Belarus who, firstly, will be at least as loyal to the Kremlin as Lukashenka, and secondly will enjoy as much support from the population," Volk said. "So far, not a single politician has satisfied the Kremlin by meeting these criteria. There are people who can be supported by the population, but the Kremlin strongly fears that they will turn to the West like the Ukrainian government." Other observers, however, say Moscow's backing of Lukashenka could tarnish Russia's image abroad and harm its ties with Western countries, particularly in the aftermath of the March 19 election.

Friday, March 24, 2006

March Gladness: Thinking about Heaven

We've been receiving some very positive responses to the monthly letter sent out last week to the Vital Signs Ministries LifeSharers -- so many that we're prompted to publish the relevant portion here in the blog. I hope you find it of encouragement. If you would like to become a part of the LifeSharer team, please contact us. We'd be honored to put you on the list for these monthly letters.

Dear VSM “LifeSharers,”

Will today’s pro-life advocates be seen as tomorrow’s heroes? Will the history books of the future portray the defenders of the unborn in the glowing terms that are used now of America’s founding fathers, our military leaders, or the abolitionists of earlier eras? To be honest, I have serious doubts such a thing will ever occur as my eschatology (end time doctrine) persuades me that there’s just not enough history left for such a monumental shift in attitudes. However, I am convinced that today’s Christian pro-life advocates will be revealed as tomorrow’s heroes in the only way that really counts and that’s hearing the “Well done” spoken by Jesus Christ to those called by His Name.

Will the pro-lifers be hailed there in the New Jerusalem by shining personages who were once victims of abortion? Many people imagine this, a chorus of cherubic citizens of heaven who were once preborn boys and girls victimized by abortion. The proposed scene includes these little children greeting pro-life activists with shouts of thanks and acclamation for all of the efforts performed in their behalf back on earth. I’m pretty skeptical about that. Because even if there’s a grateful crowd of abortion victims welcoming us, I believe they won’t appear as kids but rather as the whole, beautiful, mature saints God intended them to become in the first place. And yet, sufficient for us all will be that long-awaited smile and the warm embrace of the Savior Himself for it has ultimately been in His service that the believer’s faith and actions (including one’s pro-life work) have been invested down here.

And, from my long experience over these last 25 years in Christian pro-life ministry, this perspective of looking directly to Him is generally true of my colleagues. The shut-in who fervently prays beside her bed for an end to abortion…the sidewalk counselor who prays that her message will be heard by the abortion clinic client…the CPC volunteer who prays that God would use her words to touch the consciences of the young women she will talk to…the visitor to the nursing home who takes seriously the Bible’s description of true religion as that which compels us to visit the widows and orphans in their distress…the parent who patiently cares for their sick, disabled or wayward child…the compassionate, steadfast caregiver whose heart is shared with the needy --- In these various pro-life ministries and a hundred more, the saints involved require the directing, empowering hand of the Almighty. It is a hand that strengthens and helps us perform whatever task of preaching, of ministry, of intercession, of endurance that He asks. And, yes; it is also a Hand that will one day confer a triumphant, eternal blessing when the mission is completed.

So, of course, I look forward with great relish to a fellowship in heaven with those whose unjust deaths we were unable to stop and who God has graciously received unto Himself. No doubt about it. And it will be also be sweet to enjoy the reunion of pro-life advocates who have gone into heaven before me. These will stand in that sanctified family who have been saved by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary on our behalf, a noble band of missionaries, martyrs and all others who have diligently magnified the matchless Name of Jesus. They make up a “forever family” that you and I (if indeed our sins have been covered by His blood) will be overjoyed to join. All of this fellowship will be fantastic, more than we can imagine. So too will be the fact that we will be at rest from our labors here and finally experience complete peace (no longer bothered with the wars with our flesh, the world and the devil). But, as the Book of Revelation explains, the greatest thrill of all will be to experience the presence of the Holy One Himself, our Redeemer and King, Jesus Christ.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4, NASB)

Certainly this description has a broad application but think for just a moment about the specific treasure this promise represents to those Christians who have taken seriously the Lord’s command to “rescue those staggering towards slaughter.” Shouldn’t the committed pro-life warrior feel a special thrill at the wonderful promise of no more tears? Imagine -- never again to weep over the millions of aborted children who’ve been sacrificed at the altar of false gods! Never again to mourn over the mothers who turn away from the pregnancy center counselor or who are indifferent to the appeals made by the pro-life activist in front of the abortion clinic! Never again shall there be tears of shame and regret from those whose sins include abortion decisions! All of these tears will be wiped away! And not merely forgotten or ignored, but tenderly wiped away by the hand of the Lord. Oh, be sure He knows all too well the agony, the confusion and the longing for relief that each one of those tears signified for was it not He Himself Who bore on the cross our burdens as well as our sins? But, in that blessed day, Jesus will acknowledge our tears and in an act of awesome and beautiful mercy, He will personally, tenderly wipe them away. How great is the Lamb that was slain (and resurrected!) that we might discover forgiveness and eternal life.

And in wiping away the tears, Christ assures us of the glorious truth promised there in Revelation 21; namely, there will never be another need to cry. Never, forever. No abortion clinics in heaven. No Planned Parenthood. No mortuaries or graveyards. No nursing homes or hospitals. No emergency rooms or pharmacies or sickbeds. No orphanages. No asylums. No temporary shelters for the homeless or victims of abuse. No prisons. No halfway houses. Make your own list! No saloons; no crack houses; no government buildings; no banks; no repair shops of any kind. “The first things,” the vision of Revelation continues in verse 5 of chapter 21, “have passed away. And He Who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold I am making all things new.’”

Guess what? There will not even be any churches there. Beginning at verse 22 of the same chapter, we are told -- “And I saw no temple in it for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.”

It is that new-to-us illumination of God’s holiness that will “shine away” even the darkness of our memories. Sure, we will definitely have memory, perhaps even a more complete memory of our past than we can now imagine. After all we’re instructed that we will know then in full rather than only in part. But the “stains and pains” of the sinful world will be behind us. The Lord pledges to us that whatever degree or kind of memory we possess, it will not cause grief, distraction or sorrow. Again, no more tears. And so with soaring spirits, glorified bodies, and fulfilled expectations aplenty, the saints will enjoy forever living in God.

These thoughts provide incredible comfort and are desperately needed for those who desire to walk godly in the here and now. They are not meant to encourage escapism but rather greater stimulation to lives of holiness, sacrifice and courage. Unless one has heaven’s prize ever before him, he will fail to be of earthly profit. Conversely, it is the heavenly-oriented that show forth the resilience and inner joy to make even life in the trenches splendid. When we’re having coffee after our early morning ministries of prayer and sidewalk counseling at the 46th Street abortion mill on Saturday mornings, we often encourage one another along these lines. “Won’t it be terrific,” someone will say, “when on Saturday mornings in heaven, we won’t have to meet over at the abortion mill? After all, abortion and all other evils will have been destroyed by God’s holy fury.” And then another responds, “Yeah; that’ll be so fine. But hey; I’ll still want to hang out with you guys. But there we’ll be able to get up, grab D. James Kennedy, Joseph of Arimathea, and maybe the archangel Gabriel and just head over to the heavenly equivalent of Village Inn for coffee together. We might even see the King on our way! Won’t that be wonderful?”

And, as you might guess, even in the laughter that follows such remarks, you can sometimes see a tear or two in some of the eyes around the table. They are tears reflective of the sad truth that though the day of our redemption may be drawing nigh – it has not yet dawned. Therefore, our ongoing war against the culture of death must continue. In the midst of our fight there will still be tears of mourning for the unborn boys and girls who are mercilessly dismembered. And there will frequently be tears of longing as we wonder why God delays the judgment of such a wicked world. But, we can rest in His promises for these passages from Revelation serve with many others to assure God’s people that the day of universal reckoning is clearly on its way. And following that fearsome judgment will come the creation of the new heavens, the new earth, and the ever-new enjoyment of His triumphant presence. No more death. No more anguish. No more evil. No more tears.

Will today’s pro-life advocates be seen as tomorrow’s heroes? Probably not by Barbara Walters or Mike Wallace or the government school civics teacher. But, the Christian who endures, who prays and who raises Christ’s illuminated banner in this dark world? Oh yeah; he or she will be embraced as a hero and given the “Well done” commendation by a Person much more important than any mortal historian. And Jesus Christ’s testimony is the only one that matters.

G.O.P. Amnesia Regarding Family Issues

They promise big things in their campaign ads, their answers to pro-life questionnaires, and their fish-fry speeches for the church audiences back home but when they get to Washington, the Republican politicians have a powerful tendency for forgetting.

Click on the title of this post to read a very good article from Howard Carlson about the ongoing conflict within the G.O.P. in which the "Country Club Republicans" keep beating out the "Sam's Club Republicans" for priority status.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Prof. Stephen Bainbridge Comments on Prop 71

Stephen Bainbridge was the only pro-life voice (of four UCLA professors) asked by UCLA Magazine to comment on Prop 71, the hugely expensive stem cell research spending law -- a law, however, which categorically refuses any research performed with adult stem cells. Here, from one of his web sites, are those remarks:

"A key problem with this debate it that you have attractive and sympathetic spokespeople like [stem cell activist and UCLA grad student Candace] Coffee, whose stories play on our emotions. But who speaks for the unborn child? We only get one side of the story. The Catholic Church, of course, claims to speak for the fetus: ‘All human beings, from their mothers’ womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the “book of life”’ (compare Psalms 139:1, 13-16) - Evangelium Vitae, 61.

“If you believe that human life begins at conception, as I do, creating human lives for the purpose of destroying them is an intrinsically evil act (as California’s Catholic bishops have made clear). Even if you believe human life begins sometime later than conception, however, you should still oppose Proposition 71. Stem cell research advocate Francis Fukuyama blasted Proposition 71 as ‘a huge, self-dealing giveaway of money from cash-strapped California taxpayers to a small group of institutions and companies that will remain largely unaccountable.’ California’s taxes are already among the highest in the country. Why then should California taxpayers who are opposed to the intentional destruction of human embryos in the name of scientific research be forced to subsidize venture capitalists, biotech companies and research institutions that already receive vast state and federal handouts?”

Abortion Rights? It's A Bad Political Strategy Says Zogby Poll

Federal candidates who make abortion rights an important part of their election platform this year and in 2008 may find themselves swimming against the current of American political thinking, a new Zogby Interactive survey shows.

The survey, commissioned by Associated Television News and The O'Leary Report, included 30,117 respondents in the 48 contiguous states, and was conducted from March 10-14, 2006. It carries a margin of error of +/- 0.6 percentage points...

Associated Television News President Brad O'Leary, who commissioned the poll, added that much of the results may "spell disaster for Democrats who try to run on the abortion issue. The abortion issue is this year's political 'third rail' for congressional Democrats and for Hillary Clinton in 2008," said O'Leary. O'Leary speculated that the recent confirmation hearings for Justices Alito and Roberts and may have galvanized undecided voters into the pro-life camp, and noted that 71% of voters disagreed that the Senate should confirm only pro-choice Supreme Court Justices, while just 17% agreed with the statement...

The poll results suggest a shift in the electorate away from abortion rights over the past decade, Mr. O'Leary said. They also suggest that congressional Democrats who champion abortion rights could lose as much as 20 percent support from the electorate.

The issue may affect the 2008 presidential contest, the poll shows, as 60% to 80% percent of Hillary Clinton's support on most of the 20 abortion questions clearly comes from those voters who favor abortion rights. Conversely, 75% to 90% percent of those voters who support John McCain take a pro-life position on the questions.

The Credentials of the New Cardinal -- MSM Style

Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley will be elevated to cardinal tomorrow even though the Lowell Sun seems a bit divided on his qualifications. On the one hand, the paper regards as good things O'Malley's modesty, simplicity, and organizational skills. And they approve his willingness to make tough decisions...well, at least in some matters. As the article goes:

He's credited with helping to save the financially strapped archdiocese in 2003 by selling the ornate Cardinal's Residence to help pay for the $85 million settlement of lawsuits against former Cardinal Law and the church by clergy sex-abuse victims.

And O'Malley has served in the wake of clergy sexual-abuse scandals in Fall River, Palm Beach, Fla., and Boston, where he has shepherded 2 million Catholics since his installation as archbishop of Boston in July 2003. O'Malley settled 500 clergy sexual-abuse cases in Boston alone, which could ultimately cost the archdiocese more than $100 million...

However --

...O'Malley has also been criticized for his steadfast support of Catholic doctrine regarding abortion, the death penalty, emergency contraception, gay marriage and stem-cell research. Two weeks ago, Catholic Charities decided to stop providing adoption services rather than conform to state rules mandating equal opportunity for gay couples..

Hmm. What the Lowell Sun interprets only as credentials for criticism are, of course, the primary reasons he is being elevated to Cardinal in the first place. And though it goes intentionally unreported by this newspaper, O'Malley's loyalty to Church teaching does, in fact, earn him the highest respect from many, many Catholics - and others. Congratulations, Cardinal. May God give you strength, wisdom and courage in your new duties.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's Phyllis McGinley's Birthday!

For the genuine conservatives among you (meaning quite literally those who desire to conserve the best things), you might be interested in a post over on The Book Den which honors Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978). McGinley is a truly remarkable poet and essayist whose witty defense of traditional feminine values is more relevant than ever. Check it out.

Who Will Stand Up for Abdul Rahman?

The AP story here suggests the growing concern in Germany over the extreme religious intloerance shown by Muslim countries; i.e. the trial in Afghanistan of Abdul Rahman who faces a death sentence for converting to Christianity. Still, the reactions of political leaders in the West over this tragic arrogance shown by Muslim leaders remain far shy of the bold opposition that simple justice demands. Compare, for instance, the quick, loud and comprehensive criticism Western officials made of the Dutch cartoons to the very weak front they've shown to the ongoing religious oppression of Muslim governments.

From the news story, here is an example of the U.S. non-reponse:

The Bush administration issued a subdued appeal Tuesday to Afghanistan to permit Rahman to practice his faith in the predominantly Muslim country. The State Department, however, did not urge the U.S. ally in the war against terrorism to terminate the trial. Officials said the Bush administration did not want to interfere with Afghanistan's sovereignty.

The President wants to export democracy but not the basics of religious freedom? Bad call.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why the Distorted Reporting on Muslim Violence?

John Leo has a probing column over at Town Hall about the underreporting of the violence, terrorism, and militancy of Muslim thugs. He describes the particularly horrorific example of the murder of Ilan Halimi, a French Jew...

We now know that Halimi was killed as a classic expression of Jew Hatred. But with so much evasiveness and misdirection by police, government and press, it took a month to get that fact clearly on the table. Halimi, a cell phone salesman, was kidnapped and held for ransom by a mostly Muslim gang. He was horrifically tortured for three weeks, then slain. From time to time, neighbors had come to watch the torture or to participate in it. Nobody called the gendarmes. At first the government and the press presented this story as a straightforward kidnapping for ransom. A spokesman said Jewishnesss may have played a role simply because the kidnappers thought Jews were rich. AP and UPI, in feeds to the U.S., barely mentioned the possibility of anti-Semitism. After arrests were made, the BBC worked hard to avoid using the word “Muslim,” though verses from the Koran were recited during the torture.

The Los Angeles Times account of February 28 shows how hard candor can be. It reported that the gang made hundreds of abusive phone calls to Jews and had systematically tried to kidnap Jews. But the reporters wrote this: “Rather than a premeditated anti-Semitic murder, it seems a more complex product of criminality and dysfunction in the narrow world of thug culture: a poisonous mentality that designates Jews as enemies along with other faces of ‘outsiders.’” Oh, please. If whites had tortured and killed a black man, I doubt that reporters would be carrying on about how complex and unpremeditated it all was. They would just say it was a lynching

In an excellent article last week, Colin Nickerson of the Boston Globe said the crime was being attributed to a “predominantly Muslim youth gang” notorious for “virulent anti-Semitism.” The gang’s taunting phone calls to Halimi’s father were filled with anti-Semitic slurs and a rabbi had been told, “We have a Jew.” The Globe said hatred of Jews is now a hallmark of what’s cool in France, even among young immigrants from non-Muslim nations. Very strong article. No dancing around, just good reporting...

Here is the whole column -- and here is the one he mentions by Tony Blankley dealing with the same sad issue. And here's yet one more from an earlier Vital Signs Blog post.

They Used To Be Catholic Colleges

A brief from LifeNews -- Several Catholic colleges across the country are coming under fire from a Catholic watchdog group because their web sites are linking to pro-abortion groups and abortion businesses. Despite the Catholic Church's clear opposition to abortion, the universities are referring students to abortion facilities and pro-abortion organizations for internships.

The Cardinal Newman Society conducted a review of Catholic university web sites and found several that had links and referrals to places like Planned Parenthood, the pro-abortion National Organization for Women, and NARAL. Some of the violators include Boston College, DePaul University, Dominican University of California, Georgetown University, Loyola University of Chicago, Loyola University of New Orleans, Our Lady of the Lake University, Santa Clara University, Seton Hall University and the University of Detroit Mercy. Another Catholic college, the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, posts online information encouraging students to use abortifacient devices.

In a letter faxed Thursday to the presidents of these 11 institutions, CNS urged them to remove the Web links, referrals and information immediately. “Leading young adults to abortion clinics and pro-abortion advocacy groups is like feeding them to the lions,” wrote CNS President Patrick Reilly to the college and university presidents.

Monday, March 20, 2006

To the Highways and Byways

Here's an inspiring example of taking the Word to the streets...literally.

Gender Schizoids

I'm really enjoying the Town Hall columns of young activist Nathaniel Blake. Today's piece is a nifty example, a wise and witty commentary exploring liberalism's maddening problems with sex.

Liberals hate sex. No, not that— the other kind. While they support sexual acts in all possible permutations, the male/female distinction drives them round the bend. For the worst sufferers, the mere sight of those little bathroom door stick figures can induce apoplexy or delusions of sex as a social construct and gender as a continuum.

But on college campuses, psychotic is very trendy. Next fall, my university will follow the lead of other schools by adding an 'other' category to the gender section of admissions forms so that "students will now be able to express exactly who they think they are." In short, unfortunate delusions are to be treated as perfectly acceptable.

There are, to be sure, rare individuals who are born intersexed (possessing attributes of both sexes), but in the Western world corrective surgery assigns a distinct sex soon after birth. Note also that the interested "I" wasn’t added into the ever-growing acronym of sexual minorities seeking liberation (currently at LGBTQQIA) until recently; the transgendered and transsexual made it in much earlier.

The push for recognizing "gender variance" has little to do with genuine biological aberrance. Its goal is not to treat those burdened with physical forms that are imperfectly realized more charitably, but to abolish sex by destroying the normative standard...

Read the rest right here.

Ova Freezing as a Lifestyle Choice

If science CAN do it, they WILL do it...regardless of the moral considerations or social implications. In this case, the wildly unnatural process involves women deciding to have their ovaries artificially stimulated to produce eggs which are then frozen in liquid nitrogen so that they can be used years later.

For some women, this is a source of cash when they sell their eggs on the in vitro fertilization market. For others, like those highlighted in this (U.K.) Guardian article, the eggs remain in their minus-196 Centigrade bath until the prospective mother decides she is better situated to conceive. "Convenient pregnancy" is thus the main attraction. A woman, for instance, could delay motherhood until after her working career was over. As the article states:

...Egg freezing allows women to choose a conception date by freezing eggs in their 20s for use as late as their 50s. It is fertility intervention for women who don't necessarily have fertility problems, a sort of precautionary IVF. And, because a healthy woman can carry a baby in her womb long after menopause, in theory it gives her (almost) the same reproductive window as a man...

Ah, equal rights! Science helping destroy yet another of those oh-so-sexist differentiations between people. Yet even the Guardian article admits there are some who believe the process is being terribly misused. Dr Eleonora Porcu, who the article describes as "Europe's leading authority on egg freezing" believes that using the procedure for profit or for lifestlye convenience is irresponsible.

Dr Porcu, speaking from her clinic in Bologna, Italy, is adamant that ethical and medical reasons should be at the heart of decisions to use egg freezing. The technology, she says, was not designed as a form of DIY reproductive delay. She argues the very idea is anti-women because it allows society to maintain the pretence that having a family is a hindrance to a career. She argues that it is taking birth control too far: "You have to take pills. You have to induce superovulation. All this, not because you have a disease but for some hypothetical pregnancy after the age of 40? I think it is risky. And the idea of postponing a pregnancy because it is not accepted in your workplace when you are 30? This is something really violent towards women..."

She finds this kind of family planning depressing: "To say when you are 30, 'Probably in 10 years I will need IVF so I'll freeze my eggs,'..." Her voice trails off. She is rendered speechless by the idea. "I don't think women should trust this. Not - and I want to be precise - because of the technique itself. It works. But to trust this technique for the planning of your reproductive life... Well, I am a bit perplexed by the idea." Suddenly she realises the one application it does have. She laughs. "Hmm, I think this is a way for doctors to earn money."

The Unicorn, Centaur, Human Pre-Embryo...and Other Mythical Creatures

Here is a real "keeper" article from John Shea dealing with the science, language and breakdown in moral absolutes surrounding the issue of that convenient new invention, the human "pre-embryo." It was first published in October 2004 but has done a great service to us all in re-printing it. Read the article and make a copy to keep for reference.

The German "Birth Dearth" -- An Update

There is no doubt that advancing technology in such things as ultrasound and fetal surgery (added to the prayerful persistence of pro-life advocates in their various ministries) has created a backlash against abortion. Polls show pro-life attitudes are gaining ground everywhere, but especially among the young, and bold new moves by veteran pro-lifers have resulted in Supreme Court nominations, the momentous victory in that Court for pro-lifers' freedom of speech and assembly won by Joe Scheidler, groundbreaking developments in state legislation in South Dakota and elsewhere, and so on. Abortion zealots are not enjoying themselves.

And now piling on to all these factors is the awakening of politicians, sociologists and taxpayers in general to the looming cultural and economic crises created by decades of abortion and the contraceptive mentality. I have posted many entries dealing with the "birth dearth" here on Vital Signs Blog and it is of profound significance that these have not been commentaries from pro-life writers but rather news stories from MSM this one from UPI concerning Germany's population woes.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's Official: Lukashenka Remains Dictator of Belarus

Excerpts from the Associated Press story -- Thousands of protesters thronged the main square of the Belarusian capital on Sunday in defiance of a government ban, refusing to recognize a presidential vote that gave a landslide — and largely expected — victory to the iron-fisted incumbent.

At the opposition demonstration in the capital's main square — the largest in years — protesters chanted "Long Live Belarus!" and the name of the main opposition candidate. Some waved a historic flag that President Alexander Lukashenko had replaced with a Soviet-style design, while others waved European Union flags...

Western countries have forged close ties with the opposition and made no secret of their contempt for the ruler of what Washington calls an outpost of tyranny in Europe. The United States has condemned the campaign as "seriously flawed and tainted."

Lukashenko dismissed international criticism.
"We in Belarus are conducting the election for ourselves," he said. "What is important is that elections take place in accordance with Belarusian legislation. As for sweeping accusations, I've been hearing them for 10 years. I've already gotten used to them."

The state has mounted a campaign of threats and allegations of violent, foreign-backed overthrow plots that its opponents say is aimed at frightening people and justifying the potential use of force against protesters. Security was tightened Sunday near the square and streets were closed to traffic.

On Thursday, the KGB chief accused the opposition of plotting to seize power with foreign help by detonating bombs and sowing chaos on election day, and warned that protesters could be charged with terrorism.

Since 1994, Lukashenko has silenced foes and maintained his grip on power through votes dismissed as illegitimate by the opposition and Western governments. Four opponents disappeared in 1999-2000.

Please pray for the oppressed people of Belarus...especially in these next few days where reprisals against peaceful demonstrators is expected.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Unsafe at Any Speed: RU-486 Claims New Victims

Two more women (and their preborn children) have died after using RU-486.

Note this paragraph from the otherwise pro-choice Newsday article...

...Instead of swallowing the final two tablets, the second course of pills was inserted vaginally in the four women, a so-called "off-label" use of the drug that studies show works and is widely recommended by abortion clinics but does not have federal approval...

Good News for Big Government Republicans

The good news for "Big Government Republicans" is, of course, very, very bad news for the future of America. This piece by Tony Snow gives a few of the details -- Medicare paying 95% of the (unfair and astronimcal) drug costs of the elderly and a 17% growth in welfare costs (though the population increase is at 5%).

But it doesn't have to be this way. Ronald Reagan's dream of smaller government CAN be achieved. Indeed, it MUST be if the future of democracy and justice is to survive.

Check out Tony's column and its summarization of Charles Murray's new book, In Our Hands. It's only $13 through Amazon.

Many Bush Judicial Nominees Still In Limbo

Yes, we finally got some action on Roberts and Alito but as Bob Novak points out in this column, the Democrats have won big by keeping a whole bunch onf Bush' s judicial nominations from going forward. Ben Nelson, you got anything to say about this pitiful partisan play?

Taxing the Internet?

You like the idea of Congress getting more of YOUR money to waste? How about government taking more control over heretofore free speech by requiring some McCain-Feingold restrictions on the internet?

Well, then, please let your Senators and Congressmen know your opinions. You can contact them on your own (always a great idea for them to hear from you in person and/or get a hard copy letter) or you can utilize this page here.

In a related matter, you might want to check out this Fox News report about states wanting to grab more revenue by forcing consumers to pay sales tax on goods bought online.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Now It's Ginsburg's Turn To Freak Out

Talk about guilt by association. To Ruth Bader Ginsburg if you oppose foreign courts setting the precedents for American case law, you're in league with the "irrational fringe" of right-wingers who have sent her a death threat. It is really unbelievable that a Supreme Court Justice would stoop to such shrill schoolyard whining. Or is it?

Once again, the tyrants show their fear of anything that might check their totalitarian desires.

Nebraska's Battle Over Title X Funding

Here's the latest from Greg Schleppenbach, Director of the NCC's Bishops' Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities --

Fireworks erupted in the Legislature yesterday when Sen. Mike Foley offered an amendment to the budget bill to direct the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on how to distribute about $500,000 in state funds intended to subsidize pap smears and Chlamydia testing/treatment. The state has appropriated this money for about 15 years, and since its inception HHS has limited the distribution of these funds to Title X family planning clinics. As the largest Title X provider in the state, Planned Parenthood has been receiving about 40% of these funds each year. Sen. Foley’s amendment doesn’t exclude Title X providers from being eligible to receive these state funds, it simply directs HHS to open the program to non-Title X providers, including county health departments, hospitals, federally qualified health centers and individual physician offices.

The same number of women will be served under Sen. Foley’s amendment, but they would more likely be served throughout Nebraska and not just in those communities that have a Title X provider. In Lincoln, for example, the only Title X provider is Planned Parenthood. Therefore, women in Lincoln who cannot afford a pap smear or Chlamydia testing or treatment either have to go to Planned Parenthood or if they find PP offensive they must drive to Beatrice or Tecumseh to the next nearest Title X provider. Sen. Foley’s amendment would make the Lancaster County Health Dept and other providers eligible for this program so women would have more choices for these services.

After a couple hours of debate, Sen. Foley’s amendment was adopted on a vote of 29 to 6. Sen. DiAnna Schimek then offered a motion to reconsider the vote and after a few more hours of debate, that motion failed. However, the opponents of Sen. Foley’s amendment are not giving up. There will be further efforts today to undermine or remove the Foley amendment. Please pray that these efforts will fail.

It's A Start: The FCC Writes a Few Tickets

From the Reuters story about the FCC finally doing its job ---

U.S. communications regulators on Wednesday proposed $3.9 million in fines against scores of television broadcasters for violating federal decency limits, including a record $3.6 million for stations that aired a show [an episode of "Without a Trace"] depicting group sex...

The FCC ruled that numerous shows violated federal regulations and in several instances the agency proposed fines against station affiliates of CBS Corp., a Washington station that airs Time Warner Inc.'s WB network, and NBC's Telemundo station in Los Angeles.

The agency also upheld its decision to fine 20 CBS stations $550,000 for a stunt in which pop singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

"These decisions, taken both individually and as a whole, demonstrate the commission's continued commitment to enforcing the law prohibiting the airing of obscene, indecent and profane material," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.

"Taken both individually and as a whole, we believe that they will provide substantial guidance to broadcasters and the public about the types of programing that are impermissible," the FCC said in its order.

The Abortion Assumption: The Foundation for Prenatal Testing

Karl J. Shields, an adjunct Professor of Christian Ethics and Youth Ministry at Luther Bible College has written an excellent, in-depth article on the philosophy which underlies prenatal testing. You can read it in its entirety right here but I do print below a fe provocative excerpts:

"The truth is that even with all the knowledge currently available, genetic testing remains in its infancy. Bounded not only by the limitations prone to all medical tests, genetic tests, particularly prenatal genetic tests, have to withstand the issue of penetrance, the rate of actual expression of the gene. Not all genes are expressed 100% of the time. Accordingly, patients can have an abnormal gene, but if that gene is not expressed, they will not suffer the disorder associated with it. Two additional issues unique to genetic tests concern severity and onset. Even if one could be certain about the positive findings of a test, it is impossible to know how severe the disorder will turn out to be. For prenatal testing, assuming that a child can be conclusively diagnosed as having Down syndrome, we have no way of knowing how severe the disease will be; and there is a considerable continuum to be sure. With many genetic disorders, the time of appearance of the disease is unknown. Without this knowledge, it is difficult—almost impossible—to make any therapeutic decisions based on a prenatal genetic test.

…We need to be very clear about what therapy is currently available for most diseases that can be diagnosed prenatally: none. …The ‘Abortion Assumption’ is quite simply the presupposition, epitomized by the rhetoric above, that, if the results of a prenatal genetic test are positive for a severely disabling or terminal condition, that the parents of that child will—and perhaps should—abort that child.

…Until such time as we have therapies for each genetic ailment for which a test is designed, we have no business administering the test. Furthermore, in the case where there is an existing therapy, such as with spina bifida, the prenatal testing must be determined previously to be medically indicated.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Giving the Pro-Life Option -- How Can That Be Wrong?

Here's one couple's common sense response to a Florida judge considering an injunction that would drive a peaceful pro-life presence away from an abortion clinic. Very cool argument -- and one that would be thoroughly convincing to all but the most close-minded abortion zealots.

Sandra Day O'Connor Decries Pro-Life Advocates as Edging America Towards Dictatorship

The poor woman has lost her job; lost her cool; and now it appears, she's lost her mind.

Read this story from the (U.K.) Guardian to learn how O'Connor is terrified not by terrorists, thugs or her fellow tyrants in the black robes but by simple, prayerful people who sought to keep Terri Schiavo from being murdered via forced starvation and dehydration.

O'Connor should take even a cursory look at how far afield her own Court decisions have strayed from American public opinion (let alone the U.S. Constitution). She might then realize where the danger of dictatorship really looms.

How Hollywood Promotes Liberalism (At a Profit No Less)

Conservative film director/writer Jason Apuzzo has a penetrating column about Hollywood's bottom line values: leftist propaganda AND profitability.

He presents a compelling case against the wishful thinking of many conservatives; namely, the belief that market forces will eventually require Hollywood to move towards the mainstream. No, Apuzzo shows that the liberal glitterati are more hell-bent than ever in pushing their irreligious, socialstic, culturally degenerate themes but that they're still very much interested in making money too. And, by the way, they are doing both quite successfully.

The conservatives' response should be much more than simply hoping Hollywood will destroy itself. Indeed, the best answer is to utilize the technology, the market, and bold financial investments to create a counter-revolution.

Very provocative reading.

To keep up with Arpuzzo and his colleagues, you might want to bookmark Libertas, a forum-type web site for those interested in conservativism and film.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Isaac Hayes Quits South Park: A Case of "Selective Tolerance"?

The wire service report printed below is recent (like 10 minutes ago) but the photo of Hayes in his "Black Moses" days parading next to Jesse Jackson is, of course, a tad older.

Isaac Hayes has quit "South Park," where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.
Hayes, who has played the ladies' man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.
"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

Last November, "South Park" targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors
Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, Stan, one of the show's four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out.

Stone told The AP he and co-creator Trey Parker "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

Here Comes the Vendetta

Next up from those sassy, ever-playful Hollywood producers? How 'bout an entertainment extravaganza with just a little bit of spicy controversy to keep things interesting? Whoops -- make that a bit too much spice because it seems that a hero who is a torturing, madman terrorist who wants to destroy London makes even the enlightened critics of the mainstream media queasy.

Here's an excerpt from the review of V for Vendetta in the European edition of Time magazine:

Is it possible for a major Hollywood studio to make a $50 million movie in which the hero is a terrorist? A terrorist who appears wearing the dynamite waistcoat of a suicide bomber, and who utters the line — from beneath a full-face wooden mask that he never takes off — "Blowing up a building can change the world"? A movie written and produced by the Wachowski brothers, the cyberauteurs who created The Matrix? Starring Natalie Portman, shaved as bald as Demi Moore in G.I. Jane?

These are not rhetorical questions. V for Vendetta, set for mid-March release in most markets, is that movie, and it is the most bizarre Hollywood production you will see (or refuse to see) this year. It's the kind of film that makes you ask questions like, Who thought this was a good idea?

Here's another take from Newsweek that's not very affectionate either. But the best by far comes from Debbie Schlussel.

The Tale of the Tapes? Iraq's WMD Games

Could it be that the New York Times, the Democrat Party and Barbara Streisand are wrong about Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction"? Let's go to the tapes!

From the Washington Times --

Audiotapes of Saddam Hussein and his aides underscore the Bush administration's argument that Baghdad was determined to rebuild its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction once the international community had tired of inspections and left the Iraqi dictator alone.

In addition to the captured tapes, U.S. officials are analyzing thousands of pages of newly translated Iraqi documents that tell of Saddam seeking uranium from Africa in the mid-1990s.
The documents also speak of burying prohibited missiles, according to a government official familiar with the declassification process...

The Republican Spending Addiction

Ah, those spend-happy Republicans -- pledging fiscal responsibility when glad handing at home but throwing away your money on unneeded pork projects when safely back in their Washington trough.

Robert Novak has more.

Courts vs Parents -- The Courts Are Winning

...There has been an assault on parents and their ability to parent by the left. Recently, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Fields v. Palmdale that parents had “no specific right” to control their children’s exposure to matters related to sex, or anything else for that matter. The court said that the Constitution didn’t support parents and that further, the “the deep roots of our nation’s history and tradition or implied concept of ordered liberty” did not support that parents have the final say on school curriculum, including curriculum on sex...

Read the rest of Martha Zoller's column about the judicial tyrants who are trumping even parental rights...and hear her call for critically-needed reforms.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dirty Tricks Get Dirtier All the Time

Chuck Colson has here a challenging column that we all should read.

The Real Votes for Best Picture

Do you actually think that the Oscar awards reflect what are Hollywood's best movies?

Of course they don't and they haven't for years. It's all about political correctness and the far-left snobbery of the Academy's small number of voters. A more reliable, sensible test would be ticket sales. After all, that's why the movies are made -- to make money.

So, how do the Academy's best picture nominees stack up in this test?

Well, let's see. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grossed more profits than all five of the Academy's nominees combined. And it wasn't even the biggest film of the year! Here, in fact, are the top five in order: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; War of the Worlds; and King Kong. These films together grossed nearly 1 and a half billion dollars with the average of the five hovering around $125.4 million each!

And the Academy's Best Pictures? Even with all of the hype and publicity, the most profitable of the movies was Brokeback Mountain. It comes in at #26 in this year's list of profits. The others? Crash, the eventual winner of the Oscar, was 49th; Munich was #64; Good Night and Good Luck was 89th; and Capote slid in at #100. Some difference, huh? In all, these 5 Academy Award nominees for Best Flick averaged just over $26 million in profits.

There could be no clearer "picture" that the Hollywood ignorati is way out of step with the American moviegoers when it comes to taste, style and cultural philosophy.

The Crescent over the Cross

From the Family Research Council, here are some right-on comments about "selective sensitivity" in Muslim/Christian relations...

A two-page color ad in today's Washington Post celebrates the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding," a $20-million "think tank" at Georgetown University in the District of Columbia. The ad shows one of Georgetown's beautiful Gothic buildings, topped by a stone cross. In the night sky, above Georgetown, is a crescent moon and star--the symbols of Islam. How better to show the kind of "understanding" we will have? Christianity is to be subordinated, Islam is raised high--at a Christian university.

Harvard also has a $20 million center from the Saudi billionaire prince. What about the compromise of American liberties? There is no reciprocity here. All the talk on this side of the ocean is about "understanding." Where are the study centers at Saudi universities? Does anyone there present courses on James Madison's views of religious liberty? Does anyone there even suggest that feudal monarchies that deny their people fundamental human rights need to reform themselves?

Saudi Arabia is one of the worst violators of human rights on earth. No Christian can even carry a Bible on any street in Saudi Arabia. Converts there are beheaded. According to the U.S. State Department's latest report on global human rights, issued just this week, "The [Saudi] government has not provided legal protection for freedom of religion, and such protection did not exist." Ditto for the freedom to establish political parties. Yet, here we have major American universities bending the knee for Saudi petrodollars. There have been persistent reports of Saudi-funded schools (madrassas) and mosques in America that teach hatred toward Christians and Jews.

And one more thought: has anyone told campus liberals, some of whom went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to keep military recruiters off campus because of the military's "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" policy, about Saudi Arabia's policy toward gays in the military?

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Aging Population Crisis? The Government (and the Times) Says "Ignore It"

The New York Times parrots a U.S. Census Bureau study that says "Don't Worry, Be Happy" despite the huge disparity between our aging baby boomers and the post-Roe generations.

Begins the Times story, The next few decades will see an explosion in the percentage of Americans over the age of 65, but the economic and social impact of this baby boomer sunset may be gentler than had been feared because of a significant drop in the percentage of older people with disabilities, a new federal study has concluded...

But the realities can be seen (and dreaded) by any thinking person. Here's just one, a respondent...

Sorry. I work in the health care field, and this 'study' is pure head-in-the-sand fantasy. Somebody fed some "assumptions" into a "model". It is the same kind of junk science that gave us "Global Warming."
The basic fact is the age pyramid is changing -- in many ways.

1) We murdered 40 million babies over the last 30 years.

2) Many of them would have babies by now. I have 5 grandchildren, and my first daughter could have been aborted under Roe V. Wade.

3) Our average-age-at-death is increasing due to better medicines and nutrition.

4) Our successor generations are less well equipped - educationally/emotionally/morally to handle any sort of business expansion. This includes health care business.

5) Grown children are, on the whole, far less willing to keep their parents at home, and far more willing to find outside care alternatives.

6) One of the fastest growing businesses in California, with 14% of US population, is that of Asians running homes as private care facilities.

7) There is a massive increase over the last 10 years in prescriptions of “dependency” drugs and programs. As people turn from God, they need some kind of coping mechanism.

Castro Gets a Surprise

From the web site The Real

More than one time in the 1950s, members of the 26th of July movement directed by Fidel Castro jumped into the playing field during the World Series games carrying protest signs against the Batista government. They did it because they knew that the games were being broadcasted in Cuba. In addition to displaying their signs, the members of the 26th of July interrupted the games by running all over the baseball field with their signs. Then, those Cubans were considered 'heroes' by Castro.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot and free Cubans are simply exercising their right to free speech in a free country by holding signs WHILE SITTING AT THEIR SEATS THAT THEY PAID WITH THEIR OWN MONEY, the Cuban dictator is whining and crying and threatening to pull out his slave players from the World Baseball Classic and order them to return to his island prison.
What a hypocrite this brutal dictator is!

In fact, Castro is demanding the WBC officials install flagpoles with black flags between home plate and the stands to block the messages from Cuban exiles.

Here is the wire service account of the incident but, more important, here is the inside story (with pictures) by the man who took the the anti-Castro sign into the game. Way to go, Enrique!

Decoded and Debunked

Here's the new web site created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as a rebuttal to the upcoming film, The Da Vinci Code. Pretty impressive.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I'd Like to Thank My Public

In case you missed the Oscars ceremonies (I have every year since Lawrence of Arabia was named "Best Picture"), we have a few friends to fill us in. The best? How about Ann Coulter and Ben Stein?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Who Paid to Have the Pope Killed?

Here's a monumental story that has nearly slipped under the radar these last few days, the confirmation via new technology that the hiring of the Pope's would-be assassin was by the Soviet Union. has a run down on the top stories right here.

No Quality Without Quantity

From the World Congress of Families updates ---

For years, mothers that work full-time outside the home have argued that, even though they spend less time with their children than their stay-at-home peers, they enjoy "quality" time that allegedly compensates for the reduced attention. Yet a recent study on the extent and nature of family dinners in the lives of teenagers commissioned by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University clearly shows that quality time with children doesn't happen without large quantities of time.

CASA conducted a telephone survey of 1,000 teens, ages 12 to 17, and 829 parents of teens in the spring of 2005 to identify factors that increase the risk of adolescent use of cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs, including marijuana. Confirming a more statistically rigorous study at the University of Minnesota (see New Research, September 2004, p. 2) that documented the protective nature of regular family meals in tempering risky behaviors, CASA discovered that teens who are home for dinner at least five times per week - relative to teens who have no more than two family meals per week - are also more likely to rate their family dinners as high quality.

Of teens that dine infrequently with their parents, 45 percent say the television is usually on when they do eat together, 29 percent say the family does not talk very much, and 16 percent lament that their dinners are often cut short. But among the teens who frequently eat with the family at home, only 34 percent say the television is on, only 12 percent say the family does not talk much, and only 5 percent think that their dinners do not last long enough.

The frequency of family dinners also appears to improve the quality of family relations, not just the dinners. Relative to teens who have infrequent family meals, their peers from families with a regular dinner time not only report less tension in the home, but are also more likely to approach their mother or father or both when confronting a serious problem. They also are more likely to say that their parents are "very proud" of them.

These documented benefits of the dinner table suggest that, building on the adage about the family that prays together, the family that dines together binds together.

(Source: "The Importance of Family Dinners II," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, September 2005.)

New "Advance" in Human Kindness: Killing Sick Babies

Local pro-life attorney, Bill Lindsay, alerted me to this story from the (U.K.) Times about Holland's latest sinister steps into the euthanasia darkness. Here's an excerpt:

...Each year in Holland at least 15 seriously ill babies, most of them with severe spina bifida or chromosomal abnormalities, are helped to die by doctors acting with the parents’ consent. But only a fraction of those cases are reported to the authorities because of the doctors’ fears of being charged with murder.

Things are about to change, however, making it much easier for parents and doctors to end the suffering of an infant.

A committee set up to regulate the practice will begin operating in the next few weeks, effectively making Holland, where adult euthanasia is legal, the first country in the world to allow “baby euthanasia” as well.

The development has angered opponents of euthanasia who warn of a “slippery slope” leading to abuses by doctors and parents, who will be making decisions for individuals incapable of expressing a will.

Others welcome more openness about a practice that, according to doctors, goes on secretly anyway — even in Britain — regardless of the law. “It is a giant step forward and we are very happy about it,” said Eduard Verhagen, clinical director of paediatrics at the University Medical Centre in Groningen, northern Holland...

Prelude to a Rigged Election: A Belarus Report

After a week lost to illness, I've returned to blogging duty with the following bad news items about Belarus:

* Opposition Candidate Beaten --- Last week government police beat up then detained presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin, who is challenging incumbent President (read "Dictator") Alexander Lukashenka in the March 19 presidential election. Kazulin, a former rector of Belarusian State University, was simply trying to register for the two-day All-Belarusian People's Assembly, which opened in Minsk on March 2, when plainclothes officers knocked him to the ground, took him out of a hall, and drove him away.

Officers also scuffled with journalists, injuring a Reuters television correspondent. Nina Shydlouskaya, a spokeswoman for Kazulin, told Reuters that he is being held at a police station in Minsk. "He has been beaten up quite badly."

* The Lie Told Ahead of Time --- Certain tricks never grow stale to Communists but with ruthless power at their disposal, why need the Belarussian KGB worry about being novel? The old tricks work just fine. This particular game? Predict something bad, blaming your opposition ahead of time...and then insure your prophesy come true in order to justify increased repression.

Last week, the KGB warned Western journalists journalists that opposition activists are planning to detonate explosives in a crowd at one of their own protests after the March 19 presidential vote and then blame the authorities for the resulting bloodshed, Belapan and Reuters both reported. "Blood and victims would give the protest organizers a free hand to seize the buildings of government agencies and train stations, block railroads in order to paralyze the state," Stsyapan Sukharenka, head of the State Security Committee (KGB) also explained that the plot is to be carried out by activists of nongovernmental organizations aided by "militants" from Georgia, Ukraine, and former Yugoslav republics. "I do not think that after we have made it public they will take such a step. However, we will keep on monitoring the situation and if they take such a risk, we will find the explosives."

* Other KGB Antics --- One of the other opposition presidential candidates, Alyaksandr Milinkevich Milinkevich, told journalists in Minsk that the presidential election campaign in the country has "degenerated into a farce." Milinkevich charged that the authorities intentionally disrupt meetings of his authorized representatives with voters, seize legal campaign material, and pressure his campaign activists to give up political activities. "They grab our activists, take them to police stations, and bring charges against them. Some thugs appear, shove them, and take away mobile phones from them," Milinkevich noted. He said he has harbored no illusions that the campaign would be fair but added that what is going on now "cannot be described in any other way than terrorism." Milinkevich accused the state media of generating "revolution hysteria" and reiterated that the pro-democratic forces are not plotting any revolution.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Blurring the Line Between Contraception and Abortion

Yesterday I was interviewed over the phone by a UPI reporter in Washington, D.C. The topics included contraception and the concern from "pro-choice" advocates that not enough taxpayer money is being given to the effort of decreasing unintended pregnancies. No surprise that the eventual story, located here on the Washington Times website, failed to emphasize what I emphasized to the reporter; namely, the monumental difference between genuine contraception and the host of drugs and devices inaccurately described as contraception which are, in fact, abortifacients.

I believe the reporter was trying to be fair (she misquoted me less than is usual in these things) but the article shows the general bias of the culture in favor of contraception at all costs to keep the sexual revolution rolling along. This means ignoring biblical sexual morality, refusing to deal with the huge cultural and economic crises created by "birth dearth," dissing abstinence-only sex education, and insisting (even at taxpayer expense) the proliferation of abortion drugs and gizmos as the best (or only!) way to reduce teen pregnacies.

The story has already shown up at other places on the web today (and probably in some hard copy newspapers). Among them Science Daily, the UPI site, the M&C News page, and, of all places, the Middle East/North Africa Financial Network.